Words That Work: Blowout, Blowback, Feedback, and Fallout

Let’s look at four words you might hear in conversation, in the news, or more likely — at work.

Blowout, blowback, feedback, and fallout are easy to confuse terms that aren’t always easy to translate.  They each have different meanings and they are all commonly used.  (more…)

Eight Idioms You Can Learn In a New York Minute

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_york_times_square-terabass.jpg

Here are some idioms with the word “minute.”  All of these are fun to learn and used frequently in conversation, on the news, and in the workplace. (more…)

Words in the News: Woke

My advanced English students, many with high-level positions and graduate degrees, have lately been stumped by a one syllable word: woke.  It appears not only on social media, but often in news stories and opinion pieces. (more…)

Funky town! Words of the day: Funk and Funky

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/James-Brown_1973.jpgAre you tired of being cooped up? Has lockdown put you into a funk? Do you feel like you are under house arrest?  If so, maybe it’s time for a little English vocabulary lesson focusing on the words funk and funky. If you are having trouble with any other words in this post, don’t worry! There’s a short glossary at the bottom of the page!  (more…)

The Most Confusing Phrasal Verb in English!

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English has tons of idioms and phrasal verbs which are difficult for non-native speakers to master. Phrasal verbs are especially tough because they often have more than one meeting, or the meaning is idiomatic and difficult to explain. I love to teach the difficult ones! One of my favorites is “set off.” “Set off” seems to mean the opposite of what we think it should mean.  (more…)

Getting Around – What Foreigners Get Wrong About The NY Subway System

(This article is for intermediate and advanced English language students. The words in boldface have definitions attached  or added in parenthesis.  Please pay attention to the use of “get”  and “run” throughout the post.)

Most of my students live in the New York metropolitan area. Many of them have to take the subway to get around. My students are a sophisticated bunch. Most speak several languages, and have lived in big cities with subway systems before.  However, they find New York’s system particularly mysterious and difficult to maneuver. They will ask for directions in a way that may seem perfectly logical given their experience with other subway systems, but will leave New Yorkers completely flummoxed, confused, befuddled, and bewildered!

Our subway system is one of the world’s oldest, and one of the largest. It grew from several private companies, and remnants of that history still exist. We have our own vocabulary for understanding our system and our own way of asking others for help. In this post, I’ll help you learn how to ask a New Yorker for directions on the subway, and how we think about and navigate the system.

But first, if you are looking for a good “how to” guide to the system, here’s a link to a good overview put together by one helpful rider.

My tips are less comprehensive, and based more on the feedback, questions, and occasional arguments,  I’ve had with students. These tips are meant to help people who aren’t from New York, and whose first language isn’t English. These tips are helpful whether you are here for a short stay (as a tourist) or for the long haul (more…)

Watch Me Teach Live

Most of my students want PRIVATE lessons. They are self-conscious about their English, and don’t want an audience on the world wide web! However, last week I was asked to teach a lesson on somebody’s livestream. I wasn’t sure, how it would work. We were supposed to meet indoors for a regular lesson, but we wound up meeting outside. It was cold and windy. I didn’t write anything down, which is unusual for me. The student was interrupted by his audience, who had many questions and comments! It was very distracting!

Here is a link to the livestream. My lesson starts at about 1:20:

The Old Bait and Switch

Let’s try something different. I’ve created an audio file, so you can listen to this lesson as you follow the transcript below. Words in boldface are explained in a short glossary beneath the text.

“Bait and switch” is a commonly used expression. It comes up in conversation, and it’s mentioned sometimes in newspaper and magazine articles. In fact, if you google it, you’ll find plenty of references!

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