Friday, February 1, 2019

Learning English by Looking at Houses

Now you may be looking at this photo and wondering what kind of real estate this is. Well, it's a hangout for monkeys (this is at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, CA). Zoo architects put up structures that have the basic elements of a house even though these monkeys have probably never been in a human house. What do you see? A roof, different floors, a wooden frame with no windows, a rope ladder for getting to the second story of the building, and a shady view from the bottom floor of the house. Now you have a little language to start with.

Basic House Vocabulary

Look at the photo above which comes from the Little World website  Little World (Japan) is a special park which displays houses from various parts of the world which were either transported intact from the country of origin or reconstructed using materials from the country of origin. Visitors have the opportunity to go inside the house structures.
Do you see any similarities between this house above and the first one for the monkeys? The roof is the top of the house and protects the people (or monkeys) from rain or too much sunshine. The floor is the flat or horizontal structure on which the inhabitants can stand, lie, groom, play, and place furniture. A house can have more than one floor as the monkey house does. If it does have more than one story (= floor of a building), usually, people have a staircase inside or outside their house to get to the upper level. However, if you build a treehouse for your children, you might use a rope ladder like the one you see in the zoo photo.

Every home has certain basic elements - an entryway or door, walls, a roof (something above your head to keep out the rain and/or sun) and windows or openings to look outside and to let fresh air inside. The photo above of a traditional house from rural Japan shows you what we expect most houses to look like. 

A great way to expand your vocabulary in a foreign language - or even in your native language - is to focus on a topic of interest to you. If you're trying to build useful vocabulary about houses or housing, for example, try the real estate section of any newspaper. You can also go online, of course, and do some virtual house-hunting.