Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This blog is for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, writing and editing. On the right hand side, is a list of links of resources grouped by category. Although I am constantly checking on the links, please let me know if you find any that don't work.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween in TV Comedies Listening Quizzes

The Big Bang Theory characters wearing "Flash" costumes.
Many regular television situation comedies  have a complete Halloween episode where the whole story revolves around some kind of Halloween theme. Sometimes they are funny. Sometimes they are meant to be spooky, but they are usually entertaining . 

Thanks to the advent of long running series you can watch, enjoy and and practice your English with listening quizzes from The Big Bang Theory , Modern Family , How I Met Your Mother,    Friends and Frasier .  All of these TV shows have something to offer in helping you to improve your listening skills - especially if you watch short clips several times to get used to  the "fast English" real English speakers actually use.  

Tune in tomorrow for more clips from another Friends episode, the Simpsons, Glee, Family Guy and Buffy. 

Watch as often as you need to. Then try the quizzes to see how well you understood.  

The Big Bang Theory 

The characters in the Big Bang Theory love Halloween because of the parties, the "tricks" they can play on each other, and simply because it is an excuse for "dressing up. One of the most popular television situation comedies in the U.S. The Big Bang Theory is a pleasure to watch because even if you don't understand everything, you understand enough to have a good laugh.  For more information on the what the show is about, and its characters go to The Big Bang Theory  
Modern Family 
In this Modern Family episode, the whole family plans to frighten children who come
 trick or treating with many creatures. Watch and see how much you understand. For more information on  the show and its characters go to Modern Family 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Great Halloween Song Activities

Halloween is coming up fast on October 31st. But, celebrations are already well underway here in Vancouver, and anywhere else in North America. 

People take Halloween seriously here with some people even preferring it to Christmas. As a result  both adults and children start celebrating it with a variety of events and activities for the whole family well before the "big day" itself. 
Although there are many TV specials and Halloween movies  aimed at children. There are just as many "classic" horror horror movies and spooky, scary songs that delight adults of every age. 

Many of these songs have been around for more than 25 years, but they are some of the most popular songs in North America during the Halloween season. 

From classics such as " Ghostbusters"  and Monster Mash to  "Marilyn Mason's  scary "This is Halloween"   to very singable Werewolves  of London,  time, there are plenty of songs out there to make the holiday both scary and memorable. 

Make sure you prepare those zombie  moves for Michael Jackson's Thriller. This is MUST if you want to celebrate Halloween.     

Here are  ten of the most popular Halloween songs for you to practice your listening to.  
There is a LOT of useful scary vocabulary in all of these songs, so be prepared.

In the next day or two I will post a list of scary Halloween vocabulary along with some practice activities.

Listen to all of the songsTry the listening activities.Then discuss them with your friends or classmates
  • Which one was the easiest to understand? Why?
  • Which one did you like best? Why? 
  • Which one did you like least? Why? 
  • Which one had the best video and graphics? Why? 
  • Which one told a real story? 
  • Which one will still be played in 20 years? Why?  

 # 1 :   This is Halloween
This is Halloween by Marilyn Manson is one of the few songs with the word Halloween in it.
It has become extremely popular at Halloween even though it was originally written for a movie about a Christmas Nightmare.  

#2 The Monster Mash
The Monster Mash is one of the oldest and best known songs people usually play at Halloween.  I even danced to it when I was a child. That's why we call it a "classic," or a "golden oldie"

# 3 Werewolves of London 
This song is always at the top of people's Halloween music list because  werewolves are scary creatures that people love to be afraid of. Can you howl like the singer can? Try it. It's fun. 

 # 4  Season of the Witch 
This song is doesn't have any ghosts or zombies in it, but Halloween is all about witches and strange things, so it fits the topic.  Besides, Halloween occurs during the season of the witch.   

#5:  Bad Moon Rising 
This song is more about bad things happening than about Halloween itself, but Halloween is a time when terrible things are supposed to happen, so the song is very popular at Halloween parties. Besides, it's fun to dance to. .

#6: Love Potion # 9 
This song is about magic and magic potions, so it fits under the category of things that happen at Halloween. It's  also  romantic song, and everyone needs to sing a few slow songs - even at a party. 


# 7  Spooky  
This song, which has been sung by many different artists,  is not really a Halloween song, but everyone loves a song about things that are "spooky"m, which means scary. A love song with a "spooky" theme is great to dance to at Halloween, and it's easy to sing too.  

# 8 : Don't Fear the Reaper 
 The "reaper" is a name that we often use for death, so this song fits perfectly into a Halloween theme because Halloween is all about death and spirits. 


#9  Welcome to My Nightmare  
Dressing up for Halloween, or going to haunted houses and trying to scare people is just like being in a nightmare.  This song makes nightmares fun. I hope you enjoy this one.


#10 Thriller 
Thriller is he biggest selling album, song and video of all time. The complete video, which is 13 minutes long , changed the way music videos were made. Most people consider it their  
favourite Halloween song and can even dance the dance. How about you?  

I hope you enjoy these songs and have fun with them.  Let me know which ones you liked best, or if you have any other favourite ones. 

Meanwhile,  have fun getting scared!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ESL Reading: Canadian History Week

144 Things Canada Has Given the World
A Skimming and Scanning Activity 

Canada might not be very old, but during its 147 years, it has made a number of contributions to the world.

In honour of Canadian History week, here's a Canadian trivia reading quiz to test your knowledge.  First, try the pre-reading activity to find out how much you know already. Then, see how many questions you got right.  

Later, discuss and write about some of the most important inventions ever made. Would your life be any different without them? 

From Anne of Green Gables  to the zipper, hockey to the hydrofoil hydrofoil, here's a list put together by The Hamilton Spectator. Some things that are precious to Canadians may cause others to scratch their heads.

You may not have eaten poutine unless you’ve traveled to Quebec or Ontario, while Timbits  and double doubles  may sound like gobbledygook  outside our borders.  Have a look.

Read more 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Love Letters to Canada on Canada Day

Most Canadians have their own unique reasons for knowing how lucky they are to live in Canada.  All of us have our own  "Canadian  moments" - moments when truly experience what it is to be Canadian. That's when we realize that we have won the jackpot.

Yes, like any other country in the world, Canada is not perfect. It has its flaws. But, it is still the best country in the world to live in - high taxes or not.   

Every year on Canada Day, I write a post on the many reasons I love Canada.... and there are too many to count.  Here is my post from last year on  Why I Love Canada
147 Reasons we Love Canada
This year,  I'm letting others do the talking.  They all have something important to say - things I often feel in my heart, but am unable to voice. 

Sit back and enjoy reading some of these love letters to Canada. You'll be happy you did, AND if you are a new Canadian, or thinking about moving here, you might learn something. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Can You Sing All the Words to O Canada?

adapted from Huffington Post 

You might remember the Canadian beer fridge from this year's Winter Olympics, the one from Molson that only opened if you scanned in a Canadian passport. 

Now it's back in Canada just in time for Canada Day, July 1, but this time, they're really making people prove their national love.

Just in time for Canada;s 147th birthday on Canada Day, Molson Canadian has created a   a fridge that makes Canadians sing out Canada's praises in return for a free beer.   

The catch is that you have to sing O Canada  perfectly - all the way through. If you miss a word or two on the more difficult parts of the national anthem, the fridge makes a noisy buzzer sound and the door stays locked.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Five Great Songs and Activities for Mothers Day

Many people don 't completely appreciate just what a mother is and does until they become parents themselves.  

Over the years many songs have been written to celebrate and praise mothers for the major roles they have and continue to play in our lives. 

Here are five songs  that focus on the different roles mothers play in our lives. All of them include a variety of listening, reading, writing, and discussion activities. Some songs even include a few grammar activities.  Enjoy them on your own or with your class.  

Mother's Day By the Numbers

A Reading/Scanning Activity 

Mother's Day has been around for a long time, so it has generated a lot of numbers over the years.  The following infographic contains many interesting facts and details about mothers and Mother's Day. 

Scan through the information to see how quickly you can find the answers to the questions below.  Remember, this is a scanning activity - not a reading one. 
Go to the bottom, read the questions and find the answer. Time yourself to see how fast you can work.   GOOD LUCK!