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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Thousand and One Nights

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/26/content_2290684.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen the Disney movie "Aladdin"? If so, did you like it? Why or why not?
2. Have you read any stories from "The Thousand and One Nights"? Tell one if you can.
3. Can you think of any TV shows or movies that use "cliffhangers"? Describe one.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dante

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/22/content_2286018.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you ever heard of "The Divine Comedy" or any of its parts? Does it sound interesting to you?
2. Do you believe in Hell and Heaven? Why or why not?
3. Do you think "courtly love"--the idea of dedicating your life and love to a person you barely know--is possible? Is it a good idea? Why or why not?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Japanese Literature

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/20/content_2283525.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Akemi speaks of "abridged versions" of classics. What does "abridged" mean? Do you think it's OK to read classics in "abridged versions"?
2. Which sounds more interesting to you, "The Tale of Genji" or "The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon"? Why?
3. Genji is described as "the perfect guy." What do you think the perfect guy or girl would be like today?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Persian Literature

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/19/content_2280829.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Sunny says "there are more 'great books' than just those from Europe, India, and East Asia." Do you know of any?
2. What do you think the saying, "A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou" means?
3. How do you feel about the long quote that begins "The Moving Finger writes"? Is it depressing? Or freeing? Or something else?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Latin Literature

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/15/content_2276545.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you heard of any of the authors in this lesson? Talk about them. Or say which one sounds most interesting to you.
2. Have you heard of any of these stories, mentioned by Mark? Echo and Narcissus, Perseus, Daedalus and Icarus, Hercules, Orpheus, and Midas. Tell a story, if you can.
3. Mark uses two proverbs, "All roads lead to Rome" and "Rome wasn’t built in a day." What do they mean? How can you use them?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Mahabharata

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/13/content_2273439.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Talk about "The Mahabharata" as described by Sunny.
2. What is the relationship between "The Mahabharata" and "The Bhagavad Gita"?
3. Talk about "Shakuntala" as described by Sunny.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Ramayana

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/12/content_2272073.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you agree with Mark that in today's world, "it's important to know more about the great literature of all civilizations"?
2. Talk about "The Ramayana" as described by Sunny.
3. What is the connection between Hanuman and Sun Wukong?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Socrates's Students

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/08/content_2267877.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about Socrates?
2. Have you ever read a Socratic dialogue? What are they like?
3. What do you know about Alexander the Great?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ancient History

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/06/content_2265079.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Why do you think Herodotus included some mythical figures in his history book?
2. Do you think it's important for history writers to use balance in their writing?
3. Do you think a history writer should visit the places he writes about? Or is it okay to learn about them from books?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ancient Chinese Literature

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/05/content_2263579.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about the Chinese writers mentioned in the lesson?
2. Why do you think Sun Zi's "military book" is used for business?
3. Are history books interesting or boring to you? Why do people read them?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Greek Drama III--Aristophanes

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-11/01/content_2259313.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Give an example of satire in your country's literature.
2. What is a "Golden Age"? Was there a Golden Age of literature in your country?
3. Mark describes several plays by Aristophanes. Which sounds most interesting to you? Why?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Greek Drama II--Sophocles and Euripides

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/30/content_2256742.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you know anything about Sophocles or Euripides or any of their plays? If so, talk about them.
2. Have you ever heard of Freud and the "Oedipus complex"?  If so, talk about them.
3. Why do you think Euripides would be "considered a bad influence on the society of Athens"?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Greek Drama I--Aeschylus

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/29/content_2254585.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you know anything about Aeschylus or any of his plays? If so, talk about them.
2. How do you think a "lost play" could become lost? (Remember, it has been 2,500 years!)
3. What's the difference between a tragedy and a comedy?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ancient Epics

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/25/content_2250038.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What is an epic? Are there any epics in your language? If so, talk about them.
2. Do you know anything about Gilgamesh or Mesopotamia? If so, talk about them.
3. Do you know anything about Homer, The Iliad, or The Odyssey? If so, talk about them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Inclusiveness

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/22/content_2245845.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. According to Becky, why do canons change slowly? Do you think this is fair?
2. Are you familiar with any of the authors and works mentioned here: Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, The Mahabharata, The Ramayana, The Bhagavad Gita, Journey to the West, A Dream of Red Mansions, Mo Yan, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather? If so, talk about them.
3. What do you think of the idea of "inclusiveness"?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Western Canon

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/18/content_2241920.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Is there a "canon" in your language? What does it include?
2. Are you familiar with any of the authors and works mentioned here: Gilgamesh, Homer, Plato, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Ovid, Virgil, Galen, Beowulf, Shakespeare, Dante, and Darwin? If so, talk about them.
3. Why aren't modern books included in the canon? Do you think they should be?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dead Poets' Society II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/23/content_2247141.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Find and read Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken." (It's short, and easily found online.) Talk about it.
2. Do the same with the poem by Lord Byron, "She walks in beauty."
3. Do you know anything about "The Odyssey"? If so, talk about it. If not, look it up. Or find Tennyson's poem "Ulysses," read it, and talk about it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dead Poets' Society I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/16/content_2238802.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen the film "The Dead Poets' Society"? If so, talk about it. If not, do you think you would like it? Why or why not?
2. Find and read Whitman's poem "O Captain, My Captain." (It's short, and easily found online.) Talk about it.
3. Do the same with the Shakespeare sonnet that begins "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Regions of the U.S. III

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/15/content_2237643.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about the SWest?
2. Do you know anything about any of the states mentioned in the lesson?
3. Look at the summary at the end of the article. How many of the regions and states can you name?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Regions of the U.S. II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/11/content_2233852.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about the South or the Midwest?
2. Do you know anything about any of the states mentioned in the lesson?
3. Is your country divided in a similar way? What are the divisions? What state, province, or prefecture is included in each one?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Regions of the U.S. I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/09/content_2230885.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about these regions: the Northeast? New England? The Mid-Atlantic States?
2. What do you know about any of these states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey?
3. What do you know about these cities: New York and Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mark Twain

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-10/08/content_2229240.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. "Mark Twain" is a "pen name." Do you know of other authors with pen names?
2. Have you read any of Twain's books? If so, talk about them. If not, talk about one you would like to read.
3. Some of Twain's first books were travel books. Do you have a favorite travel writer or book? If so, talk about it. If not, what place would you like to read about?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What's Sauce for the Goose

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/27/content_2221871.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are most male birds called? And most female birds?
2. Which birds have special names for the male? What are they?
3. Which birds have special names for the female? What are they?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Shakespeare

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/24/content_2217143.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Are you familiar with any of the plays mentioned? If so, talk aboutthem. If not, look up the story of one or two.
2. Have you ever seen a play performed "live"? What are the differences between live performance and movies? Which do you (or would you) enjoy more?
3. How does "To toot one's own horn" mean "to brag about oneself"? Is this acceptable in your culture?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Body's Systems II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/20/content_2211402.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Describe each of these: the muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary systems.
2. What are the different kinds of muscle found in the body? (Not all are part of the "muscular system.")
3. What are the divisions of the nervous system? What does each do?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Body's Systems I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/18/content_2208381.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Describe each of these: the circulatory, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immune, integumentary, and lymphatic systems.
2. What do these do (look them up): the heart, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenal glands, thymus, and the spleen.
3. What is blood? Lymph? Hormones?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Disney Films

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/17/content_2206780.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen any of the films discussed? If so, talk about them. If not, which would you like to see? Why?
2. Do you know the word "renaissance"? How is it used (besides talking about Disney films)?
3. What does "Disneyfied" mean? In your opinion, is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Old Disney Films

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/13/content_2202148.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen any of the films discussed? If so, talk about them. If not, which would you like to see? Why?
2. Do you think old films are better than new ones? Why or why not?
3. What makes a film or book a "classic"? Why do you think so?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Children's Classics

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/11/content_2199847.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. "Rock-a-bye baby" is a lullaby, a song to put a child to sleep. What are some lullabies in your language?
2. Have you read any of the books discussed in the conversations? If so, which ones? Talk about them. If not, which ones sound interesting to you? Why?
3. Do you think it's ok for children to read "scary stuff"? Why or why not?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Doctor Jokes

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/10/content_2197916.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you have doctor jokes in your language? If so, try to tell one in English. If not, try to tell one from this conversation in YOUR language.
2. These jokes depend on double meanings, or "puns." Do you have these in your language? How are they used?
3. What kind of jokes are told in your language? How are they similar to these jokes? How are they different?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/06/content_2191305.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen "The Wizard of Oz"? If so, what do you think of it? If not, would you like to see it? Why or why not?
2. What's a witch? Have you ever imagined there could be good witches and bad witches? What do you think of this idea?
3. "Telling a story from a movie in your own words is a good way to practice your English while having some fun." So do it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

In the Atlas

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/04/content_2189188.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What's an atlas? What's a gazetteer?
2. In an atlas, look up each of the cities and countries named in the conversation.
3. What are the countries in the Southern Hemisphere called in your language?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Astronomy Terms

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-09/03/content_2186801.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about the astronomers Copernicus and Galileo and their discoveries?
2. Name the planets in order from the sun.
3. What is the Milky Way? Is there a different name for it in your language? If so, translate it into English.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Computing Terms II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/30/content_2182528.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Use the words emoticon, netiquette, newbie, phishing, unfollow, and wi-fi in sentences.
2. What are some of the basic rules of "netiquette"?
3. In what situations do you (or would you) use "emoticons"? If you wouldn't use them, why not?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Computing Terms I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/28/content_2178503.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Use the words bloggable, bulletize, cyberbullying, cybersquatting, and digerati in sentences.
2. Has anything happened to you recently that's "bloggable"?
3. Have you ever been bullied, by a cyberbully or a regular one? If so, talk about it. If not, what do you think it would be like?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gone with the Wind

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/27/content_2177947.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen "Gone With the Wind"? If yes, talk about it. If no, what do you know about it?
2. Do you know any famous quotations from other movies?
3. "Gone With the Wind" is set against the American Civil War. "Titanic" is set against that ship's sinking. Do you know of other personal stories set against major historical events?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

World Religions II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/23/content_2173706.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Why do some people think that Taoism and Confucianism aren't really religions?
2. What do you know about the Indigenous traditions?
3. What other traditions are named, both religious and not religious? Talk about each.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

World Religions I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/21/content_2170079.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about each of the four categories of religions: the Abrahamic, the Indian, the Chinese, and the Indigenous traditions?
2. What are the similarities among the Abrahamic traditions? What are the differences? Compare and contrast them.
3. What are the two major Indian traditions? How are they the same? How are they different?

Friday, November 23, 2012

King Arthur

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/20/content_2169143.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about King Arthur? Talk about his story.
2. What is the difference between "history" and a "legend"?
3. What is "chivalry"? The "Round Table"? "Camelot"? The "Holy Grail"?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

English as She is Spoke 3

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/16/content_2165421.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Number 1 puts the adverb in the wrong place. Why is it wrong?
2. Number 1 also confuses "it" and "her." Have you made pronoun mistakes like this? Give an example.
3. Some of these sentences are about a play. What are some good questions you can ask a friend about a movie he or she has seen?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

English as She is Spoke 2

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/14/content_2161060.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you know what "context" is? Explain it.
2. In Number 1, "How" and "what" are confused. Have you made that mistake? Give an example.
3. Number 5 uses "be" and "do" together, a common (and very bad) mistake. Can you think of some bad examples?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

English as She is Spoke 1

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/13/content_2159918.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Before you read the explanations, read the "wrong" sentences and try to figure out what is wrong with them.
2. How could "having a bad looks" be different from "looking bad"? (Think of "ugly" and "badly behaved").
3. What do YOU think "still some o’clock" means?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Olympics

