ESL Lessons General Archives

Present participle – Expressing a progressive action

The present participle in English is a very easy and useful verb form to learn.  It is simply formed by adding ing to the verb ending.

The present participle allows language users to express the following:

  1. A progressive action.  For example:  Beth was sleeping.  She was dreaming about the future.
  2. As an adjective.  For example:  He is an inspiring speaker. His talk was captivating.

Exercise 1: Make sentences using the present participle with the following verbs:

  • Fall
  • Achieve
  • Tell
  • Hear
  • Ask
  • Laugh

 

Exercise 2: Complete the story using the present participle of the verbs listed.

My friend ______________ (name of your friend) was _____________ (walk) home from English class when he/ she saw a __________________ (sing) ________________________ (name any animal).  The _______________ (same animal) was ____________________ (sing) out loud.  My friend started  ___________ (think) of how to let other people know about this special ___________ (sing)  ________________ (animal) .  He / She then thought that the best way to let other people know was by ____________ (post) the story on Facebook. That was the best was of _______ (let)  the world know about this special (animal)  and he / she did just that. The next day he / she saw that her Facebook post went viral, and now everyone is __________ (talk)  about this special, and talented ____________ (animal) .

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Learn to Read with phonics.

Words that begin and end with the letter /d/

 Letter D

The Letter /D/

Part 1:

A)     Read the following words that begin with the letter /d/: 

  • Dan
  • Dad
  • Dot
  • Dig
  • Dog
  • Dim
  • Dip
  • Disk
  • Dark

Part 2:

  • How many new words can you make that begin with the letter /d/?
d___________
d___________
d___________
d___________
d___________
d___________

Part 3: wordsearch


D Word Wordsearch 

Part 4: Questions / Trivia

  • We use a shovel to d____ a hole in the ground.
  • At night time it is d______ outside.
  • Can you name a singer whose name begins with D?
  • Name a food that starts with the letter D.
  • Name a winter sport that starts with the letter D.
  • Name two foods that start with the letter D.

BONUS:  Name three countries which start with the letter /D/.

Learn to Read with phonics.

Words that begin and end with the letter /c/ (hard /k/ sound)

The letter C - Phonics

The Letter /C/

Part 1:

A)     Read the following words that begin with the letter /c/:

  • Cat
  • Cab
  • Cup
  • Cot
  • Cut
  • Core

What do these have in common?  The vowels used are /a/, /u/ and /o/.  When these vowels follow the letter ‘c’, at the beginning of a word, the ‘c’ usually has a hard /k/ sound.

B)     Also, when a consonant follows the letter ‘c’ the ‘c’ will usually have a hard /k/ sound too.

  • Crab
  • Crank
  • Crow
  • Cry
  • Clap
  • Cross
  • Crown
  • Clown
  • Clock

Part 2:

  • How many more words can you make that begin with the letter /c/?
c___________
c___________
c___________
c___________
c___________
c___________

Part 3: Questions / Trivia

  1. An English and French speaking country in North America: C_________.
  2. It makes milk and says “moo”: c_________.
  3. Look both ways before you c_________ the street!
  4. If you are close to a freshly cut onion you might c_________.
  5. You can color in your coloring book with a c_________.
  6. You can go for a long drive in a c_________.
  7. Ronald McDonald is a famous c_________.
  8. A c____________ turns into a butterfly.
  9. Tigers have big, sharp c_________.
  10. I enjoy learning English on my c_________    .
  11. When I was 4 years old I had 4 c_________ on my c_________.

*bonus – a map maker is also known as a c__________________.

 

Learn to Read with phonics.

