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?

Telling the Date

For all ESL levels

Americans write and say dates differently from people in other countries. Do you know how to write and say dates correctly?

How to Write the Date

Americans always give the month first, the day second, and the year last. There are several different ways we can write it.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • March 27, 2016
  • March 27th, 2016
  • 03/27/2016 or 03-27-2016
  • 3/27/16 or 3-27-16

You can use a slash (/) or a hyphen (-) between the numbers. There is no difference. When you write the name of the month, you must use a comma (,) after the date.

Sometimes, you will see instructions for writing the date that look like this:


The M means month, the D means day, and the Y means year. If a website or form asks for a date like this, you should use two numbers for the month (01, 09, 11, etc.), two numbers for the date (07, 10, 29, etc.), and four numbers for the year (1982, 2016, etc.).

Sometimes the instructions look like this:


Do you see the difference? In this case, you only use the LAST two numbers of the year – 82 (not 1982) or 16 (not 2016).

When you write the date in _ _ / _ _ / _ _ _ _ format, it is VERY important that you write the MONTH first and the DAY second.

How to Say the Date

Americans usually do not write “st,” “nd,” “rd,” or “th” (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) on the date, but we ALWAYS say it. If you write, “3/27/2016,” you say, “March twenty-seventh, twenty-sixteen” (you can also say, “two thousand-sixteen”). Here is how we write and pronounce all the dates.

**We only add -st, -nd, -rd, and -th to the pronunciation of numbers in dates.**

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  1. first
  2. second
  3. third
  4. fourth
  5. fifth
  6. sixth
  7. seventh
  8. eighth
  9. ninth
  10. tenth
  11. eleventh
  12. twelfth
  13. thirteenth
  14. fourteenth
  15. fifteenth
  16. sixteenth
  17. seventeenth
  18. eighteenth
  19. nineteenth
  20. twentieth
  21. twenty-first
  22. twenty-second
  23. twenty-third
  24. twenty-fourth
  25. twenty-fifth
  26. twenty-sixth
  27. twenty-seventh
  28. twenty-eighth
  29. twenty-ninth
  30. thirtieth
  31. thirty-first

When we say years, we usually say the first two numbers together and the last two numbers together. If the year is 1982, we say the first two numbers – nineteen – and the last two numbers – eighty-two.

  • 1980 – nineteen eighty
  • 1776 – seventeen seventy-six
  • 1430 – fourteen thirty
  • 2016 – twenty sixteen

If there are zeros in the middle of the year (2002), the rules change a little. Here is how we say 2000 years:

  • 2000 – two thousand
  • 2001 – two thousand one
  • 2002 – two thousand two

Here is how we say other years:

  • 1903 – nineteen oh three
  • 1409 – fourteen oh nine
  • 1207 – twelve oh seven
  • 1804 – eighteen oh four

Your Turn

Write and say the answers to these questions (search the internet or ask your teacher if you don’t know):

  1. When were you born?
  2. When did the United States become an independent country?
  3. When did Princess Diana die?
  4. When was Barack Obama born?
  5. When is Thanksgiving this year?
  6. When will Americans elect the next president?
  7. When is the last day of your class?
  8. What is today’s date?
  9. What is an important date in your life (wedding, birth of a child, when you moved to the U.S., etc.)?
  10. When was the last time you took a vacation?

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)


(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.)

How to Read a Recipe When You Cook

Do you like to cook? What kind of food do you cook?

Lima Beans (photo by Albert Cahalan, 2005).

Lima Beans (photo by Albert Cahalan, 2005).

Today, we’re going to look at recipes. A recipe is a set of instructions for making food. There are 3 parts to a recipe: the title, the ingredients, and the instructions or directions. Let’s look at an example.

Lima Bean Recipe (from “Cooking Across the South” [Oxmoor House, 1980] photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome, 2015)


Parts of a Recipe

You can see the title is “Fresh Lima Beans.”

There are 4 ingredients. There are 5 steps to the recipe: wash, cook, drain, add, heat.

At the end of the recipe you see “Yield: 6 to 8 servings.” Yield is how much food the recipe produces. (Yes, “yield’ also means “to give way” like yielding to another car on the road, but that’s a different definition!) Here, this recipe produces enough food for 6, 7, or 8 people.

