Just a Cold

I was sick this week but let me tell you about it using those pesky idioms or phrases that are so hard to understand!

First of all, I was fit as a fiddle (feeling healthy) on Sunday when I had friends over for dinner.  I did notice that I had a little frog in my throat (difficulty speaking because  throat feels dry) and I had to clear my throat several times (cough lightly to regain normal voice). I thought I was just laughing too much but it was the first symptoms of my cold.

On Monday, I woke up feeling under the weather (not feeling well). I had a hoarse voice  (raspy sounding) and a sore throat. I was definitely coming down with something  (the start of an illness) and it turned out that I caught a cold  (get a cold). I started coughing but it wasn’t too bad at first.

That night, the cough kept coming back and waking me up.  I woke up on Tuesday with a stuffy nose. I kept needing to blow my nose  (attempt to clear nose) all day and I started to sneeze too.

On Wednesday , I took a turn for the worse (get sicker) and by Thursday I was as sick as a dog (extremely unwell). I had a racking cough (a dry, frequent, violent, cough) that didn’t let me sleep and knocked me out (made extremely tired).

I kept trying all sorts of remedies, cough drops, cough syrup, hot teas with lemon and honey, aspirin, lots of fluids and of course Mom’s chicken soup. I ate quite a bit of spicy Chinese food in an attempt to feed a cold and stave a fever .Finally some maximum strength cough suppressant and sudafed turned the tide (made a change).

Finally, I’m on the road to recovery (feeling better) and soon I will be the picture of health (example of good health). 

I hope my cold helped you understand some of these health idioms a bit better.

Take care of yourselves… there is a bug going around (infection being passed)

Did You See that Super Bowl Commerical? Let Me Tell You About It.

All this past week, people have been talking about the Super Bowl. Some people talked about the football game and some about the Katy Perry’s half-time show. Others talked about the commercials (the ads). Since sooooo many people watch the Super Bowl, companies spend a lot of money to make a commercial that people will remember and want to talk about. Some commercials are like a little story and often people “tell” their friends who haven’t seen the ad the whole story.

Retelling a story that you have read, a TV show or just an commercial you have seen is a great way to practice your English.

Let’s look at a series of commercials that Budweiser ( an American company that makes beer) has made for different Super Bowls. In each of the ads, we see Clydesdales, a special breed of horse that Budweiser uses as a symbol for their company. Clydesdales are strong, beautiful, intelligent horses with white shaggy hair on their lower legs.

The first commercial for Super Bowl 2013 is called “Brotherhood”. It’s about a man who raises Clydesdales for Budweiser. “Raise” means to bring up a child or animal from babyhood to adulthood. As you watch, think about what happens in this commercial. What is the man feeling? What is the horse feeling?

Now …. let’s “retell” the story.

We first see a barn and inside a man caring for a baby horse (called a foal). The mother is missing and it’s the man that feeds the foal with a bottle . The foal follows the man around, surprises and plays with him. The man is always caring for the foal and watching after him.

When the horse is sick, the man calls a vet (an animal doctor) and stays with the animal all night long until he is better. The foal grows into a colt (think “teenage” horse) and gets bigger and faster but he always follows the man. Finally he is an adult horse  and a Budweiser truck comes to get him. The man is sad and misses him.

Three years later, the Clydesdales are visiting Chicago and the man travels to the city to see them in a parade. He waits excitedly and recognizes his horse right away. We see his pride in his horse and maybe a bit of sadness at losing him. At the end of the parade, he gets ready to drive back home.

But guess what? The horse also recognized him and remembered him. As soon as he can, he gets away and races back to the man. The man is shocked and pleased that the horse has come back to him. He hugs him full of emotion. Awwwww … what a nice story.

Now watch the commercial Budweiser made for Super Bowl 2014 called “Best Buds” about a friendship between a curious puppy and a Clydesdale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQB7QRyF4p4

Can you “retell” the story in this commercial? Maybe answering these sentences can help.

  1. A woman raises ________ for adoption.
  2. One puppy ____________ under a fence and _________ a horse next door.
  3. The __________ and puppy become friends.
  4. The horse man brings back the ________ to the _____________.
  5. The puppy _____________ again and again.
  6. Another man comes and ___________ the puppy.
  7. The puppy ____________ want to go. He _______ and then the horse _______.
  8. The horse and his friends ____________________ to rescue the puppy.
  9. The man with the sunglasses  is ____________________  when he sees ______________.
  10. The puppy and the horses____________________.
  11. The man who raises the horses decides_____________________________.

