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

Mini-Lessons from Friday, Mar. 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!

  • Tip: Make sentences. When you learn a new word or grammar point, put it in a sentence and say it again and again.
  • Proverb: Forewarned is forearmed: When you have been told something in advance (are "forewarned") you can be better prepared ("forearmed").
  • Academic Vocabulary: equivalent: equal to (adj), or something equal to (n). "A dollar is equivalent to 100 cents." "Win a car or its equivalent in cash!"
  • Literature: vampires: An imaginary species of person who lives on human blood. They are supposed to live forever; Dracula is the most famous.
  • Art: Pablo Picasso: (1881-1973) Spanish artist, one of the greatest of the 20th century. He worked in paint, sculpture, prints, and more.
  • Slang: some part of me knew it: "I had an intuition." "35%! Everyone said I would pass the test, but some part of me knew I would fail."
  • Geography: Burkina Faso: west African country once known as Upper Volta; one of lowest per person GDPs in the world. Capital is Ouagadougou.


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 Proverb is "Forewarned is forearmed." You would probably NOT say this when:
a. someone tells you that the boss is in a bad mood.
b. someone tells you it's your secretary's birthday.
c. someone learns that the client is unhappy.
d. someone has information on a rival company's strategy.

2. Use the Academic Vocabulary word "equivalent" in its correct form:
a. What is the __________ between dollars to pesos?
b. One-half and 62% are __________.
c. Please exchange this water for an __________ amount of wine.
d. Give me one Euro or its __________.
e. They were both equally successfully, having risen __________ in the world.

3. Match the Literature, Art, and Geography terms below to these related ideas:
a. famous for his "Blue Period"
b. people speak French
c. "Guernica" is one of his most famous
d. over half are Muslims
e. "Twilight" is about them
f. usually can't be out in the sun

(1) vampires
(2) Pablo Picasso
(3) Burkina Faso

4. What does the Slang term "some part of me knew it" probably mean in this sentence?

When I came home and my girlfriend wasn't there, some part of me knew that she had left me.

a. The speaker was absolutely sure his girlfriend had broken up with him.
b. The speaker had a feeling his girlfriend had broken up with him.
c. The speaker thought his girlfriend had gone to the store.
d. The speaker had no idea where his girlfriend was.


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. Have you read any books about vampires? If yes, which one(s)? What did you think? If not, is there one you would like to read? Why?
2. Look at some of Picasso's paintings, perhaps from the "Blue Period." What do you think of them?
3. Find Burkina Faso on a map. What is it near? Find some facts about the country, including things like literacy, infant mortality rate, and life expectancy. What can you imagine about life there?


1. b. You don't need to be "warned" and "armed" about good news.

2. Academic Vocabulary:
a. equivalence
b. nonequivalent
c. equivalent (adjective)
d. equivalent (noun)
e. equivalently

3. Matching:
a. (2) Pablo Picasso; the "Blue Period" was from 1901-1904. Most of his work in this period is done in blue tones.
b. (3) Burkina Faso; French is the official language; some native languages are also recognized.
c. (2) Pablo Picasso; "Guernica" depicts the bombing of a city in the Spanish Civil War
d. (3) Burkina Faso; about 60% are Muslims; others are mostly Roman Catholics, animists, and Protestants.
e. (1) vampires; Edward and his friends are vampires.
f. (1) vampires; some authors change this tradition, as in "Twilight."

4. b.

  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."

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