Learning Nugget June 2019


Our rocky relationship with lawns 

With a wet few weeks at the end of May and a sunny, warm start to June, conditions were just right for almost every green thing to grow like crazy. But, for those who have a yard, it’s likely you paid the most attention to the growth of your grass. 

For many decades in the Western world, it’s been almost a given that if you owned a house, you would have a lawn – some patch of land, no matter how big or small, with short, green grass. However, this norm has started to change in recent years. 
In this Learning Nugget we take a look at some of the new approachespeople are taking to their yards and the effects of those approaches on the environment. But first let’s dig a little bit into the history of how the idea of having a lawn entered Western society in the first place. 

Why are there lawns? 

Sometime around the 1600s, wealthy landowners in Europe – especially those in England and France – started creating large areas of grass around their estates. Before modern innovations in lawn care, it took many people a lot of time to cut these areas with scythes and keep them as free as possible of other plants.  

If you also consider how grass took up farmable space with something that couldn’t be eaten or sold, it’s pretty easy to see that lawns were status symbols. While most people either couldn’t afford land or had it solely to produce something profitable, a well-kept lawn showed you had no concerns about money. 
As more people became comfortably wealthy, lawns steadily grew in popularity. Today they’ve become so normal that it’s strange to see a home without a lawn.  

Though now lawns are most often thought of as places for children to play or adults to barbecue, the connection with status is still there. If most Westerners see a yard with high grass, it’s almost an instinct to believe that there’s something wrong with the people who the yard belongs to. 


New lawn trends 

Relatively recently, people have started questioning the usual idea of a lawn. Those who rarely do anything in their yards that requires grass don’t see the point of maintaining a lawn they never use. Also, many environmentalists say that the amount of water, artificial fertilizer, and pesticides used to maintain the “perfect” lawn create environmental hazards. 
So, what alternatives are these people finding, and what are their pros and cons? 
One option that’s becoming more and more common in Germany is replacing lawns with rocks or stones. For those concerned about water usage, rocks can definitely reduce that. Also, they can reduce yard work – for a little while, anyway.  

Even though there are mats under most rock yards meant to keep any plants from taking root, those mats wear out, and in time there will be either a need to pluck the weeds out or use pesticides to kill them. Additionally, rocks provide very little habitat for insects, notably important pollinators like bees and butterflies that Earth’s ecosystem depends on to survive.  

But perhaps the most troubling thing about rock yards for people who don’t think of themselves as environmentalists is that rocks gather heat during the day and release it at night. This means that as summers get generally warmer due to climate change, those who exchange grass for stones will also be dealing with heat longer into summer nights than ever before. 

Another possibility those seeking a lawn-free life are attempting is simply letting their yards grow with no or very little mowing or other interference. Again, this can eliminate the need for constant yard work, water, and pesticides. But unlike the stone solution, it is widely considered to be environmentally friendly.  

By allowing grass and whatever other plants visiting animals bring into the yard to grow, habitat for a wide variety of insects, birds, and other animals is created. Also, an unmown yard has a greater capacity to turn CO2 into oxygen.  
The main downside to the no-mow solution goes back to that instinctually negative response to long lawns mentioned before that is common in the modern-day West. Neighbors and even the law often look down on long, unkept grass. Though it does take more work than just letting grass grow, some avoid this issue by replacing their grass with native plants and wildflowers that are beneficial to the local ecosystem, low-growing, and pleasant to look at.  


Getting a grasp on gras

From a luxury of the rich in the 17th century to an environmentalist question mark today, lawns and their place in Western society have evolved greatly over time. That change is still ongoing as people rethink the lawn as it relates to their personal needs and/or the world’s ecosystems.

Hopefully this Learning Nugget has helped you think about lawns in a way you haven’t before, and the next time you’re at a barbecue wondering what to make small talk about, the answer will be right under your feet. 

And we just want to remind you of our next Day Out on Sunday 14 July from 1:00 – 4:00pm. Last places are available at: dayout@tip-top-english.de


Excite Your Senses


On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.




lawns – Rasen

to grow like crazy – wie verrückt wachsen

yard – Garten, Hof

to pay the most attention – die größte Aufmerksamkeit geben

decades – Jahrzehnte

to be almost a given –  wird nahezu vorausgesetzt

some patch of land – kleines Stück Land

approach – Ansatz, Konzept

take to – übernehmen, ergreifen

effect on sth. – Auswirkung auf etw. haben

environment – Umwelt

dig a little bit into – in bisschen tiefer eintauchen in

wealthy – wohlhabend

landowner – Landbesitzer

estate – Anwesen

modern innovations in lawn care – moderne Innovationen der Rasenpflege

scythe – Sense

took up farmable space – einen bebaubaren Platz einnehmen

status symbols – Statussymbole

afford land – Land leisten können

solely – ausschließlich

to have no concerns about – keine Bedenken haben mit…

comfortably wealthy – gut betucht

to grow in popularity – an Popularität gewinnen

Westerners – Westländer

relatively recently – relativ neu

don’t see the point of – etw. nicht einsehen

to maintain – etw. aufrechterhalten, warten, erhalten

environmentalist – Umweltschützer

artificial fertilizer – Kunstdünger

pesticides – Pestizide, Pflanzenschutzmittel

environmental hazards – Umweltbelastungen

pros and cons – Vor- und Nachteile

mats – Matte

taking root – Wurzeln schlagen, sich bewurzeln

pluck the weeds out – Unkraut zupfen

habitat – Lebensraum

notably important pollinators – sehr wichtige Bestäuber

survive – überleben

rocks gather heat – Felsen/Gestein speichern die Hitze

release – freigeben

lawn-free life are attempting – ein rasenfreies Leben wird angestrebt

little mowing – ein bisschen mähen

turn CO2 into oxygen – CO2 in Sauerstoff umwandeln

interference – Eingriff

no-mow solution – die Lösung nicht zu mähen 

law – Gesetz

look down – herabblicken, hinuntersehen

unkept grass – ungepflegter Rasen

low-growing – niedrig wachsend

to evolve – entwickeln, entfalten 

Learning Nugget May 2019

A short look at tall tales 

Sometimes work can be fun. At TIP TOP, it certainly has been as we’ve prepared for our first Day Out on May 19th. The theme is castles and fairy tales, and we’ve had a great time learning more and more about these topics to share with those who join us. 
Our research has put fairy tales and folklore on our minds. Thoughon the Day Out we’ll be focusing on the Brothers Grimm and the German tales they collected and retold, this Learning Nugget is going to take a look at folk stories that are important to US culture: “tall tales.” 
For those raised in the USA, answering questions like “What’s a tall tale?”, “Who’s Paul Bunyan and what type of big blue animal is his best friend?”, and “What type of machine did John Henry beat in a contest?” would be relatively easy. For those who weren’t, the questions probably seem like nonsense. Today you’ll find out the answers to those queries and a few others – and probably end up knowing more about tall tales than most Americans. 

