Coffee Break: Back To School

Coffee Break: 10 Expressions About… Back To School

Back-to-school season is already here! If you’re an English learner, it’s also time for you to refocus on your studies after this well-deserved break. And what’s better than a short vocabulary list to kick off the year? Check out these 10 education-related English words and expressions that we selected for you:

1. pedagogy (noun): the function or work of a teacher; teaching method
Ex: Even though each teacher follows his own style of pedagogy, some teaching methods have been proven to be more efficient than others.

2. to brainstorm (verb): to try to develop an idea or think of new ideas
Ex: The first assignment that was given to the students was to brainstorm ideas for the school play.

3. to hit the books (phrase): to begin to study hard
Ex: Mary wants to increase her grades this year, and she is ready to hit the books.

4. to catch up (phrasal verb): do work or other tasks that one should have done earlier
Ex: The teacher noticed that one of her students was a bit behind in math, but she was confident that he would be able to catch up with the rest of the class quickly.

5. school of thought (phrase): a particular way of thinking, typically one disputed by the speaker
Ex: Even if they have different schools of thought, both students are making efforts to understand the other’s point of view.

6. to procrastinate (verb): delay or postpone something, usually related to work
Ex: I procrastinated so much during the past few days that I’m not sure I’ll be able to meet the deadline for this project.

7. mnemonic (noun): a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something
Ex: FANBOY—which refers to the first letter in the words “for,” “and,” “nor,” “but,” “or” and “yet—is a popular mnemonic to remember coordinating conjunctions in English.

8. pedantic (adjective): a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules or with displaying academic learning
Ex: The professor is so pedantic that he keeps interrupting his students to correct their pronunciation rather than letting them speak.

9. plagiarism (noun): the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own
Ex: Because Ricardo copy-and-pasted paragraphs from Wikipedia in his essay, he was suspended from college for plagiarism.

10. to cram (verb): study intensively over a short period of time just before an examination
Ex: She spent all night cramming at the library for her exam the next day.

We hope this article gave you the motivation to hit the books. Now, it’s time to stop procrastinating and to catch up on your English lessons!


Idioms of the Week: Emotions

In this blog series, we’re breaking down common English expressions that are used in everyday conversation, so you’ll be able to expand your language skills and have fun with new English phrases. This week, we’re keeping to the theme of emotions.

1. to go bananas (verb phrase): to rave or cheer wildly; to become extremely crazy, angry or excited

Ex. Judy thought Melanie had gone bananas after she spent $500 on shoes.

2. on cloud nine (noun phrase): a state of perfect happiness or euphoria

Ex. John was on cloud nine when he received the news of his impending promotion.

3. down in the dumps (adjective phrase): in a gloomy or depressed mood

Ex. Natalie’s been down in the dumps ever since she lost the final tennis match.

4. happy camper (noun phrase): used to describe a comfortable, contented person

Ex. Kate’s calm personality is what makes her a happy camper—even when life gets hard, she remains content with her blessings.

5. head over heels in love (adjective phrase): hopelessly in love

Ex. Despite only having met her that morning, David was head over heels in love for the new girl in school.

6. chip on one’s shoulder (verb phrase): the act of holding a grudge

Ex. Jack had a chip on his shoulder after suffering a humiliating defeat to Josh in his election campaign for town mayor.

7. fish out of water (noun phrase): feeling uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings

Ex. The nervous exchange student from Tanzania felt like a fish out of water in the fast-paced environment of New York City.

8. swallow one’s pride (verb phrase): to humble oneself, accepting something embarrassing or admitting one’s wrong

Ex. When Valerie failed her exam, she had to swallow her pride to ask for extra credit from the professor.

9. to get/have butterflies in one’s stomach (noun phrase): to feel very nervous

Ex. Whenever Tim has to speak in public, he gets butterflies in his stomach.

10. no hard feelings (noun phrase): feeling no resentment or bitterness about something

Ex. Ann harbored no hard feelings toward Jim after he apologized for his wrongdoing.

Try using these idioms the next time you practice your English skills. You’ll find yourself using them more naturally in conversation in no time!


Idioms of the Week: Money

Learning English as a second language is hard enough, but it can be especially difficult when you run into idioms in casual conversation that don’t mean what they seem. In this weekly series, we’re breaking down common English expressions that are used in everyday conversation, so you’ll be able to expand your language skills and have fun with new English phrases.

Today, we’re keeping to the theme of money, so you’ll be able to clear up your confusion over which expressions actually refer to situations involving the bank!

1. a dime a dozen (noun phrase): used to describe something very common or easily acquired

Ex. Romantic movies are a dime a dozen in movie theaters now, each one with predictable plotlines and happy endings.

2. from rags to riches (noun phrase): a situation where a person rises from poverty to wealth

Ex. Samantha went from rags to riches overnight when she won the multimillion dollar lottery.

3. on the other side of the coin (noun phrase): a different and opposite view of a situation previously talked about

Ex. The house has a beautiful backyard, but on the other side of the coin, it is in the middle of nowhere.

4. a penny for your thoughts (noun phrase): to ask what someone is thinking about, or ask for someone’s opinion

Ex. Penny for your thoughts?” Jack asked Jen when he noticed she was silent for the entire meeting.

5. my two cents (noun phrase): to give one’s opinion

Ex. Anna put her two cents worth in about the new color scheme for the office.

6. to cost an arm and a leg (verb phrase): used to describe something very expensive

Ex. The designer purse cost an arm and a leg.

