Learn American English Online Blog
May 31, 2013
What is the key to your success in learning English? Hard work. That’s it. You have to work at it like it’s a job, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy, because it isn’t. Unless you were born in an English speaking country and have been speaking English since you were a baby, English is a difficult language. On average it takes an adult about five years of concentrated effort to become fluent, but it could take longer than that to master the complexity of the language.
So how can this website help you master the language. One thing I recommend is to repeat the seven levels of instruction (Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Purple, Orange, and Violet) if you have already completed them. Follow along with the daily instruction on the website and use the checklists as you track your progress. The checklists are on paper, as are most of the assignments.
Do the assignments and the quizzes. The reminds you to write in a notebook that you use for taking notes and completing assignments. Writing things by hand will help you remember what you have learned. This video explains:
For students who feel they are more advanced or don’t care to repeat the lessons they have already finished, there are other parts of the website to go to. One popular section is the Word of the Day. Every day I explain the meanings of common words and I show you how they can be used in a sentence or a question. You should bookmark this page and try to visit it daily. In the middle of the month, I create a quiz that tests your knowledge of recent words. At first glance, these words might look easy to you, but often they aren’t. Understanding the nuanced meanings of small words in English will improve your vocabualary.
The word of the day for today is "rust."
May 30, 2013
The word of the day is "display." A student requested this word.
May 29, 2013
An important skill you need to practice when learning English is listening. Practice listening and writing in the Purple Level Dictation section.
The word of the day is "either."
There’s a new Think in English exercise. Click here to take a look.
May 28, 2013
The last lesson in the Purple Level is for the verb "work." It’s important that you understand this verb is used for activities other than work.
Pronunciation exercises for today will help you pronounce words that begin with the letters P, Q , and R .
The word of the day is "risk."
May 27, 2013
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. On this day, we remember those who have given their lives in defense of the country. Many people visit cemeteries on this day to pay their respects to dead soldiers. Some visit grave sites of loved ones, whether or not they have served in the military. It’s also a day off for most people, so movie theaters, restaurants, and shopping malls are a little busier than normal. Parks are also very busy today.
The word of the day is "act."
Students working in the Purple Level study the verb "set."
Pronunciation exercises for today include words that begin with the letters M , N , and O .
May 26, 2013
It’s the final week for the Purple Level and the Pronunciation section. Or course, you may always go to those areas of the website yourself, but many students follow the daily lessons as they are scheduled on the home page.
The word of the day is "ton." This is a popular noun to use when you want to say something weighs a lot.
May 25, 2013
It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the United States. Because Monday is a holiday (Memorial Day), many people take a quick vacation for three or four days. It’s a good weekend for hotels, restaurants, and gas stations to make a lot of money.
On Monday the nation pays tribute to those who have given their lives in service to the United States. People visit cemeteries, attend parades, and get together with friends for outdoor events.
If you are working in the Purple Level, the verb for today is "have." It’s necessary to recognize the difference between using "have" as a helping verb and using "have" as a main verb.
The word of the day is "ice."
May 24, 2013
The verb "do" can be used as both a helping verb and a main verb. You have to know the difference; otherwise, you’ll make big mistakes when speaking and writing. Click here to learn more about the verb "do."
Pronunciation exercises for today feature words beginning with D, / E , and F .
The word of the day is "ditch."
May 23, 2013
The word of the day is "something." This is a word that you can use when you don’t know the name of a thing. You should also note that "something" can’t be used with negatives. Use this word in statements or questions:
The Purple Level level lesson for today is on the verb "send." Following the lesson, you can take this quiz.
Today’s pronunciation exercises include words that begin with A , B , and C .
May 22, 2013
Use the verb "let" when inviting someone to do something, when granting permission, or when making a request:
Click here to learn more about the verb "let." There’s a new quiz in the Purple Level for this word.
Pronunciation exercises shift to the Words section starting today. The words in these exercises contain combinations of vowels and consonants that cause difficulty for some students.
The word of the day is "nothing." (I’m feeling kind of existential this morning : – | )
May 21, 2013
Today’s word of the day is the verb "think." It’s important to understand the differences between the use of this verb in the past tense and the noun, "thought," which was the word of the day for yesterday.
Today’s Purple Level lesson is on the verb "seem." Use this word when describing your perception of a situation or a person.
The blended consonant exercises for today will help you with st and str.
May 20, 2013
Are you familiar with Aesop’s Fables? The Purple Level Reading Room features Aesop’s Fables slightly adapted so that they are easier to understand. It’s possible you are already familiar with these tales of morality because they’ve been translated into many different languages as they’ve been told and retold. There’s a new addition to the list of Aesop’s Fables on this website. It’s the story of The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.
Today’s verb for the Purple Level is the verb "be." It’s the most important verb for you to learn well. Even advanced level students need to review the verb "be" constantly because it changes in many unexpected ways.
The consonant blend for today is spr.
The word of the day is "thought."
There’s a new Correct or Incorrect exercise. Click here if you need help with pronouns.
May 19, 2013
The verb "run" is a short yet useful word that you can use to describe everyday activity other than running:
Click here for more examples and a video for this word.
The pronunciation exercise for today is on the blended consonant sound shr.
The word of the day is "mild."
May 18, 2013
I’m trying something different for the word of the day. Click here to learn about the word "leak."
May 17, 2013
Students following the lessons in the Purple Level study the verb "cut" today. Be sure to look at the idioms that are generated by this verb, and then take the quiz afterwards.
Today we’re finished with single consonant sounds with the consonants -y and z. Tomorrow we’ll work on blended consonant sounds that have two or more consonants together.
The word of the day is "operate."
Warm weather has come late to Minnesota this year. Just two weeks ago we had snow on the ground! I’m eager to get back into the gardens and do some planting. Here are a few snapshots I took of things that normally produce flowers early every year, regardless of what I do:
May 16, 2013
The verb "keep" has many different meanings which you must learn about:
Do you know the meanings for "keep" in the sentences above?
Click here to learn more about the verb "keep."
Some of my students have trouble with the consonants v and w. Do you?
The word of the day is "contribute."
May 15, 2013
A friend of mine in the Blue Level Chat Room suggested the word "type" for word of the day, so here it is.
The lesson for the day in the Purple Level is "tell." After you complete it, there’s a quiz for you to take. Notice that the lessons for "say" and "tell" are back to back. That’s because many students make mistakes with these two verbs.
The pronunciation exercises for today are consonants th and th. These are two different sounds. The first th sound is unvoiced and the second th sound is voiced. A voiced sound is one that involves the vocal chords. Listen to these exercises very carefully and practice them if you have problems with these consonant sounds.
There’s a new Correct or Incorrect exercise for modal verbs. Click here for Exercise #6.
May 14, 2013
Your lessons for the day:
Purple Level students study different ways of using the verb "say."
If you are working in the pronunciation section of the website, today you can practice the consonants sh and t.
Students in my evening class last night learned about receiving evaluations and getting ahead at work, so a good choice for word of the day today is "promote." If you come to this website every day, you’re getting some of the same material that I give to students whom I meet daily in regular classrooms.
May 13, 2013
If you are studying in the Purple Level, the lesson for today is on the word "want." After you complete this lesson, click here for a quiz. This quiz is focused on the difference between "want" and "need."
Students who are studying pronunciation listen to and practice the consonants r and s
The word of the day is "habit."
There’s a new exercise for the Correct or Incorrect section. Click here to test your knowledge of forming negatives.
May 12, 2013
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. On this day, people do nice things for their mother: they take her out to breakfast, go for a walk, go to the park, or bring her flowers. Call volume skyrockets. (call volume = the use of phones). If you’re a mom, happy Mother’s Day!
How are you doing with the Purple Level? The verb for today is "need." Use this verb when something is necessary:
Students who are studying in the pronunciation section focus on the consonants n and p
The word of the day is "bet."
May 11, 2013
Purple Level students study the verb "come" today. Don’t forget to look at the idioms that match this word, and then complete the quiz.
The word of the day is "lazy."
May 10, 2013
The word of the day is "dough."
The Purple Level lesson for today is on the word "make." There are also many idioms that make use of this word.
Have you been working on the quizzes as you go through this level? Today’s quiz is here. If you want to quickly access all of the quizzes for the website, they’re on this page.
May 9, 2013
I changed the chat room because too many trouble makers were causing problems in the other one. This new version is not as interesting, but at least I’ll have more control over it.
The word of the day is "material." A student asked me what this word meant last night, so I thought this would be a good choice for today.
There’s a new Correct or Incorrect exercise. This is number three in a series.
Students in the Purple Level study the word "know" today.
May 8, 2013
You may have noticed on the homepage that I announced we will begin the Blue Level in June and restart the seven-month program. This is because many students have extra time during the summer to study English, and the month of June is the perfect month in which to begin. Students working in the Purple Level will move on to the Orange Level in June. The Orange Level is intended for intermediate and advanced students of English who want to work on sentence-building skills.
The word of the day is "button." Pay attention to the way your teacher pronounces this word.
There’s a new Think in English exercise. Click here to see what it is.
There’s a new Correct or Incorrect execise. Initially, these will be easy and gradually become more difficult.
May 7, 2013
I have a new exercise for you to try. See if you can figure out if a sentence or question is correct or incorrect.
Purple Level students study the verb "see" today. This verb is used for sight, understanding, and the formation of relationships with other people.
There are more "r" sounds for you to practice today: eer,/ or, /and ur.
The word of the day is "experiment."
May 6, 2013
Final "r" sounds are featured in today’s lesson. Listen to the differences between /air/ and /ar/.
The Purple Level lesson for today is on the word "give." Don’t forget to look at the idioms page that matches this verb.
The word of the day is "fad." A fad is something that is temporarily popular.
There’s a new video for the verb "take." You can take a look at it right here:
May 5, 2013
If you are following the pronunciation exercises, today we’ll finish the comparision of long and short vowel sounds with short u and long u.
The word of the day is "plaid."
May 4, 2013
The word of the day is "pad." It rhymes with the previous two words for the Word of the Day section. What should be the word chosen for tomorrow?
Students studying pronunciation examine the differences between the short o and the long o sounds today.
Purple Level students click here to see examples for the verb "use."
May 3, 2013
I hope the pronunciation exercises are helping you. In today’s lesson, we’ll continue to study vowel sounds. Remember that by adding an "e" to the end of a word, the vowel sound often changes. In the example below, you can listen to two different "i" sounds:
Click here to listen to short i sounds.
Click here to listen to long i sounds.
The next lesson for the Purple Level is on the word "put." This is another short, yet important verb that is a part of many idioms.
The word of the day is "glad."
May 2, 2013
Today I want you to compare words that have a short e sound with words that have a long e sound. Use the spelling of the words to guide your pronunciation. Words with a short e sound are usually spelled with just an "e," while words with a long e sound are often spelled with two "e’s" or "ea" or "ie." Look at the chart below to compare:
Click here to listen to short e sounds.
Click here to listen to long e sounds.
Students working in the Purple Level study the word "get" today. If you studied in the Green Level you know that it’s possible to use "get" as a helping verb to form the passive voice. It’s also a very idiomatic verb. Look in a dictionary and you’ll see a very long list of meanings for "get."
The word of the day is "sad."
May 1, 2013
Do you have trouble pronouncing words in English when you read out loud or speak? In my regular classes we spend some time looking at how spelling influences the pronunciation of a word. The first set of pronunciation exercises are for the short a sound and the long a sound. Notice how the addition of an "e" changes a short vowel sound to a long vowel sound:
This doesn’t apply to every similar situation. The word "car," for example, becomes "care" with the addition on an "e." The word "far" becomes "fare." The "r" at the end of the word has a lot to do with that. However, as you will notice in other pronunciation exercises, the "e" at the end of a word often elongates the vowel sound.
Click here to listen to short a sounds.
Click here to listen to long a sounds.
Students studying in the Purple Level study the word "go" today. This is the first lesson for this level because "go" is such an important irregular verb. We use this simple word in many different verb phrases and idioms.
The word of the day is "guard."
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