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/09/content_2156167.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you enjoy watching the Olympic games? Why or why not?
2. What was the purpose of the ancient Olympics?
3. How are the modern Olympics different from the ancient games? How are they the same?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/07/content_2152890.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you ever seen a film by Alfred Hitchcock? What do you know about him and his work?
2. Do you like suspense movies? Why or why not?
3. Have you heard of Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, or Peter Jackson? What do you know about their films?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photography

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/06/content_2151521.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Are you interested in photography? What sorts of things do you shoot?
2. Do you prefer to see bright color pictures, or black and white? Why?
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of shooting digital pictures versus using film?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Middle Ages

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-08/02/content_2148190.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are "the Middle Ages" in the middle between? (What comes before and after them?)
2. What are the three stages of the Middle Ages? What was each stage like?
3. What brought about the Renaissance?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Great Books

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/31/content_2145097.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What's the difference between "a great book" and "The Great Books"?
2. Have you read any of the Great Books mentioned in the article? What do you know about them?
3. What is the purpose of making "Great Books" lists?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Avengers

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/30/content_2143102.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Who are the four main characters in "The Avengers"? Talk about each one.
2. Have you seen any of the movies mentioned, or any other movies made from a comic book (Spiderman, Superman, etc.)? Talk about them.
3. Do you know any of the other films that had actors from this one, like "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr., or "Girl with the Pearl Earring" with Scarlett Johansson?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Land Down Under

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/26/content_2138824.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What's a marsupial? Have you ever seen one?
2. What is the capital of Australia? What are its two largest cities? What do you know about them?
3. Discuss some aspects of Australian culture mentioned in the article, and tell why it's called "Down Under."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Visiting China

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/24/content_2135333.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What would YOU like to see in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an?
2. Have you seen any of the attractions mentioned in the article? What do you know about them?
3. What sights would you recommend for a foreign friend visiting China?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Roman Empire

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/23/content_2134693.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are the "Latin languages"? Why are they called that? Do you know any words in any of those languages?
2. What are some of the influences that Rome still has on the nations of modern Europe? Explain at least three.
3. Discuss the end of the Roman Empire.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fun with Grammar VI

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/19/content_2129238.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: For each rule in this lesson:
1. Be sure you know what the problem is.
2. Make a sentence using the grammar point the WRONG way.
3. Now fix your "wrong" sentence.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fun with Grammar V

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/17/content_2126024.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: For each rule in this lesson:
1. Be sure you know what the problem is.
2. Make a sentence using the grammar point the WRONG way.
3. Now fix your "wrong" sentence.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fun with Grammar IV

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/16/content_2124734.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: For each rule in this lesson:
1. Be sure you know what the problem is.
2. Make a sentence using the grammar point the WRONG way.
3. Now fix your "wrong" sentence.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fun with Grammar III

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/12/content_2121049.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: For each rule in this lesson:
1. Be sure you know what the problem is.
2. Make a sentence using the grammar point the WRONG way.
3. Now fix your "wrong" sentence.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fun with Grammar II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/10/content_2117413.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: For each rule in this lesson:
1. Be sure you know what the problem is.
2. Make a sentence using the grammar point the WRONG way.
3. Now fix your "wrong" sentence.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fun with Grammar I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/09/content_2116032.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: For each rule in this lesson:
1. Be sure you know what the problem is.
2. Make a sentence using the grammar point the WRONG way.
3. Now fix your "wrong" sentence.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Elvis Presley

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/05/content_2111989.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Tell Elvis Presley's "life story" as found in the lesson.
2. Why was Elvis so popular?
3. Do you know any of his songs? If yes, sing one. If not, learn one!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Modern Art

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/03/content_2109002.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions: Discuss the life and work of each of these artists. Use books or the internet if necessary:
1. Pablo Picasso
2. Salvador Dali
3. Marc Chagall

Friday, November 2, 2012

Incredible India

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-07/02/content_2107551.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Describe the geography of India.
2. What religions started in India? What do you know about each one?
3. Who was Mahatma Gandhi? What did he do?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Evolution

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/28/content_2103911.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What's the difference between evolution and creationism? Who believes in creationism?
2. Who is Charles Darwin? What is Darwinism?
3. Define and discuss these terms: adaptation, natural selection, survival of the fittest, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Voyage of the Beagle

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chinglish III

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/26/content_2100041.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

[Note: These lessons were written for a Chinese newspaper. If you're not Chinese, you can also think of some typical problems that speakers of your language have with English.]

Questions:
1. Mark describes several more problems. Do you make any of these mistakes? Which ones? How can you correct them?
2. Make a dialogue using some of the wrong expressions. Then rewrite it and correct them.
3. What other "Chinglish" problems can you think of?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chinglish II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/25/content_2098488.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

[Note: These lessons were written for a Chinese newspaper. If you're not Chinese, you can also think of some typical problems that speakers of your language have with English.]

Questions:
1. According to Mark, what effect does poor grammar have on listeners?
2. Make some sentences with word pairs like "bored/boring" or "excited/exciting" used correctly.
3. When can you never use "ever"? Give examples of proper uses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chinglish I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/21/content_2095656.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

[Note: These lessons were written for a Chinese newspaper. If you're not Chinese, you can also think of some typical problems that speakers of your language have with English.]

