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  1. British Christmas: How the Victorians Invented Christmas as We Know It https://www.anglotopia.net/british-history/victorians-invented-christmas Today, when Christmas decorations begin to appear in shops as early as summer, it seems strange to think that there was a time when the holiday was barely celebrated at all. In the earliest days of Christianity in Britain, many traditions were simply carried over from Pagan beliefs, such as celebrating the holiday close to the winter solstice and the use of evergreens, which represented fertility in Paganism and everlasting life in Christianity. Other traditions that carried over during the holiday included mistletoe, the yule log, and the twelve days of Christmas. By the Elizabethan period, there still wasn’t much of a Christmas “season” and the holiday was treated as a feast day, much as it would have been for any saint. Even with English Reformation, Christmas itself didn’t change much, though public celebrations and older Pagan-based traditions were banned for being superstitious. The Christmas feast was a chance to really celebrate with the best food and drink. Perhaps the only interruption in these celebrations was during the Commonwealth period, when Cromwell’s government ordered a cessation to the celebration of the holiday, even going so far as to order soldiers to seize any special meals being prepared for the day. Celebrations continued to be subdued during the Georgian and Edwardian periods, but the holiday would experience a turnaround in the Victorian period. Coinciding with the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, Charles Dickens published a novel called The Pickwick Papers, that included an idealized version of the Christmas. In fact, the story of Christmas in Dingley Dell features an ill-tempered sexton who is visited by goblins who teach him the true meaning of the holiday, past and present. Sound familiar? Already a noted author, “A Christmas Carol” was an immediate hit when it was published in 1843, being adapted into a stage play within a year and expanding on a picturesque view of Christmas with feasts, charity, Christmas carols, spending time with loved ones, and even helped to popularise the phrase “Merry Christmas” as well as giving rise to the use of the word “Scrooge”. In the same year that Dickens introduced A “Christmas Carol”, another Christmas tradition also made its debut. Sir Henry Cole commissioned artist John Callcott Horsley to design the first Christmas card on 1 May 1843. The card that Horsley produced had three illustrations, with the central portrait of a three-generation family raising a toast to the card’s recipient while flanked on either side with images of clothing and food being given to the poor. Cole, who was Chairman of the Arts, only had 1,000 printed and at a great cost, but it gave birth to the tradition of sending cards each year to wish happy holidays and good fortune. As the cost of postage lowered in the 1870s, the custom became more widespread. Starting in 1873, Prang and Mayor began to mass-manufacture cards for the public. Just as Christmas cards became commercial popular during Victorian times, another popular holiday item came along that we still use today. Tom Smith, a confectioner in the 1840s, was having trouble selling his bonbons. He tried a series of gimmicks before inserting love messages into the sweet wrappers and then the cracker element after being inspired by the logs on his fireplace. Thus, the earliest Christmas crackers were born in 1847. It was first advertised as a Cosaque (or “Cossack”), but the term “cracker” quickly became more popular. Tom’s son, Walter Smith, introduced, even more, elements that we see in modern crackers, including jokes, paper crowns, and toys. Of course, in both Dickens’s and Horsley’s portrayals of Christmas, several key elements that we have today are missing. Some holiday traditions can trace themselves to Queen Victoria’s 1840 marriage to Prince Albert. Lighted Christmas trees were a part of decorations in Germany, often illuminated with wax candles. German immigrants to the United States and the United Kingdom brought the custom with them, and Albert was no different. He brought the tradition of a Christmas tree to Buckingham Palace in 1840, which was highlighted for the first time in a drawing of the Royal Family for the Illustrated London News in 1848. Even though Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III had been the first Royal to have a Christmas tree, it was the illustration that popularised the decoration with the masses. As the newspapers continued to describe the palace’s Christmas trees in subsequent years, the people quickly followed the Royal example and Christmas trees began to appear throughout Britain. The First Christmas Card As mentioned previously, the hanging of greenery inside and outside of the home went back to pre-Christian Britain, and with the proliferation of Christmas trees thanks to Prince Albert, other evergreen traditions also made their way back into British homes. The uniformity and aesthetics of the evergreens became more important than they had been in the past, with families wishing to present an orderly and elegant appearance. Druids viewed mistletoe as a symbol of vitality and one belief had it that if it was brewed into a drink, it would provide a cure for infertility. The idea of mistletoe and kissing under it seems to come from Norse tradition and was possibly brought over when those cultures invaded England. The use of the plant as a symbol fell out when Christianity became the dominant religion, as the hanging of mistletoe was viewed as a Pagan superstition. How it came back into use during the Victorian period seems unclear, but authors Washington Irving and Charles Dickens included mentions of it in their works, the latter most notably in The Pickwick Papers. Mistletoe was a key ingredient in a “kissing ball” or “kissing bough”. Kissing boughs were typically spherical and included ivy, holly, berries, ribbons, and even a miniature nativity in some cases. One tradition holds that, for every kiss under the mistletoe, a berry was removed until there were none left. Some superstitions held that those who kissed under it were blessed with good luck, but those who failed to do so would have bad luck. One tradition that was revived during the Victorian period was the singing of Christmas carols. Christmas carols are as old as Roman times and existed in Britain as early as the 13th century. English language carols first appeared in 1425 in the works of John Awdlay, who mentions groups of “wassailers” singing carols from house to house. However, as with many Christmas traditions, the singing of carols went out with many other Puritan bans on Christmas celebrations under Cromwell. However, the post-Puritan carols focused mostly on feasting and merriment more than religion, though a couple songs that saw their debut included “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” and “Hark the Herald”. By the 1850s, carol singing was popular again due to a combination of pianos becoming more affordable and the granting of paid holidays from work in the 1870s. Additionally, one of the biggest stars of Christmas made his first appearance in Britain during the Victorian era. The Protestant Reformation saw many Saints’ days and celebrations fall out of practice as they were believed to be too “Catholic”. Unfortunately, this included Saint Nicholas. Nicholas had been a Greek bishop famous for his gifts to the poor, most notably three daughters to whom he provided dowries so they would not become prostitutes. His legend grew such that he became Father Christmas in Britain by the 16th century, typically pictured as a large man with flowing green or red robes, but this debut was just in time for Nicholas’s feast day to be forgotten with the rest. Father Christmas saw a brief resurgence during the English Civil War and Commonwealth periods as a Royalist symbol of rebellion, pairing the figure with notions of the Church and King prior to Cromwell, but this did not last following the Restoration. Father Christmas’s reappearance is due, in part, to “A Christmas Carol’s” Ghost of Christmas Present bearing a strikingly similar look. Dickens described him as such: “It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head, it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanor, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard, but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust. Even before Dickens helped to promote the image of Father Christmas again, Thomas Harvey’s “The Book of Christmas” brought the holiday figure back and described him as riding a goat, much different from the reindeer that we imagine today. Harvey’s Father Christmas was also more about merriment than religion, a theme that would continue to grow as time went on and he became even more of a secular figure associated with joy and gift-giving. This version of Father Christmas would continue to appear in folk plays for the remainder of the century, varying in appearance according to regional customs and depictions. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Saint Nicholas’s legend came to America with Dutch settlers. Known as Sinterklaas, the name later changed to Santa Claus and this version of Father Christmas began to make his way back to Europe in the 1850s. In 1853, A “Visit from Saint Nicholas”, which so cemented the modern image of Santa Claus in America, was published in Britain. The 1854 publication in the UK of the American novel “The Christmas Stocking”, further popularised the image of Santa Claus and hanging stockings with British children. These two works helped to transform Father Christmas to resemble his American counterpart even more, with Father Christmas’s robes changing from green to red and leaving gifts in stockings. Stockings then replaced the old tradition of gifts being left in shoes. By the end of the 19th century, the two were practically indistinguishable, though the name Father Christmas remained dominant over Santa Claus. One Christmas tradition that actually originated during Queen Victoria’s reign is that of Boxing Day. While the idea of giving a “Christmas box” to servants seems to go back to the 17th Century and was even mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ Diary. At this time, it was customary for the servant to have to serve their employers on Christmas day, and then would be permitted to go home to their own families the day after, often with a Christmas box of gifts and goodies from their employers. However, this custom did not appear to become a widespread tradition until the 1830s, with the Oxford English Dictionary defining it as “the first weekday after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds receive a Christmas-box.” In 1871, Boxing Day became a national holiday in England, Wales, Ireland, and Canada. Many of these traditions that either began during the Victorian era or came back into prominence remain with us today. We hang both real and fake evergreens and Christmas trees often lit with electric lights rather than candles that come in traditional white or a variety of colors. We continue to sing the old carols, sometimes joined with accompaniment from a stereo or iPod more than a piano. We take our children to visit Father Christmas in a department store and have a photo taken. Instead of providing servants with gifts, we use Boxing Day to go shopping or watch a football match as we finish off the leftovers from Christmas day. You’ll still find people kissing under the mistletoe and families gathering in their homes, glad to spend the holiday together. Though many of these traditions may have changed since the 19th Century, the impact of the Victorians on Christmas is still felt today.
  2. The 201 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English https://www.thoughtco.com/commonly-misspelled-words-in-english- With a little practice, you can improve your spelling. Begin by reviewing the following list of 201 of the most commonly misspelled words in English. Then pick out those words that tend to give you problems, and make up a series of short sentences in which you use these troublesome words—spelled correctly, of course. Commonly Misspelled Words absence accommodate achieve acquire across address advertise advice among apparent argument athlete awful balance basically becoming before beginning believe benefit breathe brilliant business calendar careful category ceiling cemetery certain chief citizen coming competition convenience criticize decide definite deposit describe desperate develop difference dilemma disappear disappoint discipline does during easily eight either embarrass environment equipped exaggerate excellent except exercise existence expect experience experiment explanation familiar fascinating finally foreign forty forward friend fundamental generally government grammar guarantee guidance happiness heroes humorous identity imaginary imitation immediately incidentally independent intelligent interesting interfere interpretation interruption invitation irrelevant irritable island jealous judgment knowledge laboratory length lesson library license loneliness losing lying marriage mathematics medicine miniature minute mysterious naturally necessary neighbor neither noticeable occasion occurred official often omission operate optimism original ought paid parallel particularly peculiar perceive perform permanent persevere personally persuade picture piece planning pleasant political possess possible practical prefer prejudice presence privilege probably professional promise proof psychology quantity quarter quiet quit quite realize receive recognize recommend reference religious repetition restaurant rhythm ridiculous sacrifice safety scissors secretary separate shining similar sincerely soldier speech stopping strength studying succeed successful surely surprise temperature temporary through through toward tries truly twelfth until unusual using usually village weird welcome whether writing
  3. Christmas Traditions English Vocabulary http://www.vocabulary.cl/Lists/Christmas_Traditions.htm Christmas celebration Christmas is celebrated on December 25th each year. It is originally a religious celebration, marking the day that Jesus Christ was born. Nowadays however, it is celebrated by both religious and non religious people alike. Usually people get together with family, friends and loved ones, enjoy a meal together and exchange gifts. It is, on the whole, a "warm and fuzzy" time of year. Santa Claus Santa Claus (alternatively known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicolas or the fat guy in the red suit) is an icon of the Christmas season. It is believed that he lives in the North Pole, and throughout the year has the magical ability to monitor the behavior of every child in the world. He then makes a list dividing the children into two groups, the naughty and the nice and those who have been nice get presents at Christmas time. How does he deliver the presents? He flies through the sky on a sleigh pulled by 9 reindeer with his large bag of presents. The most famous reindeer is Rudolf who has a red nose that shines and helps Santa guide his sleigh. At each house he goes down the chimney and leaves the presents under the Christmas tree or he puts them in stockings (if they can fit!) that are hung up by the fireplace. Before he leaves he enjoys a snack that the children have left for him and then goes on his merry way. The Christmas tree The Christmas tree is another important tradition at this time of year. It is a pine tree that is sometimes real but artificial trees are more common. The tree is put up and decorated with decorations of many sorts. Bells, shiny Christmas balls, colorful lights and sometimes decorations made by the children at school. The final decoration is a star or an angel which is put up at the very top of the tree. The tree is traditionally kept up until the 6th of January. Mistletoe is another plant that is put up at this time of year and be careful, if you're caught standing under it, another person is allowed to give you a kiss, just hope it is someone you like! Christmas food As mentioned earlier this time of year is when families often get together and have a Christmas meal, either on Christmas eve (24th) or on Christmas day. It is a time where people forget about their diets and eat and drink a lot. They often complain that after this season they have acquired a few extra kilos! Traditional food is usually a large Christmas turkey or a huge leg of Christmas ham. Chocolates and sweets are also very popular and one in particular that stands out is called the candy cane. It is a red and white striped candy in the shape of a cane with a delicious Minty flavour. Christmas gifts For the children however the main focus of Christmas are the presents. This often causes a lot of stress for the parents and adults as they spend a lot of time running around trying to find the perfect gift as well as one that is within their price range. The shopping malls resemble mad houses for this very reason, with masses of people frantically rushing around like headless chickens! This is why many people dislike Christmas, feeling it has become a time for commercial propaganda and that the true Christmas spirit has been forgotten. Luckily not all people have been affected in this way and donate old toys to charities and orphanages and provide food to the homeless. Christmas carols Traditional Christmas songs are called 'carols' and are heard everywhere at this time of year. They use all kinds of instruments but are often accompanied by bells. Often choir groups will go door knocking around their local neighborhood and sing for the people in hope of a Christmas donation. Christmas cards A lot of people like to send cards to their loved ones to wish them a 'Merry Christmas', especially if they live far away and will not be able to see them at Christmas time. They come in a wide range of designs and colours although the traditional colours are red and green. You will find that more and more people send their Christmas message via e-mail because it's cheaper and easier. Nativity play The re-enacting of the birth of Jesus Christ is very typical in schools and churches during the Christmas holidays or a little before. They're usually held in schools before the holidays and at church on the special day itself of Christmas eve. Children usually dress-up in old rags and towels to play the important figures during the birth of Jesus, including the Virgin Mary, the three kings, Joseph and sometimes the animals in the barn. Typical gifts Children are forever nagging their parents for the latest toy, video game, bicycle and Christmas is the perfect moment to pile on the pressure. Parents find it hard getting something for their children that the children will appreciate and keeping within the price range. Gifts could range from remote control cars to doll houses. Adults on the other hand, don't have this problem. Sometimes adults are not too interested in presents and tend not to make a big fuss over the exchanging of gifts, although they buy something for their loved ones, the gifts tend to be somewhat low key and maybe a bit boring, such as ties, socks, jumpers, toiletries, calendars, diaries etc. Maybe Christmas should stay with the children, considering that they get better presents and have a lot more fun playing with them. Boxing day Boxing day, the 26th of December, is celebrated in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Greenland, Hong Kong and a number of other countries. It is called this because traditionally it was the day for giving gifts to the less wealthy people and servants (who sometimes had to work on Christmas day). It doesn't happen much now and the day is mainly an extra holiday for many people to recover from their Christmas excesses! A common tradition (in New Zealand and Australia) is also to go to the boxing day races. People take a picnic and go to the race track to place a few bets on the horses or simply to enjoy the atmosphere in family. Northern v Southern hemisphere The boxing day races tradition is obviously only possible in the southern hemisphere, because Christmas is in the summer time. In this part of the world people often go to the beach, either for a day trip or rent a house to spend a few days. In the Northern hemisphere many countries associate Christmas with snow and a time to go outside and build a snowman or have battles with snow balls!
  4. 10 Ways to Find Free or Cheap E-Books https://www.thoughtco.com/rent-buy-borrow-share-electronic-book Начало формы Literature E-books have become more and more popular, but it's sometimes difficult to find the books you want to read (especially at a price you can afford). However, there are cheaper (sometimes even free) ways to rent, borrow, trade, or loan books. Take a look at these resources. Note: Please, carefully read the terms and conditions before you subscribe, register for, or use any of these e-book services. Search Overdrive On Overdrive, you can search local libraries and bookstores for audiobooks, e-books, music, video! It's a free search, and it features various formats (which allows you to find the format you need for your device/reading preference). More » Norton eBooks Norton eBooks allow you to access books from W.W. Norton. With these e-book editions, you can highlight, take notes, print chapters, and search the text — it's perfect for any literature student/lover. Note: These e-books are Flash-based. If your device does not support Flash, e-book titles can be purchased from CourseSmart. More » BookBub BookBub sends you email alerts when there's a great deal on books that match your interests: bestsellers, mysteries and thrillers, romance, science fiction and fantasy, literary fiction, teen and young adult, business, religious and inspirational, historical fiction, biographies and memoirs, cooking, advice, and how-to. The alerts are also based on where you buy your e-books: Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks), Kobo Books, Smashwords, or other. You can also access the updates via Facebook and Twitter. More » eReaderIQ.com eReaderIQ.com monitors your titles and lets you know when they are available in Kindle format. If there's a classic you'd like to add to your e-book collection (but it's not yet available in electronic format, you can add it to your "My Watch List." You can also take a look at titles that other readers are looking for (in e-book format), as well as "Free Kindle Books" and "Price Drops." This service offers Daily "Deals and Freebies" via email subscription, an RSS feed, and mobile access (optimized for Kindle and iPad). It's a great way to track what you need. More » Internet Archive At the internet archive, you can access free fiction, popular books, children’s books, historical texts and academic books. There are some restrictions on bulk re-use and commercial use. Please see the collection or the sponsor of a book for more information regarding electronic use/re-use of e-books. More » eCampus.com On eCampus.com, you can rent, buy and sell electronic versions of your literature textbooks. You can access the site via subscription for 360 days. eCampus.comfeatures more than 1,000 frequently used titles, including many works of literature e-books: adventure, anthologies, drama, essays and reference, fiction classics, literary books, short stories, and much more. More » LendingEbooks.com LendingEbooks.com is a free service that allows you to share your Kindle and Nook e-books with other readers. The site features a blog that lists new books, a Book Club, and chat (which enables you to chat with other readers, as well as some authors).More » Hundred Zeros Subscribe to the newsletter for Hundred Zeros — the website that features e-books that are available for free on Amazon.com. Subject categories include arts and entertainment, biographies and memoirs, classics, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reference, and much more. More » Your Local Library More and more libraries across the country are making e-books free to rent for library card-holders. Check your library's online catalog or ask a librarian to see if this benefit is available in your region. eBookFling This online service is free to join—you can "fling" any Kindle or Nook book at other readers connected with the site, and "catch" the titles you want to read. When you lend the books in your collection, you receive credits, which allow you to borrow books for free. If you don't have the online credit with eBookFling, the service charges a fee to borrow a book. The lending/borrowing period is: 14 days (your book is returned at that time). More »
  5. Ancient Arabic Words You Don’t Know You’re Using http://www.dictionary.com/e/s/arabic-roots/ Arabian delights English is like a big Mediterranean spread, with tons of bratwurst and beer, croissants, Nicoise salads, and chocolate soufflés. In other words, it’s made up of primarily Latin, Germanic, and French roots. This makes for a rich language to grace the palette. But, there are additional languages, usually undetectable, that add zest to the banquet. Peppered throughout the English language are Arabic roots, enhancing English with a spicy warmth. Today’s meal is all about the Arabian delights that make up English; these words are so common, their original flavor is barely discernible; without them, though, English would be awfully bland. Alcohol Although English would certainly have found another term for the substance, alcohol is a word drinkers wouldn’t know what to do without. It’s widely agreed that the liquid and the lexicon were brought from the Arab world to Europe in the 1100s. There are two possibilities for the word’s origins: In one theory, alcohol traces to al-kuhl (think “kohl”), a word for a fine chemical powder used as an antiseptic (like a kind of ethanol) and as eyeliner (Cleopatra, the originator of the cat-eye). Another theory suggests it derives from al-ghawl, “spirit” or “demon” (which is where the English word ghoul comes from). This second theory might be more likely: English describes alcoholic beverages as spirits. Also, having a hangover is demonic. Candy No alcohol? No candy? People might be a little healthier but much less happy had these Arabian delights not pleasured our palettes, linguistic and otherwise. In the late 1200s, candy meant “crystallized sugar.” The word comes from the Arabic qandi, which itself traces back to Persian, Sanskrit, and even Dravidian terms meaning “cane sugar” and “to harden, or condense”; by the 13thcentury, these two linguistic meanings melted and crystallized together. Check and checkmate The earliest meaning of check was related to the game of chess; a check was (and is) a move that puts the opponent’s king in peril. Chess originated in India around 500 AD, spread to Persia, and was then discovered by conquering Arabs. The Persian and Arabic word for “king” is shah. A player wins by putting the shah in jeopardy, leaving it unable to move, at which point: shah mat, “the king is dead” (or for a less dramatic version, “the king is left helpless”). And, shah mat turned into “checkmate” today. Coffee Think of Turkish coffee, the thick unfiltered preparation of this caffeinated brew, and you’re getting close to the origins of the word coffee. Coffee ventured into Turkey, but it wasn’t born there. Originating in Ethiopia, the beverage passed through the Middle East (first introduced in Yemen) in the 1400s, where it was named qahwah. The Arabic word derives from a term meaning “to lack hunger”; qahwah was first used in reference to a dark wine that helped curb one’s appetite. Cotton The word cotton ties to the Egyptian Arabic qutn, which further links to an ancient term for “flax” or “linen.” While Egyptian cotton is now the utmost standard of quality, some researchers think cotton was too rare in ancient times (or didn’t exist yet), which is why Ancient Egyptians made extensive use of linen and flax instead—and they might have called qutn. Whatever the case, Egyptian cotton (the real kind) has only gained in quality and popularity over the millennia. Today, cotton is one of Egypt’s leading exports. And, if you sleep betwixt a-bazillion thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets, we're guessing you're thankful for the Arabic addition. Soda Back in the day, a patron at the corner drugstore could hop on the stool and order caffeinated cocaine with a splash of lithium and a twist of lime. All in the name of curing the ol’ headache, indigestion, or "failure to launch," wink, wink. Shocking as it is today, soda first fizzed as a medicinal remedy. Although the connection is disputed, the word might have bubbled up from the Arabic suda, meaning “splitting headache.” The Medieval Latin sodamum transformed the painful Arabic noun into a “palliative treatment for a headache.” Sofa Arabs knew how to lounge centuries before Sealy and La-Z-Boy. While lacking in soy-based polyfoam and flexolator spring suspension, the Arabic suffah(“bench of stone or wood”) was the initial prototype that evolved into the comfy tush-cush it is today. In the 1620s, the Turkish transformed the bench into an entire raised section of a room, covered with soft cushions and plush rugs. About a century later, the “long-bench” idea came back, only this time it was stuffed with comfortable cushions (more closely resembling today’s sofa). There lies the pivotal milestone in humanity’s collective journey to the land of “ahhhhs.”
  6. 4 Ways You Can Use Dictation to Help ESL Students http://busyteacher.org/23906-dont-ditch-dictation-4-fabulous-ways-esl.html Reading Comprehension Dictation For this activity, you will put students in pairs. Each person will have a copy of a reading comprehension passage at their seats. But the questions on the passage will be numbered and posted throughout the room. Student start by designating a speaker and a writer. The speaker runs to the first question, memorizes it, and returns to their partner. They then dictate the question and the writer copies it down word for word. The speaker is not allowed to see what the writer has written on their paper. Once the question is down on paper, students work together to find the answer to the question in the reading passage and the writer writes the answer beneath the question. The students then bring their question and answer to you the teacher for a check. If both are correct, the team moves on to question number two, switching the roles of speaker and writer. If either the question or the answer is incorrect, let them know and they must go back and fix their error before coming back up for a second check. Students continue until they have answered all the question on the reading passage. This activity will give your students speaking, listening, and reading comprehension practice as well as get them moving and get their blood pumping. 2. Four Fold Dictation This activity offers lots of listening practice as well as spelling and speaking practice. Choose a short passage to dictate to your students. You might want to choose something that relates to a unit you are studying in class. Tell students that the first time you read the passage, you want them to just listen. Read the passage to your students a second time, and this time have them note the key words in each sentence. Encourage your students to focus on nouns and verbs in each sentence and let things like articles and quantifiers go for now. Those words they will fill in the third time you read the passage when they listen for the exact wording. Finally, have students work in groups of three or four students to try and recreate the entire text. When everyone is finished, give each group a copy of the passage and have them look for differences between it and what they came up with as a group. 3. Dictation Buttons If you want to challenge your students listening skills and get some motion in at the same time, this slightly crazy activity will certainly get their ears working at top speed. Before class you will need to post some symbols on your front board. You will want each symbol to be about the size of a standard piece of paper. The symbols should be play, stop, rewind, and fast forward. (Tip: if you can, print the symbols out paper and then tape the papers to your board. That way they will not erase when students put their hands on them throughout the activity.) You will also need to choose a passage that you will dictate to your students. If possible, write out your passage with each new sentence starting on a fresh line. This will help you as you go forward and back as you read. In class, match each person up with a partner. One person will be the speaker and the other the writer. Have your writers sit at the back of the room while you stand up front with the passage you will dictate to your class. To start the activity, have one person press play. You will then start reading the passage to the listeners. You will continue to read until someone presses stop. The listeners then run back to their partners and dictate what you have said while the writers put the words on paper. If necessary they can hit rewind and have you repeat what you just read before hitting stop again. Take note of where you are in the dictation at all times because you will be starting from where you left off every time you read. After the writer has written down what the speaker remembers from the dictation, the speaker can come back to the front to have you read more. If they want to go back and hear something again, they should press rewind (you back up one sentence from the location you left off) and then play. If they want you to continue from where you are, they simply press play (you continue from the same location) and then stop. If someone else has backed up your reading and they need to get to a sentence further in the passage, they press fast forward (you skip ahead to the next sentence from where you stopped) and then play. Since many teams will be working at the same time, there is bound to be a little craziness as you are reading, but a little craziness is what makes the activity fun. Continue until each pair has written down the entire passage. Then have students look at what they wrote as you read the entire passage to them again from the start, without interruptions. 4. Loud Dictations If your students are shy about speaking, they’ll have to overcome their fears to be successful in this loud dictation activity. Put each person in your class with a partner. Have partners sit across from each other, but place them on opposite sides of the room so they are very far apart. Give the students on one side of the room one half of a dictation passage. Give the students on the other side of the room the other half of the dictation. Students will have to dictate their portion to their partner, who will write it down to make their own passage complete. Since students will be far away from each other, they will have to speak loudly or even shout so their partner can hear them. There will be a lot of noise in the classroom, so your class will have to listen very carefully to hear what their partners are saying. When both sides have complete passages, have them sit together and compare what they said to what their partner wrote down.
  7. 10 Italian words that you DIDN’T know are used in English http://www.ihpalermo.it/en/blog There are many English words that Italians use in everyday language like ‘computer’, ‘sport’, ‘jogging’, ‘selfie’ and many more. BUT…. Did you know that there are many Italian words used in English?! And not just the usual ones like pasta, pizza etc. but some other ones that you would not have expected to see! Let’s have a look…. 1 Bravo We use this word in exactly the same way as you use it in Italian. Like most the words on this list, when it is used it makes you sound like an upper-class member of society. However, there is one big problem when this word is used in English: we say it for both men AND women! ‘Bravo, Mike, bravo!’ ‘Bravo, Sarah, bravo!’ You may also have noticed, that we like to say it twice, with the person’s name in the middle. I don’t know why. 2 Maestro This word is most commonly used when speaking about classical music. It is not used to talk about normal teachers like in Italy – which unfortunately means that I can’t call myself “an English maestro” in English! The word is now used to describe an expert in an artistic field and often in sports. We also call Andrea Pirlo ‘the maestro’, or even someone like Roger Federer could be described as a ‘tennis maestro’. It is a direct translation of the word ‘master’, but saying ‘maestro’ just sounds much cooler! 3 Prima donna The first thing to note is that in English it is one word. Prima donna becomes primadonna. Like a lot of words in music, we use have stolen this Italian word and we use it in exactly the same way: to describe the lead female singer in an opera. However, this is NOT the most common use of the word in English. In fact, most English people don’t even know that it’s used to describe a female singer. We usually use it for men that take care of themselves (by using skin creams etc.) a lot and use MORE products that women use! For example, if a man uses moisturiser, his friends will probably make fun of him and say “you’re such a primadonna!” 4 Al forno We use many Italian words when talking about food: pasta, pizza, prosciutto just to name a few. We also use the term ‘al forno’, especially when we have ‘pasta al forno’. This is often written on the menu in Italian restaurants, but the funny thing is that nobody has any idea of what ‘al forno’ actually means! 5 Tempo This is used slightly differently. We don’t use it to talk about the time in normal life, but ONLY about the time in music. It refers to the speed of the music and measures the beats per minute. We also now use it in sport, especially football to say ‘the speed of the match’. A common thing to say is that Italian football has a slower tempo than English football (but we are still rubbish at football!). 6 Circa Used in exactly the same way in English as it is in Italian, to mean ‘approximately’. Again, if you use it in English, it makes you seem really intelligent. However, be careful, as the pronation is completely different. We pronounce it like “serca”. 7 Panini This is another word we use in a grammatically incorrect way. Like Italian, it means ‘sandwich’ in English, but not a sandwich with normal sliced bread. It is usually a toasted sandwich. Very strangely the word ‘panino’ doesn’t exist in English. This means that ‘panini’ is the singular and if you want two you must say ‘2 paninis please!’. 8 Diva This word entered the English language in the 19th century and was used just to describe a woman of great talent in the opera. It is still used in that sense; however, it is now more commonly used to describe a woman that is temperamental or difficult to please. Very often used to describe people in show business, Mariah Carey is often described as a diva! 9 Paparazzi Similar to ‘panini’, this is a word we always use in the plural. Although the word ‘paparazzo’ also exists in English, it is almost never used, so we normally say ‘paparazzi’ even for one person. Since the word’s first use in the film La Dolce Vita, its use has decreased in recent years because of the fact that each member of the public is now a ‘paparazzo’ with his / her smartphone! 10 Ciao. Known intentionally now and is sometimes used in English. Mainly used by rich American women and especially used by divas! Conclusion So, next time when you go to England, you now have 10 words where you don’t need to think of the translation!
  8. How to Choose the Right ESL Grammar Games http://www.fluentu.com/english/educator/blog/esl-grammar-games/ It’s important to recognize the purpose of a grammar game in your ESL lesson. By no means whatsoever should you use it as just another “time filler.” Yes, perhaps these particular games are funny and entertaining for your learners, but that’s not the point of using games in the classroom. The point is to learn and to take something away from the session. Think of games like interactive lessons. Contrary to popular belief, it’s completely possible for a grammar-focused ESL game to be both fun and educationally sound. If you’re not sure about which kind of grammar-based games are suitable for the ESL classroom, you can ask yourself the following questions: Does the grammar game practice any skills? If yes, which ones? What’s the purpose of the game? What kind of game is it? Is it a strategy game? A communicative grammar game? Does the grammar game mesh with the learners’ ages? Is the game the right fit for your learners’ levels? Are all learners involved in the grammar game? Does it require maximum student involvement? Do your students enjoy the game? Additionally, you can also ask yourself: What specific grammar points do you plan to introduce or practice through this ESL grammar game? Is it possible to maintain absolute control over your class while playing this particular game? Do you need any special materials to play this grammar game? If you do, can they be easily obtained? How will you be able to maintain student progress and keep your learners on track when playing this particular game? How long do you need to play this game? At which point of the lesson will you incorporate your grammar game? Are the rules clear? How will you successfully explain the game without too much TTT (teacher talking time)? At the end of the day, every learner of English (or any other language) wants to have a fun language learning experience. Many learners dread grammar and just the mention of the irregular past participles and passive voice may be enough to make them run and hide. Like in any type of ESL learning situation, things need to be changed up a bit and games can definitely be overused. Use them sparingly and at the right times to either introduce a point or to reinforce, but not for both. If you’ve been against using games to teach ESL grammar, you ought to give it a shot. You’ll not only motivate them, but you’ll also encourage your learners to use English more authentically. 7 Golden Grammar Games for a Winning ESL Lesson Plan So, without further ado, here are our 7 favorite grammar games for the ESL classroom. Would You Rather This classic sleepover and bus trip game, ideal for getting participants to know more about each other, can be a perfect giggle-inducing grammar game to reinforce recent lessons. The game is simple enough, driven by straightforward questions and answers. The main use for this game in the ESL classroom is to practice using conditionals and discussing hypothetical situations (would you): Would you rather get stung by a bee or bit by a spider? Would you rather dance in front of ten thousand people or in front of the President of the United States? Not to mention, being able to compare things in English is something that students will encounter frequently in interaction with native speakers. They’ll also get lots of practice using verbs in their different contexts. You can have students play this game in pairs, groups or as a whole classroom. Prepare questions ahead of time and provide students with lists, or let their imaginations run wild with freestyle play. Either way, a great way to add another tricky element to this game is to see how many students would rather do one thing as opposed to the other after playing for a while. For example, you could ask one student: “Sara, how many of your classmates would rather dance in front of the President of the United States?” Then this student must tell you how many people chose this option in her group or in the class. Blackboard Race This game is plain and simple—a good, old-fashioned classroom favorite for the ages. Divide the board into two halves, and divide the class into two teams. Call out a theme or category for learned vocabulary words and have students run to the board and write as many related words as possible. For example, you might call out something like, “Animals you will see at the zoo!” and one student from each team must run up to the board and write as many English zoo animal names as they can think of within a certain time limit. This game gets students thinking quickly and creatively. Conjugation Pyramid Similar to blackboard race, the conjugation pyramid is a race-to-win classic that is beloved by language students everywhere. Set this one up for the very end of class when there are a few minutes remaining—this will really get the pressure cooking. Draw a pyramid on either side of the board and break it up into blocks—kind of like a food pyramid, but with as many blocks as there are rounds in the game. So, if you want to go 10 rounds, draw 10 blocks in each pyramid. Then you’ll give your students a verb and a person (first person singular, second person plural) and they will have to run to the board and conjugate the verb into each tense accordingly. Depending on the skill level of your students and what you’d like to practice, you can also choose a tense and have students conjugate the entire verb chart for that tense. The student who gets the conjugations right wins their team a block in the pyramid! When a student wins a pyramid block, fill in that block with chalk or marker to indicate the progress. The first team with enough blocks to build their whole pyramid wins! Tic-Tac-Toe Draw up the grid for tic-tac-toe on the board. Fill in each square of the grid with a part of speech you want students to practice. What exactly you choose to include here is totally flexible, and depends on what lessons you’d like to reinforce. If you’re studying verb conjugation in the present tense, for example, fill in the grid with verbs in their infinitive forms. Students will be divided into two teams for this game. The first team goes by choosing a square from the tic-tac-toe grid. They then have to figure out, as a group, how to properly conjugate that verb. If they get the answer right, then they claim that square of the grid. If they get the answer wrong, then they lose their turn. Keep playing until one team scores a tic-tac-toe! Shootin’ Hoops Go down to the school’s gymnasium, playground or set up a makeshift basketball hoop in the classroom. You can manage this without damaging school property by simply setting up a hula hoop or other plastic ring as the “hoop” and by playing with a small inflatable or foam ball. Break the students into two groups or have them play individually against the rest of their classmates. There are two ways to go about playing this one. Before being allowed to take a shot, each student must either: Answer a question with the appropriate featured grammar pattern. Create a basic statement using the featured grammar pattern. If the student gets their answer or statement wrong or doesn’t phrase it properly, they won’t get to take a shot. If the student passes this part of the game, they get to take a shot. If they score, they get 2 points. If they don’t score but got the question right, they get 1 point. Hot Potato Use a foam or inflatable ball, and start up a fast-paced round or two of hot potato. The objective, of course, is to pass the ball around in a circle as fast as possible. Before passing the ball to the next student, the student holding the ball must show off their English grammar skills. When a student catches the ball, they must quickly think up a word that fits your given criteria, spit it out and pass the ball before the allotted time runs out. This is super flexible and can be adjusted to practice virtually any bit of grammar you’ve recently introduced or would like to review. For example, tell students learning the present tense that they must each say one verb conjugated in the present tense, using first person singular or “I form.” Each student will then have to say something like, “I run,” “I dance” or “I cry.” The ball gets passed around and around, with students being eliminated whenever they draw blanks or conjugate their verb wrong. For easier games, give each student 6-8 seconds. For harder, faster paced games, give students 2-3 seconds. You can also start slower and gradually increase the pace of the game as it progresses. Word Chain In this tricky game, students will have to think quickly and creatively. Start the class off by giving them a word which fits your desired theme. Restrict them to only certain parts of speech, such as nouns or verbs. For an extra challenging session, limit the words to certain moods and tenses. For example, every word given might need to be in present or past tense. If you’ve been practicing nouns in class lately, say a noun. The student who starts off the game will have to think of a word that begins with the last letter of the word you provided. If you’re practicing nouns and said, “food,” then the student could say “dog” or “dish.” If you’re practicing with adjectives and started with “beautiful,” then the next student might say “lazy” or “loud.” Go around the classroom playing this way and eliminating students who can’t think up words quickly enough. And that’s that! 7 great grammar games to pep up your English classroom. Have fun, and get those students learning English grammar!
  9. 20 Delicious English Idioms to Spice Up Your Daily Conversations https://www.fluentu.com/blog/english/english-idioms Everyone loves talking about food, and English speakers are no different! The following idioms are very common among English speakers and they can really add some flavor to your own speech. Let’s get started: 1. Spice things up You’ve probably guessed by now that to spice things up means to make them more interesting or exciting. Instead of just buying Sam a birthday gift, let’s spice things up by taking him out for dinner. 2. A piece of cake A piece of cake refers to a task or job that’s easy to complete or accomplish. I expected the English test to be difficult but it was a piece of cake. 3. Cool as a cucumber Cucumbers have a refreshing taste and leave you with a cool, calm feeling. So if you’re cool as a cucumber, you’re someone who’s very calm and relaxed. My friend is nervous about taking his driving test but I’m cool as a cucumber. 4. Couch potato A couch potato refers to someone who spends a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV. After my uncle retired from his job, he became a couch potato. 5. Bring home the bacon To bring home the bacon means to make an income or earn a living to support your family. Ever since her father was injured, she’s been working two jobs to bring home the bacon. 6. In hot water When someone is in hot water, they’re in a bad situation or serious trouble. My brother is in hot water for failing all his college classes. 7. Compare apples and oranges Apples are very different from oranges both in looks and taste. It’s hard to compare two things that are so unlike each other. So then, to compare apples and oranges is to compare two very different things. I’m not sure which I enjoy more—pottery or dancing. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. 8. Not one’s cup of tea If something is not your cup of tea, it’s an activity you have no interest in, don’t enjoy or don’t do well in. Camping is really not my cup of tea so I’m going to visit my friend in New York instead. 9. Eat like a bird How much does a bird eat? Not very much, right? So to eat like a bird is to eat very little. Don’t trouble yourself cooking such a big meal. I eat like a bird. 10. Eat like a horse Now, a horse is much bigger than a bird. So how much do you think a horse eats? That’s right, to eat like a horse is to eat a large amount of food. My mother has to cook a lot of food when my brother comes to visit. He eats like a horse. 11. Butter [someone] up To butter someone up is to please or flatter someone in order to win his or her favor. This separable phrase may be used in the format butter [someone] up or butter up [someone]. Everyone seems to be trying to butter up the new boss hoping to become her favorite. 12. Food for thought Food for thought refers to something that’s worth thinking carefully about. Moving to another state is food for thought for many of those affected by the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida. 13. A smart cookie Here’s an easy one. A smart cookie is an intelligent person. It shouldn’t be hard too hard for a smart cookie like you to learn Spanish. 14. Packed like sardines What do you see when you open up a can of sardines? Yes, the fish crammed inside the can. So packed like sardines describes a place or situation that’s very crowded with people (or animals)—for example, a concert hall or sports event. Were you at the football game last night? The stadium was packed like sardines. 15. Spill the beans You accidentally knock over a bowl of beans and they all spill out. Think of this image and you’ll remember that spill the beans means to accidentally or prematurely give out information that’s supposed to be kept secret. We were planning a surprise birthday party for Joyce this weekend. But this morning, Owen spilled the beans and now it’s no longer a surprise. 16. A bad apple Imagine a basket of apples with one rotten apple inside. This picture will help you remember that a bad apple is someone who creates problems or trouble, or is a bad influence on the other people in a group. Instead of focusing on college, he spends his time hanging out with bad apples. 17. Bread and butter Bread and butter is a basic food that many of us eat. So the idiom bread and butter refers to a job that makes the money you need to live and afford basic necessities like food, housing, etc. Fishing is the bread and butter of the friendly people who I met on the island last summer. 18. Buy a lemon To buy a lemon means to buy something (usually a motor vehicle) that doesn’t work well and is therefore worthless. The car looked so new and shiny I had no way of knowing I was buying a lemon. 19. A hard nut to crack Is it easy to crack open a nut? Not always. Well, a hard nut to crack refers to a person who’s difficult to deal with or to get to know. I tried to be friendly with her but I was told she’s a hard nut to crack. 20. Have a sweet tooth Do you like eating cakes, candy and other sweet-tasting food? If you do, then you can say you have a sweet tooth. Yes, I definitely have a sweet tooth. I can never walk past a bakery and not stop to buy myself a slice of chocolate cake.
  10. Words, words, words http://wordcentral.com/buzzword/buzzword.php perplex (verb) \per-PLEKS\ What does it mean? 1 : to block the understanding of; especially : confuse, bewilder2 : to make difficult to understand : complicate How do you use it? "They keep coming up new all the time--things to perplex you, you know. You settle one question and there's another right after. There are so many things to be thought over and decided when you're beginning to grow up." (Lucy Maud Montgomery, _Anne of Green Gables_) Are you a word wiz? "Perplex" comes ultimately from the Latin verb "plectere." Judging from what you know about the word "perplex," what do you think "plectere" means? A. to braid B. to spatter C. to climb D. to gossip meteoric (adjective) \mee-tee-OR-ik\ What does it mean? : of or relating to a meteor How do you use it? In science class, we learned about meteors and looked at pictures Ms. Becker had taken of a meteoric crater in the Arizona desert. Are you a word wiz? "Meteoric" has another meaning besides the one above. It is applied to things that remind people of meteors because of a particular quality, and begins "resembling a meteor in . . ." Which of the answers below correctly completes the definition? A. unpredictability of movement B. hardness or in roughness of texture C. in rarity or in greatness of value D. speed or in sudden and temporary brilliance
  11. What in the Word?! The inflated origins of ‘blimp’ http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2017/10/what-in-the-word-blimp/ In the last installment of What in the Word?!, we saw how the military tank began as a secret British codeword for the armored vehicle during World War I. This edition, let’s continue with the vehicles-of-the-Great-War theme and dig deep into blimp. Sky-high etymologies First employed for convoy and patrol in World War I, a blimp is a non-rigid airship that takes its distinctive shape from – and is, of course, held aloft by – the gas inside its envelope. A rigid airship like a zeppelin, in contrast, gets its structure from an internal framework, then covered by a skin. The difference between these dirigibles isn’t just important to their engineering: it also figures into the disputed etymology of the term blimp. It’s often said of blimp that the US military had two designations for airships it developed during World War I: Type A-Rigid, with an internal framework like a zeppelin’s, and Type B-Limp, which didn’t, hence limp as an antonym for rigid. Type B-Limp, as it goes, was shortened to B-limp, then compressed to blimp. It’s clever, but historical evidence is lacking – or rather, is conspicuously absent for militaries, what with their penchant for paperwork. In a 1963 article in the American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Dr A. D. Topping stiffly, shall we say, dismisses this explanation: There was no American ‘A-class’ of airships as such – all military aircraft, heavier or lighter-than-air, were designated with ‘A’ until the appearance of B-class airships in May 1917. There was an American B airship – but there seems to be no record of any official designation of non-rigids as ‘limp’. Further, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the first appearance of the word in print was in 1916, in England, a year before the first B-class airship. The Oxford English Dictionary indeed finds blimp in Harold Rosher’s 1916 memoir In the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) where he notes he ‘visited the Blimps…this afternoon at Capel’. Capel, here, refers to RNAS Capel near Capel-le-Ferne in Kent, central to another etymology for blimp – one that traces the word back to a playful act of onomatopoeia. As the Lighter-Than-Air Society tells the tale in its website glossary: The term most likely originated with Lieutenant (later Air Commodore) A. D. Cunningham of the Royal Naval Air Service, commanding officer of the British airship station at Capel in December 1915. During a weekly inspection, Lt. Cunningham visited an aircraft hangar to examine a ‘Submarine Scout’ pressure airship, His Majesty’s Airship SS-12. Cunningham broke the solemnity of the occasion by playfully flipping his thumb at the gasbag and was rewarded with an odd noise that echoed off the taut fabric. Cunningham imitated this sound by uttering: ‘Blimp!’ A young midshipman, who later became known as Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard, repeated the tale of this humorous inspection to his fellow officers in the mess hall before lunch the same day. And the term, as this theory has it, caught on from there.
  12. Weather idioms http://dreamreader.net/lesson/weather-idioms-lesson-10 As right as rain This means to be healthy, especially after being ill. Example: I have been off work for week, but I’m right as rain now. Be a breeze If something is a breeze, it is very easy to do. Example: My English test was a breeze. I answered all the questions in less than 10 minutes. Be snowed under To be snowed under means to have too much to do. Example: I’m snowed under at the moment because I have three reports to write and four tests to study for. Here are some examples of English idioms that use the weather. As you work through these lessons you will notice they go in alphabetical order. Lesson 2 below has words starting with the letters B – C. A bolt from the blue If something is a bolt from the blue it is unexpected and takes you by surprise. Example: My teacher quit this week. She is moving to another country. Her news was a bolt from the blue. Break the ice To break the ice is to make someone feel relaxed in a social situation, usually by starting a conversation. Example: It was really awkward until James started talking and broke the ice. Calm before the storm The calm before the storm is a quiet, peaceful period of time before a really busy period. Example: Tomorrow is test week, so I’m going to relax today and enjoy the calm before the storm. Here are some examples of English idioms that use the weather. As you work through these lessons you will notice they go in alphabetical order. Lesson 3 below has words starting with the letters C – E. Chase rainbows If a person chases rainbows, they try to do something that is impossible to achieve. Example: I think he is chasing rainbows try to start a new business. Come rain or shine Come rain or shine simply means whatever happens. It is often used to show that you can be depended on to be there no matter what the situation is. Example: Come rain or shine, I’ll be there to help you tomorrow. Every cloud has a silver lining This is used to show that every difficult or unpleasant situation can have positive advantages. Example: I failed my driving test, but every cloud has a silver lining because now I can keep fit by cycling to work. Here are some examples of English idioms that use the weather. As you work through these lessons you will notice they go in alphabetical order. Lesson 4 below has words starting with the letters F – G. A face like thunder If someone has a face like thunder, they look very angry about something. Example: When she heard she only got a “B” on her test, she had a face like thunder. A fair-weather friend If someone is a fair-weather friend, they are a person who is only your friend in good times. Example: He was a fair-weather friend because he would only hang out with me when I would pay for him. Get wind of something This means to discover something that should have been a secret. Example: John got wind of our plan to have birthday party for him. Here are some examples of English idioms that use the weather. As you work through these lessons you will notice they go in alphabetical order. Lesson 5 below has words starting with the letters G – I. Go down a storm If something goes down a storm, it has been very successful or enjoyable. Example: The new lessons on dreamreader.net have gone down a storm. Have your head in the clouds This means to be out of touch with reality. Example: If she thinks I’m going to pay all that money for an old car like that, she must have her head in the clouds. In a fog If you are in a fog, you feel confused or find it difficult to think. Example: I’m so tired my head is in a fog. It never rains but it pours (when it rains, it pours in the US) This is said when something bad happens, then other bad things happen just after often making the situation worse. Example: First my car broke down, and then I realized I had forgotten my phone, so I couldn’t call anyone. It never rains but it pours. On cloud nine This means to be extremely happy. Example: I got a promotion at work today. I’m on cloud nine. Put on ice To put something on ice is to postpone something. Example: Jenny is sick, so we’ll have to put her party on ice for the time being Quick as lightning If someone is as quick as lightning, they are very fast. Example: Our new winger on the football team is quick as lightning. Quiet before the storm The quiet before the storm is the period of time when you know that something is about to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. Example: The students haven’t arrived yet, so I’m just enjoying the quiet before the storm. Raining cats and dogs This means it is raining very hard. Example: I hope you have an umbrella because it is raining cats and dogs outside A ray of hope A chance that something positive might happen Example: I don’t think I got the job, but there is always a ray of hope. Save for a rainy day To save money for the future when you might need it Example: I’m saving my money from my part-time job for a rainy day. Steal someone’s thunder If someone steals somebody’s thunder they take attention away from them. Example: The bridesmaid stole the bride’s thunder because she looked so beautiful. Storm in a teacup A storm in a teacup is when someone makes a small problem bigger than it really is. Example: I had a fight with my girlfriend about grocery shopping. It’s just a storm in a teacup. A storm is brewing When a storm is brewing it is a sign that something is about to become bad or something is about to go wrong. Example: You could tell before the argument that a storm was brewing. Take a rain check When you take a rain check, you refuse an invitation, but offer to meet at another time. Example: I’d love to have coffee with you, but I’m going to have to take a rain check on that. Let’s meet tomorrow when I’m not so busy. Throw caution to the wind To throw caution to the wind is to take a big risk. Example: Why don’t we throw caution to the wind and quit our jobs and start a new business? Under the weather When you are under the weather, you are not feeling well. Example: I’ve been feeling under the weather all week. Weather a storm If you weather a storm, you manage to overcome or survive a difficult situation. Example: The football team had to defend for the last 20 minutes, but they weathered the storm.
  13. ‘Alt-right,’ ‘troll’ and ‘dog whistle’ among new entries added to Merriam-Webster dictionary https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/09/18/alt-right A troll doll. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post) More than 250 new words have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, from old terms now imbued with political meaning — like “dog whistle” — to newer portmanteaus like “froyo.” It’s the second batch of words to be added this year to the online dictionary, which frequently expands as the English language evolves. Unlike the 1,000 words added in February, this group is smaller — and it includes more than a few new entries related to politics. The primary definition for “dog whistle” remains a way to call a dog, but the term now has a secondary entry meaning “an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people,” according to the dictionary. An entirely new entry was created for “alt-right,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a right-wing, primarily online political movement or grouping based in the U.S. whose members reject mainstream conservative politics and espouse extremist beliefs and policies typically centered on ideas of white nationalism.” The number of new entries related to politics wasn’t significantly greater than in past expansions, said Emily Brewster, an associate editor for the dictionary. “I think that the public discourse these days is so politically focused that maybe they just stick out to us all the more,” she said. It shouldn’t be a surprise that most of the new words have actually been lingering in the public consciousness for a while, Brewster added. “We are not the first place that you’re going to hear of a word,” she said. “As always, the dictionary is always the lag indicator.” Rather, a team of editors is constantly monitoring potential new entries in a spreadsheet. When a new word — or a burgeoning new definition of an existing word — seems like it has finally settled into the public discourse, Merriam-Webster editors make the case for it to be formally defined and added to the dictionary. For instance, Brewster said she has been paying special attention to the word “troll” ever since she handled “a big revision of the term” in 2014. That year, Merriam-Webster added a secondary definition to reflect the word’s increasing reference to an antagonizing person on the Internet (especially one who keeps “posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content”) Definition of froyo chiefly US, informal :frozen yogurt Speaking of free, head out to Yogurtland today from 4 to 7 p.m. for a free cup of froyo. The giveaway is in celebration of International Frozen Yogurt Day. —Stefani Dias Even if you don't want to eat dinner, you can just head to a dining hall, fill up a bowl of froyo, sit down and gaze in awe at all of the different types of students you can find in dining halls. —Esme Brachmann —often used before another noun a froyo shopfroyo flavorsDefinition of dog whistle 1 :a whistle to call or direct a dog; especially :one sounding at a frequency inaudible to the human ear 2 politics :an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people Democrats and liberals sometimes have gone to ridiculous lengths to portray speech by Republicans and conservatives as dog whistles responsible for inciting unstable people to carry out violent acts … —The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch … habitually inserts dog-whistles into his speeches to motivate evangelical voters. —The Economist —often used before another noun That is the fundamental perversity of 'dog whistle politics', whereby political parties send coded messages that will be heard one way by their core supporters and another way altogether by others. —Robert E. Goodin Definition of alt-right :a right-wing, primarily online political movement or grouping based in the U.S. whose members reject mainstream conservative politics and espouse extremist beliefs and policies typically centered on ideas of white nationalism Welcome to the alt-right. The label blends together straight-up white supremacists, nationalists who think conservatives have sold out to globalization, and nativists who fear immigration will spur civil disarray. —Dylan Matthews Rather than concede the moral high ground to the left, the alt right turns the left's moralism on its head and makes it a badge of honor to be called "racist," "homophobic," and "sexist." —Benjamin Welton Regardless of who triumphs at the ballot box, the biggest winner of this presidential election may be the alt-right: a sprawling coalition of reactionary conservatives who have lobbied to make the United States more "traditional," more "populist" and more white. —Jonathon Morgan —often used before another noun an alt-right manifestoSecularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it's also making America's partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of … the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. —Peter Beinart
  14. Amazing Websites that Make Your Writing Stronger http://www.cristinacabal.com/?p=6434 Long writing activities are not very frequently done in class. I tend to think that my students are like me; I need the right kind of atmosphere. Writing requires time, silence and lots of inspiration. Ideally, at this time of the year, I would probably wish to be sitting next to a fireplace with the most perfect instagrammable snow falling outside my window while drinking a nice cup of coffee waiting for inspiration to strike. Unfortunately, there isn’t any snow where I live so I’ll have to make do with a bit of rain and some reddish trees. Note: you won’t find “instagrammable” in the dictionary Inspiration, the most important word when writing and something my students claim to lack. Inspiration won’t come from your computer screen, but Internet can certainly help you a lot when struggling to find the right word. These are some great sites that can help you make your writing stronger. 1. Skell (Sketch Engine for Language Learning) explores the English language in more than one billion words from news, scientific papers, Wikipedia articles, fiction books, web pages, and blogs. Skell is easy to use. Search for a word or a phrase. Click on Examples to get the most presentable sentences containing this word. Click on Word sketch to get a list of words which occur frequently together with the searched word. Click on Similar words (not only synonyms) where you’ll find words used in similar contexts visualized with a word cloud. 2.Netspeak is a really helpful site to help you write better. It helps you find the word or phrase you’re looking for by suggesting common combinations organised by frequency. You can find the word(s) you’re looking for by typing signs as seen in the picture below. Type ? in your query before, after or in the middle to find a missing word. Type ?? or ??? if you want to find two or three words. Use dots (…) to find one, two, or more words at the same time. Use square brackets to check which of two or more words is most common, or if none applies. For example: think [ of in ] Use curly brackets to check in which order two or more words are commonly written { only for members } To find the best synonym, use the hash sign in front of a word to check which of its synonyms are commonly written. If you want to read some sample sentences, you only need to click the + sign 3. Just the word is a simple quick collocation finder you are going to love. Enter the word or phrase you want to search Click on “combinations” to see the most common words it collocates with and after each combination, you’ll find its frequency in their corpus (about 80,000,000 words of the BNC). In the right-hand frame, you’ll find the part (s) of speech and the types of relation that the word is found in. For example, if you’re looking for the right adjective to modify a noun you’ve chosen, click on the ‘ADJ mod <word>’ link. 4. Words to Use is a nice neat site, which unlike a thesaurus groups theme-related words by parts of speech. Each theme, from “animals” to “vehicles” is divided by parts of the speech- adjectives, nouns, verbs, types of…, phrases, etc. Are you looking for adjectives that collocate with “movies”? The site lists over 200 adjectives listed in alphabetical order. Do you want to use a negative word that collocates with “friends”? Or maybe a verb frequently used to refer to friendship? Then, you might want to give this site a try! 5. Collins English Thesaurus There are some very good thesauruses /θɪˈsɔːrʌɪ/ online, but this one is my favourite. But, what is a thesaurus and what is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus? A “thesaurus” /θɪˈsɔːrəs/ is a reference work that lists words grouped together according to similarity of meaning (containing synonyms and sometimes antonyms ), in contrast to a dictionary, which provides definitions for words, and generally lists them in alphabetical order. The main purpose of such reference works is to help the user “to find the word, or words, by which an idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed. (source Wikipedia). Unlike a dictionary, a thesaurus does not give you the meaning or the pronunciation of a word.
  15. Common English Tongue Twisters http://english-learners.com/tag/difficult-to-articulate Tongue twisters are words, phrases, or sentences which are difficult to articulate because of a succession of similar consonantal sounds. These sentences are strongly recommended to those who have problem with their pronunciation. Try to read sentences bellow loudly and as fast as possible. It seems to be rather funny but after a while you’ll see how your pronunciation and your speaking has improved. .Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers? If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked? ______________________________________________________________________ Betty Botter had some butter, “But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter. If I bake this bitter butter, it would make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter– that would make my batter better.” So she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter, and she baked it in her batter, and the batter was not bitter. So ’twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter. —– She sells sea shells by the sea shore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I’m sure she sells seashore shells. ———— “Surely Sylvia swims!” shrieked Sammy, surprised. ———- “Someone should show Sylvia some strokes so she shall not sink.” A flea and a fly flew up in a flue. Said the flea, “Let us fly!” Said the fly, “Let us flee!” So they flew through a flaw in the flue. . A bitter biting bittern Bit a better brother bittern, And the bitter better bittern Bit the bitter biter back. And the bitter bittern, bitten, By the better bitten bittern, Said: “I’m a bitter biter bit, alack!” ———- How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood. ——— You’ve no need to light a night-light On a light night like tonight, For a night-light’s light’s a slight light, And tonight’s a night that’s light. When a night’s light, like tonight’s light, It is really not quite right To light night-lights with their slight lights On a light night like tonight. ———–____________________________________________________________ Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry. ____________________________________________________________ The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.____________________________________________________________ Shy Shelly says she shall sew sheets.