Friday, July 29, 2011

Grow on (me)


If something grows on you, it gradually becomes more pleasurable or acceptable to you. You begin to enjoy it more and more as you become accustomed to/ get used to it. If you like something or someone that you didn’t like at first, it has grown on you.

1. When I first went to live in Central America I was not used to eating rice and beans, plantains and eggs for breakfast. It was a strange combination for me, but slowly it started to grow on me – to the point where I now really love eating fried plantains for breakfast.

2. You can say that a culture or a place grows on you, the more you become familiar with and comfortable in your new surroundings.

3. South Korean movies have really grown on me. Until a few years ago I had never watched any, but since I saw “Windstruck” (2004), I have downloaded and watched a number of others. They have a great way of combining comedy and drama. Click here if you'd like the download torrent for "Windstruck".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back to the drawing board

The drawing board is the place where a designer/ architect draws up ideas and creates plans. When you go back to the drawing board it means that your plan was not successful and you have to change it drastically or start again.

1. Any inventor or developer needs to go back to the drawing board until they have a prototype they are satisfied with (or at least one that works!). As an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." He simply went back to the drawing board time and again (again and again).

2. When negotiations between any two countries break down (fail) they have to go back to the drawing board and make new proposals.

3. The famous cartoonist, Charles Schultz, had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook. He kept going back to the drawing board and went on to syndicate the most famous and beloved comic strip of all time, “Peanuts”, (which includes Charlie Brown and Snoopy). Another famous and highly popular comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes”, created by Bill Watterson, was the result of the reworking of an idea, where originally Calvin was only a side character - the younger brother of the main character. Bill Watterson went back to the drawing board and centered the comic strip on Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes. The rest is history!

4. The whole world is too dependent on fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas). Not only are they limited resources – they also contribute in great part to the pollution of our planet. For this exact reason we are going back to the drawing board and starting to utilize more of the alternative forms of renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydro as well as bio fuels.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Push (someone) around

To push (someone) around is to intimidate, threaten, or hurt someone who is weaker than you, especially if you are stronger or are in a position of power. A “bully” is a person who pushes others around, especially physically. Bullies are common at school. Also if someone is being dictated to or “bossed/ ordered around”, that person is being pushed around.

1. Does your boss push you around and give you orders all the time or is he/ she reasonable?

2. Bullying is really common at many schools. The usual scenario is a bigger kid pushing a smaller kid around, however, in this famous bullying incident in Sydney Australia, it is a smaller kid who pushes a much bigger kid around… and unexpectedly the bigger kid defends himself and retaliates:

3. Minority groups many times feel that they are being pushed around and don’t have the same rights as other people in the country.

4. Bob Marley believed that people in society should stand up for their rights if they are being pushed around. Here is the song and lyrics:

5. When you were younger, did your older siblings (brothers or sisters) push you around, or were you the older sibling that pushed your younger siblings around?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Burn the candle at both ends

If you’re getting little sleep or rest because you’re busy until late every night and you get up early every morning, then you’re burning the candle at both ends.

1. I usually burn the candle at both ends by preparing these lessons late at night to post on my blog… and then get up early the next day to teach my first English class.

2. If you’re the kind of person who leaves everything to the last minute – including studying for exams – you may have to burn the candle at both ends and “pull an all-nighter” (study all night without sleeping) for an important exam the next day.

3. It is commonplace for fathers with a newborn baby to burn the candle at both ends, waking up at all hours of the night to help take care of the baby… and then getting up early the next morning to go off to work.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kick in


If something “kicks in” it starts to work or function or starts taking effect, especially medicine.

1. Usually when there is a fire or smoke in a building, the smoke alarms will go off (sound) and the fire sprinkling system (water sprinklers) will kick in.

2. When you get a fright (get scared) and the adrenaline kicks in, you may be able to do things that are normally not physically possible for you (especially if you need to save your life or someone else’s life) – like lifting heavy objects, jumping over a wall or running really fast.

3. Some people can’t function properly in the morning until they have their first cup of coffee and the caffeine kicks in.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The early bird gets the worm

The early bird gets /catches the worm means that if you wake up early or arrive at some place early or do something early, you will have the advantage over other people and will therefore have a better chance of success. You will be rewarded - just as a bird is rewarded with a worm if it gets there first!

1. On many beaches there are beautiful seashells that wash up on the seashore. If you want to pick up the best and most beautiful shells you have to wake up early and head to the beach before anyone else. The early bird gets the worm!