Questions:
1. According to Mark, what is the #1 "Chinglish" problem?
2. What other two verb problems does Mark mention?
3. Which of these can very NOT modify: a verb, an adjective, an adverb?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

China's Provinces

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/19/content_2092310.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. How many Chinese provinces can you name?
2. According to the lesson, what's the difference between an SAR, an autonomous region a municipality, and a regular province?
3. What ethnic groups live in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Ningxia, and Guangxi?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A. Lincoln

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/18/content_2090284.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Describe the causes of the American Civil War, as given in the lesson.
2. What else do you know about Abraham Lincoln, besides what's in the lesson?
3. Look at the terms at the end of the lesson. Read the lesson carefully and be sure you understand each one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chaucer and Middle English

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/14/content_2084883.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you ever heard of Chaucer? Have you read anything by him? Either talk about him, or read a little more to learn about him.
2. Do you know any French words? Can you use your dictionary to find some French words in English?
3. Look at the opening lines of "The Canterbury Tales" in the lesson, and compare them to the translation. How many can you connect (like "shoures" and "showers")?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Give Me a Hand

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/12/content_2081847.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Point to parts of your hand and name them. Give more than one name, if possible.
2. What are the names of the fingers called in your language? How would you translate them into English?
3. Many cultures have "finger games" for children to play (songs and so on). Describe one from your culture.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

China's Cuisines

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/11/content_2080424.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Which is your favorite Chinese cuisine? What are some of the typical foods in that cuisine?
2. Can you cook anything? Describe something you can cook, and talk about the ingredients. If you can't cook, talk about your favorite dish to eat.
3. Why do you think China has so many different cuisines?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

France

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/07/content_2075260.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Name the sights in the lesson. What do you know about each one? Which one(s) would you like to see?
2. What is your favorite "cuisine" in the world? What do you know about French cuisine?
3. Do you know anything about French art? What's your favorite French painting? (By the way, the "Mona Lisa" was painted by Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Punctuation Marks

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-06/04/content_2070220.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Name each of the punctuation marks in the lesson, and tell how it's used.
2. Practice writing some sentences and try to use each punctuation mark properly.
3. Why do you think we use punctuation marks when we write? That is, how are they helpful?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Three Teachings

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/31/content_2065891.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are the "Three Teachings" (in English)? Tell a little about each one: Who taught it? What's it about?
2. Which "teaching" do you think is the most important in China today? Why?
3. Why is "Dao" sometimes written "Tao"? Explain the reason.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Napoleon

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/28/content_2060298.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What's a "palindrome"? Are there any palindromes in your language?
2. Tell the life of Napoleon in your own words, as described in the lesson.
3. Have you heard the idiom, "to meet one's Waterloo"? Tell about someone who met his or her Waterloo, and how it happened.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sir Isaac Newton

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/24/content_2056143.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What is gravity? How did Newton help us understand it?
2. What else is Newton famous for?
3. What is theology? Why did Newton keep his thoughts on theology quiet?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Old English

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/21/content_2050479.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. According to the article, how many kinds of English are there? What are they?
2. Have you read, or seen a movie of, "Beowulf"? Find out more about it.
3. Look at the Old English words of "Beowulf," and then the translation Mark gives. Can you find any very similar words (like "We")?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reference Books

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/17/content_2046465.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Which of the reference books named have you used? Which is the most useful for you?
2. When would you use: a thesaurus? an atlas? a book of quotations?
3. Do you think it's ok to just use the internet for these things? Or do you think it's still important to have books? Why?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/14/content_2041283.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you ever read (or seen a movie of) a fairy tale by the Grimms? Tell about it.
2. Can you think of any "disgusting" things in a fairy tale?
3. Have you ever heard of Freud or Jung? What is their connection to fairy tales?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lifecycle of the Butterfly

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/10/content_2036743.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you ever found a caterpillar or a cocoon? Did you ever watch it turn into a butterfly? If not, have you seen a movie of this? Talk about it.
2. Can you think of other animals that undergo a metamorphosis, like from living in water to living on land?
3. Some natural processes may SEEM like magic. Can you name some others?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Colors of the Rainbow

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/07/content_2031855.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What's your favorite color? Why? Is it one of the "rainbow colors"?
2. What's the difference between a "primary color" and a "tertiary color"?
3. Make some dialogues using some color idioms; then practice with a friend.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ten Worst Jobs

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-05/03/content_2027988.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Be sure you understand all of the jobs (broadcaster, butcher, etc.) and what each one does.
2. Which job would you want the most? Which would you find "yucky"?
3. Which is more important to you: A stable but boring job, or an exciting but unstable one (like the entertainment business)? Why?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Top Ten Jobs

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/26/content_2022345.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Look up the meaning of each of the ten jobs and be sure you understand what they are.
2. Which of these jobs would you like to have? Why? Which would you hate to have? Why?
3. Is there another job--not on this list--you'd love to have? What is it? Why would you like to have it?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Parts of Trees

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/23/content_2016267.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are the parts of the tree mentioned in this lesson? How did each word get its meaning?
2. What are some other meanings of these words?
3. With a friend, use each word in a sentence. Your friend must answer with a sentence using a different meaning of that word. See how many sentences you can make for each word.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Horoscopes II

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/19/content_2010747.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. According to Becky, what's the meaning of your "sign"?
2. Which mnemonic do you think is better, the one from the previous lesson, or this one? Why?
3. Becky said before that she just read her horoscope for "fun," and that knowing about the zodiac is "great for meeting girls at parties." Do you think this is a good reason to learn about it?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Horoscopes I

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/16/content_2006346.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Use Becky's "mnemonic" (As The Great Cook Likes Very Little Salt, She Compensates Adding Pepper) to learn the names of the zodiac signs.
2. Becky's sign is Cancer, the crab. What's yours?
3. Do you agree with Mark, that reading one's horoscope is "ridiculous"? Why or why not?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Irregular Plurals

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/12/content_2000861.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are the "four categories" of irregular plurals used by Lederer?
2. I have given eleven more categories of irregular plurals ("-fe changes to -ve," etc.) Can you think of more examples for each category?
3. Do the "little test" at the end of the article.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Funny English

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/09/content_1994588.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Practice reading each of the "funny" sentences aloud, pronouncing the key words (like "number" and "number" in the first sentence) properly.
2. Have you ever been "stumped" by any of these words, or by words with similar difficulties?
3. Look carefully at the definitions in the notes. How many of these words do you know?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Technical Usage

