Daily English in April

A whole month of English, just as random and varied as the first. 

 

1st April 2020

April Fools' Day or April Fool's Day (sometimes called All Fools' Day) is an annual custom on April 1 consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. Jokesters often expose their actions by shouting "April fools" at the recipient. Mass media can be involved in these pranks, which may be revealed as such the following day. The day is not a public holiday in any country except Odessa in Ukraine, where the first of April is an official city holiday. The custom of setting aside a day for playing harmless pranks upon one's neighbor has been relatively common in the world historically.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

2nd April 2020

 

Do you know your fairy tales?

Read the first sentences of some of the most famous Grimm's fairy tales. Do you recognize the story? Do you know their English titles? There's one which isn't a Grimm's fairy tale. Which one?

(Answers at the bottom of the page)

 

1 In the old times, when it was still of some use to wish for the thing one wanted, there lived a King whose daughters were all handsome, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun himself, who has seen so much, wondered each time he shone over her because of her beauty. 

2 There was once a rich man whose wife lay sick, and when she felt her end drawing near she called to her only daughter to come near her bed, and said, "Dear child, be pious and good, and God will always take care of you, and I will look down upon you from heaven, and will be with you." And then she closed her eyes and expired.

3 In times past there lived a king and queen, who said to each other every day of their lives, "Would that we had a child!" and yet they had none. But it happened once that when the queen was bathing, there came a frog out of the water, and he squatted on the ground, and said to her: "Thy wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has gone by, thou shalt bring a daughter into the world."

4 There once lived a man and his wife, who had long wished for a child, but in vain. Now there was at the back of their house a little window which overlooked a beautiful garden full of the finest vegetables and flowers; but there was a high wall all round it, and no one ventured into it, for it belonged to a witch of great might, and of whom all the world was afraid.

5 Once upon a time there was a sweet little girl. Everyone who saw her liked her, but most of all her grandmother, who did not know what to give the child next.

6 It was the middle of winter, and the snow-flakes were falling like feathers from the sky, and a queen sat at her window working, and her embroidery-frame was of ebony. And as she worked, gazing at times out on the snow, she pricked her finger, and there fell from it three drops of blood on the snow.

7 There was once a miller who was poor, but he had one beautiful daughter. It happened one day that he came to speak with the king, and, to give himself consequence, he told him that he had a daughter who could spin gold out of straw. 

8 Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she woul have to be a real princess. He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be.

3rd April 2020 

synonym
a word or phrase that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase in the same language
The words "small" and "little" are synonyms.
Whenever you have to write texts knowing synonyms (and antonyms) is essential if you don't want them to boring and repetitive. These don't necessarily have to have the exact same meaning, some are just similar or mean roughly the same. Use your dictionary to find out words you don't know.
If you want to learn more synonyms, there are websites that can help you expand your vocabulary, for example www.synonyms.com  .
Word  Synonym
laugh chuckle
steal rob
understand comprehend
postpone put off
love adore
hate detest
rush dash
oppose resist
swindle cheat
argue quarrel
brag boast
comfirm verify

 

4th April 2020

Have you been to the supermarket this week? Strange things are happening at the moment, requiring a whole new vocabulary. Do you know these words?

stockpiling

panic buying

to run low on sth

trolley

scarcity

kitchen roll

to ransack

contagious

safety mask

lockdown

hand sanitiser

pandemic

to queue

 

5th April 2020

Look what I've found on Politico. and there's even more:

https://www.politico.eu/interactive/worlds-cartoonists-on-coronavirus-cartoons/

6th April 2020

What about a little writing exercise? Most of us  have a lot of time to kill and the weather is absolutely wonderful at the moment. So what did you do at the weekend / today)? Write 10 sentences in the Simple Past. You can send me an e-mail if you like.  

And here's what I did today: 

This morning I wanted to go grocery shopping. The first supermarket was crowded and people didn't keep their distance at all. We really needed milk but I decided to put off shopping. I went for a walk nad enjoyed the sunshine instead. Later my daughter and I tested our new self-made safety masks in another supermarket since we'll all have to wear masks in the shops next week. There were some people inside but very few of them had masks on. And no: we didn't buy any toilet paper or kitchen roll. In the afternoon I finished my new insect hotel because the old one was much too small for all the wild bees in our garden. I used beechwood and the dry stalks of last years Himalayan balsam. We hung it on the wall of our shed and right away bees started to inspect it. 

