Tuesday, October 30

Rika-chan (リカシャン): A Ghost Story from Japan


For our Halloween special, I have one scary story from my Japanese student…

Our story is about Yuki, a playful and impulsive little girl.

Yuki’s family has just moved to a quiet town near the sea, and into a small apartment in a high-rise building.

During weekdays, Yuki spends most of her time alone in the apartment because both her parents have to go to work. Yuki doesn’t mind being alone as long as her mom sets aside lunch for her. In fact, she enjoys it because she can watch all her favorite TV programs, play computer games as long as she wants, and go outside to the apartment playground anytime.

One day, while Yuki was playing on the emergency stairs by their apartment, she saw an old, heavy metal box. When she opened it, what she saw surprised her.

Inside was a very pretty doll.  

All at once, Yuki decided to take and keep the doll. She even named her “Rika-chan.”

Yuki and Rika-chan played a lot together. All day every day. They played a lot of games and made up all sorts of situations. Over and over, Yuki called Rika-chanMy Bestfriend.” Yuki always imagined that Rika-chan could talk. They sometimes pretended to use Yuki’s cellphone, which was given to her by her mom for emergency calls.

When it was time to go to sleep, of course they slept beside each other in Yuki’s bed. They were both very, very happy.

But one day, Yuki’s mother brought a new doll for Yuki's birthday, which was more beautiful than Rika-chan. All of a sudden, Yuki’s feelings changed and she adored the new doll. She completely forgot about Rika-chan.

Then, Yuki decided to put Rika-chan back on the emergency stairs where she had found her.

The next morning, when she woke up, to her great surprise, she found Rika-chan on her bed.

Yuki put Rika-chan aside in a corner and played with her new doll. But all the while she felt as though Rika-chan was watching her. So, in the afternoon, she decided to show Rika-chan to one of her playground friends, another young girl who lived in the next apartment building. Yuki gave Rika-chan away. And her friend was very happy to receive the doll, without knowing the real reason Yuki wanted to give it to her.

But the next morning, Yuki woke again with a frightened gasp. Rika-chan was sitting against the headboard. As if she had been watching her while she slept.

So, on that day, Yuki decided to take a short trip to the beach. She took Rika-chan with her and lots of small stones inside her bag.

Because it was almost winter, there was nobody on the beach except Yuki. She put lots of stones inside Rika-chan’s dress, then she dropped the doll off the dock. Rika-chan splashed into the water and sank because of the heavy stones.

Yuki watched Rika-chan as she went down deeper and deeper. It seemed as though Rika-chan was watching her as well. And then the doll was gone. 

Finally, Yuki felt relieved that she had gotten rid of the doll for good.

A few days later, Yuki received a call on her cellphone. She picked up the phone and placed it on her ear.

<Hi, this is Rika-chan. I’m in your town. I’ll visit you soon.>

Yuki quickly hung up and threw her cellphone onto her bed as if it had burned her.

She stood in front of the bed not knowing what to do.

Soon her phone rang again. Yuki jumped in fear. The voice on the other end said:

<Hi, this is Rika-chan. I’m in front of your apartment building.>

After a few minutes, it rang again. Then, this voice:

<Hi, this is Rika-chan. I’m in the elevator.>

Then again:

<Hi, this is Rika-chan. I’m outside your door.>

Finally, the phone rang one last time and the voice said:

<I’m right behind you.>


*All images courtesy of stock.xchng 

Saturday, October 27

1 English, 1 World


One Sunday night -- September 4 last year to be exact -- my friend and I made a group in Facebook called “1 English, 1 World.

The description of the group is:

… a place where people of any nationality can practice their English.

We can share ideas, ask and answer one another’s questions, discuss topics and study English every once in a while.

Members of this group believe that English can B.B.B.B.

(= Break Barriers and Build Bridges)

among all the countries of the world.

Today the group has over 700 members.

In the group, we post and share:

# 1. funny pictures (now we have over 1, 000 images!)

# 2. cute pictures of pets

# 3. the music videos of our favorite bands (any genre, '80s or rock :-P)

# 4. all kinds of greetings, ex. "Have a nice day," "Thank god it’s Friday" etc.

# 5. some online birthday parties :-D

# 6.  English lessons

# 7.  jokes in English

… and just about any and every stuff that’s interesting!

