Category Archives: Vocabulary

Jazz Something / Someone Up Idiom

It’s been very cold and rainy here lately but I’m not going to complain because if it were any colder Washington would be covered with snow. I’m not ready for snowy weather.

I decided to pop into a cafe for something warm to drink and I was really pleasantly surprised to see how the barista jazzed up my cocoa with a cute spider web. It was delicious too. The drink was served with a small pot of extra hot chocolate. Mmmmm! I will definitely go back in the coming weeks for another.

Have you “jazzed up” anything recently? This is English idiom is fairly common:

to jazz up something or someone (to jazz something or someone up):  to make something or someone more interesting, appealing, exciting or stylish.

For example, in the pictures below you can see our Christmas tree before it was jazzed up and after it was jazzed up with lights.

Our Christmas tree before it was jazzed up.

Our Christmas tree all jazzed up with lights.

A lot of people I know got  jazzed up to go out and celebrate New Year’s Eve. This year I didn’t get jazzed up. I stayed home and lounged around the house in my sweat pants and read a book. At midnight, we opened a bottle of champagne though to celebrate. Sometimes at bars and cafes, the bartenders will jazz up drinks with fruit, olives and umbrellas.

What have you jazzed up lately? Practice this new idiom in the comments below!

To learn more idioms, check out the main idioms page on my website!

Spring Allergies Vocabulary

Hay fever


Ahhhhh chooooo!

Spring has definitely sprung!

Spring (noun)- a season between winter and summer when plants and flowers begin to grow.

Sprung (verb: spring; the past tense of this verb is irregular – we don’t say springed): to suddenly jump or move forward.

Spring is definitely here because my allergies are killing me. That means that my allergies are really bad. Continue reading

Idiom: Beauty is only skin deep

Photo of Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o. Copyright: s_bukley /

Isbeauty only skin deep?

The English idiomatic expression, “beauty is only skin deep” means that a person’s inner beauty—not their outward physical appearance—is what’s most important.

In English, when we say something is “deep” we are often using the word as a metaphor to say something is important and significant. It is not just something one on the surface (superficial); it’s deeper down below.

English lessonClick here for a guided English lesson that includes an excellent video of Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o discussing her personal struggle with feeling beautiful when she was growing up.

To learn many more idioms, click here to go to the main idioms page.

English Text Speak – Net Lingo

You’ve probably seen a similar joke before:


Ha, ha. But for many of my students English texting (or net lingo) is like learning another English language. It can be very frustrating for them.

One reason it’s hard for English learners to understand text speak is that words are abbreviated and shortened. Plus there are a lot of slang and idioms in text speak.

But text lingo is everywhere, especially because of mobile phone messaging, internet commenting, chatting and Twitter. I bet you even use text lingo in your own language!

So how can you learn English text lingo? Here are two important things to know: Continue reading

Amazing Animal Impressions Vocabulary Lesson

This gal does amazing animal impressions. What’s an impression? There are several definitions of this word, but in this situation an impression is an imitation of something. Here’s she’s acting like she is different animals.

Check out her video and then take the quiz to see if you can name all of the animals.

Now here’s a quick quiz.

1. dog

This is a

Question 1 of 18



This is a .

Question 2 of 18

3. Robin

This is a .




Question 3 of 18

4. cricket

This is a .

Question 4 of 18



This is an .

Question 5 of 18



This is a .

Question 6 of 18

7. wolf

This is a .

Question 7 of 18



This is a .

Question 8 of 18



This is a .

Question 9 of 18



This is an .

Question 10 of 18



This is a .

Question 11 of 18



This is a .

Question 12 of 18



This is a .

Question 13 of 18



This is a .

Question 14 of 18



This type of bird is a:


Question 15 of 18



This bird lives in Australia:


Question 16 of 18



This is a .

Question 17 of 18



This is a . It can talk.

Question 18 of 18



Practice Listening with Virgin America Safety Video

Airline crossword puzzle

I traveled last night by plane again and decided to do some more safety video lessons so you can practice hearing different accents. Here you will listen to an American accent. You can listen to an Australian accent here.

In this lesson you will also learn some vocabulary related to air travel. Please note that there are different words for the same things. For example, airplane is the same as aircraft. And, life vest is the same as life jacket. Don’t get frustrated; many of the names sound similar. Continue reading

Lady Gaga criticizes Glamour for making her too beautiful on its magazine cover


NOTEHover your mouse over the blue words to see the definitions of these words.

Lady Gaga was recently chosen as one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year for 2013 and her photo was featured on the magazine’s December 2013 cover above. Instead of wearing one of her outlandish costumes she was dressed more conservatively and looked more like a fashion model.

Perhaps she looks a bit too glamorous and beautiful? Continue reading

Epple juice or greyfurt juice? Decisions, decisions…

Sign with mispelled juice names

There are many little shops that make fresh fruit juice in the Taksim area in Istanbul. While I was walking down the road to the Galata tower I noticed this sign.

And smiled.

Take a closer look:

I knew I just HAD to have a freshly-squeezed juice from this stand. The only question was, which fruit juice was it going to be?

Some delicious “epple” juice? Or some refreshing “grapes” juice? Or maybe a glass of “greyfurt” juice?

Continue reading