Weather on the Mind

We’ve had some crazy weather in January.  If you want to  talk about the weather with others, use the blog for some activities that will help your with your vocabulary, speaking and listening skills.

Screen shot by M.Yanez


First, click on “Online Resources” on the top menu bar under the English Blog Header

Then  click on “Practice Sites”  – a page that has activities for MANY topics





 Finally scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the “Weather” heading   and then try some of the items there. 




If you like learning using  videos, click on “Fun Stuff” on the top menu bar. 

Then click on  “Great Video”s. 



Again scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the “Weather” heading. 

Ways to Say Goodbye

One of our ESL supervisors is leaving this week, so we are saying goodbye to him. We have many ways to say goodbye in English.

Formal Goodbyes

Waving Goodbye

By George Eastman House [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Goodbye. – Maybe you learned to say “goodbye” when you are leaving, but it is really very formal. Most Americans do not use it every day because Americans are generally more casual.

Farewell. – This is a VERY formal way to say goodbye. You will not hear it often, and you might never use it. It sounds like something people say in old movies.

Take care. – People often use this phrase at the end of an email. We sometimes say it in conversation when we think that we will not see the other person for a long time.

Have a good day! – This is very common. We use it in conversations and at the ends of emails. It is the most common of all the formal goodbyes. When someone says, “Have a good day,” you can respond with, “You too!”

Casual Goodbyes

See you later! – When you finish a face-to-face conversation, you can say, “See you later!”

Talk to you later. – When you finish a telephone conversation, you can say, “Talk to you later!”

Later! – When you finish a text message conversation, you can say, “Later!” You can also use this in response to “See/Talk to you later!”

Bye! – This is probably THE MOST COMMON way to say goodbye. It’s short, it’s easy, it’s casual – everything Americans want in a conversation. We use it on the phone, in person, and in text messages. We use it with friends, family members, coworkers, bosses, and clients. We often use it after some of the other expressions in the list.

  • Have a good day!
  • Thanks, you too!
  • See you later!
  • Ok, bye!
  • Bye!

Bye-bye! – Very young children say, “Bye-bye,” and adults say it to children. When adults use “bye-bye” with each other, it can sound strange. However, in the southern United States, you will hear adults use “bye-bye,” and it is fine.

Have a good one. – This is a very relaxed way to say goodbye. When you use this expression, you mean, “Have a good day,” or, “Have a good week.” Some people find this phrase annoying or silly. They think you should say “week” or “day” instead of “one.”

So long. – “So long” is an old way to say goodbye. Not many people use it now, but you may hear it or read it.

Slang Goodbyes

Catch you later! – This is a super relaxed way to say, “See/Talk to you later.” It is extremely casual and reminds me of a surfer.

Toodles! – This is a funny way to say goodbye. It sounds like something a woman might say, but probably not a man.

Peace!/Peace out! – These expressions come from 1980s/1990s hip-hop music culture. Some people say them now, but most people do not say them in a serious way. They sound old, like when your dad tries to use words that are cool, but he doesn’t sound cool.

See you later, alligator! – The correct response to this is, “After a while, crocodile!”

Goodbye Body Language

High five!

High Five By Ingorr ( [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Different cultures use their bodies differently to say hello and goodbye. Here are some ways Americans use their bodies to say goodbye (hello is similar).

  • We raise a hand to wave. This is common when you are far away or in motion. It is also common for people who don’t like to touch others.
  • We shake hands. This is a formal way to say hello and goodbye. We use it with people we don’t know well, and we use it in professional situations.
  • We high five. This is a very informal way to say goodbye. Young people high five more than older people. Older people might high five a child who does not want to give a hug.
  • We hug. Americans usually hug friends and family. Some Americans are comfortable hugging people they don’t know well, but usually only when they have some sort of connection. For example, if you introduce your boyfriend to your best friend, they might hug because YOU connect them. If you meet someone for the first time and feel like you have known the person forever, you might hug when you say goodbye because your conversation made you feel connected.
  • We kiss (but not much). Americans don’t kiss people they don’t know. We don’t kiss strangers on the hand, on the cheek, or on the mouth. We rarely kiss friends. We only kiss family and romantic partners.



