Learn American English Online Blog
April 30, 2011
Well, it’s the end of the month and that means it’s time for all of us to move on to a different section of the website. We’ll leave the prepositions section and come back to it another day. Of course, you’re welcome to go there at any time to learn how to use "for," "to," "with," etc. because as you know, learning how to use prepositions correctly is a lifetime pursuit.
In the month of May, we’ll focus on American Speech. In this section of the website, you’ll learn about idioms, expressions, slang, and proverbs. There’s a lot of material here. I think it’s especially important for immigrants who live in the United States to learn about the American vernacular.
April 29, 2011
I’m up early this morning with the rest of the world watching the events leading up to the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It’s very interesting to see all the preparations and behind-the-scenes work that go into the wedding of a future king and queen.
Best of luck to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!
If you are interested, this video shows the typical arrangement for a wedding ceremony in the United States. It’s probably similar to wedding ceremonies held in the countries that you are from, but I wanted to post this so that you could become familiar with some of the English vocabulary related to weddings.
This page features additional vocabulary related to a wedding ceremony.
April 28, 2011
Here’s a new video that shows how to change an adjective clause into an adjective phrase:
Now you try it. How would you reduce these sentences so that an adjective phrase is used instead of an adjective clause?
If you didn’t get today’s email, here’s a link to a new page for the prepositions section for the preposition, "via."
And here are the answers:
April 27, 2011
Last night I taught a beginning level English class. Most of the students in that class have good speaking skills, but they’re a little weak with vocabulary. As we were discussing vocabulary related to health care, a student wanted to know more about the word "use." Of course, this word is commonly heard as a verb, but it can also be a noun, and you can change it to make it into an adjective.
As a verb, it looks and sounds like this: use
As a noun, it looks and sounds like this: use
These words look the same, but there’s a difference in the sound. When "use" is a verb, the "s" sounds like a "z." When "use" is a noun, the "s" makes an "s" sound.
Add the "ful" suffix to "use" to form an adjective:
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April 26, 2011
You must learn about the different ways to use the preposition "on." This video shows many different applications for it:
April 25, 2011
Here’s a quick YouTube video for members of this website only:
April 24, 2011
April 23, 2011
This is a video I made following a recent visit to a Detroit neighborhood where an artist has improved the quality of life in his neighborhood through his art:
The song you hear is Johann Brahm’s Alto Rhapsody sung by Janet Baker. As I was videotaping this, music could be heard coming from a radio left on in one of these abandoned houses. It was a truly eerie, beautiful moment, to be in this seemingly vacant neighborhood surrounded by art as the radio played opera music.
April 22, 2011
April 21, 2011
April 20, 2011
During a class I taught last week, a student asked me why the word "free" was placed at the end of certain words. He thought it meant that the thing was "free," as in "no charge." You can put "free" after certain nouns to mean that there isn’t any of that thing. It’s almost always used with nouns that describe things, but sometimes you can use it with people:
This video provides more examples:
Notice that when an adjective is composed of two words and it comes before a noun, it’s hyphenated: fat-free yogurt. The words "fat-free" function as an adjective and "yogurt" is a noun. When placed after a noun, you can separate the words (pain free) or place them together (carefree). There are many different variations that you’ll come across.
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April 19, 2011
Last week I traveled with my family from Minneapolis to Detroit to attend a wedding. We had some time to stop by the Heidelberg Project near downtown Detroit.
April 18, 2011
Today’s lesson is on the word "except." This is very similar to the word "not." We use it when excluding something or someone.
The preposition "except" is often used with "for." You can also substitute the preposition "but" for "except."
April 17, 2011
Here’s a link to a video about prepositions. I used to watch this on TV when I was as a child, so it’s kind of old but still useful. There are many other Schoolhouse Rock videos that are also good for learning about English grammar. Just do a search on You Tube and you’ll find them.
April 16, 2011
The preposition for today is "during." We use this for any kind of simultaneous activity (two things happen at the same time):
You can also put "during" at the beginning of a sentence:
April 15, 2011�
How are you doing so far in studying all of these different prepositions this month? Are the examples that I’ve presented on the website helping you to understand how to use them better? Remember, prepositions provide information about location, direction, time, proximity, and situation. As we move through the alphabet during the month of April, the prepositions that we come to for today are "despite" and "down."
