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!

How to use ‘work’ and ‘job’ correctly

Men at Work (photo permission from flickr via codey's453) For educational purposes only.

Men at Work
(photo permission from flickr via codey’s453)
For educational purposes only.

What is the difference between work and job?

The biggest difference is that work is both a verb and a noun, but job is only a noun. But let’s look at both words to see other differences.


When you work, you use effort or energy, usually to achieve a goal, finish a task, or make money.  In one way, it is the opposite of play because work is not usually a lot of fun. However, work and play both require energy. Work is really the opposite of rest because work uses your energy while rest does not. Here are some examples of how we use work as a verb:

  • Lisa works for Wake Tech Community College.
  • Jamal works in a café.
  • Kyle worked in his yard all weekend.
  • Right now, Andrea is working on her university degree. She will graduate next year.


By Phil Whitehouse (Flickr: New office) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In these examples, we do not know exactly what the person’s duties, activities, or responsibilities are. Jamal works in a café, but we do not know if he cleans the tables or cooks the food. Lisa works for the community college, but we don’t know if she is a teacher or a secretary or the president. Kyle worked in his yard, but we don’t know if he was mowing the grass or building a dog house. And we can guess that Andrea goes to classes, studies, and does homework, but we cannot be sure.

You can also see in these examples that we use work to talk about things you do to earn money AND things you do when you aren’t paid. If you are using energy, you can probably say that you are working.

People don’t do all the work in the world. I don’t want to use my energy to wash my clothes, so I put them into my washing machine. When we talk about machines, we use work as a verb to mean “function.” If my washing machine is broken, I say, “My washing machine doesn’t work.” If I have a new DVD player, I read the instructions to learn how it works.

Work is also used as a noun in two ways:

Van Gogh's Starry Night

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1. to talk about the things that you do or make. If you look at a painting, you are seeing the artist’s work (a finished product). If your boss tells you that your work is good, he/she means that you are doing well. When we talk about a finished art product (painting, symphony, sculpture, etc.), we often call it a “work” of art. When we use this meaning of “work,” it is a countable noun. For example:

  • His favorite works include Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet.
  • None of Van Gogh’s works were famous when he was alive.

2. to talk about your place of employment or the activities you do there. For example, we say, “I go to work every morning.” That means you go to the place where you are an employee. If someone asks you, “What do you do for work?” they want to know what you do as an employee.


Job is similar to this last meaning of “work.” It usually means the name for the work that you do to earn money. For example:

  • Jamal has a new job. He is a handyman in a small restaurant.
  • My job is to teach adult students how to speak, read, write, and understand English.
  • Katherine has two jobs. She is trying to earn more money so she can buy a computer for her son.

We can also use “job” to talk about a task. Sometimes, I will say to my husband, “I have a job for you.” I am not going to pay him, but I have a task that I hope he will do.

Say, Tell, Speak, and Talk – What’s the difference?

The verbs  say, tell, speak, and talk can be confusing to English learners. The meanings are similar, but we use them in different ways, so it is important to know how to use them correctly.


He said learning English is fun! (photo by tcarr)

He said learning English is fun! (photo by wtcc instructor tcarr)

We use the verb “say” with a clause. A clause always includes a subject (a thing or person) and a verb (an action, usually). Sometimes, we use a “that” clause with “say” like this:

She said that she was tired.
He says that he forgot his homework.
I always say that you should wear sunscreen.

In all of these sentences, “that” is correct, but it is optional (you don’t have to use it).

She said she was tired.
He says he forgot his homework.
I always say you should wear sunscreen.

Sometimes we use a quote with “say” like this:

She always says, “Good morning,” to her friends.
He said, “I don’t love you anymore.”
I said, “I’d like a salad, please.”

And sometimes we use a phrase like one of these:

  • a word – Clark said a bad word.
  • a phrase – Mr. Brashov says a phrase in Romanian.
  • a name – When your order is ready, they will say your name.
  • a sentence – The teacher said a long sentence. I only understood half of it.

If you want to show the other person in the conversation, you can use “to” + someone.

She always says, “Good morning,” to her friends.
She said
to me that she was tired.
I said
to the waitress, “I’d like a salad, please.”


