I actually happened to take the classes that particular year and I remember there being great stories that aren't included here.
Those were probably conversation pieces. I have decided to bundle those up in a separate book devoted exclusively to conversations. But yeah, they were pretty cool.
Aren't all these stories kind of the same?
I hear what you're saying. Quite a few of them deal with growing up and the different ways that kids experience their childhood. Getting pulled over by cops and commuting to work also comes up repeatedly, as do other themes. But the similarities are all coincidental. Other years, there will be very different stories.
Am I wrong to think there's a lot of the same grammar in them too?
Again, guilty as charged. (Damn it.) Sharp-eyed readers will undoubtedly notice that phrases like can't blame sb / next thing you know / get off one's lazy ass / here's the deal and others pop up time and time again. Now, is it a problem? It would be if we were talking about a few marginal phrases that I took a liking to for no apparent reason and shoved them down your throat. As it stands, we're not, I didn't and I don't, so it's not.
Isn't there too much slang?
No, just the right amount.
What's with the asterisks (*) next to some vocabulary?
An asterisk next to a word/phrase indicates that this word/phrase probably isn't worth knowing outside of this particular story. Note the n't part in isn't.
The Czech versions seem radically different from the original. Are these even correct translations?
Now, radically may be taking it a bit too far. But you're right, I do stray from the original whenever necessary, i.e. all the time. But that's what it takes to keep it real, yo.
Thing is, I would hate to have the Czech version sound like a Google translation with its word-for-word approach:
nemohu uvěřit, že / nemůžu tě vinit, že / zde je co se stalo. That would defeat the whole purpose.
But wouldn't it make things easier for us?
Sure it would. But it would also trick you into thinking that English is easier for a Czech student to learn than it actually is. And I can't have that. Look, we're dealing with two very very different languages here and I didn't get to invent or shape any of them (though I wish I had/could, I'd have done a great job).
So in other words, you are making things hard for us on purpose?
Uh huh. And boo hoo. You know what they say, You take it easy on the training ground, you'll get hammered on the battlefield. Well, they don't actually say that, not in real English, but you see my point, right?
But I don't like your Czech.
To each his own. Maybe your Czech sucks. Maybe mine does. (Nah.) Either way, I try to use the kind of Czech that I'd be comfortable using in my own writing or speech.
Why aren't the Czech translations right next to the original stories?
You'd like that, wouldn't you?
Fill-ins, huh? What's the point exactly?
Fill-ins are a simple way to find out if you have learned anything from a story. They're not the be-all and end-all, but they are a pretty useful indicator of your progress.
Could I sometimes fill different words in the gaps and still get it right?
You could, although not as often as you may think. But yes, there are sometimes alternatives—if you're reasonably sure of yours, fair enough, feel free to continue being sure.
What if I want to tackle a new fill-in—how do I know right off which ones I haven't done yet?
You know the red dot that some people in India put on their forehead? Yes, that one. Turns out the concept is easily transferrable. Among other things, it can be used as a means of keeping track. Here, for instance, it will allow you to distinguish between stuff you have done (a dot next to a paragraph), stuff you haven't done yet (no dot) and stuff you have done repeatedly (correspoding number of dots). See how that could work?
Or maybe I could just write in the gaps. That would do it, right?
Yes, it would. It would also make it impossible for you to go back and re-test your knowledge a few weeks down the line. But whatever melts your butter, man.
While we're at it, what's the point of the add-on exercises? They seem just like a bunch of leftovers, if you ask me.
I'm kind of torn about the add-ons. On the one hand I didn't want to clutter up too much space with exercises that no one really cares for. But I also wanted to tempt you with various other ways to test your newfound knowledge. Based on feedback, I'll either put more of them in upcoming books or scrap them altogether.