Words that begin and end with the letter /b/ (hard /b/ sound)

Funky Font the letter /B/

 

Part 1:

A)     Read the following words that begin with the letter /b/:

learning blocks

  • Balloon
  • Ball
  • Barn
  • Bumblebee
  • Banana
  • Baseball
  • Bat

B)      Read the following words that end with the letter /b/:

  • Crab
  • Tub
  • Crib
  • Tab
  • Cab
  • Bob
  • Flab
  • Blab

Part 2:

  • How many words can you make that begin with the letter /b/?
b___________
b___________
b___________
b___________
b___________
b___________
  • How many words can you make that end with the letter /b/?
___________b
___________b
___________b
___________b
___________b
___________b

 

Part 3: Questions / Trivia

  • A fun place to go in the summer and make sandcastles is the b_________.
  • This has two wheels and you peddle it.  A b_________.
  • The opposite of small is b_________.
  • A country in South America which is well known for soccer and beaches. B_________.
  • You think with your b_________.
  • A lovely colour is b_________.
  • Girls and b_________.
  • A fun game, and the name of a dog in a song is b_________.
  • A pretty flying insect which used to be a caterpillar is a b_________.

Spelling Bee and Listening Bee

This lesson can be adjusted for all levels and ages.

A Spelling Bee is a great ESL game for ESL students of all ages, not just kids.  The reason is, it is very easy to Spelling Bee and Listening Bee ESL gamescome up with simple English words for young, or novice learners, and scale up with the increasing level of ESL student.  You can also use a spelling bee to reinforce phonics and phonemic awareness in students which you may have just taught in an ESL lesson.

For example, perhaps your ESL Lesson was contrasting the /b/ and /p/ phonemes, and your goal is to get students to understand and recognize when each is used or heard.

 

Simple Novice Listening Bee

  1. Ask students to answer with either “B” or “P” depending on what they hear.
    1. Prepare a list of words and write each on a small piece of paper
    2. Make two teams from the class
    3. Pick one team to start and choose the student
    4. Pick a piece of paper at random from the words you prepares (put them in a hat or box, so you can see what you are picking) and read the word and give the student 2 seconds to choose /b/ or /p/, if he is wrong his team loses its turn, but let them continue until they get one wrong
    5. If he doesn’t answer within two seconds, the other team gets a chance, if they are right, they keep going.

Minimal pairs can be based well upon the following first letter variations:

  • P / b
  • L / r
  • F / v
  • D / t
  • S / z / j
  • G / k
  • And so on..

Part II – spelling bee

You can now easily recycle this activity into a spelling bee by using the same word list you just had your listening bee with.

Tips:  Remember, you can make this as easy or as complex as you need to in order to challenge, but not shut down your class and students.  You can use simple 3 letter words such as pan, ban, pat, bat, or longer words and advanced phonemes such as /ph/ and /f/ in the spelling bee.  You can even use those examples in context and have students pick the phoneme;  example.  Phil said that he had his fill of seafood last evening at the dinner party.  (which came first, the /ph/ or the /f/?)

 

The Origins of Halloween (Advanced reading)

It was a dark night at the end of the summer, hundreds of years ago, when our Celtic ancestors celebrated the autumn Sabbath known as Samhain (pronounced “Sow-In”) – the Witches New Year.

In those days, autumn was a time for harvesting the last of the crops, feasting and celebrating the end of the year. This was well before our modern form of calendar was created, and many people simply considered autumn to be the end of the year, as the season quickly changes into winter – the time of “great death“. Winter was the time when snow blanketed the ground, chilling crops, animals and people to the bone. No sustainable crops were able to be grown in winter, so the fall harvest season was especially important. The bounty that came in at the end of the year was a forecast of how well a family would do over the winter. If the crops were plentiful, they would likely have an easier time over the cold months. If the crops were meager due to fire, flood or not enough nutrients in the soil, then the winter would be hard.

Back then, the rumor was, that during the end of the year, when the earth traveled from the busy autumn season into the dead of winter, that the etheric veil between our world and the otherworld’s, would be lifted in order to make the transition possible. During this transition, it was believed that entities and spirits that would not normally be able to co-exist on this wave-length with us, could cross over and create all sorts of mischief. Now, before the christian era took over, this time of year was a time of celebration. The clans and tribes of western Europe – who began the traditions followed by most Canadian, American and European cultures to this day – thought of the transition as a powerful time to make connections with higher deities, and to use various forms of magic to safe guard them over the winter. This was because most of the dogmas of that time, worshipped the moon. During the autumn season, the largest and most colorful full moon, the Harvest Moon, can be seen taking over the night sky. It was because the harvest moon appears on different days of the year, that the Halloween of that era, was not on any specific day. It came when the crops were all picked, and the moon was full in the fall.

