Vanessa's Posts (8)

I used to not be able to find the subject of a sentence and I could never remember if the "I" came before an "E" or the other way around.

When I was in grade school, I would always choose the wrong noun as the subject of the sentence. I had this problem all the way through high school. I did not do very well in English in school. I really hated English. All the rules that never made any sense at all, just were not important to me. It was not until I had to take college English that I developed a love for my language. I had one professor who really knew how to teach it so you could really learn it. At the beginning of the term, we of course started with a review of very basis grammar. We were talking one day about how many of us (I was not the only one, I was glad to know that) could not find the subject of the sentence. Our argument was there are sometimes so many nouns in a sentence, it was hard to know which one was the subject.

She looked at us like we were crazy. And also like someone should have straighten this out for us a long time ago. I remember she laughed and said, "It is really very easy". "The subject of the sentence is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever contained inside a prepositional phrase." Now I am thinking, "Ok, what in the heck is a prepositional phrase?" Remember, I hated English, so I never really learned how to use it. I think many other students must have been looking at her the way I was looking at her. "What's a prepositional phrase?" She started laughing so hard, she had to step out of the room. Here we are freshmen in college and we knew so little about English. When I think back on it, I find that pretty amazing.

When she came back into the room she asked one simple question. "How many of you hate English?" Very nearly everyone in the class raised their hand. She said, "Ok, let's start from the beginning." I learned more about English during that term than I had all my life. I came to love the language very much and as many of you know, have now become an English teacher myself.

Here is an example: The key is in the living room, over the fireplace, on the mantel, by the book. In this sentence, key, living room, fireplace, mantel and book are all nouns. BUT...only one is not inside a prepositional phrase. When you "remove" all the prepositional phrases: in the living room, over the fireplace, on the mantel, by the book; all you have left is "The key is."  So the only noun that can be the subject is the word "key". See, it really is easy!

The second one, the i and e one, I finally mastered by the 6th grade I think. 

The rule is: "I" before "E" except after the letter "C".  Examples: Receive, pie, and piece.

There, now you know even native English speakers have had trouble with English too.

BTW: She was a very good English teacher and to this day I can't remember her name.

 

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I Finally Get It

It has taken me awhile to figure something out, but I think I finally did it. But I want to make sure, so please help me.

I really first encountered this when I came to China to teach. The Chinese teachers I work with did not use capital letters or ending punctuation. When I study on LiveMocha, very few learners there use punctuation either. Then I found English Club, and guess what? Many learners here don't use punctuation either. Until now, I haven't been able to figure out why.

I'm sure they have been taught correctly, I thought to myself. But if they were taught correctly, why aren't they using it correctly? It was last week, when one of my 5th grade students was writing on the board, that I started to put two and two together.

He wrote: the weather in june is sunny and warm 

I whispered in his ear, so as not to embarrass him in front of the class, to fix the errors.

He said, "Oh, I forgot. We don't have captials in Chinese." (Out of the mouth's of babes).

And they don't!

Then in the chatroom the other day someone wrote in Arabic I think it was. I got to wondering if they have capital letters? And what about other languages? I got to thinking, maybe they are just forgetting because they don't use captial letters in their language. 

So, I thought I would write a quick "cheat sheet" for writing in English.

1. The beginning letter of each sentence should be a capital letter.

2. Each sentence should end with a period (.).

3. Each question should end with a question mark (?).

4. The beginning letter of people's names should begin with a capital letter.

Pretty simple really and it will make your writing look so much nicer.

I hope no one will get mad at me for writing this. I know many of you are studying for the IELTS and thought this might help. Please let me know if I might be correct in my "assumption".

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Are You Taking Advantage?

Are you taking advantage of all that is offered here on the EC website?

This morning I was reading some of the blogs here (btw Noa, when did you get to Chapter 9, last I saw was Chapter 6 lol?), when I came across a very interesting blog. I had read the blog when I first joined EC about a month ago, but as a native English speaker, I read it and went on.

This morning it came back to my attention. Since I had a bit of time, I looked at it a little closer. I was surprised by what I found. But what surprised me more was how few members were actually participating.

Blog: We're Back and Ready for Resumption. the ‘Pronunciation Study Sessions’ conducted jointly by Galina and I right here on MyEC last year. (the I is not me, Vanessa, but Galina's partner.)

