Tag Archives: Listening

Funny English!

There are two joke types that came up in conversations at work today: “Knock knock” jokes and “Roses are red…” jokes. These both have a specific format, so let’s learn how to be funny in English!

Knock knock jokes need two people to participate.

Person A: Knock knock!

Person B:Who’s there?

Person A: [name]

Person B: [name] who?

Person A: [joke with name!]

Person A: Knock knock?

Person B: Who’s there?

Person A: Isabel.

Person B: Isabel who?

Person A: Isabel necessary on a bicycle? (Is a bell necessary on a bicycle?)

The best knock-knock jokes have a pun (a joke made from the sound of a word, not the meaning) that involves the name.

“Roses are Red” jokes are based upon a poem structure. The first two lines are always the same:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

After this, you add two more lines about something funny. The rhythm and the rhyme should match the first two lines.

I’m learning English,

And so are you!

We put the joke together like this:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

I’m learning English,

And so are you!

Most Canadians will be familiar with these kinds of jokes. Ask your homestay family or your Canadian friends to tell you some and post them here!


Stressed Out?

By moving our sentence stress, we can change the emphasis of a sentence. I heard this great example from a friend:

“I never said she stole my money” can have seven different meanings according to the stressed word.

1. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it; someone else did.

2. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it, not even once.

3. I never said she stole my money – I never said it, but perhaps I wrote it or thought it.

4. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; somebody else did.

5. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; it was a gift.

6. I never said she stole my money – She stole someone else’s money.

7. I never said she stole my money – She stole something else.

English Gaming

Playing games in English can be not just fun. Often you’ll use your language skills too! Learning vocabulary related to the story of the game, negotiating with partners or opponents, or discussing how to play can really focus your skills. Some of my favourite games include Scrabble, Pictionary, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, 10 Days in Asia, and Taboo. Some pubs or restaurants have games you can play while you eat: Guilt & Co. in Gastown, Stormcrow on Commercial Drive, or Steel & Oak in New Westminster all have games to play. Do you know of more pubs with games? Tell me below!

Vocab: Condominium and Apartment

A condominium and an apartment are the same physical space, but the apartment is for rent. You buy a condominium.

“Condominium” is quite formal, too. Casually, most people will just call it a “condo.”

In England, people will call an apartment a “flat.” This is uncommon in Canada.

If you live in a house that is divided into two or more apartments, we call them “suites.” It’s pronounced the same as “sweets.” The lower suite is sometimes called the “basement suite” or the “garden suite.”

Listening Skills and Podcasts

The best way to get better at listening is by… listening. Many students use movies or music to practice, but what about podcasts? They usually have natural, spoken English, and they can help with vocabulary as well. The presenters can be anywhere in the world, and that means different accents and slang.

Some of my favourites are This American LifeStuff You Should KnowPlanet Money, and RadiolabBBC Documentaries is a great source of world news stories in more detail than you will find on TV or the radio.

Happy listening!