Do you know the English verb “to nibble“? Read the conversation below. Can you guess the answer?

Paulo: Did your hamster eat the new food you bought?

Helena: No. He just nibbled on it and then left it. I don’t think he likes it.

Does it mean:

a) take large bites of something

b) eat something whole

c) drink something

d) take small bites of something

The answer is below!↓

animal mouse wildlife fauna

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Answer: d) take small bites of something

[Short Story] Maisie and the Lifeguard

blue water

Photo by Matthias Cooper on

Maisie goes swimming every morning before she goes to work. She leaves home at 5:30am and drives to the swimming pool. She swims for an hour, then hurries home for a shower and breakfast before she leaves for work at 8am.

On Wednesday night, Maisie had a big fight with her boyfriend and they broke up. On Thursday morning, Maisie drove to the swimming pool as usual. She did not feel happy. She was crying. She was thinking about her ex-boyfriend. They worked in the same office and so Maisie did not want to go to work.

I’ll feel better when I am swimming, she thought. She parked the car opposite the sports centre, took her sports bag from the back seat and hurried into the building.

While Maisie was swimming, her car started to move. Very, very, slowly the car moved out of the car park and across the road. It was early morning so the road was empty. There were no people walking and no other cars on the road.

There was an announcement on the loud speaker system in the swimming pool. “Is the owner of a white Honda, number plate XJY436, in the pool?”

XJY436! That’s my car, thought Maisie. She swam to the side of the pool and climbed out. A lifeguard was standing next to the pool. Maisie ran up to him. “That’s my car,” she said. “Did I leave the lights on?”

“No,” said the lifeguard. He was laughing. “Come and see.”

Maisie followed the lifeguard out to the entrance of the sports centre. “Look!” said the lifeguard. He pointed to the big entrance doors.

“Oh, no!” shouted Maisie. Her car was in the doorway. It was half inside the building and half outside. No one could go in or out of the sports centre.

“Do you have your car keys?” asked the lifeguard.

Maisie ran to the changing rooms and came back with her car keys.

“I’ll drive it out for you,” said the lifeguard. “You are too wet.”

He took Maisie’s keys, got into the car and reversed out onto the road. He parked the car and came back in.

“The hand brake was not on,” he said. “The road goes down a little from the car park to the sports centre. The car must have rolled from where you parked it, to here.”

Maisie was very red. “I am an idiot!” she said. “I broke up with my boyfriend. I was thinking about that all the time and I forgot to put the handbrake on.”

The lifeguard gave her the car keys. “I think your boyfriend is the idiot. Who would want to break up with you?”

Maisie looked at the lifeguard. He was very cute. Perhaps I am not so sad. I wonder if this guy works every morning?

[Easy English Blog] Car inspection

mercedes benz vehicle

Photo by Markus Spiske on

I took my car for its inspection a few weeks ago. The inspection is called “shaken” in Japanese. I always take my car to the same place. They give good service. A month before the inspection is due, they send me a postcard. If I take the postcard with me on the day of the inspection, I can get a free oil change.

This year, they also cleaned my car inside and outside. (My car wasn’t so dirty, but it needed a vacuum!) A few parts needed replacing, and there was a water leak, but there were no major problems. I was relieved, because my car is over ten years old.

Older cars tend to have problems, which can be expensive. The only problem I have is the key. Sometimes it doesn’t work. I tried changing the battery and it became slightly better, but sometimes when I press the button, it doesn’t unlock the car and I have to press it many times. Sometimes I wish my car had an old-style key!

Anyway, the next inspection is in two years’ time. I will take care of my car and drive carefully until then.

By Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Short Story] Why do you have blue hair?

blue haired woman

Photo by Ali Pazani on

Rei met a nice guy on the train. He was sitting next to her. She thought he was handsome. There was a typhoon and the train was stopped for a long time. He started to talk to her. His name was Ichiro.

They were both university students. They both liked JPop. They both belonged to the kendo club in high school.

“Uh, would you give me your phone number?” asked Ichiro.  “Maybe we could meet again sometime. Go out on a date?”

Rei was very pleased. She didn’t have a boyfriend. She thought Ichiro was very nice. They exchanged phone numbers.

“Can I ask you something?” said Ichiro. “Why do you have blue hair?”

Rei didn’t want to tell him why her hair was blue. But Ichiro smiled at her, and she thought, He is talking to me. He asked for my phone number. Maybe he thinks my blue hair is OK.

“When I left my hometown and went to university, I felt very bad. I was very shy. I didn’t have any friends. I was too frightened to go out of my apartment. I was too frightened to go to classes. I wanted to do something to make me feel strong.

“I have a sister who is much older than me. She had many Sailor Moon manga. When I was young, I read them all the time. My favourite character was Sailor Mercury. She is a very friendly character. She’s smart. I wanted to be like her. She has blue hair. So I changed my hair colour to blue.”

Ichiro laughed. “What do your parents think?”

“They hate it. But I don’t care. But maybe you don’t want to go on a date with someone with blue hair.”

“Oh, I do!” said Ichiro. “I like friendly, smart girls very much. Maybe I should do something about my hair colour.”

[Easy English Blog] Speech contest

silver colored microphone

Photo by Skitterphoto on

A few weeks ago, I was asked to judge a speech contest. I judge the contest every year. The participants are elementary and junior high school students. I am always impressed with their English skills. It seems like they improve year by year.

When I started judging the contest 12 years ago, I struggled to understand some of the participants. Now, I understand everyone. Their pronunciation, rhythm and intonation are all very good.

Good English skills are important, but communication skills are also important when giving a speech. What do you want to tell the audience? How are you going to communicate that? How are you going to show emotion? Some students use gestures. A few meaningful gestures are fine, but too many is not good. When using gestures, it is important to think “Why am I using this gesture?” “What will this gesture communicate?” “Does this gesture add anything to my story?”

Some students used gestures very well. They didn’t use too many, and only used meaningful gestures. Some of them were great communicators. I left feeling very impressed.

Jump to conclusions

Do you know the English expression “to jump to conclusions“? Read the conversation below. Can you guess the meaning?

Sally: Ben has been telling everyone that Kevin has quit his job.

Lisa: Ben is always jumping to conclusions. Kevin is just taking a few weeks’ vacation. He’ll be back next month.

Does it mean:

a) gossip

b) make a judgement before considering the facts

c) make a judgement after considering the facts

d) finish talking about something

The answer is below! ↓

grayscale photo of curtain glass wall building

Photo by Miki Czetti on


Answer: b) make a judgement before considering the facts

By the skin of (one’s) teeth

Do you know the English expression “by the skin of (one’s) teeth“? Read the conversation below. Can you guess the meaning?

Russell: How did you get on in your English exam?

Toshi: I passed by the skin of my teeth. I was lucky!

Does it mean:

a) by a narrow margin

b) by a wide margin

c) have skin on one’s teeth

d) do something well when you have toothache

The answer is below!↓

nature summer yellow animal

Photo by Pixabay on


Answer: a) by a narrow margin