Home English during the Coronavirus crisis

Home English (5)

Here are the solutions to Home English (4)

Exercise 2.
pristine    unverdorben
untamed ungezähmt
boundary Grenze
fence    Zaun
bill       Rechnung
deliberately  absichtlich
property Eigentum
flagpole Fahnenstange
erected       errichtet
insulted   beleidigt
derided       verspottet

a) This is in sympathy with Mexico. Mr Trump’s company has errected a fence around the Milnes’ property and expected them to pay for it, just as he plans to do with the border between the USA and Mexico.
b) No. Mr Trump promised to create thousands of jobs but these have never materialised.
c) His mother was born in Scotland and emigrated to the USA.
d) The Scottish government gave his company special permission to build because they had promised so many jobs.

Have you heard of Vera Birkenbihl?
My physiotherapist started talking about her very enthusiastically (in the middle of the treatment!) and so, of course, I later looked her up online – what an interesting lady! Vera Birkenbihl is obviously famous for her strategy in learning foreign languages, and she sold millions of books and language courses. As a language teacher I myself was shocked that I had never come across her before.

Vera Birkenbihl was a psychologist who also studied in the United States where she gained a keen grasp for the nuances of the English language. She was fluent in several additional languages, a testimony to her famous Birkenbihl method of instruction and learning. She founded the Institute for Brain Friendly Procedures in Odelzhausen, Germany, and developed the concepts of the „Memory Optimizer“ home study courses. Up until her death in 2011, Vera held the distinction as one of Germany’s most popular management consultants having taught over 300,000 students.

What I particularly like about her videos (unfortunately in German) is her very bubbly and articulate style. After watching her videos you might want to try out one of her courses? Her methods continue to be applied and practised by companies like www.brain-friendly.de   and  info@vidactic.com

Watch her videos on learning English:

And, if you want to know why nuns live longer and more healthily, you might find this video on anti-alzheimer worth watching!


While Scotland has been under lockdown, Glasgow’s street artists have been trying to reflect the mood of the nation. Using city centre buildings as their canvas, painted murals pay tribute to the NHS while others urge fellow citizens to stay safe. But who are the artists responsible for the images that have brightened up the city’s deserted streets?  Watch this video!

Home English (4)
Here are the solutions to the Home English (3) exercises 1 and 2

The National Health Service (NHS)
1. founded 2. average   3. insurance   4. compared to   5. preventing   6. strokes   7. wards   8. In spite of   9.    holy   10. lack   11.ventilators
preventing – verhindern
holy – heilig
average – durchschnittlich
founded – gegründet
lack – Mangel
in spite of – trotz
wards – Krankenstationen
insurance – Versicherung
strokes – Schlaganfälle
compared – im Vergleich zu
ventilators – Beatmungsgeräte

Now for this week’s exercises!

1. Watch the video about
„In Scotland, Trump built a wall. Then he sent residents the bill.“
Please enter this address into the top line of your browser (not ‚google‘):

Here are some words from the film but the translations have got mixed up. Can you correct them?
pristine – absichtlich
untamed – beleidigt
boundary – verspottet
fence – Eigentum
bill – Zaun
deliberately – unverdorben
property – Fahnenstange
flagpole – Grenze
erected – Rechnung
insulted – ungezähmt
derided – errichtet

3. Now read the text under the video and answer these questions:
a) Why does Mr Milnes have a Mexican flag flying from the roof?
b) Has Mr Trump kept his promises about the golf course?
c) Does Mr Trump have strong roots in Scotland?
d) How did Mr Trump received planning permission to build a golf course in a protected area?

PS There is a good film called „Local Hero“ (released in 1985, with Burt Lancaster) with a similar background to this Trump story. I have the DVD (with English and German soundtracks) and if you want to borrow it, I would bring it or post it to you. Just ring me or send me a mail.

BBC English – Shakespeare speaks (unit 1)
The BBC has wonderful teaching materials – enter this address:
Watch the videos, read the transcripts and do the activities (the solutions are also given). The content is fun and interesting and you can learn a lot!

