To test the waters

16.12.16 English Tips

This idiom means to check a situation in a small (safe) way before becoming heavily involved in it. The expression refers to how a person checks the temperature of the water in a bath or swimming pool before putting his or her whole body in.

In business:
Let’s test the waters with a small group of customers before making a large order.

In a social situation:
I’m not sure if I want to join the fitness club. I’ll take a trial lesson to test the waters.

このイディオムは、どっぷりとその状況に巻き込まれてしまう前に、ちょっとした(安全な)方法で状況を把握するという意味があります。人が全身を入れる前に、お風呂のお湯やプールの水の温度をチェックすることに関連して、このような表現になっています。

ビジネスの場面で:
大量注文の前に小グループのお客さんで様子を見てみよう。

社交の場面で:
あのフィットネスクラブに入会しようか迷っている。下調べに体験レッスンを受けよう。

It became known as

16.11.18 English Tips

This phrase is used to describe an important event, an art or political movement, or unique style that did not have a name until many years later. History is full of countless examples. Here are a few:

-In 1967, thousands of young people gathered in San Francisco to promote peace and love in what became known as the “Summer of Love.”

-Andy Warhol’s unique simple style later became known as ‘pop art’.

このフレーズは重要な出来事、芸術や政治の動き、また数年後に初めて名前の付いた特殊なスタイルや形式を表す時に使われます。歴史には数えきれないほどの例があります。これらはそのうちの二つです。

-1967年、大勢の若者が平和と愛を推進するためサンフランシスコに集まったことは“Summer of Love”として知られるようになった

-アンディ ウォーホルの独特でシンプルなスタイルは後に ’ポップ アート’ として知られるようになった

Well, when you put it that way…

16.10.21 English Tips

We use this phrase to admit to changing our opinion after listening to another person’s further explanation. It suggests that we are admitting that we made a mistake and can now see that the other point of view is correct. It can be used in fun, casual ways, too.

A: Why did you throw that plastic on the ground?
B: There were no trash cans around. Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.
A: What?! It could blow into a lake and a poor duck could choke on it!
B: Well, when you put it that way…I’ll pick it up. Sorry.

A: I shouldn’t eat any potato chips. I’m on a diet.
B: Hey, potatoes are vegetables, and vegetables are good for you.
A: Well, when you put it that way…can I have some?

このフレーズは相手のさらなる説明を聞いた後、意見を変えることを認める時に使います。間違いを認め、今ならもう一方の見方の方が正しいと認めることを示唆するものです。楽しい、カジュアルな感じにも使えます。

A:なんであのビニール袋、地面に捨てたの?
B:ごみ箱なかったんだもん。心配ないよ。大丈夫だよ。
A:え?あれが湖まで飛んで行ってカモが喉を詰まらせちゃうことだってあるよ!
B:うーん、そんな風に言うなら…拾うよ。ごめん。

A:ポテトチップは食べないほうがいいな。私ダイエット中だから。
B:えー、じゃがいもは野菜だよ、野菜は体にいいんだよ。
A:まあ、そういう風に考えれば…ちょっとくれる?

Top 3 reasons English students fail (And how to avoid it happening to you)

16.10.12 English Tips

Learning to speak English will benefit you greatly in many aspects of life. For example, the ability to communicate in a common language helps you enjoy vacations more, opens pathways for further study and lets you interact in the world of international business and research.

Unfortunately, many people struggle to learn English, but why? Well, the answer is simple: English is difficult. With its strange pronunciation and grammar rules (and exceptions to those rules), English can be very confusing.

The challenge of learning English can be a little easier if you avoid a few mistakes students often make.

#1 – Do not avoid English.
All students want to improve their English, but unfortunately, many of themhesitate to use it. It is important to make English part of your daily life (e.g. learn a new set of words every day or listen to an English podcast on the subway.) Also, try to speak as much as possible in and out of lessons. The more you do something the more comfortable it becomes. This is especially true for speaking and writing in English.

#2 – Do not set unrealistic goals.
You will learn English faster if you set clear goals because these help you stay motivated. However, it is very important that your goals are realistic. It is impossible to become a fluent speaker in one month! If you set goals that are too high, you can become frustrated when you don’t achieve them. It is much better to continually set and adjust small short-term goals. This way you can celebrate your success in achieving them!

#3 – Don’t waste time.
Becoming a good English speaker is a long journey. You don’t want to make that journey any longer by wasting time. You waste time when you 1) use poorly designed materials, and 2) have poor study habits. So, it is very important that you find high-quality materials that have been proven to assist students and adopt good study habits. For more advice on effective materials and study habits, please ask the counseling and teaching staff at Wordwise.

