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Learn English from the news! Slavery in Italian wine - with audio

New words from the news story!

Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing some people to own, buy and sell other people. (People are treated like property)

sort (verb) to arrange things in groups or in a particular order according to their type, etc.; to separate things of one type from others
~ sort something

he is sorting the company mail

A middleman is a person who helps to arrange things between people who do not want to talk directly to each other.

the middleman buys from the factory and sells to the store

benefactor (noun) a person who gives money or other help to a person or an organization such as a school or charity

This wing of the museum is named after one of our generous benefactors

seize (verb) (seize something) to take illegal or stolen goods away from somebody
~ In the news story the government takes property and money from the middlemen

 ๐ŸŽงAudio here↓

 ๐ŸŽงAnd now here too!
Play the audio easily inside the post!

Slavery in Sorting Italian Grapes for Wine

No doubt, Italian wine is good. The story behind that bottle may not be so good. In fact, it's a tale of modern slavery.

The job is picking and sorting grapes. Women do it. Sometimes they do it for twelve hours a day.

Paola Clemente started her day at 1:50 a.m. She took a private bus to the vineyard. After twelve hours of work, her take-home pay was about $29. The middlemen who control the jobs take their money before it gets to the worker.

Workers, such as Ms. Clemente, would not and could not complain. The only way to get work was through the middlemen. They controlled the labor market. (The opportunity to work)

Paola Clemente died of a heart attack while working in the fields. She was 49. Her death started an investigation.

Two years later, the results of the investigation are in. Results of the inquiry showed how the system used poor women. Fear is the most important thing. An expert said, “It was a system of slaves."

Farm owners paid middlemen to pick up and take the women to the vineyard. Sometimes, the middlemen charged two-thirds of the women’s pay as the cost of the ride. The women are not paid for their time on the bus, which could be 5 hours!

If the women complained, the recruiter would threaten not to call them anymore. A recruiter told one worker, “Another woman can take your place.”

Several women said the middlemen were benefactors. They were lucky to have the work.

Italy passed a new law against underpaying workers. Breaking this law can lead to jail sentences and strong fines. It allows for the seizing of property and bank accounts. Is it working? Some middlemen went to jail. But real change is difficult and takes a long time.

Source: The New York Times April 11, 2017


In the news story we learned that "Italy passed a new law against underpaying workers." Below is a video I made explaining how we use over and under as prefixes.

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Apply TO and Apply FOR
One of my students asked me the difference between  Apply TO and Apply FOR. It's a good question so I thought I would write a post for my blog readers! ๐Ÿ’ป
๐Ÿ–ฐ↓Click the link to learn more!↓ ๐Ÿ–ฐ

How to use Neither and Either!
• Learn to use this grammar naturally ๐Ÿ‘
• Link to my full page infographic ๐Ÿ–บ
• Do an interactive quiz ❓
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Why is Friday the 13th unlucky? ~ English practice! (2018!)

Friday the 13th ESL English study

In the West, some people believe that Friday the 13th is bad luck. They believe that this day has some special or magic power to cause bad things to happen.

This kind of belief is called a superstition in English.

Friday the 13th

superstition (noun) the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science; the belief that particular events bring good or bad luck

“According to superstition, breaking a mirror brings bad luck.”


Superstitions about the number 13 and Friday may have started in the Middle Ages. (The middle ages refers to a time in European history between the 5th and 15th centuries) 13 was considered unlucky for a long time. The number 12 represents a complete cycle. 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock, 12 signs of the zodiac. 13 feels like 1 too many!

The story of Jesus' death is said to have happened when he was surrounded by 13 of his followers. His death is also said to have happened on a Friday. There are also other stories about bad events that are said to have happened on a Friday, on the 13th day of the month. Some stories are religious and some are popular culture.

 Both the number 13 and Friday were said to be unlucky, but it seems they weren't combined into a single unlucky day (Friday the 13th) until the 19th century. Several authors helped to spread the idea that Friday the 13th is an especially unlucky day in stories and books written in the 19th century. There are many legends and ideas about why we think of Friday the 13th as unlucky.

Friday and the number 13 are not unlucky for everyone. According to singer Taylor Swift was born on 13th of December and turned 13 on Friday 13th. Her first album also went gold in just 13 weeks! Great!

