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?

Online Listening Practice for All Levels

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

Sometimes, students say to me, “Teacher, I learned grammar and writing in my country, but I never practiced listening and speaking. I don’t understand Americans. How can I practice more listening?” Of course, you can watch TV or listen to the radio. You can also sign up for Crossroads Cafe at your site. It is an excellent program for improving your English.

However, if you want more listening practice at home, I have several ideas for you!

For ALL Levels

These websites have lessons for all levels. You can choose the level that is right for you!

Talk English – This site has free listening courses for all levels. On the main page, they also have vocabulary and grammar lessons!

Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab – Scroll down for listening activities and quizzes. You can choose easy, medium, difficult, or very difficult listening activities.

Breaking News English – On this site, you can choose your level at the top of the page. Then you choose the story you want to read and hear. You can also choose the speed of the listening. You can listen to it very slowly or at normal speed.

VOA English News – Voice of America English News has short news stories that you can read and listen to. The site has three levels. On the site, “Level One” might be good for you if you are in a level 3 or 4 class at Wake Tech.

For Advanced Students

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Do you know what a podcast is? Imagine people on TV talking about a topic. Now turn off the picture so you are only listening to them. That is a podcast. It is an audio (listening only) recording of people talking about a topic. You can find podcasts about all kinds of topics. These podcasts are about English.

English Class 101 – Some episodes are for intermediate students, and some are for advanced students, but they are not organized so that you can choose your level. You can sign up for a free account on the website or listen on iTunes.

ESL Pod – This site offers some free lessons, and you can listen to episodes on iTunes, or you can pay for an account for more practice.

All Ears English – Two women talk about American English. You can find this free podcast on the website or on iTunes. You can also download a transcript (written version) of each episode if you want. Click here for the the transcripts.

American English Pronunciation – Listen for free on the website or on iTunes to learn about American English pronunciation rules.

The next two resources I want to show you are NOT made for ESL students. Many Americans enjoy listening to them because they talk about a wide variety of interesting topics. You might enjoy some of them as well!

How Stuff Works – This website is FULL of information on so many things! You can read articles and listen to podcasts about almost anything. You can find information about all of the podcasts here, and I will tell you about some of them as well. You can find all of them on iTunes.

  • Car Stuff – Two men talk about cars
  • Stuff of Genius – A podcast about some of the greatest inventions in the world
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class – History lessons you probably didn’t learn in school
  • Brain Stuff – Science in the world around us
  • Stuff You Should Know – A general information podcast with each episode focused on a different topic
  • Tech Stuff – A podcast about technology
  • Stuff Your Mom Never Told You – Two women talk about women’s issues

TED Talks – TED is a conference where people come to share ideas about technology (T), entertainment (E), and design (D), but people talk about almost everything. You can watch videos of the speeches from the conference online. Go to the website, and search for a topic you find interesting. You can even choose the duration (length) of the video. If you want to watch a short video, search for 0-6 minutes. If you want to watch a longer one, you can choose a different duration.

Health Problems – Part 2

Used with permission from NY (http://nyphotographic.com/) under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Used with permission from NY (http://nyphotographic.com/) under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

A couple of weeks ago, we started talking about health problems. This week, we’re going to learn some more vocabulary and practice some conversations. We will focus on accidents that children have. If your child has an accident, it is important to know how to talk to the doctor about it.

  • bump (v) – to hit, probably not hard (past = bumped)
    (n) – a raised area on the skin, probably where it was hit, especially on the head
  • whack (v) – to hit, probably hard (past = whacked)
  • cut (v) – to break or tear with something sharp (past = cut)
    (n) – a place where the skin is broken or torn and blood is coming out
  • scrape (v) – to rub (skin) against something rough or sharp (past = scraped)
    (n) – a place where the skin is red and irritated because it was rubbed against something rough
  • photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    bruise photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

    bruise (n) – a red, black, blue, and/or purple place on the skin caused by hitting it against something
    (v) – to create a red, black, blue, and/or purple place on the skin by hitting it against something (past = bruised)

  • bone (n) – a hard, white part of the body inside the skin; a piece of the skeleton
  • fall (v) – to go down from a high place accidentally (past = fell)
    (n) – an accident when someone goes down from a high place suddenly
  • burn (v) – to injure the skin by touching something very hot (past = burned)
    (n) – a place on the skin that hurts because it touched something very hot
  • scald (v) – to burn with a hot liquid (past = scalded)
  • choke (v) – to be unable to breathe because something is stuck in the throat/airway (past = choked)

Practice Conversations

In these conversations, a parent (mom or dad) is talking to a pediatrician (doctor for a child). They are talking about a child. Practice these conversations with a friend or classmate.

Doctor: How did he scrape his knee?
Parent: He was running outside, and he fell.
Doctor: Did he bump his head when he fell?
Parent: No, he didn’t.

Doctor: What happened to her face?
Parent: She fell and whacked her face on the coffee table. Do you think she’s okay?
Doctor: Yes, it just looks like a scrape.