Lessons on States

Here is a map of the United States of America. We are going to use this map for several different lessons. Find the lesson for your level, and let’s get started!

image by Wikimedia Commons user:Wapcaplet, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Levels 1 and 2 – Prepositions of Place

Next to” and “beside” are the same. They mean “on one side” or “to the side of.”

  • North Carolina is next to Tennessee.
  • North Carolina is beside Tennessee.
  • Tennessee is next to North Carolina.
  • Tennessee is beside North Carolina.
  • Illinois is next to Indiana.
  • Indiana is beside Illinois.
  • Colorado and Nevada are next to Utah.
  • Nevada and Arizona are beside California.

Between” means “in the middle” (side to side OR up and down).

  • Utah is between Colorado and Nevada.
  • North Carolina is between Virginia and South Carolina.
  • Iowa is between Missouri and Minnesota.

In” means “inside.” The states have borders (lines where one state stops and a different state starts). Cities are in states.

  • Raleigh is in North Carolina.
  • North Carolina is in the United States.
  • We live in the United States.
  • We live in North Carolina.
  • We live in Raleigh.

Practice with a partner. Person A will ask a question. Person B will answer the question. Take turns asking and answering.

  1. A: Where is Durham?
    B: Durham is in North Carolina.
  2. A: Where is Oklahoma?
    B: Oklahoma is next to Arkansas.
  3. A: Where is Montana?
    B: Montana is between Idaho and North Dakota.
  4. A: Where is New Jersey?
    B: New Jersey is beside Pennsylvania.
  5. A: Where is Hawaii?
    B: Hawaii is in the Pacific Ocean.
  6. A: Where is Alaska?
    B: Alaska is next to Canada.
  7. A: Where is Alabama?
    B: Alabama is between Georgia and Mississippi.
  8. A: What is next to Massachusetts?
    B: New York is next to Massachusetts.
  9. A: What is beside Missouri?
    B: Illinois and Kansas are next to Missouri.
  10. A: What is between New York and New Hampshire?
    B: Vermont is between New York and New Hampshire.

Talk with your classmates.

  1. Where do you live? (I live in __________.)
  2. Which state do you want to visit? Why?
  3. Do you like to travel? Why/Why not?

Levels 3 and 4 – Compass Directions

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

A compass shows the direction you are traveling. There are four main directions on a compass – north, south, east, and west. When we compare the locations of two places, we can use the compass directions and “of.” Here are some examples:

  • Virginia is north of North Carolina.
  • California is west of Nevada.
  • Texas is south of Oklahoma.
  • New Jersey is east of Pennsylvania.

In those examples, the states are touching, but they don’t have to touch. Look at some more examples:

  • California is west of North Carolina.
  • Florida is south of New York.
  • Minnesota is east of Washington.
  • South Dakota is north of Texas.

If you want to show clearly that the states are touching, you can use “just” with the compass direction.

  • Virginia is just north of North Carolina.
  • California is just west of Nevada.
  • Texas is just south of Oklahoma.
  • New Jersey is just east of Pennsylvania.

If a place is not exactly north, but not exactly east, we say it’s north-east. For example, Kentucky is north-west of North Carolina. Here are some more examples:

  • North Dakota is north-east of Wyoming.
  • Texas is just south-west of Arkansas.
  • New Mexico is just south-east of Utah.

Talk with a partner. Look at the map, and take turns asking and answering questions.

  1. What is just west of Georgia?
  2. What is east of North Carolina?
  3. What is just north of Florida?
  4. What is west of Oregon?
  5. What is just north-west of Missouri?

Now practice asking your own questions. Your partner will answer.

Levels 5 and 6 – Abbreviations and Internet Research

Study the easier lessons to make sure you understand. Then search the internet for the answers to these questions.

