Mara Johnson is preparing for the Christmas. Mara asks her mother to give her another Teddy Bear stuffed toy.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Mara’s parents, have a visitor one afternoon. He’s Mr. Smith from the old orphanage near their house. Mara’s family welcomes one kid to be with them for Christmas. The 5- year-old boy named Peter is going to spend the holidays with them this year. Peter doesn’t know where his parents are. A woman found him inside a basket five years ago.
Mara loves to play with Peter. She knows that Peter likes her stuffed toy but she doesn’t want to give it to him. Mara and Peter have a quarrel. She pulls the stuffed toy away from Peter’s hands. Sadly, the toy was torn apart. Mara gets angry with Peter. Mrs. Johnson tells Mara to forgive Peter. Mara doesn’t want to. On December 25, Mara finally comes to Peter and hugs him. She says that the best gift she has is her friendship with Peter.
- What is Mara preparing for?
- What is Mara’s favorite toy?
- What is Peter doing in Mara’s house?
- Who tore the stuffed toy?
- What was Mara’s greatest gift?
Match column A with column B
___1. stuffed toy a. tear; to break or destroy
___2. orphanage b. toy with soft cloth inside
___3. quarrel c. to accept someone’s sorry
___4. torn d. a place for taking care of children without families
___5. forgive e. fight
Fill in the blanks using the words in C.
Mara likes ______________. Peter stays at an __________. Mara and Peter ___________. The stuffed toy was _______ apart. Mara _____________ Peter.
Jane was taking her day- off. She went to a flea market to buy stuff for her apartment. Then she saw a beautiful white blanket with initials GM. She liked it very much so she immediately bought it from the old man.
Mrs. Marita, Jane’s landlady, lived in a small room beside hers. She often gave Jane a plate of home-cooked breakfast because Jane was too busy to prepare one. Mrs. Marita was a very lovable woman but she was mysterious. She never told Jane about her family.
One afternoon, Mrs. Marita saw Jane washing the blanket. Her eyes grew wide as if she had seen a ghost. Mrs. Marita became anxious and fell on the floor.
Jane then asked Mrs. Marita what happened. Jane was shocked to know that the blanket belonged to Mrs. Marita. In fact, she embroidered the initials GM that stood for Gertrude Marita, her complete name. Mrs. Marita asked Jane where she got the blanket. They hurriedly went to the flea market. Jane saw one of the most romantic reunions ever. It turned out that the man who sold the blanket was Mrs. Marita’s husband who she hadn’t seen for 25 years.
Her husband used to work as a sailor. He took the blanket with him while at sea. His ship sank but he held on tight to the blanket. Everybody thought he was dead so he never returned home. Mrs. Marita went back to the apartment with her husband.
- Where did Jane buy the blanket?
- What did Jane notice in the blanket?
- What did Mrs. Marita and Jane do after they knew the truth?
- What happened to Mrs. Marita’s husband?
- Why did her husband never return home?
___1. flea market a.to continue to do something
___2. landlady b.decorated piece of cloth
___3. anxious c.worried and nervous
___4. embroidered d.a small place to sell goods
___5. held on tight e.owner of a building or place for rent
Once there was a cab driver named Paul. He drove all night long to support her two daughters who were going to college. Although Paul got tired oftentimes, the thought of her children always kept him on the go.
Paul was driving along Elm Road one night. This place was known to be haunted by spirits and ghosts. He didn’t have a choice but to pass through it since it was the only way he could reach his frequent customer’s house.
He was driving when he suddenly felt a cold hand touch his shoulders. Paul was afraid that he just kept on driving and ignored it. The hand touched his hand then his head. This time, Paul was already frightened. The invisible hand took the wheel and drove the car to a place Paul didn’t know. He didn’t have any control of the cab. Finally, he reached a small house. He heard a woman screaming from inside. Paul went to the house and saw a woman who was about to give birth. She was alone in that house. Paul hurriedly carried the woman to the cab and drove to the nearest hospital. The woman gave birth safely.
Paul still wondered who touched him. Other cab drivers said that the woman’s husband had a car accident in that road and died. Paul was happy that he helped someone. It was an unforgettable experience.
Comprehension and Guide Questions
- Why did Paul drive along Elm Road?
- What did feel while he was driving?
- How did he reach the small house?
- How would you react if an invisible hand touched yours?
- Would you have delivered the woman to the hospital?
- Whose hand touched Paul?
Match column A with column B
___1. on the go a.afraid; scared
___2. frequent b.cannot be seen
___3. frightened c.very active
___4. invisible d.always remembered; cannot be forgotten
___5. unforgettable e.almost always
Complete the sentences
His children kept Paul __________. One night he went to his ______customer’s house. Paul was ________ because an _________ hand touched him. It was an ___________ experience.
Mike and James were two good brothers. They were the best of friends. They did almost everything together from studying their lessons, practicing for piano recitals and playing sports. The two went to different universities. Mike took up engineering and James, business. Mike had to live in another town.
They kept no secrets from each other. James told Mike that he is courting a girl. Mike was excited to hear about it. James described her as sweet, loving and beautiful. A week after, Mike told James that he too liked a girl. She was a friend of Mike’s classmate.
The two were ecstatic. Mike and James arranged a dinner get- together so their parents could meet the girls. The night was set. The dinner table was ready but the girls weren’t in the house yet.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. It was a girl. The boys ran towards the door only to know that they had the same girlfriend. Mike and James were astonished and couldn’t believe it. The girl was playing with them all along. She was so regretful for what she did.
The girl left and the two boys ate delicious meals with their parents. Mike and James told themselves that no one could destroy their relationship, not even a girl.
Comprehension and Guide Questions
- How close were Mike and James as brothers?
- What were some activities they did together?
- How did James describe his girlfriend?
- What did Mike and James find out about their girlfriends?
- What will you do if this happened to you?
- How important is a person’s relationship with his or her brothers and sisters?
Match column A with column B
___1. recital a. surprised
___2. court b. very happy
___3. ecstatic c. to accept someone’s sorry
___4. astonished d. to feel sorry for something wrong
___5. regretful e. to get make a person feel good about you
Complete the sentences
Mike and James were too good brothers. They practiced together for piano _________. James told Mike that he was _________ a girl. Mike too liked a girl. They were __________. But Mike and James were ___________ when they knew that they had the same girlfriend. The girl was so ___________ and walked away.
Intermediate and advanced students are usually the ones struggling on vocabulary expansion. The ability to talk fluently in English brings with it the necessity to learn more words. Most students who are beginners are content with a limited vocabulary since they are mastering other more important areas in English.
Learning vocabulary is difficult. It entails not only memorising meanings but also understanding the words and knowing how to use them correctly.
Here’s a list of what I’ve got to say
Note: I’m making it a 3- part series so I can explain them well. This is the first most important tip.
READ MORE REMEMBER BETTER
The habit of reading is the foundation of a good vocabulary. Exposure to new words gets you motivated to look for meanings either in a dictionary or thesaurus.
Make it a habit to note down new words. While still fresh in your mind, search for its meaning and write down the sentence where the word is used.
According to studies, memory retention is stronger if we associate an unfamiliar word with one which already exists in our vocabulary.
CASE 1: “POSTPONE”
I used to have a student who couldn’t remember the word. We already talked about it several times. He had been using the same word for the nth time in sentences. However, he’s mind was still confused on what “POSTPONE” really meant.
I finally asked him the first word that came to his mind when talking about “POSTPONE”. At last, he said “POST”. He showed me a photo which looks like the one below.
Finally, he got it.
CASE 2: “COMMODITY”
A student from somewhere in Europe was trying to understand this word. After several explanations, it seemed that he got it already. After a couple of classes, I asked him again what the meaning of the word was. As expected, he couldn’t remember it. I didn’t blame him. If I were in his shoes, I would have struggled just the same.
Again, we attempted to associate the word with another one familiar to him. He chose the word “komod” which means a cabinet or a shelf. This is like how it looks like, more or less.
Truly wonderful. He never forgot the word since that day.
Word association is not easy too. Here’s to give you more idea how to better associate words. Source: www.mindtools.com
Use positive, pleasant images. Your brain often blocks out unpleasant ones.
Use vivid, colorful, sense-laden images – these are easier to remember than drab ones.
Use all your senses to code information or dress up an image. Remember that your mnemonic can contain sounds, smells, tastes, touch, movements and feelings as well as pictures.
Give your image three dimensions, movement and space to make it more vivid. You can use movement either to maintain the flow ofassociation, or to help you to remember actions.
Exaggerate the size of important parts of the image.
Use humor! Funny or peculiar things are easier to remember than normal ones.
Similarly, rude rhymes are very difficult to forget!
Symbols (red traffic lights, pointing fingers, road signs, etc.) can code quite complex messages quickly and effectively.
Read the excerpt below:
Do you want to have a holiday and take a break from your work? If you don’t have enough cash, you can pay by credit card. While you’re away, don’t forget to keep in touch with your family and friends.
All the underlined phrases are examples of collocations. So what then are these?
A collocation is a combination of words that are commonly used together to sound natural. Other combinations may still be grammatical but they may not sound accurate. Simply put, collocations are a pair of words which go hand in hand.
Many English learners focus on studying individual words and grammar. The study of collocations is somewhere in between vocabulary per se and grammar.
Let’s go back to the passage above:
Do you want to
have a holiday acquire a holiday and take a break receive a break from your work? If you don’t have enough cash, you can pay by credit card give payment by credit. While you’re away, don’t forget to keep in touch remain in touch with your family and friends.
Do they sound as natural as the first? I think not. While the new phrases are grammatically correct, they sound awkward. In fact, the words have and acquire are almost synonymous to each other but the word acquire doesn’t sound natural when used with the word holiday.
Collocations could be
1. Adjective + Noun
annual report, effective method, artificial intelligence
2. Verb + Noun
accept responsibility, do shopping, begin process
3. Noun + Noun
climate change, active participant, business transaction
4. Adverb + Verb
clearly understand, closely resembles
5. Adverb + Adjective
broadly similar, directly responsible
Here are a few more list of collocations from Ryerson University and Pearson.
It is necessary to study collocations because they make English conversation more natural. Aside from that, they also widen the vocabulary of ESL learners.
LEARN CONTEXT CLUES
Imagine yourself taking an examination without Mr. Google or any other dictionary. You then encounter a word which hasn’t crossed your vocabulary yet. Say this one,
Most metals are malleable; they can be hammered into flat sheets; nonmetals lack this quality. Some metals are also ductile; they can be drawn out into thin wires; nonmetals are not usually ductile.
What do you know about malleable? Nothing really. What shall you do? Simply guess? Yes, you got it right. Guess!
Guessing might not sound good but there’s what we call intelligent guessing. In doing this, we have to use certain strategies. This is when context clues come into play.
Context clues are hints that we see in paragraphs and sentences telling us the correct or more or less accurate definition of a difficult word.
Context clues usually come in the following form:
This is also known a Description or Explanation Clue. The confusing word may be defined or given meaning within the sentence or paragraph. These are usually found after words “that is”, and punctuations like commas (,), dashes (-) and parentheses ( () ).
My uncle uses a medical ventilator, a machine that helps a patient breathe.
The sentence gives the meaning of a medical ventilator. Even without being familiar with some medical tools, you will readily know a ventilator is, how it is used and where we could likely find one.
Also known as Restatement Clue, a Synonym clue presents an idea which is expressed using a similar word.
Up the hill, we could see a tortuous road which is full of twisting and winding.
The sentence gives the meaning of the word tortuous that is twisting and binding.
There are instances when the meaning of a difficult word is clarified using the opposite word.
I met two friends at school today. Jane is gregarious while Emily is the quiet type.
The meaning of gregarious is clear hear. Using the while as the signal word, we will know that gregarious is the opposite of quiet. Without looking at the dictionary, gregarious may mean jolly, sociable and very open to meeting people.
The meaning of a difficult word can be known sometimes by looking at the examples given in a sentence. These give us hints of what the unfamiliar word is all about.
Crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and crayfishes don’t have an internal skeleton.
By this, we will know that Crustacean is a group of aquatic animals.
When other contextual hints are not clear, the sentence should be taken as a whole.
You have to consider the words that you find before or after the difficult word. Simply put, you have to view the sentence in a general sense.
Marie is a wine connoisseur. She is so interested in wine that she went to Paris just to know more about it.
Without googling, you will know that the word connoisseur. means someone who is is deeply interested or knowledgeable on something. In this case, it is wine.
