Reading ESL: economic stonewall

Tax and Spend

This is a summary of a story from the Korea Herald. I have posted a link to the original story and a vocabulary list for uncommon words after the summary.


Opposition law makers in South Korea’s parliamentary assembly say they will block President Park Geun-hye’s plans to expand her government’s budget in 2015 by increasing taxes. The South Korean government is afraid that the Korean economy is facing ten years of economic bad news, just like Japan’s ‘Lost Decade’ (1990s). To prevent this, the Korean government wants to increase taxes so that it can also increase government spending. Continue reading


LTL: Learning Vocabulary

What Should I Learn First?

What is the best way for an independent learner to learn vocabulary?

I suppose you can learn vocabulary anyway you like, but it will all be useless if you don’t find ways to USE the words you have learnt. So, a successful vocabulary-learning strategy will have three parts:

  • Identifying the words you want to learn
  • Finding an efficient way to connect those words to their meaning in your memory
  • Looking for meaningful ways to use those words in real world situations. Continue reading

READING ESL: religion and law

This is a summary of an article posted on a Malaysian online news site; there is a  link to the original article and a vocabulary list of uncommon words posted after this summary.

Religious law will not improve society’s wrongs

A Malaysian news portal reports Lawyers for Liberty’s claim that using Islamic law in modern times is unrealistic, and that using Islamic law today will make society less fair and less Islamic.

In Kuala Lumpur, Lawyers for Liberty said that Islamic law (known as hudud or shariah law) is not magic and it cannot make society’s problems disappear. Lawyers for Liberty also said that religious law will only cause pain and suffering if it is introduced in Malaysia.

The state assembly in Malaysia’s north eastern state of Kelantan is meeting to discuss changes to state law that will allow more religious-based laws in the state. The executive director of Lawyers for Liberty says that this plan is unrealistic. He said that Islamic scholars are also questioning the use of religious-based laws in modern times. Lawyers for Liberty say that these laws will produce the opposite effect of true Islamic justice. The executive director added that extremely violent punishment of wrong-doers is not in the best interest of the Malaysian people, and using the issue of religious law in a political situation is very irresponsible. He also said that religious law could only be introduced by a system based on the Quran, and it would be unconstitutional under Malaysia’s present system of government.

Lawyers for Liberty also said that religious law would not be possible in Malaysia unless there was a religious revolution like in Afghanistan or Iran. Religious-based political parties in Malaysia, the director said, must look at their position again and work with Islamic scholars to find realistic ways to make religious laws applicable to modern times.

Original Article

You can read the original article on the freemalaysiatoday online news portal

Vocabulary List:

HUDUD (n) a Malaysian word for Islamic law (another term is shariah or syariah law)

CURE (n) the way to make an illness better, or to fix a bad situation. Also used as a verb E.g. to cure sick people

IMPLEMENTING (v) starting or introducing something. An ‘implement’ (n) is another word for a ‘tool’

DIVINE (adj) describing God or godly action

PROPERTY (n) an essential part of something – in this case. (‘Property’ as a noun is more often used to describe houses or buildings)

CRUELTY (n) taking some pleasure from hurting animals or other people

BORDERING ON (prep) getting close to something E.g. if something is ‘bordering on illegal’ then you probably shouldn’t do it

TORTURE (v) deliberately hurting someone for pleasure, or to make them do or say something unpleasant

AMENDMENT (n) a change (to ‘table’ an amendment can either mean ‘suggesting’ a change (UK) or to ‘delay’ or ‘postpone’ a change (US))

CRIMINAL (adj) illegal activity

GRANDSTANDING (v) making great show of doing something, but really not doing much

TAKE INTO ACCOUNT (v) to consider something, think about something

REPERCUSSIONS (n) the effects of an action (usually negative unless stated as ‘positive repercussions’)

ENTAIL (v) necessary follow-up action

HARSH (adj) very strict

CRUCIFIXION (n) killing people by nailing them to cross-shaped pieces of wood

AMPUTATION (n) the process of cutting off someone’s hand or leg etc. (cutting off someone’s head is called ‘decapitation’)

CONSTITUTE (v) to consist of

VIOLATE (v) not allow legal or rightful actions or events

UNCONSTITUTIONAL (adj) against a country’s laws and customs

DERIVES (v) comes from, originates from

QURAN (n) Islamic Holy Book

ULTIMATE AUTHORITY (adj) The final decision maker, cannot be argued with

FUNDAMENTAL (adj) basic and most important

CONCEPTS (n) ideas

ANTITHETIC (adj) opposite ideas

JUDICIARY (n) Judges and law experts

REASSES (v) update your thinking about a situation

language teaching and learning

About this Blog:

Big Ideas, Small Words

Language Teaching & Learning

Big ideas don’t always need to be expressed with big words.
I’m trying to avoid too much academic, artistic or slangy language in this blog, because I want to write about language teaching and learning in a way that anyone can read easily; Continue reading