7th April 2020

Here are some more synonyms, nouns this time. 

 

Word Synonym
shortage lack
illness sickness
chaos confusion
anger rage
lie falsehood
noise uproar
courage bravery
grief misery
abundance plenty
oath vow

 

8th April 2020

antonym

noun
a word of opposite meaning 
The usual antonym of good is bad.

You have already learnt about synonyms. Now look at the words from 3rd and 7th April. Can you see words that are antonyms?

 

Can you think of opposites of these words? There might be more than one:

 

sorrow       noise       enemy       chaos        lie          war

 

Do you know this song? It's about opposites, too. 

Bitch (Meredith Brooks)

 

I hate the world today

You're so good to me
I know but I can't change
Tried to tell you
But you look at me like maybe
I'm an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet

Yesterday I cried
You must have been relieved
To see the softer side
I can understand how you'd be so confused
I don't envy you
I'm a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

 

I'm a bitch
I'm a lover
I'm a child
I'm a mother
I'm a sinner
I'm a saint
And I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell
I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

So take me as I am
This may mean you'll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that when I start to make you nervous
And I'm going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today won't mean a thing

I'm a bitch
I'm a lover
I'm a child
I'm a mother
I'm a sinner
I'm a saint
And I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell
I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

Just when you think you've got me figured out
The season's already changin'
I think it's cool you do what you do
And don't try to save me

I'm a bitch
I'm a lover
I'm a child
I'm a mother
I'm a sinner
I'm a saint
And I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell
I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

I'm a bitch
I'm a tease
I'm a goddess on my knees
When you hurt
When you suffer
I'm your angel undercover
I've been numb
I'm revived
Can't say I'm not alive
You know I wouldn't want it any other way

9th April 2020

 

Are you also working in the garden today? Brush up on your vocabulary with this download:

In the garden.pdf
PDF-Dokument [807.2 KB]

10th April 2020

 

What do you usually do on Good Friday? And what did you do today? Did you take any photos? I found this picture on The Guardian's website. And while you are there have a look at the other photos. There are also some interesting articles about the coronavirus in the UK:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/gallery/2020/apr/10/easter-in-lockdown-good-friday-best-photos

An evangelical pastor, Klaus-Martin Pothmann, in front of photos of believers who were asked to send them so they were represented in the pews at St Pankratius church

11th April 2020

How are your preparations for Easter getting on? Are you colouring eggs today? What colours are they? While looking for pictures of colours I found this fun exercise on tinycards.duolingo.com. They have all the colours you'll ever need to know.

 

https://tinycards.duolingo.com/decks/52pbhMCD/english-colours

12th April 2020

Egg hunt
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

An egg hunt is a game during which decorated eggs or Easter eggs are hidden for children to find. Real hard-boiled eggs, which are typically dyed or painted, artificial eggs made of plastic filled with chocolate or candies, or foil-wrapped egg-shaped chocolates of various sizes are hidden in various places. The game is often played outdoors, but can also be played indoors. The children typically collect the eggs in a basket. When the hunt is over, prizes may be given out for various achievements, such as the largest number of eggs collected, for the largest or smallest egg, for the most eggs of a specific color, consolation prizes or booby prizes. Real eggs may further be used in egg tapping contests. If eggs filled with confetti left from Mardi Gras (cascarones) are used, then an egg fight may follow. Eggs are placed with varying degree of concealment, to accommodate children of varying ages and development levels. In South German folk traditions it was customary to add extra obstacles to the game by placing them into hard-to reach place among nettles or thorns.

