Help with Syllables

Need a little help pronouncing words?

Understanding how to break up words into syllables can help you.  How Many Syllables  can quickly help you identify the syllables in a word, show you how to pronounce it and give you words that rhyme with it.   

Click on the Syllable Rules link to learn syllable patterns and rules to count out syllables, 

You can always find How Many Syllables quickly by looking at the Class /Textbook section in the right sidebar

Spring is Coming

It feels like winter has been with us forever but finally the cold rainy days have left – at least for a while. The weather is warmer and our thoughts lead to spring which is only a few days away (March 20th this year).

Here are some posts from earlier years about spring and it’s holidays


Don’t forget the “Holidays” Page on the top menu bar – it has videos and activities for the spring  holidays 

Mardi Gras is a multi-day carnival festival where people enjoy dancing, music and food before Lent begins.

St. Patrick’s Day – March 17th

April  Fool’s Day – 4/1


Earth  Day (4/22)

Mothers’ Day (second Sunday in May)


Memorial Day (last Monday in May)

All About Winter


Photo by M.Yanez

Officially the winter starts on Friday, December 21st, 2019.  However this early snow storm has definitely kicked off the winter season here in Raleigh! 

If you are staying warm in your home and looking for a way to practice English, take a look at these older posts in our ESL blogs that are about the winter season.


Winter Season



Besides the following blog entries, don’t forget the “Holidays” Page on the top menu bar – it has videos and activities for all the holidays in the Year (including Christmas  )


All About Fall


(image via Wikimedia Commons)

Over time, the ESL blogs have posted many interesting posts about the fall season and recurring events that happen in the fall.  Each of them teach you something about fall but also help improve your English. 

Please take a look. 


Fall Season 

Seasonal Events

Fall Holidays 

Use the Library to Improve Your English

Libraries are wonderful resources that help all learners but especially those learning English.  With a library card you can check out books  and audio books, use their computer resources and participate in their community programs. 

Here is information on how to get a library card and some of their services.

How Do I Get a Library Card and What Can I Do with It?

Wake County Library cards are available to all residents of Wake County.

To get your library card:

  1. Find your nearest library branch at
  2. Apply in person for your library card. You will need:
  • Any official photo ID (Wake Tech Student ID, North Carolina ID card, North Carolina Driver’s License, US Passport, International Passport or International ID Card)
  • IF Your ID does not include your address: You will also need a piece of mail with your name and your Wake County address printed by a computer (water bill, credit card statement, power bill etc.)
  1. The librarian will give you your card and you will choose a PIN. Hang on to your card and remember your PIN, you’ll need it to access services!

Using the Library in Person:

  1. Borrow books for 2 weeks at a time to take home with you. Find books for you and the whole family! (You can renew books for 2 more weeks, but don’t return them late or else you’ll have to pay a fine!)
  2. Read reference books in the library
  3. Read magazines & newspapers in the library
  4. Use the computers with internet for free
  5. Use wifi on your personal computer or smartphone for free
  6. Print items inexpensively in black and white or color
  7. Participate in free events for adults and children in the library. Check the calendar at:

Using the Library’s Digital Services:

  1. Look up book availability before you go, and manage your loans with the Library Catalog at:
  2. Find research and academic articles in the library databases at:

Using your Smartphone to Borrow eBooks and Audiobooks:

  1. Download the application Libby by searching for it in the App Store or Google Play Store
  2. Or Download the application through the weblink
  3. Select your library “Wake County Public Library” or enter your zip code
  4. Log in using your library card number and your PIN
  5. Search for and borrow eBooks or Audiobooks that are currently available, or place a hold to wait for a book that will be available in the future.
  6. Use the app to read eBooks or listen to audiobooks!

Welcome Back From Summer Break and Hello Hurricane Florence

Our sites are just starting to welcome students back and suddenly Hurricane Florence changes all our plans! However it is a good time to learn some more about hurricanes and tropical storms.  

First, thanks to teacher, Jess MacDonald, who provided so much of this information.


tropical depression: a tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 38 mph or 62 km/hr or less.

tropical storm: a tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 39 mph or 63 km/hr to 73 mph or 118 km/hr.

hurricane: a severe tropical cyclone with maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 74 mph or 119 km/hr or more, heavy rains, enormous waves, and subsequent flooding that can damage buildings and beaches. It is an area of low pressure around which winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian. The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline. The term cyclone is used for Indian Ocean tropical cyclones.

Eye- the center of the hurricane, which can be calm in the surrounding storm

FEMA– Federal Emergency Management Agency

Flooding: a large amount of water covering an area of land that is usually dry

Flood zone: an area that is lower or close to a water source, that can be likely to flood during heavy rains.

inland flooding: While the storm surge is related to the winds of the hurricane, inland flooding is more often a result of rainfall. Often during a hurricane, the storm will stall over an area resulting in enough rainfall to flood inland areas.

storm surge: The storm surge is the water on the coast that is pushed in by hurricane winds. This water exaggerates the normal tides, so that the water level can rise as much as 15 feet or more. The storm surge can cause coastal flooding. The amount of the storm surge is determined by the slope of the land offshore, as well as, the strength of the hurricane.

hurricane hazards: Hazards created by a hurricane including storm surge, heavy rains and high winds.

hurricane preparedness: a plan or action to ensure safety and maximize comfort in hurricane conditions.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale- a scale of 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.

Voluntary evacuation- when the government requests that you leave the area where the storm will hit, but you are not required to leave

Mandatory evacuation– when the government requires you to leave the area where the storm will hit because it will be very dangerous for you to stay where you are

State of Emergency- When the government declares that there are conditions that could require emergency support and action to help people.  This allows the government to spend money and send personnel to assist citizens, but it does not necessarily mean that there is immediate danger.


 Hurricane Preparedness




  1. What supplies do you have at your house already to prepare yourself for a hurricane?
  2. What supplies should you purchase today or tomorrow for a hurricane?
  3. How familiar are you and your family with emergency plans?
  4. What are your employer’s expectations about you coming to work in a storm?  
  5. Where can you go to ask for help if you need it after a hurricane?  Who can you call?

Are you signed up for Wake Tech Warn to receive emergency phone updates from the college?

Summer Homework!

The blogs are going on vacation for the summer. **** I’ve  refreshed an earlier post with great ideas for  your summer homework. Click on the blue links to learn and practice until we return with new lessons in the fall!

Confusing Word Choices

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

In these blogs, we teach you the differences between two (or more) confusing words or phrases. Click each one to learn more.


In these posts, we teach you how to pronounce or say something.


Here are the answers to some of the most common questions I hear from students.

Practical English

These articles will help you with the English you need every day.

Summer Homework!

*** Refreshing  an earlier post that has some ideas for homework to do  over the summer. There is one activity per week. In July, explore the blog — look at these links or these sites to practice your English online!


Level       Week 1     Week 2      Week 3       Week 4
1 & 2  Learn Signs  Practice months and seasons  Practice body parts with your kids  Practice Pronunciation
3 & 4  Practice Simple Present vs. Continuous  Practice colors  Practice the weather Practice irregular past tense verbs
5 & 6  Practice Pronunciation  Learn to Complain  Read a Recipe  Practice past tense pronunciation
ERV  Read more!  Take a vocabulary test  Practice your spelling  Stay abreast of current events

Have a great summer! See you in the fall!

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

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.