25 January, 2011

Story Telling

Story Telling

Telling stories about yourself is a good way to practice expressing yourself in another language. It helps you to familiarize yourself with the words that you use in your native language, and their equivalent in English. People tend to tell the same stories over and over again, so it naturally gives you practice, by being able to repeat the story. Here are some examples of types of stories you might tell.

• Talking about an outing with your friends (dinner, hiking, the theatre, etc.)
• A story from a hard day at work, or a funny day at work
• Expressing how horrible or how awesome an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend was
• Telling someone about an awesome vacation you had, or just part of it.

Stories are told from beginning to end, like a film. However, you need words that will help you transition from one part of the story to the next, to show the order in which things happened. These words are known as linking words, and you should be familiar with most of them already.

First of all,
To start off with,

Sidenote: You can also begin with when the story took place.
Example: Yesterday, Last week, This morning, About a year ago, When I was,

Firstly, I began my day by going to the Art Museum.
First of all, I was at the bank in a long, long line.
To start off with, it was raining all day long, and we had forgotten our umbrellas.
When I was living in Spain during my internship, I met a lot of cool people.

After that,
As soon as / When + full clause,
... but then

Sidenote: The order in which you choose to use these words is entirely up to you. They are also optional. However, they help a story progress. Then is probably the most regularly used, and it is often used repeatedly.

Then, we had desert, and the waiter brought us free Champagne.
After that, I decided I would never date an American guy again!
Next, they decided to go skiing and I decided to drink hot chocolate in the lodge.
As soon as the train arrived, we realized we were on the wrong platform.
When I got to the ticket window, I couldn't find my wallet.
We thought we had enough gas to make it to the station, but then the car stopped.
Immediately, I came here to tell you about it.

Interruptions / New Elements to the Story:

Suddenly, this guy came stumbling down the street, completely drunk.
Unexpectedly, they surprised me on my birthday.

Events Occurring at the Same Time
While / As + full clause
During + noun (noun clause)

While I was checking in to the hotel, my friends were buying groceries for the room.
During the meeting, I was so bored, I mainly sat and drew pictures of my boss.

In the end,
Finally, I ended up going to my family dinner anyway.
In the end, the flight was cancelled and we couldn't go on our trip.
Eventually, the parade stopped and everyone went home.
Lastly, it was decided to extend the trip by one more day.

Providing Reasoning

In addition to telling a story in a certain order, at times you will want to provide reasoning. Here are some examples of other words to use besides because to explain Why something happened.

When an adverb clause begins the sentence use a comma to separate the two clauses. Example: Because he had to work late, we had dinner after nine o'clock.. When the adverb clause finishes the sentence there is no need for a comma.
Example: We had dinner after nine o'clock because he had to work late.

• They received a high mark on their exam because they had studied hard.
• He works a lot of overtime because his rent is so expensive
Because can be used with a variety of tenses between the clauses.

• Since he loves music so much, he decided to go to a conservatory.
• They had to leave early since their train left at 8.30.
'Since' means the same as because. 'Since' tends to be used in more informal spoken English. Important note: "Since" when used as a conjunction is typically used to refer to a period of time, while "because" implies a cause or reason.

As long as
• As long as you have the time, why don't you come for dinner?
'As long as' means the same as because. 'As long as' tends to be used in more informal spoken English.

• As the test is difficult, you had better get some sleep.
'As' means the same as because. 'As' tends to be used in more formal, written English.
Inasamuch as
• Inasmuch as the students had succesfully completed their exams, their parents rewarded their efforts by giving them a trip to Paris.
'Inasmuch as' means the same as because. 'Inasmuch as' is used in very formal, written English.

Due to the fact that
• We will be staying for an extra week due to the fact that we haven not yet finished.
'Due to the fact that' means the same as because. 'Due to the fact that' is generally used in very formal, written English.

Try to use a variety of words to make your story more exciting. Early on in English writing classes, we are taught to stray away from words like “nice” and “bad”, because they are not very descriptive. They are generic and tend to be over used. Try to use interesting and more powerful words, like, “fabulous”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, “terrible”, “boring”, “awful” to help you exaggerate the main points of your story.

Now I would like you to put into practice what we have discussed. I would like you to take 15 minutes to prepare a story to read to your fellow classmates. Please write 15 to 20 sentences minimum, or as much as you would like. The focus of this activity, as with all, is practicing your verbal speech. If you finish, please practice reciting it with another classmate.

Describing People

Vocabulary for Describing People

Everyone loves people watching from the café. There are many ways to remark on someone’s outward appearance, and to describe someone’s style, ethnicity, and clothing.
• Look! He / She is wearing…
• He / She looks like he / she is …They look like they are…
• They have the appearance …
• Those people are … That person is …

Descriptive Words
• tall – grand(e)
• well-built / shapely (f) – bien foutue
• little / short – petit(e)
• buff (m) – bien baraqué
• a midget – un / une nain(e)
• scrawny – un sac d’os
• hunchback – bossu(e)
• tanned – bronze(e)
• pale – pale, palot
• long-haired – chevulu(e)
• hairy – poilu(e)
• chunky / chubby – grassouillet(te)
• fat – gros/grosse
• skinny – maigre; maigrichon(ne)