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/05/content_1989569.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Think of some examples of each kind of word: jargon, dialect, saying, humorous, TM, ironic, and figurative.
2. Does your language have these different levels? Can you give examples and translate some of them?
3. When would you use a humorous word instead of a serious one? When would you use figurative language?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Levels of Language

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-04/02/content_1987826.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Think of some examples of each kind of word: literary language, formal and informal expressions, slang, offensive expressions, and taboo expressions.
2. Does your language have these different levels? Can you give examples and translate some of them?
3. What is the purpose of "taboo" words, such as swear words? How are they used in English? In your language?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Approving and Disapproving Words

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/29/content_1983138.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What is "denotation"? What is "connotation"? How are they different?
2. Can you think of some words with approving connotations? Use them in sentences.
3. Can you think of some words with disapproving connotations? Use them in sentences.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IT and THEY

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/26/content_1977911.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. In what three unusual ways can we use "it"?
2. In what two unusual ways can we use "they"?
3. Are you "a natural" at anything? Talk about it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Read a Book

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/22/content_1973904.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are the "four layers" of reading a book? What is the purpose of each one?
2. Think of a book you know well, and explain what you'd learn by reading that book in each of the four layers.
3. In the same book, what symbolism is used? Are there any metaphors? How can the book be applied to your life?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Instruments of the Orchestra

Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/19/content_1969259.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What are the four sections of the orchestra? Describe each one.
2. What is unusual about the piano, according to Keesha? Why is this so?
3. To what section does each of these belong? Trombone, oboe, cymbals, viola, triangle, French horn, bass, saxophone

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spring Equinox


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/15/content_1963990.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What do you know about Easter? Tell it in your own words.
2. Does your culture have a special celebration for Spring Equinox? If so, what do you do?
3. As you read this, what will come next, a full moon or a new moon? Learn more about the moon's phases (first quarter, last quarter, waxing, waning, etc.)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fractions


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/12/content_1959253.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you have a good understanding of fractions? Talk about your experience learning about them.
2. What's a numerator? A denominator?
3. Write down several fractions and practice saying them in English.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Aesop


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/08/content_1954873.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you know any stories by Aesop? Tell one or two.
2. Do you think that telling stories is a good way to teach moral lessons?
3. How is it possible to have a group of stories by "Aesop," but people aren't really sure if Aesop was a real person?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Habitats


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/05/content_1950613.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What kind of habitat do you live in (or near)? Mountains? Seashore? Something else?
2. What's your favorite habitat?
3. What do you do for "ecology"?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Dutch Boy and the Dike


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-03/01/content_1945826.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you ever heard this story before? Tell it in your own words.
2. What do you think is the "lesson" in the Dutch Boy story? Do you know any other stories that teach the same lesson?
3. Roberto calls Mark a "mythbuster," someone who discovers that "commonly held beliefs" are not true. Do you know of some "myths" that have been "busted"?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Beatles


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/27/content_1941668.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you know any songs by the Beatles? Sing one!
2. Are there any other "groundbreaking" bands or musicians you can think of? What about other artists?
3. Find a picture of the Beatles from their early days. Do you find their hairstyles shocking? Why or why not?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Body's Joints


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/23/content_1937786.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Point to each of the joints in the article on your own or a friend's body.
2. Use some of the English idioms in this article in sentences. Create and practice role plays with a friend.
3. Are there idioms in your language using various joints? Translate them into English.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Times of Day


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/20/content_1933709.htm

Practice the conversation; study the vocabulary; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What time are "sunup" and "sundown" these days?
2. What time of day are you reading this: morning? afternoon? evening? night?
3. Think about the expression, "You're killin' me!" In what situations could you use it? Role play some with a friend.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More Networking Terms


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/16/content_1928808.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Can you give examples of a "meme"?
2. Have you seen the "Lolcats"? If so, what do you think of them? (If not, look them up!)
3. Are you (sometimes) a "lurker"? Where do you "lurk"?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Social Networking


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/13/content_1924814.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. If you use social networking sites, do you use your real face for an avatar? If not, what do you use? If you DON'T use such sites, what would you use?
2. Do you use any social networking sites? If so, how many friends (fans, followers) do you have? What's a good way to get more?
3. What's "trending" on the internet right now?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Common Kitchen 2


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/09/content_1920984.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Same question as for Part 1: Which of these appliances do you have in your kitchen? Which seem useful? Which seem unnecessary?
2. In your own words, describe the difference between a "toaster" and a "toaster oven."
3. What does Roberto mean when he says "I'll never tell"? Describe what's going on there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Common Kitchen 1


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/06/content_1917321.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Which of these appliances do you have in your kitchen?
2. Do you (or does anyone you know) cook on a wood stove? Have you ever cooked on a fire outdoors?
3. Which of the appliances named are used for cooking? Which for storage? And which for taking care of garbage?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Branches of Science


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-02/02/content_1914333.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. How do you say each of these in your language: biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, oceanography?
2. Do you like science? Why or why not? Are you "good at it"?
3. Do you understand the joke about "What did I do this time?" Why is it funny (or not)?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Big Numbers


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/30/content_1911438.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you divide numbers the same way we do in English: every three numbers, counting from the right?
2. How do you say these numbers in your language: hundred, thousand, million, billion, trillion?
3. Write some more long numbers (7 or more digits) and practice saying them correctly in English. Be sure to use some zeroes in different places

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Visiting Japan


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/19/content_1908257.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Do you know anything about anime, manga, and cosplay? Talk about them.
2. Have you ever ridden a bullet train, or any other fast train? How are they different from regular trains?
3. Have you ever been to hot springs, or stayed in a traditional inn (in any country)? What's it like?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Big Bang Theory


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/16/content_1905054.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen "The Big Bang Theory"? What do you think of it?
2. Do you know any "nerds"? Are they funny?
3. Do you ever watch TV shows on your computer? How do you get them: download, streaming, on DVD?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Longitude


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/12/content_1901464.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What is the longitude where you live? Give degrees, minutes, and seconds, if possible.
2. Which hemisphere do you live in, north or south? East or west?
3. How do you show the time of day in your language, like the "a.m." and "p.m." in English?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Zones, Solstices, and Equinoxes


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/09/content_1896908.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Which "zone" do you live in?
2. As you read this, what is the nearest date of an equinox or solstice?
3. Does your culture have any special celebrations for equinoxes or solstices? If so, talk about them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Latitude


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/05/content_1892576.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. What is the latitude where you live? Give degrees, minutes, and seconds, if possible.
2. Seven places are mentioned: North Pole, Arctic Circle, etc. Between which two do you live?
3. What is Antonio's native language? Do you know any words in that language (besides "Adios")?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood


Lesson from the Shenzhen Daily:
http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2012-01/02/content_1889307.htm

Practice the conversation; study the notes; then discuss the questions with a friend in English.