She tells her friend a funny story. (photo by tcarr)

She tells her friend a funny story. (photo by wtcc instructor tcarr)

After “tell,” we usually use a noun (a person or a thing). This noun is either:

  • the person who is listening – He told me to clean my room.
  • a phrase like story or joke – I told a story about my father.

We use “tell” when someone gives an order to someone else. When we report an order, we use “tell + person + to + verb.”

He told me to clean my room.
I always tell people to wear sunscreen.

She tells him to call her.

It is possible to use “tell” with a “that” clause (like with “say”), but you must include the listener.

She told me she was tired.
He tells me that he forgot his homework.
I always tell you that you should wear sunscreen.

Speak and Talk

“Speak” and “talk” have similar meanings. Both mean that the person is using his/her voice or that two or more people are having a conversation. Look at these pairs of sentences. You can see that “speak” and “talk” are both correct, and the meaning is the same.

I spoke to her about the homework.
I talked to her about the homework.

Who were you talking to about the movie?
Who were you speaking to about the movie?

However, there are three differences between “speak” and “talk.”

The students speak English in class. (photo by tcarr)

The students speak English in class. (photo by wtcc instructor tcarr)

1. We use “speak” when we want to say that someone has the ability to use a language.

She speaks English.
He speaks three languages.

2. “Speak” is often used for one-way communication (for example, when one person is giving a speech to a group of people).

The manager spoke to the employees about the new work schedule.

3. “Speak” is a little more formal than “talk.” We use “speak” for polite requests. People usually use “speak” when they ask for someone on the phone.

May I speak to the owner of this store?
Hello? May I speak with Jason, please?

She talks to her classmate.

An ESL student talks to her classmate. (photo by wtcc instructor tcarr)

“Talk” is used more with conversational meanings and informal situations.

She talks to her mother every day.
They talked to their teacher about the test.

Your Turn

If you would like to do some practice exercises with these verbs, click on the links below!

How Americans Speak – Three Rules for Word Stress

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Over the past few weeks, we have talked about shortened words, sentence stress, and sentence rhythm. This week, we’re going to look at some pronunciation rules for putting stress on the correct syllable in a word. This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Using incorrect stress causes confusion.
  2. It is important to put the stressed syllable of a content word on the beat when you are speaking in English rhythm.

Let me explain #2 a little more. You know that we stress content words in speaking – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, negatives, question words, and interjections. In the sentences below, every word is a content word, so each word gets a beat.

Ana works hard.
Ana works VEry hard.
Ana works exTREMEly hard.

Read the first sentence out loud and clap your hands when you say each word. Clap in a steady rhythm. The first sentence is easy because each word has only one syllable, so they all get equal stress. In the second and third sentences, there are words with two or three syllables. The stressed syllable is on the beat (when you clap). The extra syllables must go between the beats. Practice the second and third sentences. Clap in a steady rhythm, and try to put the extra syllables between claps.

Now let’s talk about stress in lots of different words. English pronunciation is a little crazy compared to other languages, but we have a few rules that can really help!

Stress on the Syllable Before Certain Endings

In words with the following endings, the stress usually goes on the syllable before the ending:

  • -ible/-able – flexible (FLEX-ible), dependable (de-PEN-dable)
  • -ious/-eous – suspicious (sus-PI-cious), courageous (cou-RA-geous)
  • -ity – ethnicity (eth-NI-city), audacity (au-DA-city)
  • -ive – expensive (ex-PEN-sive), active (AC-tive)
  • -graphy – geography (ge-OG-ra-phy), photography (pho-TOG-ra-phy)
  • -logy – psychology (psy-CHO-lo-gy),
  • -meter – speedometer (spee-DO-me-ter), thermometer (ther-MO-me-ter)
  • -ic/-ical – geographical (ge-o-GRA-phi-cal), hysterical (hys-TE-ri-cal), ironic (i-RO-nic), photographic (pho-to-GRA-phic)
  • -tion/-sion/-cian – vacation (va-CA-tion), revision (re-VI-sion), musician (mu-SI-cian)

Stress on the Last Syllable

When words have these endings, the endings are usually stressed:

  • -ee – refugee (re-fu-GEE), trainee (trai-NEE)
  • -eer – volunteer (vo-lun-TEER), mountaineer (moun-tai-NEER)
  • -ese – Japanese (Ja-pa-NESE), legalese (le-ga-LESE)
  • -ette – bachelorette (ba-che-lo-RETTE), casette (ca-SETTE)
  • -esque – picturesque (pic-tu-RESQUE), statuesque (sta-tu-ESQUE)
  • -oo – shampoo (sham-POO), tattoo (tat-TOO)

Stress Shift (Verb – Noun)

Some verbs and their related nouns look exactly alike, but their pronunciations are different. Usually, in two-syllable VERBS, the second syllable is stressed.