What’s a tall tale? 

Tall tales are thought to have gained popularity in the USA through frontiersmen (think of a typical image of someone in the old “wild west” and add some explorers and lumberjacks). As the young country expanded westward throughout the 19th century, these frontiersmen lived in rough, lonely territory, and tall tales became things they told each other to keep their spirits up.  
The main feature of tall tales is exaggeration. The characters can do things or have traits and abilities that are impossible. Despite this, the stories are always told as if they are true, and some of them are even based on real people. 

Paul Bunyan 

One of the most famous tall tale characters is the giant lumberjack, Paul Bunyan. Bunyan is believed to have originated from stories 19th and early 20th century loggers across the US told of a giant man who could cut down trees faster than any person alive. It’s unknown whether he was based on one real person or a mixture of different well-known loggers of the time. What are some of the things Paul Bunyan is said to haveaccomplished?  
Well, in one telling of the story, Bunyan is said to have logged all of the Dakotas with just himself, a small team of men, and his giant blue ox named Babe. Babe – another important part of the Bunyan tales – was also said to have wandered away from camp into Minnesota, where his footprints became that state’s thousands of lakes (one mother and child were said to have fallen into one of Babe’s footprints, and the child was 57 by the time he was able to climb out again).  
Bunyan also used Babe to pull the crooked logging roads straight so that travel could be faster, which was good because sometimes Babe would drink whole rivers and logs couldn’t be transported on them anymore. 
The Northern Lights were also Bunyan’s doing. They were an experiment to see if he could let loggers work at night, too, but he stopped that because the lights were too inconsistent. 
These details of Bunyan’s deeds – and plenty of others – were recorded by W.B. Laughead, who wrote them as a way to advertise Minnesota’s Red River Lumber Company. The pamphlets he created with these stories became extremely popular, and many historians believe that without this advertising campaign, Paul Bunyan never would have become a national icon.

Copyright: Lorie Shaull; license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

 John Henry 

The story of John Henry has many similarities to that of Paul Bunyan. He was said to have been the biggest, strongest man around. Also, his job was one that required a lot of physical strength: building railroads. One of the biggest differences is that John Henry was African American and a freed slave. 
Another difference is that the tale of John Henry mainly focuses on one heroic feat rather than Bunyan’s countless fanciful deeds.  
The story goes that Henry was helping to build a railroad in the late 1800s. The company Henry was working for got told by a salesman that there was a steam-powered machine that could drive the giant steel nails needed to build railroads into the ground faster than a whole team of men. To save his job and those of his fellow workers, Henry entered a contest against the machine. If he could drive a nail faster than the machine, the company wouldn’t buy it to replace workers. 
In the end, Henry won the contest, but he worked so hard that his heart gave out, and his victory cost him his life. 
This story grew in fame through songs and retellings. Its message of humans being able to overcome machines spoke to many people at the end of the 19th century whose jobs were being taken over bynew inventions. It is also a story important to the African American community, with Henry offering a role model of strength, determination, and resilience in the face of impossible odds. 

Come Along 

If you’ve enjoyed learning about these American tales and like getting outside in the fresh air, you’ll love what we have planned for the Day Out. There are still a few places available, and if you’re interested in reserving one, e-mail dayout@tip-top-english.de. More details about the day’s events can be found here



Excite Your Senses

On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.



prepare for sth. – auf etwas vorbereiten
though – obwohl
fairy tales – Märchen
folklore – Folklore, Volkskunde
folk stories – Volksgeschichten
tall tales – Lügengeschichten
raised – aufgewachsen
nonsense – unsinnig
answers to those queries – Antworten zu den Fragen
to be thought to have gained popularity – es wird angenommen, dass … bekannt wurden
frontiersmen – Grenzbewohner
explorer – Forscher
lumberjacks – Holzfäller
westward – westlich
to keep spirits up – um bei Laune zu bleiben
exaggeration – Übertreibung
traits – Chraktereigenschaften
despite sth. – trotz
logger – Holzfäller
it’s unknown whether – es ist nicht bekannt, ob…
to cut down trees – Bäume fällen
is said to have accomplished – wird gesagt, dass er es geschafft/erreicht hat
Dakotas – Bewohner Dakotas (Nord oder Süd)
ox – Ochse
footprints – Fußabdrücke
to climb out – herausklettern
crooked logging roads – krumme Forststraßen
logs – Stämme
The Northern Lights – Die Nordlichter
lights were too inconsistent – Lichter waren zu unbeständig
pamphlets – Flugblatt
similarities – Ähnlichkeiten
railroad – Eisenbahn(strecke)
freed slave – ein befreiter Sklave
heroic feat – Heldentaten
countless fanciful deeds – unzählig gute Taten
steam-powered machine – Dampfmaschine
victory – Sieg
grow in fame – zu Ruhm kommen
being taken over by – übernommen werden durch/von
new inventions – neue Erfindungen
resilience – Belastbarkeit
in the face of impossible odds – angesichts scheinbarer Unmöglichkeiten

Learning Nugget April 2019

Spring has sprung!

Two spring traditions you’ve likely never heard of

In the Western world, this time of year brings traditions like spring cleaning and decorating Easter eggs to mind. However, it’s less likely that you’ve had a recent desire to chase a wheel of cheese down a very steep hill or attend a festival dedicated to a single wild plant that tastes like a mixture of garlic and onion

Today, we explore places where those last two experiences are much-anticipated spring events. We also give you some information on new traditions TIP TOP is starting this year and how you can join in on the fun.

The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll: Brockworth, England

Every last Monday in May, the United Kingdom takes a day off and celebrates the Spring Bank Holiday. On this day, people from all over the world descend on Brockworth, England to chase roughly 3.5 kilogram wheels of Gloucester cheese down an extremely steep hill. What do the winners get?

The wheels of cheese, of course.

No one is sure when the tradition began. There is written evidence  that it certainly existed in the 1800s, but that evidence suggests that the cheese roll is much older, perhaps even going back to the Romans.
What is certain, however, is that the tradition isn’t the safest in the world. Though private citizens have kept the event going, the city has actually stopped sponsoring it due to the danger it puts participants in. Racing down a hill so steep that the cheese wheels can reach speeds around 110 kilometers per hour (a competitor doesn’t have to beat the cheese down the hill, just be the first one to pick it up at the bottom), competitors unsurprisingly often break bones and dislocate joints.

