Harry Potter books to improve English

Rugger   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 12:03 GMT
Hi HiyaKiani & Anomi.

Hiyakiani, you asked me if I was from England, and the answer is no. I live in Melbourne, Australia. Australian schools are very similar to the British school system. Most schools in the area I live, both private and public, primary and secondary and even preschool, all have strict uniform codes. I attended an all girl school from prep to year 12. One of the features of the school is boarding by students who are either from interstate, the country, or from the outer suburbs of Melbourne (where traveling to school is too long). The school houses are named after past headmistresses and you get allocated a house when you start school. If you have sister(s) at the school, then you get allocated to their house, even if your sister(s) has finished year 12 and is no longer going to the school. I feel really sorry for my sisters because they were allocated into my house, which happened to be the house that consistently looses at every house activity. House activities include swimming sports, chorals (choir singing, solo instrument performances), house dance drama (putting on performances based on randomly allocated themes), athletics, round robin sports (netball, soccer, field hockey, ect.), and debating. Debating was the only activity the girls in my house generally succeeded in, since many were more academic orientated instead of sports and/or arts orientated. There is fierce rivalry between houses and just as there is a school captain, sport captain, arts captain (all senior girls in year 12), there is also house captains or prefects (each house also has a junior, middle, senior school house captain - generally the most sporty/arty girls of the respective year level). Each girl earns a point for their house by participating in house events. At the end of the year the house with the most points wins the coveted house shield, and the colour of the house with the year are engraved onto the house year roll (only a few years have green next to them, the colour of my house, indicating how badly it has performed over the years). There are also trophies for each house activity and so events like chorals and swimming sports are very competitive. Plus, if a student participates in all the events of that year, they first receive a strip of material in the colour of their house which is to be sown onto the blazer pocket, and then in the following years white stripes to add vertically onto the coloured strip.

Many schools in my area follow the same sort of house system, encompassed with all the house rivalry. My friend went to a girls' college that had houses named after characters of Greek mythology (but then again they also had to learn Latin). In my experience, the house system really brings forth school spirit and livens up school culture. What was really funny was that when I was in year 10, the "old girls" of the school (one was 70 years old) were guest speakers at an assembly, and they talked about the same activities and rivalry existing in their time as it exists today. Anyway, sorry for my rambling, but I thought I might describe how school was like for me. Although I wouldn't openly admit this to my sisters, I kind of miss my old school and have to admit that uni life is a whole lot different, more individual based given the large population.
Tremmert   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 18:50 GMT
Rugger, if you are from Australia then you can answer the question someone asked about whether the Harry Potter books are banned in Australia. Somehow I doubt this although a few people may have *tried* to get them banned.
Tremmert   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 23:25 GMT
I did answer this in another post on the previous page. Some catholic colleges in Melbourne and Tasmania are banning the Harry Potter books, because they don't want to expose their students to witchcraft. The executive director of Christian Schools Tasmania, Neil Rowcroft, says:

"As Christians, witchcraft and the occult are considered evil, and it has been widely publicised that many children have tried to cast spells as a result of reading the books, and that is not a view we want held".
Rugger   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 23:27 GMT
Sorry, the post above is from me and not Tremmert. I was ment to write "To Tremmert" instead.
Tremmert   Wednesday, July 16, 2003, 18:13 GMT
One sensible thing in Australia is that a school year is the same as a year year ;) doesn't start in September or something like it does in the northern hemisphere.
Ryan   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 01:15 GMT
So you go all year, Tremmert? Do you even have a month holiday like the Brits do? I really think that the American school system suffers because of the huge summer break that students have, which historically was instituted so that children could help out with crops on the farm.

Rugger   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 02:09 GMT
In Australia, well at least in Melbourne, the school year (from February to December) is divided into four terms (Term 1 - 4) and there is a two-week holiday between each term. Term 1 and 2 fall within semester 1 of the year and Term 3 and 4 fall in Semester 2 of the year. The Christmas holidays are about 4 weeks. The Christmas holidays are great because they coincide with our summer, and is the time of the year when all the major sporting events take place, especially cricket (one dayers and test matches), rugby (rugby world cup in Melbourne!), tennis (Australian Open) all occur at this time, so children, especially boys, can attend the sporting events. Even though as a kid I used to complain that term breaks were too short, I believe that they are better because kids can easily get back into the routine of school, where the holidays just act as short breaks in the long running school year. Now I find that my University holidays are way too long because I become bored over time and some times lazy, plus it’s harder to get back into the routine of studying. Thus, I couldn’t imagine the primary/secondary school holiday system in the USA where you get such a long summer break.
Henry   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 03:16 GMT
Harry Potter books are evil.
dian   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 04:20 GMT
Is it possible that by reading alone can improve your English conversation? This question should be answered by non-native English speaker.

