This website's Main Pages (click to go there)   Home 主页    Current Update 当前更新    Resources 学习资源    Photos 影集 

  Links 友情链接    Things We've Written 我的文集   Special Features 本站特色    Site Map 本站导航    Real World 英语写作 

I've stopped updating this website, though it's pages will remain for a while. See "current update" for details.

Visit instead: and

If the above links don't work, try these: (see "use-policy" regarding technical difficulties)

    Home    Current Update    Resources    Photos    Links    Things We've Written   Special Features    Site Map    Real World  ◘ 

Materials related to my 2011-12 classes at Xiamen University


(▲ Links to the pages at the same level as this page. If you can't see the label, put your mouse over a button and look at the bottom of your browser.)

English Listening/Speaking for Sophomores--Fall 2011 & Spring 2012

Instructor: Mr. Michael Krigline, MA        Xiamen University,  International Economics and Trade

Click "refresh" in your browser to be sure that you load the most recent version of this page; I may change things before quiz/exam time.

Quick links: Spring term vocabulary (or scroll down toward the bottom)           


Vocabulary and Key Topics (to help with exam review)

=bold shows one-word synonyms (be sure you know how to spell both words)

SA=things to study, which may require a “Short Answer” on the quiz/exam

*key terms


Fall Semester


For young Chinese, an English name can be Super

*abbreviation: a short form of a word (etc. for etcetera/and so forth), expression (i.e. for “that is”), title (Dr. for Doctor), name (NBA for National Basketball Association), and so forth (缩写, 缩略词)

astrological: related to the stars and their influence on people

(Chinese) character: a single Chinese pictograph (汉字)

circulated: to be sent around (a class, etc)

*connotation: the feeling or idea suggested by a word

to enroll: sign up to enter (a college, etc)

*esp.: abbreviation for “especially”

*Mandarin: the majority “Han” Chinese language

phonetic: related to the sounds of speech

pitfalls: hazards, serious problems

=pragmatic: practical

*quirky: unusual (and often humorous or interesting)

*rite of passage: important event as sb grows up

=routinely: normally

*to rub shoulders: to spend time with sb, esp someone important or famous

sages: sb who is very wise, esp. with traditional wisdom

*to snap up: quickly select or take

swells: grow quickly (like a wave)

*synonym: a word with the same meaning as another word (often shown in bold type in this booklet)

*urban: in a city

*to adopt: to formally accept sth in a permanent way (eg adopting a child)


She Recalls, He Forgets: True or False?

=the big picture: an overall, general view of things; a situation viewed from an outside, general perspective

=colleagues: co-workers

=gender: general term for male/female (whether people, animals, language components, etc)

a sharp (memory): not fuzzy; clear & vivid; detailed

spatial: a relationship in terms of the position, size or shape of things. e.g., how odd-shaped objects look from different angles or the route from place to place

statistically small: a "statistic" is numerical information, so "statistically small" means "an insignificant number of times" (5% at the most)

=the upper hand: an advantage; a more powerful position

a weak link in the chain: a part that isn't as strong as other parts, like a "weak link" in a chain


Vocabulary for “quotes about peace” lesson

=disposition: temperament; one’s character traits that influence behavior


Education in the USA

elementary school: the first years of a child’s formal education, traditionally including kindergarten through eighth grade (though some elementary school end with sixth grade), also called grade school, grammar school, or primary school

middle school: in some places, this school educates children in grades seven and eight (and sometimes nine); sometimes also called a junior high school

secondary school: traditionally grades nine through twelve, helping children prepare for college or for a vocation (though some secondary schools are only grades 10-12); most people call this high school

*tuition (BrE: tuition fees): money paid for academic instruction

*curriculum: all of the subjects taught at an educational institution (considered as a group), or the list/catalog of elements (classes) for a particular subject. The plural form is either curricula or curriculums.

*liberal arts: academic subjects such as languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences

*community college: an institution offering adult education courses on various subjects, including basic academic classes (similar to first-year university courses), vocational training (nursing, computer tech, engine repair), and hobby-related courses (photography, gardening); also called a technical/vocational school or a junior college. Community colleges can confer an Associate’s Degree, normally after two years of prescribed study.

*room and board: a place to live/sleep and all of your meals; the money you spend (esp. while at college) for your dorm/apartment and food

*scholarship: when someone pays some of the college expenses for gifted students or athletes (a “full ride” or “full scholarship” means that someone pays ALL of your expenses, including tuition, housing, transportation and food) (奖学金)

*diploma: an official certificate showing that you successfully completed an academic degree (conferred by a high school, college, graduate school, or professional organization)

*to confer (a degree): to officially give a title, degree, or award in recognition of your achievement

*to prescribe: to require, or to establish regulations; to professionally recommend that a patient buy/use a specific medicine

suburb: the area around the outside of a city (many suburbs are really small cities) where people live, often driving to work in a nearby city

sparse: spread out; not concentrated or dense (“Compared to the cities, the countryside is sparsely populated.”)

to be home schooled (to home school): to be educated at home, normally by your parents or a tutor (this practice in general is called home schooling)

professional schools: academic institutions that prepare advanced students for certain professions, in particular law, business, and medicine)

work-study programs: classes in a particular field (such as engineering), along with paid employment (normally either part-time, during holidays, or every other semester)

assistantship: a paid position that provides reduced tuition or a salary in exchange for teaching or research duties (normally for graduate students—called postgraduates in BrE)


Don’t forget to study the “Educational definition exercise”

Answers: a1, k2, e3, f4, g5, c6, i7, j8, d9, h10, b11


Improving Your Study Methods 

=significance: © importance

=to indicate: to show or point to

complementary: related to sth even though they are different

the flow of sth: a steady forward movement, especially in relation to the way ideas build on each other during a speech, lecture, book, etc.

=passively: not actively; without being involved or interested (She listened passively, without thinking about what she heard.)

=the big picture: an overall, general view of things; a situation viewed from an outside, general perspective

reminders: things that help you remember (e.g., remember a major point, a date, an event, or a place)

=transcript: an exact word-for-word written copy of a speech, play, TV show script, etc.

verbatim: word-for-word without leaving anything out or changing anything (“The press printed verbatim his speech.”)