Here is the latest 2015 commercial called “Lost Dog”.  That curious puppy gets into trouble. Will his friends help him?   Enjoy watching it and then PLEASE retell this story to your family and friends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsjRRMMg_Q

New Year and New Apps to learn from

Welcome back everyone! I hope you had a great break.  It’s the start of a new year – 2015 and a new semester at Wake Tech.

Many of us start a new year by making “resolutions” – usually self improvement goals that we want to meet ( like losing weight ).  Did you make one about improving your English? maybe speaking more English?  Using these apps on your phone or IPad may help you to make your resolution a reality.

Otterwave Screen Capture by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Otterwave Screen Capture by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

English Pronunciation – Otterwave uses “speech recognition software”to help you with your pronunciation. Huh? What does that mean?

  •   First you select a common  sentence from different topics ( like a telephone conversation or a travel situation). You listen to the sentence being spoken.
Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

  • Next, you use your phone or IPad microphone to record the same sentence
  • Right away, the app compares how your speech to the sample. It compares how you pronounced the words and the timing of your speech. Often students can pronounce words but have trouble linking sounds together or getting the rhythm  of English. This gives you a visual comparison using sound waves of any part of the sentence.
Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

  • You can repeat and practice your pronunciation as much as you would like.

Another app that you can use to improve your English is ” Help with Words and Sentences” by KKR Software. It’s focus is on words (spelling, meaning ) and  sentences (structure and comprehension) .

You can choose 7 levels of difficulty. If you choose to work with words, you can pick exercises to help you spell and recognize words.

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

If you chose to work with sentences, you will need to supply missing words, structure the words for a correct sentence, and check if you understood the sentence’s meaning.

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Try using these apps and improve your English ( and maybe complete your resolution for this year).

GCF – A source of learning

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

GCF Learn Free website is a fantastic source of information on computers, English, daily activities and so many other things. It has interactive lessons, interesting videos and fun ways to learn a subject.

Its section on Learning English has programs in different languages (Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese and  Korean). It also has wonderful  grammar lessons  that help us with contractions,  run-on sentences  or fragments  and reading activities to help us with comprehension and sounds
Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

But GCF can teach us English while teaching us other skills we need in America

It also has a wide range of Technology lessons

Everything is FREE!  – Check it out now and learn something new today

 

Playlists – Not Just For Music

YouTube is a wonderful website and service.  Anyone can share videos on YouTube and people are sooooo creative. There  are many music videos, funny videos, travel  videos and especially “how -to” videos.  People like to share their knowledge and show you how to do many things from plucking your eyebrows to building a car engine.  Lucky for us, many people including teachers, share ways to learn about English.  Sometimes they may post a video or two but some post many videos and group the videos on “playlists“.  You can use these playlists to learn specific parts of English.  Here are some excellent playlists.

 

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Jennifer Recio Lebedev, creator of “English with Jennifer” has lots of playlists that help both beginners  “Lessons for Beginners”  and advanced learners “Advanced English“.

Try these to help you with pronunciation

…. and these for grammar

……. and this one for vocabulary  “English Vocabulary Lessons

 

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Rachel’s English is another excellent source of playlists.  Rachel’s playlists  are focused on pronunciation and the speaking rhythms and patterns of American English.

Here are just a few that could help you with specific sounds or patterns

 

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

BBC Learning English  has some great playlists on several subjects including idioms

 

 

 

What are your favorite English videos or?  Tell us and maybe we can create a playlist of our own with them

Ventures Arcarde

In our Wake Tech classes, Ventures textbooks are a common sight. We use them from our Level 1 class to our Level 6 class and both teachers and students like them.  Did you know you can continue to use Ventures at home?  There is a free Ventures Arcade site that matches the level of textbook that you are using in your class and gives you more exercises and games to practice what you learn.

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

 

Along the top, just pick the book level you want. Then roll your mouse over the chapter unit you want to practice and select the lesson.  Many of the exercises have audio to let you hear your new vocabulary words or grammar phrases

 

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Remember that the more you practice English, the faster your English will improve.  You can visit the Textbook Resources page to find other online textbook resources. Even if you are not using the textbooks, the  arcades are  still great ways to practice a subject area.

