Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Live it up

When you live it up, you have fun and enjoy your life through certain activities or splashing out (spending a lot of money). It involves doing more pleasurable things than usual. It may or may not involve wastefulness and decadence. 

1. When you go on a honeymoon or celebrate your birthday, those are special moments where you would want to live it up. You may splash out and treat yourself to activities and things that are normally not within your budget. When do you like to live it up?

2. There is an expression, "Work hard, play hard." Many people face their responsibilities during the week, and then on weekends "play hard". They live it up. That might involve adventure or extreme sport activities, traveling or especially partying.

3. If you somehow came into possession of an incredibly large sum of money, would you start living it up...  or would you try to be a sensible as possible with the windfall and invest it, keep it as a nest egg or save it for a rainy day?

4. It is an unfortunate reality that most leaders and rulers use the population's money to live it up. I'm sure everyone could give detailed examples of how corrupt politicians have lived it up on taxpayers' money, throwing lavish parties and siphoning off money for their own personal use. 

5. Brazilians will get the chance to really live it up this year during the World Cup soccer. Since not much attention has been given to the transportation infrastructure within cities, to alleviate the traffic on the roads, whenever a match is held in a specific city, that city will have a public holiday on match days. This year, we'll get to live it up as we have more public holidays than usual!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Look down on (someone)

If you look down on someone, you arrogantly think that you are better than or superior to them. 

1. Do you think some nations are looked down upon more because of the state of their economy or because of their customs and culture? Do you feel that your country is looked down upon

2. Do you look down upon any group of people in your country, perhaps from another city, state or country? Do you feel that you personally are looked down upon in your own country? I have heard that the Gypsies of Europe and elsewhere are often looked down on… Do you know why that is?

3. Do you know of any countries where women are still treated like second-class citizens… where men look down on them?

4. Are there any professions in particular that people tend to look down on? Do you work in a respected or "dignified" profession or job? Recently, the garbage disposal men in Rio de Janeiro went on strike in an attempt to raise their salaries. They stuck to their guns, and in the end got what they wanted. Also, after a period of time where garbage piled up (accumulated) in the streets, people realized how important their work was to society and were happy at their success, cheering them on. 

5. Is it true in general that European countries tend to look down on their former colonies? The Europeans, after all, populated half the world, taking their languages and cultures with them. Do you think there is a richer culture in Europe as opposed to Western countries/ the Americas?

6. Do you think iPhone users look down on Samsung Galaxy users... or MacBook users on Windows users because they may have superior (or more expensive) devices or operating systems?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Make the best/ most of something

When someone makes the best/most of any situation, they take a less than satisfactory circumstance and try to make it positive, productive, worthwhile, beneficial, fun etc.

1. History has proven that often it is not worthwhile for some countries to host the soccer World Cup. In a couple of months, Brazil will host this "prestigious" event. It is the general consensus that Brazil has overstepped its budget, and in the bigger picture, will not benefit from the event as people had hoped. Of course, it would be unthinkable for Brazil to cancel the event - so what we have to do is make the best of it and salvage what we can. It is still a fantastic opportunity for Brazil to showcase itself to the world, and host the nations like no other country can.

2. When there's nothing you can do to reverse or change a mishap, an accident or any unfortunate event, we often say "It's no use crying over spilled milk." If you can think of any decision you've made that has not turned out the way you expected and that can't be undone, you have to move forward and make the best of it (perhaps by learning from your mistakes). 

3. Are you making the best of your life? I'm sure that life is not exactly the way you want it to be just yet, but are you making the most of what life has given you? Here is a fitting expression: "If life hands you a lemon, make a lemonade."

4. When someone is dealt a bad hand (given a bad set of cards) in a poker game, they can still make the best of the game and bluff their way through it... and end up winning. Do you think you have been "dealt a bad hand in life”? Is there anything you can do about it?

5. The other day I arrived at the bank 30 minutes before opening time. I really felt like leaving and coming back later, but I decided to stay and make the best of it while preparing some English class material on my cell phone in Evernote. Those 30 minutes flew by very quickly. Also, I was one of the first people to be served!

6. How could you make the best of a rainy day? Are there certain activities that are best done on a rainy day?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Make it!

If you “make it”, you achieve a goal, you are successful… especially with your career.
* Wait tables:  To work as a waiter at a restaurant

1.      Frank Sinatra, in his song, “New York, New York”, sings: “…If I can make it there [New York], I’ll make it anywhere…” He was saying that it was not that easy to make it in New York, but that if he could be successful there, it would be easier in just about any other city.

2.      Countless aspiring movie actors move to Hollywood in the hopes of making it in the movie industry. Similarly, in the music industry, many people move to Nashville, Tennessee to give it a shot (try) and launch their careers

3.      To make it in business, not only will you need to have good ideas or provide great services, but you will also need to have a business mind and effective ways to promote or advertise yourself.

