English for parents – Phrase books!

So they’re finally done. I’ve written a book! In fact I’ve written two books, with the help of my awesome husband.

So if you’re a Japanese parent and you’re going to live in an English speaking country, you need this phrase book to help you talk to doctors, teachers, shop assistants, other parents and other children.

And if you’re an English speaking parent going to live in Japan you need this phrase book, and it’ll help you talk to doctors, teachers, shop assistants, other parents and other children.

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English everyday – congratulations

It’s my birthday! (It’s not, but stick with me)… What will you say to me? Happy Birthday? Congratulations? Something else?

It is a bit strange that in English we have one special word to express best wishes, greetings and compliments; Congratulations, but we don’t use that word for birthdays! What do we say?

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English for parents – playground games

I could write a whole book about the games children play, but I’m just going to talk about a few here. Do you know…?

  • Grandma’s footsteps
  • What’s the time Mr Wolf?
  • British bulldog
  • 40/40 or 123 Blocky
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English coaching – why I won’t correct all your mistakes

How do you feel when you are told you have made a mistake? Bad, sorry, ashamed, guilty, unconfident? I’m guessing that ‘good’ is not a feeling that goes with making a mistake.

How do you feel when you are told you have made a mistake in English (or another language you are learning)? Bad, sorry, ashamed, guilty, unconfident? or good and thankful? I`m guessing at first you feel bad, but later, maybe much later, you feel better and thankful.

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English everyday – let alone

  • The doctors said he would never walk again, let alone run.
  • He barely looks 12 years old, let alone 15.

Let alone – nothing to do with being alone.

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English for parents – grumble and grizzle

Two of my favourite words are grumble and grizzle. Not because of what they mean, but because of how they sound. They are onomatopoeic words (they sound like what they mean) so they sound like the sound they represent. Got it? hummmm….

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English everyday – in a strop and in a mood

‘My computer is having a strop. So is my daughter! 😦 ‘

You can throw a strop, have a strop or be in a strop. Can you guess the meaning? The picture at the top is also a clue.

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English for parents – mucky and grubby

Two words that parents love; mucky and grubby.  Both mucky and grubby mean dirty, and always physically dirty. Especially the kind that children get. When your child has finished jumping in muddy puddles, you can say ‘You’re a mucky pup!’

  • ‘She’s a bit grubby’
  • ‘He’s a bit mucky because he was playing in the garden’.
  • ‘Don’t leave your grubby football kit in the bag.’
  • ‘Don’t put your mucky shoes on the sofa!’

Interesting the noun ‘muck’ means manure (you know, poo from cows or horses) and ‘grub’ means food.

Mucky can also describe sex in a judgmental way, ‘a mucky mag’ means a pornography magazine.

Grubby can also mean someone’s bad behaviour, if it is unfair or dishonest. ‘He can’t wait to get his grubby hands on her money.’

There’s lots of other words for dirty, can you think of some more?





English for parents – tag, tig, touch

Children all over the world come up with very similar games, hide and seek, grandma’s footsteps, and tag, or is it called tig? or touch? or it? or chase?

Tag is the game where one player is ‘it’ (decided by playing dip), they have run after the other players and try and touch them. The touched person then becomes ‘it’. There’s no equipment, teams or scores. There’s often a safe zone, where players can rest and not be touched/tagged. In the UK this is often called ‘den’. When I was a child ‘den’ would often be a tree, or sometimes a manhole cover in the playground.


A manhole cover can be a safe zone, or den, when playing touch

Often the chosen den becomes the name of the game. So if someone suggests playing ‘wood touch’ you know the den is trees or anything wooden. We played ‘off-ground touch’ – safe when you’re not touching the ground, and ‘green touch’ – safe when you’re touching something painted green.

I call this game touch, but tag and tig seem to be more common, but there’s also tap, taggy, tick, and chase. This website shows where some names are used in the UK but it can vary from town to town and even family to family.

What did you call tag? What were your dens? Let me know below



English everyday – whinge and whine

Whinge, whine, moan, grumble, bitch, just stop with all your complaining!

Whinging is a great British past-time, we love to have a good whinge about the weather, our jobs, the government, the local shops, other drivers, people on the bus, the quality of Cadbury’s chocolate or the amount of crisps in a  packet. Honestly we’ll complain about anything, but ask us if there is a problem and the answer is: “No, everything’s fine, thanks!”

Whinge is pronounced with a soft j sound at the end /wɪn(d)ʒ/, and often appears with whine (same pronunciation as wine you drink), which actually means the same thing. Both words are from onomatopoeic origins. What does that mean? Well, both words sound like they sound. Imagine a small child crying because it wants an ice cream, or an adult complaining about their job – you might hear a high-pitched, long, wee-wee kind of sound, that’s the whinge. Whine also describes the sound the cold, winter wind makes in trees, or the sound of an arrow flying through the air. So together whinge and whine are annoying, maybe high-pitched, long sounds that are a bit irritating.

So what are you whinging about today, any complaints for me?!








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