05 Mar


Who taught: Sara at a local coffee shop

Hello, my friends out there… It’s been a while. Sorry for being absent for so long! Over the last few months, I had too many irons in the fire but it is all great. I enjoy every moment. Hope all of you are doing well!

Often, I go to a local coffee shop to work. Usually, I order a small Americano. In fact, Sara at the coffee shop knows me and what I want. As soon as I walk in, she immediately starts to make one Americano for me. No need to even talk or order. So simple.

But, at first, there was a time that I was not sure what she was talking about. Ordering something to eat and drink is not that simple for non-native English speakers. Here is the conversation we had at first.

Me: “Can I have a small Americano, please?”

Sara: “Sure, do you want regular or decaf?”

Me: “Regular is fine with me.”

Sara: “What size?”

Me: “Small, please!”

Sara: “Single or Double?” (At this point, some of you might be confused. Well, this maybe is an item for another post but, simply speaking, this is about the amount of coffee to brew. Again, ordering something to drink is not easy.)

Me: “Single, please.”

Sara: “For here or to go?” (Again, you might be confused. No one uses full sentences when it comes to ordering foods.)

Me: “For here, please.”

Sara: “Room for cream?” (How about this question? Tricky, huh?)

Me: “Yes, please. In fact, a lot of room.” (I like my Americano with less water in it.)

Sara then makes the coffee and ready to server in a small cup.

Sara: “Wanna saucer too?”

So, at that point, I was lost because I did not know the word.

Me: “Sorry?”

Sara picks up a small plate to put the coffee on, saying “saucer?”


Saucer (source: www.prima-coffee.com)

That is the moment I realized what a saucer means. Would they ever call it “plate”? I do not know. Maybe…. Could you help me, my American friends?

Well, this happened a long time ago but I still do remember that moment vividly. Frankly, it is my daily life. Every day, I learn new words. Literally, every single day! I do not think this will ever end.

So hard to be good at English.

Speaking of saucer, there is another related expression, flying saucer. Can you guess what it would be? A hint is that you want to think of the shape of a saucer. What is a thing that is flying in the sky and its shape is like a saucer? That’s right. It is UFOs.

Well, next time you visit the USA and go to a coffee shop to order, remember these questions. They will come in handy.

I have always been wondering what would happen if I say all of what I want even before they ask.

As soon as you stand in front of a barista, you say the following.

A small Americano with a single shot and a lot of room for cream. It is for here but I do not need a saucer.

They might say, “Slow down, dude!” or they might like you. Give it a try and let me know.

Happy learning!

14 Aug


Where taught: Meat and Potatoes

gastropub, a new word to be added into Webster dictionary


During the last weekend, my friends, Jason and Ashley, from Buffalo visited us. We had a great time together, taking a short trip to D.C. and going to a baseball game in Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, while walking from PNC Park to a parking lot, we were passing by a restaurant called Meat and Potatoes. This place is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh. I have never been to but am planning to go soon.

Right in front of the restaurant, there was a street sign that they put on and it says “Meat and Potatoes, Gastropub.”

When I saw that sign, I thought, “Hmm.. gastropub? That’s a new word for me.” Because it sounds interesting, I was able to remember the word till this Morning.

Sometimes, new words just want me to remember by showing themselves more than one time within a very short time period. Well, that is exactly what happened this Morning.

We all were watching Today show this Morning and they were talking about new English words to be added into Webster dictionary in 2012. Coincidentally, gastropub was one of them.

How can I forget this word? I am sure you have a pretty good idea that this word means a restaurant that serves also beers or liquors. That’s pretty much what it means. But, to be more precise, the definition that Webster will use is as follows.

a pub, bar, or tavern that also offers meals of high quality.

It is a combined word of gastronomy and pub. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had this kind of experience all the time to learn new words? They will definitely stick.

Hey, my friends! I will let you know whether the restaurant is really what it claims to be after I eat food there.

07 Aug

cotton swab

Who taught: Jessica

cotton swab

cotton swab

There are things that I have been using in my entire life. Yet, I have never tried to find what they are in English. Look around, my friends! You will see a lot of them.

Jessy usually picks me up from the school after I am done for a day. A few days ago, she came to the school to pick me up as usual. However, she bought one thing at a local drug store on her way. She bought a package of cotton swabs.

Well, I did not care what she bought. As we are going back to home, she asked, “Do you know what Myun-Bong(면봉) is in English?”

I thought about it for a little while and said, “cotton pole,” because I simply tried to translate Korean into English and pole means “Bong(봉).” Am I right? Don’t you think I am?

I guess I was half-correct. 🙂

Honestly, that was my first time to hear the word, “swab.” In my defense, I have not been to hospitals that many.

So, why don’t you look around and see whether you can find English words for things you see around you?

I guess it is time to go to a drug store to learn English.

30 Jul


Who taught: Jason



Last year, I bought a house. My first house that I have ever owned in my whole life.

It is hard to believe that I have been living in the house for more than a year. Time does fly. I plan to live there for the next three years and think about moving. Anyway, it is an old house. How old? It is almost 100 years old. Pretty crazy, huh? When I first bought it, I noticed that there are things that I need to fix or update. One of them was painting the exterior. Some of the paint were coming off and that would cause an issue to the wood.

This summer, I hired a guy, Jason, to repaint it. When he first visited my house to discuss the price, we walked around the house to see where exactly that he needs to paint. Well, I basically told him, “That part, this part!,” pointing them. Then, he said, “Oh… you want all of the eaves to be painted.” Honestly, I did not know what eaves are but definitely could see that it is the word to mean the lower edges of the roof.

Well, I do have an excuse to not to know that word. As I told you, this is my first house ever owned. Why would I need to know those words, right? So many words around the house. I think I will write a series for those. So, stay tuned.

Do you have  your house? How are your eaves? Hope they are in good condition!

01 Feb

rediscovering a word series 1: hint

Mighty mango juice from the Naked juice (source: The Naked Juice)

Last weekend, I visited my brother-in-law’s family who lives in Virginia. As a preparation for a trip that takes around 6 hours one way, my parents-in-law and I went shopping at Costco. We bought some fruits and juices. What kind of juices did you buy? We bought the Naked juices. It is a juice brand in the U.S. and it is pretty expensive because it claims that it does not have any artificial flavors but has only pure juice from fruits.

We bought mango juices and have drank most of them but some were left over during the trip. This morning I took that out from the refrigerator and drank it with my breakfast.

As I drank, I happend to pay attention to the bottle.

It says:

1 1/4 mangoes, 1/2 orange, 1 3/4 apples, 1/3 banana, and a hint of lemon.

As I was reading through, one word caught my eyes. It was a “hint” of lemon. Hint! I know that word. It means “a slight or indirect indication or suggestion.” I, sometimes, give out hints to students when they are struggling to solve a problem. I am sure we all know what it means in this context.

What is a hint of lemon? Is it like a small piece of lemon? That was my first guess. Luckily, it was correct. Hint also means “a very slight or hardly noticeable amount.”

It was my first time to see this word, hint, used to mean hardly noticeable amount. I gotta pay more attention to small things around me to learn, or I should say rediscover, English words.

Wow, a hint of lemon! Let me give you a hint! We do not know anything until we really dig into it.