=abbreviation: (缩写, 缩略词): a short form of a word (etc. for etcetera), title (Dr. for Doctor), name (NBA for National Basketball Association), and so forth

to revise: to change sth in order to make it better or more accurate (in BrE, to revise can also mean “to study sth again” but Americans do not use it this way)

fragment: a piece; an incomplete part of sth

the meat of sth: the most important part or main idea (of a speech, book, movie, etc)

particular: specific or carefully chosen

=to review: (AmE) to look again at something you have studied (British equivalent: revise)

senses: your five natural abilities to see, hear, feel, taste and/or smell

=to compile: to add together, or to put information together in one place

to gauge: to judge or measure carefully (a gauge is an instrument or device that shows a measurement, especially in relation to minimum or maximum, such as a fuel gauge in a car)

=prior to: © before

=extracurricular: (adj, only before noun) additional activities, clubs, jobs, etc., that students do but that are not part of someone’s studies

to integrate: combine in an effective way

=to analyze: to carefully examine, esp. in terms of something’s relationship with other things

procedure: method; the best way to do something

=pertinent: © relevant; directly related

a sitting: one continuous amount of time (i.e., how long you sit without standing up)

interruptions: distractions; things that unexpectedly stop what you are doing

to recite: to say sth out loud from memory, or in order to memorize it (i.e., to know it so well that you can repeat it perfectly)

to cram (for a test): to quickly learn a lot of material so that you can use it on an exam (even though you will probably forget it soon after the exam)

confident: certain or sure (esp. about your ability to do sth or about the truth of sth that others are not sure about)

=methodically: in a step-by-step way

(leave it) blank: empty; without writing

=to skip sth/sb: to choose not to do something you should do, like attend a class, answer a test question, read an assignment, report for work, or eat a meal

=to panic (panicked, panicking): to react in a strange (not logical or appropriate) way because of fear (Notice the unusual spelling of past/continuous verb forms; “They panicked when they heard rumors, which caused a panic in the community.”)

=essential: © necessary; extremely important

=frustrations: things beyond your control that cause you to feel irritated, upset, or frustrated [you feel frustrated when annoyed because you cannot change a situation, understand something you are supposed to do, lack control, etc. (students have given these translations: 憋屈, 惘然, 失意的, 气馁, 灰心, 沮丧, 失望)

to put forth: (1. AmE) to give extra effort in order to accomplish sth; (2. formal) to give, suggest or produce sth


English punctuation marks

’ apostrophe; friends, friend’s    

* asterisk or star

(    )  (AmE) parenthesis, parentheses

         (BrE) rounded brackets   

[   ] (AmE) brackets    (BrE) square brackets

: colon              

; semi-colon                             

! exclamation point

. period

, comma           

/ slash              

? question mark

“      ” quotation marks  

‘   ’ (AmE) single quotation marks

… ellipsis                     

- hyphen                      

-- (or –) dash

underline (a line under text for emphasis)

italics (text in this format for emphasis)


Finding Forrester

Don’t forget to look at the notes about things like Ebonics and cussing.

=acceleration: describes sth that gets faster and faster (“The acceleration in your writing is remarkable.”)

=assessment test: a standardized exam that helps a school evaluate a student’s academic ability; the results also help the government evaluate the effectiveness of one school compared to another

BMW: Bavarian Motor Works--a German company, who’s expensive cars are often bought so the owner can show off his/her wealth (Jamal tells Forrester’s arrogant lawyer about the history of BMW)

=boys: “my boys” is a Ebonics (see note 1) term for “my friends”

=cancer: a serious and often deadly illness in which the body’s cells stop acting in a normal way (癌症)

constipated: a medical condition where someone has difficulty getting rid of your body’s solid waste (when Forrester marked up Jamal’s notebook, sometimes he wrote “constipated thinking,” i.e., “this section shows that your ability to think is temporarily blocked”)

=to cuss: to use language that offends some people, especially when you are angry. Important: remember that using a particular word will offend some people but not others, depending on their level of education, religious beliefs, race, etc. See note 1.

to dare: when sb (esp. a child) challenges another person to do sth dangerous; in this movie, they also call this “the call” (“I dare you to go up there, into The Window’s place, and bring something back.”)

dog: a term some black men use to address a black, male friend (a bitch is a female dog, and some black women use this to address other black women—but these terms are insulting from non-black people)

foul shots: after a penalty in basketball, this is the chance to get a point by shooting the ball from a certain line, without anyone trying to stop you (also called a “free throw”)

=intrigued: to be interested because sth is strange, mysterious or unexpected

=to kick in: to begin to take effect or start working, even though it was already there (“Jamal’s writing gift really kicked in after he met Forrester.” “It took ten minutes for the pain medicine to kick in.”)

=plagiarism/to plagiarize: to use a passage, sentence, outline, or even a group of phrases from the Internet, a book, or any other source, without telling where you “borrowed” from. Plagiarism is a crime (you can be forced to leave school permanently) because it violates the author’s intellectual property rights and gives the cheater an unfair advantage over others

=prep school (preparatory school): (AmE) a private secondary school that prepares academically gifted (or wealthy) students to enter the best universities. (In BrE, a “prep school” is for 6 to 13-year-olds...)

=probation: (AmE) a period of time in which a student or worker must show improvement (in ability) or change (in behavior), without which he will be forced to leave that school or job (“Bear in mind, the school’s Board does have the authority to place those who plagiarize on academic probation, which would prevent you from playing basketball here in the future.”)

=procrastination: © delay; waiting to do something because you don’t really want to do it

rap: a type of music in which words are generally spoken in a certain rhythm instead of sung      

=rumors: things people say based on what someone else said, not necessarily based on the truth

=scholarship: (奖学金) when sb pays some/all of the educational expenses for gifted students or athletes


Growing Up vs. Growing Old and Ten Tips on How to Stay Young

=beaming/to beam: to smile happily

=funeral: a ceremony in honor of sb who recently died

to grieve: to feel very sad, esp after a loved one has died

a guilt trip: to feel guilt (shame/sadness because you did sth wrong) about something, esp. when that feeling is unreasonable or unnecessary ("My mom's letters always put me on a guilt trip for not becoming a politician like she always wanted me to be.")

=icon: [c] a symbol of sth, esp one that is well-known (e.g., the Nike "swoosh," "Wal-Mart" as a big store)

=idle: not working, or at least not working to produce anything (like a car that is waiting at a traffic light)

=keepsakes: small objects you keep to remind you of someone or someplace

mesmerized: be very fascinated by sth; to be so interested in sth/sb that it is hard to pull away

milkshake: (AmE) a thick, cold, sweet drink, made from milk, ice cream and fruit or chocolate (奶昔)

=podium: a raised area where speakers stand to teach

=to revel in sth: to enjoy sth very much

refuge: a place of protection (from rain, snow, thieves, foreign soldiers, etc.)

=regrets: feelings of sadness because of sth that you wish had happened differently; to "have no regrets" you must live in a state of forgiveness

=to take one's breath away: to be very beautiful, exciting or surprising

=in tribute to sb: to express admiration, praise, or respect

wrinkle: lines or folds that show age (in a face, clothes, etc)


UA (Akron) Students Spend Spring Break Helping New Orleans

sultry: hot and wet-feeling

=volunteer/volunteering [adj, n, v]: sb who chooses to do something to help others, or the act of providing this help (often without pay, or doing a task that others don’t want to do).

relief efforts: work organized to help after a disaster

=ravaged: badly damaged

=nonprofit (group): an organization that uses its money or resources to help needy people (instead of investors, etc)

=to renovate: to make useful again; to fix a room, building or other structure in a “like-new,” useful way

=to defray (costs): (normally passive) to pay on behalf of another, esp. when sb is unable to pay for something needed

=auction: a sale where people compete for items by offering higher and higher prices

rustic: rough or simple, like sth used long ago or away from civilization

bunking: sleeping

=tgratifying: satisfying


The Foundation for Lifelong Love

it is murder: it is extremely difficult (colloquial)

*passion (passionately): a very strong belief or feeling, especially a deep feeling of sexual love

*intolerable: so bad that it is beyond your ability to accept or deal with

to alter: to change or adjust, esp. to change just a little or little by little

*courtship: the time that a man & woman get to know each other before marriage

to plague sb: to deeply annoy sb, esp for a long time

honeymoon: a short vacation couples often take right after they are married

red flags: (AmE) something that alerts you about a problem or danger (a red flag is also an international symbol of communism, but Americans often use it idiomatically to mean a warning sign)

flaws: imperfections (such as the mistakes in pottery [陶器] or art)

*spouse: husband or wife

*quirky: unusual (and often humorous or interesting)

impulsive: done without much thought (esp. of the problems one's actions might create)

newlyweds: people who have recently been married (usually less than a year)

core values: your central or deepest ideas about what is right and wrong, or what is important in life

non-negotiable: sth you are not willing to change or discuss, such as a final price offer or a core value

*move in: to change your address, esp. when entering someone else's home (搬家) ("After I lost my job, I had to move in with my parents.")

*data: information or facts

ultimate: most important (because it is the biggest, final, highest, most difficult, etc.)

*to resolve: to make a definite, unchangeable decision after much thought ("Tom resolved to stop smoking after his surgery.")


TV interview vocabulary

wantonly: randomly, without much thought or restraint (esp. sexual behavior)

=“by and large”: “speaking generally”

love affairs: an intense enthusiasm for sth, or a sexual relationship outside of marriage

=to get rid of: to throw away or otherwise eliminate sth that you do not want

monogamous marriage: marriage to one person (traditionally, for your whole life)

=“a say” (or “to have a say-so”): to have the right to be part of the decision-making process (“Parents have less ‘say’ once their child enters college.”)

“till death do you part”: a phrase from traditional wedding ceremonies, meaning that you promise to remain married to this person until one of you dies

“in sickness and in health”: a phrase from traditional wedding ceremonies, meaning that you promise to care for your spouse (husband/wife) no matter how healthy or unhealthy he/she becomes

=superficial (question): without depth; only general or obvious; “on the surface”

=to wane: to decrease, esp. slowly (like how the moon “wanes” for about two weeks)

=priority: the thing that you think is most important and that needs attention before anything else

=department stores: a large shop like Wal-Mart, that sells many types of goods (clothes, tools, shoes, basic furniture, toys, bikes, kitchen things, etc.); traditionally, a “department store” did not sell much food (you bought food at a grocery store or supermarket)

=supermarket: a very large shop that sells food, drinks, and things that people need regularly in their homes (like cleaning supplies); increasingly, supermarkets also sell clothes and other things, but if you say “I’m going to the supermarket” people will think you are going to buy food


Dear Abby (and giving advice)

=to be expecting: pregnant; to have a baby growing inside you

=precautions: what you do to prevent sth dangerous or unpleasant from happening ("to take precautions" against pregnancy could mean to use a condom or take birth-control pills)

=desperate: wanting sth very much, even to the point where you will do almost anything to get it

=to rush: to do sth quickly or too quickly

to get to the bottom of sth: to work in order to find out the cause of a problem or situation

=void: an empty space, physically or emotionally

to have a way to go: to need to make many changes or improvements

=altar: a special area in front of a church, such as the place where a pastor (牧师) joins people in marriage

the new arrival: your baby

to prevent a "surprise": to keep from getting pregnant before you are ready


Giving advice (sample sentences):

If I were you, I would…            …stop smoking.  …talk to a teacher about this.

I think you should…       …study harder.  …participate in more extracurricular activities, like sports.

Why don’t you try…      …studying in the library instead of the dorm?   …getting a massage?

Have you considered… …this problem from her perspective?   …a career in dancing?


I will not include any vocabulary from “Are Men Like Dogs?” on the test.


Sherlock Holmes – The Blind Banker

*acrobatics/acrobat: skillful movements that require great balance or dexterity, like jumping/flipping through the air or balancing on a rope

*antiquities: things made in ancient times

ASBO: (BrE) anti-social behaviour order; a court order saying not to go somewhere or not to see particular people, given after being found guilty of destructive behavior like painting graffiti or hitting someone. “I was just holding your paint but they’re giving me an ASBO!”

