English Lessons


Independence Day in the United States

For those of you reading this lesson on the day it was published, today is the Fourth of July. In many countries, it's just another day of the month, but in the United States it is a federal holiday. The date is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, when the American colonies declared that they were no longer under the control of Great Britain.


One of the most important holidays in the United States is Independence Day or the Fourth of July. We can also say "July fourth," but when we're talking about that holiday we traditionally say "the Fourth of July."

Captions 30-33, Sigrid explains: Numbers - Part 3

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Many people in the United States celebrate this holiday with a variety of traditional activities. Let's take a look at a few of these today.


It's high summer with warm weather on the Fourth of July, so people often celebrate the holiday by going picnicking and even boating, if there is a lake nearby.


You can have a picnic, there's a lake to take boats out on.

Caption 26, Jessica: Brooklyn Sites

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Cold beer in a cooler and meat cooked on a barbecue are also Fourth of July holiday traditions, but some iced tea or lemonade for the kids and teetotalers, and some vegan sausages for the vegetarians have become traditional too!


Not to mention a cooler for the beer, and the meat for the evening barbecue.

Caption 39, The Last Paradises: America's National Parks

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Traditional Fourth of July picnic salads include potato salad, pasta salad, and a variety of fruit salads.


Then, I'm going to prepare a little salad of cherry tomatoes.

Caption 23, Food Talk with Sigrid: Simple Summer Vegetables

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But even more for its amazing flavor, no Fourth of July picnic would be complete without a fresh, ripe watermelon!


Watermelon, for its beautiful color...

Caption 14, Tara's Recipes: Delicious Fruit Salad with Greek Yoghurt

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The highlight and grand finale of a good Fourth of July is, however, the inevitable fireworks:


It started at seven and ended at one with an amazing fireworks display!

Captions 13-14, The Olympics: Interesting facts by Zara

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and study the captions in the videos above to get a better idea of the contexts in which they are used. Happy Fourth of July to all of you, wherever you may be!

Flowers in Springtime

Spring and summer are the times of year that most flowers bloom in the Western Hemisphere. Let's take a look today at some of the more common types of flowers you'll come across in English. 


This incredible variety of shades of purple lupines are springing up everywhere.

Captions 25-26, New Zealand: 100% Pure New Zealand, Home of Middle-earth

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The Lupine (often spelled "Lupin" in British English), with its beautiful purple flowers, has become a problem in New Zealand, because it is not a native plant and has spread rapidly throughout the country.


If you come in June, you can see the roses.

Caption 11, Jessica: Brooklyn Sites

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The rose has been linked since ancient times to love, so it's the standard flower for people in love to give each other as a present.


This brief, rich time is crowned by the blooming of the alpine rose.

Caption 10, The Last Paradises: The Alps, Realm of the Golden Eagle

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The alpine rose is a kind of rose that is found in the mountains of central and southern Europe.


Anticipating the second her ears would open like lotuses...

Caption 15, White House Poetry Jam: Joshua Bennett

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The lotus flower is usually pink in Asia, and yellow in North America. It is considered a sacred plant in some eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.


And who can believe that a kind of rhododendron is growing in the Alps as well?

Caption 12, The Last Paradises: The Alps, Realm of the Golden Eagle

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There are over a thousand kinds of rhododendrons. It's the national flower of Nepal.


There are Easter lilies and other flowers everywhere.

Caption 67, Holidays and Seasons with Sigrid: Easter

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The Easter lily is found most often in Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. In Ireland, a badge shaped like an Easter lily is worn during the Easter holidays in remembrance of people who died fighting for Irish independence.


Beside the red carpets shines the deep blue gentian.

Caption 13, The Last Paradises: The Alps, Realm of the Golden Eagle

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There are many different kinds of gentian, which usually have blue flowers. Some kinds are used medicinally or as a food or drink flavoring. 


Dream if you can a courtyard, an ocean of violets in bloom.

Captions 4-5, Prince. When Doves Cry

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Violets are often—but not always—a shade of purple that is also called violet, but there are also blue varieties. People sometimes invent rhymes that start with the line "Roses are red, violets are blue..." 


As did the queen of the Alps, the edelweiss.

Caption 18, The Last Paradises: The Alps, Realm of the Golden Eagle

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The edelweiss is usually found in the mountains of Europe. 


So much for them daisy chains.

Caption 37, Diane Birch: Valentino

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"Daisy" is a common name for several different kinds of flowers, which if strung together in a garland, are called "daisy chains." But the term "daisy chain" is also used as a technical term for connecting things, such as computers, ropes for climbing, and even a kind of fishing lure!


Further Learning
Find out more about different kinds of flowers on English Wikipedia or Simple English Wikipedia. You can start by looking up some flowers from this list: daffodil, dahlia, hibiscus, jasmine, marigold, morning glory, pansy, petunia, tulip, sunflower, and lavender.

You can also go to Yabla English and find more videos that use the word "flower" or "flowers" to see the different ways it is used by native English speakers. 

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