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

All That Glitters is not Gold


1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. What else might "glitter"?


In today's dialogue, James’s friend, a woman named Linda, has been working a lot of overtime…

James: Hi, Linda. How’s it goin’?
Linda: Ugh. I’ve been working so many hours, I can’t think straight.
James: Your boss must be a real slave driver.
Linda: Oh, she is! I’m my own boss! [laughs] It’s my company, and I’m just pushing myself so it’ll be a success.
James: That’s no good. What about your little girl?
Linda: That’s the worst part: We haven’t been able to spend much time together. Sometimes my husband has to put her to bed before I get home from work!
James: Well, Linda, just remember what Shakespeare said: "All that glitters is not gold."
Linda: Meaning…?
James: It’s true that money is very attractive, but there are some things that are more important. So the "beauty" of money is kind of a trick.
Linda: I see what you mean. Watching my daughter grow up is important, too. Maybe I’ll try to make a little more time for her.
James: Good! I hope it works out.
Linda: Thanks, James.


Today's proverb was quite well known even before Shakespeare's time. In fact, he quoted it in "The Merchant of Venice," though in a very slightly different for: "All that glisters is not gold." (Modernized texts substitute "glitters" for "glisters.")

It means that, although gold is shiny and attractive, there are other things of equal or greater importance.

More notes:

Ugh: This sound might mean disgust or frustration.
I can’t think straight: Linda's working so hard that she's becoming confused.
slave driver: In the old days, people in many cultures "owned" other people as slaves. The person who forced the slaves to work hard was called the "slave driver."
pushing myself: Some jobs are easy to do; some aren’t. When we have a difficult job to do, we might have to "push ourselves" to get it done.
That’s no good: If you say it correctly, this is an expression of sympathy, like saying "That’s too bad."
your little girl: A friendly way to say "your daughter."
That’s the worst part: Linda is saying that James has found the heart of the problem: By working so hard, Linda has no time to see her family.
works out: "to work out" can have many meanings. In this case it means, "to come out alright."


What would you say when each of these things is happening?

1. Your friend says he's working too hard.
2. Your boss makes you work too much.
3. I shouldn't stay up so late to work on my hobbies.
4. There's too much noise in your office.
5. You taste some milk and it's sour.
6. Your daughter sings well in a school talent show.

a. He's a slave driver.
b. I can’t think straight.
c. I'm pushing myself.
d. That’s no good.
e. That’s my little girl!
f. Ugh.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Can you think of a good reason to work so hard that you never see your family?
2. Which is more difficult: working for yourself (running your own business) or working for someone else?
3. Have you ever had a boss or a teacher who was a "slave driver"? Talk about him or her.


1. d; 2. a; 3. c; 4. b; 5. f; 6. e

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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