One of the most problematic areas in ESL is pronunciation. Based on my experience, an ESL student who is just starting to learn the language is most likely to develop reading skills first. This is followed by the listening skills then the speaking skills. Writing and pronunciation, in my opinion, is more of garnishments than foundation. I am not saying that these two aren’t important. In fact, they actually are as most students spend much just to move their writing and pronunciation skill a step higher.
Sometimes I feel guilty because I often tell my students that English pronunciation is easy. It may be easier for me than for them. However, I truly believe that anyone who is open- minded enough is capable of developing a good and intelligible diction.
Here’s what I usually advise them-
1. Listen to speakers of the language
This is perhaps the easiest way to learn pronunciation but I still see students give up in the process. Watching movies and listening to podcasts are indeed exciting. But how could it grow boring, you ask. When no matter how hard you try, you still can’t understand who you’re talking to, the next thing to do is just to stop. This mindset has to change. Whether you’re driving a car or riding on a bus or train, make it a habit to listen.
When you’re watching a movie, switch on the subtitles so you can read while listening. This way, even if you don’t understand what you’re listening, you can understand what you’re watching.
Below is a screen capture of one of the videos courtesy of Voice of America (VOA). Click here for more videos.
It may be difficult at first but once you get used to it, you’ll realize that listening to native speakers isn’t really as painful as what you thought.
2. Practice as often as possible
The secret to mastering a craft is to do it over and over again. There are thousands of Youtube videos teaching pronunciation. Even if you find it funny, open your mouth. Exercise your mouth movement. Imitate how video presenters enunciate their every word. It is necessary to learn phonetics.
By definition, phonetics is defined as the science that deals with the sound of human speech.
You may consider doing the following activities:
- choose a short conversation or dialogue in English via Youtube
- turn on subtitles
- listen to the conversation or dialogue for at least three times or as many times as needed
- pick two to three lines which interest you and write them down on a paper
- listen to the video again giving importance to the sentences you chose
- read the sentences on your own
Then ask yourself, “Am I pronouncing it the same way as the speaker did?”. If not, repeat this exercise until you see improvement, Sure you will.
Mastering phonetics is essential in developing pronunciation skills and achieving spelling accuracy.
3. Read aloud and record your voice
Sure you have books in your cupboard which you’ve read once. Pick a paragraph and try to read it once.
If you don’t have interesting paragraphs in mind, you mat try checking out eslfast for more short stories to read. Here’s a screen capture of one of its featured reading exercise. As you may notice, it is easy to read as the words are not complicated.
Record your voice. If you aren’t so comfortable doing it using your mobile phone or another device, you may use online recorders. You can download the recordings easily without taking extra memory space on your phone.
I often use, vocaroo. It is rather simple. You can record your voice over and over again until you are satisfied.
Get the link to the chosen recording and that’s it. Word of caution, though. Since vocaroo is online, the system may not be able to store your recordings for a long period of time. It is recommended that after getting the link, download your recording and put it in your cloud drive.
4. Talk to someone in English
One main bottleneck of ESL students is not having the opportunity to speak in English.
For those who are really interested, you may gather your friends who want to study English too. Practice together. Take turns in talking. Before your conversation, you have to agree on a topic so all will come prepared.
Get yourself enrolled in an online English class. There are many English providers these days. Native speakers are preferred as teachers but non- native speakers like Filipinos could do the job just as well.
One hour a day of conversation class is ideal. However, if you’re busy and couldn’t commit to a daily class, 2 hours will be sufficient.
5. Take the right mindset
Nothing beats hard work and persistence. Don’t get conscious with the way you pronounce. Committing mistakes can’t pull you down. Be confident until you reach your goals.
For free pronunciation assessment, please feel free to contact me and add zenith.bizenglish on Skype.
If you’re gutsy enough, going freelance may be a thing for you. The road may be tough but you’ll find it much rewarding.
When I was starting out as an ESL teacher, I didn’t have much concern about marketing. All I did was to be the best teacher that I could. One major advantage of working in an online school is being free from eternally looking for paying students.
I am not discouraging you working under this arrangement. In fact, you can be more financially secure if you work with online companies. But, I decided to take a big leap and go my own.
