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…)

It’s Elementary: How we talk about school in the United States.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/75th_St-Elderts_Ln_45b_-_FK_Lane_HS.jpg
Courtesy wikipedia commons: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/75th_St-Elderts_Ln_45b_-_FK_Lane_HS.jpg

Some of my students are immigrants who’ve started families in the United States or brought their children here. Others might be here for a few years for work. If they have children, they are going to have to navigate the educational system, so here’s a primer for parents with some basic information.  (I’ll do this as a blog series with more to come.) (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!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fireworks_in_Bangkok_Thailand_2019_16.jpg

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…)

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!

(more…)

Welcome to New York! Now learn English and find a job!

(Quick Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer and this blog post does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions about your visa or ability to work in the United States, consult an immigration attorney!)

Congratulations! Your spouse works for a multinational company or organization and just got a job transfer to New York or maybe Los Angeles, or another major American city. You are excited about the prospect of spending a year or maybe more in a foreign country.

However, there’s one little problem….
While this is a great career opportunity for your better-half, it might not be so great for your career. Maybe, if you are very lucky, your company will allow you to stay on and work remotely, but with the time difference between the US and Europe, that might not work out so well. Chances are you are going to have to take a long leave or quit your job.

But there’s some good news: You can work legally in the United States!

(more…)

I’ll Be Back — Everyday Expressions and Phrases with Back

“Back” is another one of those words with multiple meanings in English. The definition in the English Language Learner’s Dictionary is huge, and it doesn’t even cover some of the most common uses!

Most American native-English speakers will recognize the phrase “I’ll be back.” It was a line from the movie The Terminator. Arnold Swartzeneggar says it very menacingly – as a warning — before he leaves a store. Maybe it sounds scary in the movie BECAUSE it is such a commonly used phrase. The meaning is simple: “I will return.”

For this post, I’ve collected many of the common phrases you’ll here with back.  You’re likely to hear them on the street, in the office, on television, and just about everywhere else. (more…)