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The Conversation A blog from Livemocha

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

5 Shopping Idioms for Black Friday

Written by Miranda González


This Thursday is a big deal in the U.S. because it’s Thanksgiving! (Mmm…pumpkin pie!) However, serious shoppers may be even more excited about the day that follows, Black Friday. If you love looking for a good sale (or even if you don’t!), you’ll enjoy learning about these idioms that are all about shopping.


To be in the black – to be making a profit

It used to be that accounting ledgers had two types of ink: red for expenses, and black for income. Thus, if you are in the black, you are not in debt and your income is more than your expenses.

Example: It’s called Black Friday because retailers are in the black after a large amount of…  read more

Top 11 American Football Terms – The Language of Football

If you’re learning American English, you can’t help but get sucked into American culture as well. And something that’s a really big deal in the United States is football. We’re not talking football as the rest of the world knows it—the one where players wear shin guards and only the goalie can touch the ball with his hands. We call that soccer here in the States. We’re talking American football, the sport where the players wear helmets and padding and crash into each other. That kind of football.

Football is especially important during the fall. The season for the National Football League (NFL) runs from September to December, though it’s not officially over until the Super Bowl in February. Thanksgiving…  read more

The Future is Bright for Livemocha

We—and our hard-working developers—are pleased to share with you some of the changes on the horizon for Livemocha! But before we tell you about all that’s new, we’d like the feedback and knowing eye of our community to help us work out any kinks that may still be in the beta form of our new site.



Don’t miss a beat!

Log in as you normally would to get started! While you’re in the beta site, you’ll continue your learning as you do on our current site, continue connecting with your Language Partners, submit your lessons, and continue to communicate with the community!

Your feedback is important

If you encounter any issues or bugs, or have feedback that you believe will be helpful for your learning experience…  read more

Grammar Lesson: Is Cheese Made FROM or OF Milk?

Written by Miranda González


Have you ever asked yourself this question? Choosing a preposition to follow “made” can seem a bit tricky, but once you know some basic guidelines, you’ll have no problem figuring out which fits the situation. Let’s take a look at the different prepositions that generally follow “made” in the passive voice.


Note: We often use the passive voice to remove the person or thing doing the action and put the focus on the object and its ingredients or components.

Active: We make pancakes with milk, eggs, and flour.

Passive: Pancakes are made with milk, eggs, and flour.


Made of

We use “made of” when the material used remains relatively unchanged in the finished product. The material may be shaped or cut,…  read more

Vocabulary Lesson: Syllabic Emphasis

Words with Identical Spelling that are Pronounced Differently 
Written by Miranda González

English is a variable stress language, which means that there isn’t a way to predict which syllable will be emphasized in any given word. However, there is group of words that is very predictably stressed. This group consists of nouns and verbs that are spelled the exact same way, but the stress falls on the first syllable for nouns and on the second for verbs.

Here are some examples. The stressed syllable is represented with capital letters. Remember that stressed syllables are usually a little louder and a little longer in English.




ADdict (noun) = a person who is not able to stop doing or consuming something

adDICT (verb) = to cause…  read more

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

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