Today we begin the Blue Level. There are a few things I’d like you to do in order to be successful in this level and all the levels that follow:

1. Print out the Blue Level checklist.

2. Watch the video I made a few days ago. It explains how to use this website.

3. Look at the lessons and the reading selections for the Blue Level. Many of my intermediate and advanced level students admit that they have forgotten some of the basic lessons that they learned in the past. Some of these lessons are easy, but some of them are easily forgotten–yet necessary.

4. Buy a notebook for this online course. I always tell my students that they should write down the things that they have learned. Date each entry (Today’s day is 8 – 31 – 2012), and return to the website every day. Writing is better than just clicking on links. That’s why you’ll often see this image:

write by hand

This reminds you to write in your notebook!

5. Go to the Word of the Day section. This is updated daily. Even if you don’t understand all the words that I use to define the word, the daily habit of learning new words will help improve your vocabulary. English is a very big language, and you need to learn a lot of new words.

6. Bookmark the website. Put it on your bookmark toolbar so that you can easily find it and visit regularly.

That’s it! Good luck to you. I really hope you are able to learn English from this website. As a teacher, I find the internet fascinating and loaded with potential for teaching and learning.


The word of the day is "wind." There are two different ways to pronounce this word, depending on the meaning, so it’s really important to listen to the audio recording that’s included.

We’ll begin the Blue Level tomorrow. Click on the link for the Blue Level checklist.

In the meantime, you might find the slang section of the website useful. Slang consists of the words and expressions that bubble up from the culture and from the people. Slang is very informal. If you live in the United States, it’s important to know the meanings for words that are considered slang. If you live in England or Australia, the slang will be different.

Today I encourage you to start visiting the other areas of the website that will help you understand what Americans say when they speak English. Are you confused by American speech? English is like many other languages that develop over hundreds of years and are created by people who need quick and efficient ways to communicate. Idioms, expressions, and slang are necessary to learn about because they represent the way people speak in their daily lives. Many Americans are not concerned about proper grammar and usage. Instead, they focus on self-expression. The idioms you find in the idioms section on this website are good examples of that.

The word of the day is "violent." We live in a world that is way too violent. Why do you think there are so many violent people?

By today you have probably finished the prepositions section. Congratulations! Here are prepositions quizzes if you happened to miss any of them: Quiz 1 / Quiz 2 / Quiz 3 / Quiz 4 / Quiz 5 / Quiz 6 / Quiz 7

Are you watching the Republican Convention on television this week? If so, here’s a brief description of what political conventions hope to accomplish.

Last on the list of the prepositions for you to study is "without." This is an interesting word because it basically means "no" or "not."

  • She drinks her coffee without sugar. (She doesn’t use sugar.)
  • He left the house without a jacket. (He didn’t have a jacket.)
  • They left the restaurant without paying. (They didn’t pay for their food.)

The word of the day is "youth." Yesterday’s word of the day, "believe," was uploaded without the audio. If you check it today, you’ll be able to hear me read it. Sorry about that! Thanks to several online students who informed that the audio was missing. Your teacher makes a lot of mistakes.


There’s a new video on YouTube that explains how to use this website for learning English. Notice that we’re going to start using checklists for each level. These checklists will help you keep track of your progress as you work through the website.


The word of the day is "believe."

A student emailed and asked where he could find the interview I did with a musician a few years ago in Chicago. It’s on YouTube. Remember you can search here on this website and on YouTube for videos that I’ve done in the past. Here it is:

The word of the day is "suck." This is a popular adjective in the United States, but be careful how you use it. It has a slightly vulgar sound and some people might be offended upon hearing it.

We’re almost through the list of prepositions that are on the website. Today’s prepositions are up to and upon.

The word of the day is "ugly." In Spain there’s a contest for people who try to make themselves look ugly. These pictures are very funny.

By now you should be ready for Quiz #5 if you have been following the lessons on prepositions. All of the quizzes for the website are on this page. The answers to quizzes must be written out by hand.

write by hand

There are eight more days until we begin the Blue Level.

The word of the day is "press."

Now that there is so much material on the website, I’m adding checklists for each level so that students can keep track of everything that they should do before they move on to the next level. Here’s a checklist for the Blue Level. I’m putting the file in the form of a PDF because I want students to print it out and keep it by their computer as they are working on the website. Do you think this is helpful?

The word of the day is "jam." If you have trouble with the "j" sound in this work, you can practice it in the pronunciation section.

The prepositions "to" and "towards" are your prepositions for today. These prepositions are similar but not always synonymous:

  • He’s driving to Mexico.
  • He’s driving towards Mexico.
  • He’s driving toward Mexico.

You can use "toward" or "towards." it’s a matter of preference, but I think most people add the "s" at the end.

Of course, the preposition "to" is used for many reasons other than to describe movement or direction. Sometimes "to" is confused with the preposition "for." It’s a good idea to study these two prepositions together.

The word of the day is "oak." I chose this word today because oak trees are very popular in the United States, and we have many beautiful oaks in our neighborhood. So I went for a walk this morning and took some pictures of oak trees.

oak an oak tree

Many of my students have trouble with the preposition "through." Both the pronunciation and the meaning of the word cause some problems. Click on the links to listen to your teacher read examples of "through" and "throughout."

The word of the day is "real." This is the opposite of yesterday’s word of the day, "fake."


The word of the day is "fake."This is similar to the word "phony." We use both of these words to describe people or things that are not real or are false.

Your prepositions of the day are "per" and "regarding." Also, don’t forget to do the quiz that matches last week’s prepositions. You can find it here.

