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

Mini-Lessons from Sunday, Mar. 25, 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: Pronunciation practice (LOTS of it):
  • Ancient History: Spanish Inquisition: a court in the Roman Catholic Church in Spain in the Middle Ages which examined people for correct beliefs.
  • Irregular Verbs: My team usually beats its opponents. We beat Central University yesterday. We have beaten them many times.
  • Idiom: beat around the bush: avoid saying something. "Tell me the truth! Stop beating around the bush!"
  • Pop Culture: Woodstock: a 3-day rock music festival held in New York state in 1969. There were 32 acts, and about 500,000 people in the audience.
  • Slang: It kind of snuck up on me: I wasn't ready for it. A: "Where's my birthday present?" B: "Sorry; your birthday kind of snuck up on me."
  • Government: smoke-filled room: a term for secret political meetings and actions outside of the public's knowledge


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 Idiom is "beat around the bush." You would probably use this when:
a. someone has damaged your garden.
b. someone is saying, "Um... er... ah..."
c. someone won a game.
d. someone wants to buy you flowers.

2. Use the correct form of the Irregular Verb "beat" in these sentences:
a. There's an old saying, "It's no use __________ a dead horse."
b. We have to __________ ABC Company if we want to be Number One.
c. The Cougars have __________ us every time we've played them.
d. I don't like playing cards with my dad; he __________ me every time!
e. They __________ us once; don't let them do it again!

3. Match the Ancient History, Pop Culture, and Government terms below to these related ideas:
a. the first one recorded was at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago in 1920.
b. It was aimed especially at Jews and Muslims, or those who converted from those religions.
c. Although it may be from cigars, it also symbolizes "hiding."
d. It may have been an effort to localize control.
e. Joni Mitchell wrote a song about it.
f. The place belonged to a farmer named Max Yasgur.

(1) Spanish Inquisition
(2) Woodstock
(3) smoke-filled room

4. In which case would you use the Slang term "It kind of snuck up on me"?

a. Your boss caught you sleeping.
b. You forgot the deadline for a report, and it's due soon.
c. You're planning to go to lunch with your friends.
d. It's Christmas, and your tree is already decorated.


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. Learn something about the Spanish Inquisition. How long did it last? How many people were affected?
2. Find out more about Woodstock. Who performed there? What songs did they sing?
3. Is there anything like a "smoke-filled room" in the politics of your country? What is it, exactly?


1. b. You would say something like, "Don't beat around the bush! Get to the point!"

2. Irregular Verb:
a. beating
b. beat
c. beaten
d. beats
e. beat

3. Matching:
a. (3) smoke-filled room; it arranged to have Warren G. Harding nominated as Republican candidate for president.
b. (1) Spanish Inquisition; some Jewish and Muslim people had become Catholics, but the Church was suspicious about them truly believing. The Inquisition was to test their faith.
c. (3) smoke-filled room; powerful men in those days smoked cigars, but "smoke" also makes us think of something being hidden.
d. (1) Spanish Inquisition; some say that by creating the Inquisition in Spain, the king was limiting the power of the Pope, leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
e. (2) Woodstock; it was later performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Matthews Southern Comfort.
f. (2) Woodstock; Max Yasgur was paid an unknown amount for the use of his land, but it cost him far more than he made. Some see him as a hero of the "hippie movement."

4. b.

  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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