About Scott

Hello, I am an ESL teacher and the founder of Monument English, an English school in Italy which has courses both in-class and online and where we teach students from all around the world English. Check out our website to learn more.

Idioms:Head and Hair

Head & Hair

In today’s 10 minute lesson, we are going to look at some new idioms we can use in our general conversation.

Do you know any English idioms connected with the body? In this lesson, you’re going to learn some idiomatic phrases using the head and hair.

It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.

In English, if you try to do something over and over and you never succeed, you can describe the experience as banging your head against a brick wall.

He has got his head in the clouds.

In English, if someone is always thinking about their hopes and dreams and not paying attention to the real world, we can say “he’s got his head in the clouds”.

She has her head screwed on right.

In English, if someone has very good judgment and is able to make good decisions, we say that they have their head screwed on right.

Read Sara’s story to see how the idioms are used.

Sara, Singapore

I am a journalist for a local newspaper. I’ve been working on one project recently that I’m having a hard time finishing.  Everyday I feel like I’m just banging my head against a brick wall! No matter how I write the story, I just don’t like how it sounds.  Perhaps I’m having trouble because my head has been in the clouds for the past week.  I keep imagining that I’ll be offered a promotion!  Of course, if my boss thinks that my head isn’t screwed on right, I’ll never get a promotion.  I’d better get to work!

Do you have any similar experiences to Sara’s?

I let my hair down.

In English, if you act more relaxed than you normally are and enjoy yourself, you can say that you let your hair down.

She’s always getting in my hair.

In English, if someone is bothering or annoying you, you can say that they are in your hair.

I’m tearing my hair out.

In English, if we are very anxious or upset about something we can say “I am tearing my hair out.”

Read Sean’s story to see how the idioms are used.

Last weekend, I decided to let my hair down with a couple of friends.  I was under a lot of pressure at work, and I just needed some time to relax.  Although I had fun, sometimes when I go out with my friends I just feel like tearing my hair out!  First of all, James couldn’t decide where to go, so we drove around the city for 3 hours!  Then, when we finally found a good place, Dave kept asking me for money because he had forgotten his wallet.  No matter where I went I couldn’t get him out of my hair.  In the end though, I was able to enjoy myself because, at the very least, it was better than being at work!

Try using the idioms in a sentence and send me your answers.

It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.
He has got his head in the clouds.
She has her head screwed on right.
I let my hair down.
She’s always getting in my hair.
I’m tearing my hair out.

Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo

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Expressing your opinion

Hello friends,

When you are expressing your opinion, there are different lead-in phrases that show how strongly you believe what you are saying.  These phrases will qualify your statement as a personal opinion, strong opinion, general point of view, certainty, or high probability.

Expressing your personal point of view

We use these words and phrases to express a personal point of view:

žžIn my experience, people need to take a good holiday to be able to work at their full potential.
As far as I’m concerned, politicians get paid too much and do too little.
žSpeaking for myself, smokers should no longer be aloud to smoke anywhere outside of their own homes.
žPersonally, I think that the writing skills of young people are becoming poorer because of how they use mobile devices.
žI’d say that in a couple of years no one will be able to buy their own house.

A strong opinion

In my opinion, the taxation is too high and the government needs to do something about it.
ž
In my own view, the government needs to come up with better welfare policies .
ž
I strongly believe that the oil price needs to be reduced.
ž
If you ask me, I think employees should get higher benefits if their efficiency rate is high.

General point of view

We use these words and phrases to express a point of view that is generally thought by people:

It is thought that global warming is a man made problem.

Some people say that working only 30 hrs per week, will make you more productive.

žIt is considered that although technology was supposed to make our lives easier, it is in fact, busier than ever.

žIt is generally accepted that  exercising and having a healthy diet is the best way to avoid the common cold.

Certainty

According to statistics, unemployment rates have risen over the past 2 years.
—
Actually, the weather in our area is predictable.
For sure Africa is hotter than Russia.
—
Surely, cats are smarter than dogs.