13th April 2020

 

What about a little word puzzle today? I've taken twelve vegetables and shaken them thoroughly. That's the result. (Some of them are in the photo, others aren't! Answers at the bottom of the page)

CROATR

OMTAOT

RUCEMBUC

TELTUEC

ANEB

APE

BAGCABE

SAUPRAGS

HASCINP

PREPPE

INONO

CRAGIL

14th April 2020

 

Look at yesterday's photo. You can see six of the following. The other two aren't in the picture. (Answers at the bottom of the page)

 

INLELT

NEFLEN

KIMPNUP

GUERINEAB

HAQUSS

RONC

ELEK

SUSBERLS TUSPORS 

15th April 2020

The weather is a topic you can always talk about even if it's quite boring at the moment. Always sunny and dry, some wind, a few clouds, that's it! Most of us are enjoying the sunshine and go for a walk every day, but everyone who owns a garden is also waiting for rain. And unlike Helga we don't have anyone to bring some from England.

 

If you'd like to learn some words and expressions that can help you have small talk about the weather, have a look at today's download. It's another page from my visual dictionary.

Wetter und Jahreszeiten.pdf
PDF-Dokument [874.5 KB]

16th April 2020

 

Sorry guys, I didn't forget you. I just had a very busy day and was completely knackered (whacked, exhausted, tired, fit to drop, half dead). 

17th April 2020

It's spring, the sun is shining and I bet many of you go for a walk every day and enjoy the cherry and apple blossom. Those of you who have a garden probably work in the garden. Whenever we're outside we not only see flowers but also a lot of little animals buzzing or creeping around. I've found this "checklist" of creepy crawlies on the internet. Have you seen any of them recently? And what other insects do you know? 

18th April 2020

 

Yesterday I gave you some vocabulary about insects on an elementary level. But very often things aren't that easy. Translating gets a bit more complicated when the word you are looking for is specific like a technical term. Here I've got a few more insects for you, two expressions for each but I'm not going to tell you which word is the correct one. And how can find out? Google it and check the pictures. Do you know the German translations?

 

two-tone snail bee - two-coloured mason-bee

hummingbird hawkmoth - dove tails

large wool slider - large bee-fly

spruce bark beetle - book printer

green hay horse - great green bush cricket

19th April 2020

 

If-clauses of every type are every student's favourite topic. Remember your rule of thumb: Never 'will' or 'would' in the if-clause. I found some jokes to make learning them a bit more fun.

 

Type 1:

If-clause: Simple Present

main clause: will

 

The upstairs tenant called to the downstairs tenant: "If you don't stop playing that damned trumpet, I'll go crazy!" "I think it's too late, " came the reply. "I stopped an hour ago."

 

Army recruit. "What happens if this parachute fails to open?" 

Army instructor: "Bring it back and we'll give you another."

 

Mother: "If you eat any more of this pie, you'll burst."

Little Willie: "Okay Mum - just pass the pie and get out of the way."

 

Type 2: 

if-clause: Simple Past

main clause: would

 

Two birds were sitting on a tree not far from an airport. Suddenly a jet plane roared through the sky close by. "Gosh, look at that!" said one. "I bet you'd go just as fast if your tail was on fire, " said the other.

 

Why do footballers wear shorts? 

Because they would be arrested if they didn't.

 

If a man owned all the cows in Arabia, would he be a milk sheikh?

20th April 2020

 

Today I'd like to focus on idioms. Look at this definition I got from www.dictionary.cambridge.org. And if you want to learn a few typical British idioms, watch the video. Ok, he's a native speaker and  he speaks quite fast but he keeps repeating the meaning and gives a lot of examples.

 

Idiom

group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own: 
To "have bitten off more than you can chew" is an idiom that means you have tried to do something which is too difficult for you.

21st April 2020

 

Yesterday's Daily English was about idioms and I'd like to extend that lesson just a little bit by giving you some idioms that contain the word 'cat'. Some are quite easy because they are more or less the same in German. Look up the others and find out what they mean. Tomorrow I'll give you the English definition. If you want to learn some more cat vocabulary, check out this text and exercise on ego4u: https://www.ego4u.de/de/read-on/animals/cat

 

10 Cat Idioms - What do they mean?

to play cat and mouse with sb

to see which way the cat jumps

Has the cat got your tongue?

