I’m feeling pretty  ticked off. If I hadn’t excused myself and gone outside I would really have flown off the handle. I came into work in a good mood but the boss came in and bit my head off for no reason. Since when has being five minutes late to work been a problem? She’s really got a chip on her shoulder. She’s always venting her spleen about something trivial. The other day she had a blazing row with Carol from accounting. Just because she left the milk out of the fridge. I can’t understand why she goes bananas at every little thing. It really drives me up the wall. I suppose I’ll just have to try to keep in her good books until she transfers to the Manchester branch in the Spring. I’ll be glad to see the back of her.
Match the idioms with the definitions
a) To be happy you no longer need to deal with someone
b) To make someone angry
c) To yell at someone or to be very critical of someone especially very suddenly and without a good reason.
d) To lose control of your emotions
e) To be annoyed
f) To express angry feelings
g) A very angry argument
h) To go crazy
i) To keep someone happy with you
j)To have an angry or unpleasant attitude or way of behaving caused by a belief that one has been treated unfairly in the past
Are you having one of those days? Here are some great idioms to express how you feel.
I got out of the wrong side of bed this morning. In fact, I’m feeling a bitdown in the dumps. Yesterday, my boss gave me adressing down. I had forgotten to send some important files to a client and they decided to take their business elsewhere. Our other projects are going to the dogs so we’re up shit creek without a paddle. It has really knocked me for six. I guess I’ll just have to try to weather the storm there’s no usecrying over spilt milk.
Match the idiom with the definition
a) survive hard times
b) a severe telling-off /reprimand.
c) in a lot of trouble [vulgar!]
d) to become ruined / become much worse
e) a bit depressed
f) to express regret about something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
For students who want to maximise their English practice or teachers looking for interestings topics for their lessons there is nothing better than a well put together Swiss news website. These are my favourite Swiss news sites in English.
This is my favourite by far. The articles, translated into 10 different languages, are well written and cover a variety of interesting topics from Switzerland and abroad. This is my go-to website when I want to find information on up-coming referendums or national events. It is also a good starting point for a discussion into differences between life in Switzerland and other countries. The Switzerland: How topage describes the Swiss school system, the political system and everything you need to know about living in Switzerland. Here is a, rather tongue in cheek, article about how to behave on Swiss trains.
This is a website purely in English. Most articles are members-only and you can buy a subscription for about 50.- CHF for one year. The articles seem to be less detailed than on Swissinfo and there is less of an international focus to the news but there are some interesting topics.
The English forum is not really a news site but it’s interesting to visit the discussion pages to have an expat’s-eye view on the country. You might find someone to practice your English with if you are a student. Maybe you could give a Switzerland newbie some advice.
ch.ch is the official Swiss government news and information website, in other words “The Swiss Authorities Online”. Really useful if you want to find out about Swiss laws and regulations in a concise and clear way. Here you can find out about how much driving over the speed limit will cost you.
The platform Ronorp gives people and businesses in Switzerland the chance to write about what matters to them. Kind of like a collective blog. The English page (unfortunately only available for Zurich) is well worth a read to find out what’s going on in the area.
Articles and podcasts about cultural issues in English-speaking countries, politics in Switzerland and abroad, education, technical advances, and an infinite number of other topics can be a fascinating basis for a discussion and deliver excellent opportunities to learn new vocabulary and the latest idiomatic language. The sheer amount of information jockeying for position on the internet can be overwhelming, however, so I’ve decided to write about two of my favorites:
The Guardian is an established broadsheet* newspaper in the UK. The Long Read is a series of long articles on a range of different subjects. Some texts are also available as audio podcast episodes. Here is one of my favourite episodes:
The only way to end the class divide. The case for abolishing private schools.
People who have not lived in the UK are often unaware of the effect of having been, or not having been, to a private school on someone’s future career and life in Britain. Did you know that only 6% of the UK population go to private school, but 32% of MPs (Members of Parliament)? and 74% of Judges were privately educated? Find out how private schools shape the UK class system, promoting inequality and causing division across the board.
A shorter alternative from across the pond is The Daily. Although released as an audio podcast, there is the possibility to download a transcript a day after the audio is released. Topics are very up-to-date, so they don’t tend to age well, but they are well worth a listen.