Let me share a brief chronology of my own journey.
It taunted me in the morning and haunted me in my sleep. My online school was what I always thought about. “What will be a good name for it?… how about the logo?… any nice colors?”. These were just a few questions I asked myself. Finally, I came up with “zenith” which means “at the height of something”.
When you’re bothered because of too much excitement, don’t let the adrenaline wait. Go for it. best ideas come when we’re at the height of motivation.
Since I wanted to focus on business, the name Zenith Business English surfaced. I thought that having a name completed half my battle, but I was wrong. It was far from over.. so far.
2. Establishing an Online Presence
In modern times of today when technology is ever- changing, making oneself known through websites and blogs is imperative.
One bottleneck for me was the painful fact that I didn’t know how to build a website. As I wanted it to look very professional, I thought of hiring a website developer. But I didn’t want to spend a lot for a start- up.
I was hovering around some free hosted web services and finally found www.wix.com. I searched for ready templates related to academic institutions, put a little magic on it, and that was it. The system looked complicated at first. It took me two weeks to make myself comfortable with all its features. What a pity! I was such mentally slow but my little success was worth the heartaches, and not to mention some finger cramps. After finishing 75% of the website, I thought of a good logo. I thought of letter Z inside a square with an optical mouse on its tail might look great. After several tries one afternoon, I finally came up with the one below…
As of this writing, my website has undergone a lot of revisions already. It is always tedious to revise but I just bear in mind that changes are for the better.
3. Looking for Students
In my desire to get students immediately as I was too excited, I posted a profile of myself in some language exchange websites. As a way of marketing, I thought that offering free lesson packages would attract people. Yes, I did get a couple of students in the process. I gave them some free lessons but everything just didn’t work out well. One student said that he was too busy he couldn’t continue while the other finished the course but told me she couldn’t continue. Why? She just didn’t have means to pay. She had money but couldn’t figure out how to pay by PayPal or credit card. So my efforts were just put in vain. I was frustrated. On the lighter side, it was an eye-opener for me.
Advertisements should be done through proper channels. Placing ads in a high- traffic website doesn’t necessarily mean capturing your market. More often than not, efforts of doing so are simply just put to waste.
Freelance online English teachers must post their profiles using the right avenue that is through online English platforms. What I did was prompted by haste without careful thinking. In language exchange platforms, registered individuals don’t usually intend to pay. The design of the platform is for people to teach their native language to those interested and in return learn the latter’s language.
Remember that in language exchange platforms, registered individuals don’t usually intend to pay. The platform is designed for people who would like to teach their native language to those interested and in return learn a second language. If your purpose is just to make friends with people all over the world, that might be the right spot for you. As for me, not really.
Business expansion is usually the hardest. I have the inspiration, good teachers, and quality materials but not a good bunch of additional students. I recently tried facebook marketing. Well, the video ad reached a lot of people, but believe it or not, out of the more than 7,000 reached by the ad, only 18 people took the time to click the “like” button. Another reason for frustration huh? The cost was not too expensive after all so I just moved on with a light heart.
Some bad experiences are just blessings they add up to our experience. No matter what happens, we’ll live to tell the tale.
So far, I’ve had at least 25 paying students at one time. Not bad yet not satisfying still. I guess I need to strengthen my strategies like asking for referrals from existing students, sending messages to former students and a lot more. The majority comes from Latin America. There is a large English market in Brazil, for one, that remains untapped. English institutions in that country are quite expensive and time consuming as they require physical presence in a class. Thus, offering online English lessons via Skype or Whatsapp will most likely boom.
Take a leap now and try.
Studying another language takes patience and most of all, time. We regard time as one of our most valuable resources so we have to spend it wisely and productively. Most EFL/ ESL learners think that they just have no time to study so they can’t start it. That is not exactly correct. By studying English at least 30 minutes to 1 hour on the average daily, you will surely be on your way to mastery.
Here’s all you need to do to start off:
MONDAY (15-30 minutes): Watch shows in English. They often come in videos via youtube. You can also listen to short news clips from BBC and CNN.
TUESDAY (30 min- 1 hour): Talk to someone in English. Try to talk as often as you could. The more you talk, the more you sharpen your skills. If you can’t talk to someone face-to-face, not a problem at all. You can enroll in an online English tutorial class.
