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BlogLAEO May 2009

The LAEO Blog – Learn English Here Every Day

 

 

May 31, 2009

Tomorrow we will begin the Blue Level, Lesson One. Make sure you also check the blog every day because the blog will provide instruction related to the lesson of the day.

May 30, 2009

There’s a new YouTube video of an interview I did with a man who operates a 16-person bike cafe. He bought it in the Netherlands and operates it as a business in the Twin Cities. It’s the only one of its kind in the United States:

 

Isn’t that cool? Your teacher is very interested in biking and the use of multi-person bikes as a way of reducing carbon emissions. Some of you know I own a seven-person bike. It’s a conference bike. I might use it for the website to conduct interviews of Americans. I think these interviews are useful because you can listen to how someone speaks English naturally.

Below is a video I made of people riding the bike a few years ago. I used to go to downtown Minneapolis and get people to ride the bike in order to promote a business I had. Can you understand what everyone is saying?

 

 

May 29, 2009

Here’s a link to a new YouTube video showing how to ask and answer questions in the present tense using the verb "be."

 

May 28, 2009

Here are two email questions from a student:

Could you tell me what is meant by a.m and p.m? How can I improve my vocabulary?

a.m. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem (before noon); p.m. is an abbreviation for post meridiem (after noon). The United States uses a 12-hour clock for keeping track of time. Many countries use a 24-hour clock.

As for improving vocabulary, I get this question from a lot from students. There are many different things you can do, but I have found that the most successful students increase their vocabulary by reading. Try to read English at least an hour every day. As you are reading a newspaper or a book, keep a notebook handy and write down new words and their definitions. Review the notebook regularly, and try to practice writing these words in sentences or using them in conversation. Also, listen to the radio. For American English, National Public Radio is really good. It’s commercial free and the programs are interesting. For British English, listen to the BBC. Listening is an important skill and it’s an effective way to learn new words.

May 27, 2009

Many people emailed to ask about how the course works. Every day (Monday through Friday) we will work with a lesson from the website. You just have to go to the website, click on the lesson, do the exercises or quizzes, watch a video if there is one, and you should also check the blog. I write in the blog every day.

While you are on the website, you can choose to do anything else that interests you. You can go to a chat room, study the idioms, look at the slang pages–whatever you like. The important thing is that you are doing something every day and following the progam. It can take you as little as ten minutes to visit each day, or it may take you longer. Consistent attendance at the website is essential. Also check your email if you have signed up for emailed lessons and updates. If I notice that you aren’t checking your email, then I will probably drop you from the list. Just like a regular class, right?

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to answer everyone’s recent emails. Some days I get hundreds of emails and I can’t get to all of them immediately, but I try my best.

 

May 26, 2009

Did you get the email update today? If not, make sure you sign up.

May 25, 2009

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. This is a day when we remember our nation’s veterans (people who served in the military), and most of all, those who died while fighting for the United States. Here are ways to describe how someone died while wearing a uniform:

He was killed in an ambush. (ambush = surprise attack)

He was killed by an I.E.D. (I.E.D. = improvised explosive device)

Her truck came under fire and her injuries were fatal. (fatal = result in death)

He died while fighting in combat. (combat = fighting with guns)

It’s also important to remember that the number of civilian deaths that occur in war often outnumber the military casualties. (casualty – a person who dies.) Here are some very sad statistics from World War II as an example.

I work with a lot of people who come from Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, and Russia. They can tell you horrifying stories of civilian deaths.

While it may not be a realistic proposition, if every person on the planet refused to join the military or pick up a gun in anger, there would be no war. How do we get there?

 

May 23, 2009

This week during one of the classes I teach, we looked at the use of animals to help describe people their personalities, feelings, and emotions. The descriptions below are popular in the United States. Many students thought it was an interesting exercise. The word in green is the adjective.

He’s…. / She’s…..

….hungry as a bear.

….sly as a fox.

….sneaky as a cat.

….sick as a dog.

….big as a whale.

….proud as a peacock.

.happy as a clam.

.busy as a bee.

….quiet as a mouse.

….mean as a snake.

scared as a rabbit.

 

 

May 22, 2009

Today’s lesson: furthermore

May 21, 2009

Here’s a new lesson for the Violet Level: in addition

 

May 20, 2009

It was 97 degrees here in Minnesota yesterday. Just last week, people here were complaining about a frost advisory (when the temperature drops near or below freezing at 32 degrees). So it looks like we’re going to have a very short spring.

Some people don’t like living in Minnesota because the weather here is so extreme; on the other hand, the health care and educational systems are among the best in the United States, and the quality of life is very high.

Wow! Big sentence. "On the other hand" is in the middle of it. To see more examples of how this kind of transition is used, click here. You can also view the video below:

 

 

May 19, 2009

It’s important to save a lot of money to buy a house; otherwise, you might not be able to get the house you want when the time comes to make a purchase. ("otherwise" in this sentence is used as a conjunction between two sentences.)

Global warming is a serious issue that needs the attention of world leaders; to think otherwise reveals one’s ignorance and lack of knowledge about this problem. ("otherwise" in this sentence is used as an adverb modifying the verb "think.")

This Violet Level lesson will help you understand how to use the word "otherwise."

 

May 18, 2009

In an email I received yesterday, Satish writes, "I would like to ask where and when we can use ‘Here you go’. What is the meaning?"