Still, despite these risks, people from the world over come to participate in or watch the cheese roll. In an article from Time magazine, one competitor from Australia even called the event
“the most exhilarating thing you can do.”


Ramp Festivals: Eastern USA

If you know the word “ramp,” it’s probably the type you would find in sports like skateboarding or snowboarding. However, a “ramp” is also a type of plant. It grows wild in the Eastern half of the US and Canada, but it is particularly loved in areas near the Appalachian mountains, a range that runs around 3,500 kilometers from Maine to Georgia.

A ramp is usually described as tasting like a mixture of onion and garlic, and they look a lot like scallions when harvested (and even more like the Bärlauch beloved by many Germans). Also like scallions, you can eat both the green shoots that grow above ground and the small, onion-like tuber that grows under the earth.

Ramps are ready to be harvested in the spring, so many places throughout the Appalachians have developed spring festivals around the plant. They cook various foods flavored with ramps, invite musicians to entertain the crowds, and craftspeople set up stalls to sell their goods. In many places, the distinct smell of ramps spreads throughout whole towns for days on end.

While this is all in good fun, some experts have raised concerns about the amount of ramps harvested for these festivals. Currently, most ramps are harvested from the wild, and with demand for them increasing, those harvests are getting bigger and bigger. Because ramps are harvested roots and all, it can take years before ramp populations recover. This has caused a push in some areas in recent years to farm ramps rather than pluck them from the wild.


New season, new chances

This year TIP TOP is hoping to create some new traditions of its own that’ll offer fun new ways for you to sharpen your English skills.

One of these new opportunities is Free English Fridays. Starting on May 24, TIP TOP will be opening its doors in beautiful Bad Münster am Stein every last Friday of the month to anyone who wants to drop by. We’ll have TIP TOP trainers running activities and games that’ll assure you have a great time while you get to practice your English in a very casual environment.

And in case you didn’t notice it in the name: Free English Fridays are free. Bring friends and/or family and get in on the fun!

Another new offering is a chance to practice English out in the open air. On Sunday, May 19th, you can join the first-ever TIP TOP Day Out. This first trip focuses on the theme “fairy tales and castles,” features coffee and cake to start, a hike to Rheingrafenstein Castle and its breathtaking views of the Nahe region, and wine and cheese to finish off the day. Throughout it all, you’ll be thinking and speaking English, remembering the fairy tales of your childhood, and, in the end, creating your own.

Spots for the Day Out will be limited. To get more details (price, exact times, etc.) and/or reserve a spot, send an e-mail in English or German to info@tip-top-english.de.


Excite Your Senses

On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.





a recent desire – einen letzten Wunsch
garlic and onion – Knoblauch und Zwiebel
much-anticipated – mit Spannung erwartet
join in on the fun – bei diesem Spaß mitmachen
to take a day off – sich einen Tag frei nehmen
bank holiday – Feiertag
descend on – herbeiströmen
chase – verfolgen
written evidence – schriftlicher Beweis
certainly existed – existierte mit Sicherheit
racing down a hill – einen Hügel hinunterrennen
steep – steil
break bones – Knochen brechen
dislocate joints – Gelenke auskugeln
despite – trotz
most exhilarating – am aufregendsten
Appalachian mountains – Appalachen
participate in – an etwas teilnehmen
scallions – Frühlingszwiebeln, Charlotten
onion-like tuber – zwiebelartige Knolle
flavored with ramps – gewürzt mit der zwiebelartigen Knolle
craftspeople set up stalls  – Handwerker bauen Stände auf
to spread throughout – überall verbreitet
for days on end – tagelang
raised concerns about – Bedenken über etwas äußern
demand for – Nachfrage für etwas 
ramp populations recover – bis sich die Kulturen der zwiebelartigen Knolle erholen
in recent years – in den letzten Jahren
rather than – anstatt
pluck from – ausrupfen
to sharpen – etwas schärfen, schleifen, hier: verbessern
in a very casual environment – in sehr lockerer Atmosphäre
get in on the fun – bei dem Spaß mitmachen 

Learning Nugget March 2019

Knowin’ in the wind

Last weekend you may have found yourself doing something unexpected, like snatching a lawn chair out of the air or making sure your chihuahua wasn’t blown up into the clouds. This was because as storm Eberhard blew its way across Germany, it brought winds that topped the 100 km/h mark in some places and wreaked havoc on highways, public transport, and personal property.

Though it’s calmer than last weekend, it’s still plenty gusty out there. So when thinking about topics for this month’s Learning Nugget, taking some time to learn a little bit about wind seemed like the perfect choice. However, this isn’t going to be a boring science lesson. Yes, we fill you in on the basic facts about how wind is created, but we also take a look at the highlights of wind energy’s over 5,000-year-old history among humankind as well as some fun English idioms that deal with the wind.

What makes wind?

Wind is a movement of air from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure.  

High pressure is created when a surface is cool. Cold air is heavier, so it stays near the ground, increasing the pressure near the surface of the cold area. As you might expect, warmth creates low pressure because warm air is lighter and rises. Wind occurs because places on Earth don’t heat evenly and air is continuously moving from colder to warmer surfaces.

Probably the easiest way to understand this is to think about land near the sea or a lake. Land heats faster than water, so by the time it’s afternoon on a sunny day, land is a place with very low pressure compared to the cooler water, and air moves quickly from water to land. That’s why it’s so often windier in the afternoon when you’re near water. At night, the land often cools down while the water retains its heat, and the wind changes direction. Air begins rushing from the cooler, higher pressure land to the warmer, lower pressure water. 

Of course, there are many other factors that determine where wind will be and how strong it is but underlying it all is the constant migration of air from high pressure to low pressure areas.

The history of wind energy  

Whether we understood where it came from or not, humans have been using wind energy to accomplish a huge range of tasks for thousands of years. Some of these uses have been briefly summed up by the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

People used wind energy to propel boats along the Nile River as early as 5,000 BC. By 200 BC, simple wind-powered water pumps were used in China, and windmills with woven-reed blades were grinding grain in Persia and the Middle East.  

And those windmills in Persia (modern-day Iran) and the Middle East would inspire Europeans to build their own. The most famous European example is in the Netherlands, where windmills were used not only for processing grains, but also other goods, like pigments for dyes.   

Today, wind energy is most closely connected with its ability to create electricity and is growing in popularity as nations seek renewable, clean energy sources. But even this use of wind has a longer history than you might expect.  
In 1887 a professor in Scotland by the name of Andrew Blyth built and used one of the first electricity-generating windmills to light his cottage. In the same time period, an important figure in the early days of US electricity named James Brush had a giant windmill built to power his Ohio home.  

