In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Mar. 23, 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: chlorophyll: the stuff that makes plants green. It turns the sun's light into energy used by plants and the animals who eat them.
  • Language Study: reflexive pronoun: pronoun with "-self" or "-selves" showing action toward oneself. "She hurt herself"; "They got themselves lost."
  • Business: stake: share of ownership in a company. "Steve's $50,000 gives him a 20% stake in ABC Company." Also, the money: His stake was $50,000.
  • Literature: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: 1884 novel by American author Mark Twain, takes a close look at social ideas of the time.
  • New Words: bajillion: An imaginary large number (sounds like million, billion, trillion, etc.) "I'm so busy! I have a bajillion things to do!"
  • Slang: creepy: giving a bad or scary feeling. "My new teacher is ugly, he smells bad, and he always smiles at me. It's kind of creepy."
  • Modern History: Salem witch trials: 1692-1693 trials and executions of mostly girls considered witches in Salem and other villages in Massachusetts.


Read the Mini-Lessons above. Make cards and study them. When you think you know them, answer the questions below. You may have to look up some new words to answer the questions!


1. Today's New Word is "bajillion." Use "million," "billion," "trillion," and "bajillion" in one of each of the following sentences.
a. There are around seven __________ people living in the world today.
b. There are about 312 __________ living in the U.S.
c. There are about a __________ reasons to stop smoking.
d. The U.S. National debt is over 15 __________ dollars.

2. Today's Language Study term is "reflexive pronoun." Use the correct reflexive pronoun in each of the following sentences.
a. He had to excuse __________ to answer his mobile phone.
b. A problem will sometimes take care of __________ if you leave it alone.
c. One must sometimes embarrass __________ in order to avoid embarrassing others.
d. We had to congratulate __________ when we reached the top of the mountain.
e. If I forget my father's birthday, I'll never forgive __________.

3. Match the Science, Literature, and Modern History terms below to these related ideas:
a. essential for photosynthesis
b. sometimes criticized for its use of racial terms
c. probably caused by mass hysteria
d. a term like this is still used to describe unfair treatment by government authorities
e. a sequel to "Tom Sawyer"
f. mushrooms don't have it

(1) chlorophyll
(2) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
(3) Salem witch trials

4. Which of these could NOT be described by the Slang term "creepy"?

a. Your computer suddenly speaking to you--and using your name.
b. Your neighbor standing outside your front door--every time you open it.
c. A dog howling in the night.
d. A friendly, handsome guy (if you’re a woman) or pretty girl (if you’re a man) asking for your phone number.

5. Today's Business term is "stake." This is a noun; it can also be a verb. Use the proper noun OR verb form in each of the following sentences.
a. You can make more money at poker when the __________ are higher.
b. Would you mind __________ my business?
c. I once __________ a new enterprise, but it failed and I lost everything.
d. If I hadn't __________ that business, I'd still have money in the bank.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers. You may need to do some research in your language, but then you should express your answers in English.

1. In the 1950s, it was claimed that chlorophyll could make your breath smell better. Do some research and find out if this is true.
2. Read a little bit of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (easily found online). What do you notice about the language? Why do you think Twain wrote it this way?
3. Arthur Miller wrote a play about the Salem witch trials called "The Crucible." Read a little about it; what was Miller criticizing? What is the connection?


1. a. billion; b. million; c. bajillion; d. trillion

2. Language Study term: a. himself; b. itself; c. oneself; d. ourselves; e. myself

3. Matching:
a. (1) chlorophyll; photosynthesis is the process of turning carbon dioxide, water, and salts into sugar, using the sun's light for energy
b. (2) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; in the book, Mark Twain examined attitudes toward blacks in his time. One character in the book, Jim, is an escaped slave, and people refer to him using the word "nigger," a word which it is now not acceptable to use, but it was common in that time.
c. (3) Salem witch trials; the best theory of why the people in Salem were all behaving strangely is that the were caught in "mass hysteria," where a group of people have a strange psychological effect on each other.
d. (3) Salem witch trials; when a government or other authority unfairly attacks someone, it's called a "witch hunt."
e. (2) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Huck Finn is a friend of Tom Sawyer, and appears first in that book (also by Mark Twain).
f. (1) chlorophyll; mushrooms are a fungus, not a green plant, and grow in the dark.

4. d.

5. Business term: a. stakes; b. staking; c. staked; d. staked

  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."

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