Video Watch: Settle Down!


Here is a video clip from Homeland. Carrie has been admitted to a psyche-ward because of her Bipolarity. Saul can’t understand her because she is not making any sense. She wants to get back to work but she isn’t ready to leave the hospital. Let’s look at some of the expressions they use in this clip. They might come in handy (i.e be useful) if ever you are faced with a person that seems disorientated or too excited about something.

Key Lines:

  • I don’t need to settle down. (i.e. I don’t need to calm down)
  • You are not yourself. (i.e. you are acting differently )
  • I can’t follow you. (i.e. I don’t understand your train of thoughts)
  • Your thoughts are running together. (i.e. your ideas are confused)
Homeland - Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre - Marc...

Homeland – Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre – March 21, 2012 (Photo credit: starbright31)



Top Language: Are you a little flaky?

Top Language

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, pa...

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, part of a strawberry, and milk is held in midair against a blue background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know you’ve heard the word flake before because it is often related to snow as in snow flake. We define it as a small thin piece of something that have little or no weight. Another example that you may recognize is Cornflakes breakfast cereal.

This word took on a derivative meaning along the years to mean a strange and unusual person or a person that you can’t count on.

At the office, we can refer to people who are not reliable, dishonest & inconsistent by saying they are flakes.

The adjective for this noun is flaky.

Let’s look at these words in context so you can remember to use them in various scenarios:

  • Sandra has all the best intentions but she is a flake.
  • Marco is usually really sharp but he’s been acting pretty flaky lately.
  • Geraldo promised he’d send over the reports but he didn’t. He’s so flaky.

Fluency Builder:

Give examples of behaviors that make people flaky.


English Phraseology: Don’t Bug the Beagle

learn english1

My son, Giako, got a  Snoopy t-shirt at Christmas that reads “Don’t Bug the Beagle!” . Let’s examine the word ‘bug’ together. It’s got lots of useful expressions.

What does bug mean? It refers to a small insect such as a beetle, a cinch, or a mosquito. We can also use it when talking about a small microphone that allows investigators to monitor what people are saying.

When used as a verb, it takes on several meanings. Here are a few:

  • Would you stop bugging me? I’ll do my homework soon. (i.e. irritate, bother)
  • Bug off! I don’t want to talk to you. (i.e. go away)
  • She was bugging out when she found out she lost her job. (i.e. to go crazy)

When my kids were little, I’d put them to bed and wrap them up tightly in their blankets. This way they would be warm and comfortable. I’d say: ”You are as snug as a bug in a rug.”

To catch a bug” means to contract something or to get into the habit of doing something.  Here are a few examples:

  • I caught the flu bug. I have fever today. (i.e. catch germs)
  • I caught the internet bug. (i.e. I use the internet a lot)
  • I think I am catching the gambling bug (i.e.  I am starting to like gambling)
Snoopy as "the World War I flying ace&quo...

Snoopy as “the World War I flying ace”, flying his Sopwith Camel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fluency Builder: discuss the following with your teacher or chat buddy.

  1. Can you name 4 creepy bugs?
  2. Do you watch a tv show that tells the story of an investigator?
  3. What really bugs you ?
  4. When was the last time you bugged out?
  5. When you catch the flu bug, what are the symptoms?


Business Class: Attend vs Attend to

Read what happened in class today:

FS: I will be attending to a course next week.

CF: Wow! How many people are you expecting?

FS: I don’t know. I am an attendee.

CF: What? I thought you said you were taking care of the course?

FS: No, I said I am attending to it.

CF: Right! ‘Attend to‘ means to work for, take care of, serve or give help & assistance.

FS: Ooops! I meant “Attend” as in “to be present or participate in a course”.

A mathematics lecture, apparently about linear...

Have you ever made this mistake before?

If so, remember that it’s a false friend!


Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles

The Buggles sang this song at the end of the 1970ies. It describes the career of a singer that was cut short by TV, video and new technologies.

I recently realized that my kids, 5 & 7, had no idea what a bank was. They have never been to one since we do everything on-line nowadays. How far have we come? What else has become obsolete due to technology?

I love this song…I was in my pre-adolescence & the Buggles seemed so cool.



I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you.
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through.
Oh-a oh

They took the credit for your second symphony.
Rewritten by machine and new technology,
and now I understand the problems you can see.
Oh-a oh

I met your children
Oh-a oh

What did you tell them?
Video killed the radio star. (x2)

Pictures came and broke your heart.
Oh-a-a-a oh

And now we meet in an abandoned studio.
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago.
And you remember the jingles used to go.
Oh-a oh

You were the first one.
Oh-a oh

You were the last one.

Video killed the radio star. (x2)
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far
Oh-a-aho oh, (x2)

Video killed the radio star. (x2)

In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far.
Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VCR.

You are a radio star. (x2)

Video killed the radio star. (x4)


Mono portable Radio Tape Recorder from the Ger...

Mono portable Radio Tape Recorder from the German brand Universum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vocabulary Boost:

  • Playback: repetition
  • Jingles: tunes
  • Rewind: reverse
  • Blame: fault, culpability

Fluency Builder:

  1. Have you still got a tape deck in your home?
  2. When was the last time you bought a CDs?
  3. Do you think the kids in your family have already seem a disc man?
  4. How often do you use a pen or pencil during the day?
  5. Have you ever used a typewriter?
  6. What other things have become outdated?
  7. Do you have a telephone at home?


Have a great weekend y’all!

be the reason smile


original link


Top Language: Up the creek without a paddle

Heathcote National Park

Heathcote National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I taught a learner the expression “I’m in trouble and make that a double!” today and we started exploring a bunch of other alternatives we can use when we are in difficult situations. Here is what we came up with:

  • I’m in a fix.
  • I’m in a jam.
  • I’m in a predicament.
  • I’m up the creek without a paddle.

Up the creek without a paddle” has always been a favorite of mine. I like the feeling it evokes!

A creek is a minor channel of a river.  A paddle is a pole with a broad blade that is used to move a boat around in water.

Imagine  being in a boat on a stream without a paddle especially if you are trying to move up the creek. It’s a difficult situation indeed.

Here are a few examples in context:

  • The people who invested in that new start up are up the creek without the paddle. They will never come into their money.
  • I will be up the creek without a paddle if I don’t get these reports finished up.

Fluency Builder: Discuss the following questions with your teacher or a chat buddy

  1. Who do you speak to when you feel like you are in a jam?
  2. When was the last time you were in a serious fix?


English Phraseology: Is it time for your wardrobe switch yet?

learn english1

The weather is getting warmer here in Italy and most of us were out & about this weekend.

I spent Sunday at home working on the spring cleaning and the first part of the seasonal wardrobe switch. Do you switch your wardrobe in winter and summer or are you one of the lucky ones with a closet that can hold all four seasons?

As I was putting away my boys’ winter clothes, I started making a list of the actions I perform when I switch from winter to summer clothing.

I thought it might be cool to share the expressions with you.

Here is the list:

  • I sort the clothes out by making two piles (i.e.a group of items placed one on top of the other). One is stuff  that I can put away for 6 months and the other has clothes that I want to give away to Goodwill (i.e. donate to charity like Caritas).
  • I vacuum my closet or wardrobe & wipe the drawers and shelves with a damp rag.(i.e. humid cloth for cleaning).
  • I place clothing that needs to be mended (i.e. fixed) in a bag and I take it to the seamstress (i.e. person that mends clothing) the following day.
  • I place clothing that can’t be machine washed in a bag and I take it to the dry-cleaner’s (i.e. service that cleans clothing without water)
  • I wash any garment (i.e. piece of clothing) that is machine washable before storing (i.e. put away) it away for the winter.
  • When clothing is ready to be put away in my trunk (i.e. wooden or metal storage container with a lock), I use cedar blocks or lavender scented bags to make sure moths (i.e. pests that eat cloth) stay away.
  • I polish (i.e.clean leather with a paste) my shoes and boots before placing them in tissue or paper bags unless I have their original box. Once again, if they need mending, I take them to my local shoemaker (i.e. a person that fixes shoes).

Wardrobe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fluency Builder: Discuss the following questions with your teacher or chat buddy.

  1. When do you usually do your seasonal wardrobe switch?
  2. How long does it take to do it?
  3. Does it put you in a good or bad mood?
  4. Do you have trouble giving things away? Are you someone who keeps everything?
  5. Is there anything in your wardrobe that you just can’t give away?
  6. How do you organize your wardrobe? Do you color-code?
  7. Do you feel you have too many items of clothing?
  8. How many pairs of shoes do you own?


Business Class: Do you agree?


I was discussing presentation best practices with a learner today. We were looking over a list of tips to improve presentation skills and she said ” I’m agree with that.”

The verb ‘to agree’ (italian: essere d’accordo-concordare) is really important.

Remember that it is a pure verb and does not take the verb ‘to be’. The opposite is “to disagree”.

Moreover, we use it when we have the same opinion as someone else but we also use it when a group decides to accept something that should be done.  

“I am in agreement” can also be used  to express that you have the same opinion. It is more similar to the Italian equivalent.

Here are a few examples in context:

  • I agree with John about the situation.
  • He disagrees  that the house is too small.
  • We agree to disagree. (differing opinions remain)
  • Do you agree with the proposal?
  • We didn’t agree on a date.

it would be wrong to say:

  • I am agree.
  • He is not agree.
  • They are in agreed.
  • Are you agree with me?

Do you agree that this is a difficult mistake to correct for Italian learners?




Top Language: I’m a little rusty

Top Language


I was subbing for one of our trainers today who is on her honeymoon. My learner, Ms A, was  telling me that she plays tennis and beach tennis on a regular basis. I told her that I hadn’t played tennis in ages and this is why the expression “I’m a little rusty!” came up.

Rusty is an adjective that is related to rust (i.e. corrosion). ‘I’m rusty’ means that I am out of practice.

Here is the expression in context:

  • I studied Spanish at University but I don’t use it very much nowadays. I am very rusty.
  • I hadn’t been skating in ages. When I got on the ice rink, I fell a few times. I was a little rusty.
  • I used to work with excel a lot in my past job. I tried to program a spreadsheet today and I couldn’t remember how to do it. I guess I’m a bit rusty.
Rusty fence/railing

Rusty fence/railing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fluency Builder: Discuss the following questions with your teacher or a chat buddy.

  1. What foreign  language do you speak?
  2. Do you ever feel rusty when you don’t have exposure to that language?
  3. What tricks can you use to keep your language skills from getting rusty?
  4. What language would you like to learn if you had time?


p.s. Great lesson with Ms A today! I’ve been teaching much more in the past few months. I’ve missed it!