Measurement Abbreviations 

In the United States, we use a different measurement system than in other countries. Most countries use the metric system. To convert metric to U.S. or vice versa without using math, you can use a website like this one. The metric system uses meters, kilometers, grams, and liters. The U.S. system uses yards, miles, ounces, and gallons. (There are more, too!)

In the kitchen, we usually use cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons.

Tablespoons and Teaspoons (photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

Cup (photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

Cup (photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome)

A tablespoon (T. or Tbsp.) is 15 mL.

A teaspoon (t. or tsp.) is 5 mL.

1/2 a teaspoon is 2 mL.

1/4 teaspoon is 1 mL.

We usually abbreviate “cup” with a “c.”

Reading a Recipe

Recipes use the imperative tense: regular verbs with no changes. Each sentence usually starts with a verb.

Let’s practice! Look at the following recipe. In the comment section, please answer these questions:

Fried Chicken Recipe (from "Cooking Across the South," OxMoor Press, 1980) Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome, 2015

Fried Chicken Recipe (from “Cooking Across the South,” OxMoor Press, 1980) Photo by WT Instructor Jaimie Newsome, 2015

1) What is the title of the recipe?

2) How many ingredients are there?

3) How many steps are there?

4) How many people can eat the food?



Money Money Money

Last week we talked about New Year’s Resolutions. In January, many people decide to pay off debt for the year. Let’s talk about money!

How many bills are there? 

IMG_2209 IMG_2210

photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome

photos by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome

In the United States, we use dollar bills (paper money) and coins (metal money). There are seven bills: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Two dollar bills are not very common. In the past, there were bills for $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and $100,000, but we don’t use them now.

We say $1.00 (one dollar) for one.

We say $2.00 (two dollars) for two, $3.00 (three dollars) for three, etc.

How many coins are there?

There are seven coins: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1 (Susan B. Anthony), and $1 (Golden Dollar, Sacajawea).

photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome

Quarter, dime, nickel, penny (photo by WT instructor Jaimie Newsome)

We say 1¢ (one cent) for one.

We say 2¢ (two cents) for two, 3¢ (three cents) for three, etc.

Every coin has a name. Do you know the names?

  • 1 cent = 1 penny
  • 5 cents = 1 nickel
  • 10 cents = 1 dime
  • 25 cents = 1 quarter
  • 50 cents = 1 half-dollar
  • $1 (Susan B. Anthony) = 1 silver dollar
  • $1 (Sacajawea) = 1 golden dollar

The most common coins are pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

How do you say cost? 

If there are no cents, you only say the number.

$5.00 = five dollars

$150.00 = one hundred (and) fifty dollars

If there are dollars AND cents, you have two options.


  • Option 1: five dollars (and) ninety-nine cents
  • Option 2: five ninety nine


  • Option 1: twenty-nine dollars (and) fifty cents
  • Option 2: twenty-nine fifty

PRACTICE! Write the numbers:

  1. nine hundred dollars
  2. eight forty seven
  3. twelve eleven
  4. one dollar and eighty-two cents
  5. eighteen dollars and eighty cents
  6. three hundred twenty-nine dollars and twelve cents
  7. four fifty
  8. one dime
  9. one quarter
  10. one nickel

How to Say “Thank you”

Photo by instructor Jaimie Newsome (image from Target card)

Photo by instructor Jaimie Newsome (image from Target card)

Thank you! You hear these two words every day.

You say thank you for many things:

  • After someone does something nice for you
  • After someone compliments you (compliment = say something nice, for example, “You’re beautiful,” “You speak English very well,” etc.)
  • After you get your food in a restaurant
  • After someone opens the door for you
  • After class

Sometimes we say thank you in person.

Sometimes we say thank you on the phone.

Sometimes we say thank you in a text message.

Sometimes we say thank you in a card or a letter.

“Thank you” is one of the most important expressions to use in any language. Saying “thank you” shows that you are grateful (thankful) and appreciate what happened.

