Category Archives: General Topics

Articles about general topics for children and parents.

Top Trending Words of 2020

Top Trending Words Of 2020

1. Coronavirus (n)

Coronavirus refers to any of different RNA-containing viruses of the family Coronaviridae, including many that cause respiratory illnesses. The most known types of coronavirus are SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.  The virus that results in COVID-19 is referred to as the novel coronavirus because it is new (novel), which means it has not been detected before. Novel coronavirus is abbreviated as nCoV. When looked at using a microscope, coronaviruses seem to be surrounded by spikes much like corona, or a crown-like shape, hence the name coronavirus.

2. Covid-19 (n)

Short form for Corona Virus Disease 2019, COVID-19 is the new guy in town. The number 19 refers to the fact that it was detected first in the year 2019. Currently spreading like wild fire around the word, it is a highly infectious respiratory disease and is caused by a new corona virus. It is fatal mostly in elderly people and in those who have underlying conditions such as heart disease. It was first discovered in China in December 2019, and has become a household word now.

3. Social Distancing (n)

Social distancing refers to one of the measures taken to combat a pandemic such as COVID-19, which is to increase the physical distance between people to slow the spread of the virus. In supermarkets the world over, you can see bright colored tape marking the distance one has to keep from others. Working from home, cancellation of mass gatherings like church services and school closings are other examples of social distancing measures.

4. Flatten the Curve (v)

Flatten the curve refers to slowing the spread of an epidemic disease so that the healthcare system of a particular area doesn’t get overwhelmed. The curve shows the number of cases over time, and flattening that curve means preventing an increase in new cases, thus causing a spike, in a short period of time.

5. Infodemic (n)

A proliferation of a variety of information which is often unsubstantiated, relating to a crisis, controversy, or event, and which spreads very fast and uncontrollably through news, social media and the internet is known as infodemic. It is regarded as causing disturbance and anxiety among the public. The COVID-19 pandemic has currently unleashed an infodemic, undoubtedly.

6. Herd Immunity (n)

The resistance to a particular infection in a group of people when a very high number of individuals have been exposed to the infection is known as herd immunity. This is an expression widely used currently as an option that different countries have, in dealing with the pandemic COVID-19.

6. Self-isolate ( v )

This is another word that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into parlance. To self-isolate means to avoid contact with others deliberately for a period of time. This is one of the measures employed to combat the spread of the disease.

8. Shelter in Place (n)

Shelter in place is a public safety protocol that is invoked during an emergency in which there is a threat to life or health. It is an instruction to people to find a place of shelter in their present location or immediate surroundings, and to stay there until the situation is safe.

 9. Elbow Bump (n)

This is another expression that has gained popularity in current times. The elbow bump is a form of informal greeting in which two people touch elbows while meeting, instead of shaking hands. This is to prevent the spread of germs by touching hands.

10. Quarantine (n) (v)

Quarantine refers to the isolation imposed on a person to prevent the spread of a disease. People are quarantined when it is known that they might have been exposed to an epidemic or a pandemic. This prevents the spread of the disease. Usually it is the Health department of a particular country or state that issues quarantine orders.

Self-quarantine is when a person chooses to isolate himself out of caution. It is also known as voluntary quarantine.


R0 is pronounced as R-naught, R-nought, or R-zero. The R stands for Reproductive. R0 refers to the average number of people that a person affected with an infectious disease is expected to spread the infection to. R0 is also called the basic reproduction rate. If R0 is greater than 1, it means that the disease can spread in a population and cause an outbreak.

12. Super-spreader (n)

A super-spreader is a person who has been infected with a pathogen (such as a virus, or bacterium) and spreads it to a large number of people who aren’t infected. There have been reports of individuals who are super-spreaders in the current pandemic also, affecting a disproportionately huge number of people once he or she got infected.

Teaching And Learning English Through Short Stories

Teaching and learning English through short stories

Stories have always fascinated mankind. It is our capacity to create, remember and imagine stories that set us humans apart from animals. Stories are part of all human cultures. English, being the world language, has a wealth of short stories to its credit. A learner of English very often starts out his/her learning by means of reading or reciting stories.

Learning the sounds of English through short stories

In a kindergarten class, a teacher who teaches the sounds of letters has no better way to introduce those sounds than a short story. For example, Jolly phonics that makes use of the teaching of sounds to teaching reading, uses short stories extensively. For example, to introduce the sound of the letter ‘a’, a phonics teacher would tell the story of a kid who had a picnic outdoors, was bitten by an ant, and flicks the ant away saying ‘a’ ‘a’ ‘a’. This is a brilliant way to introduce sounds.

Learning the sounds of English through short stories

Learning vocabulary through short stories

The role of stories in teaching vocabulary is well-known to every English teacher and every interested parent. Take for example, a story such as  ‘the lion and the mouse’. Words such as ‘awakened’, ‘do you a good turn’, ‘plight’ and ‘bound’ which are otherwise difficult to explain, become very clear in their meaning as soon as the story is told. This is because a story provides a context to the word, and the context explains the meaning.  There are any number of activities that can be devised from short stories to teach vocabulary. A very popular one is to ask children to find the word that has a given meaning. There are also gap-filling activities in which kids have to write down a suitable word they encountered in the story.

Lion and Mouse

Learning  to read using short stories

This comes as no surprise to anyone. Stories are the time-tested way to learn to read. They are short, so they are suitable to hold the attention of youngsters whose attention span is very short. Many of them, especially the Aesop’s fables, are full of animals, and kids love animals. Since the subject material is so interesting, there is the incentive and motivation to read. It is no wonder that kids’ story books are so immensely popular all over the world. The advantage of these books is also that the vocabulary is very kid-friendly – simple and easy to pronounce.

Learning  to speak using short stories

Speaking is not something you associate traditionally with short stories, but it takes just a bit of creativity on the part of the parent or the teacher to turn a reading lesson into a speaking lesson. There are stories such as the Ant and the Grasshopper that lend themselves to dialogues very well. It takes very little imagination to see the possibilities of such short stories as role play material. Another way in which short stories can develop speaking skills is through story telling. Children love telling stories. A resourceful teacher can assign students to tell stories they know to the class each day.

Learning to write using short stories

Short stories can be the spring board to writing. There are numerous ways in which short stories can be used to develop writing skills. A commonly used method is to ask students to write answers to questions based on the story. There can also be gap-filling activities and extension activities in which students are asked to imagine a different ending to the story. Then there are also short story writing contests which are very popular among kids and teenagers all over the world.

Learning values through short stories

One might ask, why talk about values while dealing with English teaching and learning! Fact is, there is no learning that is devoid of instilling some kind of value system. Most of the popular short stories that children read, including fairy tales, instill the values of honesty, patience, selflessness and kindness. The value of a short story in such value education is very high. Classic stories like the Hare and the Tortoise and the Goose with the Golden Eggs teach values more effectively than any amount of moral education.

Short and captivating, stories are a goldmine for English teaching and learning.