Thursday, March 31, 2011


For Mr. T, the famous TV personality from the 1980's, everyone was a fool everyday, all the time.

However, for many countries of the world, this may not be true, except on April first... also known as: April Fool's Day.

And although it's not a national holiday, many people really get a "kick" out of celebrating it. Why? Mainly, because, it's a day to tell wild stories, play hoaxes and other practical jokes on friends, family or colleagues.

But not everybody agrees on the history of April Fool's Day. Most historians believe it comes from a misreading of a date in Geoffrey Chaucer's classic The Canterbury Tales (1392), in which one character is tricked by another.

Still, others believe that it originated during the Middle Ages when people who celebrated the New Year on April 1st were ridiculed by those who celebrated it on January 1st as a result of a change in the Gregorian calendar.

Nevertheless, for decades the media has been known to play April Fool's day practical jokes on audiences. Here are some of the most memorable ones:

2002: Google reveals its page-ranking system is actually done by domestic pigeons.

2007: The BBC reported that it was conducting a trial run of a new Sniff-Screen technology on its website, prompting numerous people to call in and claim it really worked.

1998: Burger King takes out an ad in USA Today saying it would sell special left-handed burgers, which were designed to have condiments spill out of the right side.

1976: An astronomer tells listeners of BBC radio that the alignment of two planets had caused a strange disturbance in gravity, and told people to jump up and feel like they were floating. Many listeners called in exclaiming it worked.

1998: Alabama lawmakers vote to change the value of pi.

1957: A British tv program reports that Italians were harvesting spaghetti from trees, causing people to call in and ask how to grow their own.

If you enjoyed those, here's a link to a website that lists the top 100 April Fool's Day pranks of all time.

For more on April Fool's Day, we invite you to watch this video that includes a report from Voice of America, telling the story of this famous day.

Enjoy, English Users and remember to send in your 20 page reports on this topic by next week!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

COMMON MISTAKES - Weather vs. Whether

Here are another two words that sound alike, are often confused and have absolutely different meanings:

Weather: the atmospheric conditions in a specific place, usually making reference to the sun, clouds, temperature, wind and rain.

Whether: a way to introduce a statement or question involving alternative possibilities.


1. The weather for today is partly-cloudy, with a 30 percent chance of rain and winds from the South-East at 40 miles per hour.

2. Tina loves rainy weather when she has to paint.

3. Tom needs to decide whether or not he's going to work together as a member of this team.

4. Whether we have the soccer match this afternoon depends on the weather.