They have put together a very interesting study session I think everyone should look into. Beverly Stout also posted a comment with a link for learning and practicing English, which was also very good.

I have been here just a month. I am stilling poking around looking at everything and I am amazed at what is here. Groups, Forums, Discussions, the Chatroom, Blogs. EVERYTHING! The "Learning English and Teaching English" sections are wonderful. You don't have to be a teacher to go and investigate the Teaching English section, you know, just nosey!

I get so many requests, "Please help me, I want to improve." My question is what are you doing to help yourself? Are you taking advantage of all that is here on EC. Are you taking advantage of the links they provide such as www.livemocha? By the way, I am learning Chinese on LiveMocha, are you registered to learn English?

Anyway, I feel if you are not taking advantage of all that is offered here, you are missing out in a big way.

Please don't miss out anymore. Take advantage of all that is here!

BTW: One more thing please about the Chatroom. When you are in the chatroom and there is a "teacher" there, do you watch how they chat? Do you jot down a phrase they are using? Do you look at how they are writing their sentences? Most of the time, they are typing the way they talk. How do they say things? How do they express themselves? Are you writing down anything you see at all, so you can add it to your vocabulary? Or are you just chatting away? Think about it please.

Thanks for your time this morning, I know I got a little preachy. Vanessa

 

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Blog Train #2 - A Night to Remember

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the Blog Train!              Today is May 10th at 6am in China.

In case you don't know what a blog train is, I will tell you. A Blog Train is where one person starts a story and others add to it. Not comment on it, but ADD TO IT.

For instance, I would start a story. The title of the story is "Mary had a Little Lamb".

I will start: Mary had a little lamb.

Another person might add: Mary and her lamb lived on a farm outside of a small town.

The next person might add: Everyday Mary and her lamb would walk to the pond.

And the next might say: Along the way, she would stop and smell the flowers and watch the butterflies playing in the field.

And so on, and so on. Soon you have a story.

Would you like to try? Come on, let's get started. We will do this blog train for just one day and see where it takes us. Try to make your sentences sound as native English as you can. Think in English. At the end we can help each other by commenting or making suggestions for ways to write better (that is if we need to).

Rules are simple. 1. Each person may add one Paragraph to the story this time.

                       2. Please use correct punctuation...capital letters, periods, question marks.

Ready? Let's go! Remember! Do not comment on what is already written. Just add another paragraph.

This Blog Train will close Thursday night May 16th. 

Started by Vanessa. "A Night to Remember"

     It was to be the biggest night of my life. I can't remember the last time I have been so excited. Even now my hands are shaking as I look at the new dress I bought. It was my favorite color...a soft royal blue. Just then the phone rang. I reached to pick up the phone wishing the butterflies in my stomach would settle down. "I hope it isn't Ted cancelling." I looked at the number, it wasn't. "Hello?"

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Thinking About Time.

Thinking about Time

Have you ever thought about time…how sometimes we have too little and sometimes we have too much?

Why is that I wonder? Why is it, when we need more, we have run out and when we have too much, we don’t know what to do with it?

Let’s think for a moment about a little baby. Do you think they think about time as they wait to be fed, changed or played with? Do babies “watch the clock” the way an older person sitting alone in their room watches the hands of the clock move ever so slowly; while they wait for the phone to ring, or for a long overdue visit by a son or daughter, or even as they wait for the postman to bring a letter from a friend that will never come. I wonder what they think about time, or do they?

Why as a kid did the minutes of my summer vacations go by in a blink of an eye and the minutes of my school days drag on and on? Why can’t we pick which minutes are going to be short and which will be long? Why can’t happy minutes be really long and sad minutes be really short? Why does it seem to be the opposite way around; happy minutes short and sad minutes long? Minutes don’t seem to have equal value. I wonder why?

I remember watching American football games with my husband. Those last two minutes of the game always took at least thirty minutes instead. How come they get to stop the clock to talk about plays and how they are going to play the game and we can’t stop the clock of our life? I could have used an opportunity to “stop the clock” from time to time while I got my life sorted out or had to make a crucial decision.

What if we could put our minutes on pause so we could savor a wonderful moment? Pause to savor the birth of a child, or a son’s soccer game, or to watch our little ballerina dance over and over. How great would it be if we could pause the minutes we were looking into the eyes of the person we adored, so they could just go on and on?

And how would it be if we could turn back the minutes of time and undo something that went wrong, so we could do it right the next time? Wouldn’t that be grand!  Just think, to be able to erase all the mistakes we have made so we would have no regrets. Don’t you just hate it when you have said something mean and wish you could unsay it?

As I look back on my life, I sometimes wonder if I have used all the minutes I have been given wisely. But deep down inside, I know I haven’t.  I hope I will use the minutes I will receive better than I have used the ones that have gone by. But deep down inside, I know I won’t. Old habits die hard…

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Blog Train #1 - Sally And Her Dog - A Story

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the Blog Train!              Today is May 6th at 6am in China.

In case you don't know what a blog train is, I will tell you. A Blog Train is where one person starts a story and others add to it. Not comment on it, but ADD TO IT.

For instance, I would start a story. The title of the story is "Mary had a Little Lamb".

I will start: Mary had a little lamb.

Another person might add: Mary and her lamb lived on a farm outside of a small town.

The next person might add: Everyday Mary and her lamb would walk to the pond.

And the next might say: Along the way, she would stop and smell the flowers and watch the butterflies playing in the field.

And so on, and so on. Soon you have a story.

Would you like to try? Come on, let's get started. We will do this blog train for just one day and see where it takes us. Try to make your sentences sound as native English as you can. Think in English. At the end we can help each other by commenting or making suggestions for ways to write better (that is if we need to).

Rules are simple. Each person may add one sentence to the story.

Ready? Let's go! Remember! Do not comment on what is already written. Just add another sentence. 

Started by Vanessa. "Sally and Her Dog" Sally has a dog and his name is Rover.

 

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Chinese New Year - A letter to my family.

2-11-13

Hello family,
 
Well, today is the first day of China's New Year, the Year of the Snake. We have been celebrating on and off since Monday the 4th, and have been having a great time.
 
I was invited several times this week to have lunch or dinner with Headmaster and his family. On Friday I went to dinner. Some traditional foods were served. Always there is fish, pork, beef and chicken and a variety of veggie dishes and of course it would not be a meal without the dumplings. Headmaster doesn't have a lazy-susan on his table so you have to reach across to get something that you want. It is NOT considered rude like it would be in our country. I am not quite comfortable with that just yet (maybe never will be) so I just eat what is in front of me and what I can reach easily. And another thing they don't serve a drink with the meal like we do. Sometimes there is a bit of tea and always the bijoe but not a drink. All of Headmaster’s children, their wives and his grandchildren were there, as well as some extended family and friends. It is always an enjoyable time and the chatter around the table is loud and sometimes exciting. After dinner, they brought out some cards. They usually play poker but not the way we play it. I decided to come on home, since I can't understand what is on TV and I don't know how to play their kind of poker. I left with an invitation to come to lunch the next day, New Year’s Eve. I said “ok.”
 
Morning, New Year's Eve morning, came to the sound of fireworks and firecrackers being shot into the air and the continuous crackling of the little poppers going off. I got dressed and ready to go and waited for Tana's call. Even though she said to come at noon, I am not comfortable just going over at the time they say, so I just wait for the call to come down. The call came at 1:30 with the question...”Where are you?” “I am at home.” “Come down to eat.” “Ok, I'll be right down.”
 
I took with me one of my plants. This is their Spring Festival, so I thought it would be nice to give Headmaster a plant. I asked Tana first if this would be ok because I did not want to make a mistake in the gift giving and give something inappropriate or offensive. She said a plant was ok. So, I gave it to Headmaster saying that in America in our Spring Festival Easter we give plants and flowers to friends and family. He put it with his collection. It will be something for them to remember me by when I come home.
 
They were still in the process of cooking so I was glad I didn't go at 12. Grandmother (Headmaster’s wife) was helping make the dumplings. She stopped and went and got change out of her purse. It was American coins she had taken out and was now putting one coin in each of the dumplings. Why American coins I don't know. Anyway, it seems that if you get a dumpling with a coin in it you will have good fortune for the year. Lunch was served and I was asked to sit in my usual place. I am always asked to sit down first, a part of their hospitality and so I usually end up in the corner and not able to escape when I am finished eating. Usually the person sitting next to me on my right is the person who is doing the cooking and the last to sit down and eat, so I am stuck.
 
