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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Back to School

In June I wrote about the VOA's free, online English courses and materials, appropriate for adult ESL learners on several levels.  It's at https://learningenglish.voanews.com.

Now I've discovered free online beginner and intermediate ESL courses offered by the Sacramento County Office of Education.  They also offer a course to help prepare for citizenship. Students can study on their own or with the help of a teacher.  In addition they offer a "Skills for the Nursing Assistant" course. Learn more at their their "USA Learns" site at https://www.usalearns.org.

In addition, check out the MOOCs offered by the US Dept. of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  (MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.) I haven't studied these in depth, but they appear to be aimed at advanced learners and perhaps students on an upper-intermediate level.  See their variety of current and upcoming offerings at https://www.openenglishprograms.org/MOOC.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

I Want To Be Dr. Seuss When I Grow Up

I would love to find a list of the most difficult and most often used words for teaching English as a Second Language. Not finding a definitive compendium online, I started my own which as of this date has 800 words.  Of course many are similar, for example different forms of a verb. These come from various ESL teachers' lists via online articles or videos.  Although I've been teaching adults, I also added  additional words from "Cat in the Hat" and the rest of the vocabulary in the national 1st grade vocabulary list.  

Since I mainly use my word list to enhance my color-vowel poems and chants, it is online sorted by Color Vowel® plus schwa.  (Once the Google Sheet file is downloaded or copied into Excel, of course it can be re-sorted alphabetically.)

Here's the link: Most Difficult and Most Often Used

I also have a growing list of most important business terms; however, that one is such a mess I'm not publishing it, yet.

I try to incorporate as many as possible of these important words into my All Around My Mouth poems.

Of course it's no surprise that the poems tend to also have words that rhyme with the ones on the list  If you are interested in rhymes, here's a link to words that rhyme with the color vowels. This is the link to the Color Vowel Chant.  I kept all the worksheet's rhyming words just for future reference.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Ralph Noble Jones -- Memorial Gathering and Celebration of Life

To be held at Owl Canyon Gliderport   --   On September 11, 2021
4598 Hackamore Rd, Wellington, CO 80549

We do not expect anyone from out of town to risk their health by attending; however anyone who needs to travel to Colorado anyway is welcome to attend. 

Potluck picnic from 11AM to 12:30 PM
Airplane takeoff and scattering of ashes starts at 1:00 PM.

We plan to gather outside in front of the clubhouse,(on the side facing the runway).  However, the clubhouse as well as the hangar, provides space in which to shelter if it rains.

Since the gliderport can be dusty or muddy, dress is definitely casual.  Also, you will want to bring a sun hat.

Bring food and drink to share or to just eat, yourself, if you prefer to isolate more due to Covid.

Covid guidelines for potlucks suggest that sharing food is relatively safe but that everyone bring their own paper plates, cups, napkins and utensils.  We'll have extra just in case.

We will follow the State of Colorado and Larimer County Covid guidelines, however they stand on September 11.  We expect that guidelines will tighten up again this fall but will not have changed much as of mid September.

Due to construction on I-70 this summer, driving time from the center of Denver to Owl Canyon has sometimes been closer to 2 hours rather than the usual 1-1/2 hours.  In September, please consult Google Maps for current information.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Canned Goods and Iced Tea

 ESL students find -ed words hard to recognize and even harder to pronounce, whether they are being used as part of a past tense verb or as an adjective.  (Add an -ly to make the adjective into an adverb and pronunciation becomes a double challenge.)

Adding to the problem is the increasing dropping of the -ed by English-speakers themselves during adjective usage!  I first saw a grocery aisle with the sign "Can Goods" 40, or maybe even 50 years ago.  The English teacher in me said, "No!  I must talk to the store manager about this!"  Of course I didn't, and over the years supermarkets have almost universally adopted the shortened version.

Equally disturbing is the number of restaurant menus offering "ice tea" instead of "iced tea".  A quick Google search found that Grubhub says, "Find your favorite ice tea delivery near you..." but Olive Garden still advertises "Fresh Brewed Iced Tea...".  (I think they meant to say, "FreshLY Brewed Iced Tea..."}

Well, languages do change.  In 100 more years there may be only a shorten' version of "well behav' dogs" or "promise' land" or "hard-boil' eggs".  At least that will make the language easier for ESL students.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A Smuggling Story

Thanks to the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form N-400 Part 12, I found just the vocabulary needed for a story about inter-galactic smuggling.  It's under the Portfolio tab in the section "Inter-Galactic Agricultural and Mechanical Corp Dialogs" and it's called "Shipping Department Gossip".  

This is vocabulary practice for people preparing for citizenship, but it's also a lesson on the use and pronunciation of -ed words and -tion words as well as the use of reductions.  

My character, Zook uses very colloquial English but also seems to know some more sophisticated legal terms.

And his second cousin, Zelda, who is featured in the "All Around My Mouth" poem called "Happy Hour with Zook and Wulf", mentions she hasn't been around because she "took a good, long rest" after winning the Melbourne Cup.  

Since, in an earlier dialog, Zook referred to his "hoof" rather than his "foot", I'm beginning to wonder exactly what these guys look like.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Does English Drive You Bananas?

 Thanks to Liz Bigler in the Facebook "My Color Vowel Community" for sharing this cartoon (originally posted at Cover Band Central.)

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Talking Dictionaries

 Today's English learner has wonderful options for hearing the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word.  Online dictionaries typically give you an audio file, definitions, examples of the word in a sentence, synonyms, sometimes a translation, and more.  Among these are:

Dictionary.com (American Pronunciation)
The Free Dictionary (American & British Pronunciations)
Howjsay.com (British Pronunciation)
Merriam-Webster (American Pronunciation)
And More.

Then, there are a multitude of stand-alone pocket dictionaries and translators plus apps which turn your cellphone into such a device.  If you are an ESL student learning English with the help of the Color Vowel® Chart, the "Blue Canoe Pronunciation Dictionary" app will give you the color as well.  A free version is available at Blue Canoe Learning

Google Translate also works as a pronunciation app and there are many text-to-speech apps available.  Again, if you want to use color vowels to enhance your learning, Blue Canoe also offers a free computer browser add-on so that you can highlight an unfamiliar word in a browser search result, getting definition and pronunciation on the fly.

What if you have heard a new word but don't know how it is spelled?  Is there a talking dictionary where you can speak the word into a microphone and have it return the likely possibilities with definitions? There are talking dictionaries developed for the blind; however I have no experience with them. Alexa might work!  She will give me definitions and translations; however I have to pronounce the term quite clearly for her to understand.

© Copyright 2021, Margaret R. Jones