  1. Where is the Grand Canyon?
  2. Finish this sentence: Barstow, CA is ___________ miles ____________ of Wilmington, NC on I-40.
  3. Where was Abraham Lincoln born?
  4. Where are the Great Lakes? What are their names?
  5. Where is the biggest state? Where is the smallest state? (Don’t just say their names. Describe where they are.)

Every state has an abbreviation that is used for sending mail and writing the name of the state in a short way. Each abbreviation has two letters. We write them with capital letters and no periods. Here are all the state abbreviations.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

When we read a state’s abbreviation out loud, we usually say the full name of the state. For example, when I see “Portland, OR,” I will say, “Portland, Oregon,” NOT, “Portland, O-R.” This is especially important when you are talking about Louisiana. If you say, “L-A,” people might think that you are talking about Los Angeles, CA. Read these cities and states out loud to practice saying the full name of the state.

  1. New York, NY
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. New Orleans, LA
  5. Raleigh, NC
  6. Atlanta, GA
  7. Austin, TX
  8. Detroit, MI
  9. Chicago, IL
  10. Las Vegas, NV

Past Simple Song Lesson – The Fools Who Dream

Today we are going to learn some grammar with a song from the movie La La Land. Maybe you have seen the movie, or maybe you have heard about it. The main actress in the movie, Emma Stone, won an Oscar (Academy Award) for her performance. It is a beautiful movie with great music. In this scene, Emma Stone’s character, Mia, is telling a story about her aunt. Mia’s aunt was an actress, and Mia also wants to be an actress.

Here are some words that might be new for you. If you have questions about them, please ask your teacher.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Mia is telling a story about the past, so many of the verbs in this song are in the past tense. Here are the verbs, their past simple forms, and their meanings.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

One more thing before I give you the song:

You will hear the phrase “here’s to” many times. We use this phrase when we are celebrating. Imagine that someone is holding up a glass of champagne at a wedding. The person is celebrating the couple who got married, and they say, “Here’s to the happy couple!” It is a phrase for celebration.

Now, read the words to the song.

My aunt used to live in Paris. I remember, she used to come home and tell us these stories about being abroad, and I remember she told us that she jumped into the river once, barefoot. She smiled…

Leapt without looking
And tumbled into the Seine.
The water was freezing.
She spent a month sneezing,
But said she would do it again.

Here’s to the ones who dream,
Foolish as they may seem.
Here’s to the hearts that ache.
Here’s to the mess we make.

She captured a feeling,
A sky with no ceiling,
The sunset inside a frame.

She lived in her liquor
And died with a flicker.
I’ll always remember the flame.

Here’s to the ones who dream,
Foolish as they may seem.
Here’s to the hearts that ache.
Here’s to the mess we make.

She told me,
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see.
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us!”

So bring on the rebels,
The ripples from pebbles,
The painters, and poets, and plays.

And here’s to the fools who dream,
Crazy as they may seem.
Here’s to the hearts that break.
Here’s to the mess we make.

I trace it all back to then –
Her and the snow and the Seine.
Smiling through it,
She said she’d do it again.

Listen to the song, and read the words again.

Your Turn

Talk about the song with your classmates. Answer these questions in a small group. Remember, when the song talks about “dreaming,” it is not about sleep. In this case, dreams are the things that you want in life. Some people have simple dreams, and some people have BIG dreams. Some people want to live a simple, happy life, and some people want to change the world. These are the kinds of dreams we’re talking about.

  1. Do you have big dreams for your life? What are they?
  2. In some cultures, people are not encouraged to dream about their futures. What do you think about this? Do people in your culture dream about the future? Why/Why not?
  3. Do you think dreaming is foolish? Why/Why not?
  4. Think about a dream you have. Why do you have it? When did this dream start in your mind? Trace the dream back to its beginning.
  5. Do you think we need a little craziness in life? Why/Why not?
  6. Think of a person who inspires you. Tell us about him/her.
  7. What do you think about this song?
  8. Have you seen the movie? If so, did you like it? If not, would you like to see it? Why/Why not?


