Archive | March 2014

WEP 200314

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.

WEP 200314 Cover


Should we ban the word ‘Bossy’?

When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she is branded “bossy”

Take a look at the vocabulary before you read and listen to the article.

to mar (v): to damage or spoil to a certain extent, make less perfect

to spearhead (v): to lead the attack

to embrace (v): to take or receive happily

to demean (v): to lower in dignity, degrade

evenhandedly (adv): impartial, fair, just

to put down (phrasal verb): humiliate, dismiss, reject

harsh (adv): severe, cruel

to spiff up (phrasal verb): to make more beautiful

Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.

No one wants to be described as “bossy” or “pushy”, it feels like a mar on our character. The negative connotations associated with those labels can shape the way women think about leadership.

The BanBossy online campaign spearheaded by women including Beyonce, Diane Von Furstenburg and Jane Lynch wants to spread the message that words matter and by changing the language we use, we can change how women feel about being the boss.

If words like domineering, stubborn and aggressive are replaced with empowering adjectives such as confident, tenacious and assertive it will ensure our little girls grow up embracing their leadership qualities and not be afraid of exhibiting them. However, does it mean that we should ban the word?

For one thing, “bossy” is a useful descriptive word that invokes a particular kind of behaviour. It’s not actually a synonym, derogatory or otherwise, for leadership or authoritativeness, nor necessarily a criticism of women who embody those qualities. What it usually means is someone who is not in fact your boss, or a boss at all, telling you what to do.

Banning is really only for words that solely degrade or demean, and even then you want to proceed with caution because you’re depleting the expressive richness of the language. You could, instead, re-appropriate the word, mining it for its positive associations with assertiveness. Or you could try to apply it more evenhandedly—to boys as well as to girls.

There are precedents for such reclaiming, an example would be the word “nerd.” “Nerd” used to be a put-down—and it used to cover boys more often than girls. Like “bossy,” it wasn’t really that harsh, but it wasn’t nice, either. It actually had a gender dimension, too, because it called out brainy boys who were not athletic or aggressive. It was a dis of boys who lived in their heads and wore pocket protectors and ate their lunch indoors, playing chess. Just as “bossy” might be said to undermine female leadership, “nerd” might be said to have undermined male intellectualism.

Something to chat about

  • Do you agree that words such as “bossy” should be banned?
  • Do you believe these labels shape the way women think about leadership?
  • Do you have a word for “nerd” in your language? Is it used to put people down?
  • And what about “geek”?
  • If you could ban a word, what would it be & why?




iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

Phrasal verbs with ‘put’

WEP 200314 iLiTiS

Read the story and look for phrasal verbs with ‘put’. Try to understand them in the context. Then do the activities.

Uncle Bob’s new dog
My Uncle Bob wanted to buy a dog but it was rather expensive so he had to put some money by every month for a year. Last week he bought the dog and to celebrate he took it to a restaurant he knew in London. Bob’s sister lives in London and has a spare room so she put them up for the weekend. The restaurant was rather expensive. He noticed they had put the prices up. Anyway, Bob had the chicken and Rover had the steak. They had a very good meal but the next day Rover became ill. He knew he should have taken it to the vet but he put it off and he put it off. In the end Bob took the dog to the vet. The dog had food poisoning and the vet had to put him down!
Bob was furious with the restaurant so he phoned them. He spoke to the secretary who put him through to the manager. But the manager refused to speak to Bob, said he was busy. Bob said he wasn’t going to put up with that excuse, so he charged out of the house and ran down the street, round the corner and straight into the restaurant. “I demand to see the manager!” Shouted Bob, smoking excitedly on his cigarette. “Could you put out your cigarette, it’s very unhygienic.” Replied the secretary. “Unhygienic!” Cried Uncle Bob “What about your steak! You killed my pedigree dog”! He showed her its photo. The secretary simply put him down by saying it wasn’t a pedigree, it was a mongrel! Uncle Bob marched up to the secretaries desk and threw all her papers, pens, handbag, flowers, all over the room. “Ha!” Cried Bob, and he walked out of the restaurant. He stood in front of the restaurant, looked across the road and what do you think he saw on the opposite side of the street? The restaurant he had been in the night before.


Match the phrasal verbs with the meanings and then answer the questions

1. Put up with something/someone
2. Put something by/aside ( money/time)
3. Put someone up for a night
4. Put prices up
5. Put something off
6. Put somebody off something
7. Put an animal down/ to sleep
8. Put a cigarette/fire out
9. Put someone down by making a derogatory remark
10. Put someone through to someone by phone


a. tolerate
b. increase prices
c. extinguish a fire or cigarette
d. connect by telephone
e. save something for the future
f. let someone stay the night in your home
g. say negative things about someone
h. to kill humanely
i. postpone until later
j. discourage someone from doing something



WEP 130314

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.