the cat's whiskers / the cat's pyjamas

to let the cat out of the bag

like sth the cat dragged in

like the cat that got the cream

to put the cat among the pigeons

to fight like cat and dog

no room to swing a cat

22nd April 2020

 

Did you find out what the idioms mean? You shouldn't have had any difficulties with these three, because they're the same in German: 

 

to play cat and mouse with sb: to keep sb in a state of uncertainty, being sometimes kind, sometimes cruel

to let the cat out of the bag: to make known a secret, usually without realizing what you are doing

to fight like cat and dog: to have angry arguments all the time

 

And then there are those with really strong imagery:

 

like sth the cat dragged in: dirty and untidy

Where have you been? You look like something the cat dragged in!

like the cat that got the cream: very pleased or satisfied with yourself

Ever since she won the prize, she's been like the cat that got the cream.

to put the cat among the pigeons: to do sth that is likely to cause trouble

She told all the staff they would have to cancel their holidays, and that really put the cat among the pigeons.

 

You need a bit more imagination for the following, but once you know them they are quite logical: 

 

to see which way the cat jumps: to delay making a decision or taking action until you know how the situation will develop

He hasn't taken a decision yet. He's waiting to see which way the cat jumps.

Has the cat got your tongue?: Why don't you say anything?

the cat's whiskers / the cat's pyjamas: the best person, idea, thing etc.

She thinks she's the cat's whiskers.

no room to swing a cat: said about a place or space that is very small

Her flat is tiny, there isn't enough room to swing a cat.

 

The cat's pyjamas really are the best!

23rd April 2020

Another beautiful day: the sun is shining, the birds are singing... Do you know the birds in your garden or in the park? Here you see a collared dove, a regular in our garden. But then we have a lot of different birds here: 

English name German name
great titmouse Kohlmeise
blue tit Blaumeise
robin Rotkehlchen

black redstart

Hausrotschwanz
blackbird Amsel
chaffinch Buchfink
greenfinch Grünfink
great spotted woodpecker Buntspecht
goldfinch Stieglitz
jay Eichelhäher
yellowhammer Goldammer
magpie Elster
sparrow Sperling
wagtail Bachstelze
wood pigeon Ringeltaube
wren Zaunkönig
starling Star

If you want to learn more about these birds (in English), have a look at this website: 

https://www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en/article/19-common-british-birds-you-can-find-your-garden

That's an excellent opportunity to pick up some more vocabulary on gardening, plants etc.

 

The German nature conservancy association NABU shows you common German birds you can find in your garden: https://www.nabu.de/tiere-und-pflanzen/aktionen-und-projekte/stunde-der-gartenvoegel/vogelportraets/index.html

24th April 2020

 

„The birds and the bees“ is a common English idiom for the basic facts of reproduction. Today it's not about the facts of life but about a bear and the bees. Let me introduce you to Winnie-the-Pooh (the original, not the modern TV series).

A. A. Milne wrote these stories for his son Christopher Robin and all the characters were once the boy's soft-toys: a piglet, a donkey, a rabbit, an owl, and a kangaroo mother and her baby. But the story's protagonist is Christopher Robin's favourite teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh. Pooh is a bit stupid and loves honey (too much), which usually gets him into all kinds of scrapes.

You can download the first chapter of this beautifully written and illustrated children's classic here:

WinniethePooh.pdf
PDF-Dokument [3.1 MB]

25th April 2020

 

Today I made my first Yorkshire Pudding, and no: It's not a dessert. You eat it with meat, for example roast beef and (very important) gravy. As you can see in the photo,  it's the perfect side dish cecause of its shape. Yummy! My family loved it. Here's the recipe I used, but there are a lot more on the internet: 

Yorkshire Pudding 

3/4 cup plain flour*

salt, to taste

1 egg lightly beaten

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup milk

30 g dripping or butter 

 

*Some measuring jugs also have a cup measure.

1 cup is 0.237 litres.

 

Sift flour and salt into bowl, add combined egg and water. Mix to paste. Heat milk and pour in, beat until smooth. Put dripping (I always keep some from the Christmas goose.) or butter in 12-cup muffin tray. Heat in 200 °C oven (fan) 5 minutes. The fat should be sizzling. Divide batter between cups, bake for 10-15 minutes or until puffed. Don't open the oven, while puddings are still rising.