High probability

I expect that they’ll show up on my birthday party tomorrow.
ž
I believe it will rain tomorrow.
ž
I doubt that it will be a nice day tomorrow, the news called for rain.
I’m pretty sure tomorrow’s going to be a sunny day.

Supporting your opinion

Once you have expressed your own opinion using a lead in phrase and a statement, you need to support your opinion and explain why  it’s your opinion. Try to use an example in your statement.

I strongly believe that the fuel price needs to be reduced. Nowadays the cost of living is really high because of the petrol price i.e food, clothing and everyday items. It’s so hard for everyday people to make ends meet. If the price of fuel and energy came down it would help everyday people.

It is generally accepted that global warming and climate change are caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other pollutants in the atmosphere. Governments are trying to find ways to stop the rise of the temperature before disaster strikes. Personally I find it hard to believe when people still doubt this and say that global warming is a natural phenomena.

You practice

žWrite out your opinion on the following topics. Remember to support your opinion with examples.
1.Vacations are necessary for your peace of  mind.
2.Is it ok for people to live together before   they get married?
3.Studying English from an early age will give   you an advantage in life.

Send your answers to me, I will correct them and send them back.
Scott
Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo

Idioms with numbers

Hello ESL friends,

Have you ever heard a native English speaker using some interesting slang or idioms to express their feelings in a conversation?
For example, have you ever heard someone says he or she is “dressed to the nines”? What do you think that means?
In today’s 10 minute lesson we will be focusing on some idioms relating to numbers that many native speakers use in their daily conversations.

At the eleventh hour 

An expression used to describe something that happens when it is almost too late, or at the last possible moment.
E.g.  John never has his project ready on time. He always leaves his work until the eleventh hour.

Dressed to the nines 

An expression used when someone is wearing very smart or glamorous clothes.
E.g. Wow! Why are you dressed to the nines? Is there a special occasion or what?

First and foremost

An expression used to state what a person considers to be more important than anything else.
E.g. I would like to give gratitude to my wonderful team first and foremost because if it wasn’t for them, this marketing plan would never have achieved such great results!

Five o’clock shadow  

An expression used to refer to the stubble on a man’s face at the end of the day when he had shaved early in the morning.
E.g. Before your date, you’d better go home and shave because that five o’clock shadow looks unattractive.

Get (or catch) forty winks

An expression used to describe a short sleep or rest, generally during the day.
E.g. He normally tries to get forty winks after lunch everyday.

One in a million

An expression used to describe something rare or unique.

E.g. Receiving a promotion within your first year at a company is really a one in a million chance

Two peas in a pod 

An expression used to say that two people are very similar.
E.g. Gina and Wendy have been two peas in a pod ever since they met in elementary school.

One-upmanship

An expression used to refer to the art of gaining and keeping the advantage over other people.
E.g. Despite the fact that his one-upmanship has made him an unpleasant man to be friends with, the success he has achieved in his career is still impressive.

Writing exercises.

If you would like to practice your writing skills, you can write answers to these questions and send your answers to me.

  1. Have you ever one-upped someone?  What did you do, and how did you feel about it?
  2. Could you and any one of your friends be considered two peas in a pod?  Tell the class why you are so close.
  3. When looking for a new job, what should be done first and foremost in your opinion?
  4. Do you find it necessary to catch forty winks before an important event (such as a meeting, party, etc.)?
  5. Have you ever done something “at the eleventh hour”? Describe it to your consultant and fellow students.
Try using the idioms you’ve learned today to talk about an interesting working experience of yours.
Getting my job was a one in a million chance.  I worked very hard to one-up all of the other applicants.  For example, I got letters of recommendation from some people who were very important in the community. I also made sure to get forty winks before I went to the interview so that I could be at my best…

That’s all for now, see you back here real soon.
Scott

Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo

Expressions with Look

Hello ESL friends!           

Welcome back! Thank you for all of your support and helpful comments, I am glad you are enjoying our 10 minute lessons.
In today’s 10 minute lesson we will continue to look at some more expressions and phrasal verbs using “look”.There are many ways to use look in phrases and expressions. So let’s get started!

