segunda-feira, 24 de junho de 2013

Can you see beyond the end of your nose?

I guess you know some people that are very self-centured and end up not noticing what's really important around them. Try to imagine for example one of your friends being very busy trying to make money at all costs. Not that making money is something bad to do, but since he always focuses so much on a single thing, he's become uncapable of giving time and attention to anything else. Let's suppose his wife has been cheating on him for a very long time and everybody but him knows about it. You can't take it anymore because after all he's been your friend for decades and it would be a betrayal on your part if you simply turned a blind eye to it. One day when you have the chance, you try to give him a heads up without being too indiscreet. You say: Maybe you're so busy making money that you can't see beyond the end of your nose.

If you can't see beyond the end of your nose, you think so much about yourself and what affects you that you do not see what is really important.

quarta-feira, 19 de junho de 2013

Learning English with cliches!

Do you know what a cliche is? Cliche is actually a french word and we can use it just the same way in Potuguese. But in the case you haven't grasped it yet, a cliche is an overused phrase which can be considered very annoying at times because it's too obvious, too repetitive, you see everybody saying them. A cliche can have both literate and figurative meanings, unlike idioms which always mean something else than the literal words. I've found a list of some of the most known cliches in English language which inspite of being considered overused by so many, can also be very useful in our english studies. It's up to you whether you'll use them ot not. What you can't choose is whether you want to hear them or not, because you surely will.

Before we touch on our first cliche, let's do what we always do here on this blog: create a situation. Suppose for example your friend's neglected his job, missed a lot of meetings or even refused to do certain extra things at work. You're very sure that by this point he's very close to losing his job and you want to alert him about it. So you say: If you don't improve your performance, they'll fire you. Can't you see the writing on the wall? The writing on the wall means something that is about to happen, something that is obvious. When you can't see the writing on the wall, you get burned really bad because it's always a bad thing.

Now imagine that someone in your family has just divorced. You're very confused because you actually thought the couple was happily married since they always seemed to get along really well in family meetings. Now you feel like you need to satisfy your curiosity about what happened to this couple that made them considerate the divorce as the only solution. While asking one of your relatives about the reasons, he tells you: Remember curiosity killed the cat. You should just forget about it. When you tell somebody curiosity killed the cat, you're saying not to be too inquisitive because it can be dangerous.

And since we're already talking about cats, it's impossible not to remember of one of the most overused cliches: A cat has nine lives. When you use that cliche to refer to cats literally, you're just remembering the fact that cats can survive things that are severe enough to kill them. Like when you see a cat being hit by a car and just walking away. The thing is, when you use that cliche with people, it means that someone might be having problems now, but there are so many things to do well or succeed. For example: Suppose your friend's career is having its ups and downs. Actually it's always been that way. One day it's alright, but the next day he's a hair's breadth away from getting fired. In that situation, you can say: His career reminds me that a cat has nine lives.

There are actually too many cliches we could go over right now, but I'm going to leave you with only those ones for now. I hope you liked it. See you next time!

terça-feira, 18 de junho de 2013

What does to make a pig of oneself mean?

Many people relate pigs, the animal, to some characteristics some human beings can have. Among those relations, the act of eating too much is the most common one. Some people can even call someone a pig if the person has the habit of eating a lot, making frequently too much noise while eating. There's an expression containing the word pig that can be used more generally if someone's eating too much, noisily, too fast, just like a pig does. Imagine for example you're at a birthday party and you notice your friend eating like desperate, as if he was without eating in ages. You then come up to him and say: Don't make a pig of yourself! You can also say that your friend was pigging out on chocolate cake and all the snacks he could put his hands on.

segunda-feira, 17 de junho de 2013

Familiarizing with the word toe

Are you familiar with the word toe? If not, don't worry. It's a very simple word and easy to undertand. Just look down at your feet right now and you'll find right at the end of it what we call toes. On, it says a toe is one of the terminal digits of the human foot, but it sounds just too classy for what in portuguese we simply know as dedo do pé. That's what toe or toes are: dedos do pé. By its literal meaning, you can stand on your toe, as in "She stood on her toe to kiss him.", you can tread on someone's toe, as in "Ouch! That was my toe you just tread on." It doesn't stop there, there's more. You can dip your toe in a river to test the temperature, and of course if you're not careful enough, you'll end up breaking, bruising, cracking or stubbing your toe against something. That way, you'd have a toe injury.

