If you hear something “through the grapevine” it means that you have heard a rumor about someone or something. If you use this expression, it also helps you protect the name/identity of the person who told you the rumor.
Have you heard something through the grapevine recently?
-David: I heard it through the grapevine that you are looking for another job. Is it true?
-Bob: Wow, how did you know that? I only told a few people. But yes, it’s true. Please don’t tell anyone else.
You can also say “I heard it on the grapevine.”
A similar idiom: “A little bird told me.”
How can you know which words are the most important in a language? One way linguists find this out is by taking large samples of language and storing that in a computer database. They can run tests and analyses on the data, such as finding the most common and least common words in a language. This is called corpus linguistics.
More recently, some researchers have looked at written and spoken academic language to find the most common words used at the college level. This list is called the Academic Word List, or AWL. If you are preparing for college in the U.S. or some type of college entrance test (including the TOEFL), these words are essential to learn.
There are many websites that use the AWL and provide exercises to learn these words. Here are just a couple examples that you may find helpful:
Writing a five-paragraph essay is one of the most important skills you need to succeed on the independent writing section of the TOEFL (and many other tests including the GRE and GMAT) and in order to write papers for American college classes.
Americans love hamburgers more than you thought!
One easy way to remember how to do this is to think of your essay like it’s a hamburger. You can find a million examples like this online (just type “essay hamburger” into Google Images). College papers usually must be at least several pages long (and often can be 10-20 pages long) but they can still follow the “hamburger model.”
The basic idea:
TOP BUN = Paragraph 1 = Introduce the topic and present the argument you are trying to make (thesis)
TOMATO = Paragraph 2 = First type of support for your argument, with at least one specific example
LETTUCE = Paragraph 3 = Second type of support for your argument, with at least one specific example
MEAT PATTY = Paragraph 4 = Third type of support for your argument, with at least one specific example
BOTTOM BUN = Paragraph 5 = Conclusion; repeat your main argument and find a good way to end. For example, make a prediction about the future.
Some essay hamburger examples:
This model can also be use for writing a single paragraph:
Did you know that recent research has shown that just writing about all your worries and anxiety concerning a test, right before the test starts, actually significantly reduces stress and increases test scores.
Our advice: Get to the test center early (this is a good idea anyway) and bring some extra paper to write about why the test is stressing you out. Researchers suggest having about ten minutes to write.
This technique can be used for ANY stressful or high-pressure situation, if you just have the time just before to do this.
Check out one article for more info: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2011/01/13/writing-about-worries-eases-anxiety-and-improves-test-performance