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.

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 – Three Rules for Word Stress

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Over the past few weeks, we have talked about shortened words, sentence stress, and sentence rhythm. This week, we’re going to look at some pronunciation rules for putting stress on the correct syllable in a word. This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Using incorrect stress causes confusion.
  2. It is important to put the stressed syllable of a content word on the beat when you are speaking in English rhythm.

Let me explain #2 a little more. You know that we stress content words in speaking – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, negatives, question words, and interjections. In the sentences below, every word is a content word, so each word gets a beat.

Ana works hard.
Ana works VEry hard.
Ana works exTREMEly hard.

Read the first sentence out loud and clap your hands when you say each word. Clap in a steady rhythm. The first sentence is easy because each word has only one syllable, so they all get equal stress. In the second and third sentences, there are words with two or three syllables. The stressed syllable is on the beat (when you clap). The extra syllables must go between the beats. Practice the second and third sentences. Clap in a steady rhythm, and try to put the extra syllables between claps.

Now let’s talk about stress in lots of different words. English pronunciation is a little crazy compared to other languages, but we have a few rules that can really help!

Stress on the Syllable Before Certain Endings

In words with the following endings, the stress usually goes on the syllable before the ending:

  • -ible/-able – flexible (FLEX-ible), dependable (de-PEN-dable)
  • -ious/-eous – suspicious (sus-PI-cious), courageous (cou-RA-geous)
  • -ity – ethnicity (eth-NI-city), audacity (au-DA-city)
  • -ive – expensive (ex-PEN-sive), active (AC-tive)
  • -graphy – geography (ge-OG-ra-phy), photography (pho-TOG-ra-phy)
  • -logy – psychology (psy-CHO-lo-gy),
  • -meter – speedometer (spee-DO-me-ter), thermometer (ther-MO-me-ter)
  • -ic/-ical – geographical (ge-o-GRA-phi-cal), hysterical (hys-TE-ri-cal), ironic (i-RO-nic), photographic (pho-to-GRA-phic)
  • -tion/-sion/-cian – vacation (va-CA-tion), revision (re-VI-sion), musician (mu-SI-cian)

Stress on the Last Syllable

When words have these endings, the endings are usually stressed:

  • -ee – refugee (re-fu-GEE), trainee (trai-NEE)
  • -eer – volunteer (vo-lun-TEER), mountaineer (moun-tai-NEER)
  • -ese – Japanese (Ja-pa-NESE), legalese (le-ga-LESE)
  • -ette – bachelorette (ba-che-lo-RETTE), casette (ca-SETTE)
  • -esque – picturesque (pic-tu-RESQUE), statuesque (sta-tu-ESQUE)
  • -oo – shampoo (sham-POO), tattoo (tat-TOO)

Stress Shift (Verb – Noun)

Some verbs and their related nouns look exactly alike, but their pronunciations are different. Usually, in two-syllable VERBS, the second syllable is stressed.

  • permit (per-MIT)
  • record (re-CORD)
  • present (pre-SENT)
  • increase (in-CREASE)
  • conflict (con-FLICT)
  • escort (es-CORT)
  • address (ad-DRESS)
  • object (ob-JECT)
  • upset (up-SET)

Two-syllable NOUNS, on the other hand, are usually stressed on the first syllable.

  • permit (PER-mit)
  • record (RE-cord)
  • present (PRE-sent)
  • increase (IN-crease)
  • conflict (CON-flict)
  • escort (ES-cort)
  • address (AD-dress)
  • object (OB-ject)
  • upset (UP-set)

There are many more rules for pronunciation and word stress, but these three will help you get started. For further explanation and more examples, here is a video that talks about these rules a bit more.


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.

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)?

Family Relationships

“The holidays are coming up.”

Americans say this before Thanksgiving. When we say “the holidays,” we are talking about all the special days at the end of the year – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve. “Coming up” means coming or happening soon. We spend a lot of time with our families during the holidays, so this week, we’re going to learn what we call our relatives. By the way, “relatives” is a general word we use for people in our families. All of your relatives are related to you.

Immediate Family

Your immediate family is very closely related to you. Immediate family includes parents (mother and father), siblings (brothers and sisters), and children (sons and daughters).

Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know this family? Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama are immediate family.

Malia and Sasha are sisters. They are the daughters of Barack and Michelle.

Michelle Obama is the mother of Malia and Sasha. She is the wife of Barack.

Barack is the father of Malia and Sasha. He is Michelle’s husband.

Barack and Michelle are the parents of Malia and Sasha.

Immediate family can also include these people:

  • half siblings – A half brother or half sister shares one parent (mother or father) with you, but not both. Maybe you have the same father, but different mothers, or you have the same mother, but different fathers.
  • step siblings – A step brother or step sister has different parents from you, but one of his/her parents is married now to one of your parents. For example, Brian and Kate have different parents (different mothers AND different fathers), but Brian’s mother is now married to Kate’s father. Brian and Kate are step siblings. Brian is Kate’s step brother. Kate is Brian’s step sister.
  • step parents – A step mother or step father is not your biological parent, but is married to one of your biological parents.
  • step children – A step son or step daughter is not your biological child, but you are married to one of the child’s biological parents.

Extended Family

Your extended family is outside of your immediate family. It includes:

  • aunts
  • uncles
  • grandparents
  • grandchildren
  • cousins
  • great-grandparents (great-great-grandparents, etc.)
  • in-laws
  • and more

Here is a short description of each family member’s relationship to you.

  • aunt – the sister of your father or mother/the wife of your uncle
  • uncle – the brother of your father or mother/the husband of your aunt
  • grandmother – the mother of your mother or father
  • grandfather – the father of your mother or father
  • grandparents – your grandmother and grandfather
  • grandson – the son of your son or daughter
  • granddaughter – the daughter of your son or daughter
  • grandchildren – your grandsons and granddaughters
  • cousin – the son or daughter of your aunt/uncle
  • great-grandparents – the parents of your grandparents
  • great-great-grandparents – the parents of your great-grandparents (for each extra generation, add another “great”)
  • in-laws – the family of your spouse/the spouse of your family
    – The mother of my husband is my mother-in-law.
    – The husband of my sister is my brother-in-law.
    – My husband’s family are my in-laws.

Your Turn

Make a family tree to show the relationships in your family. Use this tree to start, but add more relationships and names. Ask your teacher for help if you need it. Then show the tree to your class and talk about your family. You can say:

  • I have ___ sisters and ___ brothers. Their names are…
  • My parents are ______________ and ______________.
  • My mother has ___ sisters and ___ brothers. My aunts’ names are…, and my uncles’ names are…
  • I have ___ cousins.

Tell as much as you can!

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

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!