Want to Play a Game?

Sometimes an English book can help you learn a tricky grammar point or help you learn new words . Now imagine you can do the same with a fun game. Which would you choose to learn with?   I think I know the answer….. let’s play!

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Mark’s English School  (MES) Games    is a great site for grammar, vocabulary and phonics games.

You can play basketball and practice prepositions, comparatives and verb tenses at the same time.

Have a game of golf and pick the correct simple present  or present perfect tense.

Then use memory games or shoot a target to practice new vocabulary or phonic sounds.

Many of the games have a “review section” that you can choose before the game to help you master the subject.

 

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

Photo by WTCC Instructor M.Yanez

 

 

 

Try these games out and then go to the “Games, Games, Games” page to find more fun ways to learn English

Use Songs to Practice Listening / Speaking Skills

Songs are a great way to practice English listening skills. You can pick any song, listen to it several times (while you work, clean the house, drive ). Then take  some time, sit down and try to write out the words. Then use the internet to look up the lyrics – check what you heard.

There are some sites that are already set up with lots of songs and have exercises for students to use with them.  Let’s look at these two

Photo of Lyricsgaps sample video (taken by M.Yanez)

Photo of Lyricsgaps sample video (taken by M.Yanez)

  1. Lyricsgap –  This site had MANY videos. As you listen you can fill in the missing words in the song lyrics. There are multiple levels from easy to hard.  I like the song “Someone that I Used to Know”  that I found by  searching  on the Artist ” Goyte .   You can choose multiple game modes on the same video from beginner to expert and even a quiz on it too.

    ESOLCourses Sample (Photo by M.Yanez)

    ESOLCourses Sample (Photo by M.Yanez)

  2. ESOL Course    – Here again there are videos you can choose from but sometimes the exercises will ask you questions about the song, r have you fill in missing words.  One of my favorite songs ” I will Always Love You”  was on the site ….maybe you will find a song that you’ve heard on the radio but never really listened to the words. Now is your chance to learn them.

 

Besides these sites, the Song page on the English Language Blog has more information on how you can use songs to help your learn English.

Check it out!

Improve Your Listening Skills

The ear - our listening tool. Photo by M.Yanez

The ear – our listening tool. Photo by M.Yanez

Almost every student I teach tells me they want to “understand” what people are saying to them. One key thing we start to teach is vocabulary, the words, they need to know for different scenarios.  But even when students know the words, they have trouble understanding them outside of the classroom.  People in real life conversations have different accents, speech rhythms and usually speak faster.

Students need to practice their listening skills and treat it like any sport skill they want to learn – practice, practice, practice in as many different ways as possible.

Today, let’s learn about 2 excellent free sites to help you listen better.

 

1. Randall’s Listening Lab

Main Index by Level Screen Capture by M.Yanez

Main Index by Level
Screen Capture by M.Yanez

This site has HUNDREDS of short audio recordings for different life dialogs.  There are three different level categories, easy, medium and difficult. Even the easy ones give you a “listening work out”.

For each audio, you can

  • listen to all or part of the recording as many times as you want.
  • answer questions on what you heard – checking if you understood
  • Read the entire dialog by clicking “quiz script”
  • Review vocabulary and grammar that were in the audio

Try the first one, “Answering Machine” – a situation students often have problems with.  Be sure to do the exercises. Write a comment on how well you did.

 

2. Real English

 Lesson Index - Screen Capture by M.Yanez

Lesson Index – Screen Capture by M.Yanez

Students sometimes tell me, “I understand YOU teacher, but not other people”.  This site helps you listen to REAL people right off the streets of cities around the world. The dialogs are not a script but the real way people answer questions. They have accents, use idioms and slang,

This site has videos from the Beginning level to Advanced. Most videos are shown in 2 ways: one with the conversation words displayed (captioned), the other without.  Some videos have exercises to check if you understood what they said.

It has also customized its video for mobile devices like your phone or tablet. Click here, “Real English Mobile”  for that version

Try this pre intermediate video – “What do you do for fun?” – something we like to talk about to new friends. Write a comment telling me what you do for fun and if you liked this video

 

Both these sites are in the quick links on the left sidebar and also on the new “Listening Skill Tips” page. The page will have more sites to help you with your listening skills.