Summer Homework!

The blogs are going on vacation for the summer. **** I’ve  refreshed an earlier post with great ideas for  your summer homework. Click on the blue links to learn and practice until we return with new lessons in the fall!

Confusing Word Choices

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

In these blogs, we teach you the differences between two (or more) confusing words or phrases. Click each one to learn more.


In these posts, we teach you how to pronounce or say something.


Here are the answers to some of the most common questions I hear from students.

Practical English

These articles will help you with the English you need every day.

Breaking News – News Sites Useful for ESL Students

A great way to improve your English is to read newspapers or listen to the news. However sometimes the level of English in news can be challenging.  Keep current on news using these sites:

  • Breaking News English –  A new lesson every two days based on stories currently in the news. There are 7 learner  levels available, from elementary to advanced. There are reading, listening and other learning activities available.
  • Times For Kids –  Don’t be mislead by the title – it’s not kiddie stuff. Current national and global topics are discussed. You have the ability to dynamically change reading level of an article by using a pull down menu selector at top left of article page. Try this article that explains the recent  Facebook data breach .
  • Smithsonian Tween Tribune – has articles on  current events, history, art, culture and science.  You can filter articles by grade level. However, while looking at an article you can adjust even more  the reading level  you want, making it a bit easier or more challenging. 
  • News in Level – articles are available in 3 different reading levels. Actual news videos are often attached at highest level. 

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)?

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


Who does the chores at your house?

Chores are work you do in your house.

For example, making the bed, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry are chores.

(Click on the blue for a picture.)

What about you?

(image via Wikipedia Commons)

(image via Wikipedia Commons)


Do you make the bed?

Do you like making the bed?





(image via Wikimedia Commons)

(image via Wikimedia Commons)



Do you rake the leaves?

Do you like raking the leaves?






(image by Matt Kingston)

(image by Matt Kingston)


Do you wash the dishes?

Do you like washing the dishes?





(image by BrokenSphere)

(image by BrokenSphere)



Do you do laundry (wash clothes)?

Do you like doing laundry?




There are many chores.

What chores do you like?   I like washing dishes.

What chores don’t you like?  I don’t like making the bed.

Beautiful English: More Than “Where’s the Bathroom?”

(photo by JLN)

(photo by JLN, 10/15)

Do you ever think English is boring?

Do you think English is only grammar, vocabulary, and repetition? Is it too useful? Too pragmatic? Do other languages seem more beautiful?

People speak English in 68 countries in the world. 54 countries have English as their official language.  We use English every day in the United States, but most of our interaction is not very poetic.

When you first start to learn English, you learn a few set phrases:

  • Hello! How are you?
  • Where’s the bathroom?
  • Help! Police! Fire! Call 9-1-1! Emergency!
  • I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.


As you continue to learn English, you learn different verb tenses. You learn more vocabulary. You learn different ways to express yourself. You learn how to get around in U.S. society. But you don’t see a lot of beautiful English. We don’t teach William Shakespeare, John Keats, Mark Twain, or Walt Whitman in ESL class. (This is normal. Most Americans don’t read these “classic writers” either!)

But, we don’t teach Stephen King (popular horror novelist), Stephanie Meyer (“Twilight”), or Jodi Picoult (mystery, romance) either.

When you learn a new language, you learn how to use it pragmatically (everyday, useful English) and figuratively (imagination). One good way to learn both is by reading. Of course, it’s not necessary to read “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens–it’s too big for a first start! But it’s important to know that the English language has a lot of good literature in it, too.


Remember, when you read in a different language, you should understand about 85% of it. It’s not necessary to understand every single word. Sometimes it’s OK just to understand the idea.

Here are some poems you might like. Click on the title for a link to the poem.

Here are some short stories you might enjoy.

  • Button, Button (a story about a couple who receives a mysterious box on their front porch)
  • The Selfish Giant (a story about a Giant who didn’t allow children to play in his garden)
  • All Summer in a Day (a story about life on a planet where it only rains once every 7 years)
  • Sunday in the Park (a story about a conflict with two families in a park)

Please enjoy!

I DID do it!!! (Emphatic Past Tense)

(image by Lorax)

Funnel cake image by Lorax

Usually, when someone asks you a question in the past tense, you respond in the regular past tense:

“Hey, did you go to the fair yesterday?”
“Yes, I did! It was fun.”

Did you eat anything interesting?”
“Yes, I did! I ate some funnel cake.”

Did you do anything else exciting?”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t ride anything, I didn’t watch the fireworks, and I didn’t see any chickens.”



The above conversation uses regular, simple past tense. You can read more about it at the posts here or here.

Sometimes, English language learners are confused about how to use the past tense.

When making NEGATIVE past tense sentences, it’s correct to use the past tense word “didn’t” plus the base tense verb. For example, I didn’t go, I didn’t eat, I didn’t dance are all OK.

I didn’t went, I didn’t ate, I didn’t danced are NOT correct.

In the regular POSITIVE past tense, “I did go, I did eat, I did dance” are usually not OK.

You say, “I went, I ate, I danced.”

eat ate didn’t eat
go went didn’t go
dance danced didn’t dance



But let’s re-imagine our conversation. This time, notice what changes in the speakers’ attitudes. Past tense is in red.

“Hey, did you go to the fair yesterday?”
“Yes, I did! It was fun.”
Did you really go? I thought you didn’t want to go.”
“I did want to go! I love the fair.”
“Yes! I had fun.”
“OK. I bet you didn’t eat anything interesting.”
“I did eat something interesting! I ate a funnel cake.”
“No, you didn’t!”
“I did, too!”

Do you see how the conversation changes? This time, the two people are almost fighting. The person who went to the fair is getting angry because he thinks the other guy doesn’t believe him.

You can use the emphatic tense when you want to emphasize something. When you talk, you put more stress on the words. Remember, it’s not for normal conversations. It’s only when you really need to be clear about something.

For more practice, you can click here, or, remember these emphatic remarks:

  • I did do my homework!

  • did like the present you gave me!

  • did call you yesterday!

Good luck!

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?