IELTS – Some footnotes to help you stand on your own two feet.

25th November 2022

Last night I was speaking with my wonderful TA about boosting her IELTS score. Our lesson used the Greek hero Achilles. Furthermore, we had both been standing more or less for four hours. I gave her two expressions then realised they were connected – Achilles heel and my dogs are barking. Therefore, here’s a quick list of foot-related expressions.

Achilles heel – this hero was invincible because his mother immersed him in a special river, as shown in the painting. However, she held her son by the heel so the water didn’t touch the boy’s skin. This was his one weak spot, and he was killed by Paris who shot an arrow into Achilles’ heel.

In everyday English, an Achilles heel refers to a person’s weak point, or flaw.

John’s vocabulary was excellent but his pronunciation was his Achilles heel.

This means John knew many words, but his pronunciation was so bad, he would lose points in a speaking test.

My dogs are barking – this mean your feet are very sore or hurting. Bob Dylan uses the expression in his song ‘Summer Days’

My dogs are barking, there must be someone around
My dogs are barking, there must be someone around
I got my hammer ringin’, pretty baby, but the nails ain’t goin’ down

copyright Bob Dylan 2001

To foot the bill – means to pay for something, or all of something.

We went out drinking but I had to foot the bill !

To put your foot in your mouth – means to say something that you shouldn’t have said – maybe you tell a secret, or you hurt somebody or get somebody in trouble.

Tony said the man was very stupid but he didn’t know he was talking about her husband ! He really put his foot in his mouth.

Foot and mouth disease – this is a very serious disease affecting cows, pigs and sheep. We can also use it to speak about a person who always puts his or her foot in their mouths.

Shelia can’t keep her mouth shut, she always says the wrong thing. She has foot and mouth disease.

To stand on your own two feet – means to be independent, not to need anybody’s help.

It’s time you stood on your own two feet, young man.

To toe the line – to do as you are told, to follow orders, or to follow the rules.

You better start toeing the line, mister, or look for a new job !

You won’t have a foot to stand on – you have no rights, or evidence to help you. You have no chance. Sometimes you may hear you won’t have a leg to stand on.

Without photo evidence or a witness, you won’t have a foot to stand on.

Two left feet – refers to someone who can’t dance.

No, I can’t dance, I have two left feet.

Footloose and fancy free – a person who is not in a relationship, so they can go out and meet new people. Someone who is ‘single and loving it.’

Footnotes – information or explanatory notes at the bottom of the page in academic books. The fiction author, David Foster Wallace was famous for using footnotes in his novels.

Legless – slang for being totally drunk.

You should have seen Peter last night – he was absolutely legless !

To have a hollow leg – someone who can drink a lot of alcohol but doesn’t get drunk, or appear to be drunk.

That’s her 7th beer and she looks fine. She must have a hollow leg.

To be a heel – this is now old-fashioned, but it means to be a bad person, to cheat people or be unfair.

He tricked the man out of $100. What a heel !

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Sisyphus as metaphor

10th May 2022

Last week I held an IELTS Speaking Test. Only one student hit 7.5 although, in fairness, I was probably on the generous side in awarding the student such an admirable score.

Or, to be precise, learn from their mistakes.

I can break them down into three main areas:

coherence

vocabulary

complex sentences

Kicking off with coherence; it doesn’t matter how fluent you are, unless you answer the question, you will loose marks.

The test allows us to assess your understanding of both question and task. An example: one question was

What is the most popular activity in your country ?

ASIDE: I’ve told students until I’m blue in the face, never repeat, “In (my) country,” but since when do teenage students ever actually listen ?

The question asks for ONE activity; several students talked about two or three. This is not answering the question.

Anyone who’s studied at University will know how imperative it is to follow instructions.

COMIC RELIEF: One student, from a previous test, replied that the most common activity, “In my country,” was brushing teeth, and that foreigners do this every day, but Vietnamese only do this once or twice a week. Said student had to continue for two minutes. Needless to say, there were no flying colours.

More disturbing was the lack of IELTS vocabulary. You have been told time and again what that means, and I can’t keep hitting my head against a brick wall.