Questions:
1. Have you seen the film "Little Red Riding Hood," or read the story? What do you think of either one?
2. Who do you think is a good example of a "hottie"? Why do you think so?
3. Do you usually like "chick flicks"?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Are you a fashionista?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Friday, June 29, 2012

Can you imagine finding a treasure on your land? One English man did!

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

The Staffordshire Hoard 1

Enjoy!
James

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are you all thumbs?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You use a keyboard, but can you name its keys?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

The Computer Keyboard 1: Typing Controls

Enjoy!
James

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do you leave well enough alone?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who were Jack and Jill? Peter Piper? Little Bo Peep? Mother Goose knows!

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mother Goose Rhymes

Enjoy!
James

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whatcha doin'?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What continent do you live on? And how many are there?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

The Continents

Enjoy!
James

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do you ever cry crocodile tears?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Can you compare apples and oranges?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Apples and Oranges (Fruit idioms 2)

Enjoy!
James

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Are there plenty of fish in the sea?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are you a lemon? Or the apple of someone's eye?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

He's a lemon! (Fruit idioms 1)

Enjoy!
James

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's your favorite brain candy?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Sunday, June 17, 2012

You look at your hands every day. Can you name their parts in English?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Parts of the Hand

Enjoy!
James

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Are you every inch a student?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Friday, June 15, 2012

Some words - like "hot" - have lots of meanings.

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Eight Kinds of HOT

Enjoy!
James

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Feeling a little down?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Dec. 16, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Did you know some words are nouns AND verbs?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Talking about Ooze

Enjoy!
James

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Do you practice proper netiquette?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Monday, June 11, 2012

How many words do you know that end in "-ooze"?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

"Ooze" Words

Enjoy!
James

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ever swallow something hook, line and sinker?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are you a high roller? Or a pencil pusher?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Office Types 2

Enjoy!
James

Friday, June 8, 2012

Do you use emoticons? :)

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are you a number cruncher? Or a rainmaker?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Office Types 1

Enjoy!
James

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Do you need a pep talk?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Monday, Dec. 12, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do you exaggerate? Or understate?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Over and Under

Enjoy!
James

Monday, June 4, 2012

Has your goose been cooked?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011

Enjoy!
James

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Are you grumpy? Bashful? Sneezy? Or another dwarf?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

The Seven Dwarves

Enjoy!
James

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Who is Woden, and why does he get his own day?

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Mini-Lessons from Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011

Enjoy!
James
Hi, Friends!

For the last six months I have provided a NEW English lesson every day, along with a summary of my Mini-Lessons. That's over 300 lessons! Besides that, I've also posted SEVEN Mini-Lessons on Twitter. 






Because it's nearly summer, and I will be traveling a LOT, I won't be posting any new lessons. But I will be posting a link to the older lessons and summaries to remind you of something to study or review.

I hope you will keep studying every day, and enjoy the lessons!

peace,
James

Friday, June 1, 2012

Do you ever order a la carte? Restaurant words from French

For the next few months, I'll be traveling a lot. So please read some of my old lessons to improve your English. Today I recommend:

Bon Appetit!

Enjoy!
James

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Business before Pleasure



GET READY:

1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Do you always take care of work (say, housework) before having fun?

READ THIS:

James sees his friend, a woman named Patricia, on the subway.

James: Hey, Pat.
Patricia: Oh, hi James.
James: Where are you off to?
Patricia: Ugh! The office.
James: What the...? But it's Saturday! Your boss must be a real slave driver.
Patricia: My boss? No, I run my own business.
James: So what keeps your nose to the grindstone?
Patricia: Well, you know, "Business before pleasure."
James: I guess. But can't you ease up even a little?
Patricia: Oh, I get my licks in. But sometimes you just have to knuckle down and do it, you know?
James: OK. I'll quit hassling you.
Patricia: Here's my stop. Gotta go.
James: Ok. Don't work too hard!
Patricia: Thanks. Have a nice day.

NOTES:
Some proverbs are always true. The value of others changes, depending on the situation.

"Business before pleasure" is one of those. Sometimes, we must do "pleasure before business." For example, at a business lunch, we should take time to make small talk and cultivate friendship with the person we're doing business with.

In other cases, though, as in today's dialogue, we must put work before play, drudgery before fun, "business before pleasure."

