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

Mini-Lessons WITH EXERCISES from Tuesday, Mar. 20, 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: Thomas A. Edison: (1847-1931) American inventor and businessman who developed the phonograph, movie camera, and electric light bulb.
  • Language Study: copyright: legal ownership of a book, story, song, etc. "You cannot republish a new book without permission from the copyright holder."
  • Business: minimum wage: the least a boss can pay a worker, according to law. Minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour; higher in some states.
  • Literature: prayer wheel: a kind of drum with the prayer "Om Mani Padme Hum" written on outside. One turn = one prayer.
  • New Words: dark matter: a material that scientists think makes up 83% of the universe, but cannot be seen because of the way it responds to light.
  • Slang: that ___ isn't going to ___ itself: tells someone a reason to do something. "Get to work! That room isn't going to clean itself."
  • Modern History: Black Hole of Calcutta: a jail in a fort in India where a prisoner reported 123 of 146 British prisoners died in one night in 1756.


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 "dark matter." Which of these is NOT true?
a. Dark matter does not emit or absorb light.
b. Scientists agree that it exists.
c. It's true nature is unknown.
d. It was first talked about in the 1930s.

2. Today's Language Study term is "copyright." Which of these can NOT be copyrighted?
a. ideas and information
b. books
c. paintings
d. software
e. television news shows

3. Match the Science, Literature, and Modern History terms below to these related ideas:
a. what, exactly, happened is not 100% certain
b. was deaf from childhood
c. saying means something like "the jewel in the lotus"
d. mostly involved with electricity
e. was 14 by 18 feet (4.3 × 5.5 m) in size
f. largely associated with Tibet

(1) Thomas A. Edison
(2) prayer wheel
(3) Black Hole of Calcutta

4. Supply words to make the Slang term "that ___ isn't going to ___ itself" useful in these situations:

a. your child keeps forgetting to turn off the light in his room
b. you want your husband to wash the car, and instead he's watching TV
c. you want to finish writing your school paper after taking a break
d. you want your employee to work harder to sell your products, called "widgets"

5. Today's Business term is "minimum wage." Which of these is probably a "minimum-wage job"?
a. managing an office
b. working at McDonalds
c. repairing cars
d. teaching English


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. Thomas Edison was brilliant, but he also had some difficulties. What were they? How did they affect his success?
2. How many different types of prayer wheel are there? Do you think some of the newer forms (electrical, digital) are useful?
3. Where is Calcutta? What led to the imprisonment of the men in the "Black Hole"?


1. b. Some scientists think there are other causes for the effects that others explain as the result of dark matter.

2. a. Copyright laws protect specific works, but not the ideas and information in them. You may say, "According to Smith's book" etc., but you may not publish Smith's book, or large parts of it.

3. Matching:
a. (3) Black Hole of Calcutta; the original story was based on one man's report; many have disagreed with what he said.
b. (1) Thomas A. Edison; it may have been caused by a childhood disease
c. (2) prayer wheel; "mani" means "jewel," and "padme" means "lotus."
d. (1) Thomas A. Edison; many of his inventions centered on the telegraph, electric light, phonograph, and so on.
e. (3) Black Hole of Calcutta; according to the first account, 65-70 of the 146 in that space were British soldiers; the others were their Indian allies.
f. (2) prayer wheel; the first reported was in Ladakh, but these days most people think of Tibet when they see them.

a. That light isn't going to turn itself off!
b. That car isn't going to wash itself!
c. That paper isn't going to write itself!
d. Those widgets aren't going to sell themselves!

5. 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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