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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Any Port in a Storm



GET READY:

1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Why does the man say a job his friend doesn't like is "better than nothing"?

READ THIS:

In today's dialogue, James sees his student, a girl named Patricia, in the student lounge.

James: Hi, Patty, how's it going?
Patricia: Not bad. But I hate my new room.
James: Why? What's wrong with it?
Patricia: You know, my family lives about three hours from here by train. So I'm staying here with my aunt while I go to school.
James: Don't you like her?
Patricia: She's alright. But the room was a storage room before I came. It's full of old furniture and other stuff.
James: Oh, that's too bad. But I guess you should be happy to have a free place to stay. You know, "Any port in a storm."
Patricia: What do you mean?
James: I mean, when you have a problem--like needing a place to stay while you're in school--you should be grateful for any help you can get.
Patricia: Yeah, I guess you're right. Well, I have to go now. My aunt's making supper.
James: Hey, that doesn't sound so bad. Take care!

NOTES:

Today's proverb comes from the world of sailing. Back in the days of the sailing ships, a storm was one of a sailor's greatest fears. It would be lucky, then, if the ship could find a port--any port--when a storm suddenly appeared. Such a safe harbor could save the lives of the entire crew.

More notes:
  • How's it going?: Here is another way to say, "How are you?" The usual answer is "Not bad," meaning, "Things are going OK."
  • hate: Patricia is exaggerating here. We often say "hate" for something that we don't like, but it's usually too strong a word.
  • stuff: Be careful with this word. It means "things" or "material," and shouldn't be confused with the word "staff" (with an "a") meaning the group of people who work in, say, a store or a school.
  • that's too bad: This is a mild expression of sympathy. You wouldn't say this if something really serious happened.
  • supper: Long ago, "dinner" was the meal at noon. It was usual pretty big, and then the leftover food was eaten in the evening as "supper." Since the word "lunch" became popular, we use both "dinner" and "supper" for the evening meal.
  • Take care: A way to say "Goodbye." It's very different from "Be careful," which is a kind of warning.

PRACTICE:

Use the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. A: I missed my bus this morning. B: __________.
2. I left a bunch of __________ at school; now I have to go back and get it.
3. A: See you! B: Bye! __________!
4. A: __________ B: Not bad. How are you?
5. I __________ this song! It's terrible.
6. Come over this evening; I'll make you __________.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

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

1. Do you think it's right for Patricia to complain about her room? Or should she be grateful for whatever she gets?
2. Can you think of a situation in your life (or the life of someone you know) to which the expression "Any port in a storm" would apply?
3. Have you ever lived in the house of an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, or someone that you are not related to? What was good about it? What was not so good?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. That's too bad; 2. stuff; 3. Take care; 4. How's it going?; 5. hate; 6. supper

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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