New mobile ESL library at Highland United Methodist Church!

A brand new reading library is now available for students attending ESL classes at our Highland United Methodist Church (HUMC) location! This new mobile ESL library contains books for ESL level 1 to level 6.  Extensive reading is known to increase students’ knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and American culture, so we are thrilled to have this new resource available. Students attending classes at HUMC may ask their teachers for  more details on how to check out a book.

Thank you to ESL Supervisor, Kathie Baggott, and her daughter, Elizabeth, for providing our students with this wonderful new resource. This project was a part of Elizabeth’s Gold Award project through the Girl Scouts of America.  We are sure that Miss Baggott has a bright future ahead of her!

HUMC Extensive Reading Students

Wake Tech ESL students showing off their books!

Sample of books at HUMC

Some of the books available at the new mobile library


A poem with a past (past simple, that is!)

Here is a funny poem by Richard Lederer about the past simple tense in English. How irregular! 🙂

Mr. Lederer is an author, speaker, and teacher, as well as a bit of a comedian. His books include A Tribute to Teachers and Anguished English. You can read more about him by clicking here: About Richard Lederer

Pick out the past simple verbs which are correct and the ones which are incorrect. Send it to us in a comment and we’ll tell you if you’re right!


The verbs in English are a fright.
How can we learn to read and write?
Today we speak, but first we spoke;
Some faucets leak, but never loke.
Today we write, but first we wrote;
We bite our tongues, but never bote.

Each day I teach, for years I taught,
And preachers preach, but never praught.
This tale I tell; this tale I told;
I smell the flowers, but never smold.

If knights still slay, as once they slew,
Then do we play, as once we plew?

If I still do as once I did,
Then do cows moo, as they once mid?


Big deal! – So what? That doesn’t really matter.

Example 1: You won five dollars in the lottery? Big deal!

Example 2: Your father has a job with a big company in New York City? Big deal!

(to) give someone the cold shoulder to be cold to someone on purpose; to snub someone

Example 1: When Lisa saw Amber at the mall, she didn’t even stop to talk to her. She really gave her the cold shoulder.

Example 2: I can’t understand why Joe would give you the cold shoulder. I thought you two were good friends!

(to) hit the nail on the head – to be right

Example 1: Dawn hit the nail on the head when she said that Tiffany is jealous of Amber.

Example 2: Steve hit the nail on the head with his idea of moving his company’s manufacturing facility to China.

piece of cake – very easy

Example 1: Nicole finished her physics test in just 25 minutes. It was a piece of cake.

Example 2: The driving test is a piece of cake. Don’t worry about it.

(to) twist someone’s arm – to persuade someone; to convince someone

Example 1: Ted didn’t want to get another tattoo on his back, but Amber twisted his arm.

Example 2: Okay, you’ve twisted my arm. You can borrow my new car and drive it across the country.

Make sentences with these idioms and type them in a comment box.

The First “Thanksgiving”

What really happened between the English settlers and the Native American tribes in 1621?

Here is a good National Geographic article with a more accurate depiction of the historical meal that occurred in 1621, which we now (inaccurately) call the “First Thanksgiving.”

One fall day in 1621, four English settlers from Plymouth Colony went to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The local Wampanoag  tribe (a group of Native American Indians) heard their gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war.

Click on the link below to read more…

Optimist or Pessimist?

This short story illustrates how different people can look at things in different ways.

Many years ago two salesmen were sent by a British shoe manufacturer to a far away land to investigate and report back on the market potential there.

The first salesman reported back, “There is no potential here – nobody wears shoes.”

The second salesman reported back, “There is massive potential here – everyone needs shoes.”

Thanksgivings Around the World

United States: Thanksgiving

  • When: Fourth Thursday of November
  • Why: Give thanks for harvest, blessings
  • Food: Turkey, potatoes, stuffing
  • Activities: Visit family, football games, parades

Korea: Chuseok

  • When: 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar
  • Why: Celebration of a good harvest
  • Food: Songpyeon (rice cakes steamed on pine needles), japchae, bulgogi
  • Activities: Visit tombs of ancestors


Zhong Qiu Jie (Harvest Moon)

  • When: 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar
  • Why: The full moon is a sign of good harvest
  • Food: Lobster, salmon, fruit, nuts, “moon cakes”
  • Activities: Family reunions, children stay up late, stay outside and moon-gaze
Japan: Tsukimi (Moon Viewing)
  • When: 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar
  • Why: Celebrate moon, rice harvest
  • Food: Dumplings made from rice
  • Activities: Parties, festivals

  • Israel: Succoth

    • When: Late September to late October
    • Why: Give thanks for crops and harvest
    • Food: Traditional food (chicken, soup, potatoes)
    • Activities: Families build sukkot (open living space) for meals and sleep during the seven days

    India: Pongal

    • When: January 14th
    • Why: Celebrate a successful harvest
    • Food: Sweet rice dish known as “pongal”
    • Activities: Family gatherings

    A Very Difficult Riddle

    What nine-letter word in the English language is still a word when each of the nine letters is removed one by one, in no particular order. Take a few minutes to try and come up with a nine-letter word that fits the bill.

    Post your answer in a comment box. The correct answer will be posted next week.

    We would like to thank Robin A. for sharing this riddle with us.

    Click here for correct answer.