WEP 130314 Cover

Could a Spanish Duchess claim the Scottish crown?

The Duchess of Alba, Spain’s richest woman, could become Queen Cayetana of Scotland

Check that you understand the following vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

to schedule: to plan an event

to be worth: to have value, a quantity

unmistakable: very distinctive

to stamp: to make a mark or impression on something e.g. a passport or coin

to spot: to see or notice

to rank: to give someone a position in a grading system e.g. Rafa Nadal is number one in the rankings

Jacobite: this word comes from the Latin for James, the Catholic Stuart king who was deposed by a Protestant English Parliament in 1648.

to deny: to not give something to someone

Obviously the Scottish people must first vote to break from the UK in a referendum that is scheduled for September but as a descendent of the House of Stuart, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba de Tormes, Grandee of Spain, more commonly know as Cayetana de    Alba, can be considered as a legitimate candidate for the Scottish throne.

The 87-year-old Duchess of Alba is head of the aristocratic  House of Alba and she is worth an estimated €3.5 billion, according to Spain’s Vanity Fair magazine. Her unmistakable face is regularly seen in Spanish celebrity magazines, but could it soon be stamped onto Scottish coins and banknotes?

This possibility has been spotted by Peter Osborne, chief political commentator of the British newspaper The Telegraph. The Guinness Book of Records ranks her as the most titled aristocrat in the world, but it is just one word of that long name that gives the clue to a possible Caledonian connection – Stuart.

Stuart is the name of the dynasty which once ruled Scotland and then all of Britain. They lost their crown when Queen Anne died childless in 1714, but the line continued in other countries. In Scotland and Ireland there were unsuccessful ‘Jacobite’ rebellions and uprisings that attempted to restore the Stuarts to the throne.

Osborne speculated that the current Queen of Great Britain, Elizabeth Windsor, might be asked to give up the crown of Scotland in the event of a “Yes” vote.

He wrote: “She is constitutionally obliged to take the advice of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and as he has already denied Scotland the possibility of maintaining the pound sterling, he is also entitled to deny the Scots the House of Windsor, especially since the Scots had their own separate monarch before James the VI of Scotland became James the I of England and unified the crowns in 1603.”

So the Scottish, if they don’t choose to become a republic, might ask descendants of the House of Stuart to take the Windsor’s place. The Duchess of Alba is one of two leading candidates. The other is 81-year-old Franz, Duke of Bavaria. Neither Franz nor the Duchess have formally commented on their possible royal ambitions.

Something to chat about

  • How old is the Duchess of Alba?
  • Who is she married to? Do you know who she was married to in the past?
  • Why could she become Queen of Scotland? Do you think it will happen?
  • Do you think Scotland will vote to become independent?
  • Should central governments allow regions to hold referendums about independence?


This story was adapted from:



iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

What do you know about Scotland?


Chat about these ideas with your colleagues, friends and family.

Write all your ideas and opinions in an email to your ECP coach.

And why not record your voice too? Listening to yourself is a great way to improve your speaking!

  • Did you know that James Bond, Robb Stark, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Hannibal Lector, King Leonidas and the White Witch of Narnia are all Scottish? Well the actors are, can you name them?
  • Can you name the three official languages of Scotland? (Here’s some help:
  • What’s the population? What’s the capital city? Is it the biggest city in the country?
  • Can you describe what haggis and porridge are? If not, look on Wikipedia. By the way, super-chef Gordon Ramsey is Scottish.
  • Read this list of Scottish inventions: The telephone, the TV, radar, cash machines and PIN numbers, the BBC, the pedal bicycle, the pneumatic tyre, penicillin, animal cloning and the sports of golf and curling. How do they influence your life?

iLook iThink iSpeak – express yourself better!

What was the Duchess of Alba taking about when she said this…?

Chat with your ECP coach, your colleagues, your family and friends. Write down your ideas and send them in an email to everyone asking them for their opinion back. Record what you have written and listen to it with your ECP coach to practice your pronunciation and intonation.

  • “My life hasn’t been easy. I’ve lived through a civil war and a world war. But the most difficult thing has been the reconstruction of the family palace in Madrid.”
  • “I want to keep on living, although it’s only so I can enjoy the expression on people’s faces when I point at them and say: ‘I’m going to bury you all’.”


  • “The monarchy is fundamental to the continuity of Spain as a nation. Juan Carlos is a great King.”
  • “I never actually met Picasso, but I think he would have worn me out.”


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