As I sit here pondering on the sanity of going camping in the pouring rain, I started chuckling about one of those crazy conversations that I had with my students not so long ago.
You see on a rainy day, on the corporate English circuit as language trainers grab their brollies (umbrellas) to make it across the city for the next group or one to one coaching session, I as a Brit couldn’t help but cringe as I walked in the door to be greeted to some groan inducing remark about ‘typical English weather’. Now being a Brit “Stiff Upper Lip” and all that, I was raised to smile and ignore and don’t get me wrong, I am all for small talk, in fact my students know that I insist on it, and have even been known to walk out of the room for absence of it, but my mid afternoon, the joke’s wearing pretty thin and the need for a coffee is stronger than ever.
So one day in Munich, my last teaching gig of the day was at Roland Berger and I make no qualms about it, these were my favourite students at the time, I used to really enjoy this lesson! It was my favourite afternoon but I was determined to fast track past the ‘typical English weather’ comments, so before anybody could say anything, I said,
“Oh my goodness! It’s raining cats and dogs out there!” to which the mog (affectionate name for cat) loving secretary, whose English wasn’t at it’s best, looked horrified. Now of course there weren’t really cats and dogs falling out of the sky, but the drops were mighty big, like they can be in Munich.
The head of department did me proud and without a bat of an eyelid (without even thinking) said “It never rains, it pours!”, now this was fabulous, I desperately searched my human hard drive for more rain idioms to fuel our silly dialogue and came up with “But, it’s ok, don’t worry about me…”, with a theatrical attempt to get my frizzcharged curls under control, “I’m as right as rain” (meaning I am perfectly fine).
Now, the timing couldn’t have been better, but in came a consultant and said without even realising that we were having a rain idiom banter, “Think we need a rain check on the beer garden idea!” to which I asked, egging him on to go along with our impromptu sketch “But you will let Walther know when you’ll meet, won’t you?” with eyebrows in a frenzy “Come Rain or Shine!” (no matter what, come what may, in any case).
I thought I had escaped but then just as the consultant left, in came another colleague I used to teach and said “Perfect weather for you Corinne!” Agggghhhh. But the tears of laughter mixed with the splashes I had yet to control minimised the groan factor and we went on to talk about other idioms
It turned out that the youngest girl on the team hadn’t saved for a rainy day and was in a fix after her car had failed the MOT or regular safety checks. That tied in perfectly with my topic of the day, conditionals.
In terms of technology it might feel odd using idioms yourself when you are originally introduced to them, I feel the same with German ones, particularly as I don’t want to get the prepositions wrong but as you become more familiar with them and hear them being used more frequently, they won’t sound so unfamiliar and you can have a lot of fun with idioms.
Technology project tasks sometimes have to be ‘put on the back burner’ or put on hold whilst another part of the project takes priority and that is when we are likely to say that we’ll have to take a rain check on going out for a drink after work.
HOW TO GET MORE ENGLISH PRACTICE
If you want to start using your English more actively without having to join a regular evening class, or ask for training at work, then why not try out an online chat/discussion forum like the one that we have in our facebook group. Even though you are not actually ‘speaking’ English, as you post more often, you’ll automatically start to type faster so you’ll start using a more authentic writing style that makes speaking a lot easier because it is very similar, but you still have the ‘safe haven’ of being to able to go back and edit anything before you post if you want to.
The FB Byte Sized English Bar is a great way to boost confidence in your language skills without anybody at work having to know that you are getting help with your English, so if you want to ask whether the way you have written something is correct, then share it with us and we’ll help you get it right before you send out the email, we’ll find a diplomatic way for you to explain for instance that the project is to far down the line to accept new change requests or that the fees involved are not negotiable. You can also work on your grammar through the regular quizzes and other activities or join in on the career specific discussions that come up.
A lot of the time we are there without an agenda or purpose, it is more like a girlie tech zone for us to be ourselves, communicating and helping each other in English at a time and space to suit us. Why not try it out for just €1 by filling in the form below