“One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.”

January 13, 2009 § 2 Comments

For half a year now, classes have been chanting “Yes, we can” at me whenever they found the slightest excuse for it. Yes, even the little ones. The ones that know little more English than the words yes, we and can. Are we looking at an era of classroom-invading presidential catchphrases? As much as I enjoy Mr Obama’s eloquence, I do hope he keeps the infectious slogans to a minimum. They get really old after a while, to be honest. 

A year after the end of the Clinton administration, people were beginning to feel impeachment nostalgia (not really the Bush administration’s fault, though). Hardly anyone is going to feel nostalgia for the years of George W. Bush, arguably the worst president the US has ever had. Except for one standard he set that Obama cannot hope to live up to: as creator of the choicest malapropisms and verbal gaffes since, well, Mrs Malaprop

Jacob Weisberg of Slate Magazine has been collecting them for years and celebrates the end of the Bush administration with a collection of The Top 25 Bushisms of All Time. Really, read them all. They won’t come again.


NB: When I read through Weisberg’s text again, I misread “the rising cost of malpractice insurance” as “the rising cost of malapropism insurance”. 

My kind of English teacher guy

July 10, 2008 § 9 Comments

For a while now, I have been bowing almost daily to the didactic greatness of Mr Markus Brendel of der Englisch-Blog (in German). Now, I flatter myself that I know English rather well, but when I read his clever posts and lucid explanations, he really makes me wish I could learn it all over again.

The philosophy of his blog is that it’s easier to learn something if you practise a little every day – and that goes for languages as well. So, as a little language snack on the go, he offers delicious daily tidbits that speak of a great deal of language teaching experience. He uses a lot of Youtube videos, song texts and pictures by way of explanation  – well, I’m in awe of him (also, cool pinstripe suit on his other homepage)!

This is the blog for you if you have the firm resolution to brush up on your grammar and usage daily. Some of it is really basic, but anyone can need a refresher on much and many or on the present perfect continuous. Go on, have a look! And don’t just look, subscribe

Markus’ job description is also highly fascinating. There’s a picture of him sitting on an, um, interesting rock hidden away on the page. 

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Shall I compare thee to a modern pronoun?

February 22, 2008 § 3 Comments

USA Erklärt is having fun with grammar today. If you’ve always wondered about those olde English pronouns (thou, thy, thee), here’s an entertaining post in German about it all.

Personal note: I learned about these pronouns really early from my grandfather, who taught me the Lord’s Prayer in English when I was ten. He, in turn, had learnt it from two charitable English ladies when he was a prisoner of war in England. He had the time of his life there – he was one of the few who knew some English, was employed as an interpreter (which gave him the chance to send a lot of POWs home because he claimed they were really, really sick), put on a lot of musical revues and was adopted by these two ladies.

Is the past tense a thing from, well, the past?

December 1, 2007 § Leave a comment


For ages, students have struggled with the past tense and its troublesome irregular forms. Now there’s hope:

WASHINGTON—Faced with ongoing budget crises, underfunded schools nationwide are increasingly left with no option but to cut the past tense—a grammatical construction traditionally used to relate all actions, and states that have transpired at an earlier point in time—from their standard English and language arts programs.

Politicians like Senator Orrin Hatch believe that abolishing the past tense is a good way of being up-to-date and moving with the times:


“Our tax dollars should be spent preparing our children for the future, not for what has already happened,” Hatch said at a recent press conference. “It’s about time we stopped wasting everyone’s time with who ‘did’ what or ‘went’ where. The past tense is, by definition, outdated.”

Isn’t anyone worried? Of course – or do you expect teachers to let go of such a handy instrument of torture without a fight?


“Much like art and music, the past tense provides students with a unique and consistent outlet for self-expression,” South Boston English teacher David Floen said. “Without it I fear many of our students will lack a number of important creative skills. Like being able to describe anything that happened earlier in the day.”

But what are the students saying?

“At first I think the decision to drop the past tense from class is ridiculous, and I feel very upset by it,” said David Keller, a seventh-grade student at Hampstead School in Fort Meyers, FL. “But now, it’s almost like it never happens.”

Reported by The Onion, America’s finest news source. Useful expressions that are to do with time highlighted in green.

The ‘zero’ article

November 5, 2007 § Leave a comment

All those among you who are still struggling with articles could always listen in to the latest BBC Grammar Challenge on the ‘zero’ article.

While you’re on holiday…

October 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

… I am sitting in my office trying to think up clever exercises for the test that’s coming up soon. I already know which text I will be using, but there will also be a grammar exercise (and some dictionary exercises!), most likely a multiple choice test. So if you’re feeling you could really do with a few tests as a preparation, why not try these tests?

Have fun.

Edit: I’m sure you will be glad to hear that I’ve decided not to have a grammar part after all. Just vocabulary and dictionary. Testing your grammar can never hurt, though.

Shhhh – secrets!

September 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

Everyone loves a secret. That’s what Caroline and Pearson Brown were thinking when they started their site about English Grammar Secrets, I guess. They tell you all about the different tenses, modals, conditionals, and that elusive grammar phenomenon, the Zero Conditional. Cool. I didn’t know there was such a thing (until I clicked the link. It is disappointingly simple).

The great thing is that they  first explain  the grammar to you and then give you a choice of rather fun little exercises where you get to push subclauses and participles and  other little grammatical creatures around.

And I just spent an entire afternoon copying and laminating grammar exercises for you, when this is MUCH more fun.

Link via  Jochen English. Thanks!

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