How Americans Speak – Sentence Rhythm

We have talked about shortened words. We have talked about sentence stress. This week, we are going to look at American speech rhythm. Every spoken language is like a song. Your language has a special sound, and it is different from the sound of English. The tones and rhythm of a language make its song, and learning these things in English is very important for communication.

Many students say that American people cannot understand them even though they are speaking English. Sometimes the problem is that you are saying English words, but you are still using the sound/song of your language. This confuses Americans. They think you are saying English words, but the sentences don’t sound like English.

The song of English is like a song for marching (walking like a soldier). It has strong, regular beats. We say content words on the strong beats, and we mumble (say quietly and not very clearly) the other words between the beats. If a content word has more than one syllable, we always stress one syllable more, and we put that syllable on the beat.

In this video, you can hear soldiers singing a marching song. They are clapping the beat, and you can hear them singing content words when they clap:

I want to (wanna) be an airborne ranger.
Live me a life of blood and danger.
Airborne ranger
Blood and danger

I want to (wanna) be a SCUBA diver.
Jump right in that muddy water.
Muddy water
SCUBA diver

1, 2, 3, 4
Run a little, run a little, run some more.

Here Is the Important Part

The beat stays strong and regular, and we say content words on the beat. Sometimes there is nothing between the beats. In a simple sentence where every word is a content word with one syllable, every word is spoken on the beat, and there is nothing in between.

Kim eats lunch.

Every word is a content word. Every word has one syllable. You can clap and say all of these words. Try it.

However, sometimes there are syllables between the beats.

Kim eats her lunch.

Kim is eating lunch.

Kim is eating her lunch.

Kim is eating her delicious lunch.

Try to say each sentence. Say the content words (or the stressed syllable of the content words) on the beat. Put the other words and syllables between the beats. Here is a slow beat for practice.

Ask your teacher for more practice! We will continue with our pronunciation lessons next week!

How Americans Speak – Sentence Stress

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

I have a 15- month-old baby. She is learning to speak, and she knows a lot of words, but she can’t speak in sentences yet. She says only the words she needs to communicate basic things. When she wants water, she says, “Water.” When she wants cheese, she says, “Cheese please.” When she is finished with something, she says, “All done!” In English, we call these kinds of words content words. Content words are necessary for communication.

Content words include:

  • main verbs – the verbs that show the action
  • nouns – people, places, things, ideas
  • adjectives – words that describe nouns
  • adverbs – words that describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs
  • negatives – no, not, never, nor, etc.
  • question words – who, what, where, when, why, how
  • interjections – Wow! No! Yay!

We also have function words – words that are necessary for grammar. Function words include:

  • articles – a/an/the
  • conjunctions – and, but, or, so, etc.
  • prepositions – of, to, from, in, etc.
  • pronouns – he, she, you, we, they, I, him, her, us, etc.
  • auxiliary verbs – have/has (in present perfect verbs), is/are/am (in present continuous verbs), modal verbs (would, could, should, can, might, must)

Function words are necessary for grammar to be correct, but without them, we can probably still understand the meaning of a sentence. Look at these words:


Imagine you are at a soccer game with a friend. Your friend’s brother is on one of the teams, but he is not playing in the game right now. It is very loud at the game, and you can’t understand every word your friend says. You only hear, “want brother play.” What is he saying?


You probably understood that because the content words made sense in this situation. Imagine the same words in a different situation. A 2-year-old child has a baby brother. The 2-year-old wants to play, but the baby is too little. He can’t play yet. The 2-year-old looks at his mother and says, “Want brother play!” This child is also saying, “I want my brother to play,” and we understand him because we know the situation, and it makes sense.

How is this related to MY pronunciation?

Americans pronounce content words louder and more clearly than function words. In the sentence, “I want my brother to play,” Americans will pronounce the content words (want/brother/play) very clearly, but the function words (I/my/to) will not be loud or clear.

In these sentences, the content words are in CAPITAL ITALIC letters. Try to read the sentences out loud. Say the content words loudly and clearly. Say the function words softly. You can cover your mouth when you say the function words if you want.

