2017 has been a good year for us. As well as teaching hundreds of online lessons, we’ve also delivered face-to-face courses here in Stratford upon Avon, proof-read an academic thesis, and helped people in China to practise their English pronunciation.
Next year we will continue to provide our popular and flexible online lessons and adding to our blog. We are currently planning a new pronunciation course which wil combine online, face-to-face learning with specially designed videos and interactive exercises.
Is there anyway we can help you to improve your English? Contact us to talk about it.
Here’s a little Christmas present from us to you. Test your knowledge of English prepositions by decorating our Christmas tree .
We are creating more and more interactive materials for our blog and to support our language courses. If there is a particular area of language you think we should focus on, please use the comment box below or contact us with your ideas.
d) Relates to the practice of whipping with a cat-o’-nine-tails (a kind of whip with several ‘tails’).
e) Early navigators could easily become lost when out of sight of land as it was hard to work out their exact position.
1 c 2 e 3 d 4 a 5 b
Today, these idioms are no longer associated with ships and the sea.
Read these sentences and choose the correct modern meaning for the idiom.
1) Congratulations! You’ve done a first rate job setting up the new order system.
b) high quality
2) When I first started here, I felt all at sea, but everyone was so friendly I soon settled in.
3) She’s just bought a flat in London, but considering it cost £250,000 there’s no room to swing a cat!
a) it’s luxurious
b) it’s very small
c) it’s expensive
4) Don’t worry about the cost – you only get married once – let’s push the boat out!
a) have a party on a boat
b) invite a lot of people
c) spend a lot of money
5) Although I’d met him before, it was only when we started working together that he showed his true colours.
a) saw his real personality
b) saw he was a nice person
c) saw he didn’t like me
1 b 2 a 3 b 4 c 5 a
If you’ve never been to Greenwich, it’s definitely worth a visit – we met up with one of our ‘old’ students from Switzerland there. The National Maritime Museum has many fascinating exhibits, including Nelson’s uniform from the Battle of Trafalgar, with the hole made by the bullet that killed him!
If you have visited Greenwich, we would love to hear about your experience. Leave a reply below.
On the Wednesday this week, we published a second article about Stratford upon Avon, the home of Stratford Teachers and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The text of the article contained eight phrases that come from Shakespeare’s plays but are still used as idioms in modern English.
This article will reveal the eight phrases, explain their meaning, tell you which plays they came from, and give some modern examples of their use.
If you didn’t see the first article and want to test yourself, click here to read it then come back here.
Here’s the second paragraph of the very short biography of Shakespeare. It contains two phrases.
In 1623, Shakespeare’s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell collected many of the plays collected into a book called the First Folio. However, by this time, William was as dead as a doornail. He died on his fifty-second birthday in 1616. Nobody knows for sure why he died so young. There are many theories including murder most foul.
This is the paragraph about Shakespeare’s birthplace.
The house became a pub called The Swan Maidenhead. By the nineteenth century, the building had seen better days. When the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it in 1856 it was a sorry sight. They renovated and opened it; so Shakespeare’s Birthplace has been a tourist attraction for more than 150 years.
Philip got caught in that rain storm yesterday. He was a sorry sight when he got here.
There are three more phrases in the story of New Place.
When it became several tourists every day, he was in a pickle. He asked the local government for money to pay a tour guide but they sent him packing. He went back and said that if they didn’t give him any money he would demolish the house. The men of the local government wouldn’t budge an inch.
The third challenge is more literary: Which of Shakespeare’s plays does each phrase come from?
A very, very short biography of William Shakespeare
What do we know about the most famous writer in English history? William Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon on 23 April 1564. He was married to Anne Hathaway and had 3 children. Although William worked as an actor, writer and theatre manager in London, his family never left Stratford. He wrote or collaborated on 38 plays and also wrote 154 sonnets and other long poems. He retired from acting around 1613 and moved back to Stratford.
In 1623, Shakespeare’s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell collected many of the plays collected into a book called the First Folio.
However, by this time, William was as dead as a doornail. He died on his fifty-second birthday in 1616. Nobody knows for sure why he died so young. There are many theories including murder most foul.
A quick tour of Stratford upon Avon
There are many places in Stratford upon Avon connected to William Shakespeare.
After the Shakespeare family moved out, the house became a pub called The Swan Maidenhead. By the nineteenth century, the building had seen better days.
When the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it in 1856 it was a sorry sight. They renovated and opened it; so, Shakespeare’s Birthplace has been a tourist attraction for more than 150 years.
From 1597 to 1616, the Shakespeare family lived in a large house called New Place. It was right in the centre of Stratford.
Here’s a photo of it from about 100 years ago and another from this year.
If you are thinking: what house? then you are right. New Place was demolished in 1759. It’s a strange story.
Even in the seventeen hundreds, tourists came to Stratford. They would knock on the door of New Place and ask for a tour of Shakespeare’s house. When it was one tourist a week, the owner of the house was happy to give tours. When it became several tourists every day, he was in a pickle.
He asked the local government for money to pay a tour guide but they sent him packing. He went back and said that if they didn’t give him any money he would demolish the house. The men of the local government wouldn’t budge an inch.
That’s why tourists visit a house that doesn’t exist anymore.
The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
This is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The first theatre was built in 1885. Notice it has a tower.
In 1926, there was a huge fire.
Here’s what the theatre looked like when it reopened in 1932. There was no tower this time.
When the theatre was renovated at the start of this century the design came full circle. Today, you can go to the top of the tower and look out at the countryside around Stratford.
Did you spot any of the eight phrases included in the tour? Put your answers in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Don’t forget, they are all used as idioms in modern English. Try and find them in the dictionary.
In the next part of Stratford and the language of Shakespeare, I will take you on a virtual tour of Stratford upon Avon and show you some phrases from Shakespeare’s plays that have become modern English idioms.
All the links in this article are to the very fine website Shakespeare’s Words by David and Ben Crystal.
Of course, Stratford is famous because it is the birthplace of the writer William Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare died here exactly 400 years ago. This year there have been countless festivals and events in Stratford and around the country to commemorate this date.
When people came to Stratford to study English, they always asked about William Shakespeare. We took them on a tour of the famous places in the town that are connected to him. The biggest building in the centre of Stratford is the theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Many people also wanted to see a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays. However, they thought that they would be perplexed by the language. They were worried that they would not understand.
It is true that the characters in Shakespeare’s plays speak very differently from how we speak today. However, the students worries were usually baseless. If you know the story of the play, it is possible to follow and understand a performance.
Shakespeare’s plays and poems use a vocabulary of about 27,000 words. This is over three times more than an average native-speaker of English uses on an average day. Lots of these words are now archaic – we don’t use them in modern English. Many words that we still use today appeared in writing for the first time when Shakespeare used them. There are also some words and phrases that William Shakespeare may have invented that are part of English 400 years after he died. In fact, there are four words in this article that, according to scholars, were invented by Shakespeare. Did you spot them?
In the next part of Stratford and the language of Shakespeare, I will tell you the four words and show you some phrases from Shakespeare’s plays that have become modern English idioms. It’s easy to quote Shakespeare. Maybe you already do it.