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Blog LAEO Jan March 08

The LAEO Blog – Learn English here daily.

March 31, 2008

   

Baseball season begins this week in the United States. With that in mind, I’ll be adding a sports section to the vocabulary page soon. What kind of sports do you like? Do you have a favorite sport?

March 30, 2008

Who is the best teacher you have ever had? Look in the mirror and consider yourself. Can you teach yourself anything? Of course, you can. With help from books, audio cassettes, videos, websites, and a lot of dedication and self-discipline, you can teach yourself how to do many different things.

Notice the use of the reflexive pronoun in the above paragraph. Do you know your reflexive pronouns? Here are some examples below. Here’s a link to a YouTube video on reflexive pronouns.

He taught himself how to speak English. She taught herself how to play the piano. They taught themselves how to cook.  The reflexive pronoun directs the reader or the listener back to the subject.

March 28, 2008

What kind of a student are you? Are you a serious student? When someone words really hard on his or her schoolwork, we say that person is "serious." A person who doesn’t work very hard is a "slacker" or, if used as a verb, the student slacks off.

March 27, 2008

There were a couple of words that came up in class discussion yesterday: "pursue" and "stress."

pursue (verb) = go after, try to get, work hard to obtain. For example: She’s pursuing a degree in business.

stress (verb) = show the importance of something, highlight, focus on. For example: The teacher stressed the difference between the voiced and unvoiced sounds in those words. (Notice that this is different from the noun form of the verb, which means "pressure" or "anxiety." )

March 23, 2008

Students in my intermediate level class at the Mall of America will be studying the topic of education this week. We’ll compare the differences between the education system in the United States and those of other countries. This is always a fascinating topic for me, of course, because I’m a teacher, and students generally appreciate the opportunity to talk about their educational background.

I got a good response from the last email sent out. If you haven’t written to me yet, go ahead and write. I usually reply within a day or so.

March 20, 2008

Students received an email today with a link to YouTube videos which show how to use the past tense. If you have any suggestions for how I can improve those videos, please email me. I like to get ideas from my students in order to make the website better.

March 18, 2008

A new email will be going out within the next couple of days. I haven’t decided what the topic will be yet, but I’m open to ideas if you have any.

What’s a "recession?" This word has been used a lot lately to describe the economy in the United States. When business activity slows down, stops, or contracts (gets smaller), economists describe this situation as a "recession." Many Americans are very worried that the economy is in trouble. Who’s to blame? Well, it’s not hard to conclude that George Bush, the Republican Party, and our nation’s business leaders have really "dropped the ball." And the recession is just the latest mess. The Iraq War, high gas prices, ignoring the victims of Hurricane Katrina, ignoring global warming, harming immigrants, and creating a climate of fear and suspicion nationwide is their legacy. History will be a harsh judge.

drop the ball = make a big mistake

March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  In the United States, this is an unofficial holiday which pays tribute to the Irish people and their culture. Click here for more information.

March 16, 2008

The Iraq War is just about five years old. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Remember, that was the reason that George Bush gave for invading Iraq. Now the Iraqi people live day to day in misery and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Yeah, Hussein was a cruel dictator, but is this really a better situation for the people? What a mess!

If you are interested in helping the Iraqi people–especially the women and children who have been affected by the war–click here.

March 14, 2008

I added a few new videos to my YouTube channel. They show the difference between regular and irregular verbs in the simple and past tense forms. Go here if you want to take a look: http://www.youtube.com/learnamericanenglish

March 13, 2008

Here are some instructions for using my website:

 

March 12, 2008

What do you do to take care of yourself? Do you exercise? Do you try to eat right? Do you avoid eating and doing things that are bad for you? If you are reading this blog, you may write to me and tell me what you do to stay healthy.

take care of (oneself) = He takes care of himself. She takes care of herself. We take care of ourselves. Notice the reflexive pronoun matches the subject.

Some of my students are working on their U.S. citizenship. Good luck to you! Here are the 100 questions and answers that you have to know for the test. 😉

March 10, 2008

This week my regular classroom students will learn about health care and study vocabulary related to this topic.