Home English (3)

Here are the solutions to last week’s exercises 4 and 5
canny = schlau
adapt = anpassen
stitch = nähen
garish = auffällig und geschmacklos
amazed = erstaunt
bunting = Wimpelgirlande
resemble = ähneln
upside-down = umgekehrt
he was struck = fiel ihm ein
runs = führen/betreiben
mourn – trauern
beg – anflehen, betteln
least – am wenigsten
drop – fallen lassen
tune – stimmen
obituary notice – Todesanzeige
bagpipe – Dudelsack
charge – Gebühr
wet – naß
lawn mower – Rasenmäher

Now this week’s exercises!

1. The National Health Service (NHS)
In the following text there are 11 eleven missing words/phrases – put these in the correct places. The German meanings are given at the end – can you match them?
preventing     holy     average     founded     lack     In spite of
wards     insurance     strokes     compared to     ventilators

The National Health Service (NHS) was (1)_____________ in 1948. With 1.7 million workers, the NHS is said to be the third biggest employer in the world after the Chinese army and the Indian railways! The money for the NHS comes mainly (80-90%) from general taxation, the rest from National Insurance contributions. The (2_______________ British worker pays ca 12% for the basic pension (same sum for everyone), unemployment insurance, sick pay and for the NHS. 4 million people (ca 6%) of the British have private health insurance. Having private health (3)_______________ in Britain means effectively that you pay twice as paying for the NHS is obligatory.

The NHS is under-resourced (4)_________________ other developed nations. A study from the OECD shows that the NHS has among the lowest numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds per person in the western world. The NHS performs below average in (5)____________________ deaths from cancer, (6)___________ and heart disease. Staff shortages have resulted in the closure of cancer and children’s (7)_____________ have to close because the hospital cannot attract sufficient qualified doctors and nurses. Brexit will probably make these problems worse. About 11% of the workforce are from the EU. A survey suggests that 60% are considering leaving.

(8)_____________ all this, most British people think the NHS is a wonderful service – it is the (9)___________ cow of British politics! No politician dare criticise the fundamental organisation of the NHS.

Corona has showed some basic weaknesses in underfunding and organisation. There is a great (10)___________ of staff, intensive care units, protective equipment for staff, and. (11)______________. To make things worse the government delayed the lockdown, which was only introduced on 23 March. The British media often compare the UK with Germany, asking why Germany’s situation is much better: As I write (11.04.20) there have been 9,875 coronavirus-related hospital deaths in the UK, compared to 2544 in Germany.

preventing                    Versicherung
holy                                im Vergleich zu
average                         gegründet
founded                        verhindern
lack                                durchschnittlich
in spite of                      Schlaganfälle
wards                             Beatmungsgeräte
insurance                      Mangel
strokes                           heilig
compared to                 trotz
ventilators                    Krankenstation

3. To celebrate 70 years of the NHS, a famous British poet, Michael Rosen wrote a moving, simple poem which has been very popular in Britain during this Corona crisis. Here he is speaking the poem himself and the words are given after:


These are the hands by Michael Rosen
These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.

NB. Michael Rosen is especially popular with children, for example with his poem called „We’re going on a bear hunt”(google this on youtube – it’s funny!)

4. Use the letters in the word EASTER to write a short poem (here’s my effort!):

Entertaining ourselves at home,
Avoiding Corona at all costs
Skyping with our family
Thinking of those suffering and
Especially doctors and nurses
Risking their own lives.


First, the solutions to last week’s exercises 1 and 2
1. Crossword on Scotland:
Across                  Down
4. kilt                   1. whisky
5. bagpipe          2. Watt
7. hogmanay     3. wee
8. Edinburgh     5. blended
10.gaelic             6. malt
11. tartan           7. highlands
14. Glasgow       9. haggis
15. oats              12.loch

2. Coronavirus could help push us into a greener way of life
(1) The nature of work, commuting and
(2) First of all, the pandemic may show
(3) Offices exist largely
(4) Now that people around the world
(5) As for shopping,
(6) Air pollution kills about
(7) That’s particularly true since climate
(8) Governments need to make good use
(9) It turns out

Now this week’s exercises!