7. to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth (verb phrase): used negatively to describe someone who has come from generations of wealth

Ex. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so he doesn’t have to worry about working full-time after college graduation.

8. saving for a rainy day (verb phrase): to keep money for the future, especially for an emergency

Ex. Every month, they transferred a set amount of money into their savings account to save for a rainy day.  

9. money talks (noun phrase): used negatively to describe how money can be used to influence one’s actions or make things happen

Ex. There is no clearer evidence that money talks than how congressional representatives’ opinions are easily swayed by the small fee of $30,000.

10. penny pinching (noun phrase): the practice of trying to spend as little money as possible

Ex. After John had to unexpectedly repair the leaking pipes in his attic, he resorted to penny pinching to save for his new winter coat.

Try using these idioms the next time you practice your English skills. You’ll find yourself using them more naturally in conversation in no time!


10 Words for…Basic Medicine

Working in the healthcare industry can be immensely rewarding, but navigating day-to-day language barriers can be a challenge. With medical practices varying from country to country, aligning with rich cultural traditions, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why we’re here to help! This blog series will explore the top 10 useful words for specific industries, so you can learn the English you can actually use in the real world. This week, we’re looking at some basic concepts and vocabulary words in the medical industry.

1. allergy (noun): a damaging immune response by the body to a substance to which it has become hypersensitive

Ex. Jane discovered she had an allergy to almonds after she broke out in hives.

2. insurance (noun): an arrangement where a government or company provides guaranteed compensation for illness in return for payment

Ex. John’s insurance company paid for the entire medical procedure.

3. outbreak (noun): the sudden start of something bad (especially a disease or violence)

Ex. There was a cholera outbreak in the country due to poor sanitation conditions and contaminated water.

4. prescription (noun): instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes dosage of a specific medicine

Ex. The doctor gave Susan a prescription for pills to relieve her back pain.

5. medical history (noun): record of past events and circumstances that are or may be relevant to a patient’s current state of health

Ex. At his doctor’s appointment, John mentioned he had a medical history of diabetes in his family.

6. co-pay (noun): a separate payment made by a patient for health services in addition to money covered by one’s insurance

Ex. Although John’s insurance covered his medical procedure, he still had to pay a co-pay to his doctor for her time.

7. dosage (noun): the amount of a medicine, drug, or vitamin that should be taken at one time or regularly during a period of time

Ex. The doctor increased her dosage of the medication after she reported feeling intense pain.

8. infection (noun): a disease caused by bacteria entering the body

Ex. Melanie caught a throat infection from drinking contaminated water.

9. diagnose (verb): to identify an illness by examining a patient’s symptoms

Ex. He diagnosed the boy’s red rashes and itchiness as chicken pox.

10. hospice (noun): a facility or program providing medical care to the terminally ill

Ex. When Jill was diagnosed with cancer, she entered a hospice program to get the treatment she needed.

For additional practice with industry-specific terms in English, check out the Unit Catalog in your Voxy course for more work-related materials!

San Diego Comic Con

Coffee Break: 10 Expressions About… The San Diego Comic-Con

Whether you’re on your coffee break at the office, talking with friends or reading the newspaper, we encounter situations every day where topic-specific vocabulary is used. And when you don’t know the language, it can be really difficult to participate in the conversation! When the topic switches to recent news events, it gets even more complicated…

From politics and sporting events to fashion and technology, this blog series will help you understand and convey ideas about a wide range of recent events using the right vocabulary.

Today, it’s all about the geeks! The biggest “Comic Con” of the year starts today in San Diego, and it’s an unmissable event that brings together all the latest and greatest from pop culture. We’ve prepared a list of words and expressions that you’ll probably hear in the upcoming days.

  1. pop culture (noun): modern popular culture transmitted via mass media and aimed particularly at younger people
    Ex: San Diego Comic-Con is arguably the biggest event in pop culture.

  2. exhibitor (noun): a person who displays items of interest at a convention
    Ex: Large groups of fans walk excitedly from one exhibitor’s booth to another.

  3. to unveil (verb): to show or announce publicly for the first time
    Ex: Marvel will unveil a 13-foot-tall bronze Captain America statue at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

  4. buff (noun): a person who is very interested in a subject and knows a lot about it
    Ex: “Even if you’re not a science-fiction fan or a movie buff, there’s an incredible atmosphere at the convention,” argued the fan.

  5. collectibles (plural noun): items worth collecting
    Ex: It’s rumored that this year they’ll be giving away exclusive Pokemon collectibles to special attendees because of the new Pokemon Go app.

  6. panel (noun): a live or virtual discussion about a specific topic amongst a selected group of experts in front of a large audience
    Ex: The HBO Game of Thrones panel, which will include four experts discussing the show, is one of the most anticipated events at the Comic-Con.

  7. cosplay (noun): the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime
    Ex: Game Of Thrones cosplays are really popular. Last year, a lot of fans dressed up like Khaleesi.

  8. overcrowding (noun): filled beyond what’s comfortable
    Ex: Because of the event’s popularity, attendees and vendors complained of overcrowding.

  9. fandom (noun): the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture
    Ex: Dozens of different fandoms meet each year at the Comic-Con.

  10. attendee (noun): a person who attends an event
    Ex: Around 130,000 attendees are expected this weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con.

We realize that some of these words—like cosplay or fandom—are pretty specific, and you may not find them as useful in everyday conversation. But most of the words on this list—like panel, attendee and exhibitor—are much more common, and will be helpful to talk about all kinds of events or pop-culture trends. Try one out this week!