Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week 7 task: Contrasts

Welcome to this week's blog task!

This week, we've looked at a couple of areas of grammar & vocabulary (countable/uncountable nouns, discourse markers for expressing contrast, expressions for making comparisons).

This week's blog task aims are for you:

1. to apply recently learned grammar and vocabulary;

2. to practice descriptive writing;

3. to practice editing your own writing;

4. to read and respond to your classmates' writing.

Stage 1 (we did this yesterday!):
  • Think of two cities/towns/villages that you've lived in or know fairly well (for example, these could be Brisbane and your hometown).

  • Make note of as many differences and similarities as you can between those two places.
Stage 2:
  • Read the text I've written below comparing Brisbane and Edinburgh.

  • Work in pairs: Discuss these questions regarding the structure of the text:

- How many paragraphs are there? What is the purpose of each paragraph?

- How many different comparing/contrasting expressions are used?

- I've used several that we haven't discussed in class yet. Which ones are they?

When I was growing up, I moved around a lot with my family; by the time I was 16, I had lived in five different countries. As an adult, however, the two places where I've spent most time are Brisbane and Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.
Although Brisbane is much larger than Edinburgh in terms of population (Brisbane's population is 1.8 million, whereas Edinburgh's is less than 500,000), they are quite similar in a number of ways. Firstly, the actual central business districts (or CBDs) of the two cities are fairly small and compact - much smaller than those of Sydney or London, for example. In contrast, the suburbs of the two metropolises sprawl out for miles into the surrounding areas.
This compactness contributes to the relatively relaxed and laidback vibe that I think both cities have. I've also lived in London and, in comparison, the lifestyle in both Brisbane and Edinburgh is much more easygoing. Similarly, the smaller size of the two cities means that it is quick and easy to escape the city centre and find some fresh air, which really helps to reduce the stress level.
Another similarity between Brisbane and Edinburgh relates to music. Both cities have pretty small music scenes, with few venues or decent bands. Also, many touring overseas bands ignore Brisbane and Edinburgh when they visit Australia or Scotland. Melbourne and Glasgow, on the other hand, are larger cities have flourishing music scenes and no self-respecting musician would ever miss those two places on an Australian tour!

Nevertheless, there are a number of major differences between Brisbane and Edinburgh. The main one is history: Edinburgh is far older than Brisbane - about four hundred years older, in fact. As a result, the two cities have developed in very different ways. The oldest surviving buildings in Brisbane - the Windmill on Wickham Street, and the Old Commissariat Store on William Street - were built by convicts in 1828. The oldest building in Edinburgh, in contrast, was built in the 12th century! In addition, Edinburgh is divided into two parts: the Old Town and the New Town, which dates from about 1766. Even in the New Tow, there is a lot of architectural consistency. Brisbane's architecture has no such consistency; it's just one big architectural mess, really!

So, particularly in terms of lifestyle and music, Brisbane and Edinburgh are quite similar. As far as history and architecture go, however, the two cities could hardly be more different!

Stage 3:
  • Using my text as a model, and your thoughts and notes from Stage 1, write your first draft of your own comparison of two places you know well.
  • Remember to use a variety of linking expressions (but, although, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite) and comparing/contrasting expressions.
  • Be careful with your use of nouns. When you use a noun in your writing, think about it: Is it countable or uncountable? Should it be singular or plural? Does it an article (a/an, the) or a quantifier (some, any, many, a few, a little) before it?

Happy writing!

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