What Should We Do About Unemployment?

American lawmakers (elected representatives) are talking this week about passing (approving) a second stimulus package.

A stimulus is some action that provokes or causes a change in something else. A package here means a group of actions or laws for the same purpose.

A stimulus package is money the government gives to people when the economy is doing poorly, such as now because of the coronavirus crisis.

Because of COVID-19 (coronavirus), many people are having a hard (difficult) time financially (with money). They don’t have jobs or can’t work.

The first stimulus package in May increased unemployment benefits.

Unemployment refers to people without jobs. Unemployment benefits refers to the amount of money the government will pay you for a limited amount of time — usually just a few months — while you look for another job.

And it’s unemployment benefits that have become the main sticking point (reason for disagreement) in passing a new stimulus package this month.

The first stimulus package gave people an extra $600 each week on top of (in addition to) their regular state unemployment benefits.

Here’s the disagreement: The Democrats want to continue this. The Republicans want to eliminate (get rid of) this or reduce it to a much smaller amount.

The Democrats say that people really need this money to live.

The Republicans say that giving people an extra $600 a week is an incentive (good reason) for people to stay home and not work.

Right now, they are deadlocked — neither side will compromise (are willing to give up something), so no decision can be made.

Unfortunately, that’s nothing new in American politics.

The people who are suffering (being hurt) by this deadlock aren’t the politicians, of course. They still have their jobs! It’s the people out of work (without a job).

Maybe it’s time to stop paying politicians their salaries until they pass another stimulus package?

~Jeff

P.S. For more vocabulary related to unemployment, see Daily English 596 – Applying for Unemployment Benefits.

To understand American political parties, listen to Cultural English 26.

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .
Posted in News and Current Events | Comments Off on What Should We Do About Unemployment?

Being Locked Down is Better Than Being Locked Up

Many countries have used lockdowns to respond to the coronavirus.

A lockdown is when people in a place or area are prevented from leaving or traveling around freely:

“There are lockdowns in many U.S. cities that have closed restaurants.”

In the past, we’ve used this word mostly for prisons and jails in which the inmates (prisoners) couldn’t leave their cells (small rooms where they sleep), usually to prevent fights within the prison.

With the coronavirus crisis, a lockdown has meant that people cannot go to work, stores, restaurants, gyms, etc., unless necessary.

There is also a phrasal verb to lock down:

“We are locking down Los Angeles to prevent coronavirus from spreading.”

Being in a lockdown, as we have been here in Los Angeles, isn’t very fun.

But it’s better than being locked up!

To lock up people is to put them in prison. If you are locked up, you are a prisoner in jail. That’s not very fun, either.

There’s an old expression: “Lock him/her up and throw away the key!” This means to put someone in prison or punish someone for the rest of his or her life.

Finally, there is the phrasal verb to lock in.

To lock someone in can mean closing a door and locking it so no one can leave or enter.

“To lock in” can also be used when you are buying something, such as a house.

House buyers in the U.S. will often try to “lock in” the rate of interest they will pay on a mortgage (a loan to buy a house). This prevents the rate from going up in the future.

To learn more about prisons and related vocabulary, see our Cultural English 235 lesson.

To learn more about vocabulary related to pandemics like coronavirus, see this blog post or Daily English 721 – A Widespread Epidemic.

~Jeff

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .
Posted in Language & Terms | Comments Off on Being Locked Down is Better Than Being Locked Up

How Some Americans Cheat to Get Into College

Getting into (being admitted as a student) to the best American universities can be difficult.

Your application (information about you) is very important, and often includes one or more essays (short pieces of writing) in addition to test scores and high school grades.

Since it is so difficult, a few parents pay professionals to help their child write their college application.

Of course, universities assume (believe) that the application is done by the 17- or 18-year-old student, not a professional counselor (advisor)!

These paid counselors tell students how to package themselves (how to present themselves) to universities.

The cost of this help? Around $4000, according to one estimate.

This is cheating, of course. To cheat means to get something unfairly by not following the rules.

Elite (the best, top) universities are very competitive (difficult to get into), so some parents believe they need to do almost anything they can to help their child.

Last year, it was discovered that several parents, including some celebrities (famous people) bribed (give money to get something illegal in return) university officials to get their son or daughter into college.