This episode follows Valerie Gilbert a Qanon supporter before and after Biden took office. The podcast introduces the Qanon community and explains their hopes for a new order to be brought about by President Trump. Can Qanon survive Biden’s election, or is it time for the movement to cut its losses and disband?
I hope you have a chance to check out these episodes. If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to get in touch!
*a newspaper with a large format, regarded as more serious and less sensationalist than tabloids
Hi and Happy New Year 2021! Long time no see. Seeing as I have watched most of YouTube, I’ve decided to make some grammar videos using video clips. These videos shows the connection between the past and the present that is needed for the present perfect tense.
Present perfect always needs some elements of past and present. If you only have past, it’s past simple:
I went to Spain last year
If you are talking generally about the present, it’s present simple:
The moon goes around the earth.
If you are talking about right now in the present, it’s present continuous:
I’m sitting at my desk typing.
As soon as you talk about events in the past that clearly effect the present, such as a fall when the person is still on the ground,
“She’s fallen and she can’t get up” (She fell -past- and is lying on the floor -present-)
or you break something,
“I’ve broken your cup” (I broke your cup -past- the cup is still broken -present-)
you need present perfect. When the past effects the present like this you have a result in the present, so this use of present perfect is called “present perfect for result“. There are other times you need present perfect, for example when you say “how long” something has gone on for. As always with present perfect this also needs past and present elements:
I’ve lived here for 3 years. (I started living here three years ago -past- and I live here now -present)
Simon Mayo has a radio show that you can write to with your confessions. He’ll read your letter out and then he and his team will decide if you are forgiven or not. There are some great stories, and it’s interesting to hear the team deciding whether to condemn the “sinners”. Have a listen. Would you forgive them? These are extracts from a radio show, so feel free to skip the bits at the beginning if they are not relevant to the story.
Confessions on Scala Radio
1. The New Car (From 1:15)
Synopsis: Jezza’s Boss had a new car. It was his pride and joy. The team went on a residential course together. One evening they went to Burford to go on a pub crawl. The Boss “Len” took his lovely new car. Driving back, Jezza Was sick all over the dashboard. He offered to pay to get it professionally cleaned. His boss had it cleaned and it seemed ok. One day, Len used the air blowers in his car and “particles” flew into the car. Len couldn’t clean it out of the ventilation system and had to sell the car.
2. The Jeans (From 1:03)
Synopsis: Emma liked REALLY tight jeans. One day she went to go an buy a new pair and was trying them on. She tried them on in the fitting room while the shop assistant gave her new ones to try on and took away the ones that didn’t fit. Without realizing it, Emma lost a pair of knickers in one of the pairs of jeans she had tried on and given back to the shop assistant. The shop assistant had put the jeans back on the shelf. They closed the shop to look for her underpants but they never found them. Someone must have bought a pair of jeans with her knickers in.
Do you forgive?
3. Chutney (1:15)
Synopsis: Louis loved Chutney. He ate it every day. His wife used to make Chutney from the pears from her father’s favorite tree. The tree fell down at about the same time as her father died and the family decided to make one last special batch of chutney together to remember him by. Louis was left at home to stir the Chutney while the others went for a walk. He was hungry and wanted to cook something so he decided to move the big pan and put it outside for a little while so there was space on the cooker. He heard the family returning and quickly put the Chutney back on the cooker. Finding two massive Slugs on top of the Chutney, he quickly put them in his pocket and stirred in the slime. He never told anyone. They made 24 jars of Chutney in memory of his father-in-law that we divided up amongst the whole family. He told his family he had gone off Chutney and hasn’t eaten it since.
Do you forgive him?
4. The cat flap kid (1:23)
Synopsis: Emma was pregnant with her 4th Child. Her toddler was at home with her in a new house. She took George for a walk and they had a lovely time. When they got back, she realized she had locked herself out. Her car keys were also in the house and she had to pick up her other son soon, so she was frantic. She sent her son through the cat flap telling him to get the keys. He changed his mind but she pushed him through. He got in, passed them to her and got a lolly. When she told her sister, she was horrified.
Do you forgive her?