Over time, the design of electricity-generating windmills has been made more efficient, allowing them to power not just individual houses, but become an important energy generator for whole countries. A huge step in this process was Paul la Cour’s discovery in the early 20th century that if a turbine had fewer blades, it could spin more quickly and produce more energy than turbines with many blades.   

In fact, some of the first turbines designed for major power production in Denmark had only two blades. Though the design generated a very fast movement of the blades, it also was unstable, causing turbines to wobble and quickly fall into disrepair and be less efficient. Today, three-bladed turbines are the norm because they are stable but have few enough propellers to produce large amounts of energy.   

However, a company called Vortex Bladeless in Spain is designing a bladeless turbine that is receiving lots of funding and attention. It could be that this invention will soon make the rotating propellers that have become fixtures along highways throughout Europe disappear.

Because of their reputation for high use of fossil fuels, it may surprise you that the top producers of wind energy in the world are China and the USA (less surprisingly, Germany is #3). Recently, China produced 12.2 gigawatts of power over a year through wind. One gigawatt is enough to power roughly 700,000 homes.   

That means China produced enough energy through wind to supply around 8.5 million homes with electricity, or roughly enough for both the Netherlands and New Zealand combined.  

Wind idioms

Clearly, wind has been a constant for humanity, so it’s no surprise that it’s used in many idiomatic expressions in various languages. English is no different, and here are three interesting English idioms that mention wind and their meanings:  

Here are a few examples: 

Spit into the wind

​When you spit into a strong wind, the spit doesn’t go anywhere or, worse, hits you in the face as it blows back. That’s exactly the meaning of this idiom. If you do something pointless or something that is only going to cause needless difficulties for you, you’re spitting into the wind.  

Example: Trying to shovel snow off your driveway during a blizzard is just spitting into the wind. 

Three sheets to the wind

For this one, we’re back to windmills. Dutch windmills traditionally have four blades, and millers would attach sails or “sheets” to the blades of the windmill to catch wind. The number always had to be even (two or four), or the windmill would become unbalanced. If a windmill had only three sheets, it would shake and wobble looking just like…a very drunk person. So, someone who is “three sheets to the wind” has had quite a bit to drink and isn’t walking in straight lines anymore.    

Example: On his birthday, Paul drank three bottles of wine by himself and he was three sheets to the wind. 

Knock the wind out of someone’s sails 

When a ship has wind in its sails, it is moving quickly to its destination, making everyone aboard happy that they’ll see land again as soon as possible. On the other hand, when there’s no wind and a ship isn’t moving, the mood is the exact opposite. So, when you “knock the wind out of someone’s sails,” you’re making someone who is feeling great suddenly feel bad.  

Example: The soccer team thought they had scored a goal and won the game, but the wind was knocked out of their sails when they saw that the referee had called their player offsides.  

Before we turn into blowhards

We could keep talking about wind for pages and pages, but we’re going to stop here for now. And even though we don’t want to see winds as destructive as those that came with Eberhard again any time soon, we hope you’ve enjoyed learning about how wind is made and some of its functions in human society and the English language. 

Keep a lookout for next month’s TIP TOP Learning Nugget to continue expanding your knowledge of the world around you and, most importantly, to have some fun facts to impress your friends and family with. 

Excite Your Senses

On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.


unexpected – unerwartet
to snatch – schnell nach etwas greifen
lawn chair – Gartenstuhl
chihuahua – kleiner mexikanischer Hund
making sure – sichergehen
blown up – gesprengt, aufgeblasen
blew its way across – der Wind blies/bahnte sich seinen Weg durch…
wreaked havoc – verheerenden Schaden angerichtet
plenty gusty – ziemlich stürmisch
fill sb. in on – jemanden einweihen, auf den neusten Stand bringen
humankind – Menschheit
area of high pressure, low pressure area – Hochdruckgebiet, Tiefdruckgebiet
surface – Oberfläche
heavier (heavy, heavier, heaviest) – schwer
stay near the ground – bleibt nahe am Boden
you might expect – dürften Sie erwarten
wind occurs – Wind tritt auf
heat evenly – gleichmäßig erhitzen 
to retain – behalten, hier: speichern
determine – bestimmen, festlegen
underlying – zugrunde liegen
constant migration of – stetige Abwanderung
accomplish a huge range of tasks – eine Fülle von Aufgaben erfüllen
sum up – zusammenfassen
propel boats – Boote antreiben
Nile River – Nil
wind-powered – windbetriebene
water pumps – Wasserpumpen
woven-reed blades – aus Reet gewebte Flügelblätter
to grind grain – Korn mahlen
process grain – Korn verarbeiten
pigments for dyes – Pigmente zum Färben
growing in popularity – wächst an Popularität
renewable – erneuerbar
electricity-generating – Strom erzeugend
to light – beleuchten
over time … has been made – im Laufe der Zeit wurden… (immer mir present perfect benutzt)
discovery – Entdeckung
turbine – Turbine
fewer blades – weniger Flügelblätter
spin more quickly – sich schneller drehen
though – obwohl
unstable – instabil
to wobble – wackeln, flattern
fall into disrepair – verfallen, verwahrlosen
bladeless – flügellos 
to receive funding – finanzielle Förderung erhalten
invention – Erfindung
become fixtures along – Vorrichtungen werden entlang…
independent – unabhängig
fossil fuels – fossile Brennstoffe
to power – antreiben, mit Energie versorgen
to supply homes – Haushalte versorgen
wind idioms – idiomatische Redewendungen mit Wind
spit – spucken
do to something pointless – etwas Sinnloses machen
needless difficulties – überflüssige Schwierigkeiten
shovel snow off – Schnee wegschaufeln
destination – Ziel
aboard – an Board
referee – Schiedsrichter
call a player offsides – Abseits pfeifenturn into blowhards – Wichtigtuer werdendestructive – zerstören
most importantly – am Wichtigsten
impress sb. – jemanden beeindrucken

Learning Nugget February 2019

Clogs were made for walking

A trip to Amsterdam


Besides teaching people that they “do” their homework (and not “make” it), there’s little that the TIP TOP team loves more than seeing new places and learning new things. Case in point, one of our trainers just got back from an excursion to one of Europe’s top destinations: Amsterdam, Holland.

So we thought that for this month’s Learning Nugget we’d give you some interesting and fun facts about that thriving and historic city. You’ll learn about its famous canals, a piece of little-discussedcultural history, and the marks Amsterdam and its surrounding areas have left on the largest English-speaking city in the world.

The Canals

The canals of Amsterdam are known throughout the world. Amsterdam’s Canal Ring (a series of connected canals over 14 kilometers in total length) even achieved the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

Today these canals are used largely for pleasure cruising, and perhaps their most frequent users are boats filled with tourists taking in the city from the water. However, while they may seem all for fun today, they played a serious role in Amsterdam’s growth into one of Europe’s most famous cities.