March 8, 2008

For people in the United States, remember to set your clock an hour ahead tonight for Daylight Savings Time. Not all countries do this, but we do here because it adds more daylight to the evening hours and people don’t have to use as much electricity for lighting their homes in the evening.

March 6, 2008

Many of my students tell me that they have trouble expressing themselves in English. Self-expression takes time to develop even in your first language. One thing that will help you is if you keep a journal.  A journal is a place for you to write about what you do every day. You write about waking up, making breakfast, going to work or to school, activities outside of work and school–such as shopping, coming home, making dinner, and going to bed. It might sound like an unexciting thing to write about, but if you do it every day for a month, I guarantee you will see improvement in your ability to write and your ability to speak in English.

March 5, 2008

What kind of food do you like? I love Indian food! Here’s a picture of some food I made recently at home:

Up at the top are samosas. Samosas are fried bread filled with potatoes. On the right, the yellow stuff, is a potato dish. The one in the middle is cauliflower and tofu. The one on the left is a chutney which is made with yogurt and cilantro, among other things. I’m not very good at making some things, but I’m getting better.

March 4, 2008

Thanks to everyone for the email responses to yesterday’s email. I am slowly making my way through all them, but I should be able to respond to everyone individually. It has been a very interesting experiment!

March 3, 2008

Tomorrow we’ll find out how much strength Barack Obama has as a candidate for the U.S. presidency, or whether Hillary Clinton can prove that she has the ability to wage a comeback. The results will be very interesting. Primaries are in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Right now Hillary Clinton is behind Barack Obama in the delegate count but not by very much.

comeback = when you are behind someone in a competition and then regain a good position. "Comeback" can be used an adjective, a noun, or as a verb. Bill Clinton called himself "The Comeback Kid" during the 1992 election when he caught up to the other Democratic candidates, passed them, and then went on to be the nominee for the Democratic party.

March 1, 2008

Today is the first day of what will be a very busy month for me, and perhaps for you if you visit the website often. I’ll send out at least two emails this month and include some writing assignments for those who are interested in improving their writing skills.

February 29 , 2008 

Here’s a really interesting website that allows you to upload your own pictures and then change them with special backgrounds, frames, and effects. Cool stuff! Click on the logo:

February 28, 2008

When it gets really cold outside, you can throw boiling water up in the air and it will evaporate before it hits the ground. This short video is from last year but I could have made it just a couple of weeks ago. It was really cold outside!

 

February 27, 2008

There’s some new material for the red level. Soon each level with have a collection of quizzes so that students can practice their grammar. Students and teachers are welcome to print these out or complete them online.

February 25, 2008

This is a bit troubling for those of us who love the freedom of information and truth:

Pakistan causes worldwide YouTube outage

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer (this is an excerpt found from an article on Yahoo! News on 2-25-2008)

NEW YORK – Most of the world’s Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours Sunday after an attempt by Pakistan’s government to block access domestically affected other countries.

The outage highlighted yet another of the Internet’s vulnerabilities, coming less than a month after broken fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean took Egypt off line and caused communications problems from the Middle East to India.

An Internet expert explained that Sunday’s problems arose when a Pakistani telecommunications company accidentally identified itself to Internet computers as the world’s fastest route to YouTube. But instead of serving up videos of skateboarding dogs, it sent the traffic into oblivion.

On Friday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 Internet service providers to block access to YouTube.com, because of anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google Inc.

The authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said the ban concerned a trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release a movie portraying Islam as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The block was intended to cover only Pakistan, but extended to about two-thirds of the global Internet population, starting at 1:47 p.m. EST Sunday, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, N.H., firm that keeps track of the pathways of the Internet for telecommunications companies and other clients.

The greatest effect was in Asia, were the outage lasted for up to two hours, Renesys said.

YouTube confirmed the outage on Monday, saying it was caused by a network in Pakistan.

February 24, 2008

In my regular classroom, I often provide students with information about African Americans who have made important contributions to American culture and politics, especially during the month of February which is Black History Month in the United States. But I also try to talk a little about how difficult life can be today for some African Americans who live in poor neighborhoods across the country. These are people who are condemned to a life full of obstacles simply because of the location in which they were born. The people in the video are singing about their neighborhood. (or "hood"). The Hood Diet:

 

February 23, 2008

My 10:00 intermediate level class is studying government. In the United States, there are three main levels of government: federal (national), state, and local. Local government can take the form of a city, a small town, a county, or a metropolitan region.

