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

Mini-Lessons from Monday, Mar. 26, 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: boiling and freezing points: temperatures at which water becomes steam (100C/212F) and ice (0C/32F).
  • Language Study: rhetorical question: question meant to say something, not get an answer; "Why does this always happen to me?" means "I have bad luck."
  • Business: tycoon: a rich, powerful person in a particular business or industry. Rupert Murdoch is a famous media tycoon.
  • Literature: Jean-Paul Sartre: (1905-1980) French writer of Existentialism, idea that the only meaning in life is the meaning we find for ourselves.
  • New Words: capoeira: a Brazilian martial art that includes dance and music, with roots among African Brazilians.
  • Slang: look at something: may mean "think about" or "consider." "Some rich people share their money with others; look at Bill Gates."
  • Modern History: Irish potato famine: 1845-1852 time of suffering in Ireland. Disease killed the potato crop; about a million died, and a million left.


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 "capoeira." Which of these is NOT related to this?
a. Chinese kung fu
b. a cup of tea
c. the samba
d. the Portuguese language

2. Today's Language Study term is "rhetorical question." Which of these is probably NOT a rhetorical question?
a. When you have to leave a friend's house: "Where does the time go?"
b. When you have eaten a delicious meal: "Wasn't that the best meal you ever had?"
c. When you want to know the time: "What time is it?"
d. When you want someone to be quiet: "Why don't you just shut up?"
e. When your boss asks you to work late: "Why not?"

3. Match the Science, Literature, and Modern History terms below to these related ideas:
a. resulted in the loss of 20-25% of the population
b. was offered the Nobel Prize in Literature (1964) but did not accept it
c. higher or lower when salt is added
d. one-third of the population lost their staple
e. changes with air pressure
f. wrote plays, novels, and philosophy books

(1) boiling and freezing points
(2) Jean-Paul Sartre
(3) Irish potato famine

4. Mark "T" if "look at something" in the sentence is used like the Slang term; mark "F" if it means literally to "look."

a. I made this for you, Mommy; look at my painting.
b. Sometimes progress is made very quickly; look at China since 1980.
c. Learning doesn't have to be difficult; look at all the education games out there.
d. There's something wrong with my car; look at the door.

5. Today's Business term is "tycoon." What kind of tycoon is each of tehse people?
a. Bill Gates
b. Ralph Lauren
c. Sam Walton
d. Steve Wynn


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. Ice, water, steam. What is the "state" of each of these called? Can you name some other examples of things in these states?
2. A famous quotation from Sartre is: "Hell is other people." What do you think he meant by this? Look up some other quotations from Sartre and see if you can imagine what kind of man he was. Was he cheerful? Blue? Calm? See what you can find.
3. The potato was THE staple food for many Irish people. What is your staple food? Have there ever been problems with the supply in your country/area? What would happen if the supply were destroyed?


1. b. a cup of tea. Chinese kung fu is another "martial art"; the samba is a Brazilian dance; Portuguese is the language of Brazil.

2. Language Study term: c. The others mean:
a. The time has passed quickly.
b. That was a good meal.
d. I want you to be quiet.
e. Yes, of course.

3. Matching:
a. (3) Irish potato famine; as mentioned, many died, and many more moved to other countries.
b. (2) Jean-Paul Sartre; he said "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution."
c. (1) boiling and freezing points; boiling is higher and freezing is lower when something is in the water.
d. (3) Irish potato famine; the "staple" or "staple crop" is the main food used by a group, as rice is in much of Asia, or wheat in many areas of America.
e. (1) boiling and freezing points; this is the idea behind pressure cookers; it's also why water usually takes longer to boil at high altitudes (as up in the mountains).
f. (2) Jean-Paul Sartre; "Nausea" is a famous novel, "No Exit" a famous play.

4. a. F; b. T; c. T; d. F

5. Business term:
a. software tycoon
b. fashion tycoon
c. retail tycoon
d. casino tycoon

  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."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me a message; I can't wait to hear from you!