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Ask Doctor English
Your ESL and English language learning specialist. Ask Dr. English whatever you like about the English language.

Friday, December 23, 2005

YOUR ???? QUESTIONS (Only 2 Days to Christmas!)

Here is a chance for you to have your questions answered by Doctor English. Today’s question is:

What is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day, or St. Stephan’s Day as its known in Britain, is celebrated on December 26th, the day after Christmas. The history of Boxing Day is disputed, however it is generally accepted that this holiday began with a tradition of giving gifts to people of lower class the day after Christmas. It is believed that servants or other people that had provided services to those of a higher class, were presented with gifts in boxes, hence the name of the holiday.

Today, Boxing Day has become a shopping tradition. Often stores have Boxing Day sales (or even Boxing Week sales) in which some items are sold for low price. It used to be that Boxing Day was the day that many people returned unwanted items they had received for Christmas, however now most stores in Canada do not accept returns on Boxing Day.

Thank you for sending your questions. If you have any further queries, please email Doctor English at drenglish@vec.ca. And have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS !!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

CANADIAN, EH ? (Only 3 Days to Christmas!)

The celebration of Christmas comes from the Christian religion and is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God. The following definition of Christmas is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

According to the Christian gospels, Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem, where she and her husband Joseph had traveled to register in the Roman census. Christians believe that Jesus's birth, or nativity, fulfills the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin and bridge the separation between God and mankind. The precise chronology of Jesus' birth and death as well as the historicity of Jesus are still debated.

In predominantly Christian countries (and in Canada), Christmas has become the most economically significant holiday of the year, and it is also celebrated as a secular holiday in many countries with small Christian populations. It is largely characterized by exchanging gifts within families, and by gifts brought by Father Christmas or Santa Claus, a big jolly man with a white beard, or other folk figures.

If you would like more information on CANADIAN, EH?, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS (Only 4 Days to Christmas!)

There are many words related to Christmas and the holiday season. Here are just a few. You can find these and more at http://canada-esl.com/christmas/christmas.html

Mistletoe - There’s a fun tradition that North Americans follow during Christmas. Mistletoe is often hung from a doorway between two rooms. If someone stands under the mistletoe, it is customary for someone else (usually a member of the opposite sex) to kiss him/her.

Christmas ornaments – are ornaments used to decorate the tree and placed around the house.

Manger – historically, a small wooden trough that animals ate hay from. Jesus was put in a manger after he was born, so some people set up a manger with a plastic baby in it and animals around.

Stockings – literally, ‘socks.’ People hang stockings in front of a fireplace. Small presents are placed in stockings and usually opened on Christmas morning.

Reindeer – Santa rides in a sleigh that is pulled by reindeer. The most famous reindeer is Rudolph, the red-nose reindeer.

If you would like more information on WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

BIZ TALK (Only 5 Days to Christmas!)

Using English for business purposes can be challenging. Typically speaking business English is more formal than the language used in everyday situations. However you need to consider not only the use of the language, but also the culture when using English in a business environment.

As Christmas is nearing, a common tradition in business is to send Christmas cards to clients or business associates. Cards can be simple without long messages, and are sent to indicate the importance of your business relationship as well as a way to wish people a happy holiday season.

In addition, there are often Christmas parties held by companies at this time of year to celebrate the season. This provides an excellent opportunity to socialize with your colleagues and with your boss. Some work places have an exchange of gifts or a “Secret Santa”, where you buy a gift for a certain dollar value, but not for a particular person. The gifts are wrapped and then each person in the company chooses a gift or takes one that another person has already opened. It is common to have a festive atmosphere in the workplace at this time of year.

If you would like more information on BIZ TALK, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca

Monday, December 19, 2005

T.I.P.S – To Improve, Practice Skills (Only 6 Days to Christmas!)

Tired of studying English through basic grammar practice? There are many other creative ways to practice and improve your language skills than just by using a textbook.

With only a few days until Christmas, Doctor English this week will focus on Christmas related suggestions. If you are planning to celebrate Christmas, there are many things you can do to get into the Christmas spirit and also practice your English skills.

Decorating the Christmas tree is a common family tradition, so if your family is celebrating Christmas, you can use this opportunity to practice speaking English and learn some new vocabulary words. Another common tradition is the singing of Christmas carols. You can find the lyrics to many popular Christmas songs on the Internet and learn the words. Finally, another big part of the Holiday season is Christmas shopping. Here you can practice both your speaking and listening skills in a busy, and sometimes stressful, environment. Whatever you do, there are many opportunities to get into the holiday spirit and practice your English at the same time!

If you would like more information on T.I.P.S for English, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca