Monday, December 24, 2012

ESL Newsletter:Understanding Literature ESL From Kenneth Beare, your Guide to ESL

This week's newsletter provides help for understanding the wide range of literary devices that learners of academic English should know.

There's also a lesson aimed at helping beginning level students use various types of pronouns more precisely.

Finally, there are a number of dialogues to use in Business English classes.

50 Incredibly Useful Links For Learning & Teaching English

Learning a new language on your own or teaching one to non-native speakers may be one of the most challenging educational task out there. Learners and teachers can use all of the help they can get! Thankfully, many excellent resources for ELL and ESL exist online, from full-service websites to reference tools and communities, all designed to make the task of educating ELL students just a little bit easier and more effective.

Teach Thought has scoured the Internet to share 50 of the best of these resources,and hopesyou’ll find lots of valuable content and tools through these incredibly useful links for ELL educators.


Resource tools, printables, other great resources for learners and educators are all available on these sites: 50 Incredibly Useful Links For Learning & Teaching The English Language

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Old techniques, new results

Reposted from Oxford University Press' ELT Global Blog Anna Silva has been a language teacher for over 20 years in Brazil, teaching in state and language schools. In this article, she looks at ways of reinforcing vocabulary and grammar through practical application for young learners....and not just young learners.

Cooking class at schoolCooking from a US or UK or other Anglophone cookbook would be a good language exercise. If you enjoy cooking and are a "foodie," perhaps you would enjoy subscribing to a cooking blog like Foodista or, if you garden, subscribe to an English language gardening blog. Apply this strategy to any other special interest. 

It seems that children can learn another language fast; however, they forget as quickly as they learn. So teachers try to find ways to keep young children interested and at the same time help them learn and use the knowledge acquired.

Is there a magic formula to help us?

Over the years, I have developed several projects and I repeat some of them year after year because I do see good results. One of these projects is our cookery classes. I have noticed that cooking really holds the students` attention and helps them memorize vocabulary related to food and verbs related to instructions. Parents have also expressed how surprised they are when they are abroad and see their children mastering the use of simple structures and daily expressions or words. One of these parents was especially amazed because he saw his son asking a waiter for a straw as naturally as if he was using his first language.

In our cookery classes, we follow some steps which I think are crucial to enrich the learning process: introduce the ingredients/ vocabulary, explain the steps, ask students to repeat and explain by themselves what was taught, make the recipe, taste, take a sample home along with the recipe and do a follow-up activity.

As scientists have emphasized the importance of using as many senses as possible to help our brain retain the information taught, the classes are completely practical and the hands-on technique is of crucial importance. Besides this, the very act of cooking brings joy and a lot of laughter to our classes.
The follow-up activity can be a simple and entertaining exercise like a crossword puzzle or  ‘match the columns’, ‘circle the ingredients used’ and ‘put the instructions in the correct order’; but it´s another important step to help them look over what was taught. Howard Gardner proposed that teachers shouldn’t give priority to any one type of intelligence, but that, on the contrary, all types should be catered for in every single class. We can easily follow this advice in any cooking class because students are asked to listen, read, see, make things, walk, taste, and speak.

Another project which complements the cooking class is the gardening project. Every semester, we teach the vocabulary related to gardening: soil, flowerpot, seeds, etc. After this traditional teaching, students not only plant the seeds but often follow their growth. Sometimes we even use them in our cookery classes or just make a flower pot.

Two of our gardening experiences were remarkable: planting tomatoes and strawberries. The tomatoes were used to make a pizza and a smoothie was made with the strawberries. Flowers were also a good idea, since the violets grown were given to their mothers as gifts for Mothers’ Day in May.

The cookery classes help me teach all the vocabulary related to food, which is absolutely fundamental to everyday conversation. The gardening classes are also helpful, not only in what refers to food vocabulary, but also in developing environmental awareness. On Water Day, for instance, we discussed the importance of water for our existence and elicited ways to save water, as well.

Although I love using technology in my classes, I do think that nowadays these activities outside the classroom are a way to surprise students, break the routine and teach new vocabulary effectively! Why don´t you give it a try?

Original post, Old techniques, new results, reposted from OUP's ELT blog

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Learning and Teaching Business English

From Kenneth Beare, your About Guide to ESL
This week focuses on learning and teaching business English, also known as English for Specific Purposes. The main focus is on business English vocabulary, but there are also video resources on how to write various business documents.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter

…Stack Exchange, Tuesday, November 27, 2012

English Language and Usage Newsletter
English Language and Usage Weekly Newsletter

Top new questions this week:

"I'm on the brew"

A conversation between two Scots: — What do you do for a living? — I'm on the brew. Assuming that I have the phrase right, what exactly does "on the brew" mean here? Based on the context, I …
*etymology *british-english *slang *scottish-english

Euphemism for "There's more than one way to skin a cat"

Growing up in the 80s, I ended up hearing/using this phrase a lot whenever I wanted to express that there was more than one way to do something: "there's more than one way to skin a cat." I have …
*phrases *euphemisms

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Practice your English with Academy Island Game!

An unknown alien life form lands on earth and has to learn English to get by in a range of social situations. Players of Academy Island have to progress through different difficulty levels by helping the alien use English in a range of situations such as shopping in a bakery and visiting places such as an art gallery and library. Our game is designed to help learners improve their English language ability, in a fun way.

You can also play this game on Facebook: Retrieved from Cambridge ESOL 
You can embed it into your classroom wiki or Facebook group. Students can use it to apply what the have learnt. They can practice new vocabulary, grammatical rules, idioms and more. What do you think of it?

Practice your English with Academy Island Game! reposted from Azhar's Reflections

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MailDiary – Keep a Diary Online

Here's a good way to practice writing. Reposted from Ozge Karaoglu's Blog: hat tip to Ogze who writes,

There are different tools to keep a diary online, but this one deserves to be introduced. 

MailDiary is a tool that lets you keep a journal online. You sign up for the tool by just writing your email and then you are in it. The best part about using this tool that you don’t need to go to the page to write a new entry. It mails you to remind that you need to write a new entry every day and you only write a response to that email and it is posted automatically. You can send as many emails as you want and they will be all be stored as new entries. You can add images to your entries as well. If you don’t know what to write, you can answer the question that MailDiary asks you. You can even write your own questions for each day.

This tool also lets you customize the color of your diary and the style. You can also see your entries as a PDF and print it out and here are some ideas to use this tool in the classroom…
  • Students can keep a diary of their first week at school, then they can re-read this at the end of the school year.Students can keep a diary of a famous person, for a character in a story that you have been reading at class.
  • Students can write a diary about a picture that you have sent to them.They come up with an imaginary day that they have lived.
  • Start with something simple, ask children to write a few sentences about their days or ask them to summarize the day.
  • Create a diary with different entries and ask questions to students to be answered.

This tool is a great way for writing and reading activities for our students, and for us to keep notes of the thing that we do in our lessons and write our reflections.

Monday, November 19, 2012


The ESL Writing Online Workshop (WOW) is an online multimedia program designed to guide non-native speakers of English through each stage of the pre-writing, while-writing, and post-writing processes: 

1) Getting Ready to Write, 
2) Developing Your Ideas, 
3) Revising Your Work, and 
4) Editing and Polishing. 

This online resource is designed for community college students and adult learners.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grammar for writing is not like grammar for tests

Whether teaching writing or studying grammar on your own to improve your writing, make Individual Mastery Plans.

IMPs enable students to correct grammar, repair punctuation, fix other errors in their writing.

Read the rest of Teaching Grammar for Writing Is Unlike Teaching It for Tests. See examples of Individual Mastery Plans here and here

Monday, October 01, 2012

Simple English Wikipedia

For an easier to read English language encyclopedia or general reference try Simple Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Search the 85,392 articles in the Simple English Wikipedia. Here is another short article about it.

How to write Simple English pages: these guidelines for writing articles here is also useful for general ESL writing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Don’t forget!

…good advice from English4University. I thought of Mata when I saw it, but is not just for university students or advanced learners. This post also reminded me to post more about studying at university and for standardized tests. Are you preparing for university and IELTS or TOEFL exams? 
Don’t forget for practising your English. This is a truly wonderful site. If you are preparing for an examination with a listening component – like IELTS for instance – then you should be doing lots of listening practice. I would strongly recommend looking at TED and browsing through the list of topics. 
You can use the search facility to find something that you are interested in. Then just listen. If you have problems you can use subtitles in any of about 45 languages. There is an interactive transcript so you can read the transcript and play the video from any point that you choose. The cost of this? It’s free! 
If you haven’t seen TED before then why not start by listening to Jay Walker giving a presentation about English learning? It’s here.
Don’t forget!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A look at Massive Online Open Courses

…also called MOOCs. The video below is a VOA Special English Education Report. You can subscribe to Special English videos and also follow on Facebook

A class with tens or even hundreds of thousands of students might sound like a teacher's bad dream. But a big idea in higher education these days is the massive open online course, or MOOC. Some universities offer free, non-credit MOOCs available to anyone in the world. Others charge for courses and provide credits. The idea is still developing.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Handout For Simple Journal-Writing

Here is a writing idea from ESL instructor and education blogger Larry Ferlazzo that I would like to try here. Sadamu, Mata and others (whom I have not heard from recently) have posting privileges and can post either directly or as a comment to this post. If you are a visitor or a student I directed here but who has not posted, then you can post in comments. If you participate regularly by posting in comments and would like to be a regular contributor, we can add you. 
Professional Journal Writing
Alternately, I can open a Blogging English "branch" on Tumblr for anyone who wants to post (but no spam). In the meantime, try this exercise. It can be very short or longer. Larry writes (and includes and example at the end),

I’ve previously posted about research discussing the value of students sharing what is happening in their lives (see The Value Of Sharing Positive Events) and have written on this blog and in my books how I apply this finding in my teaching, primarily in my English Language Learner classes.

I have students write about two positive events in the week and why they felt they were positive, and one not-so-positive event and what they could have done to make it better. They share it... Not only does it help build a positive classroom atmosphere, it provides an opportunity to write for an authentic audience and it helps me learn what’s going on in students’ lives..

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter, Tues Sept

Hello all, I found this newsletter while I was looking for something else and subscribed to it because I thought readers might find it interesting and helpful. If you register, you can post questions too. Someone posts an answer, perhaps someone else does as well. Then subscribers vote on how useful and helpful the answers are and which one is best. This is an example of "crowdsourcing," 

English Language and Usage Newsletter
English Language and Usage Weekly Newsletter

Top new questions this week:

Monday, September 03, 2012

Good evening Ms Vanessa..and all my classmates!!

I miss everyone ..  I have to talk to you over a year .. And that's because I go to school.  Νow Ι finished my  school and I'll go to  university. I Passed my exam successfully and will study at a university in the field of sociology. I'll start the lessons in October..

I'm very happy and wanted to share it with you .. I think I forgot to write the English language

 There have been many changes here .. and now I can follow your discussions ..

This is my new  from me for now .. I have much to tell you .. about my experiences at school and how important it was for me .. I would like to learn your news you from here .. Ms VANESSA I want to learn new  from you ..

 Sincerely Mata..

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Discover ESL links!

More ESL links than you can imagine. 1, 191 of them! Use the related tags (on the right of the page) to narrow your selection. For example, you can click listening, grammar, reading, writing, etc. You can also type in your own tag and search.

Delicious - Discover ESL links!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Basic Writing

…More writing resources at  CBW Resource Share

This is the home of the Council on Basic Writing Resource Share site that will someday, with your contributions and participation, be amazing. There are currently two options for browsing available files: one is the file cabinet to the left; the other is the pages above.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Right Brain vs Left Brain Creativity Test at The Art Institute of Vancouver

Do you agree with these convention about right and left brain dominance? Do creative really use the right side of their brain more than the left. Do scientists and mathematicians use the left side more than the right? What does creative mean anyway?

Right Brain vs Left Brain Creativity TestBeing creative or artistic doesn’t mean you know how to draw or play an instrument. Being creative is a way of thinking, a way of viewing the world. Creative people use the RIGHT side of their brains more than the LEFT. Take the test and find out if your brain is RIGHT for a creative career.

Right Brain vs Left Brain Creativity Test at The Art Institute of Vancouver

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Advanced Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English

This web site is for non-native speakers of English who want to write in English for academic purposes. The material in this site is aimed toward high intermediate or advanced English learners who have never taken a formal English writing course and whose TOEFL score is about 500 or more.

Advanced Composition for Non-Native Speakers of English

Monday, August 06, 2012

Free online Dictionary of English Pronunciation - How to Pronounce English words

Need pronunciation help? This free online Talking Dictionary of English Pronunciation might be just the app for you

Just mouse over the pink words to hear them spokenType a word into search blank. When your entry appears in pink, mouse over to hear it pronounced. Create lists of up to 15 entries like this: cat; cart; cut; caught etc. There are currently 158,480 entries in the dictionary.

Notes for using the dictionary, browser plug-ins. Available for iPhone and Android.

Plus more useful English learning links from

Free online Dictionary of English Pronunciation - How to Pronounce English words 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Learning about MOOCs

vcrary has shared a Delicious stack with you. A stack is a collection of links and comments around a theme.
"Has anyone in the study group checked out MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses? A number of them would be good learning experiences for those at upper intermediate and advanced English levels. The Coursera course I recommended is one. As I come across them, I will post others that seem suitable...."
Learning about MOOCs
40 links stacked by stranack | 78 views

Team Delicious
Find us on: Delicious blog / Twitter / Facebook

Friday, August 03, 2012

101 Excellent Sites for English

101 Sites for English TeachersHere's a list 101 websites for English teachers and learners. Links include writing prompts and essay starters, grammar, reading and writing, poetry, literature, Shakespeare, spelling, vocabulary, some just for ESL and more.

Eric Schreefrei at GoEdOnline writes, "I did it by polling several of LinkedIn’s most prominent ELA groups over the course of a few months. As always, I hope you find something that’s new (and useful) to you!"

101 Excellent Sites for English Educators

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Learning English Online (LEO) Tutorials at WizIQ

Some of you might find these useful. They are free too, but you have to register with WizIQ. If you register and try any tutorials, let us know what you think. Would you recommend them? If so, for what level or skill area? Anonymous is OK.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wallwisher, a virtual bulletin board

The virtual "corkboard" is just one of many learning links on Larry Ferlazzo's top ESL and language learning resource site. Check the sidebar here for the feed. Larry writes, 
Wallwisher, the pioneering “corkboard” Web 2.0 tool that lets you create virtual bulletin boards, has recently updated its site and it seems to work very well (thanks to Angela Cunningham for the tip). As many of us had noticed, it had become quite buggy over the past year. 
I, like others, explored other similar tools (see The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”). Now, with its problems worked-out, I’m adding it to The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites.
Reposted from Wallwisher Updates Its Site. So what do you think about adding a Wallwisher or another virtual corkboard right here, either just under the tabs or on a separate page? We need more networks... got one? Join ours and share it with us.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grammar Rules: Subject and Verb Agreement

Mini-Lesson on the grammar rules surrounding subject-verb agreement.

grammar rules subject verb agreementThe rule is simple: singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs. But sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a subject is singular or plural. That’s why subject and verb agreement errors crop up in so many pieces of writing. Making matters worse is the fact that most people don’t know what subject and verb agreement means. In fact, too many people don’t know a subject from a verb.

When you’re fixing up your sentences and making sure they are correct, it helps to know the parts of speech, how to conjugate a verb, and how to diagram a sentence (so you can identify the subject). If you understand all those basic elements of language, then you can easily make sure your subjects and verbs agree.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

book patrol: Summer Reading Flowchart for the High School Set

Are you looking for books to feed your mind ? created this handy flowchart featuring 101 books in a variety of genres to help US students. Although for American secondary school students, it should useful for intermediate and advanced English learners. 

Warning!!! - if you don't read regularly, your reading skills will deteriorate - guaranteed!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fantasy and Science Fiction:The Human Mind, Our Modern World

Here's a free online course that might suit more advanced learners, I'd say high intermediate through advanced. The course would be good reading, writing and listening practice. If the syllabus seems overwhelming, you can join just to follow and doing what you can manage. There are many students from around the world ~ more non-native than native speakers and many there to practice their English. 

We understand the world — and our selves — through stories. Then some of those hopes and fears become the world.

About the Course
Fantasy is a key term both in psychology and in the art and artifice of humanity. The things we make, including our stories, reflect, serve, and often shape our needs and desires. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Language Garden

Take a look at Language Garden. It is a very attractive site about an original and appealing approach to language learning. Try out the interactive activities designed around grammatical mind maps and collocations.

Language Garden

You can also subscribe to free resources by email. Read more about Language Garden and here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why. - Kyle Wiens - Harvard Business Review

Who in this study group has problems keeping commas and periods ~ and when to use which ~ straight?  Are you studying English for business? Pay careful attention to this article from the Harvard Business Review. Grammar and correct writing do matter in business. Don't panic or give up just yet. The writer does allow that being an English is an extenuating circumstance. 
If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.
But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn't make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can't tell the difference between their, there, and they're. 
Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. 
Read the rest of "I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why" by Kyle Wiens at the Harvard Business Review

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Movie clips to practice English

I'll be focusing on listening practice and comprehension for a while. Of course, dropping by a study group and checking for lessons isn't the same as actual conversation practice. But the better your listening comprehension, the better prepared you will be for conversation or listening to lectures. So make some popcorn and get ready for a night at the movies...

ESL Listening Comprehension Exercises:
Learning through media (movies, music, etc.) is one of the best ways to learn a new language. The clips below will improve your listening comprehension skills, helping you to learn and practice English as spoken by normal people every day! These particular clips are from recent movies

Here's what you do: 
  1. Click on the video you want to watch below.
  2. Watch the video, and pay attention to it! (You can pause and rewind the video.)
  3. Answer the listening comprehension questions below the video.
  4. Check your answers.

Here are the Movie clips to practice English. Let us know what you think of these listening exercises. Check out the rest of the site too.

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab is another good listening resource. Start with the easy ones and work up. Take as long as necessary listening and repeating

Monday, June 18, 2012

Understanding Poetry

 Listening to poetry is one of the best ways to absorb the natural rhythm of a language as well as its structures. Reading, listening to understanding poetry immerses yourself in an art form that explores cultures everywhere in the world. 

This course is more appropriate for advanced English, but intermediate learners will aslo benefit from it. The Modernist poet TS Eliot wrote that we can often connect with and read poetry in another language before we can do the same with prose. Personally, I found that to be true. I'll look for his essay to post here.

Why read a poem? Why write one? People say poetry as an art form is imperiled in our time, yet everywhere in the world cultures and individuals memorize, recite, and value various forms of poetry. This course will attempt to define this genre of writing, to discuss its particular attributes, to distinguish between good and bad poetry, to explain why so much poetry is difficult, and to isolate the sorts of truths poetry seems best at conveying. Our focus will be on modern poetry, in English and in translation.

Understanding Poetry by Margaret Soltan

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Combining Sentences into Paragraphs

Putting your ideas together into paragraphs is more than just writing sentences one after the next. You'll need linking language like FANBOYS (conjunctions - for, and, nor, but, or, yet, since), and linking language to order and connect your ideas. Writing descriptive paragraphs and short writing assignments will help you practice.

Combining Sentences into Paragraphs

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Letter Writing

Even though we often use email and fax to correspond today, business letters sent by post ("snailmail") are still very important. A well-structured letter is a pleasure to receive and creates a good impression.

It is just as easy to write a well organised letter as a badly organised one, because the layout of a modern business letter in English is very simple. Your address is at the top (in the middle or on the right). The rest of the letter can be in "block" format, with each line starting on the left. There should also be plenty of white space.

There are some minor differences in layout between British and American English and according to personal style. Here, however, are the key elements of a letter

Read the rest at ESL Articles: Letter Writing |

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is our spelling really getting worse?

Johanna Stirling blogs about spelling...

I read so many people bemoaning the fact that our spelling is getting worse. And most seem to blame technology. I'm not sure that our knowledge of spelling is getting worse and I don't think technology is solely to blame if it is.

The fact is that we write far more than we ever used to (and I think that's a good thing!). And also much of what we write is for public consumption. So of course mistakes are seen more. We are also ridiculously 'busy' with constant distractions, so the main problem seems to be that we don't take time to check what we've written. Even people who are complaining about other people's spelling let themselves down. I read this today:
 "Myself, i HATE to see spelling errors in texts that are supposed to have been proff-read."
It's spell checkers that get singled out for most of the blame. I was sent an article on the subject today that I really want to respond to. So I'm going to!

You can read the article Technology Spell Check Leaves Many Adults Unable To Spell here or just read me ranting about it below.

The article starts off by claiming:
Technology has left many Britons unable to spell words like "definitely" and "separate", a survey has found. It suggests that the UK has produced an "auto-correct generation" that relies on computer spell checks. The poll, which questioned more than 2,000 adults, found that around a third could not spell "definitely" while a similar proportion failed to pick the right spelling of "separate". And around two thirds (65%) picked a wrong spelling for "necessary" from a list that did not include the right spelling.
First objection: Lots of people couldn't spell 'definitely' and 'separate' long before computers were around. I remember only learning to spell 'definitely' when I realised it contained the word 'finite'.

Second: spell checkers and auto-correct are different things. The spell checker warns you that you might have spelled something wrong and encourages you to think about what you meant to write but auto-correct just changes it for you if you've written a string of letters that people often write meaning something else.

Third: I don't like their 'poll'. Asking people to choose the correct spelling when it is surrounded by wrong but plausible spellings is asking for trouble. You might automatically write 'necessary' correctly in a sentence, but when someone offers you the choice of the word with two 'c's or one 's', it makes you stop and think that maybe you were wrong. It plants the seed of doubt. So that's bad enough but here the list didn't even include the right spelling, so it sounds like people were tricked. By the way if you can't remember how to spell the word 'necessary', remember "It's necessary to have one coat (one 'c') and two socks (two 's's)".

The article goes on:
And many people are relying on spell checks - 18% said they use this all the time. Fewer than one in 10 (9%) said they never use a spell check.
Umm ... what's wrong with using a spell check? I use one all the time too. It's a good strategy to catch your typos and words you're not sure about. In fact, what worried me about this was that 82% don't use one all the time. Try it, folks, you'll like it.

Sure there are people who can't spell well - lots of them - and it's a problem. But is it really getting worse or just more obvious? Whichever, I offer two suggestions:

1) Let's not teach children that English is spelled as it sounds (phonics) as more than 50% of it isn't. Yes, they need to learn sound-to-letter correspondences, but they also need to learn about the origins of words and look at a range of strategies for coping with the complexity that is English spelling. (See Teaching Spelling to English Language Learners for ways to do this.)

2) We should all (myself included) train ourselves to pause and check what we've written before pressing the Send button. And again we need more focus on this at school - editing.

So what about you?
  • Do you agree?
  • Do you have any proof that spelling has really got worse?
  • How do you feel about spell checkers?
  • And auto-correct?
  • And phonics?
Is our spelling really getting worse? from The Spelling Blog, Want to work on your spelling? Subscribe to or follow this blog for regular suggestions. Do you have a favorite spelling resource? Please share it with us.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Please introduce yourself

Are you new to Blogging English and the online self-paced study group? We really want to learn more about you and get to know one another. Tell us about yourself, and write a short introduction by answering the questions below.

Please post your introduction as a comment to this post. New study group members can comment but not post until they show interest in participation by commenting.

Answer the questions with complete sentences to write a personal introduction paragraph. Format by omitting numerals and starting the next sentence on the same line as the one before. Do not start sentences on a new line.

Monday, May 07, 2012

My self introduction

Hi All

I've been learning English at Vanessa's class since 2004. However I was absent for almost 18 months. So I don't know any  one of this class. Let me introduce myself.

I'm now 72 years old. I live now on my pension. I live in Saitama, Japan. I have several hobbies. I'm very busy for them. At first, I'm crazy about playing contract bridge. I belong three bridge clubs. I spend 5 days at my club in a month. I'm a member of three teams. Each team play team match once a month. So I go to Tokyo 2-3 times in a month.
Besides, I play 8-10 boards almost every night on BBO which I can play bridge by free. I'm eager to improve my skills of bridge but it's not easy.   

I'm learning how to play ocarina. My friend and me visit nursery home once a month and play our ocarina. We asked them to song  children songs with our music. Aged people like to sing songs.
I have to practice to play my ocarina. Because I had never good score in school. Though I've been playing my ocarina for 5 years,
I'm still a beginner of it.

My third hobby is English. I read English news on Internet everyday. I have a subscription of Washington Post. I read an article which I am interested in at least the first paragraph of it . I visited BBC news. Thanks to Vanessa, I'm now able to understand main articles almost without looking up my dictionary.

I received e-mail from Vanessa last month. I decided to learn English at this class again. 
I'm old but I have a will to lean English. 
See you.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Common Writing Mistakes

A handy quick reference guide from About ESL with links to help resources:
The use of articles - the, a, an and nothing - When mentioning something for the first time, use 'a or an', When speaking about something in general, use nothing with the plural form of the noun. Check your understanding with this guide to article usage.
The use of countable and uncountable nouns. - The expressions of quantity you use change based on whether a noun is countable or uncountable. Check here for more help with countable and uncountable nouns.
Use of Linking Language - Sentences need to be connected by linking language which include words such as 'although, despite, however, etc.' Here's a guide to commonly used linking language.
Punctuation - Correct punctuation is difficult for everyone, even native English speakers. This punctuation guide will help you learn when to use periods, commas, semi-colons and more.
Common mistakes - There are a number of common mistakes such as the difference between 'it's' and 'its'. Here's a guide to the most common mistakes made in English. 
These are the most common, but we each have our own particular pattern of mistakes that probably include these and possibly others. What are yours? Make a list and use it to check your writing. There are many editing and writing checklists online, but every writing should have his or her own that includes both personal and common mistakes as well as bad writing habits to avoid. 
Here is a list of seven for native speaker writers (yes, we make mistakes too!) and another. What mistakes are common to all of these lists? What ones are more likely to be made by non-native speakers? There are also writing mistakes or error patterns common to native speakers of a particular language. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

ESOL Nexus – meeting ESOL learners’ needs online

This post is about ESOL Nexus, which is a portal for ESOL teachers and learners in the UK from the British Council – you can access it here:

What is it: 
ESOL Nexus has come out of a European Integration Fund-backed project to support third country nationals (ie. Non UK & Non EU nationals) learning English – there’s more information on their site here:

The site does this by providing self-access materials for learners alongside resources to help ESOL teachers.

Read the rest at ESOL Nexus – meeting ESOL learners’ needs online ~ Classroom201X

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MIT launches student-produced educational video initiative

Another good source for English language videos. These will help you develop a your English vocabularies in science, technology, engineering and math.

Original short videos, in collaboration with Khan Academy, aim to fuel K-12 students’ interest in engineering and science.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — MIT has launched an initiative encouraging its students to produce short videos teaching basic concepts in science and engineering. The videos — aimed at younger students, in grades from kindergarten through high school — will be accessible through a dedicated MIT website and YouTube channel. A subset of the videos will also be available on Khan Academy, a popular not-for-profit educational site founded by an MIT alumnus.

MIT launches student-produced educational video initiative - MIT Media Relations

Lets Face It: English Is A Crazy Language

english language

There is no egg in the eggplant,
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.

English muffins were not invented in England,
French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted, 
but if we examine its paradoxes we find that:

Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night

World Book Night is about promoting reading. Follow on Facebook and Twitter (@wbnamerica).In the US, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give out free World Book Night paperbacks. There is also English language WBN in Ireland and the UK, with website, activities and links. So what do you do if you can't do that? We'll use the internet, that's what. 

Although print books, handed out in person, are the focus, reading is what matters most. Have a Project Gutenberg book on me. Have as many as you want. Share them with all your friends. Free rounds of books for everyone!

PS: April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Writing: the Hamburger Essay

HamburgerWhat? That makes me hungry! It's not really something you can eat. The hamburger essay refers to a style of writing that is common on essays written in English. Use this guide on how to write a hamburger essay to improve both your paragraphs and essays.

The guide will also help you understand how to create a map of your essay which will help make writing easier, and much more organized. This writing workshop takes the hamburger essay to another level focusing on four different exercises that can be used in class to help students improve their essay writing skills.

Presenting the Hamburger Essay

Thursday, April 19, 2012

English writing practice

English Leap is a commercial lesson site but also has many free learning resources. This one is for writing. Others address grammar, vocabulary, common mistakes, career resources and more.

Here are some tips to help you with English composition:
  • In the words of George Orwell, ‘Never use a long word when a short one will do.’
  • Keep your sentences short and well-punctuated, not long and convoluted.
  • Omit unnecessary words. There are a number of phrases in the English language that can be replaced with simple words to convey the same meaning; this should be done whenever possible. For example, the clause This is a matter which... can just as easily be written as This matter.
  • Try to stick to the active voice, rather than the passive.

The above points can be condensed into one golden rule of writing: keep it simple.Good writing is not about complexity; it is about conveying your message to the reader. Which leads us to the next rule:
  • Keep the readership in mind while writing.
  • Avoid being overly formal. It is impersonal.
  • Avoid multiple negatives. They often invert the intended meaning, and are difficult to untangle.
  • Make the verb agree with the subject, not with a word in between the two. 
For example, The bus, with all its passengers, were about to overturn is wrong, because here the subject is the singular ‘cart’, not the plural ‘passengers’. Hence, it should be The bus, with all its passengers, was about to overturn.
  • Use commas to bracket those parts of the sentence that would otherwise obstruct its flow, but do not use commas to join independent clauses. The proper punctuation mark to use in this case is the semicolon.
  1. English writing practice:Tips on English writing and free practice lessons

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