Info from ~

Different parts of the world have different religious stories, traditions and even their own unlucky days and numbers. Even different countries in Europe think another day of the week is "unlucky," not Friday. How about your country? What is an unlucky day where you live? How about an unlucky number? Please teach me about your culture in the comment section below!

Friday the 13th is a popular horror movie series in North America. The original movie in this series is "Friday the 13th" (1980) and the latest is "Friday the 13th: Legacy" (2017). They have been making horror movies using Friday the 13th for more than 30 years! Do you know these movies? Are they popular where you live?

Unlucky means not lucky. The prefix un can change
 the meaning of a word to the opposite of the original meaning. Watch this video I made in March 2013 to explain the prefixes un and re


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English grammar Wear VS Put On
Correctly use the verbs WEAR and PUT ON 
in English! 
・Don’t confuse these words anymore! ๐Ÿ‘
・Sound like a native speaker! ๐Ÿ’ฌ
・VIDEO and more at my blog! ๐Ÿ“บ

Learn to use the conditional IF in natural English
Learn to use the conditional IF in natural English!
・Sound like a native speaker ๐Ÿ’ฌ
・VIDEO images and lots of examples! ๐Ÿ“บ

How to use Neither and Either (Interactive QUIZ too!)

QUIZ and infographic link 
at the bottom of the page!

In a past post we looked at the phrases me too and me neither and we learned how to use them in natural English conversation. The word either sometimes has a similar meaning to the word neither but they are often confused and used incorrectly. In this lesson, I will explain the difference so you can use these words correctly and with confidence!

*One small grammar mistake in the video. The 2nd image should say "Neither of them has a car." The correct grammar is in the image below. Thanks to a YouTube subscriber for finding that!

When both words are used as adverbs the meaning is almost exactly the same:

     ↙(Click the words to hear their pronunciation)
neither (adverb) used to show that a negative statement is also true of somebody/something else

"He didn't remember and neither did I."

A: "I don't like spicy food." 

B: "Me neither."

either (adverb) used after negative phrases to state that a feeling or situation is similar to one already mentioned

"Pete can't go and I can't either."

A: "I don't like spicy food." 
B: "Me either." 
*For me personally, I prefer using neither in this situation, but either is acceptable in informal North American English.

When both words are used as determiners or pronouns they have different meanings:

neither (determiner, pronoun) not one nor the other of two things or people
"Neither answer is correct." (both answers are wrong)

A: "Which do you like?"
B: "Neither. I think they're both ugly." (I don't like the first choice, I also don't like the second choice)

neither of them has a car

either (determiner, pronoun) one or the other of two; it does not matter which

"You can park on either side of the street." (it doesn't matter which side of the street you park on, both sides are OK)

"You can keep one of the photos. Either of them—whichever you like." (you can choose one of the two photos to keep, it doesn't matter which one. Each of the two possible choices is OK)

~ each of two
"The offices on either side of the hall were empty." (the offices on the left side and the right side of the hall were both empty)

interactive quiz!

View this infographic full size at:

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How to use "Me too" and "Me neither" in natural English conversation! (2018)
・Learn this grammar with lots of examples! ๐Ÿ“
・Many images to help too! ๐Ÿ–ผ
・More than 4 minutes of AUDIO! ๐ŸŽง

English question ~ What's the difference between an athlete and a player?
・Use these words correctly ๐Ÿ‘
・Clear explanation! ๐Ÿ“‘
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How to make a 'TH' sound! (video included!) - 2018

Learn how to make a 'TH' sound 
when speaking English!

This post is new, this video was made in 2014!

Here is the sentence from the video:

"This month is my brother's birthday."

After you watch the video and practice the shape that your mouth makes, try these sentences:

①Is this the thing? - Yes, this is the thing.

②Father, mother, sister, brother - hand in hand with one another.

③They threw three thick things.

④Three thin thieves thought a thousand thoughts. Now if three thin thieves thought a thousand thoughts how many thoughts did each thief think?

๐Ÿ‘Thank you to Language Avenue 
for the 'TH' tongue twister ideas! ๐Ÿ˜œ

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The preposition IN (Other uses) 
・VIDEO and more at my blog! ๐Ÿ“บ
・Learn some common ways to use this English grammar ๐Ÿ•ฎ

The preposition ON (Other uses)
・VIDEO and more at my blog! ๐Ÿ‘€
・Learn some common ways to use this grammar ๐Ÿ‘

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