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04.10.17

September was a busy month for entries so let me start by saying hello to Chernihiv, Lviv, Irpin, Kyiv, Odesa, Sumy, Kropyvnytskiy, Kryvyi Rih, Donets, Zaporizhzhia, Kulychkiv, Volytsya, Osychky and Andriyivka! Whether big or small, you all did a fantastic job of promoting your hometowns and using your English in a real-life communicative task.

The winner has now been announced and our best wishes go to Chernigiv pupils from school #1 and their teacher Victoria Semylit. You can read all their work and my feedback.

If you’re reading this and you still haven’t sent in your own work, please remember the very final date to enter is Friday October 13th (and you will definitely be unlucky if you miss the deadline).

As in previous months, I learned a lot about this wonderful country from your writing.   For instance, I found out that Osychky got its name from the Ukrainian word for the aspen tree, which the first residents of the village built their houses from.  I’d never heard of Volytsya before, but now I know it has a fitness area, crystal clear water and lots of Polish people driving through it while admiring the views.  I was also very tempted by the offer of walking around “unbelievably beautiful” Lviv counting all the different lions, which have been the symbol of the city ever since it was founded in the mid-13th century. Another thing that really interested me was the fact that Lviv was the place where the oil lamp was invented.  Did you know that a street in my hometown, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was the first in the world to have electric streetlights?

You used lots of great expressions in your writing.  I enjoyed the description of life in one small village as like living in an aquarium (in English, we often talk about living in a goldfish bowl). There was a good variety of linking words too, though sometimes they were more formal than the rest of your writing.  A good informal alternative to moreover, furthermore and in addition is plus.  For example, Newcastle has a lot of brilliant architecture.  Plus, it’s near some wonderful countryside, castles and beaches. 

A lot of you used the word cosy (or cozy in American English) to describe the atmosphere in cafes or among classmates at your school.  In other places, you used a wide range of adjectives to talk about your hometowns.  One group of students chose an adjective for each letter of their hometown’s name, so I now know that Donets is delightful, outstanding, nice, excellent, terrific and superb! 

Capital letters can be tricky for Ukrainian students. In English, we always use capital letters for the names of specific rivers (the River Poltva and the Dnieper River), streets and squares (Shevchenko Prospect and Mitchevych Square) or parks (Central Park in Chernihiv or Kyiv’s Pozniaky Park). 

Some of you wrote about sightseeings. In English, we say that we go sightseeing, use a sightseeing bus or go on a sightseeing tour.  However, the places we visit are called tourist attractions. In Lviv, I know Rynok Square is one of the main tourist attractions.  In Kyiv, there’s Independence Square and St Sophia’s Cathedral, while Odesa has the Potemkin Steps and Kulychkiv its fantastic countryside.

Your biggest pet hates (pet peeves in American English) are clearly the amount of litter on the streets of your hometowns, traffic congestion and the poor condition of roads in general.  In Kyiv, one group of students suggested banning trucks (lorries in British English) from driving through the city during the day. Similarly, students in Zaporizhzhiahope that the government will develop eco-friendly industries in the future. In general, your writing was positive, optimistic and had lots of practical ideas for making your hometowns even better places to live!

Thanks again for introducing me to so many of the wonderful places to visit in Ukraine.  As summer ends, I hope you’re all enjoying being back at school and having the opportunity to learn (and teach) more English.  Everyone at Dinternal is hard at work as well. For teachers, if you’d like to keep in touch with what we’re doing and get some great ideas to use in your classrooms, I highly recommend checking out Tom Barton’s blog at: teachingwithtom.blogspot.com.  

All the best,

Michael