And so to work … get out your notebooks (those that actually bother bringing notebooks to class), look up previous lessons and write down:

TEN L-FWs

FIVE less common idioms

FIVE everyday expressions

TEN phrasal verbs

TEN basic collocations

I have taught you these ad infinitum. If you are struggling with this exercise, you will probably only get a 5 for the Lexical Recourses section.

Lastly, the old chestnut, complex sentences.

I had nine students, each with about ten minutes of speaking time. How many complex sentences do you think I heard ?

Yes, Steve …
That’s right … ZERO

EXERCISES: Use at least two L-FWs, one idiom and other IELTS elements

(and if you think it’s funny to ask what I mean, after all this time, by ‘IELTS elements’, just get up and leave the class).

Speak for one minute about:

one of your cousins // your favourite gift // sports // your best memory from childhood // best films // problems in your city // typical local food.

Part Two: Critical Thinking

“Oh, teacher, I’m tired and feel lazy.”

Work in teams. Watch the following short clip about the ancient Greek king, Sisyphus:

Characters from Greek and Roman mythology permeate western culture, and references and allusions are ubiquitous.

You may watch the video again, writing down new words. There is a lot of background (in which you may encounter a character from ‘The Avengers’ movies), but the main feature starts around the 4:00 mark.

Your task is to relate this story to modern life. Choose a person you know, or something from your own experience. You may even project your thoughts about the future, once you have left education and joined the workforce.

To assist you, some pertinent L-FWs and idioms:

futile (adj) futility (noun) / absurd / pointless / meaningless / contemptable / repetitive / a metaphor

a total waste of time / flogging a dead horse

sick to the back teeth / day in, day out

cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

talking until (pronoun) blue in the face / the grind

putting an old head on young shoulders

Look up the meanings yourself. Your teacher won’t be with you to give you the answers in life. Think for yourself.

Athene, Goddess of wisdom

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Jazz models, fashion and attitude

5th May 2022

A selection of photos found on web searches. No copyright infringement is intended.

adoreness.com
Model Pattie Boyd from vogue.com
Britt Ekland from outdressing.com
Image from elle.com
theatreoffashion.com
time.com
adoreness.com
itsacharminglife.com

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Semantics: New Words

5th May 2022

agent nouns

The suffix –ist is used to create an agent noun — a noun that denotes someone or something that does something. Two suffixes more commonly used to create agent nouns are –er and –or, as in worker, bookseller, beginner, visitor, creator, and accelerator.

amelioration

The development of a more favorable meaning for a word. Take, for example, quell. In current usage, banks move to “quell inflation.” Governments issue proclamations to “quell fears”.

In Old English poetry, on the other hand, when a warrior “quelled” his opponent, he killed him.

Semantic amelioration is not as common as semantic deterioration, in which a formerly inoffensive word acquires a negative meaning.

anarthrous

As a grammatical term, it means, “used without the article.”

From ‘Daily Writing Tips’

When commenting on the opening sentence of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, Geoffrey Pullum called it an “anarthrous occupational nominal premodifier.”

Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.

Pullum said that the construction is “reasonable” in a newspaper, but has the “wrong feel and style for a novel.” Had Brown written, “The renowned curator Jacques Sauniére,” the sentence would have escaped criticism.

apposition

Commas with appositives

An appositive is a noun or noun element that follows another noun and serves to identify it further. The nouns are said to be “in apposition.”

An appositive phrase usually follows the word it explains or identifies, but it may also precede it.

The term derives from a Latin compound meaning, “to set beside or near.” Nouns in apposition are set beside one another. When one of the nouns simply restates the other one, commas are needed to set it off.

Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth US president, ranks among the three worst presidents of the United States.

The phrase “the seventeenth US president” is just another way of saying “Andrew Johnson.” It provides additional information, but leaving it out would not change the meaning of the sentence. The additional information is non-essential, so it is set off with commas.

Take another example:

My English teacher says that Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is overrated.

Here, The Great Gatsby is in apposition to novel. Because Fitzgerald wrote more than one novel, the specific title is essential information. It cannot be omitted without obscuring the meaning of the sentence. The teacher does not necessarily think that the author’s other novels are overrated. No commas are needed when the additional information is essential.

