Phrase of the day: a double-edged sword

For many years, Hugh Grant was perhaps the most famous English actor there was. He rose to fame playing . . . well, himself, really. In films such as Notting Hill, Love Actually and Four Wedddings and a Funeral, he played the quintessential upper-class Englishman: shy, self-deprecating, slightly socially awkward, and desperate to maintain a stiff upper-lip. These were roles that won him as many enemies as fans at home, but that exported very well indeed. He soon became a household name all over the world.


Indeed, he became so well-known that he started following me around like a strnage shadow! Every time I tried to explain to students that my name was Hugh, I’d wince in pain as they mispronounced it as you, huge, shoe, and so on . . . until eventually I’d give in and say “Like Hugh Grant”, at which point all the problems would melt away!

It seemed another reason to hate him. However, it clearly can’t have been easy being Hugh Grant – and his chiselled good looks were clearly a double-edged sword: sure, they got him plenty of well-paid work . . .  but it was always the same kind of work. Nothing seemed to damage his clean-cut image – not even getting caught by police in Los Angeles in a compromising position with a local working girl, Divine Brown! He seemed destined to be forever typecast – given the same kind of roles to play over and over again.


If you describe a situation or a decision as a double-edged sword (or just as double-edged), it means it has both clear advantages and also downsides. It cuts both ways. It’s often used to describe new regulation that the government introduces, all kinds of different social media and – most recently – the weak pound: on the one hand, a weak pound may well boost demand for British goods, but on the other, many UK exporters are also importers as a result of global supply chains and so will now be facing higher input costs due to the weakening currency.


You may be wondering why I’m mentioning all of this. Well, I’ve just finished watching a recent BBC series called A Very British Scandal . . . in which an almost unecognisable Hugh Grant delivers the performance of a lifetime as the disgraced British MP, Jeremy Thorpe. It’s forced  me to reassess  his talents. At 57, Grant is eight years older than me, and seems to have finally thrown off the shackles of his youth. No longer quite the handsome young man he once was, he’s now allowed to play more mature roles with greater depth . . . and excel in them.

There’s clearly still hope for us all!

Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take one of our summer courses.

  • Can you think of any situations or decisions in your own life that were double-edged swords?
  • Can you think of any other actors who regularly get typecast?
  • Have you ever seen any films or TV programmes with Hugh Grant in them? Which ones? What did you think of them?
  • Which well-kniwn people from your country have become household names elsewhere? How?
  • Have you ever been forced to reassess someone’s talents – and admit that maybe you were wrong about them?

Word of the day: OFSTED

Following on from our recent post about heavy workloads, where we revealed how much UK teachers work, today we’re looking at OFSTED. OFSTED in an organisation that inspects schools in England and checks that they’re doing a good job. OFSTED stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It’s often blamed for the increase in teachers’ workload because a large part of what it inspects is paperwork. The week that it actually inspects a school and the lead-up to the inspection is a period of intense activity and stress and people often talk about it using OFSTED as a passive verb–  as in ‘We’re being ofsteded at the moment’ or ‘we’ve just been been ofsteded recently’, the meaning of which covers both the inspection process and the pain that it causes!


The result of the inspection is an OFSTED report, which rates a school as inadequate, satisfactory, good or outstanding – and parents have open access to these reports when they make choices about which school to send their children to. It also means that from time to time, you’ll see signs outside a school advertising that they’re good or outstanding. Remember that these are state schools and are free!


Schools which fail an OFSTED inspection (by getting graded as satisfactory or inadequate) are put on special measures. This may involve putting in place a new head teacher or new staff, or reorganising the school in other ways, with the help of educational consultants or members of other ‘outstanding’ schools.

Although OFSTED is officially ‘independent’ from the government, there’s a lot of political argument about it. Obviously, in inspecting a school and giving it a rating, OFSTED has to decide what makes a good school and good teaching and what’s bad. Often, this view clashes with what politicians say and think as was recently seen in the government’s decision to increase the number of grammar schools (schools which select students through an entrance exam). OFSTED also clashes with teachers’ unions or others involved in teacher training and development, because these people say OFSTED creates too much paperwork and encourages a tick-box approach to teaching (in other words, inspectors tick things they see on their list of ’good things’ and ignore other good/better approaches). In short, no-one really likes OFSTED or to be ofsteded!


Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take one of our London summer courses.

  • Do you have any body like OFSTED in your country?
  • How do parents choose the school their children go to?
  • How do you know what’s a good or bad school?
  • What makes a good school or teacher?

Chunk of the day: a spate of

In our most-viewed post of recent weeks, we reported on the fact that there had been a spate of incidents involving people dressed as ‘killer clowns’ and that people dressed as scary clowns had been terrorising innocent members of the public and causing widespread panic up and down the country. When there’s a spate of incidents, there’s a large number of them happening in a short period of time – and we often talk about there being a spate of bad things. So if you move house, your new neighbours might warn you to be careful because there’s been a spate of burglaries in the area recently. You might be so worried that you decide to get new locks fitted and maybe have a burglar alarm installed as well. Or you might hear that there has been a spate of muggings – attacks on people in public places, usually to steal their money, phones, etc. – locally and so you decide to stick to main roads when walking home at home rather than taking short cuts through poorly-lit backstreets.


In London a few years ago, we saw a spate of cycling deaths, which sparked protests and calls for rapid safety improvements. As I used to cycle in and out of the centre of London for work every day, this was a problem very close to my heart, and I’m pleased to say I’ve never had any problems on the road here myself. Another worrying trend involved a spate of hate crimes targetting immigrant communities in certain parts of the city in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union a couple of years ago. Given how cosmopolitan and mixed London is, such crimes really go against the grain – they’re completely different to what’s normal here.


However, spates aren’t always bad. There has been a spate of ramen noodle joints opening up in recent months, which is great if you like Japanese food. There’s also been a spate of halal burger joints opening too, serving burgers that can be eaten by Muslims because it’s from animals that have been killed according to the religious laws of Islam. And finally, there was the rather strange news last year that there had been a spate of incidents involving runaway animals, including snakes, a peacock and even an escaped emu! Whatever else you can say about life in London, it’s certainly never boring!


Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take one of our London summer courses.

  • Has there been a spate of any kind of crime / a spate of incidents where you live? What happened?
  • Has there been a spate of any particular kind of restaurants or bars opening up?
  • Can you think of anything that’s caused widespread panic where you live?
  • Can you think of anything that’s recently sparked protests or led to calls for safety improvements where you live?


Intermediate word of the day: boom

A boom is a sudden big noise like the sound of thunder or a bomb exploding, but more frequently, we use the word boom to mean a sudden big increase or growth. So when the economy grows a lot, you have an economic boom and a business or industry can experience a boom in sales. We might also then say there’s a boom in people starting their own business.

Notice we usually use boom to talk about things we see as positive. So we say a country is enjoying a boom in tourism, but we don’t usually say there’s been a boom in accidents or a cancer boom! Normally, we’d say there’s been a sharp rise in accidents or deaths (from cancer) have shot up. What other things do you think can have a boom? Pause for a moment and write a list.


Well, you can have a baby boom (a sudden increase in the birth rate), and a construction boom – which could also be a building boom or a housing boom.

There might be a consumer boom (when people spend more), a boom in investment and a boom in business.

A business or industry might experience a prolonged boom – in other words, it grows a lot quite suddenly and then continues to grow. So, for example, China has seen a prolonged boom since the early 90s. The opposite of a prolonged boom might be a short-lived boom.

Finally, notice that boom can be used as a verb as well as a noun, so for example, My next door neighbours had a party last night and when I got home, music was booming out of their flat. While most countries in Europe are in recession in 2018, apparently Vietnam is booming along with the Philippines and lots of other countries in south-east Asia.


When we talk about booms, we might also talk about what led to the boom (how it started), what happens during the boom as it gathers pace and perhaps even how the boom ends, because unfortunately we often talk about boom and bust – a big increase that’s followed by a terrible crash! If you take a housing boom, why might it start? what happens? how might it end? Apparently, cycling in the UK is booming – why might that be and what’s happening? Pause for a moment an think of some ideas for these two booms.


Housing booms can happen for several different reasons. For instance, in Saudi Arabia there has been a massive increase in the population – a baby boom that has seen the population quadruple. There is, therefore, huge demand, but a shortage of housing. So now tower blocks are springing up everywhere to meet the demand. The government has also provided incentives for property developers because there is no land tax and no capital gains tax (that’s right – the companies pay NO tax!!), so all the profits go to the developers. No wonder there’s a building boom.


The housing boom in Spain and Ireland was triggered because banks relaxed their rules about lending, so more people could raise money to speculate. As the boom gathered pace, this increased speculation led to the supply outstripping demand (there were more homes than buyers). When this happened, prices started to fall, a recession began, the housing bubble burst and the market collapsed.


As for cycling in Britain, it has increased for a number of reasons. Firstly, The government is trying to discourage car use, so it has run campaigns to encourage cycling. Then maybe because of the recession, people want to save money anyway, so cycling is a cheaper option to a car or public transport. People are maybe more aware of the need to keep fit too. Finally, in recent years, British cyclists have been very successful at the Olympics and in the Tour de France. These people have maybe inspired interest in the sport.

Cover the text. What do you remember?

  • Say five different kinds of boom that can happen.
  • Say two verbs that can go with a boom.
  • How can you express the idea of a ‘boom’ for negative things like accidents or deaths from cancer?
  • Say two different things that can be booming.
  • Say five things that might cause a housing boom.
  • And three that might cause a boom in cycling.

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Related stories in the news

The film industry in the small Baltic country of Latvia is currently enjoying a bit of a boom. The market share of local films at the box office has increased from less than 8 percent five years ago to 28 percent now, with locally-made films such as The Criminal Excellence Fund, Paradise ’89 and The Pagan King all doing very well.

In Italy, meanwhile, there’s been a boom in the number of people asking for advice and predictions from tarot card readers and fortune tellers. With high unemployment and the economy in a bit of a mess, more and more people are turning to unconventional sources for hope. The number of faith healers and fortune-tellers has risen five times since the global economic crisis began a decade ago, and the sector is now worth an estimated eight billion euros a year, with the vast majority of the country’s 155,000 practitioners demanding cash in hand and not declaring their earnings to the tax authorities.


Finally, scientists from around the world have been visiting Florida to find out why there’s been a dolphin baby boom in the coastal waters there. No-one is quite sure why there’s been an explosion in the number of young dolphins, but finding out the reasons could have serious implications for the global dolphin population.


  • Think about your country. What has there been a boom in over recent years? Why do you think this has happened?
  • When was the last economic boom in your country? What happened?
  • Do you know anywhere that’s enjoying a boom in tourism? Have you been there?
  • What might be good / bad for a place when there’s a sudden boom in tourism?

Word of the day: craze

A craze is something that becomes incredibly popular, but usually only for a short period of time. Over the last few days, one particular craze has been sweeping the nation – sparking mass hysteria as it has done so. Police have reported a spate of incidents involving people dressed as ‘killer clowns’! Up and down the country, people dressed as scary clowns, the kind you might find in a horror movie, have been terrorising innocent members of the public and causing widespread panic. Children have been chased down the road by clowns, clowns have jumped out on passers-by and some have even been seen lurking in shadows holding knives and other weapons.


The craze seems to have started in America a few weeks ago, possibly inspired by a character in a Stephen King story called Pennywise. It soon caught on over here. In recent days, it has spread like wildfire, with sightings being reported as far away as Australia and New Zealand. With certain areas seeing several incidents a day, the police are complaining that the craze is a drain on resources and they have also warned that sooner or later someone is bound to be seriously hurt. Given that members of the public seem to have started fighting back against the jokers, the likelihood is that it could well be a costumed clown that ends up suffering!


There have, of course, been many theories put forward to explain why the craze has taken off. Psychologists have claimed that putting on a clown mask allows ordinary people to behave in a way they would not dream of doing if their faces were not disguised. Social media has also been blamed for the spread as some believe all the publicity encourages copycat behaviour. Others believe the growing enthusiasm for Halloween over recent years could be another reason as to why we are seeing a rise in such incidents.

Personally, we blame Donald Trump. When such a terrifying clown is given such incredible publicity, it’s asking for trouble!


Want to learn more with Lexical Lab?

Check out our ENGLISH BOOST course here, specially designed to improve your speaking and listening. 

  • Have you heard of the killer clown craze? Have any incidents been reported where you live?
  • What do you think explains this kind of behaviour?
  • What other crazes have swept the nation recently? Did you like them? Why? / Why not?
  • Can you think of anything else that’s sparked mass hysteria?
  • Can you think of any examples of copycat behaviour?

Word of the day: catch on

Like any major city around the world, London is a busy, noisy place. People are often rushing from one place to the next and, increasingly, we are all bombarded by sound: there’s the roar of traffic, the ringing of phones, the constant chatter of the people around us; there are police sirens, bass notes booming out of car stereos and trains clattering by in the distance. Given all of this, it’s perhaps not so surprising that silent activity is starting to catch on.

When something catches on, it becomes popular and fashionable, and the growing need we seem to feel for quiet time can be seen in events such as those hosted by London’s silent speed-dating organisers Shhh! who put on regular singles events, featuring “non-verbal flirting games” and “eye-gazing”!


Of course, it’s not just in London that there’s a growing trend for silence. New York, another crowded, hectic city, is now home to Eat, a restaurant in Brooklyn whose monthly silent dinners have proved so popular that you anyone keen to experience them needs to book months in advance. Meanwhile, the Australian artist Honi Ryan has hosted silent dinner parties all over the world, in the hope that they give diners a break from small talk and gadgets like mobile phones.

More and more people are also booking places on silent retreats. These usually involve getting away from the city for a few days and spending time around other people, but in total silence. Retreats often have a religious or spiritual dimension, with Buddhist, Christian and Catholic retreats making up the majority. Many claim that time away from the constant noise of the modern world allows them to find peace within themselves.


A couple of years ago, there was even a documentary film called In Pursuit of Silence, which explores our relationship with silence, with sound, and the impact of noise on our lives. You can watch the wonderful two-minute trailer (in which not a single word is uttered) here.

Want to learn more with Lexical Lab?

Check out our ENGLISH BOOST course here, specially designed to improve your speaking and listening. 

  • How much quiet time do you manage to get in your day-to-day life? Would you like more?
  • Do you think any of the ideas mentioned above will catch on in your country? Why? / Why not?
  • What other things have started to catch on recently where you live? How do you feel about them

Chunk of the day: heavy workload

If you have a heavy workload, it means you have a lot of work to do and you probably work very long hours. Recently, a report revealed that, on average, teachers in the UK work 40-58 hours a week and a fifth of teachers do more than 60 hours!. Teachers here apparently have the heaviest workload in the world – excluding Japan and Alberta, Canada! Perhaps more important is what’s involved in that workload. It seems that many teachers are spending more time doing admin than actually teaching. They’re spending their time on marking students’ homework, producing written lesson plans and other form filling connected with assessment of the students and evaluation of their own work. The survey also found that this meant teachers didn’t have time to take part in the kind of professional development that might improve their performance in the classroom. It seems pretty mad, really.


The result of this excessive workload and of the lack of professional development opportunities is that often teachers suffer from burnout and leave the profession to pursue a different career. It’s one of the reasons why I feel incredibly old when I go to my son’s school! The vast majority of the teaching staff are under thirty and there’s a steady turnover of staff from year to year. Teachers are not the only ones who are drowning in paperwork, though. Many nurses and doctors and even charities providing humanitarian aid are also suffering. In part, it’s for the good reason of being accountable – in other words, so that people outside the organisation can see that the work is being done correctly. Unfortunately, though, it seems that this workload is sometimes having the opposite effect and stopping people from doing a good job!


Should teachers complain? After all, there are many other jobs that have a heavy workload, but where you don’t get long summer holidays. Most teachers in the UK get around 13 weeks holiday. Mind you, they also have the stress of dealing with teenagers on top of their workload!

Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take one of our summer courses.

  • Which other jobs do you think have a heavy workload?
  • Do you sympathise with UK teachers?
  • What’s a teacher’s life like where you live?
  • Do you get opportunities for professional development where you work?
  • What can people do if they’re suffering from burnout?
  • How much admin do you have to do? How do you feel about it?

Chunk of the day: get sidetracked

Last year we wrote a book called Perspectives. It’s aimed at secondary school students and is loosely based around TED talks – and part of what you have to do for any book you write, but especially for one like this, is a bit of research to ensure that the content you write is authentic and relevant. That’s all well and good, but the danger of this is that you get sidetracked very easily. In other words, you start ‘researching’ things which may be fascinating or entertaining, but are most definitely not relevant to the job you’re trying to do. Let me give you an example: one day, I was thinking about writing about new arts festivals people are planning to put on – connected to the unit theme of culture and transformation. So I Googled “planning a festival” and several came up connected to a total solar eclipse. A good possibility, but these relate to 2017, so by the time our book was being used in schools, the festival would already have passed. “Hmm.” I found myself thinking, “I wonder when the next solar eclipse will be”. Twenty minutes later, I’d looked at all the routes of total solar eclipses up until 2035. I went that far because by the time I’d got to 2027, I’d started thinking “Ooh! That’s weird. China isn’t getting any solar eclipses. Do they never get them?” So I continued on until 2035 when I learned that they will finally get one. (You can check all this for yourself on this site if you want to get distracted).


Generally, getting sidetracked is seen as a negative thing. If you get sidetracked in a discussion at a meeting, you never get round to making any decisions. If you get sidetracked with work, you fall behind and either miss your deadlines or have to put in some extra hours to catch up. If you get sidetracked while youre supposed to be studying, you may not revise what you need to and I guess you might end up failing your exams.


However, when it comes to English classes, I think getting sidetracked can sometimes be a very good thing indeed. I was teaching my Upper-Intermediate group the other day, and we were more or less at the end of a reading – a Chinese folk tale about money. I was just looking at some vocabulary that students had asked about while reading, vaguely wondering if I should rush on to the forthcoming grammar point (I wish with past perfect and past simple) or whether there might be some other more interesting way of rounding things off when opportunity knocked.

One of the items that had come up was THE HEAVENS – as in He clung onto the rope and was lifted up to the heavens. I’d explained that it basically meant ‘the sky’ and had given another example – The heavens suddenly opened and it started pouring with rain – when a student asked what the difference between ‘the heavens’ and ‘the heaven’ was. I told the class we don’t use articles with heaven – or hell – and that aside from their literal meanings, they’re often used metaphorically: it’s my idea of heaven / hell. There was some banter about how going to see Justin Bieber was one student’s idea of heaven, but everyone else’s idea of hell and then a Moroccan student asked “So what about paradise?” “That’s usually used to talk about a wonderful beautiful place, like Bali or somewhere, that’s maybe sold as a tropical paradise” before the student then explained that for Muslims, it refers to the highest part of heaven, where the Prophet Muḥammad resides. The student then jokingly added that he wouldn’t ever reach such heights and would be lucky to reach the bottom part of heaven. Another student, a Spanish guy called Mohammed, suggested that hell was a more likely destination at which point Sosan, a Saudi woman, demanded he retract this and claimed you should never say this!


I pointed out it was a common joke among friends in English and, curiosity piqued, put students in pairs to discuss whether or not they talked about heaven and hell in their own languages. Out of this, the most interesting thing that emerged was a discussion about the differing concepts of angels on shoulders that seemed to exist in different cultures: the Christian notion of good angels and bad angels giving you advice – and the Muslim idea of an angel on your right shoulder recording your good actions and another on your left noting down the bad (but only after an eight-hour pause which allowed the chance of repentance and righting the wrong), all of which were to be weighed on Judgment Day. Mohammed noted that with his Spanish-Moroccan friends it was common to joke that the left-shoulder angel was compiling a library, which aroused laughter from most of the class and looks of slight shock from the more devout Saudi woman in class.


The other thing that became apparent was that many students didn’t know how to ask ARE YOU RELIGIOUS (AT ALL?) and had thus far gotten by with their own bizarre improvised versions (“You have religion?” and the like!). For the next five minutes, students changed pairs and asked and answered this question before we rounded up with some board-based reformulation. On the board we ended up with:
She’s / he’s very devout.
He used to be Muslim / catholic, but he converted to Buddhism.
I was brought up Muslim / Buddhist / Catholic, but I don’t really practise.
All religions have lots of different branches.
I don’t really believe in God, but I do believe there’s some kind of higher power.

And that was that. One of the best bits of teaching I’ve done for ages – and it all happened because I allowed myself to get sidetracked.

The grammar waited until the following day and students left the room still asking each other questions about each others’ beliefs.

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  • Do you ever get sidetracked in class? Can you remember the last time it happened? Was it good or bad? Why?
  • Do you ever get sidetracked when you’re working online? In what way?
  • Have you ever been sidetracked on your way to somewhere? Why? What happened?
  • Do they put on any big festivals where you live? Do you go to them?
  • Do you talk about heaven and hell in your own first language? What do you say about them?
  • Have you ever been anywhere that you felt was a real paradise?
  • Are you religious at all?

