Language & Learning

1.  Compelling Conversations.
2.  ESL for Beginners.

CONVERSATION #1: On Shopping
Here is a typical conversation about shopping in the United States. Jim is an international student who has just arrived from Shanghai, and Anna and Will are introducing him to the shopping scenario in America.  Source.

Anna: As I was telling you, Jim, where you shop depends largely on what you need. So, if you want to buy an answering machine or a CD-player,your best bet would probably be an appliance store such as Radio Shack.

Will: Yup! Or Circuit City. I like Best Buy the best, though.

Jim: Why?

Will: Coz they usually have the best deals. They have sales on their TVs and CD-players every once in a while.

Anna: Hum. I’ll bet they send you their glossy ads loaded with so-called “SALES”!

Jim: (laughs)

Anna: Well, I still think the CD-player I bought from them was a rip off.

Will: I’ll admit some of their items are high-priced, but at least the shopper’s guaranteed quality. There are very few places that have such a wide selection.

Jim: I need to buy disks, at least two disk holders, note cards, transparencies, and that kind of stuff.

Will: For office supplies, I suggest Office Max.

Anna: Or Comp USA. One good thing about living in a campus town, though, is that you can easily get that stuff at any of the bookstores. No doubt they do overcharge. I try to get around that by shopping around.

Jim: Shopping around?

Anna: Yes. That simply means you go to different stores, check out the prices of items you need and purchase them from the store(s) with the lowest price or prices.

Jim: I see. Sounds very practical.

Will: And time-consuming, too!

Jim: Where is Office Max located?

Anna: There’s one in the mall, so we can stop by there this afternoon.

Jim: Great! Thanks.

Will: Hey, Jim. Just so you know, you can always run to the discount stores whenever you’re out of something you need right away. There are several around campus.

Anna: That’s right. And they carry pretty much everything a student needs. Pop, pasta, eggs, hair spray . . . you name it!

Will: They don’t usually carry milk, though, so you might want to walk down to White Hen (Pantry)Walgreens, or some other convenience stores close by.

Anna: I wouldn’t advise you to buy things in bulk from such stores, though. I mean, do your major shopping at the specialized stores. It’s much cheaper, and more convenient in the long run.

Jim: Good advice!

Will: Sort of like Mom’s!

Anna: Hey, watch it!

Will: Just kiddin’!

Jim (laughs). Life sounds great in this town! Oh! Before I forget, guys, where can I rent movies? I love watching movies in my spare time.

Anna: Me too! Let’s see. There are two video stores close to your apartment. Lucky you! One’s Blockbuster, and the other’s That’s Rentertainment. I believe they both have specials on weekdays, right Will?

Will: Yup. But not for the new releases. It’s usually a buck each for the older movies.

Anna: Are you guys ready to go to the mall?

Jim & Will: Sure.

Anna: Jim, don’t forget to take your shopping list with you.

Jim: Thanks for reminding me.

Anna: You’re welcome. What are we waiting for? Let’s go.

CONVERSATION #2: Getting Directions
Tourist:          Can you tell me how to reach the bank please?

Stranger:        Which bank? There are two: the Allied Irish Bank and the Bank of Ireland.

Tourist:          I have an AIB pass card and I want to withdraw money from the bank.

Stranger:        You need to go to the Allied Irish Bank which is near the local shopping centre, Dunnes Stores.

Tourist:          How do I get there. I have no knowledge of this area.

Stranger:        Cross the road and turn left at the other side. Walk along the footpath until you reach the traffic lights. You will see a shopping centre on the right hand side. Walk across the road and turn right after the shopping centre. Keep going straight for about 100m and the bank is to your left.

Tourist:          It sounds very complicated. How far is it from here?

Stranger:        It’s not so complicated. It’s about five minutes walk from here. I can draw a map for you if you wish.

Tourist:          Oh, I would really appreciate that . By the way will I be going North or South ?