Now, as the cultural times began to change, and Abrahamic religions had seriously spread across western Europe, the silly faeries, malevolent gnomes, strange but harmless ghosts and funny little brownies that were once an aid to farmers and hunters – soon became dangerous little demons, frightening specters and devious spirits that could harm crops, steal children and scare the skin color out of the most courageous person. It was the fear of even stranger and scarier beings coming through the weakened veil in the fall, which inspired the tradition of wearing masks and dawning costumes. It was thought, at the time, that by dressing up as ghoulish goblins, creepy creatures, strange animals, fairies and other not-human beings, that we could trick the dangerous spirits into believing they were not in our realm. It was this theory that had adults and children wearing masks and costumes, if they were planning any ventures outside of their homes on all hallows eve.

Over time our cultures evolved and spread across the earth, taking their traditions with them. It was the Irish, Scottish and Welsh who had brought the most influence to Canada and America, when it comes to holidays like Halloween. Some of those customs evolved into the traditions we know today.

Trick or Treating used to be a druidic custom when it first began. Because of the belief that malevolent spirits would try to play tricks on you when the veil between the worlds is so thin (tricks that could result in harsh winters and destroyed harvests), they gave treats to the druids, asking them to bless their homes and appease the spirits so they would leave them alone. Now, the treats of that age were certainly not the over-processed sugar filled sweets that we see today. They were eggs, butter, apples, cheese, breadcake, money and barnbrack (a special fruitcake). These were seen as items that the wayward spirits and strange other beings, would eat or use and be sated enough to leave the people alone. As time went on, and the druids were pushed out of society, a new but similar tradition took hold, where beggars would go around to the people’s doors and receive “soul cakes” in exchange for their prayers. The more cakes the beggars got, the more prayers they sent out for the passed loved ones of the folks who handed out the bread cakes. It was believed that the more prayers that were said for a recently dead loved one, the more likely they were to make a safe passage into their next life.

Bobbing for Apples, Riding Broomsticks, Big Bonfires and Halloween Masquerade were all traditions carried over from Celtic times. Interestingly enough, the use of Pumpkins was one of the largest differences between the original Celtic traditions and the newer Canadian and American traditions. In Ireland, children used to carve jack-o-lanterns out of potatoes and turnips, as a way of remembering the dead. They didn’t have Pumpkins, as it is primarily a fruit that grows here in North America. Sometime after pumpkins were discovered by a French explorer, they began to replace potatoes in the North American version of Halloween. Now we can clearly see them decorating our communities in the forms of lit up jack-o-lanterns, candy buckets and cute little baby costumes.

All in all, Halloween is a tradition that has stood the test of the ages. It has changed and changed again, and will continue to do so, as we do, yet forever hold on to its origins. As we know it today, it is still a time for remembrance and winter preparations, though for the most part, it’s just fun.

References:

Samhain – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain

 

Exercise:

– list all the phrases and words that are new to you.  Find the meanings and make two additional sentences using the pattern or word.

Comprehension:

  1. In your own words, summarize the origin of trick or treating.
  2. Why do you think Sowin marked the ‘witch’s new year’?
  3. Why do we carve jack-o-lanterns now and why do we use pumpkins?

The Curious History of Canadian Thanksgiving Customs

A country’s culture and customs are much like a living organism in that they are ever changing, morphing and evolving.  Thanksgiving in Canada is no exception.  The holiday we now know as Thanksgiving has a very rich, interesting and at times, confusing history. As we now know it, Thanksgiving is held every year on the second Monday in October.  Thanksgiving is Canada and America’s harvest festival, though it didn’t always start out that way.

