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Sometimes our vocational ed (CTE) students have a difficult time reading technical literature because the heavy use of jargon gets in their way, hampering comprehension and frustrating those students who may prefer hands-on learning situations. VocabGrabber can help prevent this experience: students can "grab" a text's jargon beforehand, preview those terms, and then head back to the text with a good understanding of the key concepts they will encounter while reading.  Continue reading...
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Last time in Contest Corner, the challenge was to track down the answers to ten questions in a Visual Thesaurus treasure hunt. Congratulations to Catherine McIntyre of the English Language Institute at Texas A&M University for submitting ten correct answers. Catherine wins a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt! Her answers follow below.  Continue reading...
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My husband has a great voice and he loves to sing. Loves it. He's performed in an auditioned community choir called Jubilate since our triplets were age 2. And, yes, I'd appreciate a drum-roll for me — for the essential backup job of looking after three high-maintenance toddlers (now teenagers), alone, one night a week!  Continue reading...
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New Orleans is widely acknowledged as the birthplace of jazz. But is it also the birthplace of "jazz" — that is, the name for the music and not just the music itself? New evidence shows that the term jazz, also spelled jas or jass in the early days, was in use in New Orleans as early as 1916. However, that doesn't beat Chicago, where the term was applied to music in 1915. And while many of the Windy City's early jazz musicians hailed from New Orleans, Chicago likely borrowed the word jazz from another city: San Francisco.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Going Down a Bomb

If you were baffled by Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle's use of the expression "going down a bomb," as discussed in this Word Routes column, then wonder no more. Lynne Murphy explains the idiom on her blog Separated by a Common Language. Lynne also makes sense of such Briticisms as "he looks a right twit" and "going down a treat."

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I began writing fiction in 2000. I needed an outlet for my thoughts and feelings following the death of my mother. At the time, I was overwhelmed with emotion and my work counseling parents was very intense. I was writing a monthly parenting column for a Boston newspaper and working on a nonfiction parenting guide. But it's in writing fiction that I found my home. For me novel writing is a wonderful catharsis and a deeply personal means of creative expression.  Continue reading...
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