5. The Play (1:12)
Synopsis: There was a performance of Pinocchio by a GCSE drama group. The plan was that when Pinocchio changes from a puppet to a boy there would be a smoke bomb going off for dramatic effect. When it started, the play seemed to be going ok but there was a lot of giggling backstage. The smoke bomb was accidently set off early and the kids had made it far too big. The whole room was filled with smoke and the audience rushed out. The boy who was playing Geppetto said “Oh what a foggy morning”.
Do you forgive them?
The Window (1:52)
Synopsis: Dan was 14 and his friend Will was very forgetful. One weekend, they went to hang out at Wills house. Will had forgotton his key, again. Dan noticed that the bathroom window on the first floor was open, so he used a bin to climb up the wall and onto a low roof to squeeze through the window. This way, both boys managed to get into the house. As Will was always forgetting his keys, afterwards he would often come into the house this way. One day will climbed in to get his keys and then both boys went to the Fish and Chip Shop. When they came back the police were there. The neighbor had seen them climbing in and called the police, who were searching the house for clues. Will confessed and took all the blame. Wills Mum went nuts. He had to apologize to the neighbor and was grounded. Dan feels bad that it was his idea to get into the house through the window.
Do you forgive him?
Radio 2 confessions
DIY Debacle (1:09)
They had recently moved into a new house. They had a 2-year-old and she was pregnant. One afternoon they took the kids to a DIY Megastore. Dougal was potty training. Dougal used the toilet in the megastore. It was a display toilet… Soon it would be discovered. They ran away.
Do you forgive them?
Exploding brie (7:13)
He was a fighter pilot. Once there was a party in an aircraft hangar in France. People drank a lot. His navigator produced a box of bangers. They put a banger into a fish on the nearby table. It blew up. They started blowing all the fish up. When they began to run out of fish, he put one in a brie and threw it into the air. It exploded and everyone was covered in cheese.
Do you forgive them?
Brian’s Film (14:15)
Brian was in a cinema club a long time ago, where they used to show old films. The films came in sections (reels) of 20 minutes that the projectionist would tape together. One day the film seemed strange. The plot veered out in a strange direction and nothing made sense. Brian’s film club colleague pulled him out of the film to talk to him. Somebody had mixed up the reels. They were from the same film but in the wrong order. “Should they stop the film?” No one was complaining but they looked puzzled. The two film club members decided to leave it as it was. They showed the same film in the wrong order the next day too.
Do you forgive them?
The Windmills (21:14)
Grandpa took his five-year-old grandson on Holiday to the seaside. The boy loved to look at the windmills out at sea. One day when they went for a walk to the beach the windmills were hidden by fog. Grandpa told his grandson that he knew why, but only because he was a top-secret member of the Sheffield coastguard. He said that the windmills went underwater, so that the boats wouldn’t knock into them at night. The next morning the boy told his Mum what his grandfather had said about the windmills, and said that it was top secret. She believed him! She asked Grandpa and he jokingly said he hoped he wouldn’t get into trouble. Just then, by coincidence, the coastguard arrived outside. The boy and his mum immediately hid under the table. Grandpa went out, pretended to talk to the coastguards and then came back in to tell them that he was in trouble but he thought it would be OK.
The same boy is now 11 and wrote an essay for school about renewable energy. He asked his grandfather if he could write what he had told him about the windmills. He and his mother still believe that they go under the sea at night!
Do you forgive him?
I Hope you had fun with these stories! There are loads more. Have a look on youtube.
Sometimes two languages can live inside one person peacefully, they complement each other and don’t get in each other’s way. Unfortunately, sometimes the opposite is true and we get …
Sounds nasty, but it just means though that you use rules that apply to your native language, and apply them to your foreign language. If German is your native language and English your foreign language and you have problems with l1 interference, your English sounds kinda German.
A very common problem for German speakers is when they apply German word order rules to English. In English we have Svompt as a general rule:
Subject, Verb, Object, Manner, Time, Place
In German there is tekamolo as a general rule:
TEmporale Angabe, KAusale Angabe, MOdale Angabe, LOkale Angabe
(Time, Reason, Manner, Place)
So if I say “At two o’clock I rushed to the dentist.”, unless you want to emphasize “two o’clock”, this sentence sounds a bit strange.
In German “Ich bin zum Zahnarzt um vierzehn Uhr geeilt.” is also a bit weird.
So look out for this. Getting it right will help your English to sound more natural, oder? -talk about l1 interference!