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!

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

Health Problems – Part 2

Used with permission from NY ( under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Used with permission from NY ( 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!



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

Listening Practice for Intermediate & Advanced Students

(photo by "Credit-cards" by Lotus Head)

(photo by “Credit-cards” by Lotus Head)

Are you ever nervous when you have to talk on the telephone? It is one of the most difficult things to do in another language. Most communication in the real world is non-verbal, so when we talk on the phone, we have to rely only on words. This is difficult when English is not our first language!

Today, let’s practice listening to a telephone conversation. This is from a video by English with Elizabeth. In it, you can listen to a conversation about an incorrect charge on a credit card.

As you listen to the conversation, try to discover the reason Mariam is upset.

Listen carefully to the dialogue.


Do you know why she is upset?

Listen again, and fill in the blanks:

Customer Service: Hello, Visa Card services. Can I help you?

Mariam: Yes, I need to talk to someone about a _________ on my card.

Customer Service: Ok, I can help you with that. I need your _________and ____________ number.

Mariam: My name is Mariam Jones. My account number is _____________ _______ 5555

Customer Service: And for verification purposes, Mariam, could you please tell me the last four digits of your social security number?

Mariam: _____

Customer Service: Thank you. How can I help you today?

Mariam: There is a charge for $_______ dollars on my statement that I didn’t _______.

Customer Service: I see. I can help you with that. What’s the date of the ________________?

Mariam: It was made on January __________. The store is Acme Supermarket.

Customer Service: And you did not _________ at Acme that day?

Mariam: No, I didn’t.

Customer Service: Ok. I’m going to put your card on _________, and you will not be ___________ for the charge of $150. We’ll be sending you a new card in the _________. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Mariam: How long will it take for me to get my new card?

Customer Service: Um, a week to 10 days.

Mariam: Ok, ______ _____ then thank you.

Customer Service: You’re welcome. Have a nice day.


We hope you never have to call about an incorrect charge on your credit card, but if you do, now you know what vocabulary you can use when you talk on the phone in English!

Vocabulary for Fall

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2013)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2013)

It’s fall! Fall (or Autumn) officially began on September 23, at the Autumnal Equinox. Now, the rain is over (we hope) and we can expect beautiful October days. The weather in the fall is cool, not hot, not cold.

What do you do in the fall? There are many fall activities you can participate in. Let’s look at some of them.

#1. Look at leaves. (Leaf –> leaves, not leafs) Leaves change color in fall. Many people like to look at the leaves. Some people collect them in a book.

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2014)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2014)

#2: Eat apples. Fall is the best season for apples. The best apples are at the Farmers Market. Try apple pie, apple cake, or apple butter.

#3: Go to the State Fair. You can eat a lot of new (but unhealthy) food. Try a funnel cake. Enjoy the rides at the Midway (the place where the games and rides are).

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)

Funnel cake (photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)







Pumpkins (photo by WT instructor JLN, 2014)

Pumpkins (photo by WT instructor JLN, 2014)

#4: Buy a pumpkin. Many people cut faces into pumpkins. Other people put a regular pumpkin on their porch.


(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)






#5: Go to the mountains. It takes about 3 hours to drive to the mountains of North Carolina. October is the best month to see beautiful colors.

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2013)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2013)

#7: Go camping. Many people enjoy sleeping in a tent outside in the fall. You can make a campfire and stay warm!

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)

(photo by WT instructor JLN, 2012)






#8: Have fun! Fall is a wonderful season for crafts with your children. Enjoy the season . . . it will be cold soon!

Your Turn! Fill in the blank.

  1. Fall is a nice ________________.
  2. ____________ change color in the fall.
  3. A _______________ is a sweet food you can eat at the State Fair.
  4. The rides and games at the Fair are at the ____________.
  5. ______________ are orange and round.
  6. You sleep in a _______ when you go camping.
  7. A ______ is something you make by hand.

A little more . . .

What do you like about the fall? What activities do you do?

Practical Writing Tips

(image by David Vignoni)

(image by David Vignoni)

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

-Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839



Do you have to write sentences or paragraphs in class?

Does your teacher return your paper with red (or green, or blue) corrections on it?

Here are 8 tips to help you write better and see less corrective ink!

1. Think before you write.

Great writers don’t immediately put a pen to paper as soon as the teacher tells them to create something. Everyone needs time to think about what to write. Think about your purpose for writing, your audience, and your topic. What do you want to say? How do you want to say it?

2. Believe in what you write.

When you don’t want to write, you don’t enjoy it. Find a topic you are interested in. Practice writing will make you into a better writer. When you don’t care about the topic, you won’t put in your best work.

3. Ask for “sentence frames” if you need them.

Many teachers help their students by giving them “sentence frames”: half-completed sentences that the student finishes.

Here is an example:

When I was a child, I lived in ____________ with _____________. My favorite activity was _________________. Every year my family and I would ___________. Now I live in __________ with ______________. I enjoy _____________. Life is very different now!

4. For better vocabulary, read, read, read.

Reading often helps you absorb more vocabulary. You need a book on your level, where you you can understand 80-85% of it. If you have to look up a word in every sentence, the text is too hard. Aim for 2 or 3 unknown words per page.

5. Check for flow.

After you write, read it again. Make sure all of your ideas make sense and are connected. Use transition words like “first,” “next,” “then,” “finally,” to help your reader understand the order of events.

6. Check subject-verb agreement and verb tenses.

Make sure your subject and verbs are correct. “She was happy” is correct. “She were happy” is not correct. Verb tenses are important, too. Use past tense verbs in the past and present tense verbs in the present.

(Image by Revital9)

(Image by Revital9).  

7. Check capital letters and punctuation.

Start every sentence with a capital letter. Write “I,” names of people, cities, states, countries, days, and months with a capital letter, too. End every sentence with a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation mark (!).

8. Edit as necessary.

All writers edit their work. Writing is a work in progress. Editing helps you learn from your mistakes and become a better writer. Enjoy the process!