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

Mini-Lessons WITH EXERCISES from Saturday, Mar. 17, 2012

I'm trying something new! Instead of a separate lesson, today's lesson will be exercises based on the Mini-Lessons. Let me know if you like it!
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: organism: a living thing (animal, plant fungus, etc.) that can reproduce, grow, respond to outside events, etc.
  • Language Study: gerund: a noun that looks like a verb with "-ing." In "He is swimming," "swimming" is a verb. In "I like swimming" it's a gerund noun.
  • Business: currency: the money used by a certain country; the U.S. dollar in the U.S.; the renminbi in China; the yen in Japan; etc.
  • Literature: "O Captain, My Captain": poem by American poet Walt Whitman about death of Abraham Lincoln. Made popular in film "Dead Poets Society."
  • New Words: landline: a fixed-line telephone, unlike the mobile telephone. "I'll be in my office; call my landline."
  • Slang: Mind if I _____?: asks permission to do something. Proper "ok" answer includes "no," as in "Not at all."
  • Modern History: Watergate: a political scandal in the U.S. in the 1970s. Then-president Nixon's men broke into an office; Nixon later resigned.


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 "landline." Which of these is NOT an example of this?
a. the phone on your office desk
b. the phone you put coins in (a payphone)
c. the phone in your pocket
d. the phone in your kitchen at home

2. Today's Language Study term is "gerund." What is the gerund form (properly spelled) for each of these verbs:
a. run
b. walk
c. sit
d. stand
e. hike

3. Match the Science, Literature, and Modern History terms below to these related ideas:
a. This all happened at the end of the American Civil War
b. a tree is; a piece of wood isn't
c. compares the country to a ship, and a president to its leader
d. has given its name to many events since then
e. some people say the entire earth is one (but not really)
f. actually, the name of a hotel

(1) organism
(2) "O Captain, My Captain"
(3) Watergate

4. If you want the person to sit down, how would you answer these questions (yes or no)?

a. May I sit here?
b. Mind if I sit here?
c. Is this seat taken?
d. Is it OK if I sit here?

5. Today's Business term is "currency." What do you call the currency for each country below?
a. Australia
b. France
c. The United Kingdom
d. India
e. Russia


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. What is the smallest known organism? The largest?
2. What is the name of Walt Whitman's main work? Read a poem or two from it.
3. What do you know about President Nixon and the Watergate scandal? (It changed American history.)


1. c. This is called a "mobile phone" or "cell phone."

2. a. running; b. walking; c. sitting; d. standing; e. hiking (be careful of spelling on a, c, and e!)

3. Matching:
a. (2) "O Captain, My Captain"; Lincoln was shot just after the American Civil War ended.
b. (1) organism; a tree is alive; a piece of wood is part of a tree's remains
c. (2) "O Captain, My Captain"; Whitman's poem says Lincoln brought "the ship" (the country) safely "to shore," meaning he led the country safely through the Civil War.
d. (3) Watergate; other political scandals in the US and some other countries have been called "Something-gate."
e. (1) organism; this is called the "Gaia Theory." It's a way of talking about the earth's system of life, but it's not really scientific.
f. (3) Watergate; the building Nixon's men broke into was the Watergate Hotel

4. a. yes (you may); b. no (I don't mind); c. no (it's not taken); d. yes (it's OK)

5. a. Australian dollar (AUD); b. Euro (EUR) (formerly the French franc); c. Pound sterling (GBP); d. Indian rupee (INR); e. Ruble (RUB)

  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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