New Year’s Resolution: One book a week

Every year around the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year the same topics pop up in class. Some have become new year’s traditions like a quiz of the year before, or events of the new year as e.g. summarized by the great illustrator of The Economist Kevin Kallaugher in the issue The World in 2016.

Others I try to avoid. However, those I try to avoid most sometimes have the tendency to keep popping up in my mind, forcing me to mention them at least briefly. It’s a little like the things we try hard to forget: the harder the attempt, the more likely they sneak back into our memories. Continue reading

MHH Dieticians Fourth Meeting

The last time we met, before the group was off to a four weeks internship, we went through an overview of the English verb structure system. We started with the two simple forms, went through examples, moved on to the two aspect forms, all combinatorial possibilities and the basic meanings of all forms. We didn’t quite finish, as we haven’t looked at the ‘present perfect’ examples yet and more practice will be necessary. Continue reading

Why linguistic terminology can be useful and misnomers problematic

PART 1 Tense and aspect

What are tenses? And why is the answer not: all verb structures? How many tenses does English really have? And does it matter? What is the semantic relationship between verb form and time? What is time? What do we mean when we talk about time? How do we talk about time? And why should this be important?

In my introduction to the concept of the Verb Structure Circle I mentioned the technical definition of ‘tense’. Tense and aspect are two terms crucial to explaining, and in my opinion, understanding, the English verb structure system. I also noted that in ALL course books of English ALL verb structures are referred to as tenses and, as far as I can tell, ‘aspect’ is never used. Perfect and continuous forms are commonly related to as ‘tenses’ though they are actually referred to as ‘aspects’ in linguistic literature.

The reason I believe this issue to be important is because I believe understanding the difference could help understanding English verb structures better. Continue reading

Resources on Food, Diet, and Health

In this post I have listed some of the internet resources and literature I have read and looked at myself and would and can recommend for anybody interested in going into the issues of food and health more deeply. It is, of course, an incomprehensive list and totally selective.


There are loads of pages specifically interesting for dieticians. One is an American magazine:Today’s Dietician. We read one article from this website that was, admittedly, a little difficult. Nevertheless I would recommend students of nutrition, diet and health to browse through this website, especially the articles archive. Continue reading

MHH Dieticians Course Description

The idea for this course arose out of the realization that some of the patients dieticians will encounter (meet) in their future jobs might not speak German, and a good foundation of English could be useful in order to be able to communicate and advise speakers of other languages than German.

Therefore, the topics we will be dealing with in this course will circle around everything that has to do with food, diets, health and disease, but also dietician – patient communication. Continue reading

MHH Dietician Course 2015


A year has past and I have started a new course ‘English for Dieticians’. It is the second time this course has been offered and we have changed the time schedule a little. Last year we met twice a week for six lesson hours (four and two). It was quite intensive, but at times also exhausting. Nevertheless, I believe, after a brief period of getting to know each other, we had lots of fun. I was surprised from the beginning, how well it was possible to converse and discuss things in English. Even those whose English was not as advanced, tried and managed. It was a rather heterogeneous group, as is to be expected with this kind of job training. Some had abitur, most actually, some went to school for ten years and had already learned a trade. In fact, two were chefs, which made the cooking sessions, theoretically and practically, quite lively and interesting. Continue reading

The Third Person Singular -s or: let’s talk about priorities

Recently I was shocked – if not really surprised – to hear that not much seems to have changed in some English classes of (German) schools. I learned about a fifth grader who was not doing very well in English. I asked what his problem seems to be and was told that he had made a lot of mistakes in his last test. Naturally, my next question was: well, what kind of mistakes, and was totally astonished as to the prime nature of his failure. Continue reading

Emails: Requests

An Example

These days I received an email from someone from a company that had asked me for a special English course. I had already spoken to someone else about the course and had a little background information. As I am quite busy, we will have to find a time that fits into my schedule, but I am interested in giving the course as it is a new company of a kind I haven’t taught at yet, so it could be an interesting challenge, and I am willing to squeeze it in. Continue reading


Last year, January 14, I wrote about one of my New Year resolutions: decluttering. Turns out, decluttering is a longer process than anticipated. Most difficult: to stop bringing new stuff in, though I believe I have gotten better. However, I have decided not to check in detail in case it turns out I have not been as successful as intended. I will just keep on trying. Continue reading

Order of Operations

Last week we had an interesting little debate about math education. It does happen every once in a while that we talk about maths, and I always find it interesting. I have quite a few mathematicians in my groups and in general like to know a little about my group participants’ fields of expertise. I also used to like maths in school before I had the wrong teachers. And yes, there is no doubt about it: your success in maths has little to do with your brain (or gender) and all with your maths teacher/s. Continue reading