The canals are manmade, and while some were originally dug as defense measures, most were dug for the purpose of commerce. Having the canals throughout the city allowed for goods to be easily delivered to warehouses. Such accessibility helped make Amsterdam one of the most important and richest port cities in Europe by the 17th century, the era called the Dutch Golden Age. This time period of great prosperity for the city is the one in which artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer worked.

One interesting sight visitors can see by the side of a canal called Oude Schans is the clock tower known as Malle Jaap (Silly Jack). It was formerly a part of a defensive wall, but it was eventually converted to its current form. Silly Jack got its nickname because its engineer made some mistakes when building it, and its bell would sound at random times instead of on the hour.

The Surinamese in Amsterdam

If asked to say where Surinam is on a map, many Westerners would have little clue. You might also be scratching your head about why we’re bringing up Surinam in a piece about Amsterdam. Explaining that takes a little retelling of history, but we promise it’ll make sense eventually.

Surinam is located on the northeastern coast of South America, and it became a Dutch colony in the 16th century. It was a place where cash crops like indigo, cotton, sugar, and coffee were grown.

As you might have guessed, it wasn’t the European merchants who worked the fields to tend those crops. They used slaves and – after the abolition of slavery – underpaid laborers to complete the backbreaking jobs associated with growing and processing such crops for transatlantic shipment.

That history has left its mark on Surinam, and its current population represents a fascinating conglomeration of African, Indian, Chinese, and Indonesian cultures, along with others. Though it became fully independent in 1975, Surinam is the only country outside of Europe that uses Dutch as its official language.

Because of their country’s connections to the Netherlands, many Surinamese have immigrated there, with large numbers making the move from the 70s through the 90s. Many of these immigrants moved to cities like – you guessed it – Amsterdam.

The easiest way to experience the Surinamese influence in the city is to visit one of the many Surinamese restaurants there. With its interesting mix of influences, Surinamese cuisine is something any adventurous eater should try. Though the history it reminds us of may not be savory, the flavors created by the intermingling of cultures in Surinam certainly are.

I  love New Amsterdam?

Before New York City was New York City, it was called New Amsterdam. It was established as a trading post by the Dutch West India Company in the 17th century. Though the settlement came under the control of the English within the same century, the names of many places in the city in use today derive from Dutch roots.

Here are a few examples: 

  • Harlem: An NYC neighborhood often associated with African American history and culture was formerly a Dutch village named after Haarlem, a town just outside of Amsterdam.
  • Brooklyn: The famous borough is named after the Dutch town Breukelen.
  • Coney Island: A place of games, hot dogs, and the world’s first roller coaster, all on a place the Dutch called Conyne Eylandt, which means “rabbit island.”
  • The Bronx: Another borough, this one named after Jonas Bronck, a wealthy man who lived in New Amsterdam in the 17th century.


On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.





case in point – typisches Beispiel
excursion to – Exkursion, Ausflug
thriving – florierende, blühende
little-discussed – wenig beachtete
marks have left on – hat seine Spuren hinterlassen
is known throughout – ist überall bekannt
in total length – mit einer Gesamtlänge
achieved – erreichen
World Heritage Site – Weltkulturerbe
pleasure cruising – Vergnügungsfahrt
taking in the city – die Stadt einnehmen
play a serious role – eine wichtige Rolle spielen
manmade – vom Menschen erschaffen
dug (dig, dug, dug) – graben
defense measures – Abwehrmaßnahmen
deliver goods to – Waren anliefern
warehouse – Lager
accessibility – Erreichbarkeit, Zugänglichkeit
port city – Hafenstadt
era – Ära
Dutch Golden Age – Goldenes Zeitalter der Niederlande
prosperity – Wohlstand, Erfolg, Reichtum
interesting sight – interessante Sehenswürdigkeit
defensive wall – Mauer, Schutzwall (also read our Learning Nugget about walls here)
eventually – letztendlich, schließlich
converted – umwandeln
bell sounds at random times – Glocke erklingt zu willkürlichen Zeiten
to have little clue – wenig Ahnung haben
scratching your head – am Kopf kratzen
explaining that – das zu erklären
Dutch colony – Niederländische Kolonie
cash crops – Ernte, die für den Verkauf angebaut wird
merchants – Händler, Kaufmann
to tend crops – Felder bestellen
slaves – Sklaven
abolition of slavery – Abschaffung der Sklaverei
underpaid laborers – unterbezahlte Arbeitskräfte
backbreaking – erschöpfende
processing crops – Feldfrüchte verarbeiten
conglomeration – Anhäufung, Ansammlung
independent – unabhängig
70s through the 90th – während der 70er bis 90er Jahre
you guessed it – Sie haben es erraten
adventurous – abenteuerlich
may not be savory – nicht gerade glorreich
savory – pikant, herzhaft
intermingling – vermischen
to establish – einführen
settlement – Siedlung
derive from – abstammen
root – Wurzel
roller coaster – Achterbahn
borough – Bezirk

Learning Nugget January 2019

Tales of Three Manmade Barriers


As many of you know, the U.S. government has hit a wall. However, for those of you not in the loop, we’ll give you a little background.

In late 2018, President Trump – a Republican – told the U.S. Congress he would not approve any spending bill unless it allocated over five billion dollars to construct a barrier along the United States’ southern border with Mexico. Congressional Democrats said they wouldn’t pass any bill that included such a wall.

The deadline to pass the spending bill came and went, and on December 22, 2018, a partial government shutdown began. It’s still ongoing, and many government employees are without work and/or pay and many federal services – like staffing and maintenance of National Parks—simply aren’t available.

With the government of the world’s largest economy at an impasse over a wall, we at TIP TOP thought it would be interesting to take a look at the impact large, manmade barriers have had across history. Of course, there are many more than we could talk about in just one Learning Nugget, so we’ve chosen three that we think you might not know much about. So, settle in, and we hope you learn something new.


The Amorite Wall: Ancient Mesopotamia

Around 2000 BC, the leaders of the Sumerian city of Ur (located in modern-day Iraq) had a problem. A nomadic tribe – the Amorites – were growing in power in their region and coming ever closer to their city. With few natural borders to keep the Amorites out, they decided to build one themselves. The result was what is known as the Amorite Wall today, a barrier over 250 kilometers in length that crossed the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

As impressive as it was, the wall did little to protect Ur’s territory. The wall didn’t connect to other barriers at its ends and could simply be walked around by invading forces. Also, the wall was so long that Ur couldn’t keep enough troops along it to protect it at every point, making it vulnerable to being climbed over or torn down. In just a few years, the Amorites were in Ur’s territory, over time weakening its power just as the city’s leaders had feared. Around 250 years after the wall’s construction, Ur fell to the forces of another civilization, the Elamites—an event historians say ended Sumerian civilization.


