Daily English in May

And another month of English titbits to keep your English alive.

1st May 2020


And this is what Wikipedia says about May Day traditions in England. If you want to learn more check out this entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day


Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a maypole, around which dancers often circle with ribbons. Historically, Morris dancing has been linked to May Day celebrations. The earliest records of maypole celebrations date to the 14th century, and by the 15th century the maypole tradition was well established in southern Britain.


In Oxford, it is a centuries-old tradition for May Morning revellers to gather below the Great Tower of Magdalen College at 6 am to listen to the college choir sing traditional madrigals as a conclusion to the previous night's celebrations. Since the 1980s some people then jump off Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell. For some years, the bridge has been closed on 1 May to prevent people from jumping, as the water under the bridge is only 2 feet (61 cm) deep and jumping from the bridge has resulted in serious injury in the past. There are still people who climb the barriers and leap into the water, causing themselves injury.

On bbc.co.uk you can watch a slideshow on May Day in Oxford: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/oxfordshire/8029500.stm


2nd May 2020

Yesterday we went for a walk, when it actually started to rain and we got quite wet. A song from my youth came to my mind. It was the second single I bought from my pocket money after I had got a record player. That was in 1981, I was 12 and had been learning English for only two years. The lyrics are quite easy and we didn't have any problems understanding this song. We didn't really have music videos back then but you can find anyting on Youtube. 

Rain in May (Max Werner)

Feeling down when the autumn has come

Stormy days and the leaves keep on falling
I don't like the town when the autumn has come
Clouds are grey and there's fog outside


Feeling down when the winter has come
Frozen feet and the snowflakes are falling
I don't like the town when the winter has come
Dirty streets and it's cold outside

I don't care for a riding sleigh 

Get your share from the rain in May

Rain in May 

Wash your worries away
Take a dose, take off your clothes
Feel the soft warm spray 

Of the rain in May

Feeling down when the summer has come
Burning heat, drops of sweat keep on falling
I don't like the town when the summer has come
Dusty streets and it's hot outside

I don't care for a sunny day 

Get your share from the rain in May

Rain in May 

Wash your worries away
Take a dose, take off your clothes
Feel the soft warm spray 

Of the rain in May

3rd May 2020


It's my son's birthday today. One part of his birthday cake was a kind of Victoria sponge cake, which some of you might remember from our Afternoon Tea lesson some time ago. The recipe is pretty straightforward, you don't need a lot of different ingredients and you'll find most of them in your cupboard or fridge. 


Victoria sponge cake





4 eggs

200 g caster sugar 

200 g butter

200 g flour

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder



250 ml double cream (whipped cream)

6 tablespoons strawberry jam (or fresh strawberries)

1 tablespoon icing sugar (for dusting)



Heat your oven to 190° C. Grease baking tin (26 or 28 cm) or line the baking tin with baking paper. You can also use a muffin tray and make small sponge cakes. Put the sugar and butter into a bowl and beat until the mix is smooth. Add the eggs slowly one by one. Finally, fold in the flour and baking powder. Bake for around 30 minutes until cake is golden. Whip cream while the cake is in the oven. Take cake out of the oven and leave to cool completely. Cut it into two round slices. Spread the jam on the bottom slice, then spread the cream over the jam and place the second slice on top. Dust with icing sugar.

4th May 2020


Today I've got a little riddle for you: I'd like you to guess the name of a ship. I'm going to give you a few hints but you won't get the answer until tomorrow. 

That's me:

I'm one of the most famous ships that ever sailed.

I was built in the 17th century. 

My most famous voyage was from Plymouth, england to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

transported 102 very special passengers and had a crew of about 30. 

I'm a symbol of hope and freedom.

If you want to say that someone's family has been in the USA for a very long time, you say „they came over on the ...“.

5th May 2020


The ship you had to find out yesterday is of course 

Mayflower, the

From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English


May‧flow‧er, the /ˈmeɪflaʊə $ -ər/    the ship that took the Pilgrim Fathers to Plymouth, Massachusetts in the US in 1620. They were Puritans who left England because they wanted to start a new society where they would be free to practise their religion. In the US, people sometimes say that someone’s family ‘came over on the Mayflower’ when they mean that they originally arrived in the US a very long time ago.


