Learning Idioms in Context: Lily's Belief in Life

Learning Idioms in Context: Lily’s Belief in Life

Here is a story about a young lady who is diligent and friendly. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

Lily is a lady who lives in a small town near the city. She loves to walk every weekend together with her brown puppy. During her summer vacation, she makes sure to relax to compensate for the busy moments in her school days. For her, living near the city is a blessing in disguise. In her first few months, she wasn’t able to appreciate the scarcity of establishments around. But now, she enjoys the simplicity and calmness of the neighborhood. She now sees the significance of some situations that seem terrible at first, but good things happen after.

Lily believes that contentment is one of the most useful virtues in life. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” Lily advised. She is delighted with what she has right now. Moreover, she also believes that a little learning is a dangerous thing. “People who don’t understand something fully are dangerous,” she said. She always reiterates the significance of wisdom as a tool for success. She is also a fan of real justice and equality. “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” she said. A person may look bad, but you should observe and know him before judging. 

Lily stressed that one of the most important virtues in life is a sacrifice. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs,” she suggested. It is hard to achieve goals in life without doing your best. Sometimes, unpleasant things happen, but life must go on. What doesn’t kill you makes you wiser and stronger. Finally, make sure to give your best at all times. At any rate, that’s how to be happy and successful in life according to Lily.

A blessing in disguise

  • a favorable situation or a result that seemed terrible at first, but it turns out to be an advantage or a fortune
Example Sentences

Adam’s early resignation from his work was a blessing in disguise because he got plenty of rest and a break from his toxic work life. 

Amanda’s failure in her exams was a blessing in disguise for she realized that she was not happy anymore with her bachelor’s degree and decided to change it to the degree she loves.

A: What makes you blessed now these days?

B: When Alana broke up with me, I was so distressed for a few months. But now, I think the breakup is a blessing in disguise because no one stops me when I want to stay late with my friends on weekends.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

  • what you have is more precious or valuable than what you can get later, so it is best to be contented and happy with what you possess right now no matter how small it is
Example Sentences

Layla might have got a better offer if she had waited for some more time, but she decided to take the one she had. After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

People may not like their job, but they should not quit just because they have the belief of finding a better one. They may not realize a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

A: You have been working in the company for quite a long time. What’s your secret?

B: Our company is already established. We have excellent benefits here that other companies cannot offer to their employees. You know, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A little learning/knowledge is a dangerous thing

  • this applies to people who don’t understand something or those who know a few are dangerous, and they are prone to errors
Example Sentences

Tom came home with some bruises that he got when playing in the mud. Just because his best friend jumps and runs in the dirt, it doesn’t mean that he will not get wounded. This goes to show that a little learning/knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Sam read about how to take care of himself when he has a high fever. He thought he doesn’t need a doctor. With this, he got worse and stayed in the hospital for a few days. This turned out that a little learning/knowledge is a dangerous thing

A: Are you now ready for the thesis defense this Friday?

B: No, I have to go over my research notes and study possible inquiries so that I can have organized thoughts, and my presentation will run smoothly. I have to be ready because I know that a little learning/knowledge is a dangerous thing.

You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs

  • give up something or to take much effort to get something in return or something desirable
Example Sentences

Helen is trying to do her best for her to get the university scholarship. She is not going out with her friends and watching movies. She has realized that she can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs

I have been studying English, and it’s hard work. However, I am hopeful that I can improve soon as it is true that I can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

A: How long have you been preparing for the 5k Marathon competition?

B: It has been two months, and I am not giving up. I can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. I know, I can do it.

You can’t judge a book by its cover 

  • don’t just look at the value of something by its appearance and this may sound bad in the outside appearance, but it’s good inside
Example Sentences

One of the applicants did not look very smart, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The restaurant looked so attractive from outside, but the meals were so horrible. We made a mistake. It’s really true that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

A: John has married Ella, one of the smartest students in his batch. She has a brown complexion and small. 

B: I think John has made a wise decision. He is happy now. He believes that you can’t judge a book by its cover.


  1. A major problem in life that you may encounter can turn out to be _________________. Embrace it and be positive.
  2. Be grateful for what you have accomplished. Be happy! You can never be promoted in your workplace for several years but _________________.  
  3. Human resource professionals scrutinize each applicant and they practice the belief that ____________________. So they hire based on skills and attitude not on appearance.
  4. Do not start a business without researching your market and efficiently planning because ______________ as you might face difficulties and issues that lead to failure.
  5. My best friend and I hope to achieve outstanding scores this summer class. We plan to decrease our screen time though this will make us upset. We believe that _____________________.

Learn more idiomatic expressions using short stories, sentences, and quizzes. It is essential to learn them in context as they are never easy to understand. Happy learning!

March Idioms

Although St. Patrick was the Patron Saint of Ireland, on the 17th of March, people from all over the United States have lots of parties and parades to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. On this day, those of Irish descent,  or simply those with Irish pride, celebrate Ireland’s heritage on t-shirts that might say: “Kiss me, I’m Irish” or “Luck of the Irish,” bars sell green beer, and lots of people wear green and luck charms, such as shamrocks.


Here are some common expressions having to do with LUCK:

beginner’s luck – when a new or inexperienced person has a great success; meaning it was luck rather than skill.
Example: -“Wow, he made that shot on his first professional game ever!”
– “It was just beginner’s luck.”

you’re in luck – used to describe a good situation for another person.
Example: “You’re in luck, this was the last pair in your size and in this color!”

better luck next time –  used after minor failures when someone attempts something but can’t
Example: “Dude, she beat me at that new video game!”
“Oh, well. Better luck next time!”

just my luck – used sarcastically to say something was very unlucky.
Example: “I skipped school to go to the beach, and just my luck: it rained all day!”

pushing your luck – to try to extend the good luck or a good situation you’ve had and risk having a negative result or losing what you have so far.
Example: “ I was chosen out of the twenty who applied for the position so I accepted with the
starting salary they offered me because I thought asking for a higher starting salary would be
pushing my luck.”

the luck of the draw – the result of chance and you have no control over
Example: “Sometimes you have to wait for hours to see a doctor in the emergency room, other times you can see a doctor in 20 minutes. It’s just the luck of the draw.” 

try your luck – try to accomplish something even though you know you may not succeed
Example: “He is going to try his luck at Las Vegas casino.” 




Karaoke Day in Irvine, California

Valentine’s day is approaching.  Love is in the air, but birds aren’t the only ones singing. 


For February’s inter-campus event, POLY Languages at Irvine is hosting a Karaoke day followed by dinner at Diamond Jamboree in Irvine! Karaoke will begin at 3:00 p.m. and will carry on until 5:30 p.m. 


Karaoke – an interactive form of entertainment where amateur singers sing lyrics off a television screen into a microphone, while a music recording plays in the background. It is a favorite pastime that’s enjoyed by people all over the world. According to Wikipedia, “Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques.” Like learning to speak a new language, singing requires one to focus on tone (intonation), rhythm (flow), and other techniques (such as stress, etc.). 


Singing is a part of everyone’s culture and Karaoke is an essential social activity in many countries, especially countries in Asia. Bryan Singer wrote in USA-Karaoke that “Japan and the Philippines are two huge karaoke spots” furthermore, he explains that in the Philippines and Korea, “it isn’t unusual for them to grow up with a karaoke machine in their living room.” He lists several reasons as to why Karaoke is more popular in Asian countries, these reasons include: cultural differences, price, setting, and song choice (Asian countries have over 30,000 songs to choose from).


The special thing about this inter-campus event for our students from abroad is that students and faculty from all three campuses (Pasadena, Irvine, Los Angeles) will be joining in. This will be a great opportunity to meet and befriend other international students. After karaoke, we’ll most likely be going to BCD, a Soon Tofu restaurant located in the same complex. Fellow ESL students will be able to share and compare their experiences from different parts of Southern California! We especially encourage students to sharpen their pronunciation and really try out their new skills on KARAOKE DAY!

A Great Leader – Student Essay

A Great Leader

Student Essay

Written By: Jayeon Kim

What traits make a great leader? I have a few ideas about this. The Kingdom of Great Joseon, now known as Korea, was a dynasty and a really strong empire for more than 600 years. It was the longest ruling dynasty in the world. The reason it lasted for 600 years was because there were great leaders. Though some characteristics of great leaders changed in the Joseon dynasty, others still remain in modern society. In addition to the Joseon dynasty, I can also find some traits of great leaders in the art field and in Hollywood.

First, a great leader should be dedicated. A person should give their whole life to something like art. For example, Tehching Hsieh is the most famous performance artist in the world, and he influences many artists. Usually, before his works, artists performed only for a few hours or a day. However, he did six durational (long) performance pieces such as ‘One Year Performance,’ ‘Art/Life,’ and ‘Thirteen Year Plan’ which were completed between 1978 and 2000. During these performances, he spent one year in a cage he made and spent one year outside, not entering buildings or shelter of any sort, not even cars. Also, he and another woman artist stayed together in the same room; they were tied together with a rope and were not allowed to touch each other for a year. He took photos and videos to document each project. Hsieh’s works makes him a great leader because his performances required a sensational amount of dedication.

Dedication is not the only characteristic of a great leader. A great leader must also be strong; people follow strength. Jason Momoa, for instance, is an American actor known for being in “Aquaman” and “Game of Thrones.” Because his appearance is so strong, his role is always a leader: a leader of the ocean or a leader of the Dothraki. In the Dothraki tribe, Jason Momoa’s character is a powerful warlord. He is an accomplished warrior and has never been defeated in battle. As a result, he has really long hair, because when warriors fight in this world, the winner can cut the loser’s hair. Because his hair is long, people follow his strength. Moreover, in Aquaman, his character is also really strong, and everyone follows him as he tries to retrieve the Trident of Atlan from his power-hungry brother King Orm. All of these things combined show that, if you’re strong, people follow you. That’s why people follow Jason Momoa’s characters.

In addition to dedication and being strong, creativity is an important quality in a great leader. A man with creativity helps people in a lot of ways. For example, the 4th King of Korea, Sejong, was given the title ‘Sejong the Great’ because, during his years as ruler, Korea advanced in natural science, agriculture, literature, and engineering. He developed new policies, and low status people were allowed to work for the government. He broke the rules and peoples’ general way of thinking; it was an innovation. Also, Sejong displayed his talents as an inventor. He created machines to facilitate agricultural work, astronomical devices, and eyeglasses. All of these things made Korea become a rich country. Moreover, he created Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Since 1440, Koreans have exported Hangul to other countries. If he hadn’t had creativity, many Koreans would not remember him as a great leader.

In conclusion, I think a great leader should be dedicated and strong. Many artists followed Hsieh’s dedication, and the Dothraki people followed Jason Momoa’s character’s strength. On top of that, creativity is a significant trait of a great leader. If King Sejong had not been a creative person, Hangul would not have been created. These are three traits that I think a great leader needs.