Stranger:        You will be going northwards. You are now in the the Western part of the city and the Allied Irish Bank is situated in the North East. Here’s a rough sketch of the area.

1.  Dictionary of Contemporary English
2.  Thesaurus
3.  Urban Dictionary, Slang

1. Body Idioms
2. English Idioms
3. Find an Idiom
4. More
5. Even more
6. A good site.

2. American Phrases & Sayings
3. More American English Phrases

1. Etymology Lists
2. Find an English Word with a Greek or Latin Root
3. Greek & Latin Prefixes
4. Greek & Latin Prefixes & Suffixes
5. Greek & Latin Roots
6. Greek & Latin Roots, Wikipedia
7. Latin & Greek Roots That Form Scientific Names
8. Latin Aptitude Tests
9. List of Common English Words Using Grk. & Lat. Roots
10. List of Medical Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes
11. YouTube Video on Medical Roots
12. 20 Latin Phrases You Should Be Using.

1.  9 Phrases Smart People Never Use.
2.  20 Latin Phrases You Should Be Using.

Dr. Travis Bradberry on Why We Struggle to Communicate.  It’s worth a read, though what you’ll learn is obvious.  Still, it’s nice to put what is obvious to words.  The best communication involves thoughtful emotional intelligence.  He has some pretty good insights.  I liked his point in this video where he says that most CEO’s have the highest level of emotional intelligence than most of their employees.  This is true.  And when people or managers don’t have this ability we are tortured with disappointment.

1. Pronunciation in the 1920s.

1.  Little Known Punctuation Marks.

1.  Common Errors in English Usage.
2.  Online Etymology Dictionary.

1.  Mnemonic tricks for learning.  I use these all the time.  You probably do too.

1.  Remember more with Mnemosyne,an online flashcard reading and memorizing site. Give it a try to see if you like it.  I used flashcards as a study tool.  With them I was able to learn massive amounts of data that otherwise would have conquered me.  One final exam in a literature class required students to know 100 poems, their titles, their authors, his dates, first lines of the poems, and what they were about.  Sounds like a lot of information, and in the abstract it is.  It takes time to write out 100 3 x 5 cards.  I did that.  Then I studied them, which takes a few more hours.  But it was worth it.  I aced the exam.

This is a terrific site that offers abstract summaries of business books.  Oh, yeah.  I will be using this regularly.  Easy to remember–it’s called getabstract.

1. Record your voice with Audacity.
2. Panopreter
3. CuePrompter, an online teleprompter.

2.  Blackboard
3.  Moodle
4.  Straighterline
5.  WizIQ

1.  Dipity
2.  TimeToast
3.  Tiki-Toki

1.  Wolfram Alpha.
2.  Wolfram.

1. Duolingo
2. Spanish Literature @

1. English Stack Exchange (funny play on the compound noun, stock exchange).

TOOLS for ENGLISH LE English Learners
1. Using English
2. English Proverbs


For fun review of what you learned in high school:

1. GrammarGirl is a pretty reliable site for all things grammar.
2. has good resources.
3. has some terrific lists of . . . .
4. also has a good list of exercises.

For a good list of grammar activities, see these:
2. will take you from simple verb identification to discerning differences in the meanings of words.
3. has a good list of grammar terms.

And a list of
4. rhetorical terms.

The following is a list of resources that will help every high school student do well on the SAT Exam.
1.  SAT Practice Grammar Exercises.
2.  SAT Sentence Completion?


The Parts of Speech
Every name is called a noun, as field and fountain, street, and town.
In place of noun the pronoun stands,
As he and she can clap their hands.
The adjective describes a thing,
As magic wand or bridal ring,
The verb means action, something done
To read and write, to jump and run.
How things are done the adverbs tell,
As quickly, slowly, badly, well.
The preposition shows relation,
As in the street or at the station.
Conjunctions joins, in many ways,
Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase.
The interjection cries out, “Hark!
I need an exclamation mark!”

1. ADJECTIVES are words that describe nouns.

Adjective Exercise #1
From Ralph Raico’s “The Road to World War II,” locate and double underline all of the adjectives in the article.  Obviously, you don’t have to underline all the adjectives in one sitting; you may split this article  up into three separate sessions.

Adjective Exercise #2
From Text #2, Five Little Peppers Midway, locate and underline all adjectives.

Adjective List.  Perfect for all writers.  Here’s another.

There are rules for adjectives.  Did you know?

2. ADVERBS are words that color how a verb acts; similar to the way that adjectives alter the meaning of nouns.

3. CONJUNCTIONS are words that join and coordinate two independent clauses or phrases.  There are also different types of conjunctions, so for exams you’ll need to know the different types.  You’re in luck.  I found a list of the types.

The English language has seven coordinating conjunctions, and they’re easy to remember if you can just remember FANBOYS:

“For” explains reason or purpose (just like “because”)
I go to the park every Sunday, for I love to watch the ducks on the lake.

“And” adds one thing to another.
I go to the park every Sunday to watch the ducks on the lake and the shirtless men playing soccer.

“Nor” is used to present an alternate negative idea to an already stated negative idea.
I don’t go for the fresh air nor really for the ducks. Honestly, I just like the soccer.

“But” shows contrast
The soccer in the park is entertaining in the winter, but it’s better in the heat of summer.

“Or” presents an alternative or a choice
The men play on teams: shirts or skins.

“Yet” introduces a contrasting idea that follows the preceding idea logically (similar to “but”)
I always take a book to read, yet I never seem to turn a single page.

“So” indicates a result, effect, or consequence
I’ve started dating one of the soccer players, so now I have an excuse to watch the game each week.

4. INTERJECTIONS are short words thrown in to add excitement and feelings to a comment or dialogue.  Herehere, and here are nice lists of interjections.  This list offers their meanings.  Enjoy!

Tom yelled, “Wow!  I can’t believe that we won the championship!”

Trudy: Come in!

John: Hi, Trudy!  How are you!

Trudy: Ugh!  John, I’ve had a terrible day.

John: Why?  What happened?

Trudy:  My boss wants me to submit a 25-page report by this Friday, and I am already swamped by all of my other assignments.

John: Hey!  That’s not so bad!  It means that your boss really likes your work and relies on you!  By summer’s end, you should be in a good position to ask for a decent raise.

Trudy: Yeah. Wow! I never thought of it that way.  I may be able to ask for a 25% increase, eh?

John: Oh! I think that he likes your work.  You’ve already had praises from so many people, Trudy.

Trudy: Almost makes me want to dance and sing!  Almost.  Whew!  I’d better get cracking on that report.

John: Don’t be surprised if he recommends you for that position as the new Human Resource Manager.

Interjections are used in spontaneous, friendly speech where you want to add excitement to the retelling of an event.  A list of interjections in the dialogue above are:

Ugh!  (an interjection that expresses dread.)

Wow!  (an interjection that expresses excitement, surprise, or joy.)

eh? (an interjection that invites or asks the other person to agree with you.)

Oh!  (an interjection that expresses emphasis, agreement, and recognition.)

Whew!  (an interjection that expresses relief or amazement.)

5. NOUNS are words that name persons, places, things, and abstract concepts, like “peace,” “love,” and “freedom.”

Noun Exercise #1
From Ralph Raico’s “Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” locate and double underline all of the proper and all of the common nouns in the article.

Noun Exercise #2
From Four American Naval Heroes, locate and underline all nouns, both proper and common nouns.

6. PREPOSITIONS are words that indicate where the action of a verb takes place.

7. PRONOUNS are words used in place of a person’s specific and  proper name.

8. VERBS are words that express action and being.

1.  Irregular Verbs 
2.  Irregular Verbs

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Etymology is a useful and interesting way to learn a new language, like Spanish.  Follow this:

1.  Cabeza is the Spanish word for head.  Cabbage and cabeza are both connected with Latin word caput, which means “head.”