  1. I HAVE to GO to WORK.
  2. He TOLD me he would CALL.
  3. It’s NOT a GOOD IDEA.

Find the Content Words

Now let’s practice finding the content words. In these sentences, which words are content words? Which words are function words? Look at the lists above to help you decide.

  1. I told you not to do it.
  2. We’re going to the park.
  3. Raleigh is a great city.
  4. Hannah and her brother are playing outside.
  5. What would you like for dinner?

Here are the answers:

Sentence Content Words Function Words                                    
1 told, not, do I, you, to, it
2 going, park We’re, to, the
3 Raleigh, is, great, city a
4 Hannah, brother, playing, outside and, her, are
5 What, like, dinner would, you, for

Circle or highlight the content words. Read the sentences again, and put a strong emphasis on those words. Say the function words quietly and quickly.

Your Turn

Look in a book, magazine, or newspaper. Choose a few sentences to practice. Circle the content words. Then practice reading the sentences out loud. Pronounce the content words loudly and clearly. Pronounce the function words more quietly and less clearly. Ask your teacher if your pronunciation is correct.

How Americans Speak – Shortened Words

For ESL levels 4+

For the next couple of weeks, we are going to learn how Americans speak. Maybe you can read very well, but you cannot understand Americans when they speak. We speak quickly, and we do not pronounce all the sounds clearly. Sometimes we don’t pronounce things at all! This week, we are looking at how Americans make words and phrases shorter.

I am going to + verb

We use “going to” in 2 ways:

  1. going to + place – I am going to Target. I am going to New York.
  2. going to + verb – I am going to see him tomorrow. I am going to eat dinner.

When we use “going to” with a place, we don’t make it much shorter, but it is common for Americans to drop the final “g” on “going” (I’m goin’ to Target).

When we use “going to” with a verb, we can make it very short. You will hear all of these shortened forms of “I am going to”:

  • I’m going to (acceptable in speaking and writing)
  • I’m goin’ to (only for speaking)
  • I’m gonna (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)
  • I’m-n-a (only for speaking)
  • I’m-a (only for speaking)

Practice saying these sentences. Remember, the part in bold has the same meaning as “I am going to.”

  • I’m going to talk to her.
  • I’m goin’ to talk to her.
  • I’m gonna talk to her.
  • I’m-n-a talk to her.
  • I’m-a talk to her.

Now practice these:

  • I’m going to find it.
  • I’m goin’ to find it.
  • I’m gonna find it.
  • I’m-n-a find it.
  • I’m-a find it.

A general rule for English is that shorter sentences are more casual, and longer sentences are more formal. I can say, “I’m-a talk to her,” to my friends, but when I speak to my boss, I will use a longer pronunciation.

What do you

When speaking quickly, Americans will say, “Whadaya.” We do not pronounce the “t” at the end of “what,” and the vowels in “do” and “you” are very relaxed. This phrase is usually followed by a verb. We put a strong emphasis on that verb.

  • What do you do? => Whadaya DO?
  • What do you want? => Whadaya WANT?
  • What do you think? => Whadaya THINK?

(What/When/Who/How/Why/Where) did you

Americans push words together when they speak, and sometimes, we combine the ending sound from one word with the beginning sound from the next word. When one word ends in “d” and the next begins with “y” (like “did + you”), we say a “j” sound. “Did you” becomes “di-ju” or “di-ja.” There is no difference between “di-ju” and di-ja.” Some Americans say “di-ju” and some say “di-ja.” Some say both. They have the same meaning.

  • What did you say? => What di-ju say?
  • When did you go there? => When di-ja go there?
  • Who did you see? => Who di-ja see?
  • How did you get here? => How di-ju get here?
  • Why did you hit me? => Why di-ju hit me?
  • Where did you eat dinner? => Where di-ja eat dinner?

want to

You have probably learned this one already. In pronunciation, “want to” becomes “wanna.” You will see “wanna” in very informal writing, like Facebook or a text message, but it is not a real word. It is only a pronunciation. In speaking, it is also common for Americans to drop “Do you” at the beginning of a question with “want to.”

  • Do you want to see a movie on Friday? => Wanna see a movie on Friday?
  • Do you want to see a movie on Friday? => Do you wanna see a movie on Friday?

I do not know

“I don’t know” often changes to “I dunno” or “I-da-no” in pronunciation. You can use it alone in response to a question:

  • Who’s playing in the Super Bowl?
    – I dunno.

Or you can use it as the beginning of a sentence:

  • I dunno who’s playing in the Super Bowl.

have to/has to

Most Americans don’t use “must.” We say “have/has to” instead. In conversation, “have to” is pronounced “hafta,” and “has to” is pronounced “hasta.”

  • I have to go to work now. => I hafta go to work now.
  • She has to pick up her son. => She hasta pick up her son.

have got to/has got to

The meaning of “have/has got to” is the same as “have/has to” or “must.” In conversation, we make this phrase VERY short. Look at how it changes.

  • I have got to answer these emails. (acceptable in speaking and writing)
  • I’ve got to answer these emails. (acceptable in speaking and writing)
  • I’ve gotta answer these emails. (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)
  • I gotta answer these emails. (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)
  • Gotta answer these emails. (only for speaking and VERY informal writing like a text message or Facebook)

You will see “gonna,” “wanna,” and “gotta” in very informal writing, and you will hear them in conversation, but THEY ARE NOT REAL WORDS. Do not use them in writing for school or work.

should have/could have/would have/might have/must have

If you have not learned how to use perfect modals, you can ask your teacher. Basically, when we use a modal verb (should, could, would, might, must) with “have” and a past participle, we are putting the modal verb in the past. In pronunciation, Americans do not pronounce “have” very clearly. We just say “uh” or “a.”

  • should have => shoulda
  • could have => coulda
  • would have => woulda
  • might have => mighta
  • must have => musta

Practice saying these sentences. Use the shortened pronunciation:

  • I should have used sunscreen.
  • I could have met you at the park, but I didn’t know you were there.
  • I would have gone to the store, but I didn’t know what we needed.
  • I might have left the oven on.
  • She must have forgotten about the meeting.

Watch this video to hear many of these shortened phrases spoken by a native English speaker.

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.

Types of Families

Being Healthy is Beautiful by Army Medicine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Being Healthy is Beautiful by Army Medicine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week, we are going to continue talking about families. Last time, you learned about family relationships. This week, we are going to talk about types of families. There are six different types of families we can see in our society today.

Nuclear Families

A nuclear family is two adults with at least one child. When most people think about a family, this is the kind of family they imagine. However, there are different kinds of nuclear families. Some have many children while others have only one. Some have a mother and a father while others have two parents of the same gender. Some have biological children, and others have adopted children. These are all nuclear families.

Single-Parent Families

In a single-parent family, there is only one adult who is raising children. The other parent might not be there for many different reasons – death, divorce, etc. About 25% of American children are born to single mothers.

Blended Families (Step Families)

A blended family forms when one single parent marries another single parent. For example, Sharon and her husband have 2 kids, and then they get divorced. Michael and his wife have 3 kids, and then they get divorced. Sharon and Michael get married to each other, and now they have 5 kids – 2 from Sharon’s previous marriage, and 3 from Michael’s previous marriage. They have blended (mixed/put together) two families.

Grandparent Families

Sometimes, for various reasons, a child is raised by his grandparents instead of his parents. When grandparents are raising their grandchildren without help from the children’s parents, this is a grandparent family.

Childless Families

Not all families have children. Some couples choose not to have children, and some couples are not able to have children, but they are still a family.

Extended Families

An extended family might include one or two parents, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and/or cousins all living together. As grandparents get older, they might move in with their adult children and grandchildren. Or if a spouse (husband or wife) dies, another adult family member might move in to help with the children. There are many reasons why a family might live together in this way.

Your Turn

Write your answers to these questions, or talk about them with your classmates.

