Pronunciation Keys

November 15th, 2017 by Anna No comments »

Below is a link to a website that provides audio recordings and samples of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

The American English dictionary key varies with some symbols and sounds, but generally the differences are minor as with the pronunciation key below.

Online Audio Stories to Help with Pronunciation, Spelling and Vocabulary

July 11th, 2017 by Anna No comments »

English is not a phonetic language which means that the way a word is pronounced is often different than how it is written.  A perfect example is the word “phonetic.”  Writing it out using phonetic symbols the word is spelled:  fə-nĕtʹ ĭk.

Alas, it is understandable why my students are frustrated and perplexed as to the many rules and exceptions that dictate spelling and pronunciation of the English language.  One way to get around memorizing numerous spelling and pronunciation rules (and realistically it’s too difficult to memorize them all) is to use audio books with text to help you learn English pronunciation.

There are many, many audio stories available with subtitles on or other websites, that are at varying levels of difficulty.  With this technology, you read the text while listening to the correct pronunciation of words as the narrator reads the story.  There are lots of subject matters, so select a topic that is most interesting for you to stimulate your curiosity.  Reading in this manner is a fun way to learn not only how to pronounce and spell new words, but it’s also an excellent way to learn new vocabulary.

Another source for audio books is your local library.  If my students are needing extra help with their pronunciation challenges, I also suggest that they check out audio books from the children’s section.  The books are read at a slower pace which helps new learners with listening skills.

Enjoy your reading adventures!


July 1st, 2016 by Anna No comments »

There comes a time when you need to “take the bull by the horns” and go “full speed ahead” with your English in the real world. At the risk of sounding “like a broken record,” you must practice, practice, practice and practice outside of the classroom everything you have studied and learned in the classroom. Then one day “out of the blue,” the realization will “hit you” that you’re having a conversation in English and you are being understood just “as clear as a bell”.

Idioms are expressions used and understood in a given language, but their meaning cannot be taken in a literal sense. Americans use idioms in everyday speech without even being aware that they’re doing so, and most Americans are “in the dark” as to the origin of idioms, but that’s “a horse of a different color.” The most important point is that in order for idioms to become “second nature” in your speech, you’ll need to practice them in the real world – every day.

Did you recognize the idioms that are in quotes from the above paragraphs? Do you know their definitions? If you’re not familiar with an idiom then try to guess the meaning based on the context being used. Study a few idioms at a time from a book or a web site and practice using them with family and friends. The most effective way, though, to learn idioms is to listen and listen carefully (over and over again) how they are used in conversation and then imitate them in your own speech. What is most important is that you won’t be “beating a dead horse” by practicing idioms in the real world. Sooner than you think, they will become a natural part of your own conversation as you use them in the proper context.

So don’t “drag your feet” but instead “brush up” on some idioms. Then “get up your nerve” and practice in the real world by “giving it your best shot.” You’ll soon be “sitting pretty” because you won’t feel “like a fish out of water” in the company of native speakers. Who knows, you might even impress your family and friends to “jump on the bandwagon” and follow your lead.

(A list of some of the idioms used in this article and their definitions are provided below.)

Idiom Definition
·Take the bull by the horns ·Take decisive action
·Go full speed ahead ·Move forward with enthusiasm
·Sound like a broken record ·Keep repeating yourself
·A horse of a different color ·A different subject
·Drag your feet ·Take your time
·A fish out of water ·Feeling uncomfortable in a particular situation
·Jump on the band wagon ·To do the same

Southbay Volunteer Activities – Learning English the natural way

January 20th, 2016 by Anna No comments »

Volunteer activities are an excellent way to become involved in the community and feel a sense of being an integral part of it.  In addition, if there is great curiosity about a career but you are not sure if it is a good fit for you, then volunteering over a period of time with an organization will give you first-hand experience to explore various career options you may consider for your future.

Below are links to non-profit and profit organizations in the community that you can research.

Long-term Care Facilities:
Fredericka Manor
183 Third Avenue
Chula Vista, CA
(619) 205-4115

Sunrise at Bonita
3302 Bonita Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Friends & Family:
(619) 470-2220

Civic Center Branch
365 F Street
Chula Vista, CA

South Chula Vista Branch
389 Orange Avenue
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 585-5755

Otay Ranch (near the Food Pavilion)
2015 Birch Road, Suite 409
Chula Vista, CA 91915
(619) 397-5740

 Animal Education/Shelters
Living Coast Discovery Center
1000 Gunpowder Point Drive
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 409-5900

Chula Vista Humane Society
130 Beyer Way
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 691-5123

Community Centers
YMCA Southbay – Family
1201 Paseo Magda
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 421-9622

South Bay Community Services
430 F Street, Chula Vista CA 91910
(619) 420-3620

The Arts
Chula Vista Onstage Playhouse
291 Third Avenue
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 422-7787!volunteer/c1lui

Practice English in the comfort of your own living room

May 8th, 2015 by Anna No comments »

Daily ESL/EFL classes may, at times, not be the most exciting way to learn English, but they are effective as you have probably noticed your English improving considerably, especially if you are consistent with attendance . . . so please continue going to class.

But in addition to your daily dose of ESL/EFL classes, you can continue your English practice at home in the comfort of your own living room.  Yes, it is possible and all while watching your favorite American television program or movie.

Just turn on the “closed caption” feature on your television or the English subtitles in a movie, and violà, you are in the midst of the American culture.  You are listening to English while improving your reading skills, and learning so much more (American humor, idioms, expressions, etc).  It is especially enjoyable when the program is a comedy . . . laughter is a great way to end your day.

Enjoy and happy learning!

Idiom – “eyes were bigger than my stomach”

April 26th, 2015 by Anna No comments »

This means that one has put more food on their plate than they can eat.

Wife to husband at dinner“I served myself way too much food.  I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach.”

Idiom – “the last straw (that broke the camel’s back)”

April 11th, 2015 by Anna No comments »

The final problem or difficulty in a series that now calls for an immediate response.  (From the image of a camel loaded with so much weight that one more straw will break the camel’s back.)
MotherSheryl is out with her friends for the fourth time this week, and she is past her curfew again.
FatherThis is the last straw.  She is grounded for the rest of the month

Idiom – “bend over backwards”

March 16th, 2015 by Anna No comments »

This means to work very hard to accomplish something or to please someone.

Singer to director “You will not be disappointed in hiring me.  You can depend on me at any time.  I will bend over backwards to make this production a big, big success!

Learn a new hobby and practice English at the same time!

February 19th, 2015 by Anna No comments »

Would you like to learn a fun, new hobby? And while learning this new hobby, would you also like to meet new friends and practice your English skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking). Does this all sound too good to be true?

Well it really is quite simple. This fun and special way to practice English is to enroll at your local Adult School in a class you enjoy. Adult classes are the “hidden jewels” in our communities, not only are they conveniently located within your neighborhood, but the majority of the classes are free of charge or require a very small fee.

Let’s take a closer look at these hidden jewels in “your own backyard.” Now, you may already know that adult schools offer academic classes for students studying for a high school diploma or a GED diploma, and ESL classes for students needing to learn English. However, did you know that adult schools also offer lots of other fun, exciting classes where you can learn a new hobby or a new skill? Depending on what your local adult school offers, classes can include: Arts and Crafts (art appreciation, painting, ceramic, floral design, cake decorating, sewing, etc.); Music (piano, choir singing, music appreciation, voice class, and more); Physical Fitness (walking, Tai Chi, ballroom dancing, and more); Computer (digital photos, web site design, programming, and more); Foods and Nutrition (bread making, ethnic foods, menu planning), and more. Classes may be offered mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends, too! There’s a lot of flexibility to work out a schedule that is convenient for you.

What a great way to practice all of your English skills and have fun at the same time. You can interact with native and non-native speaking students, and make new friends. With English as the “common ground,” you’ll challenge yourself to be more adventurous and meet people from different backgrounds. By taking a class and learning something you really enjoy, you’ll be surprised at how much faster and easier you will master the English language.

For more information on these classes, pick up a free copy of a class catalog at your local adult school or local library. Enroll in a class soon and get started on mastering your English skills and feeling more confident about yourself.   Happy learning!

Idiom – “a slap on the wrist”

February 6th, 2015 by Anna No comments »

This refers to a warning or mild punishment that is not severe.

Father “I am grounding our son for a week because he went to a party again without our permission.”
Mother – “That punishment is just a slap on the wrist. He needs to be grounded for two weeks, no cell phone use and no allowance.”