There are three branches of government at the federal and state levels: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Each is equal in power, and each operate under a constitution which describes how the government is elected and what each branch can and cannot do.

*county = a large collection of cities and towns. Hennepin County in Minnesota is made up of 46 cities.

February 21, 2008

Last night there was a lunar eclipse. This occurs only when there’s a full moon. The earth moves directly in front of the sun and the moon is directly behind the earth which creates a very colorful glow. The picture below demonstrates what happens. You can see the moon to the right looks a little orange because of refracted light from the sun.

In the past, these kinds of odd effects on the moon have been thought to create madness in people, which is why the words, "lunacy" (a noun) and "lunatic" (also a noun) are used to describe a crazy person. He’s a lunatic.

February 20, 2008

Things aren’t looking too good for Hillary Clinton. She lost to Barack Obama in Wisconsin and Hawaii by large margins while his popularity nationwide continues to surge. Many political experts are now saying that the nomination is "his to lose." John McCain, who won in Wisconsin and Hawaii, is the likely nominee for the Republicans.

a large margin = a big difference  /  surge = a big increase (can be used as a noun or as a verb)

(one’s) to lose = a person will lose if he or she makes a lot of really dumb mistakes. Examples: It’s his to lose. It’s hers to lose. It’s theirs to lose. The possessive pronoun changes depending on the person or people involved.

February 18, 2008

Today is Presidents’ Day. Here is some information about famous Presidents. Also, in the vocabulary section of the website, you can learn a little about money.  Most U.S. currency has pictures of U.S. Presidents, but there are a few denominations that don’t. Alexander Hamilton was Treasury secretary. He’s on the ten. Sacajawea was a Native American guide. She’s on the dollar coin. Benjamin Franklin was a writer and an inventor. He’s on the 100-dollar bill.

February 16, 2008

To my friends in Iraq and Iran, I’m sorry but email apparently can’t pass easily into these two countries. There are other countries that block email and websites, but these two stand out as recent examples.

February 15, 2008

One of the great things about having a blog is posting cool stuff like this:

 

February 13, 2008

Last night Barack Obama and John McCain were winners in elections held in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Now John McCain is clearly going to be the Republican nominee for President, and Barack Obama becomes the frontrunner for the Democratic party. (Do you remember what the word "frontrunner" means? Scroll down the blog if you have forgotten.) Who will be the winner? We will all have to continue to watch and see what happens next.

An interesting fact: The nation’s capital–Washington D.C.–is not located in any one of the fifty states. It’s kind of a city-state all by itself and located on the east coast. It was created to keep the national capital separate from the states. D.C. stands for District of Columbia. There’s also the state of Washington located on the west coast. Both places are named after our first President, George Washington.

February 11, 2008

Today is Monday and the beginning of a new week. My beginning level class will study the difference between count and noncount nouns. This is good to understand because the words used within each category are different. For example, "How many students are in the classroom?" The word "student" is a count noun, therefore I make the question using "how many." How much time do you have this morning to eat breakfast?" The word ‘time" is a count noun and uses "how much" to make the question. One easy way to tell the difference between count and noncount nouns is whether or not the word make the plural with an "s." Count nouns add an "s"; noncount nouns don’t add an "s." For more practice on this click here.

February 8, 2008

My intermediate level class has been studying the ways in which things can be purchased on credit–cars, houses, and every day necessities. Do you have a credit card? In the U.S. most people have one because it’s easier than carrying around a lot of cash, and it helps a person develop a good credit rating. Just make sure you pay the entire balance at the end of the reporting period, otherwise you’ll be charged interest on the amount unpaid.

credit rating: a public report that shows how well you pay back loans and credit cards

balance: the amount of money in your account–money you owe or money you have

February 7, 2008

 Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the Year of the Rat.

