The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Expression of the Fortnight - 13


The origin of this expression is not really known but it is a very old expression indeed -it was first found in a book from 1438. The expression is used to mean get to the precise point, the exact answer or to do / say something exactly right. The saying is very similar in Spanish 'dar en el clavo'.
I think John hit the nail on the head when he said what was missing in this company was a feeling of confidence.
Mary doesn't often contribute in meetings but when she does she usually hits the nail on the head!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Word of the Week - 67

This week's word is a verb which means to delay doing something because it is boring or unpleasant or because you really don't feel like doing it. There is no direct translation in Spanish where the dictionary just says 'to leave something until later'. Although it also means that you do lots of other things, just not the productive thing that you are supposed to be doing!
I know I've got to write the essay at some point, I'm just procrastinating!
There is a funny article in Tony Buzan's book on becoming a better learner 'Use your head' which perfectly demonstrates the true meaning of procrastination. You can read it here > > > >

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Friday, March 19, 2010

British Cuisine - Haggis

We haven't had a British Cuisine entry for almost a year, so I thought it was about time I brought it back. Don't forget that to look back at old entries you can click on the tag 'British Cuisine' at the end of this post or type it into the search bar above.
Today I'm going to talk about Scotland's national dish - haggis. Looking at the picture on the right, or any picture of haggis for that matter, you will probably think 'Ugh, that looks awful!'. And yes, it does. But then again so do 'callos' and pigs' ears, and the Spanish swear by them!
Haggis is basically made from offal, such as the sheep's heart, liver and lungs mixed together with herbs, spices and oatmeal. This mixture is then stuffed into the casing of the sheep's stomach and boiled. The thought of this leaves most people a bit squeamish, it does me too, but my Spanish husband and I were brave enough to try it when we were in Edinburgh and we were pleasantly surprised! We had it as part of our Scottish breakfast, but it is more commonly served with 'neeps and tatties' (mashed turnip and potato)
The dish is often eaten to celebrate Burn's night - a commemoration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. You can read more about it on wikipedia.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day

Today is St Patrick's Day, the patron saint of Ireland. All over the world people will be dressed in green, attending parades or festivals and sipping on Guinness. To find out more about the history of St Patrick's Day and the saint himself, as well as typical celebrations and recipes, you should check out the website where there are articles, videos and photos.
Happy St Patrick's Day!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Word of the Week - 66


This week's word is a verb which means to walk in an awkward way or to walk with difficulty especially because of an injury of the leg or foot.
The last time I saw Fred he was hobbling around on crutches.
Some of the runners in the marathon could only manage to hobble over the finish line!
David Beckham hobbled off the pitch in tears, clearly aware that something was badly wrong.

To read the article related to the last example go to the BBC website here > > >

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Expression of the Fortnight - 12

This fortnight's expression is used to refer to something that is not accepted in a positive way. If you say something or show something to people and they do not react as you had hoped then you can say that whatever it was went down like a lead balloon. (Lead (pronounced led) is a very heavy material). This expression is most commonly used in the past simple.
My joke about the alcoholic went down like a lead balloon!
My suggestion about increasing office hours went down like a lead balloon.
Well that went down like a lead balloon! (said by someone after delivering a presentation that wasn't well-received)
Story has it that Keith Moon of The Who, on hearing a song on the radio by Jimmy Page and his group the Yardbirds, said "That will go over like a lead zeppelin!". Obviously, he thought the song wasn't so good and that the general public wouldn't buy it. Of course, he must have been wrong because Jimmy Page and his band renamed themselves Led Zeppelin, who of course were very successful.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Word of the Week - 65

Since the Academy Awards took place last night, I thought this Monday's word of the week should be related to the world of glamour and fame. Showbiz is a noun used in slang English for show business. Show business refers to the entertainment business.
In his Oscar acceptance speech last night, Jeff Bridges thanked his parents for introducing him to the world of showbiz.
The charity dinner was attended by a host of showbiz personalities.
I love reading trashy magazines and catching up on all the showbiz gossip!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

If I were rich...

Do you play the lottery on a regular basis? Do you dream of striking it lucky and never having to worry about money again? And what exactly would you do, if you won a lot of money? What would be the first thing that you would buy with all those millions? A new book called We Won The Lottery by Danny Buckland details some of the more unusual purchases made by lottery winners. Perhaps you can get some ideas from there on how to spend your winnings - if you ever get that wonderful opportunity!
Some of the most common things to spend your lottery winnings on are cosmetic surgery, in particular boob-jobs, and cars. However, some people have bought a flock of sheep and their own whiskey factory! One woman even paid to have the title 'Lady' so that she could get the best tables in exclusive restaurants. Fancy that!
If I won a lot of money, I would do three things: buy a large house with a lovely garden; go travelling around the world with my family for a couple of years, especially to see all the major sights like Machu Pichu, the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, to name but a few; and go shoe and handbag shopping in New York at Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Gucci etc. That would be heaven for me!
So what about you?


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Improve your writing

So we're coming up to that time of year again - exams! Some of you may be about to sit the Cambridge exams in March and some of you may be thinking about signing up now for the June exams. Whether you are doing the exams or not, it's always a good time to work on improving your writing in English. Purdue Owl has a good online writing lab which gives you advice on a wide range of things, from spelling and punctuation, grammar and writing conventions. There is also a useful section on emails. The website is designed for native speakers but it has some useful tips that are applicable to you too, so check it out.

Go to the website > > >

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Word of the Week - 64


This week's word is an inseparable phrasal verb which has a number of meanings.
First of all, you can use this phrasal verb to mean learn or discuss the latest news. When you haven't seen somebody for a while you can go for a drink with them and catch up on the latest gossip and find out what they have been doing since you last saw them.
Secondly, you can use this phrasal verb to mean reach the same quality or standard as someone else. When you miss a lot of English classes, for example, you may find it hard to catch up with the rest of the class.
Finally, you can use this phrasal verb to mean do something which you haven't had time to do earlier. Sometimes people have to stay late at the office to catch up on some reports because they haven't had time to do them during the day for whatever reason.

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