For those of you who are interested in horticulture: There's also another meaning of mayflower:




WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Mayflower, either of two spring-blooming wildflowers native to eastern North America or one of several plants that bloom in the spring in Europe. Podophyllum peltatum (family Berberidaceae) is more often called mayapple, and Epigaea repens (family Ericaceae) is the trailing arbutus. Crataegus monogyna (family Rosaceae), a species of hawthorn, is commonly known as mayflower or May flower in England.

And while I was looking for information about the Mayflower on the internet I found a very interesting Website with free downloads of information and exercises: https://www.mayflower.pl/6downloads-skills-page-english.html

6th May 2020


I've got some more scrambled words for you. Today it's fruit, and not all of them are in the photo (Answers at the bottom of the page):













7th May 2020


More fruit for you and some of them quite tricky. And again not all of them are in the photo. Do you have an orchard? What fruit do you grow in your garden? What's your favourite fruit?














8th May 2020


I think it's high time for some "Doctor! Doctor!" jokes. they might be dumb, but they contain very useful phrases. 

"Doctor, doctor! I keep thinking I'm a comedian!"

"You must be joking!


Doctor: "Do you have trouble making up your mind?

Patient: "Well, yes and no..."


"Doctor, doctor! I've got carrots growing in my ear!

"How on earth did that happen?"

"I don't know, I planted cabbages."


"Doctor, doctor! I keep thinking I'm a dog."

"Sit down, please."

"Oh no, I'm not allowed on the furniture."


"Doctor, doctor! I keep thinking there are two of me."

"Could you repeat that, and this time please don't both speak at once."


"Doctor, doctor! I feel like a 5£ note."

"Go shopping, the change will do you good."


A boy with an elephant on his head went to see a doctor.

The doctor said, "Wow! You really need help."

"You said it," the elephant cried, "get this kid out from under me!"

9th May 2020


It's time for a little history lesson. While looking for information on important things that happened on 10th May* I stumbled upon the website www.onthisday.com. I've chosen just a few births and deaths of well-known people: 


Who was born on May 10th?

1850 Thomas Lipton, Scottish yachtsman (5-time America's Cup challenger) and tea merchant (Lipton Tea), born in Glasgow, Scotland (d. 1931)

1899 Fred Astaire, American tap dancer, presenter and actor (Easter Parade, Swingtime), born in Omaha, Nebraska (d. 1987)

1933 Barbara Taylor Bradford, author

1960 Bono [Paul Hewson], rocker (U2-Joshua Tree), born in Dublin, Ireland

1965 Linda Evangelista, St Catherines Canada, supermodel (Elite)

And who died?

1798 George Vancouver, British explorer, (Voyage of Discovery), died at 40

1818 Paul Revere, American silversmith and patriot who alerted the colonial militia to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, died at 83

1977 Joan Crawford, American actress (Mildred Pierce), died at 72

If you want to learn more about what happened on a certain day in history, you can look at these websites:


This is an interesting website where you can look for synonyms or antonyms etc. When you scroll down the page you'll find "Watch and learn", a little "film" about important events.


Here you'll find a curious story about Rudolf Hess from WWII that history buffs among you might already know. But have you read about it in English?

(For some mysterious reason, you might get an error page, when you follow the links. In this case just copy the the link into your browser.)

*Sorry, I've just noticed that I was ahead of my time today. I've corrected the date but left the information about 10th May. ;-)

10th May 2020


Which Mother's Day quote do you like best?

11th May 2020

Today we're going to continue our history lesson with the kings and queens of England. I must admit that I don't know half of them by heart, but I've got my "ruler" ruler to help me: On the front it's a regular ruler, on the back it's got all the reigns from William the Conqueror. If you want to learn more about these queens and kings go to


www.historic-uk.com .


Here you'll find a short text about each of those on the ruler and about the Anglo-Saxon kings before them. You might know some of the stories from Shakespeare, films, TV series etc. Sometimes there are even more interesting stories hidden behind the 'official' kings. Read the articles on 

STEPHEN 1135-1154 and EDWARD VI 1547 – 1553 and follow the links to Matilda and Lady Jane Grey


Have you been to the Tower of London? There you might have heard of The Princes in the Tower. This story is connected with RICHARD III 1483 – 1485.


