Fun or Funny?

Don’t say: 
– My vacation was really funny.
– We did lots of funny things together, like partying and going to the beach.

Say this:
– My vacation was really fun.
– We did lots of fun things together, like partying and going to the beach.


  • Fun is something (or someone) that you enjoy.  We all had fun at the picnic.  He’s fun to be with.
  • Funny is something (or someone) that makes you laugh.  He knows a lot of funny jokes.  Three funny movies (comedies) are Airplane, Blazing Saddles, and Monty Python and the  Holy Grail 

Closed Captioning

   When you watch a video in English (TV show, movie, YouTube, etc), you can often choose to display the English words at the bottom of your screen – as they are being spoken.  This is called closed captioning. Many times you will see “CC” to show where you need to turn it on.

This is different from subtitles which are also used to show the spoken words, but in your own native language. When you are beginning to learn English, using subtitles in your native language can be helpful.  It lets you listen to the spoken English pronunciation while you read the translation. This can be especially good for learning English slang and idiom expressions.

But as your English improves, closed captioning – reading the English words while you listen to those words being spoken – can help you more, in many ways including:

  • Better understanding and remembering of what you read (reading comprehension)
  • Better understanding and remembering of what you hear (listening comprehension)
  • Improved vocabulary

Many times, you can stop the video, to listen to something again – a great way to practice.

For example, one new TV show, called Planet Earth, is on the cable station BBC America.  They talk slowly and clearly so you really have time to listen and read the closed captions.

A website with many, short, interesting videos is  For many of the videos, you can display the words in either your own language, or English.  Here’s one of their most popular videos.  It’s on body language, and how just changing the way you stand can give you more confidence…


Scams that Target Immigrants

A scam is a dishonest way to make money, by fooling people.  There are many kinds of scams, and especially recently there has been an increase in scams that target immigrants.  The attorney general of the state of New York has just warned about a scam where people pretend to be ICE agents, and they demand money from immigrants to avoid deportation.  Continued…..

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Learn About Each President in One Minute

PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, has a set of one-minute videos – one for each president of the United States. The speaker talks quickly, but there is a transcript (you can read the words), and there is a Spanish version.

For example, here is their video about George Washington:

And here is:

Presidents’ Day

   Until the middle of the 1970s, February 22, the birthday of George Washington who was the first president of the United States, was a national holiday.  Also, February 12,  the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the president during the Civil War, was a holiday in most states.  In the 1970s, Congress declared a single holiday, to be called Presidents’ Day, would be observed on the third Monday in February (Monday February 20th this year) to honor all past presidents.

Here’s a video rap to help you remember their names.

Here’s information about what places are open or closed on this national holiday…

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Scared or Scary?

Don’t say: 
– I’m too scary to go bungee jumping.
– He was scary of the loud noise.

Say this:
– I’m too scared to go bungee jumping.
– He was scared of the loud noise.


  • Scared (used as an adjective) is a feeling – similar to afraid.  I feel scared.  She is scared of bees.
  • Scary is the reason for this feeling.  Going bungee jumping is scary.  Sharks are scary.

Small Talk

Small talk is simple, polite conversation – usually with someone you don’t know very well.  Making small talk is a good way to practice your English speaking – such as when you meet someone walking in your neighborhood, or waiting in line at a store.  You can talk about things like the weather (“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”), or someone’s cute dog.

Here are some examples of small talk conversations that you can read, and listen to.