Friday Idiom: break a leg

Learn an English idiom every Friday with Groupetude!

This idiom is used in theatres; before an actor goes on stage, rather than saying “good luck”, which incidentally is supposed to bring bad luck, you say, “break a leg!”

I have always wondered why we say break a leg… it is a bit strange after all. Its origins, however, are uncertain, so we’ll just have to remember not to say “good luck” to anyone about to perform!

Word of the Day: wary

Word of the day: wary. Improve your English vocabulary with Groupetude!

Well, many of us are wary of a great number of things, particularly in these strange times. I think it’s important to be able to express these worries with the adequate vocabulary!

So here are some more examples of the word “wary” in use:

  • We wary of things that seem to good to be true, they often are!
  • That said, it’s also important not to be wary of everything and everyone, trust is important too.
  • Christine gave him a wary look from across the table.

So there we are, can you think of any other examples?

Saint Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!

This year, as last year, celebration won’t be quite as raucous as usual, but let’s tip our hat to Ireland’s patron saint anyway and talk a little about the day.

For starters, in many of the social circles and cities I’ve floated around in, Saint Patrick’s Day is a wonderful excuse to go out to the closest Irish Pub and party. Everyone wears green, or a least a big green hat, and drinks beer in the numerous beer gardens that wake up slowly after a long winter.

But what is Saint Patrick’s Day, and what are some of its traditions?

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in the 4th century in Roman Britain and was brought to Ireland after he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and enslaved. After he escaped captivity, he returned to Ireland to convert it to Christianity. He opened schools, churches and monasteries around the country and is now celebrated on the day of his supposed death.

Some of the traditions surrounding Saint Patrick are: wearing green (this is supposed to render you invisible to Leprechauns, who apparently like to pinch people), attending parades, parties, brandishing Ireland’s symbol, the shamrock, or clover; in Chicago, the city even dyes the Chicago river green in celebration!

Traditionally, Saint Patrick’s Day is a feast day in celebration of the saint, however, it became a secular holiday with Irish immigrants to the United States, who introduced many longstanding traditions (like dyeing the Chicago River green) that are celebrated to this day!

So what are some ways in which you can celebrate today?

  • Wear green!
  • Listen to some Irish music.
  • Go exploring outside with your kids in search of shamrocks, maybe you’ll even find a four leaf clover and reap its good luck!
  • Bake a green cake and decorate it in more Irish colours.
  • Learn how to spell “Leprechaun” (this is one I struggle with)!
  • Have a beer, you can even dye it green!

So what did you do this Saint Patrick’s Day? How do you normally celebrate it? Personally, I rarely do, the bars and pubs have always been too full in the past and I like to get comfortable with my beer!

Okay, so where did I learn all this? See below!

Word of the Day: belittle

Sometimes the things that we say or do can have a negative effect on others, it’s important to learn those negative words and feelings too.

Some example sentences:

“It is very belittling when you dismiss my job like that.”

“Never belittle a person’s culture.”

“I felt belittled and hurt when I heard her say my work served no purpose.”

Grammar Mondays: adjectives 3

The nice thing about adjectives in English is that they’re not terribly complicated. There are a few rules to remember, but on the whole, there isn’t that much to it.

Let’s look at an example of a descriptive paragraph, all the adjectives are in bold:

The sun’s rays beamed into the large room through the French doors. It illuminated everything, and gave the sparsely decorated office a warm and welcoming glow. The furniture was all made of wood: the chairs were upholstered, red velvet and of polished dark mahogany; the desk, also a dark mahogany, was wide and comfortable, with papers and books scattered all over; and not to forget, the potted plant stood upright on the hardwood floor with its leaves bursting joyfully from its soil, brining in air and life.

a large room.

upholstered chair

red velvet

a wide and comfortable desk

hardwood floor

potted plant

French doors

decorated office

polished dark mahogany

Now, can you try to describe either, the room you are in, or an imaginary room. You don’t need to use terribly complicated language, use the words you are comfortable with. If you’d like to step out of your comfort zone, you can reach for a thesaurus, which is a dictionary where you will find synonyms. You can find this online by typing “thesaurus” into Google. Good luck!