February 5, 2008

Get ready. It’s Super Tuesday! Voters in 22 states–almost half of the 50 states–will go to primaries and caucuses to cast their votes for the next President of the U.S. I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm and interest in an election season. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because we’re all so eager to dump Bush and start moving forward again. The century really got off to a bad start.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are just about tied. They’re the two remaining candidates in the Democratic Party. Among the Republicans, there are four candidates to choose from: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Mike Huckabee. John McCain is leading his opponents.

February 3, 2008

Today the Superbowl is being played in Glendale, Arizona. The New England Patriots, who are undefeated, will play against the New York Giants. This is the biggest sporting event of the year and many Americans watch the game, whether they like football or not. In addition to the game, viewers pay attention to the commercials, too.

February 2, 2008

Today is Groundhogs’ Day in the United States. According to popular lore, if the groundhog comes out of his burrow on February 2 and sees his shadow, he will be frightened back into his hole, and this event predicts another six weeks of winter. A cloudy day — and no shadow — means winter will end early. Of course, this is a myth — especially in Minnesota.

burrow: a place where animals live, usually underground

January 31, 2008

The last few days in Minnesota have been way below zero. Yesterday it was 41 degrees below zero here. Wow! That’s cold!

January 28, 2008

Barack Obama won the South Carolina primary last Saturday, nearly doubling the number of votes cast for Hillary Clinton. Today he received an endorsement from Ted Kennedy, brother of the late President John F. Kennedy.

What is an endorsement? When someone famous or someone with political power says that you are a good candidate for an elective position, that’s called an endorsement. Endorsements are important because they tell the voters who supports whom, and it makes it easier sometimes for voters to decide on which candidate to support.

In the previous week, John McCain won the South Carolina primary. He has received many endorsements, including one from the Governor of Minnesota (where I live), Tim Pawlenty.

January 25, 2008

There’s a new video on YouTube which I made for making information questions. You can take a look at it here.

January 23, 2008

I get a lot of email from students who ask me how they can improve their English. My advice is to try to learn English from as many different people as possible, and if you are using the internet, try more than just one website. On my links page, you’ll see links to other websites for learning English. A simple search will turn up some websites as well; however, try the free ones first.

Thanks to the students who sent me photos of themselves in response to my latest email. I think it really helps to build an online community by featuring the pictures of people who visit the website. If you have any videos you can send those as well, or if you have posted a video online and think it’s appropriate for this site, just send me the link.

January 22, 2008

Last night the Democrats had a debate in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards discussed the most important issues in the minds of the voters; however, there was a lot of disagreement and finger-pointing which most voters don’t like to see when they watch a debate. South Carolina Democrats will hold their primary this Saturday. Remember that a primary is an election that is held within a state. Each state has these elections before the general election in November. If you read this blog regulary, I’ll try to provide information about how the political system works in the U.S., especially now during the election season.

January 21, 2008

Today we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in the United States. Public schools were closed, and so were most government offices. On the radio and an on television there were many programs about the contributions that King made to the improvement of civil rights for all Americans. There’s still a lot of work to be done in improving the lives of African Americans and others who have suffered from discrimination and prejudice, but we have come a long way from the 1950s and 1960s when the evidence of racism and injustice was just too much for the American public to tolerate.

discrimination: treatment or consideration of a person based on class or category (skin color, religion, gender, physical ability, age, etc.). Basically this is something that you do, and it’s illegal in the U.S. to discriminate against a person.

prejudice: to have an idea or belief about a person or a group of people that is not based on fact but on opinion. This is something that you believe to be true–an opinion. Although it’s not very nice, prejudice is legal in the U.S. because it’s a belief and you can’t make it illegal to have an unkind thought about someone.

January 18, 2008

I’ve changed the video lessons page. Now, instead of videos made by other people, I’ve put my own videos on there. I will also include videos made by other people, but they will probably go onto a different page. If you find any good videos on YouTube that you think are helpful for yourself or others, please send me the link and maybe I’ll feature it on the website. Or if you’d like to make your own video about yourself and then put it on YouTube, let me know and I can paste it in here somewhere. Isn’t the internet fun?

