Colorful English Idioms

Posted on 30. Jun, 2015 by in English Vocabulary

Image "Colorful" by Ole Houen on

Image “Colorful” by Ole Houen on

Summer is full of beautiful vibrant colors, which has inspired me to compile a list of colorful idioms in English. When I say ‘colorful idioms,’ I mean idioms in which colors are an important part of the idiomatic phrase. Since this week is also the week in which Americans celebrate their independence day (July 4th) the first few color idioms that I highlight relate to the colors connected with the American Independence Day: red, white, and blue. These are, of course, the colors found on the American flag, which is why they are the colors of the 4th of July holiday.

Colorful idioms:

to catch (someone) red handed – to find or catch a person in the middle of doing something wrong, naughty or illegal
Example: We caught Tommy red handed as he was taking all the candy from the bowl and putting it in his pocket.

to paint the town red – to go out and have a good time
Example: When I was in New York City I painted the town red every night.

a white lie – a harmless or inconsequential lie; a lie told to keep from hurting someone’s feelings or because the details are unimportant
Example: Oh it doesn’t really matter; it is just a little white lie.

to whitewash (something) – to cover up some of the facts and make something sound better than it actually is; covering up faults, errors, or wrong doing
Example: The employees managed to whitewash what happened in the accident to the managers.

to get the blues – to feel sad or depressed;
Example: I get the blues for a few days whenever I come home from a vacation.

to talk until you are blue in the face – to talk a lot
Example: Whenever I see Annette she is talking about politics until she is blue in the face.

a/the black sheep – the person in a family or group who is different from everyone else
(This idiom is usually used in a negative manner.)
Example: Jill is the black sheep in our family.

a gray area – something that is not fully clear or well defined
Example: How we are going to write up the final report is a bit of a gray area still.

the grass is always greener on the other side – someone else or someplace else always seems more appealing then one’s own life situation
Example: My sister believes the grass is always greener on the other side and because of this she is always changing jobs.

a/the pink slip – a notice of termination from a job
Example: The factory gave the pink slip to 25 workers yesterday.

yellow-bellied – cowardly
(This is often an insulting term.)
Example: Mike is a yellow-bellied, no-good, man!

I hope you find a way to make your English a bit more colorful by trying out some of these new idioms and phrases over the next week!

English vocabulary for getting a haircut

Posted on 23. Jun, 2015 by in English Vocabulary

Image by Kevin McGrew on

Image by Kevin McGrew on

If you are like me you get a little nervous before a haircut. For me the nervousness comes from the fear that I may not like what my hair looks like after the cut and then there is nothing I will be able to do about it. There is no way to put the hair back on after it is cut off!

It is even more nerve wracking to get a haircut when you have to communicate with your hairdresser or barber in a foreign language. To help make this process a little easier, this post introduces a number of important English vocabulary words and phrases related to getting a haircut. I hope this helps ease your nerves next time you get your haircut in the English-speaking world.

First of all, you need to know where to go to get your hair cut.
If you are a man you can go to a hair salon or barbershop, for a haircut.
If you are a woman you can go to a hair salon for a haircut.

The people who cut hair at these places are called:
a hairstylist (or stylist) – a person who cuts men’s or women’s hair
a hairdresser – a person who cuts men’s or women’s hair.
a barber – a person who cuts men’s hair

Before you get your hair cut you are going to need to make an appointment. Here are some common phrases to use when scheduling with a barber or hairdresser.

Do you have any openings today?
What times do you have open for appointments today?
Is there anyone free who can cut my hair now/at 3:00pm/in the next hour?
When is your next opening?
Can I make an appointment for a haircut today?

At your appointment your hairdresser, stylist, or barber is likely to ask one or more of these questions:

What are you looking to do today?
What are you looking for today?
What do you want me to do to your hair today?
How much do you want taken off?
When was your last haircut?
Do you want a wash/a shampoo?

Now, you are going to have to talk with your hairdresser, stylist, or barber about what you want them to do to your hair! Here are some basic requests you can make (all of these requests/questions can be phrased as statement too):

Start your request with: I would like…

… a cut (This means you want some amount of hair cut off and you will have to be more specific about how much.)

… a trim (This means you only want a little bit of hair cut off, to make your current hairdo neat, but you don’t want to change your hairstyle entirely.)

… a wash and cut. (This means you want your hair washed before it is cut. The wash usually costs extra.)

… a wash, cut, and dry (or style). (If you want your hair to be dried and styled before you leave the salon, you will want to ask for that.)

Other hair treatments you can ask for include:

I would like…

… to get a perm. (This is a treatment that makes the hair curly)
… to have my hair straightened. (This is a treatment that makes curly hair straight.)
… to have my hair dyed or colored. (This involves changing the color of ones hair.)

Lastly, here are some other commonly used terms at a hair appointment:
bangs = This is a hair cut with short hair across the forehead. (This term is used for women’s hair only.)
buzz cut = This is when hair is shaved very short. (This term is used primarily for men’s cuts.)
layers = This is when hair is cut in many different lengths.
split ends = This means the ends of your hair are split in two and damaged.
 “Chop it all off.” = Chop is another word for cut. This is a request to cut off all of one’s hair and make it very short.

Downtown Las Vegas Video Tour

Posted on 17. Jun, 2015 by in Travel

Check out downtown Las Vegas!

Check out downtown Las Vegas!

Experience downtown Las Vegas in this short video. Head to the top of the Stratosphere Tower to take in the views and experience the thrill rides, then head to Fremont Street for plenty of entertainment. Great for ESL students and the classroom!

YouTube Preview Image

“Just north of the Strip, you’ll find the Stratosphere tower. Head to the top of this 350-meter tower to take in the views of Vegas down below. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are also a few thrill rides. Buy the ticket; take the ride. After all that excitement, make your way downtown. On the way, you can stop at the world’s largest gift shop.

If the Strip is the new side of Vegas, then Fremont Street is old school. This was the first paved street in the city and the first to have a traffic light. Plenty of famous casinos are located here, including the Golden Nugget, Binion’s, the Pioneer Club, and the Golden Goose. There’s a lot of neon here, another thing Vegas is famous for. Head into one of the casinos and you may see something interesting, like Elvis Presley’s last car.

You can find deep fried twinkies here, as well as the infamous Heart Attack Grill, where people over 350 pounds eat for free. The action doesn’t just go on in the casinos on Fremont Street. You’ll see incredible spray paint artists at work, and maybe even a live band. Street performers are big here, so don’t be surprised to see a group dancing. If you like the show, be sure to throw a tip into their box. Every evening, the street’s massive LED screen comes to life with an impressive display of light and sound. See for yourself!”