2. - If we get to the cinema early we can choose any seat we want.
    - Yep, the early bird gets the worm.

3. The early bird gets the worm - If you buy your air ticket a few months before your flight date it’s much cheaper and you get to choose either a window or an aisle seat.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fall for (something)

If you fall for something, you believe a lie - or you are easily convinced to believe something that is not true.

1. If you see a flashing advertisement on a website saying something like, “This is not a joke. You are visitor number 1,000,000!”, don’t click on it even if it says you will win something! I don’t understand how people fall for it when it is so common!

2. In the story by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, an emperor is convinced to wear invisible clothes, falling for the lie that the clothes were invisible to anyone who was stupid. All of the emperor’s officials, and in fact the whole town fell for it – until a child shouted out, “But he hasn’t got anything on!”

3. If you get an email from someone telling you that they have millions of dollars they would like you to help move out of a certain African country, don’t fall for it. It is a world-famous scheme called “The Nigerian Scam”:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bring home the bacon

To bring home the bacon is to make a living and provide for yourself and your family, to earn money. If someone says that they are bringing home the bacon, they may be implying that they make a good income/ earn a lot of money.

1. I really enjoy my work as an English teacher… it’s a great way to bring home the bacon.

2. When any country has a high unemployment rate and there are not enough jobs to go around (not enough for everyone) it becomes more and more difficult for many people to bring home the bacon.

3. These days both parents usually need to go out and work to bring home the bacon. What do you think about the traditional role of the “man of the house” – Is it his responsibility to bringing home the bacon?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Get out of


In the context of this comic strip, “get out of” means to benefit or get pleasure from something. Usually when someone asks “And what do I get out of it?”, they want to know what advantages there are if they were to do or give something - what they might receive in return.

1. What do you get out of donating blood? I think you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you might potentially save someone’s life… and depending on the clinic, you may get paid $20 - $40 per donation (depending on the country).

2. You can get so much out of volunteering: you may get to learn or develop new skills, meet and interact with new people and feel a sense of achievement. When my Brazilian English students volunteer with me to translate for doctors visiting with humanitarian organizations, they get a whole lot out of it, including the chance to practice their English.

3. You may ask yourself, “What do I get out of sharing this material with my friends who are learning English?” Well, I’m sure you’ll have the pleasure of knowing that you are helping them by not keeping something valuable to yourself - especially if you are getting something out of the lessons as you improve your English! They may even thank you for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm all set

In the context of this comic strip, “I’m all set” means “I'm ok, I'm ready”. If you’re all set, you’re ready to do something. It could also mean, “No thanks, I’m fine, I don’t need any help” or “I’m finished”.

1. I think I’m all set… let me see… I’ve got my sun block, my beach hat, my flip flops, my sunglasses and a towel. Yep, I’m ready for the beach.

2. If you’re at a restaurant and a waiter asks you If you want to see the desert menu, you could say, “No thanks, I’m all set” if you are full and don’t want to eat any more or if you are ready to pay for the bill.

3. - Would you like a lift (a ride)? I’m heading (going) in that direction.
    - No thanks, I’m all set , I’m going to walk and get some fresh air.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Call off (something)

If you call off something, you cancel a planned activity or event.

1. It must be very awkward to call off a wedding, especially if a lot of money has already been spent. If you know it’s the right thing to do, it will be better in the long run.

2. Bahrain was going to host the 1st Formula 1 Grand Prix race of the season this year, but it was called off because of the unrest (conflict) and protests.

3. When it rains, fireworks events have to be called off, first of all because people generally don’t enjoy watching shows in the rain, and also the rain could damage the computerized systems that control the synchronization.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Have the guts

If you have the guts, you have the courage to do or say something. Someone who is courageous is “gutsy”.

1. Do you have the guts to go diving with great white sharks?

2. Steve Irwin, the famous “Crocodile Hunter” was gutsy – he had the guts to get up close to, catch and wrestle crocodiles as well as play with highly venomous snakes.

3. If you have the guts to go and live in a foreign country and experience a totally different lifestyle, it can be a great adventure and can really enrich your life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Look forward to (something)


If you look forward to something, then you “can’t wait” until it happens… you are excited about something and are anticipating it.

1. I only go on vacation once a year, and this year I am looking forward to returning to a little beach town in the Northeast of Brazil called Jericoacoara.

2. Most Brazilians look forward to the Carnival, because whether you participate or not, you get to have a mini vacation.

3. I’m looking forward to the next season of the TV series “House”.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are you kidding?

If you are kidding with someone, you are joking with them. If you ask someone, “Are you kidding me?”, it’s the same as asking, “Are you serious?”

1. - I’m sorry – I just deleted all the photos on your camera!
    - Are you kidding me?
    - I’m so sorry… I just pressed this button by accident.

2. - What!? – You lost the car keys?!
    - I’m just kidding, I have them here in my pocket.

3. I read today that Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, was afraid of the dark. I’m not kidding! When asked once if he was afraid of anything, he replied "I am afraid of the dark." Thomas Edison died Oct.18, 1931, with all the lights on in his New Jersey home.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Get along with (someone)

If you get along with someone, you have a good relationship or are friendly with that person.

1. North and South Korea have never gotten along. They do not see eye to eye on anything (agree with one another) – that’s why the two countries exist to begin with.

2. People in South Africa seem to be getting along a little better after the fall of Apartheid, although getting along with other races is an individual choice.

3. Why is it so difficult for everyone in a multicultural society to get along with one another?

Friday, July 8, 2011

A piece of the pie

“A piece of the pie”, “a slice of the pie” and “a piece of the action” are all synonyms – meaning: a share of the benefits.

1. There are 8 countries waiting (for a piece of the pie) to join the European Union. Croatia has been given the go-ahead to become a member of the European Union, and is likely to join in 2013. Iceland is the latest country looking to become a member and get a slice of the pie.

2. Apple wants a bigger slice of the pie, announcing that they will take a 30% cut (commission) of all subscriptions that they drive to a company through their app store. Amazon is definitely not happy about this.

3. It is rumored that both Facebook and Google want to buy Twitter. It is obvious that if either company were to succeed, they would instantly have a bigger piece of the (internet) pie.

4. The business world is becoming increasingly competitive, and everyone wants a piece of the action. If I get a bigger piece of the pie, does it necessarily mean that there is less opportunity for others?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Turn (something) up/ Crank up


If you turn (something) up, you increase the power, intensity or volume of something - normally an electronic or electric device. The opposite of turn up is: turn down. A more informal synonym would be the phrasal verb “crank up”. It’s possible to say “crank down”, but it’s not used.

1. Can you turn the fan up please, the mosquitoes are still biting me?

2. I wish they would turn the air conditioning up in here, it’s boiling hot!

3. Everyone likes to crank up the music when their favorite song is playing.

4. Can you turn up the volume, I can’t heat the TV so well?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Go overboard

To do or say too much because you are so enthusiastic or excited about something. To go to extremes or be excessive.

1. Some people think that Ricky Gervais went overboard with his humor at the “Golden Globes” this year because many of his jokes were offensive:

2. Many university students go overboard with excessive drinking and partying.

3. When you go shopping, do you go overboard or are you able to control your spending?

4. Some people go overboard with their cars’ sound systems. They have powerful speakers that make it sound like they have a disco on wheels.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cut down on

When you cut down on something, you reduce it. You have or do less.

1. In the above comic strip the theory as to why dragons are eating less people is that the people are getting fatter (eating more from the bakery)… and so the dragons are eating less people to cut down on/ reduce their cholesterol levels.

2. If I cut down on the amount of TV series I watch I would be able to visit the beach more often.

3. During a recession or difficult financial times, most people have to cut down on their spending… maybe by throwing less extravagant parties, eating out at restaurants less or cutting down on anything related to entertainment.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Knock it off!

“Knock it off!” is used to tell someone to stop doing something that is annoying or irritating you. The tone of your voice can range from friendly to angry. It is a friendlier or less confrontational way of telling someone to stop.

1. When my brother and sisters and I were kids and we misbehaved while my mother was driving, she used to stop the car, turn around, and say to us, “If you don’t knock it off I’m going to leave you here and you can walk home!”

2. Sometimes my neighbor in the apartment next to us sleeps in his hammock… and late at night I can hear the metal hook squeaking through the wall as he swings back and forth. I want to shout to him, “Knock it off!”, but he wouldn’t hear me if I did.

3. Don’t you just want to tell some people who send hundreds of tweets every day to knock it off?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Keep up with


To keep up with something or someone means to go at the same speed… so in this comic strip, Calvin says that he can’t speak as fast as he can think.

1. If you are walking at a normal speed, it would be difficult for a toddler to keep up with you (A toddler is a young child between the age of 1 and 3).

2. If Ayrton Senna was still alive, would he keep up with today’s Formula 1 racecar drivers… or would they be able to keep up with him?

3. It is difficult to keep up with some fast songs if you are singing along, especially if you are learning that language.