  • permit (per-MIT)
  • record (re-CORD)
  • present (pre-SENT)
  • increase (in-CREASE)
  • conflict (con-FLICT)
  • escort (es-CORT)
  • address (ad-DRESS)
  • object (ob-JECT)
  • upset (up-SET)

Two-syllable NOUNS, on the other hand, are usually stressed on the first syllable.

  • permit (PER-mit)
  • record (RE-cord)
  • present (PRE-sent)
  • increase (IN-crease)
  • conflict (CON-flict)
  • escort (ES-cort)
  • address (AD-dress)
  • object (OB-ject)
  • upset (UP-set)

There are many more rules for pronunciation and word stress, but these three will help you get started. For further explanation and more examples, here is a video that talks about these rules a bit more.


Prepositions of Time

Used with permission from Toni Verdú Carbó via a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

Prepositions are difficult. Many students have problems with prepositions. Here are some rules for using prepositions of time.

Preposition Use Examples
in with months a in April; in December
a year in 1785; in 2011
seasons in winter; in the fall of 1972
the morning, the afternoon, the evening in the morning; in the afternoon; in the evening
a length of time into the future in an hour (= 1 hour in the future from now); in two weeks (= 2 weeks in the future from now)
at night, midnight, dawn at night; at dawn; at midnight
a specific time of day at 6 o’clock; at 8:30
a time of year near a holiday at Christmas; at Easter
time phrases that show a specific time or moment at the same time; at the moment
on days of the week on Monday; on Saturday
dates on the 13th of November; on November 13
holidays and special days on Halloween; on the Fourth of July; on my birthday
a part of the day when the date is given on the morning of September the 11th*
for a length or duration of time for three weeks; for an hour
since from a time in the past until now since 2005; since this morning; since I woke up yesterday
from … to
from… till/until
beginning and end times from Monday to Wednesday
from Monday till Wednesday
from Monday until Wednesday
during in the middle of something continuing during the week; during class


Now you can practice using these prepositions. Work alone or with your classmates to complete the sentences. More than one answer may be possible. Ask your teacher to check your answers.

  1. They are getting married __________ Sunday __________ 3 o’clock.
  2. __________ midnight, we were awakened by the sound of a dog barking.
  3. The party will be __________ Sunday __________ 4:00 __________ the afternoon.
  4. Spring begins __________ March 21, and summer begins __________ June 21.
  5. The last time I saw Pedro was __________ the summer of 2006.
  6. The festival took place __________ August.
  7. They came to this country __________ August 5, 2008.
  8. They came to this country __________ 2008.
  9. The ESL classes went  __________ May __________ August.
  10. He has not felt well __________ a long time, ever __________ his crash.
  11. They never go out __________ night __________ the week.
  12. We’ll be ready to leave __________ an hour.
  13. I will see you ___________ the afternoon.
  14. __________ the storm, all the lights were out __________ several hours.
  15. He has been away from home __________ January 12.
  16. The temperature is below zero. __________ a few hours, the pond should be frozen over.
  17. He had been away from home __________ two weeks.
  18. She will be here __________ a few hours.
  19. Hannah’s party is __________ the Saturday before her birthday.
  20. I’m sorry that my phone rang __________ class.

Talk with your classmates about these sentences. How does the meaning change with a different preposition?

  1. I will see you in the afternoon.
    I will see you before the afternoon.
  2. They came to this country before 2008.
    They came to this country after 2008.
    They came to this country in 2008.
  3. We have ESL classes from January to March.
    We have ESL classes in January and March.
  4. She will be here for a few hours.
    She will be here in a few hours.

Welcome Back!

(photo by Wake Tech Instructor JLN)

(photo by Wake Tech Instructor jlfoster1)

Welcome back to the English Language Blog! We didn’t write new posts during the winter break. Now it is January and we will begin to write new posts again.