*assassin: someone paid to intentionally kill someone (often in connection with organized crime/mob/tong activity)

*astute= clever: quickly able to gain a deep understanding of what you see, esp. so you can see how this gives you an advantage

*to break in/broke in: to illegally enter a place, often through a window. This can also be a noun

*burnished: polished or improved so that it shines;  “In some pots, the clay has been burnished by tea made over 400 years ago.”

Chip and PIN: a brand name for “smartcards” (bank cards with an electronic chip) in the UK (although common since 2005 in the UK, such cards are not widely used in the US)

cipher: a system of secret writing (or code)

to be compromised: to be revealed or changed in an unwanted or dangerous way (one’s health, security information, or safety equipment can all be compromised)

*to cover for sb: to do someone else’s work because he/she is absent (cover sometimes also has the connotation of “to protect”)

curio: a small keepsake/object, thought to be interesting or unusual

*detective: sb whose job is to discover information about crime (many work as police officers, though “private detectives” work independently)

*dexterity: advanced skill and speed in doing something (esp with your hands). “We’re looking for an assassin who can climb, who can shin up a rope. Where else would you find that level of dexterity?”

*disguise: something that changes the way you look to hide who you are, how you feel, etc.; the act of doing this

*flat=apartment (BrE, coll)

*forensic (science/medicine/techniques): related to scientific methods used to find or understand clues related to crime

*graffiti: words or pictures on walls or other public spaces, painted there without permission “That graffiti was a message to someone.”

*incentive: sth that encourages you to study or work harder (such as a promised reward)

*inquisitive= curious; keenly interested and asking many questions

locum: (BrE) professional who temporarily fills in for someone absent

*mundane= boring; ordinary and not interesting

peckish: (BrE coll) hungry for a snack. “He stopped on his way because he got peckish.” (AmE: “…he had the munchies.”)

*physician= doctor (formal term)

(had) a row: (BrE coll) had an angry argument (esp with a friend or relative)

*sarcastic/sarcasm: saying things that are the opposite of what you mean, in order to make an unkind joke or to show that you are annoyed

*to season/seasoned: to use spices, tea, etc. AND time, in order to give something a special taste, color or feeling. “The tea pot is seasoned by repeatedly pouring tea over the surface.”

*serial (form, number, etc.): one after the other, often depending on the one before; broken into parts for publication

*smuggler: sb who takes something illegally from one country to another.

*synopsis: a summary of the main events in a book, movie, etc

surgery: (BrE) a place where dental/medical patients are treated/seen (AmE: a doctor’s office or medical clinic)

villian: in a story, this is an evil character or a troublemaker we are not supposed to like


A Christmas Carol

*(to be) abandoned: to be left somewhere without help, resources, or a way to get out (the connotation of this term includes sadness and/or hopelessness)

apathy: an “I don’t care” attitude; a general lack of interest that often results in people being unwilling to work for needed change

apprenticeship: a time when you are learning a job from someone who is experienced (like an internship)

to berate: to speak in anger to someone because they have done something wrong

boarding school: a school (with a dormitory) for children, so they live there and study there

*coal: a hard black mineral that is often burned to create heat or steam

*crutch: a stick used to help someone walk (e.g., because of a leg injury); something that gives support or help

defensive: speaking (or acting) in a way to defend or protect oneself (esp. when being criticized)

*garments= clothes

*generous: describes someone who often willingly gives (time, money, help) to others, esp. to those in need

*glimpse: a short experience of or look at sth that helps you to begin to understand it

the grave: death (in general), or a place where dead people continue to exist

humbug: nonsense; a negative term to describe something as nonsense or deceptive (esp. how Scrooge feels about Christmas in this story)

*idiot: an offensive term to insult someone’s intelligence

*ignorance: a lack of education or understanding

*malice: a hateful desire to cause harm

miser (miserly): a greedy, selfish person who loves money but hates to spend it (in English, “scrooge” has become a synonym for “miser”)

*to mourn: to show great sadness or respect for someone who has died

the poorhouse/workhouse: a place (in 19th century England) where very poor people could live and work (often long hours, with little pay, in terrible conditions)

shush!: used to tell sb to be quiet

*simile: an implied comparison using like or as (e.g., as sly as a fox, he thinks like Scrooge)

*surplus= extra, and often unneeded

*tact (tactless): tact is the ability to speak carefully about something, so as not to offend or embarrass the people around you (tactless people often embarrass or upset others)

*to vow: to promise in a very strong way (often meaning "a solemn promise to God")

*want / to be in want [formal]: need, lack / to be in need or to lack sth



(to be) still in force: to continue to exist (e.g., a law or invitation that hasn’t been canceled)

*it’s all he can afford: he doesn’t have money to do any more than this

*hold your tongue: do not talk; be quiet; shush


SA—Be able to talk about “readers’ theater”; what is it, and how can doing role plays or presenting dramas help one’s English?


Spring semester


Commentary: Student’s choice: to study or not


*merit pay: extra pay/salary based on praise-worthy (i.e., good) results (e.g., if all your students pass a certain test, or if all of your patient become well after treatment)

*sb’s fault: means that sb is responsible for a problem (because he/she made a mistake, failed to do the right thing, etc.)

*ill-conceived: poorly thought-out; a plan, goal, etc. that is not likely to succeed


Valentine’s Day


to transplant: to move sth from one place to another (implication: this is not “easy” since the transplanted plant/body part/family may suffer in the process)

*precise=exact; clearly expressed

*to execute (execution): to kill someone with the authority of a ruler, government, gang leader, etc.

*to urge: to strongly ask (often in hope of getting sb to act in a positive way)

paramount: of first importance

the Milky Way: a faint band of stars (actually caused by looking toward the outside of our dish-like galaxy, called the Milky Way galaxy)

*sentiments (often plural): an expression of one’s feelings, emotion or opinion

*to make a big deal of sth: to treat sth as especially important when many others consider it less important

*jewelry: small things like rings, earrings and bracelets that people wear for decoration (金刚石?)