1. The spaghetti-tree hoax (hoax = Ente, Scherz)

The spaghetti-tree hoax was a three-minute report which was broadcast on April Fools‘ Day 1957 by the BBC current-affairs programme Panorama, showing a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the family „spaghetti tree“. At the time spaghetti was relatively unknown in the UK, so many Britons were unaware that it is made from wheat flour and water; a number of viewers afterwards contacted the BBC for advice on growing their own spaghetti trees. Pasta was not an everyday food in 1950s Britain, and it was known mainly from tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce and considered by many to be an exotic delicacy. An estimated eight million people watched the programme on 1 April, and hundreds phoned in the following day to question the authenticity of the story or ask for more information about spaghetti cultivation and how they could grow their own spaghetti trees; the BBC told them to „place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best“. Decades later CNN called this broadcast „the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled“.
Watch the original by clicking on this link:

2. Writing
Do you know a good April Fool’s joke or hoax? Write the joke or a description of the hoax and send this to me via email.

3. Get your Corona Face mask at Bath Guildhall Market!
Watch this hilarious (= sehr lustig) video, then read the text below:

4. Now read this amusing text.
Some words are in italics and listed again at the end. The German translations are given – can you put them in the correct places?

Mike Watts, 68, runs a souvenir and gift shop called A Nice Little Shop, in the Guildhall Markets in Bath, Somerset. And the canny shopkeeper has come up with a way to keep customers and tourists visiting his shop during the coronavirus panic – by stitching together his own, novel virus face mask. The garish mask is created from stitching together two pieces of Union Jack bunting, which is strung across Mike’s shop, so that they resemble a pair of underpants. In a funny ‚tutorial‘ video, Mike shows how the ‚underpants‘ coronavirus mask goes upside-down over the wearer’s face – „perfectly“ covering the nose and mouth. Mike said the idea struck him during a quiet day about a month ago, after hearing about businesses in China selling out of face masks. He said: „One of my sons has got a business in China, and a few weeks ago they sold out of masks. „I looked up at the bunting in my shop and I thought I could adapt it so I took it down, cut it up and made it into a mask. „That was the first time I put it on and I was amazed how comfortable it was.
„I quickly went across the market to my sister’s shop and asked her to film me showing how to put the ‚mask‘ on.“

Wimpelgirlandeanpassennähenauffällig und geschmacklosfiel ihm einähnelnführen/betreibenschlauumgekehrterstaunt

canny =
adapt =
stitch =
garish =
amazed =
bunting =
resemble =
upside-down =
he was struck =
runs =

5. Scottish Jokes
At the end of these three jokes some words have been translated but the Geram words are jumbled up (durcheinander). Read the jokes and then sort out the correct translations:

What’s the difference?
Question: What’s the difference between a lawn mower and a bagpipe?
Answer: You can tune a lawn mower.

A Scottish man drops a bottle of whisky
One day Jock bought a bottle of fine single malt whisky and while walking home, he fell down. Whilst getting up he felt something wet on his trousers. He looked up at the sky and said, ”Oh Lord, please I beg you, let it be blood!”

A Scottish wife mourns for her husband
Janet was very careful with money – typically Scottish! Her husband Dougal had just died and she wanted to place the least expensive death notice. She went to the newspaper office and wrote on the form for obituary notices – “Dougal died.” The clerk explained that there was a minimum charge of £5 and for this she could have five words. Janet then added three more words: “Dougal died, Toyota for sale.”
mourn –  naß
beg –    Gebühr
least –  Todesanzeige
drop –    Rasenmäher
tune –    trauern
obituary notice – anflehen, betteln
bagpipe – Dudelsack
charge –  am wenigsten
wet –     stimmen
lawn mower –    fallen lassen

6. Excercises from our course book, „Great! B1“:
(a) page 64, exercise 2c: dialogues 1-5. Listen to the dialogues on CD and fill in the correct forms of „good“ and „bad“ (see page 160, §A2.3):
(b) page 65, exercise 3a: listen & read the dialogues 1-5 again to find the phrases (c)  page 65, exercise 3b: listen & read the dialogues 1-5 again to find the phrases and think of equivalents in German.

Home English (1): 25.03.2020
I hope you are doing well in spite of the difficulties during this crisis. Some of you may have some time in which you can practise your English! Well, here are some materials and ideas. If you have any questions, please contact me on: keith.hollingsworth@gmx.de

In my evening class at Maria am Wasser the present topic is „Scotland“, based on our book „Great! B1“ (Klett Verlag), chapter 5.  When I use pages from this book, I will include photographs of the pages for those who do not have the book.