 And do you know why the reign of  WILLIAM III 1689 – 1702 and MARY II 1689 – 1694 was special?


12th May 2020

Today is a special day even if you haven't heard about it on the news. Read all about it in an article I found on the website of Encyclopaedia Britannica:


Florence Nightingale


WRITTEN BY: Louise Selanders


Florence Nightingale, byname Lady with the Lamp, (born May 12, 1820, Florence [Italy]—died August 13, 1910, London, England), British nurse, statistician, and social reformer who was the foundational philosopher of modern nursing. Nightingale was put in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War. She spent many hours in the wards, and her night rounds giving personal care to the wounded established her image as the “Lady with the Lamp.” Her efforts to formalize nursing education led her to establish the first scientifically based nursing school - the Nightingale School of Nursing, at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (opened 1860). She also was instrumental in setting up training for midwives and nurses in workhouse infirmaries. She was the first woman awarded the Order of Merit (1907). International Nurses Day, observed annually on May 12, commemorates her birth and celebrates the important role of nurses in health care.


A good way to expand your vocabulary is writing down not just one word but the whole word family. When you look at the text, you'll find the words 'nurse' and 'nursing', alone and in connection with other words, e.g. 'British nurse' or 'nursing school'. So you've already got two members of the family of words that all contain 'nurs-':





Now look up 'nurs-' in your dictionary and find out more family members. Do they all have the same meaning? How are they related? What do they have in common? What's different?

13th May 2020


Since going shopping is one of the few entertaining outings we can go on at the moment, we might as well learn a bit of shopping vocabulary. Although not all of you need this shop: 


Jimmy went into the pet shop. "Can I have some budgie seed?" he asked. 

"I didn't know you had a budgie, " said the man behind the counter. 

"I haven't," Jimmy replied. "I want to grow one."


The download is another page of my visual dictionary. It contains a lot of useful vocabulary:

Going shopping.jpg
JPG-Datei [1.6 MB]

14th May 2020


All this time I haven't written anything about one of our favourite topics: prepositions. There are so many mistakes we can make, but that won't keep us from trying, will it? I found some jokes to get you going. After this warm-up, you can do the matching exercise. (Answers at the bottom of the page)


What do you get if you cross a dog with a giraffe?

An animal that barks at low flying planes.


Dog for sale. Eats anything. Very fond of children.


"That's a nice bulldog you've got there."

"He isn't a bulldog, he ran into a wall."


Use these prepositions to complete the sentences: 

a about    b of    c for    d towards    e at    f with    g in    h to    i on    j by 


1 I went to London _____ plane.

2 What is he complaining _____? It's his own fault.

3 They should take better care _______ their dog. 

4 I'm allergic ______ nuts.

5 Are you familiar _____ this topic?

6 His attitude _____ women is a bit worrying.

7 Do these measures have an effect _____ sales?

8 Do you believe _____ life after death?

Why don't you apply ____ this job? 

10 We were sitting _____ the table, when he arrived.


15th May 2020

I've found a very interesting short film about the ways super-rich people react on coronavirus lockdown on bbc.co.uk . It's only 3.5 minutes long and subtitled. You see three people who tell viewers about their experiences with lockdown from their very special perspectives. One of them sells bunkers, the second is a high-end estate agent and the third owns a flat near two hospitals in London.



16th May 2020


"The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la chanson) is an annual international song competition, held every year by the Eurovision broadcasting organisation since 1956 (with the exception of 2020), with participants representing primarily European countries. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio, then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the winner. At least 50 countries are eligible to compete as of 2019; since 2015, Australia has been allowed as a contestant."

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Tonights's the night, or rather: should have been the night: Eurovision Song Contest 2020

If coronavirus hadn't upset everything, 35 countries should have presented their songs in the semi-finals. Since these semis (and of course the final, all of them always with a huge live audience) were cancelled, the videos were broadcast in a show called „World Wide Wohnzimmer“ on ARD One and Youtube last weekend. 10 countries were voted into the final by viewers in Germany. And then there are always the „big five“, the biggest financial contributors, which don't have to compete in the semi-finals but go straight to the final. The same applies to the host country. 

