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:

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.

A Ghostly Dictation and Analogies That Build Thinking Skills and Vocabulary

Yoko’s Ghost may be a ghost story. Or it may not.  On this site, you may listen to the story, use the story as a dictation exercise or listen and read along. There’s a mystery to solve, too, that will test your knowledge of human nature more than your knowledge of ghosts.


Speech pathologist Tracy Boyd from Altoona, Wisconsin, put together this Jeopardy-style analogy game. remember: it was created for native speakers. It may be quite a bit more challenging for ESL students.

“quite a bit” = “much”

If you’re not sure what an analogy is, watch this short, cute video.

Antonyms, Rhymes and the Scary Present Perfect Tense

Here is a fun game that lets students share and increase their vocabulary in a conversational setting. Print out a playing board on legal-size paper for every group of three or four players. You will need a single die for each board and a playing piece for every player.  The second or third student to land on a particular space must use a new word and not repeat another’s word. (Teachers, be prepared to provide candy or candy IOUs. FREE CANDY spaces mean free candy!))

Note: Antonym means opposite word. Some words can have multiple meanings and may have multiple opposites too. For example, the word “right” can mean the opposite of “left,” or it can mean the opposite of “wrong.”

Words that rhyme must have exactly the same ending sound. Don’t be fooled by English’s goofy spelling.  “Boot” and “look” do not rhyme. “Boot” and “flute” do rhyme.

Here are some more sites where you can practice distinguishing between the past and the present perfect tenses.