*sacred=holy; of the utmost value according to religious teachings (the opposite of “secular”)


The Problem-Solving Model

*situation: the setting or conditions related to a particular problem, place, event, etc.

*options=choices; other things that could be done in a particular situation

*verbally: spoken rather than written

*to come up with: to creatively think of or find sth (an idea/solution/plan/etc)


*Giving advice and problem-solving exercise

If we are going to fix the … problem, we should…

If people think … is a big problem, then…

I think we should… to solve this problem.

I recommend (verb+ing)… [telling, starting, selling, investing in…]

It’s best to…

It’s generally a good idea to…

I would advise that we first…, then…

To ease this situation, I would suggest (verb+ing)… [telling, starting, hiring…]

If I were having this problem, I’d feel…

If I was in this situation, I would…

In order to fix this, we should make sure…

If it was up to me, I’d…

I think we ought to…

Why doesn’t the city just…(do sth simple)

In my opinion, the best thing to do is…

I suggest that they try  (verb+ing)… [telling, starting, creating, building…]

One idea is to…


Stress is a laughing matter


*“is no laughing matter”: [idiom] is serious. “Pollution is no laughing matter.” (i.e., it’s a serious problem)

*to follow suit: to do the same thing, esp in a card game when you have to play the same “suit” (heart, diamond, spade or club) as others

*spontaneous: instant and automatic

*bouts: incidences or episodes of a problem

exhaustion: extreme tiredness

*backbone: the rows of bones down the middle of your back; something important that gives an organization strength and structure ("Research is the backbone of our company.")

*camaraderie: feelings of close friendship, esp on a team

uninhibited: not restricted


Movie: The Family Man


acid trip: an overdose of drugs that make you “see things” that are not real

cocky: acting overly proud

eggnog: a drink often associated with Christmas (like Moon Cakes=Mid Autumn Festival)

*to erase: to remove sth, so that no one can see it anymore

*fidelity: faithful to one’s obligations (responsibilities), especially “sexually faithful” to one’s spouse. (A “high fidelity” recording faithfully/accurately gives you the true way music originally sounded.)

to flush: to quickly clean or wash away, like the contents of a toilet

*glimpse: a short experience of or look at sth that helps you to begin to understand it

gonna (oral English): "going to" (you should never write the word "gonna" because it is not really a word)

*heart attack: a sudden, serious medical condition where someone’s heart stops (many people can survive these attacks if treated quickly)

*internship: the last step of professional training after you finish college; a company (like Barclay’s Bank in London) agrees to train you for a year, while paying you a bit less than you would earn later. The right internship can make a big difference in one’s career.

*lotto or lottery: a gambling game (often state-run) where you buy a ticket in hope of winning money (you get cash for a winning ticket at a place that sells tickets, and the store owner gets money, too)

*merger: (e.g., Med Tech & Global); when two companies combine to become one bigger company; some mergers are “hostile,” i.e. one of the companies does not want to become part of the other

*naïve (negative connotation): innocent but immature; overly optimistic because of a lack of experience

*nonprofit (law firm): a company created to help needy people (instead of trying to make lots of money for themselves)

*perk: something you get legally from your job in addition to wages/salary

a prick (offensive term): a stupid, unpleasant male who "isn't fun to be around"

*precocious: mature for one’s age (esp referring to a little child, often in a negative way)

*prejudiced=bigoted: having strong negative feelings toward everyone of a different race, religion, political viewpoint, etc., esp. when such prejudice keeps you from listening to anyone with these differences

*to redeem: to get something good because someone promised that thing under certain circumstances (e.g., the government promises to give money in exchange for a winning lotto ticket; you get 5 discount on new shoes if you redeem a coupon from the newspaper). The noun form is “redemption.”

*stock (or shares of stock): an investment that lets your “own” part of a company (“Do you own any stock?” “Yes, I buy shares worth $200 every month, as part of my retirement savings plan.”)

stock broker: someone who buys and sells stock for others, earning a percentage of the cost as his fee (EF Hutton is a famous financial firm)

stock trader: a person or company that makes money by buying and selling stock, and sometimes by convincing corporations to merge

*suburb: the area around the outside of a city (many suburbs are really small cities) where people live, often driving to work in a nearby city

wanna (oral English): "want to" (you should never write the word "wanna" because it is not really a word)

*wrinkled: a synonym for “elderly”, referring to the lines or folds that show age on an older person’s face


Phrases or sayings:

this is bananas: this is crazy

you had your chance: your (poor) choice/action made you miss a good opportunity

off the charts: extremely good; “11” on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)

call the cops: use the phone to ask for police help

be in the doghouse: indicates that sb (esp a family member) is annoyed with your recent behavior

you’re off the hook: you will no longer be considered “to blame” for sth; you have met the requirements to get out of some duty 

*ring a bell: indicates that you remember sth (Is this ringing a bell? That doesn’t ring any bells. –i.e., You should remember this—do you? I don’t remember what you’re talking about.)

tunnel vision: the tendency to consider only one part of sth. instead of all parts

*you blew it: you missed the chance for something good

*talk turkey: to talk seriously about details, esp. in business

*in a nutshell: in summary

an old flame: a former girlfriend or boyfriend; a past love

a gift with ten zeros: $10,000,000,000

*to deal with (dealt with): to handle or solve sth like a problem or need

*to screw up: to make a mistake

news at 11:00: used as if one is giving a headline for the evening news program, as if to say “they should talk about this on the TV news”


Business and ethical principles


The Science of Happiness


1. Happy people remember good things in their lives.

2. Happy people notice good things in their lives.

3. Happy people do kind things.

4. Happy people take the time to say thank you.

5. Happy people take time for friends and family.

6. Happy people learn to forgive.

7. Happy people stay healthy.

8. Happy people learn to deal with problems.


Obesity threatens Chinese people


*[medical] complications: [countable, plural] unforeseen negative results; additional illnesses while a patient is already sick

diabetes: too much sugar in the blood


*epidemic: a large number of cases of an illness, occurring at the same time

*incidence of: occurrence of; number of times sth happens (esp sth bad like disease or crime)

*to indulge: to let yourself have sth you enjoy but (usually) that is bad for you if you get too much

kilogram: a metric unit of weight (公斤)

life expectancy: the length of time sb is expected to live (often expressed as an average for some group of people, people with a certain disease, etc.)