Doctor: What happened?
Parent: Well, he touched a hot pot on the stove and burned his fingers. Then he fell backwards and bumped his head on the dishwasher. I turned around quickly to help him, and as I was turning, I hit the pot, it fell off the stove, and the water scalded both of us.
Doctor: Oh no! At least there weren’t any knives.
Parent: No, thank goodness.

Use the words above to write another conversation between a parent and a pediatrician.

Discussion Questions

Talk about your answers to these questions with your classmates.

  1. What is the most dangerous thing in your home for a child? What can you do to make it more safe?
  2. What can a parent do to childproof (make safe for a child) the different rooms of the home? (kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, laundry room, garage, yard)
  3. Do you have a first-aid kit at home? What is in it?
  4. Do you know the phone number for poison control? Why/When would you call poison control?
  5. How do you call an ambulance in your country? How do you call an ambulance in the United States?

For more information about emergencies and calling 9-1-1, read this post. It also has more discussion questions for you!



Health Problems: Part 1

When you are sick, can you explain your problems? This is important! When you go to the doctor, you must give correct information. This week, we will learn different ways to talk about common health problems.

Head Pain


By CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When you feel pain in your head, you can say:
– I have a headache. (Pronunciation: /hed-eik/)
– My head hurts.

A doctor might ask you:
– Did you hit your head?
– Did you bump your head?
(“Hit” and “bump” are the same.)

Stomach Pain/Discomfort

stomach ache

By CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are different kinds of stomach pain. If you eat too much junk food, you can say:
– My stomach is upset.
– I have an upset stomach.
– My stomach hurts.
– I feel sick.
– I have indigestion.

If you feel like you need to vomit, you can say:
– I’m nauseous.
– I feel nauseous.
– I feel queasy.
– I am queasy.
– I feel like I’m going to throw up.
– I’m going to be sick.
– I feel sick to my stomach.
(We have many ways to say “vomit” – throw up, puke, hurl. Ask your teacher for more words and expressions.)

If you have a strong pain in a specific place, you can point to the place and say:
– It hurts here.
– I have a strong pain here.
– I feel a sharp pain here.

A doctor might ask you:
– What have you eaten recently?
– When was the last time you ate?
– On a scale of 1-10, how much does it hurt? (If you have only a little pain, you say 1. If it is the worst pain of your life, you say 10.)
– Have you had any diarrhea? (Diarrhea is very watery – liquid – poop.)


We always say:
– a cold
– the flu

I don’t know why we always use “a” with cold and “the” with flu, but we do. Always. Usually, you have a fever with the flu. You probably do not have a fever with a cold. The other symptoms are similar.

This means that you have mucous in your head, nose, or lungs. If there is too much mucous in your sinuses, you might get a headache. If there is too much mucous in your nose, you will have trouble breathing. If there is too much mucous in your lungs, your chest feels tight. When the mucous comes out of your nose, we call it mucous or snot. When the mucous comes out of your lungs, we call it mucous or phlegm (pronunciation: /flem/).

You can say:
– I have sinus congestion. (In your head)
– I have chest congestion. (In your chest/lungs)
– My nose is stopped up.
– I have a stuffy nose.

Runny nose
When snot comes out of your nose like water, you have a runny nose. When you push snot out of your nose with air (into a tissue, usually), you are blowing your nose.

You can say:
– I have a runny nose.
– My nose is runny.
– My nose is running.

When your body wants to force mucous out of the lungs, you cough. You also cough when you are choking.

You can say:
– I have a cough.
– I’ve been coughing.

A doctor might ask you:
– When did you start feeling bad?
– What color is your mucous/snot/phlegm?
– Is your cough productive or dry? (Productive = mucous comes out. Dry = nothing comes out.)
– Have you had a fever?
– Are you feeling any chills (like you are cold)?
– Do you have any pain?
– Any nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?

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!

English Signs: Beginner Version

Every country has signs on the roads and in cities. Some are the same as in the U.S. Some are different.

It is important to know the signs around you.

Here are the names of the signs:

  1. Poison
  2. Ambulance
  3. Hospital
  4. Handicapped
  5. School Crossing
  6. Railroad Crossing
  7. Pedestrian Crossing
  8. Yield
  9. Do Not Enter
  10. No Trespassing

These are the signs:

1. poisonPOISON (image by SilsorIf you drink or eat POISON, you could die. 

2. ambulanceAMBULANCE (image by Pixabay)

3. hospital HOSPITAL (image by Govt. of Ontario)

4. handicappedHANDICAPPED (image by USDOT)

5. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SCHOOL CROSSING (image by BrokenSphereCrossing = intersection

6. railroadrailroadRAILROAD CROSSING (images by Frye1989 and Ian Britton

Railroad = train

7. pedestrianPEDESTRIAN CROSSING (image by Mark Buckawicki

                                   Pedestrian = a person who walks

8. yieldYIELD (image by Frye1989)  Yield = wait 

9. do not enter DO NOT ENTER (image by Fry1989)

10. tresspassing NO TRESPASSING (image by Rutebega

No trespassing = Do NOT enter. Do not go in. The place is not your place. 

