Heart and Soul vs. Heart in Boots

Today I’ll just  have to pour my heart out to you and admit  that this is exactly what I’ve been afraid of when starting this blog – I’m blocked! I  have put my heart and soul into today’s post, but it just isn’t working out they way I’d want it to!

I thought talking about THE HEART would be an easy guideline.Not so. I’ve been struggling to put together a string of songs, poetry and idioms as well as serious articles on heart conditions or heartless acts and it just won’t work out! It made my heart sink.

However, in my heart of hearts I know you have spent the week in heartfelt expectation to hear what’s been near to my heart these days, so I just don’t have the heart to let you down.

Don’t lose heart! Read on! This just must work out somehow. I know you guy’s have your hearts in the right place and won’t take  one lousy post too much to heart.Nevertheless, I will be eating my heart out waiting for your likes and if there aren’t any,that would definitely break my heart.

Have  a heart! Check out this link with the idioms I’ve used and try to learn some by heart.

Please don’t set your heart against idioms using the word HEART. For a moment, you might even feel your heart beat faster or you might  have a hearty laugh!


P.S. I had a lot of fun in the end trying to use as many idioms as possible with ony one word. You can try it out with another word. For example ,FOOT. It seems like an interesting group of idioms to play with!




Nature’s greatest masterpiece

You might have noticed that we like TED talks and TED-Ed. The other day I received another TED-Ed  video, which I would like to share with you. It’s about  elephants and memory. In a recent blog we talked about repetition and memory, so today’s focus is on elephants.

In the video, the following John Donne’s quote is mentioned:

” Nature’s greatest masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing”

I found the explanation about why elephants attack villages fascinating. They actually remember the people who have hurt them. Therefore the expression: to  have a memory like an elephant.

As I myself am a great elephant lover, I stubbornly watch every documentary on elephants that’s on, even though the information often repeats. If you feel like finding out more about elephants as well as practicing your listening comprehension here’s an excellent documentary from BBC :

Elephants have formed a part of our childhood. Many of us cried  and felt sorry for poor Dumbo. Do you  remember the scene with pink elephants? You might not know that it relates to an idiom: to see pink elephants, which means to be intoxicated; recovering from a drinking bout; having the delirium tremens.

e.g. When I got to the point of seeing pink elephants, I knew that something had to be done.The old one who’s shakinghe’s probably seeing snakes. (N.B. You can also see snakes and spiders.)

Here they are: pink elephants on parade.  Just be patient and wait for the  lyrics to start.

There are some more idioms and expressions mentioning elephants. I came across this blog, which explains them very well:


I can go on and on about elephants, from serious to silly and back. And I will:

Serious: The Elephant man.

I remember watching this film when I was really young. The whole atmosphere was so oppressive and gloomy that I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I was thinking about the cruelty this person had been treated with and how little kindness he had received, just for the fact of being ugly and different. Here is the story of the real elephant man;

and  a documentary about the studies of his remains, which may eventually help us find a cure for cancer.

To finish off lightly, I ‘ll quote Dr. Seuss: ” I meant what I said and said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.”  (from “Horton hatches an egg”)

When we teach children English we start off with colours and shapes and family members, often forgetting the beautiful rhymes  from our childhood. If you started learning English late and never had an opportunity to read or hear any children’s books, give this story a go.  You will surely enjoy it!



Ladies first!

There is an expression that sounds really weird to my Spanish-speaking students and to my surprise it is:” Ladies and gentleman”. It just sounds too formal too official and too Oscar-awards-night for most of them.

“So, then we can actually use“lady” in everyday language and not sound pompous?”- was a question after I mentioned the lady who lives next door to me. Mind you, some of them get equally stupefied when they hear a hotel receptionist addressing one of the characters in a video as “Madam”.

“But that’s French not English!”, yeah, no big deal . Some 60% of words in English originate in French.However, that’s not the topic today.

