Friday, 17 February 2012

Learning Method & Vocabulary: Post-Valentine's Sugar & Sweet

Article 3 on Singtao Student Page:

Valentine's Day has ended but learning has just begun. This week, I will share with you a memorisation method and some new words.

Sugar is all sugar and spice to Gingy
Image from
Dear lovely readers, hope you and your parents had an excellent Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is a day of  "sugar and sweets" and thus everyone deserves to have their share of loving moments, if you still have not had the time to celebrate this marvellous day, you had better make it up to your love ones this weekend or Sunday.

As for me, Valentine's Day has not only offered me a reason to love, but a cue to learn. This time, I am interested in words to do with "sugar" and "sweet" in love and relationships.

One of the memory techniques I love to use after looking up new words in a dictionary is to create examples which I find easy to remember, funny or ridiculous ones work best for me -- I call this Memorisation By Examples (MBE). Its effectiveness, like all memory techniques, depends on individuals. However, it is worth a try. If MBE works for you,  at the end of the day you will be able to recall the words and meanings easily for writing and speaking.

Here are some scenarios I have created:
Sugar-coated gum drops
Image from

Jane: Why this promise you've just made sounds sugar-coated?
John: Coz it IS a trap and I want you to fall for it.

John: Jane, I'm sorry, I've made a tiny little scratch on your favourite painting.
Jane: Don't sugar the pill! What's the damage?
John: Well, actually, I cut it into 2 halves ...

Jane: I can be sugar and spice to my boyfriend.
John: You? Sugar and spice? I would be vomiting hard if I were him.

Jane: I cooked you your favourite Carbonara for dinner tonight?
John: Sweet!!!

Jane: Have you ever told a sweet lie?
John: No, but here's one, "I love you!"
Jane: I hate you!

Jane: Don't you ever think you can sweet-talk me into trusting you!
John: Well, how about the fact that you let me marry you 10 years ago!

Jane: I bet those two over there are saying sweet-nothings to each other.
John: No, they can never talk romantic, they are brother and sister, says on their Tee-shirts.
Sweet Tooth
Image from deviantart

John: Why do all women have sweet-tooth?
Jane: Coz men aren't sweet enough and so we need to help ourselves with sugary food to stay happy.

John: I'm so sorry! How can I make you happy again?
Jane: If you want to keep me sweet, start by flushing the toilet after use!!!

John: Jane is sweet on all Disney products and her room is packed with them.

John: My childhood was full of bittersweet memories... I was naughty, dad punished me, and then mum punished dad, and I laughed at him every time!

Fun Tasks For You:
  1. Try think of a funny or ridiculous example for "silver tongue" or "silver-tongued".
  2. From now on, whenever you see a word which you think is worth memorising but is very difficult to memorise, try this MBE technique.
  3. Pick any word such as "tongue" or "heart" and see how many related words or idioms there are.

Suggested answer for last week's Fun Tasks: Which words have the same pronunciation as "Q"?
  • cue and queue

Discussion Questions:

  1. With your classmates, share some useful memorisation techniques and discuss their effectiveness.
  2. How many students in your class will need to memorise anything these days? What are they?
  3. The advancement of technology is helping us memorise lesser and lesser. Is that good or bad? Discuss with examples.
  4. Discuss the benefits of practising memorisation, give examples.

had better
Had better actually refers to the immediate future and does not involve the past in any sense. It is a strong advice for someone and it is stronger than should and ought.

  1. You had better stop playing smartphone games!
  2. You had better not whistle at that dog! (note the position of not)
  3. You'd better get out of your bed and get dressed for school now!!!! (note the 'd)

Compound verbs and nouns such as sweet-talk and sweet tooth are stressed on the first part of the word whereas adjectives such as sugar-coated and bittersweet are stressed on the second part of the word. However, there are always many exceptions in any languages and learners should take special attention to the pronunciation of each word while looking up words in a dictionary.

make it up to sb -- to do something good for someone you have upset, in order to become friends with them again
cue -- (n) [C] a signal for someone to do something
sugar-coated -- (adj) disapproving An announcement or promise that is sugar-coated is intended to seem positive or pleasant, although in fact it will result in something unpleasant or unacceptable.
sugar and spice -- If you describe someone, especially a woman or a girl, as being sugar and spice, you mean that they are behaving in a kind and friendly way
sugar the pill -- UK (US sweeten the pillto make something bad seem less unpleasant
sweet -- (adj) (informal) Very good; pleasant; agreeable.
sweet lie -- (n) [C] When someone who doesn't truthly have interest in you makes you fall hard for them and you end up with a broken heart. 
sweet-talk -- (vb) [T] informal to talk to someone in a pleasing or clever way in order to persuade them to do or believe something
sweet-nothings -- (plural n) humorous romantic and loving talk
sweet-tooth -- (n)[S] If you have a sweet tooth, you like eating sweet foods, especially sweets and chocolate.
keep sb sweet -- to try to keep someone satisfied and pleased with you
be sweet on sb/sth -- old-fashioned informal to like someone / something very much in a romantic way
bittersweet -- (adj) containing a mixture of sadness and happiness
silver-tongued -- (adj) literary If you are silver-tongued, you speak in a way that charms or persuades people.


Adam Sandler Sweet on 'Candy Land' for Sony @ Reuters

Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, Oxford