Canada’s First Nations people traditionally celebrated the bounty of their fall harvests and future fertility in the spring, as many other populations also did throughout history. With this already in place at the time the early European settlers came crashing onto the rock we now know as the Province of Newfoundland, the Thanksgiving holiday we now celebrate every October was well on its way to becoming what it is now.  After all, without the assistance of knowledge and food from those that were here before us, the numbers of settlers who died from starvation and a general lack of medicine, would’ve skyrocketed.

There is more to it than that however, as is the case with most good stories. This is part of what makes the history of Canadian Thanksgiving so confusing and yet completely fascinating. You see, much of Thanksgiving in Canada, is a combination of the European and American Thanksgiving traditions. When Martin Frosbisher, the man who is believed to have been the first voyager to land a ship on the land we know as Canada, anchored his ships, the traditional British holiday was brought over.  However, with the added gratitude for having actually made it all the way to the America’s after a turbulent and troublesome trip across the Atlantic.

Later on, France sent over extra explorers to settle in the abundant new lands of Canada, and formed their own “Order of Good Cheer”, which gave thanks with many ‘thanksgiving’ type holidays, openly and jovially sharing with their First Nation brothers and sisters. This transformed the holiday even further, combining the French Christian version of harvest season celebrations, with the Native versions.

There were several other landmarks throughout history which further modified the holiday celebrations and customs associated with our present day holiday.   For example, up until the American Revolution, Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated every year in Canada as it now is.  When the Revolution came, Canada became a hot spot for settlers who remained loyal to the British Crown (Loyalists), and later for those who were aiming to avoid being drafted into military service in the various 19th century wars, all of whom brought their traditions and customs with them.  Even though much of the American version of Thanksgiving also originated in European and Pagan traditions, there were plenty of unique traits that were established when the American Settlers found themselves to be new Canadians.

Following the new Canadian-American-European-Native American Thanksgiving, even more meaning was giving to the day, as Canada experienced its own turbulent periods of war. The Lower Canadian Rebellion, World War I and several other smaller squirmishes, were tough on Canadians from all walks of life, and so when Thanksgiving came around, it became a time to be thankful for the end of these battles.

By 1879, Thanksgiving was still celebrated in late November, as it still is in the USA. It wasn’t until 1957, that the date was officially declared to be the second Monday in October. After that, there were some interesting attempts to combine Thanksgiving with Armistice Day, which didn’t end up working out as well as they had hoped. Eventually, Armistice Day was transformed into Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving was again given the full honor as its own holiday.

Since then, Thanksgiving in Canada has blossomed and grown as all of its cousin holidays have. With Turkey and Duck, Green Bean Casserole, loads of Cranberries, Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin Pies.  The American influence remains evident in recent changes noticed in the Canadian tradition.  Such American customs associated with the Thanksgiving holiday that are now readily experienced in Canada include Thanksgiving football, and other sporting events, and shopping sales to name a notable few.  There are also plenty of festivals, shows and entertaining events that local Canadians and tourists alike get to enjoy. Some of the more interesting 2012 Canadian fall festivals and events coming up:

  • Cruisefest Antique & Classic Car Show
  • The Festival of Banners
  • The Barrie Film Festival
  • The Fort Fright Carnival of Carnage
  • Thunder Bay Pumpkinfest
  • Oktoberfet in Pembroke
  • The Thanksgiving Harvest Craft Show
  • Chappell Farms Fall Festival

And many more spread across the country.

The heritage, culture, entertainment, food and events are well worth the trip, if you’re considering traveling for into Canada in October. If you’re a local, and you’re looking for a new adventure this harvest season, make sure to check out your local events calendar, or go a little crazy and create your own thanksgiving tradition and event. You could do so by following in the footsteps of others, and volunteering at a soup kitchen, hospital or with a basket brigade. Or you could think of a whole new sport, maybe something with hockey sticks and pumpkins… The only limit is your imagination, and the infinite ways in which you can find to celebrate your gratefulness for life, liberty and the universe in general.

References:

Canadian Thanksgiving – http://gocanada.about.com/od/canadatravelplanner/a/thanksgiving.htm

Martin Frobisher – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Frobisher

Order of Good Cheer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Good_Cheer

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