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Joe's Cafe, 24/7 pit stop for ESL learners and teachers
Egg's off, bacon's off, bread's off, tea's off. English is on though.

Joe’s Cafe

Irony

10th July 2010 by Joe

Irony is a situation or state of affairs that seems deliberately opposite to what you expect.

As an example, there are several ironies in the video below. One example of irony is when the police claim that the children cannot be photographed without parental consent and yet those very same children are cadets in an organization that prepares them to kill and be killed. That irony seems to have been lost on the police, who apparently made their claim with a straight face.

(Transcript below) Read on »

Saying of the Day

9th July 2010 by Joe

A saying is a short, clever expression that usually contains advice or expresses some obvious truth. Many traditional sayings are still in general use today. Read on »

Answer: When he’s a professor

Which I am not. But I suppose I should take it as a kind of perverted praise that Prof. Mercy L Candelaria (International Student Adviser and Professor, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the East, Manila, Philippines) should lift an entire webpage of mine, make a few perfunctory changes, and then publish it online claiming it as his (her?) own. Read on »

MyEC Member #20,000

1st May 2010 by Joe

Welcome to Punima - 20,000th Member of My English ClubOn January 12th 2009 the first invites for My English Club were sent out. Josef told Tara he was “looking forward to seeing what people do with this.”

Over the past 16 months English learners and teachers worldwide have worked together to build this section of EnglishClub.com.

Today, on May 1st 2010, the 20,000th member joined. Our 20,000th member is Punima of India. She is an English learner.

This is an exciting day in the history of EnglishClub.com! We wish Punima every success in learning English.

My English Club is the social network part of EnglishClub.com, where you can have your own page, and add videos, photos, music, blogs, friends etc. If you haven’t joined already, check it out today! If you’re learning or teaching English, you’ll be more than welcome.

How long is a question?

19th February 2010 by Joe

How long is a piece of string?Today I was asked a question that at first sight seems very much like the famous “How long is a piece of string?” question. “How long is a piece of string?” is something that people say when asked a question and they want to answer “It depends”, “It depends on the situation”, “It depends on the circumstances”, “How can I possibly answer that question without more information?” In other words, “You’re asking a pretty stupid question which is impossible to answer.” Here’s the question that someone asked me: “How long is a question?”

Mmmm. Let’s see. Let’s just take two hypothetical questions and measure them: Read on »

Anti-suicide well

17th February 2010 by Joe

Anti-suicide wellAnti-suicide what?!! Well. A “well” (noun) is usually a hole in the ground that people make to obtain water or other liquids (like oil). But a “well” can also mean a place that is lower than the surrounding area. If you ever take a subway (metro) train, or a skytrain, you have probably seen a well between the rails - though you may never have noticed it. The area between the rails is a good foot or so below the level of the rails themselves. And it’s there for you. Just in case you decide to leap right in front of an incoming train - it happens quite a lot in some cities, especially after the end of the tax year when payments are due - the Read on »

Flight NumbersYou probably recognize or can guess that TG916 is a “flight number” - a flight number of Thai Airways, to be precise. All commercial flights have flight numbers, based on LETTERS (representing the airline, for example TG for Thai Airways) and NUMBERS. Actually, strictly speaking, TG916 is a “flight code” and 916 is the flight number. But even within the airline industry flight codes are commonly referred to as flight numbers.

A flight code, when combined with the time and date Read on »

The Very Unnaughty Noughties

1st January 2010 by Joe

In previous centuries each decade has generally had a label based on its numerical value:

  • 1950-1959: The Fifties
  • 1960-1969: The Sixties
  • 1970-1979: The Seventies
  • 1980-1989: The Eighties
  • 1990-1999: The Nineties Read on »

End of a decade?

31st December 2009 by Joe

A decade? You guessed it - something to do with 10. Several words with “dec” relate to 10, coming from the Greek “deka” for “ten”. A decapod is an animal with 10 legs. A decahedron is a solid with 10 surfaces. A decathlon is an athletic contests with 10 events. Even December - it’s the 10th month (of the ancient Roman year, before they interfered with it). Decimal - no explanation needed. The verb decimate, which popularly means to kill or destroy a large quantity, also has the original meaning: “to kill one person in 10″. And Read on »

If you “wash your hands of something” you say that you have no (more) responsibility for something. The origin of this idiom is in the Bible Matthew 27:24: “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’” He was speaking about Read on »

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