Idiom Edition: Go with the Flow

Like they say, “When in Venice, do as the Venetians do.”

Living in Venice means adapting to the area’s constant flooding. the struggles to raise the sinking city and keep the rising waters at bay are very real, the city’s citizens have learned to go with the flow.

The ‘Library of High Water’ has a clever way of keeping dry, and while it’s easy to throw on some boots and wade your way around, some Venetians throw in the towel and put on bathing suits instead.

Swim over to to find out more!


Vocablets of the Day: Farther Vs. Further

Man, these two can be easy to mix up! When do you use ‘farther’ in a sentence and when do you use ‘further’? Are they interchangeable?

Farther is usually used when referring to measurable distances. For example:

-Is it much farther to the house?

-No one has made it farther than the bridge.

-The TV remote was farther than I could reach.


Further is used normally for figurative distances or general advancement. For example:

-If you complain any further I’ll guarantee you don’t make it back to the house.

-We have no further plans to attempt to cross the bridge

-I can’t watch the TV for now, but I’m further along in my book

When in doubt, ‘further’ gets you further, because there are some restrictions for ‘farther’. In fact, ‘further’ can replace ‘farther’ in all the examples above, but not the other way around.

If you want to study these further, as well as some other words that are easy to mix up, head over to:

Language Matters: Is Txting Killing Language?

L8ly there has been a lot of worry over the millions of texts being sent every day that ignore punctuation and capitalization, replace letters with numbers, and use LOL way too much. OMG, R txts KILLING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE?

Linguist John McWhorter has a different take on texting, and it’s good news. He says that texting resembles spoken language much more than written language.

Think about it, you don’t think about capitalization and punctuation while talking right? But texting doesn’t just loosen sentence structure, it brings in its own layers of complexity.

For example: LOL has evolved a more subtle meaning than ‘laughing out loud,’ like in the following context:

Susan: lol thanks gmail is being slow right now
Julie: lol, i know.
Susan: i just sent you an email.
Julie: lol, i see it.

Nothing said above is funny right? Here ‘LOL’ is being used to mark the speaker’s feelings of understanding and empathy.

We’re beginning to write like we speak largely because we finally have the technology — mobile phones — to keep up with the pace of real-time speech. Imagine trying to carry on a conversation with someone using typewriters!

Texting is a whole new way of writing that young people are using alongside their ordinary writing skills. In other words it’s not the decline of the English language, but a new ‘fingered speech‘ that’s being constantly evolved, mainly by 16 year old girls! :)





Idiom Edition: Running Circles

Acrobatic kicks, amazing headers, incredible saves – there’s been a lot to cheer for during the 2014 World Cup, but perhaps one of the most astonishing efforts on display has been the incredible amount of distance these athletes cover in a match.

Some soccer players run as much as 9.5 miles a game!

So what’s the difference between running circles around someone and running around in circles?

Well, if you watched the semifinal match between Germany and Brazil you’ve seen great examples of both!

The German team ran circles around Brazil, meaning that they outplayed the home team, demonstrating much more skill and ability in their 7-1 win.

Brazil’s team meanwhile seemed to run around in circles for most of the game, which means they spent a lot of time and energy but didn’t achieve much.

Run over to VN for more run phrases!



Language Matters: Learning Through Gesture

Have you ever tried explaining something to a friend, when all of a sudden you find your arms waving up and down and your hands acting things out as you go?

I bet it helped get your point across

Our body language communicates a great deal, even as we explain things in words. A number of studies have shown that learning is easier when the lesson involves words and gestures, and that these lessons stick around longer in your memory than the lessons that only use words.

Apparently actions and words work hand in hand!

While the researchers behind these studies are hesitant to jump to conclusions, their repeated findings in favor of gesture-based learning have led to a push to incorporate gesture-based technologies in classrooms.

By the way, we often make reference to our bodies and actions when talking about learning and abstract concepts. I’ve made sure to point out a few examples in this post!

Vocablet of the Day: Aural

Music is better when it’s loud, right?  Maybe so, but your ears might not agree.

Study ‘aural‘ NOW with VocabNetwork’s Hey! Listen! studylist.

Before you blast your favorite tunes through your earbuds, it might be wise to think about what kind of effect that noise will have on your future relating to your sense of hearing.

It makes sense that spending a lot of time around painfully loud noises, like rock concerts or construction work, can lead to hearing loss later in life.  However, it might surprise you that something as simple as the type of headphones you use can be damaging to your aural health.

Do you try to protect your future aural ability by keeping your headphone volume low?

Study ‘aural‘!
Add the aural-Hearing Loss Vocablet to a studylist of your own, or start learning right away with VocabNetwork’s Hey! Listen! studylist.

Language Matters: Does Gender Matter, Too?

It’s long been said that women are better at learning languages than men.  While broad statements like these always need to be looked at with a critical eye, there are some differences in the way women and men learn languages that can help explain why women tend to be more proficient at picking up a new language.

In children, boys and girls process language differently in the brain.  Girls’ brains show more activity in language encoding areas when learning language, while boys’ brains show more activity in in visual and aural areas.  This means that girls are more efficient in learning language abstractly, while boys need images and sounds to learn effectively.

Female language learners use more study methods than male learners, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening.

Female learners are four times more likely to talk with native speakers of the language they’re trying to learn, according to one language learning website.  These casual online conversations can help learners pick up slang and colloquialisms while becoming more comfortable with the language.

Finally, girls tend to be more motivated to learn languages in school than boys.  The reasons behind this are not known (and hotly debated), but it might have something to do with the idea that language learning is more female-dominated.

None of these facts necessarily prove that women are better at learning languages than men, but they do present some interesting evidence.  What do YOU think?

Vocablet of the Day: Humility

Pope Francis was elected in March of 2013, and it didn’t take long for people to realize that there was something different about him.

Study ‘humility‘ in VocabNetwork’s I Live To Serve studylist.

Pope Francis has gone a different way from previous popes, choosing to live more simply and with the quality or state of being humble.

Pope Francis' chair, on the right, shows his humility even in his new station.

In the past, popes have lived a life of luxury that comes with the highest position in the Catholic Church.  Pope Francis, demonstrating his humility, has chosen instead to keep his clothes simple and to live in the Vatican guesthouse rather than the large papal apartment.

Do you think Pope Francis’ humility makes a statement?  What kind?

Study ‘humility‘!
Add the humility-Pope Francis Vocablet to a studylist of your own, or get started right now with VocabNetwork’s I Live To Serve studylist.