Attractive People
• handsome (m) – beau
• beautiful (f) – belle
• cute – mignon(ne)
• pretty (f) – jolie
• stylish – à la mode
• really fashionable – glamour
• hip – branché(e)
• trendy – tendance

• a lean face – un visage fin
• a friendly / likeable face – une bonne piffe
• a good “mug” – une bonne gueule
• a round face – la tête arrondie
• a square jaw – un visage carré
• beady eyes – des petits yeux
• good measurements – de bonne mensurations
• a nasty mop of hair – une sale tignasse
• a bad figure – un physique désagréable
• a tiny head – une petit tête
• a big head – une grosse tête
• homely – un / une laideron(ne)
• slimy – un gros porc
• dirty – sale
• a fat sausage – un boudin

• kids – les enfants
• teens – les ados
• wino – le pochetron ; le poivrot
• bum – le / la clochard(e)
• a thug – un voyou
• spoiled rich kid – un fils / une fille à papa
• ladies’ man – un tombeur
• good ol’ boy – un bon bougre
• redneck – un pequenot
• hick – un plouc
• jock – le sportif / la sportive

• White trash – les beaufs
• The rich folk – Les costume-cravate
• Bible-Thumpers – les culs bénis
• The commuters – Les métros-boulet-dodo
• Hippies – les babas cools
• The bohemians / yuppies – Les bobos

Put in Practice You now have a choice of several photos. With a partner, I want you to imagine what type of life the person in the photo has. Describe their physical appearance, but also what you think they might act like. Tell me things you think they are interested in and like to do. Make fun of them a little if you would like.

24 January, 2011

Intro to Language Workshop & Questions

Expectations & Grading
• Participation - Oral & Group Activities, Pronunciation, and LISTENING
• Project – Utilization of Lessons to Prepare a Presentation or Group Project
• Evaluation – Scheduled outside of class, 3 to 5 minute interview

Subjects Covered

• Basic Grammar – Even within higher levels of English, Grammar will be reviewed.
It is the building blocks of learning a language

• Technology - Used the world over. e-mail, websites in English, social media and networking, software, hardware, standard vocabulary.

• Tourism & Business – The focus will be the oral aspects: conducting phone conversations,
Ordering lunch, Business Meetings, and other vocabulary specifically related to Tourism.

• Culture – It’s always necessary to learn about who speaks a language in addition to learning it.
You will be presented with material and multimedia that presents English speaking culture.

Building & Continued Interest Topics

My style of teaching approaches each class and individual differently. I will work to incorporate subjects you are interested in learning about into my course planning. I will observe weaknesses, and construct grammar reviews around this. I will observe strengths and attempt to build your vocabulary and current language. • Please contact me with any topics you may be interested in covering this semester.


• Questions & Topics, Debates • Some Prepared Responses & Presenting
• Increase ability to Improvise Speech & Conversation


You must follow the University Policy. Absences are only excused with a Doctor’s Note, Transit Strike, or other serious issue. I expect to be contacted in ADVANCE about missing class, not one or two days after you missed my class. If I have to be here, so do you. Please be respectful of my class, entering late you will also cause you to be counted as absent.



Here are ten questions to help you start speaking English. Each of these questions help to begin or continue a conversation. The questions are in two categories: Basic Facts and Hobbies / Free Time. There are also a number of questions that can help you continue the conversation after the first question.

Five Basic Facts
These five questions will help you get to know people. They are simple questions with simple answers and provide information so you can ask more questions.
What is your name?
Where do you live?
What do you do?
Are you married?
Where are you from?

More questions for ...
These questions help to continue the conversation after your first question.

"What is your name?"
It's a pleasure to meet you. Where are you from?
That's an interesting name. Is it Chinese / French / Indian, etc.?

"Where do you live?"
How long have you lived there?
Do you like that neighborhood?
Do you live in an apartment or house?

"What do you do?"
Which company do you work for?
How long have you had that job?
Do you like your job?
What's the best / worst thing about your job?
What do you like best / least about your job?

"Are you married?"
How long have been married?
Where did you get married?
What does your husband / wife do?
Do you have any children?

"Where are you from?"
Where is ....?
How long did you live there?
What is XYZ like?
Do you like living here?

Hobbies / Free Time
These questions will help you continue conversations and find out more about people's likes and dislikes.
What do you like doing in your free time?
Can you play tennis / golf / soccer / etc.?
What kind of films / food / vacations do you enjoy?
What do you do on weekends / Saturdays?

More questions for ...
These questions will help you ask for more detail.

"What do you like doing in your free time?"
How often do you (listen to music, eat out in restaurants, etc.)?
Where do you (listen to music, eat out in restaurants, etc.) in this town?
Why do you like (listening to music, eating out in restaurants, etc.) so much?

"Can you play tennis / golf / soccer / etc.?"
Do you enjoy playing tennis /golf /soccer /etc.?
How long have you played tennis /golf /soccer /etc.?
Who do you play tennis /golf /soccer /etc. with?

"What kind of films / food / vacations do you enjoy?"
What's the best place to see /eat / go on vacations?
What's the best type of film /food / vacation, etc. in your opinion?
How often do you watch films / eat out / go on vacation?

"What do you do on weekends / Saturdays?"
Where do you go to ...?
Could you recommend a good place to (go shopping / take my children swimming / etc.)?
How long have you done that?