The Long Walls: Athens

The U.S. isn’t the first democratic society to think about walls. In the 400s BCE, Athens – often considered the birthplace of democracy – went through its own wall mania.

After its city walls were destroyed by Persian forces in the Greco-Persian Wars, Athens began to rebuild them after combined Greek militaries1 had finally pushed the Persians back out. While doing this, Athens also began constructing a wall that stretched from the city to a sea port around six kilometers away.

They eventually also constructed a second wall that stretched to a different sea port, making it impossible to access the city unless you were allowed through the wall or came by sea. Afterwards came a third wall that ran behind the first, creating an area where farming could safely take place even if the city came under siege.

The Athenians’ main rival for power in the ancient Greek world, the Spartans, were not pleased with these developments. They were not a democracy and also had a land-based combat force that couldn’t hope to compete with the power of the Athenian navy. With the security of the walls, Athenian power and influence could grow with little fear of attack from outside forces, threatening Sparta’s status in ancient Greece.

It had to do with more than just the walls, but Athens and Sparta eventually went to war with each other. In the wars that followed (the Peloponnesian Wars) the walls did their job and kept the land forces of Sparta out. It wasn’t until Athens overstretched its naval forces and opened itself up to attack by sea that the city fell.

And what was one of the first things the Spartan victors did?

Tear down the walls, of course.


1At the time Greece was not one nation. It was a region made up of various city-states. Those city-states came together to fight off the Persian invaders.


The Dingo Fence: Australia

Imagine a fence going from the coast of Portugal to Moscow, Russia. At 5,614 kilometers, the Dingo Fence in Australia is over 1,000 kilometers longer than thatIt’s the longest fence in the world, and it has one current purpose: to keep wild dogs called dingoes from eating farmers’ sheep.

The fence was originally built in the late 1800s to stop the spread of rabbits – a species not native to Australia. It didn’t work, but soon some saw the possibility of expanding the fence to keep Australia’s apex predator, the dingo, away from their livestock. The fence is still maintained by Australia’s government today, though it is only partly effective and the subject of some debate.

For one, some dingoes have gotten through holes in the fence and still live on the side they are meant to stay out of. Another problem is that the dingo is the apex predator of Australia, and animals on the continent have coevolved with it over the last four centuries. Without its presence in its normal habitat, biodiversity has suffered, leaving some species endangered.


Final Thoughts
From just these few examples, it’s easy to see the long life artificial barriers have had in human history. They are almost always made to ward off attacks, whether from armies or wild animals, but none of them come without problems. They could be ineffective like Ur’s, a source of conflict like Athens’, or the cause for the decline of an ecosystem, like Australia’s.It is likely due to awareness of such possible problems that the majority of U.S. voters oppose Trump’s wall. Perhaps they agree with a leading Democratic politician who said “the symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot [9-meter] wall.”For our part, we at TIP TOP definitely believe that it’s always better to look for ways to create fruitful conversations between societies rather than ways to cut them off from one another.


Listen to the Learning Nugget and to the correct pronunciations read by our trainer Alex in the following audio: Alex on „Tales of Three Manmade Barriers“




Or in the YouTube video and listen to the text and read it at the same time




manmade barrier – von Menschen errichtete Barriere

hit a wall – in eine Sackgasse gelangen

approve any spending bill – Kostenplan zustimmen

unless – es sei denn

allocate – zuteilen

pass the spending bill – Kostenplan verabschieden

partial shutdown – teilweise Stilllegung

government employees – Regierungsangestellte

staffing and maintenance – Personal und Intstandhaltung

at any impasse over – in einer Pattsituation sein, wegen

settle in – darauf einstellen

BC (before Christ) –  vor Christus

nomadic tribe – Nomadenstamm

the Amorites – Amurriter

do little to protect – wenig beitragen, um zu schützen

didn’t connect to other – war nicht mit anderen verbunden

by invading forces – durch eindringende Truppen

making it vulnerable to – machten es zum wunden Punkt…

torn down (tear – tore – torn)  – niedergerissen, abgetragen

weaken – schwächen

fall to forces – zum Opfer fallen

had feared – hatten befürchtet

consider the birthplace of democracy – als Geburtsort der Demokratie gesehen

wall mania – Mauerwahn

push back out – zurück vertreiben

stretched from … to – sich erstrecken von … bis

to a sea port – Seehafen

come by sea – über das Meer kommen

farming – Landwirtschaft, Ackerbau

take place – stattfinden

come under siege – belagert werden

Spartans – Spartaner

land based combat force – Bodentruppen

threatening – drohen, bedrohen

overstretch its naval forces – seine Seestreitkräfte ausdehnen

naval forces – Seestreitkräfte

Spartan victors – Spartanische Sieger

tear down the walls –  Mauern einreißen

wild dogs – wilde Hunde

dingoes – Dingos

spread of – die Verbreitung von

not native to – nicht beheimatet in

apex predator – Spitzenprädator

is still maintained – wird immer noch aufrechterhalten

have coevolved with – sich gemeinsam entwickelt

over the last four centuries – in den letzten vier Jahrhunderten

leave species endangered – vom Aussterben bedrohte Arten/Spezies hinterlassen

artificial barriers – künstliche Barrieren

ward off attacks – Angriffe abwähren

it is likely – es ist wahrscheinlich

to oppose sth. – sich widersetzen

TIP TOP wishes Merry Christmas


NIC: Hey Alex, have you got a favourite Xmas story or poem?

ALEX: Hi Nic, yes actually, I have It’s called „A Visit from St. Nicholas“


NIC: I don’t think so. How does it go?

ALEX: Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

NIC: Wow do lots of Americans have mice in their houses?

ALEX: No, Nic, they don’t. Anyway;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

NIC: Alex, sorry to interrupt you again but, what exactly is a sugar plum?

ALEX: Eerm, I’m not sure, some kind of candy I think. Anyway;

And mamma in her ‚kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

NIC: I didn’t know American’s hibernated in winter like bears!

ALEX: No, we don’t. Anyway;

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

NIC: Sorry, but what is a sash?

ALEX: It’s the old kind if windows they had in Victorian times. Anyway;

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

NIC: Wow, I’m a saint ?

ALEX: Well, it isn’t talking about you.

NIC: But you said Saint Nic!

ALEX: Do you want to hear the rest?

NIC: Yes, sorry. Carry on!

ALEX: More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

„Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!“

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

NIC: I always wondered how he did that without setting off the burglar alarms.