There are different ways to say thank you:

Photo by Jaimie Newsome (image from Target card)

Photo by Jaimie Newsome (image from Target card)

  1. Thank you. The old stand-by. You can use it at almost any occasion.
  2. Thank you very much. / Thank you so much. / Thanks a lot. Three ways to be a little more emphatic.
  3. Thanks. A little more casual.
  4. I appreciate it. You use this after someone does you a favor.

Usually, when someone says “thank you” to you, you respond, “You’re welcome.” Here are some other options:


  1. No problem.
  2. Don’t mention it.
  3. Sure
  4. No worries.
  5. Anytime.


  1. My pleasure.
  2. I’m happy to help.
  3. Not at all.
  4. It was nothing.
  5. Of course.

It’s also important to recognize when you should respond “you’re welcome” and when to repeat “thank you.”

If one person serves and one person receives, the correct conversation is:

-Thank you.

-You’re welcome.


Photo by Jaimie Newsome (image from Target card)

Photo by Jaimie Newsome (image from Target card)

But if both people benefit, both people say thank you.

For example, you buy food at the supermarket. You give your money to the cashier. The cashier says, “Thank you” because you give her money. You say, “thank you” because she gives you your food.

Remember, “you’re welcome” acknowledges that you did something to deserve recognition. If you benefit as well, it’s OK to repeat, “thank you.”

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. It’s a day to say, “Thank you!” Let’s say, “Thank you!” for all the good things in our lives!


What do you do?

What do you do? This is a question you hear a lot. It doesn’t mean “What are you doing now?” It means, “What is your job?”

The three questions below are very important. You hear them in conversation, and at job interviews.

What do you do?

  • This question asks about your current job / occupation.
  • The answer usually starts with ” I am ________.”
  • For example, “I am a teacher.”
  • ***REMEMBER!*** We use “a” or “an” with all job titles: I am a welder, I am a construction worker, I am an accountant, etc.

What did you do before ?

  • In a job interview, this question asks about your past jobs.
  • The answer usually starts with ” I was a ________”  or “ I worked as a _____” (Notice the past tense in both the question and answer.)
  • For example, “I was a waitress.” “I worked as a programmer and a tutor.”

What can you do?

  • This question asks about your skills. These can be skills that you got from a previous job or skills that you have now that can be used for future jobs.
  • The answer usually starts with “ I can _____.” Use a verb (action) after “can.”
  • For example, “I can answer phones, type and work with customers.”

This video also uses the “What do you do” question…

COMMENT: What do you do? (What’s your job?) What did you do in your native country? What can you do?

Level 3/4 Presentations

Last week, Angela’s level 3/4 students prepared presentations about something interesting in their countries. They chose a city or popular tourist attraction and did a 5-minute presentation about it in front of the class. They did a wonderful job!

Photo by instructor A. Thompson

Photo by instructor A. Thompson

Photo by instructor A. Thompson

Photo by instructor A. Thompson

Tips for Giving a Presentation

If you have to give a presentation in class, here are a few suggestions to help you.

  1. Prepare your speech – Some students are comfortable talking in front of the class without much preparation, but most students need to think hard about what they will say. Write down your speech, and check your grammar.
  2. Do not copy from the internet – It’s easy to find lots of great information online, and many students think, “This English is perfect. I can’t write better than this. I’ll just copy it.” However, in American culture, this is very bad. For Americans, original words and ideas are VERY important. If you copy from the internet, you must say that you found the information online and give the name of the website. Also, your teacher wants to see your English skills, not the internet’s English skills. It is always better to write your own original words.
  3. Get comfortable with your speech – Practice your speech a lot so that you don’t have to look at your notes all the time. When you are giving a presentation, you should look at your audience (class), not your paper. You can hold your paper in case you forget, but you shouldn’t read from it the whole time.
  4. Practice in the mirror – Stand in front of a mirror, and practice your whole speech. Make sure you are looking at yourself in the mirror more than looking down at your notes.
  5. Practice with another person – When you practice alone, you know what you are saying, but your pronunciation might not be clear to other people. When you practice with another person (a classmate, friend, or family member), the other person can tell you when your pronunciation is not clear. Ask your teacher for help with words that are difficult to pronounce.

Your Turn

What would you like to add to the list of suggestions? What is helpful for you when you give a presentation?