These countries' videos were shown in this year's semi-final:

Sweden, Belarus, Australia, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Ireland, Russia, Belgium, Malta, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Norway, Israel, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, Estonia, Austria, Moldova, San Marino, Czech Republic, Serbia, Poland, Iceland, Switzerland, Denmark, Albania, Finland, Armenia, Portugal, Georgia, Bulgaria, Latvia

Tonight you can watch this year's substitute show for ESC fanatics, which is broadcast from the „Elphi“, and vote for your favourite song. Some of the artists are giving a live performance, but we'll have to watch the others on video. These are the 10 countries that take part in the final tonight. Oops! Now I've scrambled the words. Find out yourselves:













17th May 2020


Yesterday it was European countries, today our own country. Germany is a federal republic consisting of sixteen states. Some of them have the same name in English as in German: 











And there are others that have English names. Do you know which ones are missing?











18th May 2020

Those of you who have studied with Headway A2 and those who are using it at the moment will remember the double page about the "bubble house". I was reminded of that special home, when I read this article on www.theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/may/17/ahead-of-the-curve-an-eco-home-by-the-sea-in-new-zealand But even if you don't know the story from the English book, you might like the article. It's about modern, eco-friendly architecture and has some stunning pictures. Moreover, it contains a lot of vocabulary you can use to talk about houses. And who knows? You might get some revolutionary ideas for your own home...

19th May 2020


Yesterday you read about a special home in New Zealand. Today we'll learn more about the country. I got this text from simple.wikipedia. If you'd like to read more just follow this link: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand

New Zealand (also known as Aotearoa in Māori) is an island country in Oceania. It is a sovereign state in the south-western part of the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of two large islands (the North Island and the South Island) and many smaller islands. These islands are located to the southeast of Australia. Because New Zealand is a long way away from most of the world, it was one of the last places that humans discovered. During its time without humans, NZ was a good place for an unusual range of plants and animals to develop.

The capital city of the country is Wellington, but the largest city is Auckland. Both of these cities are on the North Island. The largest city on the South Island is Christchurch.

The official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand sign language. English has never been officially granted official language status but it is used as a default official language due to its wide usage. In 2010, New Zealand was ranked as the 8th happiest country in the world.

The name "New Zealand" comes from “Zeeland” (which translates to "Sealand") in Dutch, after it was sighted by Dutch Explorer Abel Tasman. Zeeland is a province of the Netherlands. The Maori name for the country was Aotearoa. Māori language. It means "Land of the Long White Cloud". Ao means “cloud”, tea means “white”, and roa means “long”.

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. The Prime Minister is Jacinda Ardern, leader of the Labour Party. Elections are held every 3 years.

New Zealand has made itself a Nuclear Free Zone: They do not use nuclear power and do not allow nuclear weapons or nuclear powered vessels in their territory.

As of the 2006 census, 4,143,279 people lived in New Zealand. Most of them have European ancestors. The indigenous people of New Zealand, the Māori, had a population of 565,329, or 14.6%.

The people of New Zealand often call themselves Kiwis, representing their national native although flightless bird. The North Island is smaller than the South Island, but most people (more than 3 million) live there.

About half of the people in New Zealand are religious. As of the 2013 census, 41.92% had no religion. The main religion in New Zealand is Christianity. Just over 2 million New Zealanders are Christian. The second most common religion is Hinduism, with 2.11%.


If you've read the text attentively, you should be able to answer these questions:

What's the capital of New Zealand?

What does New Zealand's Maori name mean?

How many Maori live in NZ?

Queen Elizabeth leads the country. True or false?

The following questions are a bit more difficult. You might have to go to the simple.wikipedia page, to find out the answers.

How big is New Zealand (area in km2)?

Which side of the road do New Zealanders drive on?

How many people speak the Maori language?

Can you name 4 famous New Zealanders?


20th May 2020


We've all talked a lot about the pandemic and coronavirus. Right now we can't travel abroad, but as soon as the borders are open and we can book accomodation and transport, some of you will want to go to places outside Germany. We do what we can to stay healthy, but what if you get ill, while you are in a foreign country. I've got another page from my visual dictionary for you: 

Krankheit und Gesundheit.pdf
PDF-Dokument [727.9 KB]

21st May 2020


Actually I'm writing this on 22nd May, because I took a day off on Ascension Day. If you look up "Vatertag" in a dictionary you might find this: https://de.pons.com/übersetzung/deutsch-englisch/Vatertag . But do you know the names of these holidays or special days in English? I'll give you a few days to work out the translations. Check again on Monday.