4.      Do you have any ambitious plans, projects or goals? What are you hoping to make it in?

5.      Do you think it’s easier to make it in a technical or in an artistic career? Is your chosen career very competitive? Are there many people who are competing for the same as you?

6.      What would it take for you to reach the “top of your profession” - to make it, and be in a position where you could say, “I have arrived!” Have you already made it?

7.      Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva didn’t make it the first time he ran for the Brazilian presidency, but he tried and tried again, until he eventually (finally) made it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Present perfect continuous: Have been + -ing

When you want to express an action that started in the past and is continuing in the present, or something done recently,  we use “have/has been + -ing”.

1.      I have been teaching English as a second language for over 11 years (since 2003).  It has been my bread and butter (how I earn a living). How long have you been doing what you currently do?

2.      I’ve been learning Portuguese slowly but surely for the last 5 years. How many more years do you think it will take for me to become fluent in Portuguese?

3.      I have been thinking about moving to Rio de Janeiro in the near future. The cost of living there is the one major obstacle, though.

4.      Recently I have been watching some new TV series (for me): “Vikings”, “Game of Thrones” and “Shameless”. As a result I have been going to bed later than usual.

5.      have been making pancakes almost every Sunday morning. It’s becoming a tradition. What have you been doing on a regular basis that is becoming a routine for you?  

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Gotta is an informal contraction for “have got to”. It’s also a synonym for “must”. We use this in casual speech, and so often it is not appropriate in writing.

1.      If you’ve never been bungee jumping, you’ve gotta try it someday… or something similar such as hang gliding,  abseiling or skydiving. If not, you’re missing out!

2.      When you say to people, “I’ve gotta go,” it could be that you really do need to go because of time constraints or it could just be an excuse. 

3.      You’ve gotta see the movie, “The Cabin in the Woods.” Although it is in the Horror genre, it is the first horror movie I’ve watched since I was  a kid, and I must say that it is not too scary. You’ve gotta watch it for the storyline… and the revelation at the end.

4.      I’ve gotta try getting to bed earlier so I can get some more sleep. They say that each hour you sleep before midnight has the same value as two hours after midnight. Do you think this is true?

5.      I’ve gotta learn to relax a lot more. I’ve been hanging out a lot with my Brazilian friends, many of whom are my students, and their relaxed attitude is starting to rub off on me (affect me).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A blanket statement

A blanket statement is a generalization. It is a statement that “covers” a whole group or category, without recognizing the differences or exceptions, especially when talking about stereotypes.  It is an all inclusive (or exclusive) statement. 

1.      It is human nature to make blanket statements (many times unconsciously) and generalize about everything under the sun when giving our opinions. We can’t help it! This example is a blanket statement!

2.      Many people say that alternative medicine is for hippies. That’s a blanket statement… a stereotype.

3.      Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the planet”, is a generalization. More specifically, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his “cronies” are intent on destroying Israel.

4.      Young people think they know everything” is a common blanket statement. Can you think of any others?

5.      Couples, when arguing, often make blanket statements by using words like, “Always” and “Never”...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kill time

When you “kill time”, you find something to do while the time passes… usually something that occupies your mind. You find something to do to use up your extra time before an important or significant moment. You spend time doing nothing in particular in order that it seems to pass more quickly.

1.      What do you do when you are bored out of your mind… when you have nothing to do for a period of time and you need to kill time while you’re waiting for something to happen?

2.      When you have time to kill do you usually veg out (do absolutely nothing) or do you catch up on some work and try and be productive?

3.      How to you kill time at the airport when you’re waiting for your connecting flight? Do you go shopping, read a newspaper, get connected to the internet, or do you just watch people?

4.      Playing video games is a great way to kill time. It epitomizes the expression, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” The other thing is that it is addictive, so you don’t notice the time passing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blame it on (someone or something)

If you are blaming (something) on (someone), you are saying that it is their fault, that person is the perpetrator, they are to blame, are guilty or responsible.

1.      Iran's currency, the rial, has lost more than 80 per cent of its value since the end of 2011 and is now at an all-time low, having devaluated sharply against the US Dollar. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blamed it on political and economic sanctions from “The Enemy”, otherwise known as the United States, which is absolutely correct to say. The real problem is that Iran will not back down from its nuclear program, and so the sanctions continue. 

2.      It is very common to hear people blaming their debt on the state of the economy rather than their uncontrolled spending habits. In times of economical difficulty, people need to cut back on (reduce) spending and do without some things or find cheaper alternatives.  

3.      Have you ever heard someone blaming everything on the devil? Either way, we are responsible for our actions, even when provoked. Michael Jackson sang,
The devil's gotten to me through this dance”. Other people sometimes blame it onbad karma”.

4.      Why do people “point the finger” and blame it on everyone and everything under the sun except themselves? We sometimes need to “take the log out of our own eye” first so that we can see clearly.