Today we are talking about ladies. Of course, there is a reason why this word seems too old-fashioned and posh for language students to use. They usually think of duchesses and countesses and other royal titles and they are right to. What first comes to mind is whichever film taking place in the middle ages, knights and ladies dancing at court or Victorian ladies sipping on their afternoon tea or often even more recent times described in popular TV series such as Downton Abbey. Have a glance at some 20th century ladies and gentlemen:


Nevertheless, that IS  what we all imagine , don’t we? We are marked by how the word was used in social contexts before our times . But then, this normal as one of the definitions for lady in the FREE DICTIONARY is:

1. A general feminine title of nobility and other rank, specifically:
a. Used as the title for the wife or widow of a knight or baronet.
b. Used as a form of address for a marchioness, countess, viscountess, baroness, or baronetess.
c. Used as a form of address for the wife or widow of a baron.
d. Used as a courtesy title for the daughter of a duke, a marquis, or an earl.
e. Used as a courtesy title for the wife of a younger son of a duke or marquis.

Going back to definitions, the general one is:

1. A well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behaviour.

What proper behaviour is or was depending on the decade, becomes obvious to us when we listen carefully to pop songs.Listen to  what  Tom Jones thinks a lady should be like  in 1971.Mind you , he can leave her all alone!

Good old Frankie was also quite judgemental. Listen to this song: his lady won’t leave  her escort,will she?

But then the other two definitions are:

a. A woman to whom a man is romantically attached.
b. Informal A wife.

Let’s leave the two gentlemen above define what ladies are like and go on to enjoying music devoted to other special ladies:

Kenny Rogers

Joe Esposito

For the end, some laughs: some ladies like  doing “lady things” in Little Britain, too. Have a great weekend ladies and gentlemen!


Usage Note: Lady is normally used as a parallel to gentleman to emphasize norms expected in polite society or in situations requiring courtesies: Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. I believe the lady in front of the counter was here before me.

P.S. For opinions on how some ladies/women prefer to be addressed and why, listen to this slightly more serious debate from Woman’s Hour:







Repetition and Memory

The other day I stumbled upon a very unusual article, an actual apology coming from a renowned British artist James Blunt. He apologizes for the way his song’s  annoying chorus line was forced to become a part of our everyday lives for months back in 2005. Of course, only if you had listened to the radio or watched music videos, which, unfortunately,  many of us did.

I clearly remember driving in my car to the music on the radio, which kept playing this song at least once every hour, then ending up singing this ridiculous line in every possible twisted, sarcastic or ironical way one could imagine, until we reached our final destination some 800 km away. As it was an end of the year road trip, we ” happily ” welcomed  the New Year 2006 with the echo of Mr. Blunt’s song reverberating in our ears. THAT wasn’t quite as beautiful as the angel he saw on the subway  train!  So, here’s the apology :


and the infamous song itself:

However, those days we could have put on our own music ( changing the radio station was out of the question, as the song was on each and every one), but we didn’t. So, why not?

Strangely enough , I found an answer in a TED video. Even if we don’t like a certain song after a number of repetitions it will turn into something completely different and become even pleasing to the ear. According to studies, this is just another way our brain cheats on us, helping advertisers and music producers to make more money.

Nevertheless, repetition is one of the most important techniques of  language learning. It is one of the most efficient ways to remember vocabulary and structure.Unfortunately, students are usually bored by it and prefer to make a million mistakes before  sitting down and, for example, learning the irregular verbs by heart. The truth is, repetition can actually be a time saver. No surprise for language teachers but a big turn off for many language students who mostly want to have fun. Check out the first point made in this article:


Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that having fun while learning is the best way to learn. However sometimes traditional= boring methods are simply more efficient. There are opinions of every kind on this issue and the preference of fun over tradition is prevailing. For those who feel embarrassed to recognise that some traditional methods of teaching are still valid, here’s a heart-warming article:


Well, that’s all for today. And don’t forget to repeat reading this post!