15 March, 2011

Past Simple & Continuous

Simple Past
There are two principal past tenses used to make general statements about the past: The past simple and the past continuous. The two tenses are quite different. Use the past simple to talk about an event which happened at some point in time in the past.

Tom flew to Chicago last week.
Peter visited his friends in Florida two months ago.

Past Continuous
The past continuous is usually used to refer to events happening at the same time that something important happened in the past.

They were doing their homework when she arrived.
Jack was studying while Dave was cooking dinner..

The past continuous is also used to express what was happening at a precise moment in the past.
I was attending a lecture at 2.30 yesterday afternoon.
Alice was reading a book at six yesterday evening.

Past Simple Structure:
Subject + Verb + ed OR Irregular Past Form + Objects
I, You, He, She, We, They -> played golf yesterday afternoon.I, You, He, She, We, They -> went lunch at noon.

Subject + did not (didn't) + Verb + Objects
I, You, He, She, We, They -> didn't go on vacation last summer.
Subject + did not (doesn't) + Verb + Objects

(Why, What, etc.) + did + Subject + Verb + Objects?
Did -> I, you, we, they -> attend the meeting last week?

Past Continuous Structure:
Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + verb + -ing.
I was, You were, He was, She was, We were, You were, They were -> watching TV when I arrived.
Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + not + verb + -ing.
I wasn't, You weren't, He wasn't, She wasn't, We wasn't, You wasn't, They wasn't -> working when he came into the room.
Question word + conjugate the helping verb 'be' + subject + verb + -ing
What -> were you, they -> doing at seven o'clock?What -> was I, he, she -> doing at seven o'clock?

Study the Past Simple and Past Continuous in Depth:
Here are detailed guides to the past simple and the past continuous tenses.
Each guide provides situations, common time expressions used with the tense, as well as examples.
These guides were prepared especially for beginners and include dialogues and a short quiz.
Past simple with the verb "to be" for beginnersPast simple with regular and irregular verbs for beginners
It's also important to know your irregular past simple forms which are included in this list of the most important irregular past simple and past participle verb forms

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.

Firstly, First of all, To start off with, Initially,
Sidenote: You can also begin with when the story took place.
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.

Then, After that, Next, As soon as / When + full clause, ... but then Immediately,
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, Unexpectedly,
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.

Finally, In the end, Eventually, Lastly,
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.
In class, we prepared stories to read to each other. We wrote 15 to 20 sentences minimum. The focus of this activity, as with all, is practicing your verbal speech. If you finish, please practice reciting it with another classmate.

06 March, 2011

Class Expectations

Prof. Samantha Schlegel
• Contact –
samantha.schlegel @
samanthaschlegel @

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.