This happened at a number of famous universities, including the University of Southern California, where some parents paid up to $500,000 to get a child admitted.*

One of the problems is that many parents believe they must get their child into one of the Top 20 universities, when in fact the U.S. has thousands of good quality colleges that offer a similar education.

Personally, I think it is a little insane (crazy, absurd).

And while a few colleges have thousands of applicants (students applying there), many more have to advertise (put ads online or in newspapers) to get students.

Colleges will often use slick sales pitches to get students to go there.

Slick means very professional, but really too professional, something that tries to be more than it really is.

“Slick” is usually a negative way of describing something or someone.

If you say a person is “slick,” you are saying that he is somewhat dishonest, trying to be something he isn’t.

A sales pitch is an attempt to get someone to buy your product. It is a set of reasons or arguments for something you are selling.

A slick sales pitch is, then, a somewhat dishonest attempt to “sell” students on the university in order that they be admitted as a student.

~Jeff

*  When I got my Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, I did not pay anywhere close to that amount. Those cheaters really got cheated!

P.S. For more information on colleges and universities in the U.S., see our Daily English 1127 – Paying for College and Daily English 1006 – Taking a Campus Tour.

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .
Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on How Some Americans Cheat to Get Into College

Are You Working Hard or Hardly Working?

There is an old joke that people at work sometimes say to each other:

Are you working hard or hardly working?

To work hard means to work with seriousness, to work a great deal, to work a lot.

To hardly do something is to barely do something, to do very little of something.

“Hardly” as an adverb means something different than “hard” as a noun.

So the joke is: Are you working a lot (“working hard”) or a little (“hardly working”)?

I was reminded of this expression when I read an old article in The Economist. (The Economist is a news magazines from Great Britain. It is published in the US as well.)

The article was called “An Idle Proposal” (to be idle means not to work). The story had a chart of how many national public holidays different countries had each year.

The country with the highest number was Spain, with 16; the lowest country was Romania, with five.

The United States was in the middle: we have ten holidays celebrated by most states.

Some of our national holidays are shared by other countries – Christmas and New Year’s Day, for example.

Most of our holidays are unique to the US: Independence Day (4th of July), Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Washington’s Birthday (also called President’s Day), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Veteran’s Day, and Columbus Day.

In addition, some states have their own holidays. In California, we celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, in honor of a famous Mexican American civil rights hero in the 1960s.

I’m looking forward to another holiday soon, but August doesn’t have one!
~Jeff

P.S. To learn more about Cesar Chavez, see our Cultural English 164 lesson.

For more vocabulary relate to our next national holiday in September, Labor Day, see Cultural English 49.

Looking for business/work vocabulary? Try our Using English at Work course.

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .
Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on Are You Working Hard or Hardly Working?

What Are the Most Popular Last Names in the US?

Many students of English choose an “English” name for themselves when they begin to study English.

These names are often used in professional settings as well. As far as I know, no one has actually studied how people go about choosing their names, and what reasons they give.

Have you chosen an English-sounding first name?

If so, how did you chose it and why?

I was reminded of this question when I read an article on the Voice of America website, “Most Popular Names in Each US State,” about the most popular last names or surnames in the U.S.

The article is based on a website for those interested in tracing their family tree or genealogy (a list of all your relatives, going back in time).

For more useful vocabulary related to genealogy and family trees, see our Daily English 1094 – Tracing One’s Genealogy, and Cultural English 55, which also talks about this topic.

The U.S. is often called a “country of immigrants,” and the last names we have are in some ways related to our immigration history.

As immigration changes, the popularity of certain last names shift (change in position) over time.

Here are top five most popular last names in the U.S. as of (at the time, at this point) 2019, in order:

  1. Smith
  2. Johnson
  3. Williams
  4. Jones
  5. Anderson

This list is for the entire United States. Different states have different popular last names reflecting the people who immigrated there.

For example, the three most popular last names in California are:

  1. García
  2. Hernández
  3. López

These are all obviously Spanish surnames. California has a huge Latino/Hispanic population.

Nationally, the three names that grew the most in popularity between 2000 and 2020 were Hernández, Ramírez, and Rodríguez.

Nguyen, a popular last name in Vietnam, also grew in popularity in the U.S. since 2000.