Use "despite" when describing contrasts and differences. Here are some examples:
Use "down" when indicating direction:
April 14, 2011
Thanks to everyone who sent in photos. I found some that were useful for demonstrating the meanings of prepositions:
April 13, 2011
This is a new video that explains some of the differences among "ing" words:
April 12, 2011
April 11, 2011
The preposition "behind" is used to when one thing is fully or partially concealed by another:
The preposition "behind in" is used when someone is late or is having some problems maintaining a rate of speed:
April 10, 2011
Florerence Holbrook authored this book for the alphabet in English. It was published in 1910. The illustrator is H.D. Pohl:
April 9, 2011
This video provides instruction in using the preposition "at."
April 8, 2011
A student from Honduras emailed and asked for an explanation for the differences between "certain" and "certainly." Here’s the video response:
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April 7, 2011
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Yesterday in class, I asked my students a question about their performance on an assignment. This is the question:
How did you do?
The main verb in that question is "do." It’s in the past tense, so the helping verb is "did." There are many different possibilities for an answer. Here’s what to say if your performance is good:
Here’s what to say if your performance isn’t good:
It’s worth noting that "I did good" and "I did bad" aren’t exactly correct grammatically because "good" and "bad" are adjectives and you should use an adverb in the examples above; however, most people break the rules in this kind of a response.
April 6, 2011
Use "across" when one thing is opposite from another, or there is a span of distance that connects two or more locations:
Use "against" to describe the placement of two things or two people, or you can use this preposition to describe opposition to an issue:
Click on the links above for more examples.
April 5, 2011
I’d like to start using more photos of students in lessons, so if you have a picture of yourself and you’d like to be included, just email it to me. Include your name and the name of the country that you are from.
April 4, 2011�
This week we’ll study prepositions that begin with the letter "a."
Let’s start with the preposition "aboard." This is used for boats, planes, and trains. Generally, "aboard" is used with large vehicles:
As you can see in the last sentence, "aboard" is also used when someone joins a company or a group of people. You can substitute "aboard" with "on board."
The next preposition, "about," is used when describing approximate time, distance, and amounts:
You can also use "about" when describing the narrative in a story:
April 3, 2011
Click here for a new video that explains how to use "but" as a preposition.
April 2, 2011
This video explains some of the differences among "in," "on," and "at."
April 1, 2011�
If you have been following my lessons since we began the Blue Level in March, then you have finished all seven levels. Congratulations! That is quite a great accomplishment. If you haven’t been following my lessons since that time, don’t worry. You’ll get a chance to do that in June when we begin the Blue Level once again.
Here’s the secret to learning English or any other language: You have to work hard at it every day. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s easy. Unless you learn a language as a baby or as a child, you have to spend at least an hour or two every day studying, and you can’t stop. If you stop, you might forget what you have learned. The average length of time to gain fluency in English is five years, but that depends on the individual. How committed are you to learn English?
Understanding English should be a lifetime pursuit if you really want to learn it. That’s why I tell my older students that it’s never too late to learn something new. You have the rest of your life.
So starting in June, we’ll begin the Blue Level again and continue on with a new level every month until the end of the year in December. The schedule will look like this:
There are two months between now and June, so we will study prepositions in April and American speech (idioms, verb phrases, expressions, slang, etc.) in May. Of course, you are free to work on any of the lessons at your own pace, but many of my online students tell me that they prefer the discipline of working daily with a teacher. If you know someone who wants to learn English, let that person know now about this schedule:
Fortunately, the internet provides you with many opportunities to learn new languages with people from all over the world, and most of those opportunities are free! Take advantage of that now. Go to the Links section of my website to find other websites for learning English. It’s important for you to learn from more than just one person.
It’s also important to review the things you have already learned, so if you have gone through my online program, it’s okay to repeat it. In fact, if you go through all of the lessons–in order–again and again, you might find that to be a good method for remembering and learning English. But everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for someone else.
Learning something new is one of life’s great privileges if you are lucky enough to have the time and energy to go to school. Teaching is also a great privilege. I’ve been teaching English for over 20 years. For most of those years, I’ve taught English as a second language, but I’ve also taught writing and literature classes. Teaching people how to understand the English language is really a pleasure as well as a privilege, and I look forward to every day that I go to work or sit down at my computer to create new material. It’s a very fun occupation. I hope you are also having fun when you come to my website.
Click here to go to March 2011 to see what students learned in the Violet Level.