Time and time again

Today let’s take a look at some words we use together with time and what they mean.

1) Waste time

Spending time doing something means that you’re doing it for some time. On the other hand, when you waste time this means that you’re spending time badly. When you say that something is a waste of time, you mean that what someone’s doing is useless and that they shouldn’t do this.

Woman fixing something.

Don’t waste your time trying to fix what you broke!

2) It’s about time

Contrary to what you’re thinking, we don’t use this phrase to say what we’re talking about. The meaning of it’s about time is Finally. If you’re waiting for a friend to show up and he comes one hour later, you can start your conversation by saying: It’s about time you showed up!

3) To make time for

When you’re very busy but somebody wants to see and talk to you, you can tell them that you will try to make time for them. As we get older, we also have less free time and we have to learn to make time for our hobbies and the things we care about. Here’s a tip from the co-founder of the Blue Man Group:

4) Kill time

Woman listening to music.

Kill time is similar to spend time. The difference is where we use it. When you kill time, this means that you are doing something to spend the time you have before you do something you’ve planned. For example, when I’m on a train or a bus, I listen to music to kill time.

5) Take your time

One of my favorite phrases, this phrase means don’t hurry. I don’t rush people and I understand that my students may need time to think before they can say something and I tell them to take their time. 🙂

6) Hard time

Hard time has different meanings:

1. Having a hard time means something is difficult for us to do:

I’m having a hard time doing homework. Can you help me with this exercise?

2. Hard time can be a difficult period in our lives.

Since he was admitted to the hospital, Summer’s been a hard time for Jacob.

Let’s see if you can handle using time by doing a quick exercise:

It seems as though I’ve run out of time.
I’d love it if you could share what you do to kill time.

Leave a comment for us to know and see you next Saturday! 🙂

What are your arguments?

Today let’s take a look at some ways we can develop an argument.
I’m not talking about arguing, mind you. 😉
What I mean is showing and defending your ideas.
This can be useful both in writing and speaking.

1. Sharing your own opinion.

You can start talking about what you think by saying “In my opinion”, but here are a few alternatives:

1) As far as I’m concerned…

We can start with as far as I’m concerned when people ask us how we feel about the situation or a certain someone. It’s a signal that our opinion could be different from other people’s opinions.

2) The way I see it

Similarly to in my opinion, we use the way I see it to indicate that this is just an opinion of ours.

2. Using reason

When we want to say what exactly made us do something, we can use

That’s the reason I…

When I started teaching English, I didn’t think that so many people had problems with it, but after seeing how people struggled with it I wanted to help them. That’s the reason I started making my own materials.

When writing about an issue, another way to support your ideas is by giving reasons for this issue.

There are several reasons for this: 1) … 2) … 3) …

Or, if you only have one reason, here’s another way to express yourself:

The main reason for this is…

3. Using argue

Yes, I remember that I said we weren’t going to argue, but if you talk or write about something and want to present an idea that not everybody supports, one way to do that is to start with:

Some people argue that

If this idea is something you don’t agree with as well, you can give reasons why it’s wrong by using but or however (in writing).

Alternatively, you can change people to it:

It is argued that…

Let’s see if this is easy to understand by doing a few exercises:

I left a few questions for you in the second activity.
I hope you’ll share your opinion with us in the comments section and I’ll see you next week! 🙂

The Wizard of Wikipedia

Often we, as teachers, make lessons about famous people. We focus on celebrities, entrepreneurs, people who inspire us to do better.

Today, I wanted to focus on a person who may not be saving lives or making tools that we rely on, but who has left an impact on many of us without us even knowing it. So let’s focus on a man who has edited over 30% of all the Wikipedia articles that we can find: Steven Pruitt!

Self-portrait by Steven Pruitt. License: CC BY-SA 4.0
Self-portrait by Steven Pruitt. License: CC BY-SA 4.0

Here’s what I’ve done and what you can do with your students:

1) Start the lesson by asking where they find out the latest news and any information that’s interesting for them. Write down their answers on the board. Ask them which of the sources they’ve given they trust the most and why. Then, ask them how this has changed over the years.

2) Give your students the following questions to discuss:

1) Which websites do you visit to read about different things?
2) What kind of random things do you like finding out more about?
3) What do you think about Wikipedia?
4) How often do you read articles on Wikipedia?
5) Do you trust the information you find there?
6) Who do you think contribute information to Wikipedia? Why?