*nutrition: the content of food from a health point of view (good nutrition means eating the right mix of food to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and everything else needed for good health)

*obese, obesity: to be so fat that it puts health in danger

*onset: start (esp of sth bad like a disease, winter, “old age,” etc.)

*patient: a sick person, under the care of a doctor

*physician: doctor (formal term)                         make this a synonym next year, like it was last term!

poverty: the situation or experience of not having much money; being poor

*proportion: part of sth, in relation to the whole or to sth else (比例)

*respectively: in the same order as what you just mentioned (For boys, 14 percent are obese and 13 percent are overweight, with the proportions for girls nine and 11 percent, respectively. That is 9% obese and 11% overweight)

twin: two similar things, children, etc.

[to be] vulnerable [to]: to be able to be easily harmed or damaged

*the ______ community: all of the people associated with a certain job (the medical community, the academic community, the business community)


Garbage and Pollution: the terrible cost of development


*garbage=trash (BrE: rubbish)

*to generate (generated): to produce or create (often a large amount of sth that is not countable, such as trash or electricity)

*rural: not in a city; not urban

*landfill: the garbage dump; the place where a city puts the trash it collects



*organic=natural; produced by living things, as opposed to things that are man-made (man-made or inorganic things include chemicals that make plants grow or kill bugs)

*to contaminate: to do sth that yields a harmful effect, such as making a river dirty through pollution

combustion: burning, esp to produce heat or an explosion

*premature: before the normal time

to consume / consumption: to use time, energy, goods, etc / the amount of energy, oil, etc., used 

microscopic: extremely small, such as things you can't see without a microscope

*lungs: the organs you use to breathe (肺脏?)

*respiratory: related to the lungs or breathing

scarcity: not having enough; rareness

*chronic: a problem or illness that lasts a long time, and can't be easily cured

to render (has rendered): to cause or express something in a particular way (render emphasizes the resulting condition) (Development has rendered this land useless. Please render this essay in English. The court rendered a favorable decision.)

to shrink (has shrunk): to make smaller, often in a negative way

microorganism: an extremely small living thing; a microscopic organism

*domestic: within one's own country (domestic problems), family (domestic violence) or home (domestic appliances)

blunt: spoken in an honest way, even if it hurts or offends others (blunt is also the opposite of sharp)

*to recycle (recycling): to put used objects or materials through a process so that they can be used again


(Video) Lost Worlds—Life in the Balance


*abandoned: to leave a place without intending to return (often because of safety)

next year, add               amphibian: animals  that can live both on land and in water (such as frogs, toads, tadpole)

*bellwether: something that indicates future development or trends, like the “lead sheep” (with a bell around its neck) shows the way that all of the sheep that follow it will go

*diversity=variety, especially interconnected variety (“Biological diversity is the variety of interconnecting life that keeps things healthy.”)

carnivorous plants: plants that “eat meat” (i.e., that live by killing animals, instead of by gaining nutrition from the soil)

deforestation: to clear forests; i.e., to cut down too many trees

*dense: tightly packed or close together; concentrated; not sparse (“Compared to the countryside, the city is densely populated.”)

dusk: the period after day but before night

ecosystem: interdependent creatures and the environment they inhabit and depend on

faucet: the thing that water comes from in your bathroom (also called a tap)

habitat: the natural conditions and environment in which a plant or animal lives

inhabitants: those who live in a certain place.

jaguar: a large cat (like a leopard), mainly found in the forests of the Americas

kelp: a type of large seaweed, that supports a wide range of living things

*metropolis: big city. “Beijing is a densely populated metropolis”

*nursery: pre-kindergarten school; a place that helps small children/plants/animals to grow and develop properly (“Kelp is a nursery for spawning fish.”)

next year, add               *offspring=children (esp. when referring to animals)    

okay: OK, all right

*to pollute: to make the environment dirty by dumping waste or smoke into rivers, lakes, or the air

*shallow: not deep, often referring to water or thinking

*resourceful: able to use whatever is available, often in un-normal ways, to achieve a goal (“The soil is very poor, so plants and animals must be resourceful to get the nutrition they need.”)

restoration: the process of restoring something or “bringing sth back” that was damaged

to reweave: to weave again; to reconnect complex things, like the way someone makes cloth or clothes by hand

species: a biology term for organisms that are very similar and that can be bred (put together) to produce plant/animal “children” (“Many species are being driven to extinction.”)

watershed (of a river): the land area that drains into a particular lake, river or ocean

next year, add tropical and climate(see “Boa Boa” below)


Phrases and proper nouns

to be “master” of sth: to be the boss; to be in charge of things

to tip the balance of life: to do sth that gives one form of life an unfair or unnatural advantage

the Table Mountains (Roraima): the unique mtns shown in this film; the indian name is “tepuis”

Venezuela: a country in northern South America where you’ll find the Table Mountains; 委内瑞拉


After the first quiz


Western Holiday Summary Sheet: April Fools' Day, April 1st


*to apologize: to say you are sorry for doing something wrong

Caesar: the name of the first Roman Emperor (Julius Caesar, 100-44 BC), which became a title meaning “Roman Emperor” (Caesar Augustus, Caesar Domitian)

*custom: a traditional practice; the way that a group of people do certain things

*derogatory: insulting; expressing a meaning that is disapproving or that is intended to lower someone’s reputation or status

doorbell (or bell): a button near sb’s front door, which makes a bell ring inside. (“Ring the bell when you arrive.”)

