Speak English Like an American » LESSON 3 - Ted's Day at School

Ted's Day at School

Ted tells his parents he did poorly on his chemistry test. They tell him he needs to get serious and study more.

Susan: How was your day at school today, Ted?

Ted: Bad. I had a chemistry test, and I blew it!

Susan: Maybe if you didn't cut class so often, you'd do better.

Bob: That's right, son. Stop slacking off and start hitting the books!

Ted: But I can't stand chemistry class. Besides, it's a lost cause. That class is way over my head.

Susan: You need to buckle down.

Ted: When I'm a famous musician, people won't give a hoot about my knowledge of atoms and molecules.

Bob: That's beside the point.

Susan: We know you have your heart set on going to New York University.

Bob: And you don't stand a chance of getting in there with such poor grades!

  • beside the point
    not relevant; not important
    EXAMPLE 1: Whether or not I asked the waiter to bring us water is beside the point. Waiters should always bring water to the table.
    EXAMPLE 2: The reason you're late is beside the point. The fact is, your dinner is now cold.
  • (to) blow something
    to spoil or botch something
    EXAMPLE 1: Brenda blew the interview and didn't get the job offer.
    EXAMPLE 2: Randy managed to get a date with the most popular girl in his class. Now I hope he doesn't blow it!
  • (to) buckle down
    to start working seriously
    EXAMPLE 1: If Don buckles down now, he might be able to graduate from high school this year.
    EXAMPLE 2: Team, if we want to win this tournament, we're going to need to buckle down!
  • can't stand
    to hate
    EXAMPLE 1: Bob can't stand bureaucrats, so he'd never do well working at a large corporation.
    EXAMPLE 2: Nicole can't stand broccoli. She simply refuses to eat it.
  • (to) cut class
    to miss class without an excuse
    EXAMPLE 1: Ted often cuts class to spend more time with his girlfriend.
    EXAMPLE 2: If you keep cutting French class, you're going to fail it.
  • Get real!
    be serious or realistic about what's going on
    EXAMPLE 1: You think you won't get a speeding ticket when you drive 85 miles per hour? Get real!
    EXAMPLE 2: You think you're going to win $1 million in the lottery? Get real!
  • (to) have one's heart set on
    to really want something
    EXAMPLE 1: Nicole has her heart set on going to New York this weekend.
    EXAMPLE 2: Did you really have your heart set on going to Harvard?
  • (to) hit the books
    to start studying
    EXAMPLE 1: Ted parried all weekend. Finally, on Sunday night, he decided it was time to hit the books.
    EXAMPLE 2: Hit the books! I know you have a test tomorrow.
  • lost cause
    something hopeless
    EXAMPLE 1: Cindy spent five years studying Russian. Finally, she realized it was a lost cause. She would never learn it.
    EXAMPLE 2: Jack needs to stop drinking so much coffee, but he's so addicted to caffeine that it's a lost cause.
  • (to) not give a hoot
    to not care about
    EXAMPLE 1: Tom likes to walk around town in his pajamas — he doesn't give a hoot what people think.
    EXAMPLE 2: Stephanie doesn't give a hoot if she's the only one wearing a green dress to the high school prom.

    SYNONYMS: to not give a damn; to not give a darn

  • over one's head
    beyond one's understanding
    EXAMPLE 1: The professor was speaking over our heads. None of us could understand him.
    EXAMPLE 2: The article on cloning was written for scientists. It was over my head.
  • (to) slack off
    to waste time
    EXAMPLE 1: Amanda doesn't get much done at the office. She's too busy slacking off.
    EXAMPLE 2: I'd better stop slacking off. My essay is due in two hours.

    NOTE: People who slack off all the time are called "slackers."

  • (to) stand a chance
    to have the possibility of success
    EXAMPLE 1: Although the American figure skaters were good, they didn't stand a chance of winning a gold medal at the Olympics.
    EXAMPLE 2: Wilton High School has the best soccer team in the state. I'm afraid we don't stand a chance against them!
Practice The Idioms

Choose the most appropriate reply to the following statements:

  1. Bob: "Susan, I can't get my old job back. It's a lost cause."
    Susan's reply:
    • a) "Lost? Maybe I can help you find it."
    • b) "Yes, I know it's not a good cause."
    • c) "I understand. You'll find something else."
  2. Susan: "How could Peter fire you? Were you slacking off?"
    Bob's reply:
    • a) "No. I was working very hard!"
    • b) "No. I talked on the phone to friends all day."
    • c) "Yes. I was working very hard!"
  3. Ted: "It's getting late. I'd better start hitting the books."
    Bob's reply:
    • a) "Yes, that's a good idea. Spend some time studying."
    • b) "Hit the books? Why don't you read them instead?"
    • c) "Why don't you study instead?"
  4. Peter: "I don't give a hoot how long you've been working here."
    Bob's reply:
    • a) "I wouldn't give you a hoot either."
    • b) "I guess our years together aren't important to you."
    • c) "Yes, it was a long time."
  5. Bob: "Susan, the truth is that I couldn't stand Peter."
    Susan's reply:
    • a) "I know. Peter really liked you too."
    • b) "I liked him too. He was a nice guy."
    • c) "I didn't like him either. He was a jerk."
  6. Susan: "Nicole, do you ever cut class?"
    Nicole's reply:
    • a) "No. I've never missed a single class."
    • b) "Yes. I had to leave my math class early yesterday."
    • c) "No. Sometimes I go to the mall during class time."
  7. Bob: "This book on computers is way over my head."
    Susan's reply:
    • a) "Over your head? It should be in front of your face!"
    • b) "Why don't you start with an easier book?"
    • c) "Here, try this book. It's more difficult."
  8. Nicole: "I've got my heart set on going to the school picnic."
    Susan's reply:
    • a) "Okay. You should definitely go."
    • b) "Really? Why don't you want to go?"
    • c) "I understand. Picnics can be boring."
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. c
  2. a
  3. a
  4. b
  5. c
  6. a
  7. b
  8. a
Answer Key
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