ALEX: He’s magic. Anyway;

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples , how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

NIC: Santa Claus smokes?

ALEX: It’s an old poem, I guess if it had been written today he wouldn’t. Anyway;

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

NIC: Inside his nose? That’s horrible!

ALEX: Aside. You know, on the side of his nose! Anyway;

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

NIC: Yeah, that’s lovely. So what do you want for Xmas this year?

ALEX: The older I get the more I realise that what’s important isn’t toys, or gifts, it’s having time together with the people I love.

NIC: Me too. I guess some things aren’t that different between Britain and America! Well have a wonderful Christmas and I wish you lots of special moments and happy memories with the ones you love.

ALEX: Merry Xmas to you too.

ALL: Merry Christmas everyone, from all of us here at TIP TOP!

Who’ll deliver the goods?

Dwindling numbers of German truck drivers a cause for concern


Take your car onto any German highway at almost any time of day, and you’re nearly certain to see a line of semitrucks in the right lane . Still, as hard as it may be to believe, Germany is facing a growing shortage of truck drivers . The International Road Transport Union (IRU) reports that “over the next 10-15 years around 40% of German truck drivers will retire , which, given current trends , will create a shortfall of 150,000 drivers.”

While you may think this is mainly the problem of trucking and logistics companies, it actually affects everyone in the country. The reason is pretty simple; almost everything you buy – clothes, groceries , fuel, and plenty more – is delivered by truck. A growing shortage of truck drivers means that many of the things we a title=“abhängig sein von“> depend on may simply be unavailable when we need them.

This growing problem has multiple causes. Truck driving is becoming increasingly regulated and sophisticated, and that means potential drivers need to be willing and able to go through rigorous training before taking on the job. However, with giant corporations like Amazon having the clout to make logistics companies settle for ever-lower profit margins, wages in the field are both low and relatively stagnant. That makes it very hard to attract people to a profession that keeps them away from family and friends for much of the year and often results in the need to sleep in the confined space where you work.

Given those circumstances, it’s little wonder that as the aging population of professional truck drivers retire, there are fewer younger people willing to fill the spots they’re leaving open. According to a story from Die Welt, around 30,000 truck drivers retired in 2016 while just 16,211 new drivers earned their licenses.

Some believe that this could do more than just inconvenience us in the mall or at the supermarket. A story from Foreign Policy suggested this problem poses an international security risk:

“…the smooth functioning of society now depends on a shrinking corps of underpaid, and clearly underappreciated, workers. If drivers decided to go on strike, or retire en masse, countries would quickly run out of food and gasoline – causing social and economic crisis and leaving them dangerously vulnerable.”

Just as there are a multitude of reasons for this issue, there are also a multitude of suggestions for how to address it. The IRU suggests a combination of raising wages, improving working conditions, and reaching out to groups who do not traditionally become truck drivers, like women and minorities, could help. They mention that the recent influx of immigrants to the EU could be a source of new truck drivers, as well.

Ultimately, only time will tell if this is a problem that gets solved or gets worse. But maybe next time you get stuck behind a big, slow truck on your way to work, you’ll realize that it’s not just there to annoy you but is actually helping to fill a vital role in modern society.



Listen to the Learning Nugget and to the correct pronunciations read by our trainer Alex in the following audio: Alex on „Who’ll deliver the goods?




Or in the YouTube video and listen to the text and read it at the same time

Trick or treat, give us something good to read!

Clouds passing quickly over a full, yellow moon. Bare tree limbs waving in a bitter wind over an ancient graveyard. Children dressed like goblins, princesses, and Star Wars characters ringing doorbells and asking for candy before going home to be pleasantly frightened by their parents’ best ghost stories. These are just a few images that might come into a North American’s head at the mention of the word “Halloween.”

As the tradition of Halloween—which always takes place on October 31—has leaked slowly into some European countries, many may think it’s purely a creation of the United States and Canada. However, its roots go back centuries (to areas that are now Europe, in fact), and in this month’s Learning Nugget, we explore the ancient origins of this holiday that is slowly gaining popularity in Germany.

Samhain: Halloween’s oldest ancestor
For the ancient Celts who lived in present-day Ireland, U.K., and parts of France, facing the darkness, cold, and common food shortages of winter was a frightening prospect. In order to prepare themselves for it, they had a yearly festival at the end of October: Samhain (pronounced sah-wen).

Samhain included a feast to celebrate the harvest, but the Celts also believed it was the day when the border between the spirit world and the human world was at its thinnest. Beings like ghosts and fairies could walk the earth, and druids (Celtic priests) could more easily communicate with them, helping them to make prophecies about the coming year. This belief about the nearness of spirits explains why modern-day Halloween is associated with ghosts and other fanciful beings.

What’s with the costumes?
Another key feature of Halloween is the costumes. This, too, stems from Celtic tradition. Because the end of October was when ghouls, goblins, and fairies could be found around any bend in the road, it was important not to be recognized as a human they might want to take back with them to the spirit world. So, people began wearing masks when they left their houses to convince the spirits they were just one of the gang.

How did “Samhain” become “Halloween”?
Eventually, the pagan religions of Celtic areas began to be replaced by Christianity. The church likely wanted to replace the pagan celebration of Samhain with a Christian holiday, and by 1000 CE had established the observance of All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. All Saints Day was dedicated to remembering all of the dead saints and martyrs of the Christian faith, and All Souls Day was dedicated to remembering all dead.

An old English word for saint is “hallow,” so All Saints Day was also known as All Hallows. October 31, the traditional day of Samhain, began to be called “All Hallows Eve” (“eve” meaning “the day before”). With time, these words were contracted into “Halloween.”

The start of trick-or-treating
“Trick-or-treating” is the name for what children do when they go around gathering candy on Halloween. It comes from the phrase “trick or treat?” that they say at each door. While this phrase implies that the person at the door can either give out treats or be the victim of a trick, the tradition of asking for food on Halloween did not begin with such sinister connotations.

The custom goes back to an All Soul’s Day practice. Richer families would bake small, cookie-like cakes called soul cakes. The poor would come to their doors asking for these cakes, and in exchange, they would pray for the souls of the richer families’ dead relatives.

Happy Halloween!
There’s no denying Halloween has changed a lot since the time when ancient Celts gathered around bonfires to celebrate Samhain or Christians paid tribute to the dead on All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Still, it’s interesting to think about how modern traditions harken back to such old customs.

Costumes, now meant to amuse, astound, or attract other people, were originally worn in order to not be stolen away by otherworldly creatures. Today’s house parties are yesterday’s great Celtic harvest feasts at bonfires. A huge portion of annual U.S. candy sales— last year’s Halloween candy sales in the U.S. totaled around four billion dollars — is owed to a medieval custom of preparing cakes to distribute to the poor in exchange for prayers.

