Thursday, December 20, 2007

End of Semester Party

Fall 2007 was an awesome semester! Thanks to all of you who helped make it so.

Below is our 2007 rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, with apologies to Laura and Angeles, who had gone to pick up the pizza.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Links

Take this test on "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to see how much you remember about the poem. It's not really a test, so if you can't remember, you can look at your paper to find the answer.

Read stories by ESL students about their Christmas and New Year memories.

Try these 30 questions to test your English grammar while you learn about the history of Santa Claus.

Find out why we have Christmas trees and lights and learn about the origins of other holiday traditions.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Gift of the Magi and O'Henry

Some of you have read The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry in class. Here is a link to a recording of the story so you can listen to it as you read. Scroll down until you see the audio player, click the arrow for Play, and then scroll back to the top of the story to read with the recording.

O. Henry was born William Sidney Porter in North Carolina in 1862. He moved to Austin when he was 22 years old. He lived here for 13 years--until he was accused (and later convicted) of embezzling funds from the First National Bank, where he had worked as a teller for three years. While he was in prison, he started using the name O'Henry for his writing. The house where he lived in Austin is now the O. Henry Museum at 409 E. Fifth Street.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Zodiac, Chinese Astrology, and Days of the Week

Signs of the Zodiac —

Chinese Astrology—

What does it mean to be born on Saturday? Here's a traditional English nursery rhyme that predicts your life based on the day of the week you were born:
  • Monday's child is fair of face [pretty or handsome]
  • Tuesday's child is full of grace [moves well; may be a good dancer]
  • Wednesday's child is full of woe [sad; many troubles]
  • Thursday's child has far to go [will travel; has many plans and projects]
  • Friday's child is loving and giving
  • Saturday's child works hard for its living
  • But the child that is born on the Sabbath day [Sunday]
  • Is bonny [pretty] and blithe [happy], and good and gay [very happy; no worries]
Note! The word gay used to be different from what it means today. When this poem was written, it meant happy and cheerful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Material World

Here is the link to the Web site for Material World that we looked at in class today:

If you have time, you can see more photos from Kenya, Japan, India, and China at this site:

Monday, November 26, 2007


The horse is running
high and beautiful colors
animal lovely
From our big window
I can see the clear blue sky
And beautiful birds.
On the big table
Five beautiful red roses
Stood in the green vase.

Elephant running
In Africa long after
bigger and mighty
Poinsettia red green
beautiful colors happy
robin sings pretty
beautiful colors orange brown
flies in the forest

Friday, November 16, 2007

Commercials -- The Movie!

Here's the video of our class commercials. Great work, everybody!

Monday, November 12, 2007

You can do it! We can help!

After talking about slogans used in commercials, our class informally adopted this slogan from Home Depot. It has become the class motto, not only in what we say, but in what we do. You can do it; we can help! How do I feel about that? I'm lovin' it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Interesting reading research

Here's a reading experiment. Try to read these mixed-up words. Hint: focus on the first and last letters.

I cna't blveiee taht I can uesdnatnrd waht tihs syas. New rsaerech syas taht the oerdr of ltetres in a wrod deos not mtaetr. The olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig!

How did you do? Here's the same paragraph with the words spelled correctly:

I can't believe that I can understand what this says. New research says that the order of letters in a word does not matter. The only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole. Amazing!

Try it in Spanish:

Sgeun un etsduio de una uivenrsdiad ignlsea, no ipmotra el odren en el que las ltears etsan ersciats, la uicna csoa ipormtnate es que la pmrirea y la utlima ltera esten ecsritas en la psiocion cocrrtea. El rsteo peuden estar ttaolmntee mal y aun pordas lerelo sin pobrleams. Etso es pquore no lemeos cada ltera por si msima preo la paalbra es un tdoo.

For more information about this research, go to

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

TV Commercials

In the I Love Lucy commercial for VitaMeataVegaMin that we saw in class, Lucy uses questions to get the audience interested in her product. Here are some real commercials with different ways of getting people's attention. Read the words on the right side of the screen while you watch the commercial. Click on any words that are different from what you hear. Play the commercial as many times as you need to. Then read along with the commercial. See if you can speak English as fast as the announcers do!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Take English Home

One way to learn English faster is to take it home with you. Here are some ideas.

1. If you have a friend or family member who speaks English, ask them to talk with you in English for 15 minutes. You can do this several times a day. If they correct your mistakes, just say "thank you," and keep on talking.

2. Sometimes when you are shopping, you might see one employee who looks like an English-only speaker and another one who looks like he or she might speak your language. Go to the English speaker for help. It is the employee's job to be patient and to try to understand you.

3. When you are shopping in a store with a machine where you can check yourself out, choose English as your language. If you don't understand an instruction, you can always ask a clerk for help.

Try it! The more you try, the more you'll learn.