But those are only literal usages of the word toe. What is exciting about the word toe or many other words in any given language is that it can also have a figurative meaning. For example, you can literaly tread on someon's toe, but if you tread on a lot of toes when you join a company, you may have a lot of problems in the future with your coworkers. The same way, if you dip your toe in a new market, it means you're just doing things very slowly and carefully because you're not sure whether you'll be succesful or whether you'll like it. Have you ever heard of the expression "from tip to toe"? Imagine for example yourself leaving a store covered with brand new clothes. Suppose now that you end up running into a friend of yours at the door who notices you and says: "Look at you! You're wearing all new clothes from tip to toe." Here what he actually meant to say was that you were entirely dressed in new clothes. Pretty easy huh?

If you're a teacher, you'll totally relate to what I'm about to say. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a mess in classroom? Your students don't pay attention, they throw paper balls at each other and you need immediately to come up with something to keep them engaged, something that forces them to concentrate and keep giving their attention and energy to what they're doing. A couple of extra things and some activities would be one of the solutions for that problem. So you do it. Later on while talking to another teacher, he asks you: What did you do keep them so engaged and quiet? And you answer: I just gave them a couple of extra things to do just to keep them on their toes. If you keep someone on his toes, you're forcing them to give devotion to what he's doing.

domingo, 9 de junho de 2013

Idioms about knowledge

Você com certeza deve saber que a palavra knowledge significa conhecimento. É uma palavra bem comum e tem tudo a ver com o que nós, estudantes de Inglês, estamos sempre à procura, certo? Em Inglês, existem vários idioms sobre conhecimento. Idioms que, ao pé da letra, talvez não sejam tão intuitivos assim, mas que são bem úteis na comunicação do dia-a-dia. Vamos aprender alguns deles!

Você já ouviu alguém dizendo que "knowledge is power"? Se não, é bem fácil entender o que quer dizer. Em Português, podemos dizer exatamente a mesma coisa da seguinte forma: conhecimento é poder. Veja esse exemplo: Many people enroll in college under the assumption that knowledge is power. Na prática, a gente consegue encontrar exemplos de pessoas que, ao adquirir conhecimento, acabam crescendo na vida e literalmente adquirindo muito poder. Portanto, knowledge is power.

Você tem algum hobby ou especialidade que se considera um expert? Vamos supor que você, por exemplo, saiba de tudo sobre decoração. Tem diploma, vários cursos internacionais e está sempre procurando por atualizações em tudo quanto é fonte de informação. Um dia, alguém que está interessado em seus serviços resolve perguntar a alguém que te conhece sobre suas habilidades. Ele responde: He really knows the ropes when it comes to decorating. To know the ropes significa saber de forma muito aprofundada sobre determinado assunto. Entretanto, se você ainda não se considera um expert, mas está tentando chegar lá, você pode usar o idiom da seguinte forma: To learn the ropes. Veja este exemplo: I can't work in that industry until I learn the ropes.

Vamos continuar o raciocínio usado anteriormente pra aprender o próximo idiom. Você ainda é alguém tentando se tornar um expert de decorações, mas está tendo muita dificuldade pra pegar o jeito da coisa. Ao desabafar o que está acontecendo com você pra um amigo, você diz: I can't make heads or tails of decorating. Poderia ser qualquer área. Muita gente, por exemplo, tem dificuldade em entender matemática. Veja como você poderia expressar essa ideia usando o idiom: Many people can't make heads and tails of Math.

Agora vamos falar de uma prática que muito estudante costuma fazer de última hora quando há algum teste importante no outro dia: passar a noite inteira estudando. Veja como essa ideia é expressa através de um idiom: There's a test tomorrow, so I'm burning the midnight oil. Existe uma outra maneira de expressar a mesma ideia. Veja: She can't come with us, she's pulling an all-nighter. Antes de conhecer esse idiom, você poderia usar a forma literal: to spend the whole night studying, mas é muito mais natural expressar essa ideia usando os idioms sugeridos, por mais estranho que soe de primeira.

Em Português, quando alguém sabe de algum assunto muito bem, costumamos dizer que ela sabe de cabo a rabo. Acho que essa é uma equivalente na língua portuguesa muito válida para se referir ao seguinte idiom em Inglês: To know something backwords and forwards. Veja este exemplo: Murray knows horse racing backwords and forwards.

Nosso último idiom é usado quando você se refere ao conhecimento, experiência ou qualquer tipo de realização profissional/pessoal adquirida. Vamos dizer, por exemplo, que há muito tempo você tem trabalhado numa lanchonete cuja especialização é cheeseburgers. Para demonstrar a sua experiência com cheeseburgers, você pode querer dizer: I have 40 years of cheeseburgers under my belt. Pode ser usado com qualquer tipo de bagagem de conhecimento ou experiência que você tenha. Se você é um professor de Inglês com 5 anos de experiência, você pode dizer: I have 5 years of English teaching under my belt.