How often will new posts be up?

This year, you can read one new blog post every other week. That means you will see two new posts on this blog each month. Posts should be on this website on Monday mornings.  If there is something specific you want to study but you can’t find it on this site, please post a comment or tell your teacher. We will write a topic for you or your class. This blog is for YOU, our English language students, and we want to write information that will help you.

(screenshot by WT instructor jlfoster1)

How do I use the blog?

There are several options to use the blog.

  • You can SEARCH for a specific topic by using the searchbox on the right.
  • You can click on the links at the top.
  • You can click on the links on the right.
  • You can read the posts in order.

What topics are on this blog?

This is the English language blog. There are many English language topics. For example:

If you want something specific that isn’t here, please tell us!

What are comments and links?

You can comment on every post. Click this blue link to read how to comment. 

There are lots of links in blogs. Links are blue. They open a new window and go to a different webpage. You can always return to the original post.


In the comment section or on paper, write YES or NO. If the sentence is wrong, re-write it correctly.

  1. You can watch videos on the English Language blog.
  2. There are two new posts every week.
  3. New posts are ready on Monday.
  4. You can study culture and events on the English Language blog.
  5. This blog is for teachers only.
  6. You can comment on any post.

See you next week!

Winter Break Practice

(image from Wikimedia Commons)

(image from Wikimedia Commons)

Dear Students,

Can you believe it? The semester is almost over! This post will be the last blog post until January 2016. In this post, you will find links to previous posts. Click on the links in the box and practice and review what you learned in class.

This post is also the last post I will write. I started writing for the blog in January 2013. I have written a lot of posts in the past almost-3 years! It was very fun to write for the blog and to receive feedback and comments from all of you students. Thank you! A new writer for the English Language blog will start in January 2016. That person will have a lot of good, new ideas to help you all learn more English.

Enjoy the post, and have a great vacation!


Jaimie Newsome, Wake Tech ESL Blog Team

Level Listening Speaking Reading Writing
1 & 2  Where are you from?

What are you doing?

 Common Words  Reading  Writing by Hand

(watch the video)

3 & 4  The Word “Ain’t”  Phonics Stories  The Kiss That Missed  Writing Advice
5 & 6  A Taxi Drive  Stress and Intonation  Long Distance Call  Speaking or Writing?
ERV  President Obama’s Addresses

NPR Story Corps

 Perfect Pronunciation  Many Stories  Writing

Use Better Words!

(photo by JLN)

I just spent four days in sunny St. Augustine, Florida, at a conference. Let’s use some of the pictures of the city to improve our vocabulary!

When you first learn English, you pick up everyday vocabulary quickly: eat, drink, sleep, jump, say, talk, big, little, hot, cold, nice, good, bad, etc. Once you know these words, it’s easy to keep using them, no matter what level you attain. However, you should make it a priority to improve your vocabulary as you learn English.



The campus isn’t just beautiful — it’s spectacular! Breathtaking!

IMG_4745This tree (“The Old Senator”) is ancient, more than 600 years old! It’s also still flourishing — it hasn’t died yet!





The main building is colossal! It used to be a famous hotel in the 1860s.





Inside one of the buildings are some historical replicas. It’s forbidden to cross the black line and touch them, because they’re very valuable.




This is another enormous room. It used to be a ballroom.



Use the word in the text. What means the same thing?

  1. big
  2. impressive
  3. old
  4. growing
  5. not allowed
  6. big

Can you think of any other synonyms?

(all pictures are by WTCC instructor JL Newsome)


Who does the chores at your house?

Chores are work you do in your house.

For example, making the bed, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry are chores.

(Click on the blue for a picture.)

What about you?

(image via Wikipedia Commons)

(image via Wikipedia Commons)


Do you make the bed?

Do you like making the bed?





(image via Wikimedia Commons)

(image via Wikimedia Commons)



Do you rake the leaves?

Do you like raking the leaves?






(image by Matt Kingston)

(image by Matt Kingston)


Do you wash the dishes?

Do you like washing the dishes?





(image by BrokenSphere)

(image by BrokenSphere)



Do you do laundry (wash clothes)?

Do you like doing laundry?




There are many chores.

What chores do you like?   I like washing dishes.

What chores don’t you like?  I don’t like making the bed.