When someone gives you something, the phrase "Here you go," is often used. It would be similar to "I’m giving this thing to you," but we never say anything like that. There are variations of this. You can say, "Here you are," "There you are," and "There you go," but "Here you go" might be the one most commonly used. I use it all the time. You could also say, "Here."

Today’s lesson in the Violet Level is on "even though." This is similar to "although." The video below provides some examples of its use.

 

May 15, 2009

The next two lessons that we study together are on "although" and "even though."

 

Here are some more examples:

  • Although she has a car, she prefers to ride her bike to work because it’s more environmentally responsible.
  • We should pay the parking ticket even though we think it’s not fair.
  • Even though it takes a long time to drive, we’ll save money on this trip by not flying.

Listen to the video for the correct pronounication of "although" and "even though." The "gh" at the end of those words is silent. I’ll probably make a new video soon that shows how to pronounce "gh." Sometimes it’s silent; other times it sounds like an "f."

 

May 14, 2009

Thanks to everyone who has written to me this week. I’m sorry, I don’t have the time to write back at the moment, but this weekend I should be able to get through all the email and pictures that you’ve sent. Keep those pictures coming!

May 13, 2009

This is such a difficult assignment. This assignment is so difficult.

The difference between "so" and "such" is important to learn because if you mix these words up, your English sounds really strange. "So" is used before an adjective: They’re so hungry. "Such" is used before an adjective and a noun: They have such big appetites. These two sentences are similar in meaning, but you can see the difference.

Here are the answers for the email lesson: 1. such; 2. so; 3. so; 4. such; 5. so; 6. such

Today’s lesson is on how "so" and "such" can be used when making a sentence.

 

 

May 12, 2009

Here’s a recent picture of my vegetable garden in my backyard. This year I’m growing beans, pea pods, carrots, onions, potatoes, cilantro, asparagus, beets, and tomatoes:

garden

Not only does a garden provide a family with food, it’s also an interesting learning experience. Today’s lesson is on the use of "not only."

May 11, 2009

I made this video on Saturday. It matches the lessons scheduled for the next two days.

both / not only

 

May 10, 2009

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Mothers are honored for all their hard work and sacrifice. Many people give their mothers flowers, gifts, cards, and the phone lines across the country are very busy. Be nice to your mom. She’s the only one you’ve got.

May 8, 2009

My plane was late due to the weather.

My plane was late because of the weather.

"Due to" is the lesson of the day. It’s very similar to "because of." After "due to," use a noun:

Due to a severe illness, she’s unable to go to work.

She’s unable to go to work due to a severe illness.

Notice that you can begin a sentence with "due to," or you can reverse the order and put it in the middle of the sentence.

 

May 7, 2009

I just love it when students send me pictures of their pets. I get pictures of goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, horses, etc. all the time. Up until now, I didn’t do anything with them, but because there are so many animal lovers on this website, I guess it’s time to start a new section. Let’s start with Tony’s dog, Cocoa:

Cocoa

Click here for today’s lesson.

 

May 6, 2009

For my friend Barbara….

In addition to a long list of other disasters, George Bush and the Republicans made a mess of the American economy during the years they were in power and almost brought our country to the brink of financial collapse; consequently, Republicans lost overwhelmingly to the Democrats in the 2008 elections, and the nation now has a good president, Barack Obama, and a Congress that’s controlled by the Democrats.

Sorry, the truth hurts so much.

Here’s today’s lesson.

May 5, 2009

The next transition word to practice is "therefore." It’s very similar to "so," but it’s used with a hgher level of diction. "Therefore" is put into the middle of a sentence that begins with a description of a situation or some kind of a problem, and then a solution to the problem or explanation is offerered in the same sentence. It’s generally used by people with a higher level of education or in more formal settings. You could also use "that’s why" or "for that reason" instead.

She’s worried about her safety at home; therefore, she bought a gun and she’s taking a firearms safety class.

You can practice therefore in this lesson. Here are some examples in a video:

 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 

May 4, 2009

I’d like to get a new car this year; however, I think I’ll wait until I have saved more money.

This sentence uses "however" in the middle of it. "However" is a transition word (or conjunctive adverb). It allows the writer or speaker to make a transition from one thought to another. You can use it within sentences or at the beginning of a sentence. It’s very similar to the conjunction "but." Here are more examples:

Growing your own food is a good way to save money; however, you must be ready to spend a lot of time and energy to keep your garden productive.

She wants to buy her new boyfriend a present for his birthday; however, she thinks it’s too early in the relationship to buy him something really expensive.

"However" sounds more formal than "but." It increases your level of diction and helps you sound like you have a higher level of education than people who choose not to use it. I recommend you learn how to use this word.

For more practice, click here.

May 3, 2009

Here’s a new quiz for the future tense. It includes practice for both "will" and "going to."

May 2, 2009

This question comes from a student who emailed me yesterday. I thought it might be helpful to others, so I’m posting it here:

Good morning Paul,

Should I be saying, "Does both of these….," or "Do both of these….."? I am thinking "do," but I always say "does." — Rita

Rita asks a very good question. "Both" is one of those words that you should consider to be plural although it doesn’t end in an "s." There are other words or combinations of words that are also plural. In the sentences below notice that the subject is plural and that the verb is also plural.

a couple = two: A couple of my friends are coming over later to play guitar with me.

a few = three to four: A few of the students in the classroom don’t have books.

several = five, six, seven, etc.: Look at those old buildings. Several of them need repairs.

a dozen = 12: There were a dozen or so police officers at the house down the street.

 

May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!

 

 

 

Click here to go to April 2009

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