More notes:
  • Where are you off to?: This just means "Where are you going?" in an informal way.
  • Ugh!: This sound indicates that Patricia finds working on Saturday disgusting
  • What the...?: An expression of surprise. The last word (left out) is usually a rude or vulgar one; we leave it unsaid, as James did, for a stronger effect.
  • a real slave driver: someone who makes his or her workers work hard, like slaves
  • to keep one's nose to the grindstone: to work hard, without a break
  • to ease up: to cut back on something, or (in this case) work less
  • to get one's licks in: "licks" here means "hits," like in the sport of boxing. A boxer tries to hit his opponent as much as possible; the more "licks" he "gets in," the higher his score. Patricia here means that she occasionally has time for fun; she doesn't miss every opportunity.
  • to knuckle down: This comes from the sport of shooting marbles. One puts the knuckle of one's pointer finger directly on the ground, before shooting the marble with the thumb. So someone who "knuckles down" is actively in the game.
  • to hassle: to give someone a hard time, to bother them

PRACTICE:

Use the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. When I was a kid, my mom was __________. She always made us do our homework before we could play.
2. It's time to __________ and get serious about studying; the test is tomorrow!
3. I'm __________ the store. Do you want to go with me?
4. Don't __________ me, Mom; I'll do my homework when I'm ready!
5. Don't push Johnny so hard. He's just a kid! __________ on him a little.
6. __________? Who stole my ice cream from the freezer?
7. If you __________, without letting up, you're sure to be a success.
8. A: Wow! You really know how to hit a golf ball! B: Yeah, I __________.
9. __________! What's that smell?

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Have you ever had a boss, teacher, or parent who was a "slave driver"?
2. Do you usually "knuckle down" and "keep your nose to the grindstone," or do you prefer to "play now, work later"?
3. Would you rather be your own boss, or work for someone else? Why?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. a real slave driver; 2. knuckle down; 3. off to; 4. hassle; 5. Ease up; 6. What the...?; 7. keep your nose to the grindstone; 8. get my licks in; 9. Ugh

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."


Mini-Lessons from Thursday, May 31, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Science: laser: a machine that makes a fine point of light, which may be used to cut something, or to "read" information as on a DVD.
  • Language Study: syntax: order of words in a sentence. Important in English: "A dog bit a boy" is very different from "A boy bit a dog."
  • Business: flexible: able to change when the situation changes. "In this market, we must be flexible, and change to meet the customers' needs."
  • Literature: pluralism: having many different types of groups (religions, races, political groups), all living side-by-side in one society.
  • New Words: channel-hop: move quickly between TV channels with a remote control. Also "channel surf." "Stop channel hopping! Let's watch the news."
  • Slang: Why the long face?: "Why are you so sad?" When one is sad, the face looks longer. A: "Why the long face?" B: "My grandma is sick."
  • Modern History: secession: 11 southern states left the US in 1860 and 1861. They started the Confederacy, which led to the American Civil War.

NOTES:
  1. Except for the Slang words, all the words in these Mini-Lessons came from lists either on the Oxford University Press site or in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Slang words are from my own list, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Buck Stops Here



GET READY:

1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Do you ever try to get out of doing your job?

READ THIS:

James sees his student, a boy named George, who has been studying the life of American president Harry Truman.

James: Georgy-porgy!
George: Hi, James. Hey, I'm glad I saw you. Got time for a question?
James: Sure. What's up?
George: I was just reading about President Truman, and I saw a picture of him with a sign on his desk that said, "The buck stops here."
James: Oh, yeah. That's pretty famous.
George: So, what does it mean?
James: Well, there's another expression, "to pass the buck." It probably comes from poker, something about changing the dealer.
George: So...?
James: So, when the dealer changed, one dealer would "pass the buck" to the next.
George: I'm still not following you.
James: Patience, George! From this idea of "passing the buck" in poker, the phrase came to refer to the idea of "shifting responsibility," not always in a good way. So in business for example, when someone says, "That's not my job; ask so-and-so," we say he's "passing the buck."
George: OK, I'm starting to get it. So Harry Truman was saying that he had the ultimate responsibility, right?
James: That’s right. As the man at the top, he had no one to "pass the buck" to, so it stopped with him.
George: Got it! Thanks, James.
James: Sure. Phew! That was a tough one!
George: But I knew you could do it!

NOTES:

The best student is the one who goes beyond the assignment.

Often, while studying a particular topic, we encounter words or expressions that, while not essential to understanding the topic we are studying, will enlarge our understanding of English language and culture in general. It's good to dig deep, past what is required, to find gems of greater meaning.

More notes:
  • Georgy-porgy!: James makes a joke with George's name. This comes from a rhyme: "Georgy Porgy, puddin' and pie/Kissed the girls and made them cry..."
  • something about changing the dealer: There are several theories on this. Some say the dealer had a buck knife (a type of hunting knife) in front of him; others say it was buckshot (something used in a shotgun). Whatever it was, it was referred to as the "buck" that would be passed to the next dealer.
  • Phew!: This is how we write the sound made when someone exhales noisily; here it means James is relieved.

PRACTICE:

Some people think that the term "passing the buck" is based on the meaning of "buck" as a slang term for a kind of American paper money. Below I have listed the nicknames of six kinds of American paper money. Match each one to the amount it describes.

1. buck
2. C-note
3, double sawbuck
4. fin
5. grand
6. sawbuck

a. $1
b. $5
c. $10
d. $20
e. $100
f. $1000

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. What would people think of a leader who tried to "pass the buck"? Has anyone you trusted ever "passed the buck"? If so, what happened?
2. Have you ever been ultimately responsible for something, with no one to "pass the buck" to? If so, how did it make you feel?
3. Do you know the story of "Georgy Porgy, puddin' and pie/Kissed the girls and made them cry..."? Look it up. How do you feel about "Georgy Porgy"? Would YOU want to be called this?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. buck: (a) $1; No one is sure why a dollar is called "a buck" (and 50 d0llars "50 bucks" etc.), but it may come from the days when hunters used the skin of a male deer--a buck--as a kind of money.
2. C-note: (e) $100; "c" is the first letter in Latin words relating to 100 (like a century=100 years). You may even hear "century note."
3. double sawbuck: (d) $20; see "sawbuck" below; 20 is 2 x 10.
4. fin: (b) $5; in Yiddish (a language related to both German and Hebrew), "five" is "finf." So in English, "fin" is close enough.
5. grand: (f) $1000; the word "grand" can mean "great, elegant," etc. So to have a thousand dollars would be "grand"! It's also sometime abbreviated to "G" or "gee," so "My car cost thirty gees" means it cost $30,000.
6. sawbuck: (c) $10; people who cut trees or wood sometimes stand it up on a cross-shaped stand to cut it; this is called a "sawbuck." And the cross-shape (X) is the Roman numeral for "10."

