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When furniture becomes verb

You probably have been through a situation where you had to “put the cards on the table”, or, “come clean about a situation”. A table is a good place to have a meeting and discuss serious issues, too. But did you know you can use “table” as a verb? Americans say you can “table” a proposal when […]

Knock, knock. Who’s there?

You may have heard one of these jokes in movies or series, they are a “call and response” type of joke. It starts when one person pretends to knock on a door and the other person (supposedly inside the fictional place) has to ask “who is there?” and the fun of it consists in having […]

Tongue twisters

Tongue twisters are challenging phrases that contain many hard to pronounce syllables or alternation of similar but distinct phonemes. They can be a used as a kind of word game because the speakers usually cannot articulate properly the words in a fast and clear manner, causing confusion and good laughs. They are also a good […]

Make your own word using prefixes – “over-“

When I first think of the word “over”, I remember Brazilian fashion experts talking about an outfit that is a little too extravagant. An American teenager might use the word to say that they are “done” with something, that they can’t take it anymore – “I’m so over high school!” But the most interesting thing about […]

Which is Which: Connotation vs Denotation

Novice English learners usually try to relate the meaning of new words to their equivalent in Portuguese, but sometimes the definition of some words are confusing even in their own native language.  Connotation and denotation are examples of such problem. They are similar words used to describe related topics. Connotation is the meaning of a word which depends […]

Make your own word using portmanteaus

Do you know anyone who is just ‘adorkable’? The word has just been included in the Collins English Dictionary. A combination of “adorable” and “dork”, this word is a good example of the rise of the portmanteau.  Portmanteau is “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog)” (according […]

When an ‘a-‘ is not an opposite

It was a winding path that led me to teaching the English language, which started with an interest in the development of language. I think you can appreciate language more when you have an idea of where it comes from, what has influenced it and how it has changed over its history. There is an […]

A bit of Brazil everywhere in the English speaking world

There are Brazilian immigrants  everywhere throughout the world, it seems. If you go to London, for example, you may find a “churrascaria” and even a restaurant that sells “bife com batata frita”. But what I believe is the most interesting and comforting thing is being able to see similar traditions and habits across different cultures. For example, […]

What kind of movies do you like?

Hello, dear reader, In this post, I propose we talk about vocabulary that is commonly used in English to talk about movies. Many are the words used to describe how we feel about a movie, how it was made, the kind of movie it is, etc. Without further ado, let me jump right in and […]

Less is more

It’s all very well and you are famous for being the creative genius of the family. Then you come to class and wonder why it is that sometimes everybody has finished the task and you’re still thinking, organizing your ideas into a productive flow. Like everything else, too much creativity at the wrong time may […]

How do you say that here?

How do you say that here?   In English, as in other global languages, there is more than one word to describe the same action, object, feeling, etc. Let’s look at the word bucket. The dictionary defines bucket as a “deep , cylindrical vessel, usually of metal, plastic, or wood, with a flat bottom and […]

Are you notorious? I hope not.

It has come to my attention that English students often misuse the word notorious. I often hear a sentence that goes like, “Albert Einstein was a notorious physicist.” However, the proper definition of the word denigrates Mr. Einstein’s contribution to society. According to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, notorious means well-known or famous especially for something bad. […]

Movie abbreviations

Abbreviations and acronyms are commonly used in English to talk about movies

Golly Gee Whillikers

Relax, my dear readers. This blog is still in English. The title of this post is just to illustrate that sometimes you will come across some really odd words in English.

Animal sounds

Do you know what an animal sounds like in English? No, I am not suggesting that animals can talk. What I’m saying is that the sound an animal makes in English is most likely different from the sound the same animal makes in your language. Take Portuguese, for example. In Brazil, a dog says au, […]

Animated Idioms Challenge – Part 2

This is a follow-up to an earlier post about idioms. If you haven’t read the original post yet, you can read it here. So, how many idioms were you able to identify in the following video?   The Idioms Challenge from Flavor on Vimeo. The idioms are listed in bold below in the order in […]

Improve your Vocabulary – “Bear” Expressions

You probably know the word “bear“, right? That cute big animal that most people love! Well, did you know that are some expressions with the word bear with lots of different meanings? Let’s take a look at some of them. 1) Bear in mind This means “to remember”, “to think about”. Examples: Don’t lose your […]

Cognates – When Looks Are Not Deceiving

There are words in English that look like words in our mother tongue, but mean something totally different. If we take the word actually  as an example, we notice that it looks like the word “atualmente” in Portuguese, but in English it does not have this meaning; These words are called false cognates and we […]