Word of the day: provincial

This morning, I took my kids down to Gökyüzü, one of the many amazing restaurants near where we live, for a Turkish breakfast. As you may have seen  from the featured photo, the portions there are so huge that the kids just shared one between the two of them. As I watched them devour the olives and grilled halloumi cheese and sucuk (Turkish sausage, made from beef, rather than pork), I started thinking about how different my own experience of the world was when I was their age. I grew up in the 1970s, with far less exposure to foreign food, far less opportunity to travel abroad and far less awareness of the sheer diversity of the world. I told my kids how lucky they were to be growing up in a time and place where they could eat Turkish breakfasts, pop into the local Polish shop, and then say hello to school friends with parents from Somalia and New Zealand, Ghana and Iran. They asked if I used to eat this kind of thing when I was a kid, at which point I started to try and explain how provincial England was back then!


Historically, the provinces were the parts of the country outside the capital. Those who lived and worked in the capital would often be fairly snobbish about them and would look down their noses at them, as the provinces were seen as lacking in culture and sophistication. It follows on from this that describing a place – or a person – as provincial means you see ideas and opinions that are old-fashioned and narrow-minded there. It also probably means that you see yourself as more cosmopolitan, as a citizen of the world at home in many different contexts.


I was recently asked by a Russian student what being a Londoner meant to me and one of the definitions I came up with was that it means being familiar with the menus of lots of different kinds of restaurants, knowing your injera (a kind of flat Ethiopian bread) from your tahdig (a kind of Iranian rice dish) and being open to new cuisines and experiences. For many of our English-language students who choose to come to London, it’s precisely this kind of thing that draws them to the city. Of course, those from outside the capital who feel looked down on and ignored, words like provincial can act like a red rag to a bull, but that’s a story for another day!


Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take one of our summer school courses.

  • Is there a divide in your country between the capital and the provinces? Which side of the divide are you on?
  • How has the kind of food people eat and the opportunity to travel changed since you were a kid?
  • Do you ever look at certain bits of your country and think they’re very provincial? Why?

Word of the day: craic

Over the last few days, I’ve actually been to Dublin, the capital of Ireland, twice! Last Friday, I also spent a few hours in Galway, on the wild west coast of Ireland, where the winds come whipping in from the Atlantic Ocean! I was working with local teachers of English, talking specifically about Outcomes – the books I’ve helped to write, and about teaching in general!

One of the more interesting questions I was asked was about the degree to which teachers should teach ‘standard’ English and the degree to which it’s OK to teach local variations. Many people in Ireland – like many people here in London – use English in ways that are particular to their local environment, and there are noticeable features of Irish (and London) English that visitors soon start hearing on the street. This includes accent, obviously, but also includes grammar (for instance, many Irish people will ask Have we to . . . ? instead of Do we have to . . . ?) and vocabulary.


Perhaps the most obvious word that’s widely used there, but not over here (except by Irish people in London, of course!) is craic – pronounced /kræk/. It’s a hard word to pin down as its meaning depends on the contexts it’s used in, but a rough explanation would be something like ‘fun’ or ‘a good time’ or ‘a good conversation’. Here are some common examples:

What’s the craic? / How’s the craic? (= How are you? / What’s going on with you, then?)

Any craic? (= Was it any good? / Was it fun?)

Sure it was good craic last night, like. (= We had a good time when we went out last night)

We’ll go down the pub, just for the craic. (= just because it’s a way of having fun)


However, not all Irish people like either the word or the concept. Critics have accused the Irish Tourist Board and the promoters of Irish theme pubs of marketing “commodified craic” as a kind of stereotypical Irishness . . . and one of my Irish friends noted that the word is used by troublemakers to justify civil unrest on and around St. Patrick’s Day – ‘But sure its just a bit of craic’!

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I’ll finish by returning to the question of whether this should be taught in classes. My own feeling is that first and foremost we need to be teaching students language that’s widely used by fluent speakers of English around the world. Having said that, though, students who have chosen to spend time in Dublin will be wanting to mix with locals and enjoy the local nightlife and may well be sharing accommodation with locals too, so words like craic will come up and so should be covered – even if only as optional extras.

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  • Do you know any other examples of English words / grammar that’s particular to a certain area?
  • Can you think of any examples of these kinds of phrases / odd uses of grammar in your first language?
  • If you were studying in London, would you like to learn some bits of language that are commonly used here, but not widely used elsewhere? Why? / Why not?