In the following sentence the nouns in apposition restate the nouns that precede them. Because the information they provide is non-essential, commas are needed to set them off:

As a team, we send our thoughts and deepest sympathies to Peter’s wife, Jill, and his children, Mark and Hilary.

False Titles

A common type of apposition found principally in journalistic writing is the “false title.” This is a descriptive phrase placed before a noun, but used as if it were a title.

Novelist John le Carré has set himself up as the psycho-analyst of the cold war.—Time

Cellist Joshua Gordon, in the slow movement, showed off his rich, lyrical tone. Buffalo News

This construction is known as “a Time-style adjective” because it’s thought that Time magazine either began the practice or popularized it.

diaeresis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The diaeresis diacritic indicates that two adjoining letters that would normally form a digraph and be pronounced as one sound, are instead to be read as separate vowels in two syllables. For example, in the spelling ‘coöperate’, the diaeresis reminds the reader that the word has four syllables co-op-er-ate, not three, ‘*coop-er-ate’. In British English this usage has been considered obsolete for many years, and in US English, although it persisted for longer, it is now considered archaic as well. However, we still see it in words such as naïve.

endonym and exonym

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An endonym (from Greekéndon, ‘inner’ + ónoma, ‘name’; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, group, or linguistic community in question; it is their self-designated name for themselves, their homeland, or their language.

For instance, Deutschland is the endonym for the country that is also known by the exonym Germany in English and Allemagne in France

An exonym (from Greek: éxō, ‘outer’ + ónoma, ‘name’; also known as xenonym) is a common, external name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used only outside that particular place, group, or linguistic community.[1] Exonyms exist not only for historico-geographical reasons, but also in consideration of difficulties when pronouncing foreign words.[1]

The Premier League, also known exonymously as the English Premier League or the EPL is the top level of the English football league system.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Vocabulary bank to help you ace the test.

4th May 2022

Let’s kick off with an adjective review. What adjectives have you been taught recently ? I’ll give you a clue with the first letter:

f (means to be cheeky, a little impolite but in a funny way)

u (not usual, someone acting unlike their normal self)

p (very relevant, of interest at this time)

This is a test to see who has been making notes in class, and who has been coasting.

Hhhmmmm … this is not going to be a piece of cake

The answers are facetious, uncharacteristically & pertinent. For those that didn’t know, you now have to use them in a sentence. It may be one complex sentence, which would really impress me, or three basic sentences. What are you waiting for ?

Now some vocabulary building:

computer literacy (noun) computer literate (adjective)

flexible / flexibility / flexi-hours

to adapt / adaptability / prospects / standard of living

networking / future skills / essential workplace skills

prosaic [cf with ‘run of the mill’]

cf is Latin for ‘compare’

e.g. is Latin meaning ‘for example’

i.e. is Latin for ‘that is’.

Now … let’s go to work !

The inimitable Buster Keaton

Complete the sentences:

If you learn English you will increase your job ____________

Nowadays, most young people are _____________ _________________ . They are able to use programs such as Word, ___________ & ________

When selecting a university, you may have to be ______________ in case you don’t get into your first choice.

Getting a great, well-paying job is essential if you want a high ________________________ .

One student moved to Boston where the temperature can drop to below freezing. He’s really having ________ to the new culture.

My actor friend is busy 24/7, attending parties, setting up meeting, pitching ideas and Tweeting. That guy is constantly ______________ .

Phew!. The last time I wrote it was so long… | by Vaibhav Sinha | How I  Learnt Piano | Medium
Phew ! Thay Paul is a Tiger Teacher

Class Game

Split class into two teams.

One team selects an idiom and the other team has to use it, correctly of course, in a sentence.