3) After getting feedback from your students, tell them that they’re going to watch an interview with a person who contributes to Wikipedia. But before watching the video, print out these questions for your students to discuss. Ask them to make notes about their partner’s ideas.

1) What kind of people do you think contribute to Wikipedia?
2) What motivates these people to contribute to Wikipedia?
3) What do you think people earn when they add information to Wikipedia?
4) How many articles do you think the top contributor to Wikipedia could have written?
5) How much time in a day do you think people devote to editing Wikipedia?
6) If you’ve met a person who constantly edits Wikipedia, what would you think about this person?

4) Get feedback from your students by asking what they disagreed about and why.

Note: I would suggest cutting out the following parts of the video and my plan follows these edits:
00:00 – 00:31
01:31 – 01:58

04:14 – 04:20
04:29 – 04:42

5) Before playing the video, have your students look at the man pictured on the TV in it (Not the host) and ask them what they think about this person. Then, have them watch Steven’s interview with CBS and ask them to compare their answers to the 6 questions above to what they will hear.

5) After watching the video for the first time, get feedback on what the answers to the questions were and ask your students what surprised them the most about Steven. Ask them if their opinion of Steven has changed after watching his interview.

6) Give your students the 8 questions below to check their understanding of the video. Ask them to complete as many of the questions as they can. Then, have them watch the video for the second time to check their answers.

7) After completing the questions and watching the video twice, ask your students if they’d want to find out more about Steven. Give them the extract below and ask them to find facts which they haven’t seen or heard in the video.

During the workday, Pruitt is part of the records and information governance team at U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C. One thing his team does is help the agency’s offices transfer records to the National Archives. And while he does his Wikipedia work for free on a volunteer basis, Pruitt believes it helped get him the job three years ago.
Alla Pruitt says that her son would spend a lot of time around grownups when he was a child. “For some reason that I still don’t understand, wherever we lived, there were no kids of his age,” she says. “As I keep telling him, we ruined his life because we would always take him to museums and concerts and operas and different countries. Since the age of 1 or so, he’s been traveling all over the world.”
What does his mother think of his Wikipedia work?
“I have to confess, I’m wrong. At first we didn’t want the computer because I knew it’s addictive and time-consuming. Then his teacher said the child needs a computer.”
Steven was in third grade at the time. “I think I was the last kid in my class to get a computer,” he says.
“He did a lot of Photoshops and pictures and silly things. And then he started on Wikipedia. I said, ‘What is Wikipedia?’. My attitude always was, ‘Why do you waste all the time? Why don’t you read a book instead?’ But then, I realized he’s doing something valuable and important.”
Was she surprised when the Time magazine article came out?
“It was kind of unexpected. But it makes me very proud as a parent.”
Despite spending countless hours in front of a computer screen, Pruitt is far from antisocial. His friends describe him as outgoing, likeable and adventurous.

8) After getting answers from your students, ask them to discuss the questions below with their partners:

1) If you could ask Steven any question, what would you ask him and why?
2) Do you think what he is doing is changing the world? How so?
3) Which Wikipedia articles are your most favorite ones? Why?
4) Do you think the people who contribute over a million edits to Wikipedia are crazy?
5) Would you ever consider doing any free volunteer work? Why/Why not?
6) Wikipedia is considered as a bad source for any academic work. What are the reasons for that? Do you think this could change in the future?

9) While they’re discussing the questions. Write down 2 sentences from the article on the board:

Alla Pruitt says that her son would spend a lot of time around grownups when he was a child.
We would always take him to museums and concerts and operas and different countries.

If you don’t have the time to get feedback for each question you’ve given them. Focus on the first one and get ideas from each pair.

10) Tell your students to look at the sentences and ask them which sentence talks about a finished habit and which sentence describes typical past behavior. Ask CCQs about the topic, such as:
Are we talking about the past, present or future?
Does Steven often travel now?

11) Ask your students what they can use instead of would. Check what they know about used to and would by giving them these 3 questions.

12) Check their answers and focus on the fact that changing used to to would when you have a finished state gives the sentence a different meaning. You can give them an example, such as I used to like chocolate and ask them if we can change used to to would and what the second sentence would mean.

13) Give your students these facts about Steven Pruitt and ask them to rewrite these facts using would if it’s possible.

