Sample Chapter


Andre and Min-Jung leave school after their English placement test.

Andre: So how’d your placement test go?

Min-Jung: All right I guess. I was a bundle of nerves during the test; I’d be amazed if I managed to answer many of the questions correctly. I could just kick myself for getting so anxious.

Andre: I’m sure you did fine. I was a little keyed up too. For some reason I had a knot in my stomach while the instructor was assessing me. I should’ve just relaxed. There really wasn’t anything to get tense about.

Min-Jung: How about a change of pace? Do you want to wander through downtown with me?

Andre: Yeah I’d like to do that. I don’t know my way around yet. It’ll give me a chance to explore the city.

Min-Jung: Great! We can take in the sights together. Have you gone in that direction before? I wonder what’s down that way?

Andre: I think we should go up the street. My roommate told me that the neighborhood to the east of the school is kind of down-and-out. We don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the tracks.

Min-Jung: That’s good to know. Let’s play it safe today.

Andre: As far as I know, the shopping district is up this way. Let’s go there. That way, if we get off the beaten path, we won’t get ourselves into trouble.

They walk around the shopping district for an hour.

Min-Jung: There sure is a lot to see. I don’t think I’ll run out of things to do in my free time. I’ll have to be careful, though.

Andre: What do you mean?

Min-Jung: I could easily spend a bundle in some of these stores. I’d hate to wipe out my savings on a shopping spree.

Andre: You should try to keep your spending in check. You don’t want to run up a huge bill while you’re here. Take it from me, paying off a big credit card debt is such a drag. I had to do it once before. I never want to do that again…Hey, did you notice the park that we passed a few minutes ago?

Min-Jung: You mean the one across the street from the train station?

Andre: No, the big park that was kitty-corner to the hotel.

Min-Jung: Oh that one. Yeah, it looked beautiful. Why? Do you want to get away from all these shoppers for a while?

Andre: Yeah. I wouldn’t mind taking a break from the crowds. Let’s go see what that park has to offer.

Min-Jung: OK. Why don’t we stroll through the park and then check out what’s on the other side? I don’t think we’ve been over there.

Andre: Sounds like a plan. Wow! We’re covering a lot of ground this afternoon.

Min-Jung: That’s for sure. I’ll know downtown like the back of my hand by the time we’re finished today.


adj. – adjective
exclam. – exclamation
n. – noun
adv. – adverb
i. – idiom, phrasal verb
v. – verb

bundle of nerves (a) i. – very nervous
I was a bundle of nerves before I took the TOEFL exam.

kick oneself (to) i. – regret doing something
I could just kick myself for leaving my wallet in the restaurant last night.

keyed up i. – very nervous
The tennis player was keyed up while he waited for his match to begin.

knot in one’s stomach (a) i. – a nervous feeling in the stomach
I had a knot in my stomach when I asked that beautiful girl for a date.

change of pace (a) i. – a change from one activity to something different
I’m tired of studying. How about a change of pace? Why don’t we go for coffee?

wander (to) v. – walk slowly, saunter, stroll
Would you like to wander through the shopping mall this afternoon?

know one’s way around (to) i. – be familiar with a particular area
I’ve never been to this part of town before. Do you know your way around?

take in the sights (to) i. – sightsee
I’d like to take in the sights after we check into the hotel.

down-and-out i. – destitute, very poor
The unshaven man in the dirty clothes looks down-and-out.

wrong side of the tracks (the) i. – the bad section of a city
She became a millionaire even though she grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.

play it safe (to) i. – be careful
I think you’ve had too much to drink. Let’s play it safe and take a taxi home.

as far as someone knows i. – to the best of one’s knowledge
As far as I know, there’s a bank right around the next corner.

get off the beaten path (to) i. – go to an area not visited by most people
He was completely lost for two hours after he got off the beaten path.

run out of something (to) i. – use up all of something
I ran out of things to do in my free time while I was living in that small town.

DEFINITIONS – continued

bundle (a) n. – a lot of money
I spent a bundle when I bought a jacket at that designer clothing store.

wipe out something (to) i. – destroy something
The hurricane wiped out at least half of the town.

shopping spree (a) n. – a shopping binge, shop a lot
He went on a huge shopping spree after he won the state lottery.

in check adv. – under control
I’ll have to try to keep my smoking in check.

run up a bill (to) i. – get into debt, spend a lot of money
I ran up a large bill at the hotel while I was there on vacation.

take it from me (to) i. – trust me
Take it from me, that movie is unbelievably boring.

drag (a) n. – a bore
The advanced accounting course I took at college was such a drag.

kitty-corner adj. – diagonal in location
The post office you’re looking for is kitty-corner to the high school.

take a break (to) i. – take a rest
I think we’ve worked long enough. What do you say we take a break from studying?

stroll (to) v. – walk slowly, saunter, wander
I’d like to stroll along that beautiful white sand beach after lunch.

check out something/someone (to) i. – look at something/someone
Check out that convertible sports car. It must be really expensive.

cover a lot of ground (to) i. – travel a great distance
We’ve been walking for over an hour. We’ve certainly covered a lot of ground.

know something like the back of one’s hand (to) i. – be very familiar with something
I know this area like the back of my hand because I’ve lived here all my life.

Exercise 1: Match the word/idiom with the correct definition.

Followed by 6 more exercises, comprehension questions,
discussion questions and “Give it a Shot”.