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Learn English with this family English lesson

Date: Apr 08 2013

Themes: Family

Grammar: Phrasal Verbs


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When people we love die, we are left with the memories we have of them, and sometimes, the things they leave behind. Some valuable or meaningful items can become heirlooms that are passed down for generations.

Heirlooms can be useful, like tools. Sometimes they are valuable, like jewelry. Other heirlooms are both useful and valuable, like fine china. Whatever the case, heirlooms are meaningful to the people who receive them. To have something that has been in your family for a long time helps you feel a connection to where you came from.

Of course, someone doesn’t have to die to pass on an heirloom. Older people often give the younger people in their families heirlooms that they aren’t using anymore or would simply like their young relatives to have. Listen to Greta and Jeff discuss what makes a good heirloom, and how to decide who gets it, in this family English lesson.





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Jeff:  Hey Greta.

Greta:  Yes, Jeff?

Jeff:  This is kind of out of the blue, but, does your family have anything that they pass down through the generations?

Greta:  I have some things from my dad’s side of the family. I think some of the problem with heirlooms is that when you have more than one child, those heirlooms get divided up or you have to make a decision about who to pass them down to. So, I have pieces of collections from my grandparents, and I have my grandmother’s wedding ring.

Jeff:  That’s a big one.

Greta:  But those are about the only things that made it to me, because my grandparents had three kids. So it’s kind of scattered now amongst the kids in the family.

Jeff:  Yeah, I know what you’re saying. My grandparents have nine kids on my mom’s side.

Greta:  Wow!

Jeff:  But, one thing I’ve noticed is that people have different personalities and different interests, so they sort of filter out that way and inherit things they’re into moreso than their siblings.

Greta:  That’s true. Do you have anything from your grandparents that particularly means a lot to you?

Jeff:  Now that I think of it, I don’t think they’ve trickled down that far. Just sort of to my aunts and uncles and my mom, but that’s cool. Sometimes people don’t have people to hand those things down to and it will end up at an estate sale.

Greta:  Exactly. That’s always kind of depressing, isn’t it?

Jeff:  It is, but not for the person that picks that up. It begins a new life.


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Greta has her grandmother’s wedding ring. She is lucky to have it. She has a big family, and sometimes it’s hard to decide who gets the heirlooms.

Jeff has a big family too, but he finds that since people have different interests, it’s usually easy to figure out how things will get passed down.

Greta feels bad about items that could be heirlooms but end up at estate sales because no one in the family wants them. Jeff thinks it’s OK because the item starts a whole new life.

Does your family have any heirlooms? What items do you hope to pass down to your children or grandchildren?



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Iran, Islamic Republic Of

i havent recived any heirloom but i know someone who recived a strange heirloom and they pass it down generation to generation..two sheep

my superwiser told me that his grandparents ones stuck in the desert and an old man with very long white beard and hair helped them and gave them 2 sheep and in a moment the old man disappeared, they were sure that the old man was prophet KHezr.so from that many time till now they tried to keep those sheep ’s generation and they hand it to their sons till now as a holly keepsake.

07:36 AM Jul 18 2014 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

We don’t have any heirloom but i think it can be sth worthy which can remind you many things from past!

10:48 AM Mar 12 2014 |



South Korea

I don’t have any heirlooms yet.

I think my parents will not hand down specific heirlooms but many good things that can be absolutely useful in my entire life.

Maybe, I will get to know what my family’s heirlooms are when I get older.

09:06 PM Apr 08 2013 |

1 person likes this



Money.. Hahaha… Since i will have some money left if  i died.. then might as well give it to someone who are of relative important.  

08:46 PM Apr 08 2013 |


Viet Nam

I havn’t received any heirlooms from my family until now. May be in the future :). I think, i will pass down something that contains many informations like a album pictures, videos, may be a internet resource: example a blog of my family (may be a facebook). My children will have more memories about their parrent. And i think when they watch it, they have a lot of fun :). It’s hard to make some thing like that but that is my wish.

08:32 PM Apr 08 2013 |

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Unluckly,my family doesn’t pass down any heirlooms to us(me and my siblings).I want to pass down my diary to my son or daughter,it is a meaningful item and i hope my kids write diary to record the history of my family for generations.haahha~just my wish!

05:25 PM Apr 08 2013 |




My nanny trickled down a lot of heirlooms to my mummy who will pass them to me.Guys!let me reveal a secret…..,we have a magnificent jewel in our lovely home…......hey!Don’t you believe me,guys ?!!

It’s love which I hope to be trickled down through my family generations.