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Mini-Lessons from Wednesday, May 30, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Link: Writing Business Letters in English: http://www.englishclub.com/business-english/business-letters.htm
  • Ancient History: Lucrezia Borgia: (1480-1519) Member of Borgia family of Renaissance Italy; sister to Cesare. Accused of plotting, tricks, poisoning.
  • Irregular Verbs: I retake pictures that turn out poorly. I retook one yesterday. I have retaken quite a few since my camera broke!
  • Idiom: buy a pig in a poke: buy something you haven't seen. A: "I never shop online." B: "Why?" A: "I don't like to buy a pig in a poke."
  • Pop Culture: Muhammad Ali: (born 1942 as Cassius Clay) African-American boxing champion, famous for his boxing style and his BIG personality.
  • Slang: 'Sup?: Short for "What's up?" A: "Hey, Moe. 'Sup?" B: "Not much. 'Sup with you?" A: "Nothing much."
  • Government: moratorium: a delay or stopping agreed on by two sides. If A owes B money, they can agree on a "moratorium" on payment, delaying it.

NOTES:
  1. The Idiom, the History and Government words, and some of the Pop Culture words, are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  2. The Link was found online; the Slang words, the Irregular Verbs, and some of the Pop Culture words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brevity Is the Soul of Wit



GET READY:

1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Do you know what it means to be "concise"? Why do you think this is important?

READ THIS:

James talks with his student, a girl named Helen, about a paper she has written on Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

James: Good morning, Helen.
Helen: Good morning, James. I wanted to ask you about this paper.
James: Sure. Let's see...oh, yeah, see the comments in the margin? "Wordy," "Redundant," and so on?
Helen: Yes, I see them, but I don't know what the problem is.
James: The problem is, you often use more words than necessary.
Helen: For example?
James: Well, look at this sentence: "The reason why Hamlet died was because he couldn't make a decision."
Helen: What's wrong with that?
James: Try saying it this way: "Hamlet died because he was indecisive."
Helen: Oh, I see. Same idea, fewer words.
James: Exactly. Don't forget what Polonius said to Claudius and Gertrude: "Brevity is the soul of wit."
Helen: I remember that! It was funny, because in the speech where he said it, he used too many words too.
James: That's right. He didn't follow his own advice. But as he says, brevity, or "being brief," is one mark of intelligent speaking.
Helen: And writing!
James: You got it.

NOTES:

There are two issues to be considered when using a language. The first is communication. In other words, can you be understood?

The second is respect. You want people not only to understand you, but also to respect how well you use the language.

One of the markers of a sophisticated English speaker is how briefly he or she can state an idea. Look at these examples:
"my mother's house" instead of "the house of my mother"
"My friend and I are happy" instead of "My friend is happy, and I am happy, too"
These and other such expressions set apart the great speakers from the good ones.

While this is especially difficult when speaking, there is more opportunity to shape and condense language when writing.

More notes:
  • Wordy: This describes the use of too many words
  • Redundant: This is when a speaker or writer repeats things unnecessarily. In the example, "The reason why" equals "because"; a sentence doesn't need both.
  • indecisive: Note that James recommends using a pointed adjective instead of the phrase, "he couldn't make a decision."

PRACTICE:

Re-write the following sentences using fewer words. Suggested answers are below.

1. The majority of the people who wanted to visit were not allowed to go in.
2. When I want to know what you think, I'll ask you what you think.
3. You shouldn't use the word "never" in a sentence.
4. There's going to be a rainstorm tomorrow.
5. When I have some extra time, I like to read fiction books that tell the story of someone's life.
6. Please walk across the room and put the chair in the place where two walls join.
7. It is not difficult to drive a car.
8. She didn't tell the truth.
9. Write something on your calendar to remind you.
10. You are prohibited from smoking in the hallway.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why is it important to use fewer words when possible?
2. Look at the exercise and the answers. How does each answer improve the original sentence?
3. Do you think it's important to learn to speak in a way that people respect? Why or why not?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

These are just possible answers; there are many ways to make the sentences shorter.

1. Most of the visitors were turned away.
2. When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it.
3. Never say "never."
4. It's going to rain tomorrow.
5. I like to read novels in my free time.
6. Put the chair in the corner.
7. Driving is easy.
8. She lied.
9. Mark your calendar.
10. Don't smoke in the hallway.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

Mini-Lessons from Tuesday, May 29, 2012

These Mini-Lessons are posted on Twitter, and in China on Weibo, throughout the day. You can follow them there!

To get the most from them, you should try to use them in sentences, or discuss them with friends. Writing something on Twitter or Weibo is a great way to practice!
  • Tip: Record yourself. Use your phone or an MP3 recorder to playback and listen to your speech. Compare it to a native speaker!
  • Proverb: Live and let live: Don't interfere with others. Take care of your own needs, and let them take care of theirs.
  • Academic Vocabulary: portion: part of something. "A large portion of my morning is spent reading emails."
  • Literature: Sherwood Forest: a forest in England. Legend says Robin Hood lived there with his men. He "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor."
  • Art: Rorschach test: a test made of inkblots (messy marks on paper); the person tested looks at them and says what they make him think of.
  • Slang: You bet: absolutely, for sure. A: "Would you like to come over for dinner?" B: "You bet! What can I bring?"
  • Geography: Beverly Hills: city near Los Angeles. Known for being the home of rich people, movie stars. Also famous for TV teen drama "90210."

NOTES:
  1. Academic Vocabulary is the Academic Word List from Oxford University Press. This is "a list of words that you are likely to meet if you study at an English-speaking university."
  2. The Proverb, and the Literature, Art, and Geography words are from lists in the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. I wrote the definitions and examples myself.
  3. The Tip and Slang words are from my own lists, and I wrote the definitions and examples myself.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."