Thursday, 30 March 2017

How to Jazz up your Everyday Nerd Style

A post featuring 10 English music idioms in context and proving that knowledge is power in many ways.

Lunchtime in your office. You are chewing your sandwich and scrolling down your Facebook feed. A video with buskers playing in NY tube. Funny hair. Ok, hit ‘play’. Suddenly it’s not a dull day anymore. The guys rock!

And oh, the tall guy looks like the guy from marketing. Hahaha, you choke on your sandwich, show the video to others and you all have a giggle. It certainly jazzed up for you the afternoon meeting with the marketing folks!

Music can certainly make your day.

And it can also help you unwind and relax.

Deadlines, priorities, meetings, emails, emails, emails. Endless emails. The weekend is here but you feel like all you do is sort out your family stuff. Before you know it, boom! Monday again. Deadlines, priorities, meetings, emails, emails, emails. Endless emails.

If that rings a bell and you feel like a hamster racing like crazy in its little wheel, probably all you need to do is slow down and switch off for some time. And music can certainly help.

I don't know about you but I can easily forget to switch off. Forget to just listen to the music.

Luckily, my English study has recently reminded me that it has been a while since I listened to the music which helps me slow down. For me *nerd alert* it's classical music that does this unwind trick.

I try to align my language studying content with my interests, i.e. classical music in this case, so I am learning the names of the musical instruments now. Cellos and cymbals, flutes and harps and all that jazz, you know.

Looking at the picture of a violin I suddenly realised that it had been a while since I listened to Verdi. So, on it was, loud and bold. Did help me unwind. Not sure about the rest of the household. And the neighbours. And the neighbours of my neighbours. Alright, will probably need to pop on headphones next time. No appreciation of the true music these days *posh face, eye roll, deep sigh*.

Fell out with my husband because of it actually. Not only my fault. It takes two to tango, you know. Surely you need to close the door if you are on the phone with an important client so as not to have to explain a sudden outburst of Verdi in the background.

By the way, harps aside, from this vocBlock I have also found out that drums in the drum kit have different names. And a dialogue from ‘Two and a half Men’ where Zoey told Walden that she would... ahem, bang him like a snare drum, gave me a very clear image indeed. Which I am not too sure I actually needed.

So, you wanna bang me like a snare drum, huh?

Oh, and I discovered that the word ‘bass’ as in ‘double bass’ is pronounced not quite like I thought it was, damn it.

Well, I don't want to blow my own horn here but I have always been good at languages. But there is this one thing that gets me: English spelling! Just when you think you’ve cracked the code, bang! Bass happens. Or bugle! So, lesson learnt, always checking transcription it is, no matter how smart pants you think you are.

I hope I have drummed up some interest for tubas and trombones here. Do check out our musical instruments vocBlock in English and also the same vocBlock translated into French, German, Russian and Spanish to learn these and more.

And chime in in the comments below to let us know what synergy you got from your foreign language study. Feel free to trumpet your successes!

I don't want to sound like a broken record for those who have read my previous two posts here and here but, clear as a bell, knowledge is power in many ways! So, happy learning!

You might also like these posts:

Ornitophobia or How I Killed Two Birds with One Stone (birds idioms)

How to Boost your 5-a-Day Nerd Style (fruit and veg idioms)

How to Stop Being a Wimp Nerd Style (parts of body idioms)

Music Idioms Defined

jazz up - to make something more exciting

ring a bell - to sound familiar

all that jazz - and other similar things

it takes two to tango - both people involved in a situation are responsible for it

blow one’s own horn - to boast about one’s own achievements

drum up (interest) - to try to increase (interest)

chime in - to add a comment to the discussion

trumpet something - to announce proudly to a lot of people

like a broken record - about someone who repeats the same story over and over again

clear as a bell - very easy to understand

*The list of idioms is based on this great resource:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

How to Boost your 5-a-Day Nerd Style

A post featuring 10 English fruit and veg idioms in context and proving that knowledge is power in many ways.

One thing does not work for me. Ever. Resealable chocolate packaging. Take a bite and store the rest for later. The rest, ha! Now, dear chocolate packaging producers, ‘the rest’ of the chocolate bar does not exist. It’s a single go chocolate bar. No matter how big it is, it is eaten in one go. You can save your effort spent on the resealable bit there.

Chocolate devouring fits aside, I actually try to follow the 5-a-day advice.

It’s not always easy I should say. Surprisingly my healthy eating efforts have recently been boosted by… my English study.

Language is just a form in which content comes to you, so you need to cherry pick here making sure that this content aligns with your goals and aspirations. As healthy eating is one of mine and luckily cooking happens to be my hobby, this content for me includes recipes and cookery shows in English. But having come across some new veg there, I decided to brush up my fruit and veg vocabulary.

The result has actually turned out to be more beneficial than I expected. And I don’t mean the pure linguistic one. What used to be obscure okras and kales acquired shape and meaning thanks to the pictures in the vocBlock. They are not some veg thingies anymore but are now a part of my known and recognised world. I greet them in the supermarket like old friends and put them in my trolley to take them home.

Language tip: put together a shopping list in the language you are learning to use these newly learnt words in real life.

Or you can go bananas and let your imagination run wild Miranda way by sticking some googly eyes on your veg and speaking to Herr Kürbis in German, Mademoiselle Carotte in French or Señor Tomate in Spanish. Or you can even have a conversation with Картошка in Russian. Please remove the googly eyes before cooking and let your family know that you have not gone mad and a dinner can also be a language partner. Well, at least before your vegetable companion is mashed.

But obviously life is not all peaches and cream and sometimes you are so tired after a busy day at work that you don’t give a fig about healthy food as it does take longer to cook from scratch. It’s okay to turn into a couch potato now and then and give yourself a break. And even have a chocolate feast (don't tell your dentist!) It will most certainly not upset the apple cart. Especially if you are on a look out for some easy recipes that will help you save time and energy so that you not only consume your 5-a-day every day but study your target language every day too!

We would like to hear about your experience in the comments below. Spill the beans and let us know your secrets of learning your target language. What has actually borne fruit and what has gone pear shaped for you.

And remember that sure as God made little green apples, knowledge is power in many ways. Happy learning!

You might also like these posts:

Ornitophobia or How I Killed Two Birds with One Stone (birds idioms)

How to Jazz Up your Everyday Nerd Style (music idioms)

How to Stop Being a Wimp Nerd Style (parts of body idioms)

Fruit and Veg Idioms Defined

cherry pick - to select carefully

go bananas - to go crazy

peaches and cream - going easily or well

not to give a fig - not to be worried or interested

a couch potato - a person who watches a lot of TV and does not have an active life

upset the apple cart - to ruin a plan

spill the beans - to give away a secret

bear fruit - to produce positive results

go pear shaped - to go wrong, to fail

sure as God made little green apples - absolutely certain

*The list of idioms is based on this great resource: