Breaking News – News Sites Useful for ESL Students

A great way to improve your English is to read newspapers or listen to the news. However sometimes the level of English in news can be challenging.  Keep current on news using these sites:

  • Breaking News English –  A new lesson every two days based on stories currently in the news. There are 7 learner  levels available, from elementary to advanced. There are reading, listening and other learning activities available.
  • Times For Kids –  Don’t be mislead by the title – it’s not kiddie stuff. Current national and global topics are discussed. You have the ability to dynamically change reading level of an article by using a pull down menu selector at top left of article page. Try this article that explains the recent  Facebook data breach .
  • Smithsonian Tween Tribune – has articles on  current events, history, art, culture and science.  You can filter articles by grade level. However, while looking at an article you can adjust even more  the reading level  you want, making it a bit easier or more challenging. 
  • News in Level – articles are available in 3 different reading levels. Actual news videos are often attached at highest level. 

Writing a Paper in English

A paper is a series of connected paragraphs. Writing good paper can be difficult. Here is how to draft, refine, and explain your ideas.

Decide the Topic of Your Paper

First, look at the writing prompt or assignment topic. Before writing a paragraph, it is important to think first about the topic and then what you want to say about the topic.

Create a Topic Paragraph

This paragraph introduces your paper. When your paper starts with a clearly stated topic,  your reader will know what to expect and, therefore, understand your ideas better.

Support Your Opinion or Point

After stating your introductory paragraph, you need to provide information to prove or support your point. Provide at least two examples to support your topic. E.ach example should be its own paragraph

Conclude
After supporting your point with relevant information, add a concluding paragraph. Concluding paragraphs link one paragraph to the next and provide another way to unify for your paper. Concluding paragraphs have an important role in paper writing. They bring the information you have presented together.

 

 

More information on Paragraph Writing

Writing paragraphs is an important skill in English writing. Here are some easy steps to writing a paragraph.
  1. Decide what you are going to write about. Look at your writing prompt and think about your response.
  2. Write a topic sentence. This sentence should summarize what your paragraph is about.
  3. Give examples to support your topic sentence. All of your examples should relate to your topic sentence.
  4. Write a concluding sentence. This sentence should restate your topic to tie your paragraph together.
  5. Always look over your paragraph and proofread your writing.

How do I Recognize a Gerund

Gerunds

How to recognize a gerund.

All gerund end in ing. However, all present participles also end in ing. What is the difference?

Gerunds function as nouns. Thus, gerunds can be subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions.

Here are examples of gerunds:

Since Helen was five years old, running has been running passion.

Running = subject of the verb has been.

Helen enjoys singing more than anything

Singing = direct object of the verb enjoys.

Helen gives singing lesson with a lot of energy.

Singing = indirect object of the verb gives.

 

 

Comparisons

Let’s compare 2 people or 2 things: example 1: Hamid is taller than Leonor. Example 2: The jacket is nicer than the dress. We compare people and things every day.

Here are a few rules to help you in forming and spelling the comparative:

rule simple comparative examples
1. adjectives with 1 syllable

add “er”

tall taller Hamid is taller than Leonor.
2. if the adjectives end with consonant-vowel-consonant ==>double the last consonant then add “er” big bigger The apple is bigger than the blueberry.
3. if the adjectives end with “e”==> add “r” late later Mario came to class later than Cindy.
4. adjectives with 2-syllables and ends in “y”==> change “y” to “i” then add “er” sunny sunnier It is sunnier today than it was yesterday.
5. some 2 syllable adjectives and 3-syllable adjectives add “more” expensive more expensive The red bag is more expensive than the black bag.
6. irregular adjectives==> change the word good

bad

better

worse

I have a better life in the US.

Your turn. Change the adjective to the comparative form.

fast
pretty
easy
early
polite
cold
high
young
short
long
thin
large
nice
hot
old
happy

 

Writing a Paragraph

Writing good paragraphs can be difficult. Here is how to draft, refine, and explain your ideas.

 

Decide the Topic of Your Paragraph

First, look at the writing prompt or assignment topic. Before writing a paragraph, it is important to think first about the topic and then what you want to say about the topic.

Create a Topic Sentence

Strong paragraphs are typically about one main idea or topic, This idea is called a topic sentence. The mains subject matter or idea covered in the paragraph. You can often restate the question as a sentence to create the topic sentence. When your paragraphs contain a clearly stated topic sentence,  your reader will know what to expect and, therefore, understand your ideas better.

Support Your Opinion or Point

After stating your topic sentence, you need to provide information to prove or support your point. Provide at least two examples to support your topic.

Conclude
After supporting your point with relevant information, add a concluding sentence. Concluding sentences link one paragraph to the next and provide another way to unify for your paragraph. Concluding sentences have an important role in paragraph writing. They bring the information you have presented together.

 

In short a good formula for paragraph writing is:

  • Tell me what you are going to talk about
  • Talk about your idea
  • Tell me what you just talked about

 

 

The Present Continuous

We use the present continuous to talk about something that happens continuously in the present.

It is formed with the verb to be + the verb with ing at the end.

For example: reading, writing, singing, playing. You write the present continuous form by putting –ing at the end of the verb.

I am reading We are reading
You are reading You are reading
He, She, is reading They are reading

 

If the verb ends in a consonant+vowel+consonant (but not w, x, y), then write the last consonant twice.  For example: sit==>sitting, mop==>mopping, swim==>swimming.

If the verb ends in a consonant+vowel+(consonant w, x, y), do not write the last consonant twice. For example: mow==>mowing, play==>playing, box==>boxing.

If the verb ends in a consonant+e, then drop the e. For example: write==>writing, drive==>driving, live==>living.

1. Always use a form of the verb (be). (I am, he is, it is, she is, you are, we are, they are). For example: She is working at the market.

2. Be careful how you write a question. For example:  What is she doing?

3. Don’t use the present continuous for everyday habits. For example: I eat breakfast every day.

4. Remember to put -ing on the end of present continuous verbs. For example: They are going to the mall today

New Writing Section and Links

 

Please check out our newest section of links, “Writing” on the right hand side of the blog. It’s toward the bottom so don’t miss it.  There many exciting links that can help you with punctuation, writing styles, common writing errors AND even help you write a resume.

Writing is a difficult skill even for native Americans but it’s a very important one. Use these links to improve your writing.

How Much or How Many

Do you know the rule for using “how much” vs “how many”?

Sometimes, English speakers say: “How many sugars do you want?” Is that correct?

No. What they really mean could be: “how many spoons of sugar” or “how many packets of sugar“.

The main rule is to use “how many” for things you can count and “how much” for things you cannot count. You can count: tables, boys, chairs, oranges, dimes;  but you cannot count: water, wine, rice.

Do you know? Check yourself.=>

singular plural how much? how many?
apple apples x
sugar sugar x
banana
tooth
salt
child
penny
money
mango
coffee
quarter
carrot
Do you know the rule for using “how much” vs “how many”? Enter your ideas in the comments.
Sometimes, English speakers say: “How many sugars do you want?” Is that correct? No. What they really mean could be: “how many spoons of sugar” or “how many packets of sugar“.
Did you remember that the main rule is to use “how many” for things you can count and “how much” for things you cannot count. You can count: tables, boys, chairs, oranges, dimes;  but you cannot count: water, wine, rice.