*Easter (复活节): the most important Christian holiday, celebrating Jesus’ being raised from death; always on Sunday, but the date is based on a lunar calendar so it varies between March and April; symbols include various things that remind us of new life such as eggs and baby animals

*Emperor: the king of a large empire (like Rome or ancient China)

full moon: when you can see the moon as a full circle

insulting: very rude and offensive (insulting jokes/comments/behavior)

*lag=delay (time lag, shutter lag, jet lag)

*leap year: a year (every fourth year) in which February has 29 days [actually, 00 years are not leap years unless they can be divided by 400]

*lunar: relating to the moon (lunar orbit, lunar calendar, lunar eclipse)

*to play a trick on sb: to deceive or fool sb, often as a joke (i.e., for fun)

The Pope: the top leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest division of the Christian religion; since AD 1377, papal (adj for Pope) offices have been in Vatican City, an independent “country” inside the city of Rome

*practical joke: a trick you play on someone, like on April Fools' Day, intended to be funny but not harmful

Romans: citizens of Rome, a powerful European kingdom, 100 BC to AD 500.

*solar: relating to the sun (solar year, solar system, solar power)

Scots: the people of Scotland

*(to feel) upset: when you feel this way you are unhappy or worried due to disappointment, bad news, etc.


Hoaxes and April Fools


Titanic/Molly Brown (none of the following terms are on the exam)


*the bridge: the place where a ship’s officers control (steer) it, also called the helm

CQD: “Come Quickly, Distress”; an older code used for an emergency (see Morse Code)

crows nest or look out: the place high above the ship where crew members watched for ice, land, and other ships

diamond tiara: a small jeweled crown worn in rich ladies’ hair (one movie uses this as a symbol for wealth)

*fate: a force that is believed to control your life, similar to destiny (the purpose of your life) and luck (aspects of life you have no control over) -- “We are together again; it must be fate”

first class: the most expensive tickets on the boat; also the most luxurious section

*a fortune: a lot of money -- “her husband made a fortune from a gold mine”

*gossip: a mixture of facts and guesses about personal matters (often more untrue than true)

*iceberg: a floating “mountain” of ice that had drifted from the north pole; remember that there is more ice under water than you can see, which makes icebergs very dangerous

ice pack, field ice: terms related to the presence of icebergs and smaller pieces of floating ice

*immigrant: someone permanently moving from one country to another (not for a visit, but to live there)

*infamous: well known for bad reasons or because of a very bad reputation (such as a famous criminal)

*”in a pickle”: a pickle is literally a sour food (泡菜), but this idiom means "in an unpleasant situation" -- “That left us in a pickle”

*”in your condition” or “in a delicate condition”: a way to say that someone is going to have a baby (Mrs. Astor was pregnant--going to have a baby)

lifeboats: small boats designed to help people get off a ship in case of emergency

Marconi or Marconi-gram: a message or the machine used to send messages by code using radio signals (now called a telegraph)

*Morse code (the verb is morsing): a series of signals (dot and dash) used to send messages by radio or flashes of light

*mourning: a time of sadness or respect for someone in your family that has died

*mug/mugshot: picture of your face, often taken by the police (“Your mug has been in the [news]papers”)

*nightmare: a bad and frightening dream

*SOS: “Save Our Ship”; a new code (in 1914) for requesting help in an emergency (see Morse Code)

slump: bad posture, the opposite of standing or sit up straight; “don’t slump”

*statutes: laws -- “we have complied with the statutes of the British Board of Trade” (that is, we have the required number of lifeboats on the ship)

steerage: third class; the cheapest tickets on the boat (since many immigrants were crossing the Atlantic at this time, this was the biggest section of the ship)

Tux/Tuxedo: a man’s formal suit (in America, only rich men own one; others rent them for weddings/etc.)


Discussion: What do you think caused this tragedy? (Historical note: there is no single “right” answer, but there are several major contributing factors. Try to list as many factors as your group can think of.)


Boa Boa Problem-solving Activity


*conveniences: things that make life easier and more convenient, especially indoor running water, plumbing (toilets), and electricity

*tropical: related to or happening in the hottest parts of the world (e.g., around the equator)

equator: the line around the center of the earth, half way between the north and south poles (赤道)

*climate: the normal weather conditions in an area (rainy, cold, dry, etc.)

*commerce: related to buying/selling/trading goods and services; a government department responsible for regulating business and trade


Movie: Unstoppable


*to can (canned): to fire from one’s job (“Jane was canned last week for always coming in late.”)


*to coast: to keep moving without aid of power (“My bike chain fell off, but I can coast to the repair station.” “Don’t just coast through life; think, plan, and take control!”) If a train is a “coaster” it is slowing down, without a driver, but this train isn’t a “coaster”—its motor is speeding up.

*collateral (damage, benefits): (adj) happening at the same time, and esp. damage to property or innocent people in a war or man-made disaster

*combustible: able to burn, esp to produce heat or an explosion

conductor: the train worker who is in charge of a train—where it goes, paperwork, etc.

to decimate: to destroy a large part of sth

to derail: literally, to go off the track/rail, but figuratively to spoil a plan or process (“Mr. Gray’s attitude derailed our contract negotiations.”)

engineer: the train worker who operates/drives the train

*to gauge=to measure (especially in relation to a specific size/volume/distance/etc.) (“I’ll stand in front of the car to help you gauge the distance to the wall.”

mph=abbreviation for miles per hour, a common measure of speed (60 mph=100 km per hour)

*to patch: to fix, by joining things together (to “patch in” means to electronically include a third person in a phone/radio conversation)

RIP track: “repair in place” siding; a short section of railroad track on which equipment can be parked when the need for maintenance/repairs is not serious enough to require a trip to a formal repair shop

*rookie: a new worker, esp. someone in his/her first year on the job (“Every day, veterans are canned and rookies are hired because their wages are lower.”)


throttle: equipment that controls fuel, and thus the speed of an engine (“full throttle”=full speed)

*veteran/vet: someone with a lot of experience in a specific job or activity, or anyone who has been in the army, navy, etc.

yard or train yard: a “storage” place where engines and train cars wait to be directed elsewhere



*“to have a thing for sb”: to have a crush on someone, or quietly/secretly want a closer (sexual) personal relationship

“to play chicken” (“chicken”=afraid): a stupid, dangerous 1950s “game”, where two drivers would drive toward each other—whoever turned first (to avoid a crash), lost the game

“to serve me with”: to give (me) an official document that I’d rather not have (like when a lawyer gives you divorce papers)

*“Bail!”: (short for “Bail out”) immediately stop doing what you are doing and get away (“The pilot bailed out, jumping from his airplane after it was destroyed by the enemy.”)