WEDNESDAY (30 minutes- 1 hour): Read books in English. You have to start with familiar topics. Read also international news. If you have to read it twice or more for better understanding, then please do so.
THURSDAY (30 minutes- 1 hour) : Study grammar. You might want to check out some grammar rules you’ve forgotten or those unheard of. There are a lot of basic and intermediate grammar books you can buy or download.
FRIDAY (30 minutes to 1 hour): Learn 3 new words a day. By doing this, you’ll be surprised with the result. Review the words which you met in your conversation (Tuesday) and reading (Wednesday). Try to use them in your own sentence in English.
SATURDAY (15- 30 minutes): Sing a song in English or at least listen to it. This way, you get exposed to new words and their proper pronunciation. Choose songs which interest you.
SUNDAY (1.5 – 3 hours) : Watch a movie or a series in English. If you are not so confident to do this, try watching the film with your local subtitles. However, make sure that you watch the movie again without subtitles. Be mindful of the structure, words and expressions used and how they are delivered.
If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Skype, here’s my add zenith.bizenglish.
I have been highlighting in my previous posts the importance of going to class prepared. To establish an effective learning environment, teachers must choose materials which well fit the students. While, us, teachers may be busy, we should not succumb to leniency and compromise lesson quality in the process.
Holding on to textbooks is one good way to keep the class up without too much effort. There are a lot of good textbooks available for a fee or for free. As teachers, it is imperative that we become tech savvy. The internet offers many tools for us to use so we have to make use of them.
I use textbooks and ready materials for most of my classes. However, creating tailor-fit lessons never escaped my thoughts. It may sound very traditional but coming up with unique and personalised lessons for each student is still the best.
Here are some of the reasons why-
Contextualised Approach to Teaching
Most ESL and EFL instructional materials feature lessons which are too general for most students. Students may be required to perform exercises which are not realistic or those which they hardly encounter in their lives. Instead of encouraging students to study more, these materials make them unenthusiastic. As a result, students lose their motivation.
Teaching materials should be well in context. What is contextualisation then? It is making an act or linguistic element appropriate for study considering factors such as nationality, age, sex, proficiency level, and others.
In teaching business English to Japanese students for example, teachers must consider the cultural background and other biases. Japanese professionals may observe certain business customs unique to others.
Confidence and Mastery
You aren’t just using any other’s material but your own. As teachers, we take pride of what we do. We also know the ins and outs of the lessons that we are giving. If you have done previous lesson materials in the past, you must have known them very well by heart. This cuts down the preparation time. You may forget about a specific material but when your eyes are laid on it, there is an automatic recollection. Why? Because you made it yourself. Something that comes from the very depths of you whether related to linguistic or not wouldn’t easily be erased from memory.
When I was in law school, I noticed that I would mark higher in examinations when I used my personally- created my review notes.
More Effective Curriculum Building
Whether we are dealing with beginners or advanced students, we should have a good and effective EFL curriculum at hand. This serves as a guide for the class sets goals for the students.
Many large schools have good curriculums while others leave their teachers to decide what to teach. While the latter sound a little bit more carefree, problems may arise when the class is handled by an inexperienced teacher. Aside from getting lost where to start, this teacher would also have difficulty how to continue and expand the class.
This is where curriculum development comes into play. If a teacher has a good set of EFL materials, it will be a lot easier to come up with a curriculum. You just have to pick from among the existing materials you have and put them together depending on the problem areas of the student. A teaching curriculum is usually composed of English conversation topics which may be used with or without a textbook. The basic conversation may also come as a supplement to the main lesson lesson.
Easy Progress Tracking
Upon conception of a lesson idea, you also need to consider the goals which it wants to achieve at the end of the class. The lesson material development process can’t be completed without this.
Since you know what your material is all about, you can easily assess the students’ progress without going into details. This is especially true if your lesson materials are designed on a proficiency- level basis. Thus a student who has been using your beginner’s material may find himself ready for the next level if he doesn’t struggle with the previous texts anymore. Students could get used to the kind of materials that you make. This makes the learning process easier and less stressful to the students which they already “feel at home”.
For experienced teachers though, they can easily asses the student’s level with or without the use of formal parameters.