Love is the jewel…….beating heart photo: Beating Heart beating_heart.gif“ushh,keep it a secret…...hehe”

12:03 PM Apr 08 2013 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Unfortunately my family doesn’t have any heirloom,i like to pass my wedding ring down to my childeren.

12:01 PM Apr 08 2013 |




Thinking whether I have something to hand down to someone as a heirloom made me look up the etymology of this word. Everyone would agree that  such kind of decision is not made just out of the blue.

“heir” is derived from Latin “heres” which actually means “heir”. The other one is “loom”, it comes from the Middle English “lome” which was a tool used for weaving…

Well, heirloom is like a tool which must be passed down through the generations. But tool for what? And why exactly weaving tool?

I was about to immerse myself into a deep profound thought, but then the answer appeared quite unexpectedly and fast.

A thread! A thread that ties generations, visual and material symbol containing the spirit of the ancestors, reminding every time – we belong to each other, we are the one.

This is actually the concept which one day  I would like to pass down to my loved ones

11:58 AM Apr 08 2013 |



Now, I am thinking about what I could ask from my mom as a heirloom!

07:58 AM Apr 08 2013 |

Ngubo Sixtus

South Africa

unfortunate i didn’t get anything from my perants because they were not having things that ‘d be inheritted by me. those ones got lucky they inherit heirlooms from their grandperants or perants. it’s a good thing.

06:10 AM Apr 08 2013 |




Let´s suppose that we have  a costly gold watch  and want to pass it down  to our children  ,obviously, we can not split it up , then what to do ?  We have had a famous five times grand prize champion  ,his name was Juan Manuel Fangio  ,after winning a formula 1   competition in Europe ,the auto maker ,I believe it was Mercedes Benz  gave him a  gold watch in recognition for his extraordinary performance.  Mr. Fangio had an intimate friend and later on in his life he presented the gold watch to him, his friend told him… What am I suppossed to do with the watch , I can not spilt it up with my children , Mr Fangio response was… then do what I did , A museum  to preserve my  valuables .  lol.

05:56 AM Apr 08 2013 |




The only heirlooms left  from my mother    is a letter from Eva Duarte , wife of a  former and popular  Argentine President Juan Peron. She was best known as” Evita ”            endearment  form of addressing  a person  that you love. Evita died from cancer, very young.. 33 years old . Our working class loved her  ,she helped the poor  , that  was the reason  why  she was so popular. Madonna made her worldwide famous by her motion picture “Evita” and the soundtrack “don´t cry for me Argentina”. My father died young leaving behind a even younger widow and five children .Evita sent her a letter  offering a job and monetary assistance, which my mother accepted.  I am thinking of donating this letter to the Evita museum , I don´t want to pass it down  to my family.

04:52 AM Apr 08 2013 |



I dont have any heirlooms, my mom is alawys in my memory without them

04:30 AM Apr 08 2013 |



Saudi Arabia

we have a value heirlooms from grandfathers like normal lands or agricultural lands . It is passing from generation to another . The father uses this land in his life after that moving to his sons and so on . They are using this lands in agriculture and take advantage of the income of agricultural crops or build a houses on it .

04:15 AM Apr 08 2013 |




I always loved that scene in which the mom passes her wedding ring to her son when he is about to get married to give it to his fiancee, it’s very emotional and touching to give up on something valuable for you to one of your lovely relatives, actually my mom has a lot of items she owned when she was younger that she has never used before and she wants us to own them and let me say they are so good items.

03:09 AM Apr 08 2013 |




I think it’s a great idea about trickling down some heirlooms. I’ve got many but one of them really has just started effecting me. It’s a sewing machine. It can hardly work but it’s a good memory from my relatives on my father’s side. Everyone used to sew something on it. When it was passed to me, I wanted to get rid of it and it was hidden in a cold room for a long long time until now when its “magic” started its work, like that “disembodied spirit’’ of my ancestors that breathed in me a great inspiration to make curtains. In the beginning I think, I can’t make it, but then I’m totally lost in a creative process. I do everything so far by hand, no machine. My hairloom is a great inspiration and token to me that you can do something what in the beginning looks like to you a “rocket science” :)




It is likely common in many families who have heirlooms. Some of them are so valuable that people try to keep it in secret and pass them down to other member of families confedintially. However, many of heirlooms have some meaningful values for generations which are the best way to remember our loved one who died. Also, in some occasions that people don’t have any kid to trickle down their items they hand down to some organizations like charity or poor people before die which are awesome way to help others. 

01:09 PM Apr 07 2013 |

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