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



Top Language: She is one sandwich short of a picnic!

Top Language


I had a lesson with SF today and she started telling me about an expression she had learned the previous day. She told me that Heather, one of the senior trainers, had used it in class .


 ‘ She is one sandwich short of a picnic’.


First, let me tell you about the game.

Heather and I have this long-standing game in progress. She is British and I am Canadian. We have very different colloquial  expressions. Whenever we can, we try to teach each other expressions by communicating them to learners who serve as messenger pigeons. It kills two birds with one stone. The learner and the other trainer learn something new.

This learning activity has also become part of this blog so it now extends to you too!

Right! Let’s get back to the expression.

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made with Skippy peanut butter and Welch’s grape jelly on white bread. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It means that a person is lacking intelligence or may be a little crazy.

In Context:

  • I like her but she is one sandwich short of a picnic.
  • What is wrong with that guy? Is he one sandwich short of a picnic?


  • Jerry is not playing with a full deck [of cards]
  • Maria is out to lunch.
  • The lights are on, but nobody’s home
  • That department has a few screws loose.
  • That  young man is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

If you like this post, share it! We appreciate your visits and we hope you learn something new today. A little English every day goes a long way.


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)


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?


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!

English Phraseology: An Italian Easter

English: Lindt Golden Bunny (Barcelona), 6 de ...

With Easter being just around the corner, I planned this blog post in honor of this joyous spring feast. I remember wearing my crochet white knee-high socks, floral-printed dress and shiny ballerinas on Easter Sunday. No matter how cold it was in Montreal that spring, this was my outfit.

Reason for Reading:
I found a very interesting article on EASTER in Italy. I thought it would be cool for Italians to learn how to explain their traditions in English & non-Italians could discover what Easter in Italy was like. Here is the article: Pasqua: Easter Lunch In Italy

Flower Lingo:
Here are my top 5 favorite Traditional Easter Flowers. Click on the link and see what they look like. This activity can easily inspire your Easter bouquet.

Easter Idioms:

  • Lorenzo didn’t want to pick on Harry but his friends egged him on. (i.e. to encourage or dare someone to do something that may be unwise or dangerous.)
  • The investor regretted putting all his eggs in one basket. (i.e. Do not risk everything by placing too many hopes on one thing)
  • My boss is really nervous in this period. When we work together, I feel like I’m walking on egg shells.(i.e. to do something cautiously, try hard not to upset someone)
  • Jane didn’t come home last night. Her dad stayed up waiting for her. He’s hopping mad. (i.e. to be really angry)
  • Jerry’s parents started saving up for his college tuition long ago. This nest egg is waiting for him.(i.e. an amount of money that is saved over a usually long period of time to pay for something in the future)
  • I hopped on the bandwagon this spring and switched to a smart phone. (i.e. To become involved in an activity that has gained popularity recently)

Easter Tongue Twisters: Listen and Repeat

Each Easter, Eddie eats eighty eggs.

Baby bunnies bounced bright balls beyond Bunnyland borders

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

  1. What do you like most about Easter?
  2. Have you planned anything special for this Easter?
  3. Do you observe lent? Do you fast on Good Friday?
  4. Have you ever taken part in an Egg Hunt?
  5. What’s your favorite Easter dish?
  6. Do you prefer chocolate bunnies, hard-boiled eggs  or jelly beans?

Hope this special Easter post got you ready to speak about this festivity.

Happy Easter everyone!


English Phraseology: Feminine Idioms


Woman in a rowing boat

Since March 8th is International Woman’s Day, I thought I’d post some idioms with a feminine touch. I took the liberty of putting a special twist on a few of them!

Idioms in Use:

  • She’s the CEO’s right-hand woman. (i.e. someone who helps you with work & you can depend on)
  • She is a woman of her word.(i.e. someone you can trust because they do what they say they will do)
  • She is a woman after my own heart. (i.e. a person you admire because they believe in the same things you do.)
  • She is a woman of means (.i.e. she has a lot of money)



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?


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