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Friday the 02nd of July, 2004
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Good morning.

As you know, today is the last Daily Vitamin until Monday, August 30th. Besides taking a break, and giving you a break, we are going to use this opportunity to improve the Daily Vitamin for next year. To make inquiries more productive, for example, we will include a forum where you will be able to enter and see the answers to questions about each Daily Vitamin.

Before leaving you for the summer holidays, I want to remind you of the importance of staying in contact with English, especially while on vacation. Why? Well, as I always say the most difficult thing about learning English is maintaining what you have already learned. Don't let summer get in the way of your progress. Do something with English, everyday if possible.

Below I've included the Daily Vitamin from May 25th, to refresh your memory about some ways to keep you English alive in the summer.

Imagine coming back after summer with your English at the same level or even better than when you left. It is possible, but you have to make the choice to do something with English during the holidays and WRITE IT DOWN! Don't just say it, write down a plan, follow it and keep track of your progress during the summer.

A plan could be as simple as "I will read aloud for 3 minutes every day during my summer holidays" or "I will read an English book at the rate of at least two pages per day during my summer holidays," etc. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it must be something measurable that you can keep track of on a calendar or in your diary. As Africa, one of our Daily Vitamin recipients, wrote "find something that you really like, choose a hobby maybe, and try to do it in English." Following are some suggestions:

1) Read a little English every day, both silently and aloud to improve pronunciation. Graded novels created especially for different English levels are an excellent option. Anna S. suggested reading newspapers or magazines in English instead of the Spanish press.

2) Making video and cinema in English a part of your leisure activities during the holiday months can keep your comprehension abilities keen and help you to improve your vocabulary. Africa suggests at least one film per week.

3) Jordi suggested playing computer games. As he said, it's a way to practice English comprehension in a relaxing environment.

4) Anna M. suggested translating songs from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English. As she explains, it's a good way to forget how horrible the summer songs are by concentrating on their linguistic content.

5) You may want to participate in different language exchange programmes that are offered in your city. Africa suggested two in the Barcelona area: Wednesdays at 21:00 at the Philharmonic Pub ( There is also a trivia quiz in English on Thursday nights. Another option is the Barcelona Connect Meetings (

6) And of course if you like grammar, you may want to dust off that old grammar book and consider revising a bit each day, or every other day.

There is nothing "magic" about these ideas, but they work. The trick is to create a plan and follow it. You may even want to start now, to begin to form your habits before your holidays.

If you have any questions or comments about today's Daily Vitamin, please contact Rachel Playfair, as I will be out of the office.

Have a great summer!

Thursday the 01st of July, 2004
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Good morning.

This year I received quite a few inquiries about how to begin and end a letter or an e-mail in English. Today I quickly summarise some of the options.


To a Friend or Acquaintance
--> Dear Olga,
--> Dear Mark,

To Business Contacts
--> Dear Mrs Franks,
--> Dear Mr Jackson,

To a Company or an Organisation
--> Dear Sir or Madam,
--> Dear Sirs, (sometimes considered "politically incorrect")

To a Person with a Title
--> Dear Professor Blake,
--> Dear Dr Gonzalez,


More Formal
--> Yours sincerely,
--> Yours faithfully,

Less Formal
--> (With) love,
--> (With) warmest regards,
--> (With) kind regards,
--> (With) best wishes,
--> Regards,
--> Yours,
--> Yours forever,
--> Yours, with best wishes,

If you have questions about these "formulas" for beginning and ending letters, please don't hesitate to contact me. Remember that tomorrow will be the last Daily Vitamin until August 30th.

I hope you have a great day.