The cold veggie dishes are put on the table first. Next served is the meat, so you have some veggies and meat to munch on. Then the warm veggie dishes are brought to the table, followed by the dumplings. I am finally getting the hang of this. They serve the same way at the restaurants. Dinner and conversation flowed and so did the bijoe. Everyone was having a great time. I didn't get a coin in my dumpling though. I came home but once again I was asked to come back at 6:30 for dinner. At night fall the fireworks started all over the city. Brilliant fireworks filled the sky and it was very noisy. The call came at 9:30.
 
I went back down. They were sitting around watching the TV. They have big TV programs like we do on New Year’s Eve. I sat down and was watching the TV understanding only a few words here and there, but the performances where awesome. Famous Chinese singers and children were singing. There were comedians and short skits. Even though I didn't understand it was interesting to watch.

 

Around 11:30, more and more fireworks started going off. And the closer to New Year’s it got, the louder the noise became, so loud you could no longer hear the TV. We watched the count down on TV then went outside to light our own fireworks. There were fireworks everywhere filling nearly every corner of the sky. The noise was deafening and the smell of sulfur and smoke filled the air.

 

They had lit the fire they had prepared. It is customary to have a small "bonfire". And like at the AoBao in the Grasslands, you walk around it first one way three times and then the other way three times. Grandmother grabbed my arm and we walked around together.

 

They brought out the fireworks and the boys Alex and Philip got them ready to be lit. The fireworks come in boxes. I don't know exactly how it works but you light one fuse and run. Then, one by one the fireworks in the box start shooting into the sky. Bursts of red and green and white filled the sky right over our head. They lit 3 boxes at one time and boy was that spectacular to see.

 

They lit one box and all of a sudden the fireworks started going horizontal right toward us. Everyone ran for cover hiding behind the steel doors of the dorm and the marble wall near the gate. Me, I hid behind one of the school buses. While it had taken everyone by surprise of course, no one was hurt and we all laughed about it. They took pictures and laughed and talked and walked around the bonfire and it was very special. Headmaster asked me if I liked their Chinese New Year. I told him “yes.” I am glad I am here. It is special to be taken in and made a part of someone's family and I am glad I have had this opportunity. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
 
After the fireworks and the AoBao walk we went back inside to a light dinner. The rest of the dumplings were cooked and everyone was still hoping to get a coin. Headmaster’s driver, we call him Bob, came while we were shooting off the fireworks. He had been driving around Hohhut looking at all the fireworks. Bob and the little grounds keeper joined us for dinner. I told Scott this little man, the grounds keeper, had lived in the Grasslands tending sheep. He has no wife or children and was very lonely and very poor, so Headmaster brought him to NaHeya and gave him a job and a new family. Anyway, Headmaster got 2 coins and Alex and Philip got one and I got one too! We talked for a bit then the driver decided to leave so I thought it would be a good time for me to leave too. It was 1:30.
 
I had a great time as usual. I watched TV for about 30 minutes before settling into bed. The sound of fireworks continued well into the night and the last ones I heard were at 4am before I finally went to sleep.  Morning came today at 11:30......they are still shooting off fireworks.
 
Well, I guess this is about all for now. I just wanted to share yet another experience of China with you. You guys take care and write me soon. Love to everyone, me

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It's A Small World.

The more I travel the more I realize just how small this world really is. I have lived in many countries in my lifetime. (And yes, I am old, but don't ask.) Each new place is as amazing as the last. Every country has wonderous places to visit. Each country has beautiful and interesting places to explore.

But more importantly than the places are the people. We see and hear so many bad things happening in the news. I wonder, who the people in these countries really are. Do they have the same hopes and dreams that I do? Do they wish for a healthy life? Do they hope their families will be happy and prosperous? Do they long for many friends or perfer to be alone? Do they worry about love and happiness and success and failure?

I wonder, if they are like me.

I am sharing a picture of some of the students at my school. I invite you to comment and share pictures of your country.

Let's see if it really is "A Small World After All."

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