January 15, 2008

The word "change" is frequently used by candidates for President of the United States. Obama seemed to have coined the word first and now it’s copied repeatedly by all the other candidates. Clearly, the people are speaking. "Change"–whatever form it comes in–will bring us away from the course we’ve taken and towards something that we want to become in the future. Together we all envision this future and hope that the people we elect will take that vision and make it a reality.

We are all keeping our fingers crossed that this next President is going to be a good one–no matter what party he or she comes from.

January 14, 2008

This week my 7:30 class will continue to study the verb "be" and practice making questions and statments. We will also study different occupations (jobs). The 10:00 class will read about and discuss working in an office, and there will be an assortment of activities related to food, such as ordering in a restaurant and making things at home.

January 11, 2008

If you are new to this website, be sure to sign up as a member on the home page. Membership is absolutely free and you may unsubscribe at any time. Perhaps best of all is that you don’t have to use a password or a username every time you come to the site. Just come here as often as possible and tell your friends about the website.

Occasionally, I will check your responses to emails. If I see that you aren’t responding to your email, your free membership will be cancelled–so check your email!

If you could send a picture of yourself for the photos section, that would be greatly appreciated.

January 10, 2008

My 10:00 class has been studying consumerism this last week. What should you think about when you buy something? The obvious considerations are for price and quality. In addition, you should think about the following for any purchase you make: safety, usefulness, country of origin (where its made), environmental impact, and putting it in the trash when it’s no longer good. Let’s take these one at a time.

Safety – Is the product safe? Are there materials in the product, such as lead or mercury, that might make it dangerous to have in your home?

Country of origin – Where was it made? Who did the work? If this is important to you, look at the label before you buy it.

Environmental impact – What is the effect on the environment from this product? Does it use gasoline or electricity wisely? Global warming is real and we all have to think about how our consumption contributes to it.

Putting it in the trash – How easy will it be to throw the product away when you are finished with it? Remember, some electronic appliances, like computers, TVs, rechargeable batteries, and microwave ovens can’t be put directly in your trash. You have to take them to a special place because these products contain harmful substances.

January 8, 2008

New Hampshire holds its primary today. It’s the first primary in the nation. What exactly is a "primary"? It’s a state election for a presidential candidate. The reward for winning a primary is the number of delegates that each state sends to the national conventions that political parties have in the summer before the national election in November. Because Barack Obama won the caucus (which is kind of a like a primary) in Iowa, he will get the support of all the Iowa delegates who go to the Democratic convention in Denver this August. Mike Huckabee won all the delegate support when he won on the Republican side, so those delegates will pledge their allegiance to him in St. Paul during the Republican convention, also in August.

January 7, 2008

For beginning level students, I added the alphabet in English to the blue level section. Even if you aren’t new to English, it might help you. Click here.

January 6, 2008

Last week I had some plumbing problems and had to call a plumber to come to my house. The main sewer line that goes from the house to the street was blocked and raw sewage was backing up into the house. Yuck! The man who arrived was originally from Nairobi, Kenya and is now an American citizen. He did a good job and fixed the problem very quickly.

January 5, 2008

Minnesota, the state in which I live, is going through a bit of a thaw this weekend. The snow and ice are melting everywhere. Thaw. What an interesting word. It’s used to describe melting activity, usually on a large scale. But you can also use it for something that you take out of your freezer. For example: I took the meat out of the freezer so that it could thaw.

A spring thaw

January 4, 2008

Last night Barak Obama was the big winner in the Iowa caucus. This does not mean that he will be the Democratic nominee for President of the U.S., but it will make him the frontrunner among all the other Democrats who are also running. Time for a little vocabulary: frontrunner = the person who takes the lead in a political contest; nominee = the person who is chosen by his party for a political office or position; run = try to get elected.

I’ll try to use my blog this year to give updates on the progress of the election. If any of you who read the blog on a regular basis have questions about how elections in the U.S. work, please email me directly and I can post the answers here.

January 2, 2008

Iowa caucuses are tomorrow. The United States has begun the process of choosing a new President. After tomorrow you will hear a lot about the winner of this contest.

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year! This blog enters its third year, and I hope to have the opportunity to add to it more regularly and make it more interesting. Notice that there are more videos now on the website. You can find them here and on You Tube.

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