Idiom of the Week: Chicken


Meaning: To be afraid or be a coward. Used as an adjective or as a noun.


Go ahead and order in English! Don’t be a chicken!

They called me a chicken because I didn’t want to ride on the roller coaster.

He wanted to talk to her but he was chicken. He’s a very shy guy.

Pop Quiz:

What’s the opposite of chicken?

A.  Scared

B.  Vegetable

C.  Brave

To see the correct answer, click on “Read more”:

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Summertime Blues

Here’s a classic old song for you about summertime with some good examples of informal English in it. Here is a key to some of these words along with the song’s lyrics:

raise a fuss, raise a holler = cause trouble, yell loudly, make noise

gonna = going to

“No dice” = “No chance,” “It’s useless”

ain’t = isn’t, aren’t

gotta = got to, have to, must

’cause = because

“You didn’t work a lick” = “You didn’t do any work”

“Summertime Blues”

by Eddie Cochran

Well I’m a gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler
About working all summer just to try and earn a dollar
Every time I call my baby to try to get a date
My boss says, “No dice, son, you gotta work late.”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

Well, my mom and papa told me, “Son, you gotta make some money
If you want to use the car to go riding next Sunday”
Well, I didn’t go to work, told the boss I was sick
“Now you can’t use the car ’cause you didn’t work a lick”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do
‘Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fun vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well, I called my Congressman and he said quote
“I’d like to help you son, but you’re too young to vote”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

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Either, Neither, and Both

either = one OR the otherWould you like tea or coffee? ∼ Either; I don’t mind.
(= ‘You can give me tea OR coffee; I have no preference.’)
neither = not one and not the otherWould you like ham or beef in your sandwich?
∼ Neither; I’m a vegetarian.

(= ‘I don’t want ham and I don’t want beef.’)
both = the first AND the secondI take both milk and sugar in my coffee.
(= ‘I take sugar. I also take milk.’)
We use either with a singular noun.
We use either of with a plural noun.
We use a singular verb with either and either of.
either car
either of the cars
Either day is fine for me.
Either of the days is fine for me.
We use neither with a singular noun.
We use neither of with a plural noun.
We use a singular verb with neither and neither of.
neither house
neither of the houses
Neither day was suitable.
Neither of the days was suitable.
We use both with a plural noun.both houses
both of the houses
Both (of) my brothers are tall.
We use of before the pronouns usyouthem.both of us, both of you, either of them, neither of them, etc.
Between of and a noun we use these, those or my, your, John’s, etc., or the.both of those houses, neither of my brothers, both of John’s sisters, either of the cinemas
from speakspeak

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Literacy Review Revisited: Third Time’s a Charm!

Here’s yet another sample from Literacy Review Volume 19, this time by Advanced Writing Class student Laeticia Blanchard

Having Coffee in NYC

by Laeticia Blanchard

Since I arrived in New York City, I have enjoyed having coffee outside. What a nice array of wonderful coffee places! My husband and I immediately embraced the NYC coffee culture. Every year, we would go to the New York Coffee Festival, and we would buy the new edition of The New York Coffee Guide. We were always strolling the city to discover a new coffee spot.

You can imagine how delighted I was when I realized that a cozy coffee shop had opened in my neighborhood. I also thought that it was a good sign that this new café was called Inès, as my own daughter’s name is Inès. Serendipity! I started to spend a lot of time at this café, and it became my go-to place. Inès is the place where I used to sit and stay to read my New Yorker, write my papers, study for my English classes, and prepare the Spanish lessons I taught. Its atmosphere was simply perfect for me. As I don’t like to be alone and spend an entire day without talking to anybody, I knew that there I could find a quiet place to interact with a bunch of people and at the same time I could feel safe, listen to cool music, and chat.

But then, in March, the pandemic struck, the lockdown arrived, and I really feared for my ideal connection with this special place. I thought that all these good moments were over. In fact, after a few days, I decided to go outside and to check if my favorite coffee place was still open, and, to my great relief, it was! Of course, no more tables to linger at, no more space inside to be seated and stay for a couple of hours, but it stood tall, and during this difficult time, it became my anchor, a place even closer to my heart. I kept going there every day. I wanted to give my support and express my appreciation to the team. They were part of the essential workers. And they were definitively essential for me! I was also supporting me and my mood. These outings were structuring my day, and it was so important for me to see people outside of my household. We were all exchanging information, doubts, and feelings about what was going on around us, and it had such a comforting and almost healing effect. My daughter, Inès, soon arrived from her university to stay home with us, and I brought her with me on these daily outings to the other Inès. I introduced her to the community, and with her name causing a sensation, she immediately became part of the gang. From March to July, we shared this precious time and place together.

Finally, in August, like a lot of restaurants in New York, they were able to set a beautiful terrace in front of the café, and I spent the whole summer sipping my delicious iced lattes with oat milk and taking my routine up again, reading, writing, and chatting outside but staying close to the hustle and bustle of the place.

I can say now that Inès represents an essential part of my life and of the New York experience I appreciate every day. Having coffee in New York City is being in touch with this lively, warm, and welcoming part of the city. I feel privileged to have found such an ideal spot, and I am happy to have created this extension of my family circle. Today, I cannot conceive my life without it. Having coffee in New York City is much more than simply drinking a cup of coffee; it is going to a place that is an extension of what I call home.

To listen to Laeticia read her story or read more stories, click here!

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Fourth of July – Independence Day

The Fourth of July—also known as Independence Day or July 4th—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. The Fourth of July 2021 is on Sunday, July 4, 2021; the federal holiday will be observed on Monday, July 5, 2021.


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Literacy Review Revisited, Again

Here’s another story from Literacy Review Volume 19, this time by Advanced Writing Class student Lichan (Chloe) Yu


by Lichan (Chloe) Yu

Some like it, because it owns beauty. Some avoid it, because it is straightforward. Some even want to break it. I look in the mirror thousands of times before I go out. I adjust my makeup on my face so many times. Why can’t I get the look I want? This could ruin my whole new day. What you see in the mirror is your shadow. When you smile, it will smile back. When you cry, it will cry back. When you frown, absolutely you will see an ugly face. A mirror is only one plane, it has no way to conceal any faults. But with it, you can discover your beauty, experience your beauty, and make beauty.

In our lives, we all like to clarify others’ shortcomings and hardly ever see the advantages. This makes our relationships far apart. When I stand at the crosswalk while the red light is still on, I observe people around me. Are they satisfied with the way they look? Those diverse sad and happy faces can barely conceal themselves. What have they been through? What makes them so disappointed or so grateful? Life contains sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. The mirror reflects this as well.

To listen to audio of the story or to read more stories, click here!

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