MIT OPENCOURSEWARE: https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org
Excellent online educational sites to provide a free world class education for all. I like their content.
Besides, for those who are mastering English as their foreign language, perhaps the best way to do so – especially at the intermediate and higher levels – is studying some subject in the English language, NOT just “general English.” In this sense, such resources are also invaluable.
The salad fork and the soup spoon. The wine glass and the water glass. The napkin in your lap.
All the rules and rituals of proper etiquette will certainly serve you well. Such knowledge is admittedly in short supply at present.
More important, though, are manners, as it takes very little learning to master them, but a great deal more diligence to practice them consistently.
You may know the protocols, but without sincerity, your elegant exercises will fall short.
With manners that spring from common courtesy, you may not know it all, but you will be forgiven by those who can see that you endeavor to extend kindness to all.
Manners are a mindset. Adopt that first. Open a door for someone. Offer your place in line.
Smile. Be interested. Listen.
Then study etiquette.
This amazing video comes with a transcript!
The term “icebreaker” comes from special ships called “icebreakers” (укр. криголами) that break up ice in the arctic regions. And just as these ships make it easier for other ships to navigate, conversational ice breakers are little tricks (you might call them “openers” or “interest devices”) that help you do just that: break the ice, relax, have fun, and start communicating!
A year or two ago, I was in Florence, being a flaneur. I got lost. How? Good question. Florence has always struck me as a small town. One with great art, stunning architecture, jaw-dropping history and wonderful people, but small nonetheless.
Somewhere behind the Santa Croce, I was wandering helplessly in a labyrinth of cobblestone and stucco. All the streets, doors, and buildings looked alike. I stoped at a small intersection and spun helplessly, exasperated and defeated, staring at the sky as if it was a big, blue GPS. It wasn’t. It didn’t help.
When my eyes returned to earth, I found myself looking at a well-dressed elderly gentleman who was standing in a doorway, expressionless. He said something in Italian. It was a question, and I assumed he inquired about my destination.
“Piazza della Signoria?” I replied. He stepped into the narrow street, nodded for me to follow…
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Yes, it’s MUCH easier to understand the first part of the above saying by Robert McCloskey.
Yet, I do like some negation cases! Especially double negation. It’s a fine way to hedge or downplay what you really think, like, “it’s not impossible,” “it’s not that I don’t like it…” Here, I do NOT refer to officialese or bureaucratese phrases like “not unless,” “not until” or “never without.” Or “don’t hesitate”:) They are “NO-NOs” (negation again?!)
Anyway, it is preferable to avoid negation (another negation case, which simply equals “use affirmative statements”:). Because positive sentences are so much easier to comprehend than negative ones. They are also easier to remember.
Affirmation and negation… Two sides of the same coin, actually.