The U.S. Map; “Say” or “Tell?”; Four Parts of Speech

The word “tell” requires an object. “Say” does not require an object. 
Examples: What did you say? What did you say to him? I always say what I think.Tell me what you want. I told them what time the movie started.
Here’s a good place to test yourself on “say” and “tell.”
say/tell conversation

Remember: “Parts of Speech” in English tell us how a word is used. The same word may be several parts of speech, depending on how it’s used. 
“Dancing is fun.”  (The word dancing acts like a noun.)
“She is dancing the tango.”  (The word dancing is part of the verb)
“At the circus, we saw dancing horses.” (The word dancing is an adjective describing horses.) 
Here’s a super-fun game that let’s you practice identifying nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
Parts of speech Jeopardy
For a quick, fairly accurate understanding of the origins of America’s Thanksgiving celebration, see:

How To Pronounce the Names of the 50 States

Many state names are difficult to pronounce and spell. Some were originally Native-American words. Others are Spanish words whose pronunciation has been anglicized. Note that “Arkansas” is pronounced “Ar-K’n-SAW” and the final “s” in “Illinois” is not pronounced. “Missouri” is sometimes pronounced “Mizz-oo-RAH” and sometimes pronounced “Mizz-oo-REE.”

* The District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., is not a state, but the area where congress, the Supreme Court, the White House and the headquarters of many federal agencies are located. There is also a beautiful state named Washington, which is all the way across the  country from Washington, D.C. Listen to the names of all 50 states, plus “the District of Columbia” pronounced as Americans pronounce them.

us states pronunciation

Error-Spotting and U.S. States

For Your Halloween Listening pleasure: A Headless Horseman

Most common errors made by ESL students in their compositions:

A Lively Way to Learn the Names and Locations of the Fifty States

This outline map includes a clue to each state’s name: the first letter. The most fun way to use the map is to project it onto a whiteboard. Divide students onto two teams. Give each team one marker of a color different from the other team’s marker. One player from each team may come to the board and write as many state’s names as they can. The state does not “belong” to a team until they have spelled the name correctly. The game can become noisy because students can coach from their seats. But remember: only two people should be at the board at any time.

Halloween Vocabulary and Fun, Ordinal Numbers and Quotation Marks

Here’s something clever to use as an aid in teaching both ordinal numbers and the use of quotation marks. After we read the poem about “Five Little Pumpkins” and analyze the use of quotation marks, a follow-up pair dictation will help pinpoint any problems students have using quotation marks. I like pair dictations where one student can see the video and the other can’t. The one who can see dictates the poem to his or her partner, line by line. The partner who can’t see the words writes down what he or she hears on an individual whiteboard..

This matching game is fun for everyone but only valuable as an ESL exercise if you identify the items in English as they are revealed.The exercise includes: haunted house, skull, bat,black cat, jack o’ lantern, witch’s hat, goblin behind a tombstone, ghost, spider web.

Follow the directions for an amazing interactive card trick.

Many American children learn this song in school.

Past Perfect: What Happened First?

Here’s a good place to practice the past perfect.

You can use use the flashcards on this site too. Pick any two cards. Express the events in the past tense. For example: Nick studied chemistry. Nick took a nap. Then, express the two events as one sentence, using the past perfect to show which happened first. “When Nick took a nap, he had already studied chemistry.”

Why Do People Like Scary Stories?

All cultures have scary stories and movies. Why do people enjoy being frightened?

Here’s a very scary animation based on a story by the famous American writer, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe wrote many stories and poems about scary things. This story is told through the mind of a mad person. Why does that make the story even more frightening?

* Mad = angry.  Mad= crazy, insane (In this story, “mad” means insane.)

Here’s an even scarier version. How are they different? Which do you like better? Why?

Flashcards For All Kinds of Verb Practice

Each card in this set contains a subject and a predicate. My class will be work in small groups, practicing the present perfect.

One student will ask a question of the others in his group, using the present perfect. Has Amy written a letter yet?. The next student will answer, Yes, Amy has already written a letter. The next student will answer, No, Amy hasn’t written a letter yet. 

These cards can be adapted to many levels. I also have used them with dice, the six sides of the die each representing a tense. If the students rolls a four,” for example, she might have to express the card in the present progressive tense. Amy is writing a letter. To make the exercise even more challenging, another student may be assigned to say whether the sentence is expressed as a statement, a question, a negative statement or a negative question!   +, -, ?

(The cards may be printed out or used with an opaque projector.)

Present Perfect: The Scariest Tense of All!

The present perfect tense puzzles many ESL students. The good news is that the past participle of regular verbs is the same as the simple past. Usually, add an “ed” and you have it. “I’ve walked to school every day this week.” The bad news is that many of the most common verbs in English are irregular. “I’ve spent too much money.”

It’s difficult to know when to use this tense too. Try to remember to use the present perfect in these three instances:

1. When something happened very recently. I’ve lost my keys! Help me find them, please.

2. When something began in the past and is still true. I’ve lived in the U.S. most of my life. (I still live in the U.S.) But remember: If something happened at a particular time in the past and is no longer true, use the simple past. I lived in Japan when I was a child. (I don’t live in Japan now.)

3. When something happened in the past, but the particular time isn’t important. She’s already finished her homework. (Did she finish it last night or last week? It doesn’t matter.) Have you ever been late for work?

Beware! Even with the words “always” and “never,” use the simple past if something happened at a particular time. For example: I never ate cereal for breakfast when I was a child. My grandmother always made pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. (Poor Grandmother is dead now.)

Listen to these irregular past participles. You will hear me use the contractions “I’ve,” “they’ve,” “he’s” and “she’s.” Of course, it is correct to say “he has” instead of “he’s,” but the more contractions you use, the more you will sound like a native speaker. And you must be able to understand contractions when you hear them because we use them so often.

past part. BEEN – LENT                        past part. LET – WRITE

*** A perfect tense is a tense that includes some form of “to have” as a helper verb plus the past participle. The present perfect tense includes the present tense of “to have” as the helper verb. In the present perfect tense, the helper verb is either “have” or “has.” It is never “had.” But remember that “had” can also be used as a past participle. For example: I’ve had a bad cold all winter. In this present perfect sentence, the helper verb is “have” and the past participle is “had.”

Here are the irregular verbs included in the audio files used on this blog: