Ask Task: A Singer

ask task

Here is the long-awaited Ask Task featuring Anna Buckley who is the lead singer of Anna Buckley & The Spank Daddies.

Anna answers three questions for our audience.

  1. When did you first start singing?
  2. Who would you most like to open for?
  3. What do you think about when you are performing?

Listen to Anna’s Interview

Read the Transcript

Ask Task The Singer

Vocabulary Boost

  • Abroad : in a foreign country
  • Oh gosh! : interjection used to express surprise or difficult situation when you can’t find the right words
  • On repeat : to listen to a cd again and again
  • Bog down : used figuratively, it means that it is difficult to move forward because of too much work, thoughts, etc…
  • Overthink : to think too much
  • Natural organic feel : authentic and genuine atmosphere
  • Just go with the flow! : just go with whatever happens…live the moment

Conversation Builder

  1. Have you ever seen Anna Buckley in concert?
  2. What kind of music do you like?
  3. Do you have a good voice?
  4. Have you ever been in a band?

Video Watch



Tongue Twister: Picky People

Seal tongue

tonguetwister is a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game.

Here is a tongue twister that comes from a peanut butter commercial on TV.
“Picky people pick Peter Pan Peanut-Butter, ’tis the peanut-butter picky people pick.”

Listen to it at full speed. Can you repeat it fast?

Vocabulary Boost:

  • To pick: to select
  • Picky: selective, almost difficult

Pronunciation Pill:

When you read this tongue twister, don’t forget to focus on the ‘i’ and ‘e’ sounds. Example: picky and people don’t have the same vowel sound. Listen to the audio again.



What’s your take on ‘I lose my calm so I shout?’

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

I came across this story a few weeks ago and promised myself that I would post it when I had a moment to record it. It was a real eye-opener for me. It made me reflect on how much noise pollution can affect us all. 

Listening Practice:
Listen to the audio clip. Don’t forget to review the vocabulary first.

Reading Practice:
A sage asked his disciples, “Why do people shout at each other when they are upset? The disciples thought for a while, and one said, “We lose our calm and so we shout!”

“But explain to me, why do you shout when the other person is right next to you?” asked the sage.“ Well, we shout  in order to make sure the other person hears us”, tried another disciple.

The sage asked again:“ Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you are angry?” The disciples gave some answers but none satisfied the sage.

Finally, the sage explained. 
“When two people are angry at each other, there is a distance which arises between their hearts. To cover that distance they must shout, to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the louder they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.” Then the sage asked, “What happens when people are in love? They do not shout at each other but talk softly. Why? Their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small.”

The sage continued, “What happens when their love for the other grows even more? They do not speak, they only whisper. Their hearts come even closer with love. Finally, they need not even whisper… they only look at each other and that is all. That is how close people are when they love each other. The heart is like one.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Vocabulary Boost:

  • A sage: a wise person
  • A disciple: someone who accepts and spreads the teachings of a famous person.
  • To shout: to say something loudly
  • To be upset: to be angry or unhappy
  • To arise: to happen or occur
  • To whisper: to speak in a soft voice

Fluency Builder: Answer the questions with your teacher or a friend.

  1. What do you know about Mahatma Gandhi? Read an article on the web & tell someone his story.
  2. Do you believe that if we speak softly when we get angry, we can feel less upset?
  3. Describe the level of noise pollution in your household or office in this period.


Ask Task: I Discovered Istanbul

ask task

We asked Crisitna(Italian accent) to tell us about her recent family vacation to Istanbul. She listed her top sites. She remarked about the location of her hotel & she shared her kids’ reaction to this fabulous city.

Play the interview and try to listen for the following expressions:

  • Synthesis : mixture
  • Muezzin: sounds of prayer in mosque
  • Mosque: place of worship for the muslim religion
  • Prayer time: time for religious invocation
  • Veil: fabric covering for the face
  • Public Transportation: system of transportation for a community i.e. bus, metro, tram, etc…
  • To be impressed by: to be captivated by


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istambul at dusk

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istambul at dusk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listening Quiz:

  1. Has Cristina visited Istanbul before this vacation?
  2. What were the advantages of staying at the Recital Hotel?
  3. How old are Cristina’s kids?

View the transcript:Ask Task- I Discovered Istanbul

Fluency Practice: summarize what you’ve heard to your teacher or classmates

Share the Ask Task with your friends.


English Phraseology: Wake Up & Smell The Coffee

Coffee @ Illy espressamente, BLR

Are you a coffee drinker?  I am a tea lover myself but I have a latte on Saturday mornings while catching up on my favorite bloggers on the net.  I’ve made a list of expressions that could be useful when taking a break at the coffee machines.  It’s always nice to have something to talk about with visitors at work that has nothing to do with business, right?


Vocabulary Boost:

  • There is a pot of coffee brewing on the stove. (i.e. to make a pot of coffee)
  • I buy a special blend of coffee beans and grind them myself at home. (i.e. use a machine to crush coffee beans into powder)
  • I take my coffee black with 2 sugars. (i.e. no milk and two teaspoons of sugar)
  • Can I get a skinny cappuccino, please? (i.e. cappuccino made with skim-low fat milk)
  • I love the aftertaste of a good expresso. (i.e. the sensation released after swallowing)

Coffee Idioms:

  • My wife needs to cut down on coffee. She has 5 coffees a day. It’s giving her insomnia.(i.e. reduce the intake)
  • I bought a beautiful coffee table book at the  weekend. (i.e. a book intended to be left on a coffee table to look through but not read)
  • I usually have coffee & a danish for breakfast. (a cup of coffee and a sweet bread like  croissant)
  • Wake up and smell the coffee! He doesn’t love you anymore. (i.e. When someone doesn’t realize what is really happening or is not paying enough attention to events around them, you can tell them this)
  • Something is brewing.(i.e. there is going to be trouble, trouble is developing)
  • Coffee, tea or me? : question used to flirt with someone you like. Not to be used at the office unless you are totally convinced the other person is interested;-)

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

  1. When did you start drinking coffee or tea?
  2. How many cups of coffee do you have a day?
  3. Does caffeine bother your sleep? Can you have a cup after supper?
  4. Describe your favorite coffee shop?
  5. Can you describe your favorite kind of coffee? (i.e. corretto, latte, cappuccino marocchino,, macchiato,etc..)
  6. What do you need to cut down on?


learn english1

Ask Task: IPad By My Side

ask task

We asked Heather to talk to us about her beloved IPad. It’s a device she uses often. She shares her favorite apps in this interview & also compares her Ipad to her computer. She’s got a great voice…very Lady Diane!

Play the interview and try to listen for the expressions below:

Vocabulary Boost:

    • I guess: I imagine
    • Round about: approximately
    • I wonder how I ever managed: I ask myself how I ever survived/coped
    • The hassle: the trouble
    • To fish out: to pick
    • To be honest: to tell the truth
English: iPad with on display keyboard

English: iPad with on display keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listening Quiz:

1. How many hours does she use her device per day?

2. Can you describe dropbox?

3. Can she use her computer and Ipad interchangeably?

View the transcript: Ask Task- Ipad By My Side

Fluency Practice: Discuss what you’ve heard with your teacher and classmates

  1. Do you own a tablet? Can you live without it?
  2. Do you change devices as soon as new versions come out?
  3. Are kids in your life tech savvy? is that good or bad in your opinion?
  4. Does your company provide tablets for employees?

Share the Ask Task with your friends.


Business Class: Telephone Talk…Bad Reception


We use the phone every day at work. It’s one of the top tools at the office. It’s our lifeline to the outside world and telephone etiquette is vital to maintain your professional image.

Today, I wanted to look at phrases we use when the line is bad. That happens quite often, right? Wireless and VOIP connections are great but they also have their drawbacks such as bad reception!

What can you say if you can’t hear the caller?

Here are a few examples. Pick your favorite and start using it so it becomes part of your ‘repertoire’:

  1. Sorry, I can’t hear you very well. Can you speak up a bit?
  2. You’re breaking up. Let me call you back.
  3. The reception is really bad in here. Give me a second. I’ll go outside.
  4. I’m afraid I didn’t catch that. Did you say thirteen or thirty?

Share this post with your friends if you think it could be useful to them!


What’s your take on parents choosing their shifts?


Listen to the audio clip while reading the post:

What’s your take on parents choosing their shifts?

I read an article in the Huffington Post that spoke about a Canadian court ruling related to shift work. It stated that parents should have first dibs on shifts if their family situation truly needed it. When I read this article, it instantly made me think of an Australian friend of mine who told me all about the support she got from her government when she had her twins. I remember thinking what a wonderful support network for moms! This one comes in a close second. I am a mom and a worker. I ‘ve had to make sacrifices for my family by place my career on the back burner. I did, however, make that choice. It was not forced upon me. Can you just imagine what single parents could feel like if they had to work the night shift & had no one to take care of their kids over night? Overwhelming to say the least!  If managed in the proper way, this could be an amazing step forward for many.  That’s my take. What’s yours?

This is Crissy Faita for Learning English Matters.

Vocabulary Boost:

  • A ruling : an official decision made by a judge
  • Shift work : work that involves a scheduled period of time often on rotation
  • First dibs : first to a choice on something
  • Twins : babies that are born at the same time from the same mother
  • To come in a close second :  to almost be chosen first in a rating, competition or race
  • On the back burner : in a position that will not receive immediate attention & action
  • Take care of : to do what is necessary to help, protect and care for something
  • Overwhelming : describes something so difficult that you feel unable to do it
  • To say the least : to not mention what you could about something (used to emphasize)
  • That’s my take : that’s my opinion/view

Read  it: Here is the link to the original article by Rebecca Cuneo Keenan on  the Huffington Post: Do working parents deserve first dibs on shifts?  (Advanced Level=C1)

Speak It: Discuss what you’ve heard with your teacher or classmates. You can even simply share this post with a friend & suggest discussing the topic together by using the new vocabulary & questions. Practice speaking English today!

  1. Does the country you live in have this kind of law?
  2. Do you think this will discriminate against non-parents?

Share this ‘What’s your Take’ with your circle of friends…it’s a fun way to learn a little English. LEM..xo


Ask Task: An Equestrian In The Family

ask task

We asked Martine to talk to us about horses & riding. She recently bought a horse. She explained what criteria she followed when purchasing it. She also told us about the pros & cons of having a child that rides.

Play the interview and try to listen for the following expressions:

  • Height: the measurement of how tall a person or thing is
  • Outgrown: grown too large for
  • Show Jumping: the sport of riding a horse over a set of fences
  • First and Foremost: at the most basic level
  • Moving on: to proceed in a specific way
  • Pros & Cons: an argument for or against something
  • Stables: a building in which horses are kept
  • Obviously: in a way that is easy to understand, see or recognize
  • Fees : amounts of money that must be paid
  • Bit better: a little improvement
Hits Horse Jumping

Hits Horse Jumping (Photo credit: prichman38)

Listening Quiz:

  • Why did she buy the horse?
  • What is the maximum they could jump with this horse?
  • Can you list 3 expenses that she faces on a monthly basis for the sport?

View the transcript to check your answers: An Equestrian in the Family

Read It:  It’s your turn. Read the text out loud. Have you ever tried recording your voice & playing it back? It’s great practice. Articulate to communicate!

Speak it: Summarize what you’ve ready to someone who wants to listen. Try using some of the expressions from the interview. Do you know any one who rides horses as a hobby or profession? What do you think of Show Jumping as a sport?

Share this most with your circle of friends…it’s a fun way to learn a little English.


English Phraseology: Introducing a Negative Consideration

learn english1

Listen to the podcast

Most of us know how to express a negative opinion, right?  We use sentences like: ‘I don’t agree with that..’, ‘I don’t like that shirt’, ‘I have seen better’, etc.

What I’d like to explore today though is the way we should introduce the unpleasant thought. How do we get the listener ready for the blow? The following sentences are used to express something that will most probably bother or offend another person. We use these expressions as a warning signal that something negative will be said.

  • Well actually, you have been performing quite badly.
  • Truth be told, they raised more money than you at the bake sale.
  • Frankly, your house is a mess.
  • To tell the truth, I don’t like working here anymore.
  • To be honest, you could lose a little weight.
  • The thing is I can’t trust him anymore.

Read It: It’s your turn. Read the sentences out loud. Have you ever tried recording your voice & playing it back. It’s great practice. Articulate to communicate!

Speak It: Discuss what you’ve read with your teacher or classmates. Create role-plays using the expressions above. Here are a few scenarios that could inspire you:

  1. Your best friend just bought a floral printed dress that makes her look like a prude. She wants your opinion on the purchase.
  2. Your brother invites you to this new restaurant he’s just discovered. He is planning on taking his new girlfriend there at the weekend. The place looks like a canteen. You have to change his mind.

Share this post with a friend & suggest creating a few role-plays together. Practice speaking English today!

Share this post with your circle of friends…it’s a fun way to learn a little English.