26th April 2020

 

I hope you didn't need to use bad language today, since we've had a wonderful, sunny day (again). But just in case you really want to use drastic language to get your message across, why not learn from the best:

The February 2019 issue of Spotlight (https://shop.spotlight-verlag.de/spotlight/abo/sprachmagazin/) had a supplement titled "Schimpfen auf Englisch" and guess who got the last page:

27th April 2020

 

I think it's high time we contrasted some British and American English expressions. I'll give you the German word and the American English word. Do you know the British expression? (Answers tomorrow)

German American English British English
Apotheke pharmacy chemist's
Arztpraxis doctor's office doctor's surgery
Aufzug elevator lift
Ausgang exit way out / exit
Bahnhof train station railway station
Benzin gas petrol
Drogerie drug store chemist's
Einkaufszentrum mall shopping centre
Erdgeschoss first floor ground floor
Film  movie film
Führerschein driver's license driving license
Fußgängerunterführung pedestrian underpass subway
Gehweg sidewalk pavement
Geldautomat ATM cash dispenser
Geldschein bill note
Handtasche purse handbag
Handy cell phone mobile phone
Hauptstraße main street high street
Kino movie theater cinema
Laden store shop

28th April 2020

 

Did you know the British English expressions? I've got another 20 words for you: 

German American English British English
Morgenmantel robe / bathrobe dressing gown
Müll garbage / trash rubbish / refuse
Notaufnahme ER (emergency room) A&E (accidents and emergencies)
ÖPNV mass transit public transport
Parkhaus parking garage multi-storey car park
Parkplatz (mehrere Autos) parking lot car park
Pflaster band-aid plaster
Postleitzahl ZIP code post code
Reifenpanne flat (tire) puncture /flat tyre
Rückfahrkarte round-trip ticket return ticket
Stadtzentrum downtown town centre / city centre
Straßenbahn streetcar / cablecar tram
Straßenkreuzung intersection crossroads
Tankstelle gas station petrol station / filling station
Taschenlampe flashlight torch
U-Bahn subway /metro underground / Tube
Urlaub vacation holiday
Warteschlange line queue
Wasserhahn faucet tap
WC restroom toilet
Wohnwagen, Caravan trailer, RV caravan

29th April 2020

We started our Daily English with photos of spring flowers, but that was in March and most of those flowers have wilted by now. I bet you still see lots of flowers and blossoms when you go out. Can you name them? Send me a photo of a flower by e-mail or text message and don't forget its English name. This beautiful little flower on the left is called addersmeat or greater stitchwort. Have you seen a lily of the valley yet?

30th April 2020

May DayFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on 1 May. It is an ancient festival of Spring  and a current traditional spring holiday in many European cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities.

In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. International Workers' Day is also called "May Day", but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day.

(...)

In rural regions of Germany, especially the Harz Mountains, Walpurgisnacht celebrations of pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day, including bonfires and the wrapping of a Maibaum (maypole). Young people use this opportunity to party, while the day itself is used by many families to get some fresh air. Motto: "Tanz in den Mai" ("Dance into May").

I bet many of you celebrate Walpurgis or May Day every year, but this year everything's different. Write down five things you are going to do on 30th April and 1st May 2020 and compare them to things you usually (or always) do on that date. Make sure to use the correct tenses: going to, present continuous or will for the future, present simple for habits / regular actions.

Answers:

 

Fairy tale quiz: 

1 The Frog King

2 Cinderella

3 Sleeping Beauty

4 Rapunzel

5 Little Red Riding Hood

6 (Little) Snowwhite

7 Rumpelstiltskin

8 The Princess and the Pea (by Hans Christian Andersen)

 

Antonyms: 

love /adore - hate / detest

shortage / lack - abundance /plenty

 

Veggies:

carrot

tomato

cucumber

lettuce 

bean 

pea

cabbage 

asparagus

spinach

pepper 

onion 

garlic

lentil

fennel

pumpkin

aubergine

squash (AE)

corn (AE)

leek

Brussels sprouts

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