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The Conversation A blog from Livemocha

Stories, tips, updates, news and ideas about the wide world of language learning

Sweets Around the World

Written by Miranda González

 

It’s not officially Halloween until you groan, “Ohhhh, I think I ate too much candy.” Sure, we normally attribute candy-induced stomachaches to children, but adults are certainly not immune. Americans LOVE candy. According to Business Insider, we spend $29 billion a year on it. But we are certainly not alone. Candy is popular all over the world, and a person’s preferred candy likely varies according to where he or she is from.

Have you ever wondered what sweets people in other countries are snacking on? Here’s a sampling:

Brigadeiros – Brazil

The great thing about this candy is that you can make it at home by heating up sweet and condensed milk, butter, and chocolate and rolling it into…  read more

6 Seemingly Spooky Idioms

Written by Miranda González

You know, idioms are a funny thing. By definition, you can’t figure out an idiom’s meaning simply by looking up individual words. At first glance, these idioms might look a little ghoulish with bats and blood and skeletons and all, but if you look a little closer, you’ll realize that they aren’t scary at all!

 

To be out for blood

If you are out for blood, you aren’t a vampire; you are simply seeking revenge or looking to punish someone.

Example: Dad found out that someone crashed his car and now he’s out for blood.

 

To be (as) blind as a bat

As it turns out, bats aren’t actually blind, but this idiom just means that a person has really poor…  read more

Try This On for Size – Helpful English Words for Halloween

 

Written by Miranda González

 

Halloween is only couple of weeks away, so if you haven’t started thinking about a costume yet, you should probably start. (That is, assuming you celebrate Halloween!) Even if you aren’t planning on trick-or-treating or attending a costume party, here are some words and phrases that you might find helpful.

 

What’s the difference between a costume and a disguise?

You wear a costume to look like someone or something else, but usually people can still tell who’s wearing the costume. However, while you also wear a disguise to look like someone else, you intend not to be noticed or recognized. For example, if I dress up in a ghost costume, I’m trying to look like a ghost for…  read more

Vocabulary Lesson – Cool-Weather Gear

Written by Miranda González

 

It’s fall here in the Northern Hemisphere, so things are starting to get a bit chilly. You should probably grab something warm to wear on your way out the door – a sweater, perhaps? A sweatshirt? A cardigan? Should you wear a jacket or a coat? What’s the difference between all of these, anyway? Well, English learners, you are about find out.

 

This man is wearing a sweater.

It’s made out of knitted material, and it usually has sleeves to keep you toasty. However, sweater vests and sleeveless sweaters do exist, which have no sleeves. A sweater can come with or without zippers, pockets, or buttons.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a cardigan.

It’s a specific type of sweater that has buttons…  read more

Free English Lesson: Over vs. Under

Written by Miranda González

 

If you’re an English learner, I think you’ll agree that prepositions are one of the trickiest parts of the language. But with a little explanation and a lot of practice, you’ll see that they are really not so scary after all.

 

Today we’ll discuss the different uses of the prepositions “over” and “under”.

 

Prepositions of location

Over = at a location higher than something else

Example: The picture frame is hanging over the fireplace.

 

Under = at lower place than something else

Example: We sat under a tree to eat our lunch.

 

Prepositions of movement

Over = upwards and across

Example: The dog jumped over the fence.

 

Under = forwards and below

Example: The baby crawled under the table.

 

More than (over) / less than (under)

People over the…  read more

Time For Some Idioms With the Word “Fall”

Written by Miranda González

 

Happy first day of fall, everyone! The temperatures will soon begin to drop, and so will the leaves. It’s time to enjoy pumpkin-flavored everything and look forward to the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays. Why don’t we get into the spirit of the season with some “fall” idioms?

 

Fall off the face of the earth – to disappear completely and often suddenly

Example: I haven’t seen Jasmine for months. She’s fallen off the face of the earth.

 

Fall in(to) place – to occur in a satisfactory and organized way

Example: Let’s see…I’ve got my passport, plane ticket, my bags are packed. Everything for my vacation is falling into place.

 

Fall through the cracks – to be forgotten about or overlooked, especially within…  read more

Multilingual Dogs? (An Explanation of Onomatopoeia)

Written by Miranda González

 

You would think that dogs would make the same sound in all languages. After all, dogs don’t speak French, or Italian, or Russian. They just speak, well, dog. So if I’m in Belgium and I hear a dog barking, it should sound pretty much the same as a dog barking the U.S., right? Well, the actual sound should be the same, but the way Belgians express that same sound will be different.

“Can you hear that?” I tell my baby son. “It’s a dog! It says, ‘Woof, woof, woof!’” That’s the sound dogs make in English, of course. But if I were a Dutch-speaking Belgian mother, I would tell my son that the dog says, “Blaf, blaf,…  read more

Versatile English Words: Volume 2

Here we are again with another great English lesson from our good friend Miranda González!
 

Quiz time! Which English word fits ALL four situations below?

1. I only have three dollars for the bus. That _____ be enough, right?

2. The dishes are dirty. We _____ wash them.

3. If anyone _____ call, tell them that I am busy.

4. He failed the test. He _____ have studied.

 

Did you guess it? Answer: SHOULD. Let’s go over the examples I gave you.

 

#1 Use “should” for probability

When you are almost sure but not totally sure, you can use “should” to express about 90% certainty.

Example: He has been studying a lot, so he should do well on the test.

 

#2 Use “should” for advisability

“Should” expresses anything from a…  read more

If you don’t have anything nice to say… use a euphemism!

Miranda González is back with another lesson in her series about English grammar. 

 

You’ve probably heard this old English proverb: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s pretty good advice, I’d say. There have been times when I’ve said something rude and realized later that I should have kept my mouth shut. However, while it’s great to be a positive person, we can’t simply ignore everything negative around us. There will be occasions when we have to talk about things that aren’t very pleasant, and that’s where euphemisms come in.

A euphemism is a kinder word or phrase that you substitute for one that is unpleasant or offensive. For example, while you normally wouldn’t…  read more

More Fun & Funny Ways to Improve Your French

All too often language learners forget to have some fun with their endeavors. They commit to the work, practice their pronunciation, and bury their noses in their vocabulary and lessons. But let’s not forget that your brain needs a break! Give it a little breathing room by taking opportunities to ease up when can and have a laugh!

Here’s something that will make you giggle and expose you to bits of the French language that you may not learn in your lessons—especially in regard to context. The best part about this video isn’t the hilarity of the animals and the superbly done comedic voice-overs, but the easily accessible mots quotidiens (every day words) presented in easily understood scenarios.

Take the time to watch it, then go…  read more

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