Doubtlessly, if the holiday continues to gain popularity in Germany, the country will begin to add its own twists to the revelries ( “Süßes oder Saures?” is already the German “trick or treat”). But even if you decide Halloween isn’t your kind of holiday, we hope that you enjoy these last fall days before the cold and dark—and maybe a few ghosts—settle in.



Listen to the Learning Nugget and to the correct pronunciations read by our trainer Alex in the following audio: Alex on „Trick or treat, give us something good to read!




Or in the YouTube video and listen to the text and read it at the same time


passing quickly – schnell vorüber ziehen

Bare tree limbs – kahle Baumäste

ancient graveyards – uralte Friedhöfe

few images – einige Bilder

to take place on – statt finden am

leaked slowly into – langsam durch gesickert nach

it’s purely a creation of – es ist nur eine Kreation von

roots go back centuries – die Wurzeln gehen Jahrzente zurück

explore – auskundschaften

slowly gaining popularity – langsam an Beliebtheit gewinnen

Celts – die Kelten

common food shortages – die gewöhnliche Lebensmittelknappheit

frightening prospects – beängstigende Aussichten

in order – um

celebrate the harvest – die Ernte feiern

fanciful beings – fantasievolle Lebenswesen

key feature of – Hauptmerkmal von

to stem from – stammen von

bend in the road – die Kurve in der Straße

be recognized – erkannt werden

to wear masks – Masken tragen

convince the spirits – die Geister überzeugen

eventually – schließlich

pagan religions – heidnische Religionen

be replaced by – ersetzt werden durch

dead saints – tote Heilige

dedicated to remembering – war dazu da, um sich zu erinnern

Christian faith – christliche Glaube

contracted into – zusammen ziehen ins, hier: eins werden

to gather – sammeln

victim of a trick – Opfer eines Tricks

sinister connotation – böse Konnotation, Bedeutung

custom goes back to – der Brauch geht zurück auf

in exchange – im Gegenzug

pray for – beten für

there is no denying – es lässt sich nicht abstreiten

to gather around bonfires – sich ums Lagerfeuer versammeln

traditions harken back to – die Traditionen reichen zurück bis…

astound – erstaunen

to distribute to – verteilen an

four billion – vier Milliarden

doubtlessly – zweifelsohne

settle in – hier: einziehen

“Fall” in love with a new game!

The temperatures are falling, and it’s starting to feel more and more like Fall in Germany. With all the cakes being made from this year’s huge fruit harvest, the new wine, the onion cake, the Oktoberfest beers, we thought people might be looking for a fun way to burn off a few calories. That’s why this month’s Learning Nugget is focused on an outdoor sport that anyone can play, but many people haven’t heard of: disc golf.

Disc golf started out as a game people played around their neighborhoods or in nearby natural areas. They would take a frisbee like you might toss at the beach or in a park and then pick an object as a goal, such as a tree, a pole, or a rock. Just like golfers try to get a ball into a hole in the fewest strokes possible, they wanted to hit the object with the frisbee in the fewest throws possible. This way of playing—with frisbees and natural objects as targets—was how the first known disc golf tournament was played, taking place in California in 1969.

Over time, more and more people have become interested in the sport, and it has changed quite a bit. One big difference is that disc golf is now played with metal basket as targets (see picture) rather than objects. Another is that the company that owns the “Frisbee” trademark—Wham-O—refused to let the sport be called “frisbee golf,” so the sport became known as “disc golf” and its frisbees as “discs.” Today, specialized disc golf discs have smaller circumferences and narrower profiles than typical frisbees, enabling them to be thrown farther and at higher speeds. Some professional disc golfers (yes, they exist) can throw over 150 meters and at speeds over 100 km/h.

Despite these changes, the basics of the game are still the same. Players begin a “hole” (a term borrowed from golf) by throwing from a tree toward a basket. Tees can be made of brick, concrete, or artificial turf or simply marked on the ground. After their first throws, players each go to where their disc landed and throw again towards the basket. The person farthest from the basket always throws first. This process is repeated until all discs are in the basket. Players then move on to the next hole. The player who needed the fewest throws to play all holes on the course is the winner.

Though this may be the first time you’ve heard of disc golf, it’s actually played across Europe and is growing at a very fast rate on the continent – especially in Scandinavia. The reasons for its growth likely have something to do with how it differs from the golf most people know.

Unlike golf, disc golf can be played in the woods, so it’s much easier to find areas to create courses. Because of this, many disc golf courses are in public parks and are free to play. While golf requires many expensive clubs, disc golf discs can cost between 10-20€, and though serious players have many discs, recreational players don’t need more than one or two.

If taking a little walk in the park while playing this game sounds to you like a good thing to do on an autumn day, we have some tips for how you can do just that. If you happen to be near the Bad Kreuznach area where TIP TOP’s office is located, the nearest courses are a six-hole course in Mainz’s Volkspark and a 21-hole course in Rüsselsheim’s Ostpark. Both are free to play. For those farther away, you can find courses using this website:https://www.dgcoursereview.com.

Also, the game can be played with normal frisbees, but you’ll likely have more fun with discs made for the sport. For the price, one of the best discs for beginners you can buy is called the Roc, made by a disc golf company named Innova. Generally, they cost between €10 and €15.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and throw some discs!



Listen to the Learning Nugget and to the correct pronunciations read by our trainer Alex in the following audio: Alex on „“Fall” in love with a new game!




Or in the YouTube video and listen to the text and read it at the same time


highlight something – etwas hervorheben

along with the normal text – neben dem normalen Text

native English speaker – Muttersprachler

aimed at + Verb+ing form – darauf abzielen

practice that skill – diese Fertigkeit zu üben

fall in love – Fall – sich verlieben, Wortspiel mit Herbst

huge fruit harvest – reichhaltige Ernte

burn off calories – Kalorien verbrennen

toss – werfen

pole – Stange, Pfosten

in the fewest strokes – mit den geringsten Zügen

disc golf tournament – Discgolf Turnier

over time – mit der Zeit

while golf requires – während für Golf … erforderlich ist

metal baskets – Metallkörbe

rather than – eher als

smaller circumferences – kleinerer Umfang

narrower profiles – engere Profile

enable s.b/sth – j-m, etwas befähigen

be thrown farther – weiter geworfen zu werden

at higher speeds – zu höherer Geschwindigkeit

despite sth. – trotz

from a tee – von der Markierung/Abschlag

fewest throws – die wenigsten Würfe

unlike golf – anders als Golf

recreational players – Hobbyspieler

a six-hole course – 6 Loch Platz