I still have problem with conversation eventhough I read English material everyday (through Internet).
David Bosch   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 05:02 GMT
I'm German. I read british in loud voice everyday; though it only helps with vocabulary and pronunciation mostly. As a student, I think there's no better way to improve your conversation than talking to native speakers or even non-native (in english) or by chat, but getting your skills in practice helps to self-correct mistakes and fluency.
Tom   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 22:10 GMT
Reading can definitely help, because it gives you the vocabulary and grammar to express your thoughts with.

Two helpful techniques:
- Reading a sentence out loud and pretending you're saying it yourself
- Building sentences similar to a sentences in the book (this really helps reinforce a sentence pattern, making it much more likely that you will be able to say a similar sentence in conversation)
ats   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 23:12 GMT
sip=spanish or maybe italian
what does it mean,
David Bosch   Friday, July 18, 2003, 04:26 GMT
It is commonly used to express 'sí' which means 'yes.'

Spanish 'sip' is american 'yea.' (distortion of affirmation word)
HiyaKiani (to Rugger)   Friday, July 18, 2003, 04:27 GMT
reasons why I love the long summer breaks:
1) It's good for traveling and liesure time (party!!!)
2) I wouldn't want to sit in a hot class all day
3) Great wheather to go out and do stuff. At night it's warm so you can stay out a bit later. (At least in Cali where I live)
4) It's more exciting for me to go back to school after a long break because it's like every body is introduced to school again and teachers too. I wouldn't like the two week thing because it would be like a whole bunch of kids just popped up in school from out of nowhere after two weeks. It's too quick of a change. And it wouldn't be enough time to get rid of the "last school year" feeling.
5)I'm used to it. People get used to things. If you lived in the U.S. all of your life you wouldn't mind it. But I guess If I live in Melbourne, I would be used to the schooling there.
6)I'm taking summer school (History-session 1 and Computer/Keyboarding-sess. 2).

Computer class at regular school was hard because the teacher is VERY strict and she tried to fail just about everyone as possible and she hated me and my friends so I changed classes for that period. :) So I'm taking computer concepts at summer school to get ahead since I probly don't need that class. I took semester 1 history first session because I failed it due to me falling asleep all the time. I passed the history final but I had lousy attendance and probly no participation points and she really docked points on me because of my snoring (J/K). (Plus I never studied history at home or else I'd fall asleep.) I got an A second semester due to my mom yelling at me.

There is schools here with terms like in Melbourne. A friend went to Ustach M.S., which is a year round school and they have those holiday/vacation breaks similar to the ones you say. Another is my cousins' school which is Robertson Road (RR)Elem. and they have this thing called 'track.' It's like a year round school but I heard it's different. Students get put into a color group.(I don't know how or whatever requirements for that.) But each color has a different break. Like, my cousins are in the blue group. So in September they get two/three weeks off for a break. The other colors have to stay in school. Orange is on break right now, I think (or was is red?) It's something like that. But it's unfamiliar to me.

La dee da dee daaa...<skips> <falls> ouch.,
Rugger   Friday, July 18, 2003, 06:27 GMT
Thanks Hiyakiani for replying. Another thing I'd like to know about American high schools is what type of final year assesment do American students undergo (i.e. do American year 12's sit exams?). In Melbourne, year 11's and 12's undergo VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education). In year 12 you sit exams at the end of both semester 1 and semester 2 for all of your six/seven subjects, and the results of these exams plus the scores from internally assesed assignments are the basis of your VCE score (a percentage). Your VCE score is then mailed to students during the Christmas holidays. So, in my case I had exams for two Maths (General maths & Specialist maths), English (compulsory), Chemistry, Biology, Physics and the elective subject Human Development. The combination of subjects taken vary, with some students taking complete humanities subjects: eg. Philosophy, Classical History, Arts subects such as Architecture, etc. The VCE score is used for entrance into univeristy. For example, to do law or medicine at Melbourne Univesity you need a VCE score between 99-99.95 (the top scores). Of course there are prerequistes to each course (eg. Medicine prerequisites include physics or biology, chemistry and one maths). Some students choose to do IB instead of VCE so as to apply to an overseas university. So basically, the future of many students hinges upon their final year at school, and thus is a very tense year of studying.