  1. What makes a family – blood or love?
  2. What are some of the reasons people choose to adopt a child?
  3. Should homosexual couples be allowed to adopt children? Why or why not?
  4. Are your grandparents still alive? Did you meet them?
  5. Which type of family do you have now? Which type did you have when you were a child?
  6. Would you live with your parents after getting married? Why or why not?
  7. Who should take care of old people? Why?
  8. Describe a typical family in your country.
  9. Do you think married couples should have children? Why or why not? What do you think of married couples who choose not to have children?
  10. Is it okay to have more than one spouse? Would you like to be in this kind of family (as a spouse or as a child)?

Academic Vocabulary – Difficult

This week, you will learn ten academic vocabulary words. Americans learn these words in school. You will see a word and then (n), (adj), or (v). If the word is a noun (thing), you will see (n). If the word is an adjective (describing word), you will see (adj). If the word is a verb (action), you will see (v). Then you will see the definition (meaning) of the word. Some words have more than one meaning. I will give you an example sentence with each definition.

If you are confused about a word, please ask your teacher to explain it. Your teacher can also give you more information about each word – plural forms of nouns, past forms of verbs, pronunciation, etc.

When you feel comfortable with a new word, try to use it in class or in a conversation outside of class. Practice two words each day until you are comfortable with all of them!

  • amaze (v) – to surprise or cause a strong impression / Noah amazed his parents when he started walking at only 8 months old.
  • arctic (adj) – very cold; related to the North Pole / Arctic weather in North Carolina is very unusual.
    (n) – the area around the North Pole (*Note: We always use “the” with this proper noun.) / American children believe that Santa Claus lives in the Arctic.
  • court (n) – a place where a judge listens to trials and makes decisions about the law; a large, flat area with markings for a game or sport; the home and advisors of a royal person / A member of the queen’s court had to go to court because of a fight on a basketball court.
  • elect (v) – to make a choice; to choose by voting / The American people recently elected a new president.
  • interval (n) – a period of time between events; the space between things / If you are expecting a baby, you should go to the hospital when there is about a 5-minute interval between your contractions.
  • league (n) – a group of sports teams that play against each other; a group of people that work together for a common purpose / The National Football League (NFL) is a group of professional football teams in the United States.
  • limit (v) – to prevent from going past a certain point (amount or distance) / The school board limits the number of children in each class to 30.
    (n) – a line or point that cannot be passed / The speed limit in a school zone is 25 miles per hour.
  • milestone (n) – an important event that shows growth, progress, or improvement; a rock that marks distance / Learning to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk are important milestones for babies.
  • recreation (n) – anything a person does to have fun or relax / The Department of Parks and Recreation offers all kinds of classes and sports for the enjoyment of the city’s residents.
  • tackle (v) – to grab, pull to the ground, or get in the way of a person to stop them; to start or try to do a (usually big) project / Football players tackle each other during the game, which gets their uniforms dirty, so when they go home, they have to tackle the laundry.
    (n) – the equipment required for a task or sport (usually fishing) / Dan keeps everything he needs for fishing in his tackle box.

Word Families

When you learn a new word, it is helpful to learn other words that are related to it. For example, “amaze” is a verb, but there are at least four other words we use that are related to it – amazement, amazed, amazing, and amazingly. If you know the meaning of “amaze,” you can guess the meanings of the related words. This chart will show you several words that are related to the words in the list.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Ask your teacher to show you how to use each one in a sentence.

Your Turn

Write answers to these questions or discuss them with your classmates:

  1. Has anything amazed you recently? What was it? Why did it amaze you?
  2. Have you ever lived in a place with arctic weather? Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Why?
  3. How many sports can you name that are played on a court?
  4. Do you think the United States elected a good president last week? Why/Why not?
  5. Many American families have a new baby about two years after the first baby is born. Do you think this is a good interval between children? Why/Why not?
  6. What is your favorite sports league? What is your favorite team in the league?
  7. Do you think it’s a good idea or a bad idea for families to limit the number of children they have? What do you think is the ideal family size?
  8. I remember the first time I understood a joke in another language. What do you think are some important milestones in language learning?
  9. What do you like to do for recreation?
  10. Think about a big project you want to tackle. What step can you take today to get started?