English Practice – Idioms with Body Parts II

I know this was supposed to be an idiom post with a topic other than body parts, but I kind of left some pretty common ones out from the last post. Therefore I am adding them here if you guys don’t mind.So, let’s start with hand full. It seems quite self-explanatory, doesn’t it?! And it […]

Idioms – Colors

When learning a new language, I believe one of the goals is to get as close as one can to a native speaker. Therefore, we try to minimize our accent and practice as much as we can to improve our fluency. However, there is a much bigger challenge: first language interference. I say this because […]

Learn Words about Soccer

Even though there has been many protests on the streets in Brazil, they are not necessarily  against our beloved national sport. We love soccer, and this post is meant to help learners talk about our most popular sport. In English, there are many specific words one should learn to be able to talk about soccer […]

There to Be X Have – The Difference

I usually hear the question “Have homework today?” many, many times. All teachers do, and it sounds really bad because it is incorrect, but what`s wrong with it? Why do English learners make this mistake over and over? In English, we do not start a sentence with the verb have when we mean exist. We have […]

Multitasking to Boost Learning

Are you a busy person who has to work a lot and does not find time to practice your English? Are you? Well, I happen to understand what you are going through. I have been trying to learn Hebrew, but I just cannot find the time to devote to studying. I am motivated, but I […]

What is “AIN´T”?

Casa Thomas Jefferson´s Teacher Magda, in her post about the contraction “ain´t”, mentions that the contraction is not generally found in any textbook. “Ain´t” is very informal and typically spoken on the streets. So, here´s Magda´s tips about it: Ain´t can mean “doesn’t” in the following case:  She ain’t no brothers or sisters. = She doesn’t have […]

Mispelled Words in English

According to our teacher Magda, there are some words that seem easy to spell, but they are easily spelled incorrectly by English students. Do you have any idea what the champions of mispelling in English are? Check out what Magda had to say about it  in her blog Dicas de Inglês, based on her students´ […]

Moving Beyond the Intermediate Plateau

I started learning English really young. When I finished my English course, my dad decided to send me to Australia for a year so that I could become more independent and responsible. Little did we know that I was far from being a competent speaker of the English language. The first months were challenging, but […]

Where Can You Find Audiobooks?

Reading a good book is comforting and mentally engaging. Reading and listening to an audiobook in the language you want to learn is not only pleasant, but also emotionally satisfying. Which book should you choose? If you are not totally fluent in the English language, I suggest you choose a book that you have already […]

American Football 101

Do you know much about American football?  Better yet, did you know that there are American football teams in Brasília? Casa Thomas Jefferson is sponsoring the Tubarões do Cerrado,  a team that was born in August 2004, when Leandro Barreto and Serginho Dias organized the first unofficial matches. With that in mind and following the […]

The Son of Sobek

Have you read the first saga of Percy Jackson? What about the Kane Chronicles? If your answer is no to any of these questions or to both of them, you have got to start reading them. They are amazing. Well, that is, if you like this kind of adventures that involve Greek gods and teenage […]

At a Loss for Words? Check this Out!

It’s common to begin a conversation in English and, all of a sudden, that word you wanted to say seems to vanish from your mind. Then, you try all sorts of things to have your message across. Some mime. Others ask, “How do you say __________ in English?”  hoping that the interlocutor will know the […]

False Cognates – When Looks Are Deceiving

Do you know that even though some words in English sound like familiar ones in Portuguese, they mean something totally different? That`s right! They are called false cognates, or false friends. Unlike our beloved friends, they are not trustworthy and many of them can lead us to misunderstandings. As a teacher, I can remember some […]

Learn Phrasal Verbs with Look
My English class is over. What do I do now?

Some English students think they will learn English just by attending their two classes a week and that will be it. Well, not so much. According to research, we learn languages through the same processes every child around the world does. We first listen to a “gazillion” words for almost a year, then we start […]

The Phrasal Verb Machine

What is a phrasal verb?  It is a combination of verb and one or more adverbial or prepositional particles functioning as a single semantic unit and often having an idiomatic meaning that could not be predicted from the meaning of the individual parts. And that’s what you’ll find if you look it up on the […]

Vocabulary Learning Strategies

Learning how to sound natural in a second language is very important and here goes a few tips that might help you learn words, expressions and idioms to enrich your vocabulary range. 1. Notice, be curious when you are listening to music, people or movies. 2. Try to make the piece of vocabulary come alive. […]