1. Crossword on Scotland (the key to be published next week). To print: copy the image into a Word file, adjust the size and print.

4. A type of skirt worn by men in Scotland.
5. A typical, Scottish instrument.
7. This is the name given to the celebrations in Scotland on New Year’s Eve.
8. The capital city of Scotland.
10. The original language of the Scots, still spoken by 60,000 people.
11. This is a pattern of crossed lines or squares on cloth, often seen in kilts and scarves.
14. This is the most populous city in Scotland.
15. This is a grain commonly grown in Scotland and forms the basis of porridge.

1. An extreme popular alcoholic drink.
2. A Scottish engineer who first developed a reliable version of the steam engine.
3. This word means little and is often used by Scottish people.
5. This is a mixture of different types of whisky.
6. A single ________________ is a pure type of whisky.
7. The name given to the wild, mountainous area of North-West Scotland.
9. This a typical Scottish dish made from sheep offal (internal organs) and oats and served in a sheep’s stomach.
12. This is the Scottish word for a lake.
13. The Scottish word for an extended family.

2.  In this text the first words of each paragraph (except the first) have been taken out and are given here. Write the phrases in trhe correct places (key next week!): 

As for shopping,
First of all, the pandemic may show
It turns out
Offices exist largely
That’s particularly true since
Now that people around the world
The nature of work, commuting
Air pollution kills about
Governments need to make good use

Coronavirus could help push us into a greener way of life

By the time this horror ends, it might have changed our way of life. Already, the coronavirus has achieved something that government policies and moral awakening couldn’t: it is pushing us into green living.

(1)_________________________ and shopping changed this month. If that transformation sticks, then one day we’ll have happier and more productive societies, and we’ll look back on December 2019 as the all-time peak in global carbon emissions.

(2)__________________________________ that offices are an outdated way to organise work. This is something I have suspected since my three-year office experience in the 1990s. I was amazed at the inefficiency of the set-up: people spent much of the day distracting each other by gossiping, flirting, complaining about the boss or about that morning’s commuting. I’ve worked happily alone for 22 years now.

(3)________________________ so that bosses can check whether workers are doing the work (or at least putting in face-time). But nowadays, data can do much of the monitoring. Meanwhile, improved workplace software such as Slack and Zoom lets employees collaborate from home.

(4)_____________________ are learning to work from their bedrooms, many employers may end up concluding that they can give up expensive office space. That wouldn’t only reduce emissions, and liberate metropolitan workers from terrible commutes (on averages more than an hour in cities such as New York, Chicago and London). The shift would also reduce urban house prices, as some offices get converted into homes, and some workers are freed to leave the city.

(5)________________________ even before the coronavirus we were changing to a world where the shop comes to you. That movement has just accelerated, possibly for ever. It’s much greener for a supermarket to send an electric van (or a cargo-bike) to 100 homes in a neighbourhood than for all those people to drive to the supermarket. Some could give up their cars.

(6)_________________________ 1.1 million people in China alone every year. The fall in pollution during the country’s lockdown in January and February has likely saved 20 times more lives in China than have been lost due to the virus in that country, calculates Marshall Burke of Stanford University’s Department of Earth System Science. He adds: “that our normal way of doing things might need disrupting.”

(7)______________________________ climate change makes pandemics more likely. It expands the natural habitat of infectious insects such as mosquitoes, while reducing the habitat of animals, with the effect of pushing both into closer contact with humans.

(8)________________________ of the current pandemic. Many states are preparing a financial stimuli. Donald Trump wants to spend much of it on the causes of carbon emissions that could go bust in the expected recession: airlines, cruise ships, oil producers and his beloved hotel industry (which lives off travellers’ emissions). Forward-looking governments will instead prioritise green industries, while helping workers who lose their fossil-fuel jobs.

(9)___________________ that developed countries (except possibly the US) can still do collective government-led wartime-style mobilisation. It’s a muscle we’re going to need.                                                                                                               Source: Financial Times

3.  What effects do you think the Coronavirus will have? Write down you thoughts and send these to my email address

4. BBC Website: Session 83: BA flight to Germany mistakenly goes to Scotland

Click on to the following BBC website and do the activities