EXAMPLE:

Rickenbacker 330 Left-Handed, Jetglo at Gear4music

I would love this guitar, a left-handed Rickenbacker which is a famous American company with a very distinctive look and sound yet, to my dismay, it costs ______________________

Idioms from Semester 2

Another string to (your) bow – a new skill or learning experience

bear with me – please wait a very short time (usually spoken as opposed to written)

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

down in the dumps – depressed, unhappy, feeling gloomy

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

up in arms – to be very angry about something, to protest strongly

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

Idioms from Semester 1

Which you should all know by heart and be able to reel off at the drop of a hat.

it’s raining cats and dogs

it costs an arm and a leg

piece of cake

I’m burning the candle at both ends

once in a blue moon

pass with flying colours

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! | Chynna Pope: The Beacon Hellion

Remember these old chestnuts ?

without further ado // tricks up your sleeve  // ace the test

pass with flying colours  // do yourself proud // 

you are in the driver seat (or you are in the driving seat)  // 

occur // inevitably // pertinent

This taxi has put me in the driver's seat of my life': Female taxi driver  shares inspiring story - it s viral - Hindustan Times
Guess who’s in the driver’s seat ?

For those who really want to expand their horizons, an extensive collection of idioms, expressions and collocations can be found on this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/08/25/adult-speaking-class-level-3-ielts-english-expressions/

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

David Bowie by request

23rd April 2022

My Princess requested some extra help with reading and gleaning information from text. Therefore, I prepared this little exercise about a Truly unique musical icon, David Bowie.

Who Was David Bowie?

The following text is taken from this website: https://www.biography.com/musician/david-bowie

David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London, England, on January 8, 1947. Bowie’s first hit was the song ‘Space Oddity’ in 1969. The original pop chameleon, Bowie became a fantastical sci-fi character for his breakout Ziggy Stardust album. He later co-wrote ‘Fame’ with Carlos Alomar and John Lennon, which became his first American No. 1 single in 1975. An accomplished actor, Bowie starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Shortly after releasing his final album, ‘Black Star’, Bowie died from cancer on January 10, 2016. 

Black Star
Ziggy Stardust

Questions

1. When was David Bowie born ?

2. What was his first hit ?

3. What was the name of his breakout album (LP) ?

4. With whom did he co-write ‘Fame’ ?

5. What film did he star in ?

6. When was he inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ?

7. When did David pass away ?

8. What was his last LP ?

Now … IELTS language

Your turn to be a chameleon. Change this run of the mill passage into a piece of text worthy of an IELTS student.

Today, David Bowie’s music is (everywhere) (but) this wasn’t always the case. When he was (beginning phrasal verb) he was not successful, and he felt (sad – use an idiom). People only heard his music on the radio (rarely – use an idiom). However, by (not giving up) he finally archived fame.

He worked incredibly hard (idiom) and played concerts across the USA. He (idiom) by acting in a big movie in 1976. Unfortunately, the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle was (bad) to his health, so he decided to (idiom), stop his bad habits, and move to Berlin, Germany.

Today, Bowie memorabilia can (idiom); for example, a lock of his hair sells for over £12, 000. That is out of this world !

Bye bye from David Bowie

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: tackling part 3

19th April 2022

Part 3 of the speaking test can be tremendously daunting. However, with some tricks up your sleeve, you will be able to ace the testpass with flying colours and do yourself proud.

I covered this in detail in a previous blog: 

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

Right off the bat, relax … be cool. You merely have to:

1) demonstrate you understand the question

2) demonstrate you have IELTS-standard language to respond

3) reply based on either your opinion or experience. YOU DECIDE

As per usual, let’s kick off with a killer introduction

Prepare some expressions so you can adapt them for the specific question. To refresh your memory:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

Next stage is to explain how you’re going to answer:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I …

Finally you answer, only now, YOU are in control, you are in the driver’s seat.

Respond in a way that will earn you points. We want to hear low-frequency words, idioms, phrasal verbs, vernacular (“big time !”).

Furthermore, frame your answers in complex sentences, use body language and intonation and stress.

If you can illustrate your response with an anecdote, all the better.

Examples

What do you think schools will be like in the future ?

This type of question invites you to give YOUR thoughts (“In my opinion,” etc)

Well, I’m currently in my last year of high school, so this is a very pertinent question for me. Naturally, I can’t foresee the future however, I could offer some predictions though, of course, this is just my opinion.

To start with, I can only speak about …… (say your country) as I don’t know enough about the educational systems in other countries.

For me, I feel that technology will play a greater part in schools, such as using the internet, working on tablets and joining online groups. Personally, I’m in a small Facebook group to help with learning English and I find it tremendously helpful and rewarding.