German English
Neujahr New Year's Day

Heilige Drei Könige

Rosenmontag Monday before Shrove Tuesday, climax of the German carnival celebrations
Veilchendienstag  Shrove Tuesday
Aschermittwoch Ash Wednesday


Maundy Thursday
Karfreitag Good Friday
Ostern Easter
Ostersonntag Easter Sunday
Ostermontag Easter Monday
1. Mai May Day
Christi Himmelfahrt Ascension Day
Pfingsten Whitsun / Whit Sunday
Fronleichnam (the Feast of) Corpus Christi
Tag der Deutschen Einheit Day of German Unity /German Unity Day
Reformationstag Reformation Day
Allerheiligen All Saints' Day
Nikolaus St. Nicholas' Day
Heiligabend Christmas Eve
1. Weihnachtsfeiertag Christmas Day
2. Weihnachtsfeiertag Boxing Day
Silvester New Year's Eve

22nd May 2020


And now I'll show you what I did yesterday. We've been living in Nordhausen since 2005 and hadn't managed to visit Mühlhausen even once. That's why our usual little trip on Ascension Day took us to this beautiful town. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we went sightseeing: It was a bit like the summer holidays. I was a bit worried at first, because we didn't know which places were open, but in the end it was like any other trip except for having to wear safety masks, when we went inside the churches or the tourist info. Here are a few impressions of our day. If you move your cursor on the photo, you can read what you see.

23rd May 2020


You might be wondering what is being done against the spread of coronavirus and the economical implications. When I googled "corona" and "measures" I found out that many national governments have special websites in English on this topic. I found Dutch and Belgian pages in English, and even our government has one: 



And here's another cartoon I found on politico.eu. And there are even more from this week if you follow the link:


24th May 2020


These days many of us are dreaming of travelling and I've just passed a travel agency, but there were only ads for German destinations. My children say that it only feels like a holiday if you hear a foreign language. So let's go on a short trip to London - via internet.


Have you ever been to Hampton Court?  Each year more than 4.7 million people visit this Historic Royal Palace. Now look at the photo: What would it feel like to live here? Well, some people really have the place to themselves. Read all about it on bbc.com.



25th May 2020


On 21st May I asked you to find out the English translations for German holidays. You can check your answers today. You'll see that there was one holiday in the list which doesn't have an English translation, just an explanation. Do you know any holidays that are celebrated in the UK or America but not in Germany? Follow this link to ego4u to find out more about some of them. You'll find texts and sometimes even exercises or questions. https://www.ego4u.de/de/read-on/countries


One holiday that is celebrated in many German regions is Shrove Tuesday. It's the last day of carnival and there are lots of different traditions depending on where you live.


The British also call it "Pancake Day" and celebrate it as the last day before lent. Read all about it on  historic-uk.com: https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Pancake-Day/



26th May 2020


While I was thinking about something interesting for today's Daily English, my daughter suggested "Describing a person" and that's what it's going to be. This exercise is about character traits. I'm going to give you 10 adjectives to describe a person and you can try to find out the opposite. Often there's more than one possible answer. If you aren't sure what a word means, look it up in the dictionary. I might give you some hints tomorrow, so don't despair!


Example: stupid - intelligent

Adjective German Opposite German
intelligent intelligent stupid dumm
polite höflich ? ?
honest ehrlich ? ?
modest bescheiden ? ?
optimistic optimistisch ? ?
gentle sanft(mütig) ? ?
self-confident selbstsicher ? ?
careful vorsichtig ? ?
altruistic uneigennützig ? ?
understanding verständnisvoll ? ?
sensitive sensibel ? ?

27th May 2020


I've added to the list I gave you yesterday in order to help you a little. And here's an example how you can use adjectives:




Fruit (6th + 7th):




lemon or melon










passion fruit


lemon or melon








red currant


Prepositions (14th):












European countries in the ESC final (16th): 












German states (17th):


Lower Saxony





North Rhine Westphalia






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