There’s a new Think in English exercise for a spigot . If you ever have to turn on the water outside, you use this. Sometimes it’s used inside the house as well near a toilet or a sink, or it’s found in the basement. There are other names for this object: valve, shutoff, tap, and faucet.

To my friends and students who are Muslim, I hope you had a nice Ramadan. Here in the Twin Cities we have a large Somalian population, so unlike many areas of the United States, we have a good sense here of when a holiday such as Ramadan begins and ends. I wish you and your families all the best and a peaceful life. Eid Mubarak.

A few students emailed me recently and asked about the differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, so I’ll probably create a new 2012 Election section that explains what is happening in the election and who all the major players are. It must be confusing if you live outside the United States. What are the differences between the Democrats and Republicans? Do you know?

The prepositions for today are on board, on top of, and onto.

The word of the day is "hard."

There’s a new Think in English exercise for "lemon."

Two really important prepositions are "off" and "on." Today you’ll also learn about "on account of," which means "because."

The interesting thing about prepositions is that some can be used with many different verbs to create idioms (vernacular speech). The verb "come" for example, changes its meaning when used with either "off" or "on."

  • She comes off as being very ambitious. (come off as = appear)
  • Come off of it! (come off = stop doing that; stop)
  • Where do you come off telling me what to do?! (come off = have the feeling of empowerment)
  • What time does the show come on? (come on = scheduled performance)
  • Come on, we’ve got to go! (come on = an expression of urgency)
  • Sarah was coming on to Bill. (come on to = try to attract)
  • Aw, come on. Let me borrow your car. (come on = please)

The explanations in parentheses for these idioms are not exact definitions.

The word of the day is "hardware."

The word of the day is "nut." This continues the hardware theme started on Monday.

It’s not easy to acquire a good knowledge of prepositions quickly. That’s why we’re featuring only three per day. Today you’ll learn about near, next to, and of.

There are two videos that might help you with the word "of."

packages of food and drink
"of" vs. "off"


This is a good time to remind everyone that we will begin the Blue Level in September. If you know anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of English, let that person know now: Share

The way people on this website learn English is by repeating the lessons over and over again until they feel like they’ve got a good understanding of English grammar and usage. We go through all the tenses, all the major prepositions, and the eight parts of speech. In addition, I encourage students to study the idioms, expressions, and pronunciation exercises that are on this website.

Here are the prepositions for today: instead of, into, and like.

The word of the day is "screw."

How are you doing so far with the prepositions? As we go through the list alphabetically, we come to the next three: in, in front of, and inside.

The word of the day is "nail."

There are some new pictures of students here. If you want to be included in the Photos section, just send me your picture. Include your first name and the name of the country that you are from. The Photos section gives visitors to this website a good sense of who comes here. As you can see, there’s tremendous diversity in the kinds of people who use this website.

The Olympics are over today. At the closing ceremony, athletes will gracefully exit the world stage, and we will all go back to work.

Do you like to go swimming or fishing? Here’s a picture of a lake where I went fishing last week:


I caught a lot of panfish, which was great because I like the way they taste.

panfish This is a bluegill — a type of panfish. One reason why they’re called "panfish" is because they’re small and you fry them in a frying pan.

This is a frying pan. The fish go in here.

Coat the fillets with eggs and milk, dip them in flour and fry them in oil. When you’re ready to eat them, squeeze fresh lemon juice on the fish. Very tasty!

The word of the day is "pride."

There’s a new Think in English exercise. Click here to practice your knowledge in English on the subject of weightlifting.


The Olympic Games finish in a few days. The closing ceremony is on Sunday. The word of the day is "finish."

Today’s prepositions are "by," "concerning," and "contrary to."

In addition to the prepositions "beyond" and "but," today’s lessons include a very important preposition, "between."

The word of the day is "team."

The word of the day is "rank."

The prepositions for you to study today are behind in, below, and beside.

Last week I took a trip to northern Wisconsin and came across a field of sunflowers. Aren’t they beautiful?


Sunflowers remain in bloom for up to one month. Birds eat their seeds. So do human beings! Have you ever roasted sunflower seeds? It’s easy to do. Or you can buy them roasted.

Here’s the next set of prepositions: because of / before / behind

The word of the day is "coverage." I chose this word because of all the attention that the Olympic Games in London are getting from the media. You can refer to this as coverage. In 2016 the games will be held in Brazil. Wouldn’t it be fun to travel to Brazil and provide live coverage? The time zones in Brazil closely match the times zones in the United States.

There’s a new video for "happen to be." This was made upon request:

One of the prepositions I’d like you to study today is "at." We use this preposition for locations and time:


The word of the day is "race."

Did you receive yesterday’s email? If so, you have perhaps learned some new words related to sports and competition. Here’s another one: beat.

The prepositions for today are against, ahead of, and along.

Here’s the next set of prepositions: according to / across / after

The word of the day is victory.

The first three prepositions for you to study are aboard, about, and above.

In keeping with the Olympics theme, the word of the day is "win." This is not a difficult word; however, it’s important to know that "win" can also be used as a noun.

Today we’re moving on to a new section of the website: prepositions. As you probably already know, prepositions are difficult to learn. There are a lot of little rules and peculiar situations that govern their use. The best way to learn about prepositions is through reading and conversation. During the month of August, I’ll post links to pages for two or three different prepositions every day. Then, in September, we will begin the Blue Level — again. Remember the way this website works. If you are having trouble with grammar and usage, it’s a good idea to study the lesson in all seven levels more than once. .

The word of the day is "lose."


Click here to go to July 2012.