You can practice some (not all) of the signs at this link. It is a test for drivers.

You can read more about signs at this link.

Enjoy . . . and be safe!

Preparing for an Emergency

Recently, we have had a lot of bad weather in Raleigh. It has snowed a lot. Some people lost power (electricity). When we lose power, we can’t use anything that needs electricity – no TV, no internet, no stove, no oven, and most importantly, no heat!

When you are home and can’t leave, what do you do? Do you watch TV? Do you cook? Do you talk with your family? Do you feel cabin-fever? Cabin-fever is a bad feeling you have when you are inside your house for a long time. Some people stay inside their houses for a long time and feel angry or sad because they can’t go outside. It’s not good!

Sometimes snow is a surprise. But sometimes we have a warning. When we have warning, we can prepare for emergencies.

Some things we can do to prepare for emergencies are:

  • buy food and water
  • get a flashlight and batteries (be careful with candles!)
  • get blankets and pillows

Here are two videos about preparing for bad storms. In the videos, they talk about an emergency kit. You put important things (first aid kit, band-aids, food, water, medicine, etc.) in your kit. Here is a list of things to put in a kit.

Both videos have more exercises you can do. Enjoy!

(more difficult) http://www.esl-lab.com/emergencykit/emergencykitrd1.htm

(easier) http://www.esl-lab.com/emergencykit/emergencykit-video.htm

(Notice in this video, the man uses “store” as a verb. “Store” means to put something in a special place so you can use it later.)

ERV-1 Students write about staying healthy!

February is American Heart Health Month
(used with permission from flickr via tanakawho)


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.  Most of us know someone who has had heart disease or stroke.  One in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke.  This is equal to 2,200 deaths per day!  Many people are unable to work or enjoy family activities because of their poor heart condition.

Cardiovascular disease is also very expensive.   In 2010, the  nation spent more than $444 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity because of heart disease and stroke.

February is American Heart Month.  The American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourage all of us to protect ourselves and our loved ones from heart disease and stroke by understanding the risk of poor heart health and  having a healthy lifestyle.

To prevent the nation’s leading killer and empower everyone to make heart-healthy choices, the CDC and other government organizations recommend that we take these steps:

  • Get up and get active by being physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Know your ABCS:Make your calories count by eating a heart-healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fat.
    • Ask your doctor if you should take an Aspirin every day.
    • Find out if you have high Blood pressure or Cholesterol, and if you do, get effective treatment.
    • If you Smoke, get help to quit.
  • Take control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.                – Center For Disease Control and Prevention

The ERV-1 students were given a writing assignment to explain what they do to stay healthy.  The students wrote fantastic response!!  After reading their short essays below, you will see that the ERV – 1 class is a healthy class!!  All of them live a very healthy lifestyle.   Keep up the great work ERV-1 students!!!


Essay # 1
(photo by dkirkland)


Essay # 2
(photo by dkirkland)


Essay #3
(photo by dkirkland)


Essay #4
(photo by dkirkland)

Heart disease and stroke affects all of our lives, but we can all play a role in ending it.

Prevention starts with everyone!!


cardiovascular  diseasedisease effecting the heart and the blood vessels

empowerto give ability to

lifestylea way if living

loved ones –  people who love and care about us and/or  people we love and care about

strokea sudden lack of oxygen to a part of the brain caused by the blocking or breaking of a blood vessel

For more information on February -American Heart Health or the CDC, visit:   http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/

Fall Colors in North Carolina

photo by dkirkland

photo by dkirkland

We are so lucky to live in North Carolina during the fall!  This is one of the prettiest seasons of the year!!  You can see the the vibrant autumn colors on the fall foliage from the mountains to the coast.  The changing of the leaves occurs at different times in the fall in different parts of our state.  The colors of the leaves in the Mountains will usually peak first, followed by the leaves in the Piedmont and then the leaves in the Coastal area.

Now until early November, the Mountain foliage will be the most vibrant.  Some trees on the highest parts of the mountains may have lost their leaves, but it is certainly worth a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy some the autumn colors.

For more information on the Blue Ridge parkway, visit:  http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/

The Piedmont section of our state includes Charlotte – Mecklenburg, the Triad (Winston-Salem, High Point and Greensboro)  and the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham andChapel Hill).  Charlotte is at 50% peak coloration and our area of Raleigh is at 25% peak coloration.  The Raleigh area should reach its peak fall foliage the week of November 12th. For a scenic look at our fall foliage, take a drive north on Six Forks Road to view the forest surrounding Falls Lake.  A great place to visit is  Blue Jay County Park.

For more information on Blue Jay County Park, visit:   http://www.wakegov.com/parks/bluejay/Pages/default.aspx

photo by dkirkland

photo by dkirkland

The Coastal areas are the last sections to develop peak coloration. That area should peak around the week of November 19th.

For more detailed information about the fall foliage in North Carolina, visit:  http://www.visitnc.com/journeys/articles/fall-color-l-fall-fishing/1/2012-fall-color-reports


foliage – leaves

peak – the highest or best point

vibrant – bright