On the other hand, this can be extremely expensive. Providing tablets for a whole school will cost an arm and a leg, so maybe this will only occur in private schools. Furthermore, as the population increases, there will be many more students. This could lead, inevitably, to larger class sizes.

I really hope our system continues to improve although we have to be realistic; higher standards means higher costs … but I feel it will be worth the expense.

Now, that was quite a long reply but let’s break it down:

The first paragraph personalises the question, as well as adapting an introduction expression.

The second explains how you are going to answer.

The third states your main point. Moreover, it includes an anecdote (this doesn’t have to be true).

The fourth gives an opposing view – thus affording you the chance to use a discourse marker, to alter your body language and intonation, and to throw in an idiom for good measure. Also, some L-FWs, which are always impressive (if used correctly).

The final paragraph is to conclude and is, as you can clearly see, purely personal. Did you also notice the poetic repetition ? Allow me to point it out – “Higher standards means higher costs.”

Piece of cake, right ?

See you in the next blog

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: a heart of gold (and other expressions)

18th April 2022

Apart from idioms, phrasal verbs and low-frequency words (LFW), IELTS students need a collection of expressions and collocations to spice up their English.

With that in mind, here are some notes from the previous lesson, along with revision exercises and a splattering of vibrant vocabulary.

As for speaking tests, I listened to eight students last week and only heard one complex sentence. Now, it wasn’t one of my classes; my students know exactly what I will do if they don’t speak in IELTS-style sentences:

I just jammed around with two key words: ‘heart’ & ‘gold’.

Exercise 1: define these expressions & idioms

HEART

a heart of gold

a heart to heart

hand on heart

heart-felt greetings

heartbreaking

a heart of stone

GOLD

King Midas
The bard of Stratford

a heart of gold (yes, again, it’s called practice)

as good as gold

the golden touch

golden handshake

silence is golden (especially when one works in Vietnam)

Exercise 2: use these expressions & idioms in an IELTS style, employing complex sentence(s).

EXAMPLE: My mother, who works incredibly long shifts at the hospital, has a heart of gold. Even when she is exhausted, she always finds time for me.

Now … your turn. Tell me about your:

younger sister // older brother // uncle // best friend // neighbour

New vocabulary

facetious // uncharacteristically // overheads // euphemism // lingua franca // prima donna

shaking in my boots // going to powder my nose // going to see a man about a dog // footloose and fancy free

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Travel Questions

10th April 2022

Language to use

Idioms:

Once in a blue moon

It costs an arm and a leg

Put / Had my nose to the grindstone

burning the candle at both ends

Vocabulary:

visually stunning / mouth-watering / a waste of money / spectacular / you get what you pay for / significantly / somewhat / according to / how can I put it ? / unforgettable / traditional / breathtaking / unique / once in a lifetime experience / never to be forgotten /

Exercise 1: write a narrative

My old friend was visiting Bangkok and, as Thailand is close to Vietnam, I decided to take a short holiday and meet up with him.

The students must flesh out the notes, using adjectives, discourse markers, adverbs and interesting expressions. Additionally, I need to hear a structured speech, using ‘signpost language’ such as:

To begin with / firstly

After that / secondly / following that /

Then / afterwards / another memorable moment was

For me the highlight was /

In conclusion / to sum up / all in all

Along with this, the voice must depict excitement or disappointment, indicate what is factual and what is an opinion.

Ready ? Let’s go !

I flew with …

Then took the BTS Skytrain

Then a …

To my hotel. I travelled alone, however I planned to meet up with …

The highlights of the trip undoubtedly:

Not forgetting the …

And Thailand is famous for the friendliness of its people…

The only black cloud was how short the break was, and having to go …

All good things must end. It was an amazing trip and the fact that I could meet an old friend made it even more memorable. I hope we can repeat the experience, sooner rather than later.

Exercise 2: talk about your dream holiday

Tip: choose a place you can discuss at length, somewhere that offers many attractions.

I choose Hoi An

Hoi An: Vietnam's most charming city - Exoticca Blog

Recently, I have been burning the candle at both ends, studying hard for tests so I feel ready for a well-earned break. I don’t need to travel abroad as Vietnam has many beautiful places and of these, my choice would be the unique town of Hoi An.