2.  Cuello is the Spanish word for neck.  It is related to the English word collar; both words come from the Latinword collum, meaning “neck.” 

3.  Pecho is the Spanish word for chest or bosom.  Pectoral is the English word that refers to the chest muscles.  Bothwords “pecho” and “pectoral” come from the Latin word pectus.

4.  Ojo is the Spanish word for eye.  The English word ocular refers to the properties of the eye.  Both words come from the Latin word oculus.

Some connections with English aren’t so obvious. For example, the Spanish word cadera, meaning “hip,” comes from the Greek word kathedra, which referred to a chair or bench. The Greek word obviously is the source of “cathedral”/catedral — a place to sit, while in Spanish it also morphed into the word used to refer to the part of the skeleton used for sitting.  And the Spanish word for hair, pelo, is related to the English word pile that describes a type of carpet.

Friday, July 27, 2012.
The Latin root of the English word “Communication” is munus.  Read further to learn what it means.

Communication is a word with a rich history. From the Latincommunicare, meaning to impart, share, or make common, it entered the English language in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The key root is mun- (not uni-), related to such words as munificent and community. The Latin munus has to do with gifts or duties offered publicly–including gladitorial shows, tributes, and rites to honor the dead. In Latin, communicatio did not signify the general arts of human connection via symbols, nor did it suggest the hope for some kind of mutual recognition. Its sense was not in the least mentalistic: communicatio generally involved tangibles.”


Posted Monday, May 9, 2016
1.  Useful shortcuts: Alt Codes

1.  Improve Your Reading Comprehension by summarizing with 3 sentences.
2.  Here.
3.  Take notes by hand than by computer or e-notebooks.  But you already knew this.

Posted Friday, May 27, 2016
Symbols are interesting for their meaning, and their meaning is either contextually specific to the story or their meaning is carried by the culture or history.   One interesting kind of symbol is heraldry.  Check out the different positions of the beast or lion.  They are interesting and send an interesting message about the state’s posture toward its competitors and its, ahem, subjects.
1. Attitude in Heraldry.

Spin.  I love spin.

from Breitbart’s story on Olympic athlete Lochte:

Despite the evidence supporting Lochte’s story, the damage to his reputation has been done. Lochte has apologized profusely for the incident, particularly to the U.S. Olympic team – which he still hopes to join in the 2020 Olympics – and to his sponsors. At least one sponsor, Speedo, has dropped Lochte, citing “behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.” The U.S. Olympic team, meanwhile, has said further action will be taken against the swimmers without specifying what that may entail.

Note Speedo’s PR comments, “behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.”

USAGE: Use Words Appropriately and Effectively
1. Eliminate the “Um’s” and “Uh’s” 
2. English Names for the Number 0.
3. Okay, Okay, Okay.  Let Me Count the Ways.
4. There, Their, and They’re.
5. Everything Merriam Webster
6. Common Errors in English Usage.
7. Uniqueness of some English letters.
8. English Proverbs
9. English Proverbs
10. 50 Important English proverbs
11. Popular American Proverbs.
12.  Though it starts with the word, sigh, this is a very decent site to show how words area used in a sentence.  You should thank me for finding this for you.

1. 1000 Most Common SAT Words
2. 200 SAT Words–definitions, sample sentences, & synonyms
3. 7th-8th Grade English Vocabulary
4. 9th Grade English Vocabulary
5. 10th Grade English Vocabulary
6. 11th Grade English Vocabulary
7. Arts & Letters Daily
8. Literary Terms with examples!  Yay!!
9.  15 Old World Words for Duplicitous.  Use them deliciously.
10.  Weasel Words for old Presidents?

Grade 9 Level
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Grade 10 Level
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Grade 11 Level
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Grade 12 Level
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3

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