For my home state of Minnesota, the top three names are:

  1. Johnson
  2. Anderson
  3. Nelson

This reflects the fact that Minnesota was one of the most popular places those from Scandinavian (e.g. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, etc.) countries immigrated to in the early 20th century.

I’m not sure if McQuillan will ever be one of the most popular names, but my parents did their part (contributed; helped with) by having 11 children!

~Jeff

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

 

Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on What Are the Most Popular Last Names in the US?

How to Learn All the Vocabulary You Need

One question I get frequently on email is: “Do you talk about phrasal verbs in your lessons?”

A phrasal verb is sometimes called a two-word verb, such as “to put down” or “to get out” or “to kick (someone) out.”

English has lots of these phrasal or two-word verbs, and they can be very confusing to people trying to acquire (learn) the language.

Let me respond to this question in two ways.

First, many people want a “systematic” or structured review of all of the most important phrasal verbs in English.

I understand this desire to be thorough and organized in your learning.

But that’s not the best way to pick up new vocabulary.

Yes, you could try to memorize verbs the way many English courses try to teach you, one word at a time.

But that one-by-one approach has been found by several research studies to be the least efficient use of your time, the worst use of your time.

Why is this so?

To understand why trying to memorize vocabulary is not a good idea, you have to understand a little about how we improve our language proficiency.

I don’t have time to cover everything on a blog post, but I created a five-page, Special Report that explains it. You can get that for FREE here.

If you haven’t read this, get it now and read it.

Here’s the short answer: You pick up English most effectively when you are focused on understanding what you are listening to or reading, not when you “study” or try to memorize individual parts of English (vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and so forth).

Listening and reading. Those are your keys to success in English.

For listening, there’s nothing better than our own Unlimited English membership, of course! We have more than 500 hours of interesting audio to listen to.

For reading, select anything you’d like, as long as (a) you can understand most of it (over 90%), and (b) you enjoy reading it.

If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep reading it!

Reading has been shown in studies to be up to 10 times more effective than traditional vocabulary teaching, such as memorizing words.

Let me repeat that: Reading is up to 10 times faster than any other typical approach to expanding (growing; increasing) your vocabulary, including flash cards, computer programs, and websites with lots of “vocabulary” exercises.

You don’t have to try to remember new words when you read. In fact, stopping to write down a new word or forcing yourself to “memorize” it will only slow you down.

Just keep reading.

Over time, with enough listening and reading, you’ll pick up all the vocabulary you need.

Second, we DO talk about phrasal verbs, in almost every one of our Daily and Cultural English lessons!

For example, in Daily English 322 – Picking Up a Rental Car, we talk about all of these phrasal verbs: to pick up, to take advantage, and to stick to (something).

In our Cultural English 112 lesson, we talk about the phrasal verbs to cover up and to carry out.

Even more phrasal verbs are typically found in our Learning Guide under the sections What Else Does it Mean? and Cultural Note.

We talk about two to three phrasal verbs on nearly every one of our 1800+ lessons.

So if you want to know all of the phrasal verbs in English, now you know what to do: read a lot, and listen to the lessons that come with our Unlimited English membership.

~Jeff

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .
Posted in How to Learn English | Comments Off on How to Learn All the Vocabulary You Need

Dad Jokes

Last Sunday was Father’s Day in the United States, so it’s a good time to talk about “Dad jokes.”

In recent years, people have started classifying (identifying; labeling) certain not-very-sophisticated jokes as “Dad jokes.” These are usually simple jokes, often relying on a pun for humor.

A pun is when one word or phrase in the joke has more than one meaning, or rhymes with another word that has a different meaning.

Here’s an example:

Why did the girl ask the mushroom to dance?
Because he was a fun guy.

The pun here is on the last two words: “fun guy” sounds just like “fungi.” A fungi is another name for a mushroom.

Okay, not very funny, you say. And you’re right! Puns are the simplest (and some would say, lowest) form of humor.

The reason these are called “Dad jokes” is probably because we consider them nowadays to be old fashioned (out of style; no longer popular).

Children often consider their parents to be old fashioned and behind the times (not very “up-to-date” with the latest trends, music, etc.).

The expression “Dad joke” is fairly new, however. We didn’t call my father’s jokes “Dad jokes” back in the 1970s and ’80s.

The structure or form of a Dad joke is very traditional, and is not used by many modern comics today. It has just two parts:

  1. The Set-Up or Opener: This is the question or first part of a statement that gets you “ready” for the pun.
  2. The Punchline: This is the part that includes the pun, the funny part.

Here’s another example:

Why do optimists (people who always see the positive in things) have to wear sunglasses?
Because they’re always looking on the bright side.

You wear sunglasses when it is very bright (light) outside. And “to look on the bright side” means to find the positives in any situation. The joke here involves the two meanings of “bright.”

These puns can be very difficult for people who are not native or very, very advanced speakers of the language. Don’t worry if you don’t “get” (understand) the joke! Even people who have lived in the U.S. for many years often don’t get these jokes.

Okay, one more bad pun/Dad joke for you:

What kind of tree fits into your hand?
A palm tree.

The joke here is on the word “palm.” The inside part of your hand between your wrist and your fingers is called you “palm.” There is also a tree popular in tropical areas called a palm (there are many in Los Angeles).

Okay, I’ll stop!

~Jeff

P.S. For more English related to humor and jokes, see our Daily English lesson 165 – A Practical Joke, 498 – Joking and Making Fun of People, and 242 – A Comedy Club.

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

 

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
Posted in Language & Terms | Comments Off on Dad Jokes

Blood is Thicker Than Water

Americans will celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday, June 21st, so it’s a good time to talk about expressions in English related to family and relatives (people related to you by blood).

One well-known saying is “Blood is thicker than water.”

This saying means that being related by blood (the red liquid that goes through people’s bodies) to someone is more important than being just a friend or acquaintance (someone you know), especially in a difficult situation.

To be thicker literally (actually) means more dense or heavy, but here it means “more important.”

For example, a woman wants to leave her successful company to her children after she dies, but believes that none of her children are good in business.

She might say, “I know that my son James isn’t the best choice to be the next company president, but blood is thicker than water. I would rather leave the business to a family member than to a stranger.”

When we have to choose between friends and family, we usually choose family. That’s because blood is thicker than water.

Another well-known expression related to family is “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

An apple is a kind of fruit that grows on a tree (see photo). When apples fall off the tree, they usually stay close to it.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” means that  children (or grandchildren) often have the same characteristics (likes, dislikes, talents, etc.) as their parents. A child’s traits (personality, actions, interests) stay “close” to his parents, like an apple to its tree.

The expression can be used for good or positive characteristics.

For example: When Damon was in college, he was a great runner. Now, his daughter is only 12-years-old, but she has won every race she has ever competed in (entered).

You might say in observing this fact that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Damon’s daughter is similar to Damon, because both are good runners.

But the expression can also be used for bad or negative characteristics.

For instance: “I heard that Julio was in jail. I’m not surprised. Both of his parents had problems with the law when they were teenagers. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

A saying that has a similar meaning is “Like father, like son.”

If you find out that both the father and the son are good at fixing cars, you might say “Like father, like son.”

Although it isn’t as common, you can also use the saying, “Like mother, like daughter” when the two share some common characteristic.

Ask yourself: Are your interests, occupation, likes or dislikes similar to your parents?

For me, the answer is yes.

My father was a teacher; I’m a teacher.

My father liked to talk a lot and tell stories. I am the same way (ask my wife).

Of course, we’re not alike in all things. My father loved lots of sports, whereas (however; but) I only really love one: the world’s greatest sport, baseball.

Sadly, due to the coronavirus, I can’t watch any baseball on TV yet!

~Jeff

P.S. This post is adapted from our Cultural English lesson 68.

For more family-related vocabulary, check out these Daily English lessons:

519 – Describing Family Relations

1101 – Problems Getting Along With Family

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

 

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
Posted in Language & Terms | Comments Off on Blood is Thicker Than Water

A Day for the Flag

This Sunday, June 14th, is a national holiday (celebration) that even many Americans forget about: Flag Day.

Unlike holidays such as the Fourth of July (Independence Day), Thanksgiving, or Christmas, on which most Americans get the day off of work, Flag Day is typically just a “regular” day of work.

Flag Day marks (honors; remembers) the day when Congress adopted (approved) the stars and stripes (lines) for the new United States flag.

It was John Adams, a leader of the American Revolution against England and our second president, who proposed (recommended) on June 14, 1777, that the flag have thirteen red and white stripes to represent the 13 original American colonies.

He also proposed that there be one white star for each state placed in a blue box located on the corner of the flag.

So the original flag had 13 stars and 13 stripes. A nickname of the U.S. flag is in fact “the Stars and Stripes.”

As the United States grew, more states were added to the country, so more stars were added to the flag’s blue box. But the number of stripes remained the same (13), to remember the first 13 colonies/states at the beginning of our history.

Over the years, the flag has been “updated” or changed 27 times. The last time was on July 4, 1960, changing from 48 stars to 50 (Alaska and Hawai’i became states in 1959).

President Woodrow Wilson decided to honor the flag by officially proclaiming (announcing) June 14th as Flag Day back in 1916. It was a day to celebrate the flag, fly it, and for some towns, to have a parade.

In recent years, there have been fewer celebrations of Flag Day. And there have been many controversies (topics people disagree about) over the flag, especially when used as a symbol of protest against the U.S. government.

Despite these disagreements, I think most Americans still honor (respect) the flag as a symbol of the good things in our history, while recognizing that not every element of America’s past or present is positive.

On Flag Day, many Americans think especially of the men and women who fought and died for their country.

I think of my father, who fought for the freedom of Europe during World War II.

The “Stars and Stripes” is still a symbol of their hope and sacrifice over the past two centuries.

~Jeff

P.S. Like this short English lesson? Get a FREE sample lesson (no money needed) – SIGN UP BELOW!

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .
Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on A Day for the Flag

Graduation: Stay-at-Home Style

Here in Los Angeles, we are still being asked to stay at home this week because of the coronavirus. To get some exercise, I take walks around my neighborhood.

Recently, I’ve been seeing lawn signs like the one in the photo* (lawn is grass either in front of or behind a building).

Traditionally, May and June are the months when students graduate from high school and college.

Graduation (from the verb to graduate) is the official end of a student’s studies and is usually celebrated with a graduation ceremony (a formal event related to some celebration).

A graduation ceremony begins with some speeches (prepared talks to an audience).

Then the seniors (students in their last year of high school/college, who are now graduating) walk on stage one at a time to receive their diplomas (official certificates showing the completion of their studies).

Friends and family are there of course to cheer (to shout loudly to show their happiness).

Well, that’s the way it usually works. No so (not the situation) this year.

With schools closed for the past two months or more, and with large gatherings banned (not allowed), the traditional graduation ceremony won’t be held in most schools.

Instead, some schools will have no graduation ceremonies at all. Students’ diplomas will be mailed to them.

Some schools are postponing (scheduling for a later date) the graduation ceremony until later in the summer, when (we hope!) things will return to normal (go back to the way they used to be).

Other schools are having virtual (via the Internet) graduations.

In these cases, the graduating students and their friends and family are invited to join an online event.

There are live or recorded speeches from the principal (person in charge of the school) and the valedictorian, the student with the best academic record (the best grades).

A few schools with a smaller number of graduating seniors are able to have “live”, in-person graduations.

Each student arrives with their family and friends, and their temperature is taken before they can participate.

Then the students are allowed to walk on stage to receive their diploma. Friends and family can take photos and cheer the graduate.

I feel sorry for high school graduates this year. Not only are they missing out on (will not have) a traditional graduation, they’re also miss out on graduation parties.

When I graduated high school, there was a party at my house for my family and friends. The tradition back then, in the late 19th century, was that each graduate’s family had a party, but your friends from school could also attend (go to the party).

This meant that nearly every weekend for about six weeks, there was a graduation party to go to. For my school, someone even organized a schedule so everyone could see when the parties were.

Good times (it was enjoyable)!

But as the old saying goes (says): “This too shall pass.”

This bad situation won’t last forever. With luck, seniors will soon be able to party to their hearts’ content (as much as they want to).

~ Jeff

* “Samohi” is the nickname or informal name for “Santa Monica High School.” A class, in this case, refers to all of the students in the same grade at the same time. We would refer to the graduates this year as “the graduating class of 2020.”

P.S. To learn more about traditional graduation ceremonies, check out Daily English 374: A Graduation Ceremony.

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