Firstly, Hoi An is a historical city with a wonderful Japanese bridge and lovely old shops. At night, the shops use romantic lanterns. It really is a once in a lifetime experience to see such a romantic and majestic sight.

Hoi An is close to Da Nang, which has breathtaking beaches. Living in the city, I only get to swim in the sea once in a blue moon. There are so many things to see and do in the local area apart from sunbathing and, naturally, mouth-watering, incredibly fresh seafood is ubiquitous and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. As for the travel details, I can fly there easily and quickly from Sai Gon. I can be there in next to no time.

Having said thatHoi An is very small and can be extremely crowded in summer. Prices could reflect this, and a good hotel room may be astronomical in the tourist season. Additionally, it is good to be prepared for scams and being overcharged. Unfortunately, this can be a reality of travelling.

All in all, Hoi An is a very special place to visit because it is a town of Vietnamese culture, and unlike anywhere else. It is a never to be forgotten experience so if you go, make sure you take many photos to help you preserve the memory.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Animals: idioms, phrases and interesting facts A – D (part 2)

6th April 2022

Alligators and Crocodiles

See you later, alligator

Meaning: informal way of saying goodbye.

Comes from a song written by Robert Charles Guidry, and released in 1955. The lines are:

“See you later, alligator, after while, crocodile.”

Crocodiles are bigger and more aggressive than alligators. A crocodile’s snout is V-shaped, an alligator’s is U-shaped. Viewed from the front, a crocodile will display both sets of teeth while the alligator only shows the top row.

Crocodiles

Crocodile tears

Meaning: shedding fake tears

“He acted like he was sad but they were just crocodile tears.”

Bats

Blind as a bat

Meaning: to have very bad eyesight

“I can’t see without my glasses, I’m blind as a bat.”

Bats, actually, are not blind but have very sensitive vision, especially for seeing in the dark. However, bats use a form of sonar called echolocation to search for food, and to help with navigation. They do this by producing sound waves above the range of human hearing. Additionally, the belief that bats always turn left when flying out of a cave is simply not true.

Buffalo

To be buffaloed

Meaning: to be confused, puzzled, or tricked by someone. This, I believe, is an idiom from the USA although I have never come across it, either in life or in the media.

Buffalos are native to Africa and Asia, bison in the USA and Europe. Although related, they are different species. Buffalo Bill, a soldier, hunter and showman, should really have been named Bison Bill

Butterfly

The butterfly effect

Meaning: a small, insignificant action can have enormous consequences. Based on Chaos Theory; if a butterfly flaps its wing in Brazil, will it cause a hurricane in Japan ?

The link between butterflies and Chaos Theory is actually based on the patterns made on paper when recording data:

Camels

The straw that broke the camel’s back

Meaning: a small but final event that causes someone to react strongly

“My boss kept making me overtime, but when he told me I had to work on my free day, I quit ! It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

A perennial question in my Young Learners’ class is “What does a camel store in its hump ?” the answer being fat (not water). Furthermore, camels have three sets of eyelashes. However it is perhaps not so widely known that camel milk is incredibly healthy.

Cows

Until the cows come home

Meaning: some thing that will take a long time, last a long time, or will never happen

“Steven owes me money but I’ll be waiting until the cows come home before he pays me.”

In the Marx Brothers film ‘Duck Soup’ (1933) Groucho declares, “I could dance with you ’til the cows come home. On second thoughts, I’d rather dance with the cows ’til you come home.”

Cows have 32 teeth but lack upper front ones. They have great memories and sense organs, being able to smell something up to six miles away.

Deer

Like a deer caught in the headlights

Meaning: paralysed with fear, unable to move. Totally shocked or surprised and unable to speak or react.

“When his mum caught him at the mall instead of being at school he was like a deer caught in the headlights.”

The Chinese water deer is the only species of deer not to have antlers. Deers, apart from having a great sense of smell and hearing, have a wide field of vision due to their eyes being on the side of their heads.

Ducks

Water off a duck’s back

Meaning: something done or said that has no effect

“She kept insulting her boyfriend about his laziness and being a slob but it was all water off a duck’s back.”

See you later, alligator !

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.