What is a phrasal verb?

In the English language, a phrasal verb is a verb combined with a preposition or an adverb.

Look + up/ to/ for/ about/ into/
Verb       +         Preposition                      

What is the difference between…
Look up, Look up, to Look out? Do they mean the same thing?
If not, what do you think each of them means?

The following table illustrates some of the most common phrasal verbs formed with look.

Look up to
She has always looked up to her mother. [respect]
Look into
The police are looking into the case. [investigate]
Look for
Could you help me to look for my keys, please? [try to find]
Look back on
I look back on my childhood with nostalgia. [recall]
Look up
Look it up in the dictionary. [find information in a book]
Look forward to
I’m looking forward to starting work. [expect with pleasure]
Look out
Look out, there is a car. [take care/ be careful]

Here are some more useful phrasal verbs based on look.

They are illustrated below in a business context but they can also, of course, be based in other situations.
1.Please look through the proposal and let me know what you think. [examine]
2.I’ve looked over your memo. [examine quickly]
3.Business is looking up at last. [starting to improve]
4.When you’re in Tokyo, try to look us up. [find and visit]
5.We’re looking to Russia for an increase in our sales. [depending on]
6.The company is looking ahead to a bright future. [planning for the future]

Let’s practice.                              

What words do you need to complete the sentences below?
1. I look ____ ____ that winter with some regret.
2. She has great respect for her colleagues, she doesn’t really look ___ ___ her boss.
3. You’re going to Paris? Look ___ my sister while you’re there.
4. The CIA is looking _____ the cause of the plane crash.
5. I’m sorry to hear you lost your job. I hope things will look ____ for you soon.
6. People shouldn’t look ____ the government to solve all their problems.
7. Look ___! You almost hit that lady!

Useful expressions based on look.     

Try to look on the bright side of things. [be cheerful in spite of difficulties]
He’s beginning to look his age. [appear as old as he really is]
They’re always on the lookout for new students. [search for]
I don’t like the look of those black clouds. [What I see suggests trouble ahead]
I know she’s hiding something when she won’t look me in the eye. [look directly as someone without fear or guilt]

More useful expressions based on look.

She looks down on anyone who is not good at fashion. [regard as unimportant or socially inferior*]
It’s not much to look at but it’s comfortable. [not attractive in appearance]
The office has a new look. [a fresh and more up-to-date appearance]
Look before you leap**. [Think before you act boldly***]
————————————————————–
* – characteristic of low rank or importance
**- jump
***- fearless and daring

and more…

The authorities* sometimes look the other way when there’s corruption**. [ignore]
If you ask for a raise, you’re just looking for trouble. [try to create problems]
He must have been angry. He looked daggers*** at me. [look at someone angrily]
————————————————————————
* – government
** – lack of honesty or loyalty
***- a short knife with a pointed blade used for piercing or stabbing

Match the statements or questions on the left with the responses on the right.

Try to look on the bright side. You’d better look before you leap.
Why don’t you think she’s honest? Maybe. He’s always looking for trouble.
I’m on the lookout for a new job. It’s pretty hard under the circumstances.
You have a new look! Good luck! It’s not easy to find work.
She certainly doesn’t look her age. She never looks you in the eye.
I’m going to use my life savings to start a new company. You’d never think she’s a grandmother.
I think Rob painted graffiti on the walls Yes, I’ve changed my hair style.

Replace the underlined expressions with one of the phrasal verbs. 

1.The garden isn’t very attractive now, but it’s beautiful in the summer.
2.You’d better be careful, or someone might take advantage of you.
3.Try to remain optimistic if you possibly can.
4.Unfortunately, many people regard the homeless as inferior.
5.Have you had a chance to examine the job application?
6.She didn’t want to get involved, so she ignored the situation.

Well, maybe longer than 10 minutes, but a great way to build your vocabulary list.

See you again soon.

Scott

Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo

Expressions with Get

Welcome ESL friends! 

Today’s 10 minute lesson will focus on one of the most confusing words in the English dictionary.
There are so many ways to use get in phrases and expressions. Today we’ll look at a few of them.

Can you explain the meaning of underlined words?

I really don’t get him sometimes. His questions get me all the time. He always asks me to get him something or get him home after work. I guess it is because he is getting older. Don’t get me wrong. I like the man. You will too, once you get to know him. Oh, I think I can hear the phone ringing. I think I’d better get that.

Get is used frequently is spoken English. It has the following meanings:

 buy, receive, or obtain something, e.g. Please get me a cup of coffee.
 change one’s position- move or be moved,e.g. How are you going to get home?
 change one’s state- become or make, e.g. I feel like I am getting older.

Get also has many other specific meanings

She doesn’t get it. [understand]
His questions really get me sometimes. [annoy, irritate*]
I’ll get the phone.
You will like him, once you get to know him. [gradually begin to know]

More phrasal verbs with get

Phrasal verb Meaning Example
Get along with sb To have a good relationship with someone John gets a long with his boss very well.
Get at Reach, find I hope after talking to her, we will get at the truth.
Get away with Do something wrong without being caught Tom got away with all his mistakes by blaming someone else.
Get along manage How did we ever get along without a nanny.
Get behind Fail to produce something at the right time After being sick I got behind completing  my project.
Get by Manage financially Nowadays it’s so hard to get by on just one income
Get down Depressed I always get down on cold winter days.
Get down to Direct your attention to I think it’s time to get down to business.
Get out of Avoid responsibility Don’t try to get out of doing the dishes. It’s your turn.
Get over Recover from It took me 7 days to get over my flu.
Get through Come to a successful end Finally we are getting through all of these problems.
Get off Finish or leave What time will you get off work tonight?

You try

1.She got __________ all the interviews and was offered the job.
2.You’re still sneezing! Haven’t you gotten _______ that cold yet?
3.We get _______ only because we live very economically.
4.He doesn’t get _______ well with his coworkers. No one likes his attitude.
5.I need to work overtime. I don’t want to get ______ with the project.
6.What time are you getting ____ work tonight?

Here are some common expressions based on get 

He got out of bed on the wrong side today. [be in a bad mood]

The meeting got off to a good/ bad start. [start well/ badly]

We’re having a little get-together. I hope you all can come. [informal social meeting]

I really enjoy getting rid of useless stuff while cleaning. [throw away, destroy

I’m afraid she’s going to get back at me someday. [take revenge]

After all this discussion, we’ve gotten nowhere. [make no progress, waste time]

One more time

1.I would hate to get rid of ___________ .
2.The dinner got off to a bad start when ___________ .
3.I find it very hard to get down to __________ .
4.I wish I could get out of ____________ .
5.________ is really getting me down.

That’s all for today.

Enjoy your study.

Scott

Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com 

Register for a free demo

Confusing words – Bring and Take

Hi ESL learners! I hope you are all well.  Here’s something for the weekend!

In this 10 minute lesson we are going to look at some errors that are so common, they often go undetected in casual conversation. However, if you are one who takes pride in knowing and using the correct words, it would be worth taking a few minutes to understand the proper use of the following two cases. In this way, you can write those résumés and business letters with confidence. Let’s get started!

Bring and Take

Bring and take both describe the action of moving something from one place to another. However, the correct use of either one depends on knowing whether you want to emphasize action towards or away from a location. The location of the speaker can also influence which word you will use.
For example,
•If the item is being moved towards the speaker’s location, the correct verb would be “bring”.
•If the item is being moved away from the speaker’s location, the correct verb is now “take”.

Examples

Bring me my jacket, please.

This sentence makes it clear that the jacket is being brought towards the speaker’s location.

I’m going to take the dog to the veterinarian’s office.

This sentence tells us that the dog is being moved away from the speaker’s current location, towards a different location (the veterinarian’s office).

Affect and Effect

Except in very specific situations, affect and effect are different in that one is a verb and the other is a noun.
Affect (v.) describes how something modifies something else.
Example: How will his lack of studying affect his grades? His grades will be affected, or changed, because he did not study.
Effect (n.) describes the outcome or result of an action or event.
Example: Having the class brainstorm before writing a test had a very good effect on the students’ grades.

A Tip

If you can replace “affect” with “change”, it is correct.
If you can replace “effect” with “result”, it is also correct!
This is because each replacement word is the same part of speech as the word it substitutes. The sentence will still make sense!

Fill in the Blanks!

  1.  _______ your dog to my office next week for another checkup.
  2.  The rain will not ________ my horse’s performance in the race.
  3.  A lack of sleep will certainly have a bad ________ on your ability to focus.
  4. Students, can you please ________ a book to school tomorrow?
  5.  Please ______ out a sheet of paper to begin the test.
  6. You should ______ the compass from your desk when you go camping.
  7.  Should the friendliness of a waiter ________ the tip you leave him?
  8.  Can I ________ my friend over for supper tomorrow?
  9.  Remember to __________ a snack if you _________ your niece to the park.
  10.  Watching too much T.V. can have a negative ________ on children.

Send me your answers, I’m happy to correct them for you.

Have a great weekend!

Scott

Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com or if you would like a free demo please register here. http://www.monumentenglish.com/register

Adjective word order

Adjectives – and the right place to put them. 

Hello everybody, welcome back!

In today’s 10 minute lesson we are going to focus on using adjectives. Adjectives are a great way to make your speech or writing more interesting. We use adjectives to describe nouns, the more adjectives we use, the better description we give to our listener or reader.

Which is the best description of the car above?

A red car

A red sports car

A red american sports car

A classic fast red american sports car

It is very common to use more than one adjective to describe a noun in an English sentence. When you use more than one adjective it’s important you use the right word order.

1. Opinion

¨When you observe an object or a person, you will form an opinion about it.  Others may or may not agree with this opinion. e.g. This is a wonderful book (It is your opinion that the book is wonderful). She is a beautiful women (It is his opinion that the woman is beautiful).
Write down adjectives you can use to express your opinion.

2. Size (Dimension)

This one is pretty easy.  You can state the actual measurements of something or a general size description.  The weight of something is also included in this category. e.g. The mountain is so huge. Kody Bryant is very tall.  These boxes are heavy.

Write down more words to describe size.

3. Age

¨An age adjective tells us how old something is. e.g. The children are very young. Dubai is a modern city. Have you seen my new phone?
How many different adjectives do you know to describe age?

4. Shape

¨This one tells us the shape of something or someone. e.g. Harry potter wears round glasses. A football field is rectangle shape.  I make star shaped cookies with my mother.
What shapes can you see in front of you?

5. Colour

This should be another easy one.  Colour adjectives describe the colour of something.e.g Red and orange and pink and green, purple and orange and blue.

How many colours can you name?

6. Origin

¨Origin adjectives let us know where something is from e.g. The best coffee is Colombian. I love Japanese food. Cuban cigars are great.
Where does the stuff in your house come from?

7. Material

¨Material adjectives tell us what things are made from e.g. I have a wooden table in the kitchen. My smartphone is made from glass and plastic. In the winter I wear a woolen jersey.
Can you name the material used for a computer?

8. Purpose

¨Purpose adjectives tell us specifically what an object is being used for e.g. Make sure you bring your dancing shoes. When i go to the supermarket you have to take my own shopping bag.
What are your favorite things used for?

Your turn  

What order would you put these words in? The noun is umbrella.

British, red, square-shaped, royal blue, big, stylish, new, nylon, rain.

Did you write –  A stylish big new square-shaped red and royal blue British nylon rain umbrella?

Remember you can use all eight adjectives to describe a noun or you could use just a few. The important thing to remember is to always use them in  the RIGHT ORDER!
Describe these photos with as many adjectives as possible.

That’s all for today. Feel free to send in your answers, I will check them and send them back.
See you next time!
Scott
Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com or if you would like a free demo please register here. http://www.monumentenglish.com/register