14) After they’re done and you’ve finished checking the answers, ask your students to make 6 sentences true for them about their past habits and typical behavior using used to and would. Ask them to share their sentences with their partners and ask extra questions about each fact. To get feedback from your students, ask them which fact about their partner surprised them the most and why?

15) Give your students a sheet of paper with the following task:
Think of how Wikipedia has changed our lives and our education using used to and would.
Write about how and where we looked for information, which sources we used, how accurate they were.
Do you think these changes are good or bad? Why?

You can ask your students to write an essay on the topic and collect them after the lesson or, alternatively, ask them to make notes to help them talk and then get feedback from each student.

I hope your students will love this lesson!

If you have any ideas on how to make it even better, leave a comment and have a good weekend! 🙂

Let’s stop confusing these words

Today, let’s take a look at some words my students often confuse.

Affect / Effect

While both words have a similar meaning, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
Their meaning becomes the same when you add Have an before and on after effect.

Meeting her affected me = Meeting her had an effect on me

Advice / Advise

This is another example of a noun and a verb.

We give people advice, but we advise people to do something.

Bare / Bear

Bare means naked or uncovered.
For example, if I’m walking barefoot, this means I’m not wearing any shoes (and socks)

Bear can be the animal, as well as be used as a verb meaning accept and tolerate unpleasant things and difficulties. (We must bear the responsibility for our choices)

Cereal / Serial

Often, when the topic of movies and TV series comes up, students tend to say that they watch serials, which wouldn’t be wrong if they had given more information. However, all three words have a different meaning

CerealCereal is something we don’t need to cook and usually eat for breakfast.

Let’s look at a few of the meanings of Serial:

1) Part of a series (This book is a serial novel. The whole story is divided into 3 books)
2) Someone who commits a crime more than once. (The police caught a serial killer this week)
3) Something that appears at regular periods of time. (I read serial publications (magazines, newspapers, e.t.c.) to know all the latest trends)

When you want to talk about Prison Break, The Game of Thrones or any other TV programs, it’s better to say TV series.

Complement / Compliment

The first word is often used when talking about food or fashion. For example, you want to tell your friend that the shoes he’s wearing complement his suit or the cheese complements the pasta you’re eating. When you say that, it can sometimes sound like a compliment.

To the person reading this and doing the exercises, you are amazing and you’re doing a great job working on your English! How’s that for a compliment? 🙂

Emigrate / Immigrate

Both words have a very similar meaning, but Emigrate is used to talk about leaving one country and moving to another while immigrate is used to say that you came to live in this country.

My friend wants to emigrate from Ukraine to the USA
(He wants to move to the USA from his own country)
The Vallejo family immigrated to the USA in 2012
(They came to the USA and they’re living there now)

Quiet / Quite

Quiet means that there’s no noise. You can ask people to be quiet if they talk too loudly.
Quite, on the other hand, is used for emphasis and can also mean a little or a lot but not completely

There were quite a lot of people I haven’t seen for years at the party. (I want you to hear that there were a lot of people I forgot all about)
I’m quite tired after our trip. (But not completely tired, I can still walk)

Than / Then

Sometimes people can confuse the two words, but it’s quite simple, actually. Than is used when we want to compare something (He’s older than me) while Then is used for talking about the time or when you talk about what happened or will happen next:

I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have an answer for you by then.
I’ll ask her if she wants to join us and then we’ll go.

I advise you to practice these words in context by doing a few short exercises below:

I hope this post will have a good effect on you, I hope you got quite a good result and that your second try was better than the first one. 😉

See you next Saturday! 🙂


Today, let’s take a quick look at 2 suffixes: -less and -ful.

We use both suffixes to turn nouns into adjectives and talk about a quality. The difference is that when you use -less, you want to say that something or someone is without this quality and when you use -ful you mean it’s full of this quality.

Homeless guyHe’s homeless – he doesn’t have a home.

Beautiful girl.She’s beautiful – she looks very good.

Some nouns can have both suffixes, while others can use only one or none of them.

Let’s look at some examples:

Beauty Beautiful

Let’s look at these and a few other examples in practice:

I hope this was helpful to you and I’d like to ask you:
When you’re feeling down, what can quickly make you cheerful again?

Let us know in the comments section and see you next Saturday! 🙂