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

Mini-Lessons from Thursday, Mar. 22, 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: Idioms quizzes (printable!):
  • Ancient History: Constantinople: old name for ─░stanbul, Turkey. Once capital of Eastern Roman Empire, as Rome was capital of the West.
  • Irregular Verbs: Never forsake your duties. My friend forsook his last week and got fired. I have never forsaken mine.
  • Idiom: forty winks: a short sleep. "Call me in twenty minutes; I'm going to catch forty winks."
  • Pop Culture: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game": a song about baseball, usually sung at professional games in America.
  • Slang: chin up: don't be discouraged. A: "I failed the test." B: "Chin up! Study hard and you'll pass the next one."
  • Government: colonialism: when the government of one place claims to own another place, and holds power over that place's people.


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 "forty winks." You would probably use this to describe:
a. a short sleep in your office during lunch
b. flirting with a girl or boy
c. sleeping all night
d. what a bear does in winter

2. Use the correct form of the Irregular Verb "forsake" in these sentences:
a. Tony __________ all other women when he married Jane.
b. I have been __________ my duties lately; I need to be more diligent!
c. It's a bad father who __________ his children.
d. I may live far from home, but I have never __________ my parents.
e. Do not __________ your family for any reason.

3. Match the Ancient History, Pop Culture, and Government terms below to these related ideas:
a. named for the Roman emperor Constantine (272-337AD)
b. common from the late 15th to the 20th century
c. says "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack"
d. also called "the New Rome"
e. from the Latin word for "a settler"
f. sung during the so-called "seventh-inning stretch"

(1) Constantinople
(2) "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"
(3) colonialism

4. Mark "T" for sentences where you might answer "Chin up!" and "F" for those you would not.

a. I'm getting married.
b. I'm working too hard.
c. I'm worried about a doctor's appointment.
d. I'm graduating next month.


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. First Byzantium, then Constantinople, now Istanbul. Briefly trace the history of this fascinating city.
2. Learn to sing the entire song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (you can find a sound file on Wikipedia).
3. Was your country ever a colony? Has it ever had colonies? If not, are there colonies or former colonies near your country? Learn a little about your country's history!


1. a.

2. Irregular Verb:
a. forsook
b. forsaking
c. forsakes
d. forsaken
e. forsake

3. Matching:
a. (1) Constantinople; Constantine became a Christian, which led to the success of Christianity in Europe.
b. (3) colonialism; this period was called the "colonial period," when many European countries (and later America) were acquiring colonies in other parts of the world.
c. (2) "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"; the next line is "I don't care if I never get back." ("Cracker jack" is a caramel popcorn candy.)
d. (1) Constantinople; this is because Constantine relocated the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople (formerly Byzantium).
e. (3) colonialism; a "colonus" was a "husbandman, tenant farmer, settler in new land." The place settled is called a "colony."
f. (2) "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"; each round of play in baseball is called an "inning." There are usually nine of these; the "seventh-inning stretch" is a time for viewers to stand up and stretch late in the game, and for the teams to take a short break.

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

  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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