Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Resoutions

Write complete sentences, number and post as "comment" to this post. More worksheets and activities at Boggle's World

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Reading, New Years and EVO 2008

Hello all
How are you coming along with selecting something to read for your reading project? If you are have a hard time deciding, pick something short. Then you can try something different next time.

If reading in English is hard for you, then you should focus on reading shorter pieces until reading gets easier. Wearing yourself out mentally won't help. With that thought in mind, maybe I should look for "Flash Fiction" links. Flash fiction stories are very short.

Changing the subject, New Years is coming. I'm looking for a New Years writing assignment. Not everyone in the class celebrates Christmas, most every culture has some kind of festival for the New Year and new beginning - or end of the old year. Should we write New Year's Resolutions? Many write them: few keep them. What else would be suitable writing for the season? We could write out lists of the best and worst of 2007. Or we could make predictions for 2008. Hopes and wishes - we need those. Let me know what interests you - or jump right in and write something about New Years and what it means.

I have a piece of news for you: I will be doing part of the EFI workshop at the 2008 TESOL Electronic Village. My topic will be managing the email based online class and using blogs. I set up a blog for the workshop and hope that some of you will decide to join me. I would really like to see you join me there and welcome your comments and suggestions.

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges... (Voltaire)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Share your seasonal greetings

christmas cowboy

I picked this graphic of a cowboy carrying an xmas tree in front of his saddle because I live in a western state where cowboys and ranching are part of local tradition.

Do you have seasonal greetings, blessings, good wishes, etc. (denomination of your choice) to share? Write them up - gift wrap with colors, fonts, quotes, links - whatever strikes your fancy and blog them.

Your greetings do not have to be about Christmas. You can write about a holiday that you celebrate this time of year in your country. Or you can write about how Christmas and New Years are celebrated in a non-English speaking country.

Christmas Memories Through Music

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hello Ms Vanessa and all of you.
I have a serious problem with my computer the last few weeks. It works very slowly; it doesn’t open internet’s pages. Each day became more and more badly. So I decided to do format. Just now I began to work on my computer. I believe that it works well. We’ll see..
I make for you a Christmas card and I wish happy holidays and Marry Christmas!!I‘ll write you soon how it was my Christmas days.

Marry Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

listening downloads

Downloads for listening and reading: Develop your English listening and reading skills using MP3 audio files and audio scripts. You can listen to the files online, or download them onto your PC and put them on your MP3 player, then see if you've understood by reading the scripts. You can also read the stories online as you listen, and then do language activities, or print out the audio scripts and read the stories on paper as you listen.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reading Project

Read whatever you wish so long as it is in English and not translated from another language into English. Give a source (title, author, publishing information and date) and a very brief summary in a couple of sentences - really just an explanation of the topic. ("This story or article is about...") The main part of your report is your reaction to what you have read.
Before reporting, post telling the class what you are going to read. Let me know if you need help finding something online to read.

What did you think of the reading - quality of writing, ease or difficulty of reading?
What did you like (or dislike) most about the reading?
Would you read more by the same writer or on the same topic?
Would you recommend the story, article or novel?  Include any reservations you might have about who would enjoy reading it.
Describe a passage or section that made an impression on you.
If this were a credit course, I would give 5 points news articles and other short texts, double for short stories or longer articles and quadruple points for a novel.  Because discussing readings is always an important part of any class with readings, I would give 3 points for substantive comments (150-200 words) responding to someone else' report, with bonus points for comments showing serious thought rather than just repeating platitudes and cliches.

For fast-acting relief try slowing down (Lily Tomlin)
Blogging from Mountainair NM at Mountainair Arts

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Get happy from learning English

After work,my first thing is study English.It is form habit to me.I feel it is very happy .
Through learn English ,I get lots of knowledge from kinds of area. For example,every evening I read the website . on the website ,including news,art,culture and so on. When read these , I feel happy and substantial.
I am prepareing for the ielts exam.I have confidentce in passing it.Please wait for my good news.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday morning catch-up

Hello all
My apologies for being quiet and not checking in sooner. I am in the middle of an online training course. I will be teaching college writing classes online, so I have to take the college's online teacher training certification. The class is intensive and takes both time and attention. However. I won't be teaching full time and will still be able to keep up with this class. Besides, it will be interesting to share what the other classes are doing and compare notes.
For now, you might enjoy reading about my being a student with homework - weekly assignments to write and post in the online classroom. In addition to assigned reading and 4-5 written assignments each week, I also have post "substantive" replies to other students' posts. As you already know, that is how class discussion works in an online class. 
There are no "lectures." Instead, we have readings. All study materials and readings are available on the college web site  - the OLS or Online Learning System, which also includes library, a writing center, online tutorials, forums, email and more. Answers to discussion questions need to be at least 200 words, which is also what we will expect from students in our classes. "Substantive" replies add to the discussion, expanding on and developing the topic. Just posting "great post" or "I agree" does not count as a "substantive reply. 
In addition to written discussion, we have "exercises" or longer writing assignments on the course materials and assigned readings that we post to an individual forum that only the instructor or facilitator can read - besides the individual student of course.
Are any of you thinking about taking an online course for credit or certification someday? Online education and training is a major growth area. I have mixed feelings about the trend. The online education system is not perfect and has problems, it does make education available to more people.
Let's discuss this. What do you think is the future of education in today's world? Of online education for degrees and certification?

For fast-acting relief try slowing down (Lily Tomlin)

Blogging from Mountainair NM at Mountainair Arts

Monday, November 26, 2007

traditions my country

my real name is eman it's mean faith in my language arabic but my sisters and friends called me Emey.I happy to being in this blog. in start I said teacher vanessa that I can't join to it because my language not good enough. as often as I said to anyone that I am from Saudi Arabia they says that hear about it but they are didn't know any thing about it. (( the capital for my country is Riyadh, we speaks Arabic, largest of port is Jeddah and numeral of population about 25 million, the weather hot in summer and cold in winter maybe all know it's famous in petroleum whereas find it quarter reserve of the world
and it from first countries which export it. the plant famous is dates. we eat it with coffee but our coffee different from the black coffee it is include Cardamom. by the way, the women wear cover or veil we are called it (higaab) special by women. either education don't mix women with men in schools or universities we have more than 13 university ramify to several colleges from it . I studied and finished my university without I met any boys in seats of the studying. either the working there are committees , schools, associations, clubs and institutes ,special for women we have all freedom inside it but in hospitals the woman working beside men by all honoring and too by veil . maybe you are says in yourself what this complicating but believe me if you visit it will see a beautiful things and places .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Grammar Police: Keeping the Web and the World Safe from Bad English

This grammar site is both entertaining and educational, which is not something we can say about all grammar web sites.

Grammar Police is dedicated to saving the web and the world from bad grammar, poor diction, and the abuse of the English language in general. If you have a suggestion for an article, a pet peeve you want to get off your chest, or any other feedback, please contact the Grammar Police.

Recent Posts


For fast-acting relief try slowing down (Lily Tomlin)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My business trip to Germany

As I mentioned earlier, I have been in Germany for three weeks. It was a business trip; by the way it was my first time in Germany. I'm working in Israel Post Company as technician and our company bought several new machines for sorting mail.

The flight from Israel to Zurich was 3.5 hours. Now, I want to explain that the company which invited us for training course located in town Constance. The town is located near Switzerland border, because of it we have landed in Zurich. My arrival to Switzerland airport began with disappearance of my luggage. I went to agent of the flight company and a very pleasant agent explained me that soon my suitcase will be found. After filling out all necessary forms and documents I was depressed, but I hoped for best.

So, we are going to Switzerland German border through Switzerland by a car which sent us by the company Siemens. I saw through a window of the car a beautiful autumn vistas .Our hotel was located near a lake of Constance. I've used the opportunity to walk around the lake when I had free evenings. It was quite cold for us, about 3-4 degrees of Celsius, and we used to higher temperature. I've visited the island Mainau which was very known for people who love flowers and plants. It was huge botanical garden. There were large squares for different plants and flowers. It was very beautiful. The huge figures of flowers are interchanged with mini gardens. I've walked there for about 3 hours and didn't finish to look over everything. I snapped many images by my camera, and after my business trip I want to make slideshow on CD.

In general, there were a lot interest sites but sadly I didn't have time for this.

I've liked a transportation in German, if on the time table was written for example 16 o'clock, it meant that a bus or train shall arrive exactly at 16 o'clock without to be late - It's very difficult to imagine it in Israel. I was talking with Germans on the streets many times and I've got an impression that the English is well known only to young people. So, I want to say that it was a different culture of behavior than we have in our country. You can't see any noisy people who talk loud the street. The drivers of the cars are strictly observe the rules of traffic and not beeping without reason. One day, I’ve walked near by our hotel and into my pocket I found piece of paper which was not usable for me. You don’t believe me, but I was traveled something about 2 kilometers to throw it. It is a shame to throw out something outside trash urn. Everywhere I was feeling discipline and order.

Our training course is continuing and we are day by day discovered something new about our equipment. In general, I want to say that 25-30 years ago such equipment with suchlike possibilities would no be is possible. Those machines allows to sort mail without a human participation. The company Siemens is very big company that produces many tipes of equipment and electronic components. We were studied on a little part of this company which practiced us for mail machines production. By the way, I used opportunity and was writing only English. The all technical documentation was in English language. Our course is passed normally, a lot of studying subjects we knew. Exception of it was new technology recognize an image of letter and network between computers. In other words, we didn't begin from "scratch" level, because we had big experience of work with similar machines. Three weeks were passed quickly and we have come back at home. In the end of our training course, our German friends gifted for each one of us a book about Germany. The book was contained with lot views about Germany. After our return, we have to teach and prepare other technicians for new equipment. It was an interest trip and I think that will do whereof to remember.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kinds of writing

What kind of writing do you do in English? Of course, basics are important in all writing and grammar is still grammar. But purpose, audience, special forms or genres and specialized vocabulary make a big difference in how you write.

What is fine in a personal letter may not be at all suitable for a business letter. Engineers' reports follow different form and style than lawyers briefs. Chatroom and IM slang is never suitable in business, technical or legal writing.

That's confusing. I know. It must seem like having to learn many languages or at least dialects just to be able to use one. Learning the most used formulas - rules or guidelines - for different genres will make the task less confusing.

That is also why it is important to know what kind of writing you need most. So think about your 'writing needs' and tell us about them. You probably even use more than one kind depending on why and to or for whom you are writing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I have some question ...???


I just found some of my mystake in my writing. I don't know what kind of part of speech is this but I will give you an example..

I can use "very big" but I can't use "very huge" because it's already mean "very big" .

I'd like to know what is the key word to google or where can I learn this kind of part of speech.

thank you in advance


Thursday, November 08, 2007

English for engineers

Anyone here working in engineering or technical field?

The file is divided into three parts:
PART I -  TEACHING MATERIALS  (Books, websites, software, videos and media, technical magazines)
PART II -  SYLLABUS  (needs analysis, vocabulary, grammar, planning a syllabus,learning about technology)
PART III- CLASS ACTIVITIES(written work, oral work, advanced students)
PS I expect you ALL to respond to our new class member who have introduced themselves on the blog.  Feel free to ask them questions too

For fast-acting relief try slowing down (Lily Tomlin)
Blogging from Mountainair NM at Mountainair Arts


Hello Vanessa and every one my name emey from saudi arabia ,age 24 years , I began learn english before 3 years by my self, in the start was language very difficult but me began study step by step , read the story for children then bought CDsfrom channel bbc from here I understood some of words and grammar after that I trying improve my language then I can read newspapers but I can't understand all words and explore pages of sites..... I wish to be very good in english and will continue doing that even if I take more 3 years againthankyou for you especially teacher Vanessa

Monday, November 05, 2007


Hello Vanessa and all classmates.I am sorry for I have joined the class so long time but I have not introduce myself to everyone. I am Sundexin.I am 22 years old.I am single. I live in BeiJing of China.My father and mother live in HeiLongJing province of China.I have a sister who live in HaErBin city of HeiLongJiang.She is doctor.I am programmer in China National petrolum corporation.I like studing English very much.I read English news everyday.It is also one of my hobby.
Though I began to study English for years,some basic knowledge is not firmly.For example,my spoken English and grammer are very poor.I am fortunate to know the website.I hope make friends with everyone.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My self-introduction

Hi All

Hello Vanessa and all classmates. I haven't posted to this blog for long time, so I'd like to introduce myself to new members.

My name is Sadamu. I'm 68 years old. I have a wife and two children. My daughter has married and she has a three years old girl. I now live in Saitama prefecture, Japan.

I began to learn English in Vanessa's class in February, 2004. I wanted to be able to read an article on newspaper in English, to understand radio in English, and to write letters in English.

Vanessa advised me to write my journal in English everyday, to check 5 words which I don't know in a day and to study English 15 minutes everyday.

I couldn't keep all of them. But I have been keeping writing my journal in English. It becomes my hobby now. I can't go to bed without writing it.

I now read an article of New York Times front page but I still feel difficulties to understand them without dictionary. I use English-English dictionary often. But my dictionary, American Heritage is a little hard for me now.

Hearing in English is still difficult for me. I guess it is because of my poor vocabulary.
Now I'm interested in speaking English additionally. I'm taking conversation class every month.

I think I made big progresses in writing English. I have three pen-friends who exchange e-mail in English. Two of them live in USA.

Now I have three hobbies. I practice to play ocarina for ten to fifteen minutes everyday. I have played for two and half year but I'm still in beginner level.

I'm now crazy about playing contact bridge. I spent nine days for it last October.

I'm still working at hotel for 5 hours a day, half of a month. So I am now busier than when I was in my active service.

By the way, Halloween is not popular here in Japan. I do nothing about it.

Hello Everyone

Hello Ms Vanessa and all old and new members.
My name is mata and I’m Ms Vanessa’s class since 2005. I like English language and want some day talk English rightly.
I’m from Greece. I’m 37 years old. I have a family. I have been wedded by young age and now have three big children if comparative them with me. I should to attend my family and thus I could not finish my study. I hope this September to begin the school’s lessons for two years.
All these years where I attended to my family I made a lot of jobs. It was very tedious for me because I was a child. But now I’m very happy for all these difficult years, because I have three daughters who love me and some times take care of me.

I work in a laundry three days a week for this time and from May since September I work six or seven days to week. It is hard work, but I have no opportunity for another better one for now.

I have a lot of hobbies but unfortunately some of them I can’t do. I like very much to exercise my body. At the past I played tennis, after that I entered in a volley team .It was fantastic experience. Now I go to a gym.
Except athletic activities I like to read, to listening music, and to work with photographs and treatment video in the computer’s programme.

These are some things about me. I’d like to hear some news from you too.

Something else… maybe someone from here knows to tell us some things about Halloween

Understanding How You Learn: Multiple Intelligences


We all learn differently.

Multiple Intelligence theory suggests that no one set of teaching strategies will work best for all students at all times. We each have different strengths in the seven intelligences, so any particular study or learning strategy is likely to be effective for some, and yet, not for others. Because of these individual differences, learners should try out different study and learning strategies to see what works best for them.

The Seven Intelligences

  1. Learners with strong or well-developed linguistic Intelligence think in words, love reading, writing, telling stories, playing word games, etc. and learn best with books, tapes, writing tools paper diaries, dialogues, discussion, debate and stories
  2. Learners with strong or well-developed Logical-Mathematical Intelligence think by reasoning, love experimenting, questioning, figuring out puzzles, calculating, etc. and learn best with things to explore and think about, science materials, manipulatives, trips to the planetarium and science museum
  3. Learners with strong or well-developed Spatial Intelligence think in images and pictures, love designing, drawing, visualizing, doodling, etc. learn best with art, charts and graphs, video, movies, slides, imagination games, mazes, puzzles, illustrated books, trips to art museums
  4. Learners with strong or well-developed Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence think through somatic sensations, love dancing, running, jumping, building, touching, gesturing, etc. and learn best with role play, drama, movement, things to build, sports and physical games, tactile experiences, hands-on learning
  5. Learners with strong or well-developed Musical Intelligence think via rhythms and melodies, love singing, whistling, humming, tapping feet and hands, listening, etc. and learn best with singing or putting exercises and learning points to music, trips to concerts, listening to music and playing musical instruments
  6. Learners with strong or well-developed Interpersonal Intelligence think by bouncing ideas off other people, love leading, organizing, relating, manipulating, mediating, partying, etc. and learn best with friends, group games, social gatherings, community events, clubs, mentors or apprenticeships
  7. Learners with strong or well-developed Intrapersonal Intelligence think deeply inside themselves, love setting goals, meditating, dreaming, being quiet and learn best with private study places, time alone, self-paced projects or study, making their own choices.

Key Points in MI Theory
  • Each person possesses all seven intelligences - MI theory is not a "type theory" for determining the one intelligence that fits. It is a theory of cognitive functioning, and it proposed that each person has capacities in all seven intelligences.
  • Most people can develop each intelligence to an adequate level of competency - although an individual may bewail his deficiencies in a given area and consider his problems innate and intractable, Gardner suggests that virtually everyone has the capacity to develop all seven intelligences to a reasonably high level of performance if given the appropriate encouragement, enrichment, and instruction.
  • Intelligences usually work together in complex ways - Gardner points out that each intelligence as described above is actually a "fiction"; that is no intelligence exists by itself in life (except perhaps in very rare instances in savants and brain-injured individuals.) Intelligences are always interacting with each other.
  • There are many ways to be intelligent within each category - there is no standard set of attributes that one must have to be considered intelligent in a specific area. Consequently, a person may not be able to read, yet be highly linguistic because he can tell a terrific story or has a large, oral vocabulary. Similarly, a person may be quite awkward on the playing field, yet possess superior bodily-kinesthetic intelligence when she weaves a carpet or creates an inlaid chess table. MI theory emphasizes the rich diversity of ways in which people show their gifts within intelligences as well as between intelligences.

Which are YOUR strongest and best developed intelligences?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

English grammar website

Hi everyone,

I'd like to share this website
that I just found it and I think there are so many good examples and explantions. hope you like it =]

Happy Halloween

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

MIni-Lesson: senses of "get"

The verb 'to get' is used in many senses in English and can be confusing at times. Here is a list of the top ten uses of 'to get' with simple explanations and example sentences. Of course, these are not all the senses of 'to get'. In fact, there are many phrasal verbs with 'to get'.


Sense 1

get = acquire -- (come into the possession of something; "She got a lot of paintings from her uncle"; "They got a new pet"; "Get your results the next day")


Sense 2

get = become -- (to change into a state; "He got annoyed when he heard the bad news"; "It must be getting more serious"; Get going!")


Sense 3

get = receive -- (receive something; "I got some clothes for Christmas."; "His movie got a good review"; "I got some books from my girlfriend.")


Sense 4

get = arrive -- (reach a destination; "She got home at 7 o'clock"; "She didn't get to Chicago until after midnight")


Sense 5

get = bring, fetch -- (go and bring or take back; "Get me those books over there, please"; "Could you get the wine?")


Sense 6

get= experience, undergo -- (of mental or physical states or experiences; "He got an idea"; "She gets vertigo when she looks out the window."; "They get nauseous when they drive.")


Sense 7

get = make, score -- (achieve a point or goal; "Nicklaus got a 70"; "The Brazilian team got 4 goals"; "She got 29 points that day")


Sense 8

get = contract, take -- (be stricken by an illness, fall victim to an illness; "He got AIDS"; "She got pneumonia"; "She got a cold from Tom.")


Sense 9

get = induce, stimulate, cause, make someone do -- (cause to do; cause to act in a certain way; "My children finally got me to buy a computer"; "My wife got me to pay attention to the speaker.")


Sense 10

get = pay back -- (take vengeance on or get even; "We'll get them!"; "That'll get him good!"; "This time I got him")

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Environmental Blog Roundup

In honor of Blog Action Day, Blogger is highlighting a selection of blogs that focus on the environment, climate change, and sustainability.
  • Cleantech Blog - Commentary on technologies, news, and issues relating to next generation energy and the environment.
  • The Conscious Earth - Earth-centered news for the health of air, water, habitat and the fight against global warming.
  • Earth Meanders - Earth essays placing environmental sustainability within the context of other contemporary issues.
  • Environmental Action Blog - Current environmental issues and green energy news.
  • The Future is Green - Thoughts on the coming of a society that is in balance with nature.
  • The Green Skeptic - Devoted to challenging assumptions about how we live on the earth and protect our environment.
  • Haute*Nature - Ecologically based creative ideas, art & green products for your children, home and lifestyle, blending style with sustainability.
  • The Lazy Environmentalist - Sustainable living made easy.
  • Lights Out America - A grassroots community group organizing nationwide energy savings events.
  • The Nature Writers of Texas - The best nature writing from the newspaper, magazine, blog and book authors of the Lone Star State.
  • Rachel Carson Centennial Book Club - Considering the legacy of Rachel Carson's literary and scientific contributions with a different book each month.
  • Sustainablog - News, information and personal meanderings related to environmental and economic sustainability, green and sustainable business, and environmental politics.
  • These Come From Trees - An experiment in environmentalism, viral marketing, and user interface design with the goal of reducing consumer waste paper.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Book Review: How Languages are Learned

Book Review: How Languages are Learned.
By Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada.
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1996. 135pp.
ISBN 0 19 437169 7

This book is yet another state-of-the-art survey of second language acquisition. It is the result of the two authors' extensive experience in classroom-centred research on second language acquisition. The book is organised into six chapters. The introduction, the recommended readings concluding each chapter, the glossary of the words that have special or technical meaning within second language acquisition research and language teaching, the bibliography and the index are all admirable. In the introduction, the authors make what seems to be an unusually commonsense point. We are told that 'One important basis for evaluating the potential effectiveness of new methods is, of course , the teacher's own experience with previous successes or disappointments. In addition, teachers who are informed of some of the findings of recent research are better prepared to judge whether the new proposals for language teaching are likely to bring about positive changes in students' learning '. In this introduction, we are also invited to reflect upon (1) twelve popular views about how languages are learned and (2) what the implications are in respect of how these languages should be taught. The questionnaire used for this purpose has been professionally executed. I outline these views below as they are, taken as a whole, an organiser for five chapters (1-5) of the book and as they engage us personally throughout the remainder of the book.
  1. Languages are learned mainly through imitation.
  2. Parents usually correct young children when they make grammatical errors.
  3. People with high IQs are good language learners.
  4. The most important factor in second language acquisition success is motivation.
  5. The earlier a second language is introduced in school programs, the greater the likelihood of success in learning.
  6. Most of the mistakes which second language learners make are due to interference from their first language.
  7. Teachers should present grammatical rules one at a time, and learners should practice examples of each one before going on to another.
  8. Teachers should teach simple language structures before complex ones.
  9. Learners' errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits.
  10. Teachers should use materials that expose students only to those language structures which have already been taught.
  11. When learners are allowed to interact freely ( for example in group or pair activities), they learn each other's mistakes.
  12. Students learn what they are taught.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Learning to Learn: Study Skills

What do you think?

This message was recently posted to the TESL (teaching esl) list. I thought it would make a good discussion topic.
Recently, it occured to me that teachers should take care in choosing what materials they use for various lessons in ESOL classrooms. Coming from a conservative background, I know that there are various genres of movies, music, and literature that my late parents would not have approved of me encountering in my class when I was younger. Furthermore, as an adult student, there are various books etc that I would wish not to study that some teachers may not have a problem with teaching.
My question: how important do you think this is when it comes to choosing materials to be used in ESOL classrooms? I've asked couple of friends (a student and a teacher) about this. Both had a very short list of what they feel is inappropriate. Thus I am curious, in this generation, do most people have an "anything goes" attitude, or is it only certain cultures? Should we just use anything (age appropriately of course) in our classes or should we be mindful of what is socially appropriate based on other cultures? I'd like to know what others think about this issue.
Are there materials or topics that you think should be off-limits? What? Why? If you think something should be off limits, you need to explain why you think so. Conversely, if you think no topic should be off-limit, explain that too.
Gerald Graff, a well known American professor and "cultural theorist" who writes about literature and teaching, thinks we should not avoid controversial material in the classroom. Instead, he says, we should, "teach the differences." This - sometimes called "the culture wars" - is a touchy topic in American universities now.
Maybe it does not apply to ESL classes. Maybe it applies even more since we are even more likely to be a diverse group. Maybe there are difficult topics we need to learn how to talk about.
What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Language Benchmarks

Language Benchmarks: English as a second language for adults provides a set of descriptors of what learners can do with English at various levels, expressed as 12 benchmarks for each of the four skill areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

Their purpose is to describe accurately where the learner's ability to use English places him or her within the national descriptive framework of communicative language.

Language Benchmarks describe a person's ability to use the English language to accomplish a set of tasks at 12 Benchmark levels, in four language skill areas:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Each Benchmark contains:

  • A global performance, or a short Benchmark performance profile
  • Four selected competencies in social interaction, instructions, suasion and information
  • Examples of communication tasks that may be used to demonstrate the required standard of proficiency

LB: Chart Overview

The following table illustrates how similar competencies require increasing complexity of performance across the three stages of proficiency.


Stage I/
Benchmark 1

Stage II/

Benchmark 6


Stage III/

Benchmark 12

Competency: Reading Instructional Texts

Follow simple, short everyday
instructions in a predictable context.

Follow short common instructions and instructional texts.

Follow extensive, very complex
and/or specialized instructions
and instructional texts.

Sample Task:

Follow one-step instructions in educational materials in a classroom situation (e.g., print, copy, circle and underline, fill in, check and draw).

Explain/convey to someone health and safety warnings and instructions for use that are printed on chemical product labels (e.g., on dishwasher detergent containers).


Read selected personnel policy regulations and instructions, and apply the information to a specific case study situation.

Competency: Writing Recording Information

Copy words and phrases to record short information for personal use.

Reproduce and record simple to medium complexity information for various purposes (e.g., notes, summaries, main points and other formats).

Select and reproduce very complex information from multiple sources in a variety of appropriate formats.

Sample Task:

Copy information from an appointment note into a calendar (e.g., name, address, time).

Take point-form notes from one page written text or from a 10- to 15-minute oral presentation on a practical topic.

Write an article or paper for a public forum, presenting a synthesis or overview of an area of knowledge, based on multiple pieces of research or other publications.







English Sites


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mini-lesson: Using nouns as adjectives

Nouns used as adjectives are also referred to as Noun Modifiers or Noun Adjuncts (noun + noun)

In English we can put two nouns together. The first noun is used as an adjective to modify the second noun and is called a noun adjunct. The first noun is almost always singular because it follows the rule for adjectives, which do not have plural forms in English.

N1 + N2 can mean that

a. N1 is a kind of N2 (a grammar book is a kind of book)
b. N1 is an object of an implied verb (an apple tree is a tree that produces apples)

It is important to understand that N2 is the thing and N1 is the kind or type:
a rose bush is a bush
a wrist watch is a watch
computer paper is paper
N1 is singular, even if the phrase is plural.

My mother planted a rose bush in the garden.
I bought a new table lamp.
Bobby takes the school bus to school.
The school ordered fifty new grammar books.
That man makes bird cages.
Mrs. Taylor bought some new baby clothes.
According to this explanation then, we should not say "strength points" when we mean "strong points" or "strengths" BUT can say or write "talking points", "debate or discussion points" and the like.

We can use a number with N1 to make a compound adjective. Since the number and noun make one unit, we use a hyphen to join them. Note that N1 remains singular because it is being used as an adjective.

a three-car garage
a ten-speed bicycle
a twenty-dollar bill

If we use a number to refer to the second noun (how many), we do not use a hyphen:
two grammar books
five rose bushes
We can use a number to refer to the second noun (how many) and a number with the first noun (compound adjective). In that case, there is no hyphen after the first number, but the second number is still used with a hyphen because it forms a compound adjective.
two ten-dollar bills
four three-bedroom homes

Practice Quizzes

Saturday, October 06, 2007

blog face lift!

As you'll note, Blogging English has had a makeover - a "face lift". I added a feature - In the News. Now you can read the news in English without leaving the site. Are there other topic areas you'd like to see here? Let me know. Links, at the bottom of the page, have been expanded. Instead of just our own pages (have you been keeping them updated?), the links section now has a number of ESL resource links.

Closed polls with results are also at the bottom of the page. I had to take the picture out because it did not not fit well either in header or right hand column. I added picture "features", Mountainair Scenes and an art one, to Mountainair Arts that I change out from periodically. We could have a picture feature here too - perhaps a cartoon of the week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Top Ten Most Common Writing Mistakes

1. comma splice
2. sentence fragment
3. misuse of the spell checker
4. lack of subject/verb agreement
5. not understanding the possessive case
6. writing to "you"
7. no thesis statement
8. writing the introduction at the end of the piece.
9. not citing sources
10. vagueness

1. comma splice
Pick out a long sentence from your paper, and look at where you put the comma. Read the first part of the sentence. Could it stand by itself? Does it have a subject, verb, and complete idea? Now look at the last part. Is it also a complete sentence (also known as an independent clause)?

If you have two complete sentences on either side of a comma, then you have a comma splice. Teachers hate these.

Example: "I ate tabouli yesterday, it's my favorite food."

To fix it, you have five choices:

1. Split up the sentences with a period.

Example: "I ate tabouli yesterday. It's my favorite food."

2. Use a semicolon instead of a comma.

Example: "I ate tabouli yesterday; it's my favorite food."

3. Add an "and" (or "but," "or,") after the comma.

Example: "I ate tabouli yesterday, but I actually hate the taste of it."

4. Use a conjunctive adverb ("therefore," "instead") with a semicolon and a comma.

Example: "I ate tabouli yesterday; however, it is not my favorite food."

5. Make one part of the sentence not an independent clause (a dependent clause), by adding a subordinating conjunction like "because," or "although."

Example: "I ate tabouli yesterday because it's my favorite food."

*note: if the dependent (subordinate) clause comes at the end of the sentence, you don't need a comma. If it comes at the beginning, you do need a comma.

Example: "Because I ate tabouli yesterday, I have a stomach ache today." -- OR -- "I have a stomach ache today because I ate tabouli yesterday."

2. sentence fragment
Look for a sentence in your paper that begins with "That," "Because," or "Which." Subordinate conjunctions (ex. "because," "although") and relative pronouns (ex. "that," "which") are the most common beginnings of fragments.

Example: "Although it has stopped raining."
A sentence needs three things in order to be complete:

1. A subject. The subject is the person or thing that is doing the action. The subject is often the first noun or pronoun of the sentence.

Example: "The flood destroyed my house. It is now under water."

*note: The subject cannot be inside of a prepositional phrase.

Example: "In my house (noun), the water was rising."

2. A verb. The verb is either the action or the being of the sentence.

Example: "The flood destroyed my house. It is now under water."

3. A complete idea. A sentence that has a noun and a verb but is not a complete idea is called a dependent clause, and cannot stand by itself.

Example: "Since the flood destroyed my house."

This clause is a dependent, or subordinate, clause because it has a subject ("flood"), a verb ("destroyed"), and a subordinate conjunction ("since"). It cannot stand by itself because it doesn't make sense. It leaves us with a question in our minds.

Example: "Since the flood destroyed my house." (Well, what happend then?)

The main reason people write sentence fragments is that, in their minds, the fragment is connected to the previous or the subsequent sentence.

Example: "The flood destroyed my house, and it is now under water. Although the rain has stopped."

This is easy to fix. All you have to do is take out the period after "water."

Example: "The flood destroted my house, and it is now under water although the rain has stopped."

3. misusing the spell checker
Don't simply tell the spell checker to correct everything it comes across. It will only tell you if there is such a word in English, not whether the word is used properly.

Actual examples I have seen:
"...which literally peals the rubber right off."
"The bride whore white."
Don't let this happen to you. Make sure you double-check the spell-checker.

4. subject/verb agreement

Many peoples is having problems with this area. They writes as they speaks, which don't usually work, unless they be a professor.

Example: My friends is going to the game.
"Friends" is plural, and "is" is singular. They don't match up. Either make "friends" singular or "is" plural.

Example: My friend is going to the game.

Example: My friends are going to the game.

In English, verbs have five qualities: person, number, tense, voice, and mood. In choosing a verb, you must choose the correct person (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they), the proper number (one or more-than-one), the proper tense (when the action is happening), the proper voice (active or passive), and the proper mood (a fact, a command, or a wish). For example, the third person plural, present tense, active indicative of "to come" is [they] "came." The second person singular, past tense of "to be" is [you] "were." For a more complete explanation of verb tense, person, and number, see handout on verb conjugations.

5. possessive case
What is the difference between "the giraffes," "the giraffe's" and "the giraffes'"? The first is plural (more than one giraffe), the second is possessive (something belongs to the giraffe), and the third one is plural and possessive (something belongs to more than one giraffe).

Example: "The giraffes ate my sandwich." (More than one giraffe ate my sandwich.)

Example: "The giraffe's baby ate my sandwich." (One giraffe has a baby that ate my sandwich.)

Example: "The giraffes' baby ate my sandwich." (Mama and papa giraffes' baby ate my sandwich.)

6. writing to "you"
In formal writing, it is better not to use "you."

Example: "Writing gives you a headache."

Who is you? Me personally? It gives ME a headache? Find another way to express this idea, by using the third person singular impersonal ("one"), or by specifying your target group.

Example: "Writing gives one a headache." (very formal)

Example: "Writing gives students a headache." (vague, and generalizations are not good.)

Example: "Writing gives them a headache." (too vague)

Example: "Writing gives me a headache." (first person singular)

Try to stay away from first person singular, unless you are doing some sort of personal testimony or journal. "I" is very personal, and not usually appropriate for formal writing.

Example: "Writing gives us a headache." (first person plural)
The first person plural can work in certain situations, especially if you are writing from personal experience, or feel strongly about the topic.

7. no thesis statement
Read your introduction. Do you find a clear position about a topic, which will be supported in your writing? Or have friends read your first paragraph, then ask them what you are going to write about. If they can't tell you, you have no thesis statement. The purpose of the thesis statement is to let the audience know what your topic is and what your position on that topic is. If we don't know what you're writing about, or what you want to say about the topic, we are not going to be interested in reading your paper.

Example: "Have you ever wanted to be a movie star? People like John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer are rich and famous, and kids all over the world want to be like them. They ride everywhere in limousines, never have to go to the grocery store, and get to have vacation on deserted islands. But of course they have to give out autographs too, and avoid the paparazzi."

Where is the thesis statement here? It usually appears toward the end of the introduction, often as the last sentence. Is this person going to write about autographs and paparazzi? Most likely, he or she is going to write about the lives of movie stars. But without a thesis statement, the essay will wander, with no goal or point. This person could add a thesis statement to the end of the introduction such as: "Even though many people would like to live like a movie star, that lifestyle is not easy."

8. writing the introduction at the end of the piece.
This is especially a characteristic of first drafts. Writing is often a process of figuring out how one thinks/feels about a subject, or of exploring the complexities of certain issues. This is why people "write to get it all out" in journals or the like. Look at the conclusion of your paper, and see if it isn't clearer, better worded, and more energetic than your introduction. Try taking some or all of the conclusion and using it for the introduction. Then reread your paper and make sure all your topic sentences relate to your new thesis statement and your argument makes sense. Write a new conclusion, one that goes beyond simply restating the introduction and gives your paper a bigger relevance beyond your topic, or suggests future trends for your topic.

9. not quoting sources
Just because information on the internet is not published in a book, doesn't mean it doesn't need to be cited as a source when you use it in your writing. Papers (or paragraphs, or sentences) plagiarized from internet sources, or any sources, are easy to spot. Suddenly the level of language jumps up three notches, the grammar mistakes disappear, and the writing style changes. Teachers are particularily suspicious of papers with no citations, or only one or two. They know you must have gotten the information from somewhere -- why didn't you give credit to the source?

Doing research and citing sources is simple. Read as many sources as you can, until you have a general knowledge of your topic. Decide what you want to argue, and write your thesis statement. Think of a few supporting points from your general knowledge. Develop your supporting points, and put in quotes or statistics to make it sound like you did some research.

A paper without citations of sources means one of two things:
- The information is entirely your own discovery. (not likely)
- The information is so general it is useless to write about it.

Some students feel that there are only so many ways to write something -- that if they just rearranged the words "it wouldn't sound as good," and they're exactly right. The point is not to rearrange words because that means you're only using someone else's idea, instead of thinking for yourself. Write what YOU want to write, and use quotes from other people's work to show how THEY agree with YOU, not how YOU agree with THEM.

Some students don't like the idea of "arguing a point" because they feel they have nothing to contribute, or they don't know if their idea is good or not. Don't worry. No one expects you to make an original contribution to human knowledge at this point. The goal is to get practice writing research papers, so that someday you will know how to write down that contribution to human knowledge you will eventually want to make.

10. vagueness
Be specific with your words, especially with people.

Example: "Technology benefits us."
Who is "us"? Does technology benefit every person in the entire world? What kind of technology? Narrow your focus to a specific group of people, and a particular kind of technology.

Example: "Aerospace technology benefits residents of the Space Coast."

Another example: "There are hot dogs for dinner."
"There is/are" means simply, "there exist(s)." Unless you specify a place, you are writing "there exist (somewhere in the entire scheme of reality) hot dogs for dinner." This is a meaningless thing to say because it is obvious. Specify a place or situation.

Example: "There are hot dogs for dinner at my house."

Better: "We are having hot dogs for dinner at my house."
Try not to start a sentence with "there" if at all possible.

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