“Cut me some slack”: “Give me a break”; “Overlook this mistake, okay?”

*“I’m not at liberty to give you that information.” Polite “business talk” when refusing to answer someone’s question.

*“the kicker” (AmE): a strange ending to a story or event

“(my/your) ass” (slang, offensive; one of several meanings!): someone specifically and personally [“It’s my ass”=I, personally, will get in trouble for this stupid mistake. “I’ll save your ass”=I’ll do this to protect you, personally, from the consequences of this stupid mistake]

“yellow vest”: this refers to the “safety vest” that train rookies have to wear, which lets everyone know they don’t have much experience. It is not unusual to require “new” workers to identify themselves, especially when a job is dangerous


Some important discussion questions

10. Compare Connie’s English with the English of Jamal’s friends (in Finding Forrester). What do you think the script writers were trying to tell us, by the actors’ use of English?

12. Discuss the way the news media covered this event, and how it would have been different in China. When did the news helicopters help, and when did they add danger? Is “live coverage” a good or bad thing?

13. Frank admits that he’s risking his life, even though he has been “fired” (in three weeks he must retire). Likewise, Connie and Will openly risk being fired. Why? Who or what makes these people act this way? What do you think about this ancient quote: “No one has greater love than he who lays down his life for his friends”? Is it true? Explain how it relates to this story.

14. Dewey and Frank both broke the rules; one caused the problem and the other solved it. Discuss when it is okay to “bend” the rules, and the role of obedience at work.


Everyone should know how to write correct conditional sentences with “if…then…”: you need to use the  “past perfect” tense. had+past participle (see below)

If Will had kept his phone off, then his train would have fit into the siding.

If Dewey hadn’t gotten out of the cab, then the train wouldn’t have gotten out of control. (trains can’t “lose control”, but people can…)

--past participle [countable] technical: the form of a verb used with the verb 'to have' in perfect tenses (for example, 'I have eaten'), or with the verb 'to be' in the passive (for example, 'it was changed'), or sometimes as an adjective (for example, 'a broken leg')

had been, had called, had obeyed, hadn’t risked, had sped,

had trusted, had arrived, had fallen, had set, had seen…

Note: Most pp are regular (risk, risked, have risked; call, called, have called; leave, left, left), but some pp are irregular (swim, swam, have swum; set, set, set; get, got, gotten; fall, fell, fallen; see, saw, seen)


The Persuaders (advertising)


*ancestors: your family who lived long ago

*exacting: demanding effort/skill

*heritage: traditional customs or values

*innovation: new ideas, methods or inventions

logistics: practical behind-the-scenes work

palate: keen sense of taste

*punctual: being on-time

*second to none: first; behind no one

subsidiary: a company owned by another company



What are the qualities of a good print advertisement? How does that differ from a good TV ad?

--A good ad gets your attention.

--It gives you reasons to buy or use something.

--It makes the product look or sound as good as possible.

--It makes you think in a different way.

--Effective ads connect the product or service to something you already like or respect.

--Print ads often contain more facts than TV ads. Effective TV ads often try to be funny or especially memorable (images, music, motion). Both use “stars” to promote things.


Shanghai to get camp for Web addicts


*adolescents=teenagers;  youngsters [old-fashioned]

*addicted: unable to stop taking or doing something (a drug, habit, etc) [an addict is sb who is addicted]

*camp: a structured program with organized activities, games, lessons, crafts, etc., often designed to help children learn a moral lesson or gain a useful skill while having fun

*to recruit: to look for people to join your company, school, army, etc.

*to be considered for sth: to be evaluated in order to determine if you can do sth, are suitable for a job, etc.

*an alias: a false name

*to bury oneself in sth: to give all of one's attention or energy to sth

*to skip class: to choose not to go to class without a good reason (AmE, also "playing hooky")

^frustrated: you feel this way when annoyed because you cannot change a situation, understand something you are supposed to do, lack control, etc. (students have given these translations: 憋屈, 惘然, 失意的, 气馁, 灰心, 沮丧, 失望)

*intervention (process): a method that gets involved (literally, “in the middle”) in order to produce change, especially to prevent or treat sth bad.

^volunteer (adj, n, v): without pay; sb who chooses to do something to help others, or the act of providing this help

to patrol: to check on things in an area with some regularity, like police officers who frequently walk through a neighborhood to be sure there is no trouble or no one in need


Finding Forrester Movie Report


Work with your partner to complete this report. You two will get one grade, so be sure both of you are satisfied with the answers/grammar/etc. (After you write it, you can also ask other friends to check grammar/spelling/etc.) Use your own words, not something from the handout or Internet. It must be typed and double-spaced, using a 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font. Keep your answers simple; each item needs only about three sentences (see the sample). Do not use more than one page. Due at the start of class, Nov 3 (classes 1&2) or Nov 7 (class 3).


1. Describe two main characters. (Jamal, Forrester, Crawford, or Claire)

2. Describe two major problems or issues, and tell how the problem/issue was resolved.

3. Tell me about your favorite part. (Each partner will write two to four sentences)


See the sample below (which is double-spaced, using a 12-point Times New Roman Font).




This resource was created for our students under my understanding of "fair use" for educational resources.  

© 2012 Michael Krigline, all rights reserved. As far as I am concerned, people are allowed to print/copy it for personal or classroom use.

 (see Website Standards and Use Policy)

Click in the boxes below to go to some of our most popular pages. If you get lost, just click "Home."

(There is a "search" box on the home page)


Site map (To search within any page, type "ctrl + f")

Current Update

& how to contact us

Resources  for students & teachers

Links for English Learners

EFL Movie Study Guides

Better Writing Study Guide

Our Students photos

Photo Index

South Carolina & USA photos

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Favorite Links

Things We've Written (articles)

Introduction to China

Life in China photos

Music Page & mp3 downloads

Archive Index

Real World Writing (my textbook)

See our Policy regarding the use of materials available at or