What does it mean to be “mad as a March hare?”

We are already into the month of March! Before you know it, the weather will be sunny and beautiful again here in Duluth, just outside the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Next week, we also start a new session of English classes. Good things are happening!

There is an expression in English — it is not necessarily very common — but it is funny, which goes: mad as a March hare. This expression may be 500 years old or even older. In this case, mad doesn’t mean “angry.” It means, silly, crazy, wild, ridiculous. 

Now, what is a March hare? A hare is a wild animal very similar in appearance to a rabbit.

This is a hare:

In March, the weather is warming up and hares become more active socially, physically, etc.. In England, the frantic behavior of hares in the early spring led to the expression “mad as a March hare,” and we can apply this expression to a person to indicate that they are acting extremely silly, ridiculous, or insane. Someone who is mad as a March hare might look like this:

Of course, in the U.S., use of phrases and idioms is extremely common in everyday speech. So, if you have a friend who is being strange or absurd, it’s okay to ask them: “You are mad as a March hare, aren’t you?

WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES WHEN WE WRITE A BUSINESS E-MAIL?

maildude

This video makes some excellent observations about differences in emails between members of different cultures. For example, business emails written by Americans might be quite a bit longer than emails from Germans or Swiss business-people. Becoming fluent in a language is not just about knowing the vocabulary and grammar, but major cultural features as well based on where the language is spoken. At CCB School in Atlanta (Duluth), Georgia, we focus on language AND culture.

WATCH HERE: http://www.videojug.com/interview/cultural-differences-in-business-e-mail-2

What is a “Snow Day?” What is “snowed in?”

snow angelToday we’ll present to you two idiomatic phrases. They both deal with snow. In southern United States (which don’t get so cold like northern states, e.g., New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts,etc.) there is still often some snow in the winter. Because the southern states don’t get a lot of snow, however, they might not spend the money on equipment to clear snow from the roads. In short, when there’s snow in the south – especially Georgia where CCB School is located – snow usually means A SNOW DAY!! And that means, NO SCHOOL!!

So far, there had not been a snow day in the Atlanta area this year, but many schools were closed today (actually, that was because of the holiday President’s Day) and more may be closed tomorrow. Many young people are anxiously watching to see if they can have some extra time away from school to play in the snow!

To be “snowed in” means that there is so much snow that people can’t leave their house. Or at the least, they cannot make it to work or really go anywhere. It is still an opportunity to play outside, throw snowballs at each other, build a snowman, and more.

Maybe even some of our students want a snow day! (No way! They are very serious about becoming experts in English and always love to come to school!) But if you are curious whether or not we have class, we always follow Gwinnett County’s decision. This information can always be found here:  http://www.wsbtv.com/school-closings/search/

Whatever happens, have a great day!

5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST “SCRATCH PAPER”

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. This should happen every time you take the test!!

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up. Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for the average test-taker. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books and practice resources — to take notes.

Write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have to prepare your independent speaking responses.

Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

While you use this scratch paper, remember these 5 important points:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $ symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!

USING FLASHCARDS FOR VOCABULARY ACQUISITION

Do you need to learn new words in English, maybe for a test (like TOEFL, GRE, GMAT) or because you just want to improve your vocabulary?

One effective way is to self-study using flashcards as a starting point. (Eventually you want to try writing these words in sentences and even use them in real life.)

What is great about flashcards is that you can decide what information you want. It could simply be a word (on side 1) and a simple definition (on side 2), either in English and/or your native language. Often, pictures work better than definitions. Look at Google Images to give you ideas. Other types of info you may want to include are: pronunciation; part of speech (e.g. verb, noun, adjective, etc,); synonyms & antonyms; example sentences; and more.

Try starting with ten new words. Look at the word and the information several times for a few days. Then look at the definition. Can you guess the word? Or try looking at the word and see if you can provide the definition. Constantly review old words and keep adding new ones.

Again, you can do this alone, or even with a partner who can motivate you, help you, or correct you.

Want more advice from us? Just ask!!

HAVING TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP BEFORE A TEST (LIKE TOEFL)?

There is a well-known breathing technique called the 4-7-8 method.

Using this breathing method can help you fall asleep the night before a big test (like TOEFL) or other stressful things.

This method can also help you relax before giving a presentation or speaking English (if speaking English makes you nervous).

It’s easy:

1.) Breathe in for four (4) seconds through your nose.

2.) Hold it for seven (7) seconds.

3.) Exhale strongly for eight (8) seconds.

Here is a demonstration and more about it by the famous healthy living doctor from the U.S., Dr. Andrew Weil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRPh_GaiL8s

How Will You Ring In The New Year?

Happy New Year!!!

We’ve been teaching a lot of idioms & expressions that go with the wintertime.

Now we’re ready for the New Year, and that means new expressions and phrases for you to learn!

Here are some phrases & idioms relating to the New Year holiday. Want to learn more? Come visit our school.

EXPRESSION: Ring in the New Year To celebrate the beginning of the new year at midnight on December 31.

“We are planning a big party to ring in the new year.”

“How did you ring in the new year?”

10 USEFUL PHRASES
1. New Year’s Eve
the evening of the 31st of December

– What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?
– I’m going to a party with my husband.

2. New Year’s Day
the 1st of January

– I’m going to see the NHL Winter Classic (ice-hockey match) on New Year’s Day.

3. Make a resolution/ resolve to do something
make a firm decision to do something

– Are you going to make a New Year’s resolution?
– I’ve already made one. I’ve resolved to learn a hundred new words every week.

4. Fireworks
a display of coloured explosives and smoke for amusement

– The fireworks begin as the clock strikes midnight.

5. Toast
raising your glass to drink together with a group of people to honour someone or wish them happiness, good luck/health

– Let’s drink a toast! Happy New Year, everybody!

6. Raise one’s glasses
drink a toast

– Let’s raise our glasses to a Happy New Year!

7. Superstition
an irrational belief based on faith in magic or chance

– It brings good luck if a dark haired person is the first one to enter your household on New Year’s Day. (this custom is called ’First-Footing’ in Scotland)
– That’s just some old superstition. I don’t believe in it.

8. Turn over a new leaf
start again in a better/different way

– I’ll turn over a new leaf and start being nicer to people next year.

9. Punch
a drink of mixed fruit juices often spiced with wine or other alcohol, prepared in large bowls

– Who’s going to make the punch for tonight’s party?

10. Wish
express hope concerning the future

– I wish you a very Happy New Year.