Every member is allowed to post whatever they feel like posting and say whatever they want to say. There’s only one very practical rule: we have to try and express ourselves in English.

In fact, one member has come to call our group “a Facebook inside Facebook.” And another member has given this very inspiring compliment:

Oh, guys how I appreciate you all, even though I can't come over here very often.

I was just passing, well, actually browsing through a group's comments to which I also belong (here on Facebook) and I was very disappointed to notice that not many people actually care enough to communicate or even relate to others in a language different from their native tongue.

I live in Mexico and I know a lot of people who should know a lot of English either because they're studying the language or because they use this language as their working everyday skill... and well, they and many other people around Facebook, or Mexico, don't really care enough to look up words they don't know in a dictionary... that really brings me down sometimes.

BUT this meeting point here, where we all try hard to make ourselves understood and even make someone smile, I mean, if we are not the best speakers and writers, we're trying and eventually will, don't you think?

I also came by to thank Mon for getting us all together here :) This is a fun place to be at: learning, interacting, having fun. Long live 1 English, 1 World!!


(Thanks again for these kind words, Esteban!)

In Facebook where many groups of different shapes and sizes get born and die all the time, I guess the lasting strength of “1 English, 1 World” is in the way that it provides a venue for and encourages members to participate.

As you might know, the first step in learning a language is to overcome our shyness and to not worry so much about making a mistake. Well, in “1 English, 1 World,” we learn English in a positive, active and very practical way. Best of all, we have a lot of fun doing it coz we sort of tease each other most of the time! :-D

Also, like that of every other group, the strength of “1 English, 1 World” lies in its members. Of course people are busy and we can’t all be logged in at the same time all the time. But some of our most regular members always make an effort to drop by the group any time of the day (in their local time zone) whenever they are free, to leave a comment or to post something they are interested in at that moment.

Because of this, most posts and stories in the group get an audience.

Here are the most regular members of our group:

As you can see, we all come from different parts of the world and I’m really happy I could meet genuine people and make deep friendships that defy international boundaries!

Thanks a lot, guys! :-)

Open Invitation

If you are interested in joining our group and you sincerely want to practice your English, of course you are welcome to join.

You can find us by clicking the link below:

Also, existing members of 1 English, 1 World can easily add their friends. 

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 24

2 Kinds of Clauses: Noun and Adjective

Because Christmas is just around the corner, today’s topic is Santa Claus.

images courtesy of stock.xchng

Sorry, this is a lousy joke. Actually, our topic today has no connection whatsoever with Santa or Christmas. Probably, sometime before Christmas I would really write something about dear old Santa.

But for today, we’re gonna talk about a completely different person: Santa Clause (with the letter “e” at the end of his name):

Santa Claus ==> Father Christmas

Santa Clause ==> Father of Clauses in English grammar

Here he is. Santa Clause is a pirated version of the real Santa...

This is Santa CLAUSE.

A Clause is a group of words that has two basic parts: a Subject and a Verb. It might have other words inside but it needs to have at least a Subject and a Verb.

(Note: A group of words that doesn’t have a Subject and a Verb is called a “Phrase.”)

Sometimes, a Clause can become a whole sentence by itself. But sometimes, it can’t stand alone.

Here are some examples of Clauses that can’t stand alone:

that I like

when they go to the mall

what you want

that she is angry

which they have

There are many kinds of Clauses. But today, we’re gonna concentrate on studying only two kinds: (1) the Noun Clause and (2) the Adjective Clause.

FIRST, take a look at each of the sentences below and try to find the Clause inside them:

Try to find the Clause in each of the sentences before you check the answers.

  1. I know that he is married.

  2. I can't understand what they want.

  3. I bought the bag that she likes.

  4. That fruits are healthy is a well-known fact.

  5. I met the family who lives next door.






Finally, here are our answers:

  1. I know that he is married.

  2. I can't understand what they want.

  3. I bought the bag that she likes.

  4. That fruits are healthy is a well-known fact.

  5. I met the family who lives next door.

NEXT, please go back to the sentences above and try to guess whether each Clause is: (a.) a Noun Clause, or (b.) an Adjective Clause.

(This exercise might be hard for some learners. But it's important that you study the sentences carefully before you look at the answers.)

After you’ve identified what kind of Clause each of them is, go ahead and check your answers:

Any Questions?

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