Don’t forget to post your descriptions here!

Friday Idiom: half-baked

In honour of this week’s Brownie Bonanza workshop, let me intrduce today’s idiom: half-baked.

This is when an idea isn’t properly thought through. For example: “He came to us with a half-baked plan and expected us to back him up on it!”


“This half-baked plan is going to get us into a lot of trouble!”

If you haven’t already heard about it, we’re organising a free online baking workshop entirely in English this Saturday, March 13th. To sign up, simply go to the link below and enter your information, we still have a few spots left!

Word of the Day: nauseous

For the American pronunciation: nah-tious.

For the British pronunciation: nah-zee-ous

I figure that this is a pretty useful word to know. After all, everyone feels sick at one point or another, and it may be a good idea to know how to describe your symptoms to a doctor or a friend.

Here are some more examples:

I often feel nauseous in the car, especially if the road twists and turns.

Just watching you eat that is making me nauseous.

Doctor: what are your symptoms?

Patient: I have a headache, a fever, and I feel nauseous.


Since I’ve already written a post about what to read to your young kids, here’s another about some things you can give your (slightly) older kids.

So here is a list of 7 books that we either have, or that have been recommended to us.

All Right Already, and others by Jory John and Benji Davies.

I like this series, with Bear and Duck because of its simple drawings and witty turn of phrase. They really make for a great introduction to autonomous reading.

I also think these books are really fun for young English learners because the language is still quite simple, while the comic book style illustrations will help your child follow the story without too much trouble. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids who don’t have any notions at all of English, but certainly for those who are exposed to it regularly.

This brings me to my next series.

I Really Like Slop, an Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems

Ok, I know, I know, I’ve already put this on a previous list for young children, but these are also fab for early readers. They are funny, and easy to follow, even for children who are still learning English.

There Must be More than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake

This book is a little more difficult for English learners, but you could definitely read it with your middle schooler who has much more English in school. It’s a book that I would absolutely read with my grade 6 and 7 students (6ème and 5ème).

I love it because it’s a realistic but hopeful account of how kids might interpret the information they see and hear in the grown-up world. I love the style of drawings and I love how it creates a world of possibilities for young imaginations.

Tiny Titans by by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani

This series was recommended to me. I’ve included it on the list because I think comic books and graphic novels can be great introductions for reluctant readers and young English learners. As with the previous book, these ones will be for middle school aged kids who already know the basics of English. Best practice will be to read them with your kids so that they don’t feel like a chore, unless of course you’ve got avid readers!

These next titles are also recommendations from other parents and readers’ circles

Scooby-doo Team Up! By Sholly Fisch

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson

Fairy Tale Comics by Chris Duffy

Once again, these could be great introductions to the world of reading in English. They may be for elementary aged children, but the stories, illustrations and the fact that they are graphic novels and comics will take away from the idea that they’re “little kids’ books”.

While my own son is still too young to read these, I’m really looking forward to the day when he’ll begin asking me for more things to read on his own, or with me!

Friday Idiom: spill the beans

So how about a few examples?

“I worked so hard to plan the perfect birthday party for Tim, I can’t believe you spilled the beans and spoiled the surprise!”

“Okay, I did all the housework, but don’t spill the beans before we get home, I want dad to be surprised!”

“She spilled the beans before I could even begin to tell the whole story!”

So what’s the origin of this funny old idiom? Apparently, from ancient Greece. It is said that black and white beans were used to cast a vote, once you ‘spilled’ them, you found out the results of the election. Well, this is one myth of the origin story, if you’d like to find out more hypotheses, click on the link below!

This idiom is always incorporated into a sentence, like the examples above. Now you try it!