★open pathways: 道を切り開く
★Unfortunately: 不幸にも、不運にも
★hesitate: 躊躇する、ためらう
★realistic: 現実主義の、現実的な
★adopt: 採用する、(自分のものとして)取り入れる

Top 3: Ways not to forget what you’ve learned

16.09.28 English Tips

Learning English is fun and exciting as you discover new ways to say things and express your thoughts more clearly with “new” vocabulary and grammar. Unfortunately, it can also be very frustrating when you can’t remember those words a few days later.

Why does it happen? And why can it happen many times with the same word? The reason is that you have two kinds of memory: short-term and long-term. You remember the things you learned today in your short-term memory. But you can remember things stored here only a short time because tomorrow they will be replaced with new memories. On the other hand, once things are in your long-term memory, you can recall them anytime in the future. Now, here is the problem - things don’t automatically shift from short-term to long-term memory. They need help.

Here are the top 3 ways to help move the new English you have learned from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

  • Review immediately. After your lessons, why not take a trip to a café and spend 5-10 minutes going over what you just learned? Or you could wait until later that evening at home. Doing this helps you check that you understand the new piece of language, and reduces the time needed to “relearn” it in the future.
  • Review regularly. To move information to long-term memory, you will need to review it often. It is best to review after 1 day, again after 1 week, and then after 1 month. You should schedule a regular time for review to make sure you remember to do it.
  • Sleep.Getting a good night’s sleep helps your memory. Studies show that people who sleep well remember more information, including a foreign language.

Obviously, there are other important factors that will help you remember English as you learn it (such as using the new words and grammar as often as you can), but review and sleep are
absolutely essential. Good luck and don’t forget, review!

frustrating: いらだたしい、もどかしい
stored: 【動】記憶させる、蓄える
get a good night’s sleep: 熟睡する
absolutely essential: 必要不可欠な

​Look in the mirror

16.09.16 English Tips

When someone talks about taking a look in the mirror, they mean they are going to take some time to look at themselves honestly and objectively. The idea is to be 100% honest with ourselves so that we can identify and then fix our weak points.

Also, it is sometimes easy to criticize others, but we often overlook those same faults in ourselves.

Here are a few examples:

  • “After his poor performance on the mid-term test, Nigel had to take a look in the mirror. He realized that he needed to spend more time studying and less time partying.”
  • “The manager blamed his staff for the team’s poor performance. But I think he should take a look in the mirror first!”

誰かがtaking a look in the mirrorについて話していたら、それは時間をかけて正当に、客観的に自分自身を見るという意味です。100%自分に正直になることで自分の弱点を見極め、そして直すことができるのです。

また、他人を批評することは簡単ですが、自分自身が同じ欠点を持っていてもそれを見逃しがちです。

例をいくつか挙げてみましょう。

・中間テストで悪い成績をとった後、ナイジェルは自分自身を見つめ直さなければならなかった。パーティーに費やす時間を少なくし、勉強にもっと時間をかける必要があることに気がついた。
・マネージャーはそのチームの業績不振を部下のせいにした。しかし彼はまず己を見つめ直すべきだ

​Top 3: ★Supplementary study books

16.09.14 English Tips

Some students attempt to study without any books at all, but this is almost always unsuccessful! All Wordwise students have a course textbook and a homework workbook.

These textbooks are great because they direct your learning, provide interesting study material and have useful practice activities. But they are not the only books that language learners should include in their study bag.

The top 3 supplementary (or extra) books students should have are:

  • A personal vocabulary book: This is not an Essential Words for the TOEIC/TOEFL style textbook to help you to prepare for a test. Rather, it a small notebook that you carry around with you at all times. When you hear an interesting new word or expression, you should quickly take out the notebook and write it down. Going through this process, will help you remember the new piece of language. You can also look back through the notebook later to refresh your memory of the new word(s).
  • A dictionary: A traditional print dictionary, or electronic dictionary, is a must-have for every student. You can find the meaning of unknown words, check if nouns are count or non-count, read example sentences and so on. The benefits of a dictionary are countless. However, make sure you don’t rely on your dictionary too much. To learn how to use a dictionary effectively, please check Top 3: Using a dictionary to help you study (16.02.10)
  • A grammar text: Many students simply hate grammar. They think it is difficult to understand, and more importantly, boring to study. Most students' goal is to communicate with other people in English, and so naturally, they want to practice conversations. However, it is very important to remember grammar helps you say your ideas clearly. When you explain yourself more smoothly and clearly in conversations, you will enjoy your English much more!

Note: **I should have also included a reading book. Most successful students read for fun regularly. They may read short stories, graded novels, magazines or online material. It doesn’t matter what you read as long as you enjoy it.

★supplementary : 補う、補足の、付録の
★a must-have: 必需品
★countless: 数え切れない、無数

​Top 3: Words that are better than great.

16.08.31 English Tips

It is *customary for a teacher to begin a lesson by asking some simple questions, such as “How was your weekend?” or “What was the movie like?” Usually the student will answer with a simple, “Good”, or perhaps the little more exciting, “Great!”

“Good” is good response and “great” is a bit better, but there are so many fantastic adjectives in English that you should try to vary your responses. You will sound more natural and interesting.

Here is a list *off the top of my head of just some of the adjectives that you could choose from:

amazing, outstanding, unbelievable, sublime, wicked, spectacular, excellent, fantastic, terrific, tremendous, superb, wonderful, exceptional, first-rate, magnificent, impressive, phenomenal, …

Some of these will work in all situations while some are saved for special occasions. So, choosing the best word can be difficult for a learner. Try copying another person in the group, or just try using a word you like. If it doesn’t fit, other people in the conversation will let you know.

Everybody has their personal favorites, which are influenced by age, upbringing, friends, and culture. This makes for some wonderful variety!

Here are my personal top 3 words that are better than great:

#1: Sensational: I just like the way you can emphasize different parts of the word. “Wow! This meal is sen-SA-tional!”

#2: Awesome: I use this word a lot in conversation because it was popular when I was younger. It continues to be used, but be careful because it can sometimes sound too casual. “Man! What an awesome day!”

#3: Cracking: I like this slang term because it is a term used often in Australia, and so it is part of my *cultural identity. “This has been a cracking match!.”


*customary:習慣的な、通例の、慣例で
*off the top of one’s head:よく考えないで、即座に
*cultural identity:文化的アイデンティティー

Top 3: vocabulary building smartphone applications

16.08.17 English Tips

There are many applications available to help you learn English words. They are easy to download for free or for a small fee. The great advantage of these apps is that you can study vocabulary anywhere anytime, so instead of playing a mindless game on your 12-minute subway ride to work, you can use that time to improve your English skills. If you study 10-15 minutes a day, you will see some positive results very quickly.

The one negative point is that there are literally thousands of these apps. So, it can be difficult finding one that best suits you and your needs. To help, here are my Top 3 vocabulary building applications.

#1 – WordWise: This is a simple, yet effective application – with a great name! (haha) Even though it is not connected to us here at Wordwise, I recommend it because it uses a fun, game-style approach where you can gain points as you build your vocabulary. It is also a great application for improving your spelling, too!

#2 – MyWordBook: This is a great app developed by the British Council and Cambridge Publishing. It uses interactive activities, such as flashcards, and focuses on the most important English words. There are tests and review exercises, too, so you can check your progress. The application’s only  downside is that after you learn all the vocabulary that come with the app, you will need to purchase more “word packs” to match your level and interests.

#3 – Allen IELTS Prep TestBank!: This app is specifically for students preparing for the IELTS test (although there are similar apps for the TOEFL and TOEIC tests). As everyone studying for the IELTS test knows, to get a good score you need to study vocabulary – a lot! The app costs a small amount (~120 yen) to purchase but provides you with over 1000 test questions, so you can get some great practice doing the various question types.

These are just a few of the many great applications to choose from. If you have any other great suggestions of applications to improve vocabulary, please let us know by adding a comment.


interactive:対話の、相互に作用する、相互作用の
specifically:特に、具体的に言うと
downside:マイナス面 欠点

Top 3 (other) ways to say thank you

16.06.01 English Tips

We all need some help at times in our lives, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing our gratitude with the simple words, “Thank you very much.” But, we can add a little extra meaning to our thank you by using one of the following phrases:

1. I really appreciate it.
When you appreciate something, it means that you have a true understanding of the help you received and real *gratitude for the help. Basically, it’s an extra strong “thank you.”

2. I couldn’t have done it without you.
As the words suggest, the help you received was very important and essential to completing the task. Anyone hearing this expression will feel happy that they took time and made an effort to assist you.

3. You saved my life!
This expression is an *exaggeration that is usually saved for emergency situations when help was given unexpectedly or immediately. For example, you are late for work and your car doesn’t start. You call your friend, and they quickly drive to your house to give you a lift to the office. In this case, “You saved my life!” would be a perfect way to say thanks.

So, next time someone nice helps you out, say “thank you” and think about adding a little extra. There’s no doubt they will appreciate hearing it!

*gratitude:感謝、感謝の気持ち、謝意
*exaggeration:誇張、誇張した表現、大げさな話