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

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

ESL Remembrance Day Song Gap Fills

Enjoy the following Remembrance Day Songs.

A Pittance of Time 

On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the stores PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the stores leadership role in adopting the Legions two minutes of silence initiative. He felt that the stores contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.


When eleven oclock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the two minutes of silence to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.


Terry's anger towards the father for trying to engage the stores clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into the following song called  work called, A Pittance of Time. 








Friday, November 4, 2016

ESL Remembrance Day: Why the Poppy?


In Flanders Field 

by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row  

that mark our places, and in the sky 
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard  amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields .  


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die.
we shall not sleep 
  though poppies grow 
in Flanders fields.

Why the Poppy? 
For almost 100 years, people from Canada, Britain, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries have worn the red poppy as a symbol of Remembrance Day.

This simple red flower continues to be one of most visible ways  people can show that they remember and thank the millions of men and women who gave up their lives for their countries in World War 1, World War 11 and all other wars. 

The association between the poppy and war dead goes back to the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s  when  soldiers noticed that poppies seemed to thrive on the graves of soldiers who had died in battle in Flanders, a region of northern France and Belgium.

In 1915, Colonel John McCrae, a medical officer serving in Belgium, made the same connection between the fields of poppies and  the young soldiers who had been killed in battle.  This inspired him to write In Flanders Field during a break from working with the wounded. 

The poem, one that almost every Canadian, British, Australian and New Zealand  child can recite from memory, reflects what McCrae saw and heard while working to save dying and injured soldiers during a deadly battle. 

The Story Behind the Poem 

On April 22, 1915, the Germans used deadly chlorine gas against Allied troops  in a desperate attempt to create movement on one side or the other. Although they were suffering from the terrible effects of gas, the Canadian soldiers continued to fight and hold the line for another 16 days.
    
In the trenches where he was caring for hundreds of wounded and dying soldiers, McCrae was so deeply affected that  wrote a letter to his mother. 

The letter to his mother 
"The general impression in my mind is a nightmare. We have been in the most bitter of fights. For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots, except occasionally. 

"In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds...And behind if all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way," he wrote. 

The day before he wrote the poem, one of McCrae's best friends was killed in the fighting and buried in a grave with a simple wooden cross. 

Wild poppies were already beginning to bloom between the crosses  marking the many graves. Although he couldn't help his friend, or any of the others who had died, McCrae spoke for them in this poem.  It was the second last poem he was to write. 


Listen to In Flanders Field being read out loud. Follow along, or read it at the same time - slowly and solemnly as it is meant to be read



How the Poppy Became an Official Symbol 

In November 1918 as the armistice ended World War 1, Moina Michael, an American teacher working at the YMCA Overseas War Headquarters read McCrae's appeal   "to keep faith with the dead" and vowed that she would always wear a poppy as a sign of  remembrance. Following her two year campaign to have the United States adopt the poppy as a national symbol, the U.S proclaimed it as its national emblem of Remembrance. 

The following year, Anna Guerin a Frenchwoman, sold millions of poppies  to raise funds for rehabilitation in areas of France. She also sent women to London to sell poppies and persuaded Earl Haig to adopt  it as a memorial symbol for the British Legion.

In 1921 the Canadian Legion joined its British counterpart and officially adapted the poppy as its symbol of Remembrance. 


Why Should You Wear A Poppy? 

First, wearing a poppy is one very visible way to show respect and admiration for the men and women who  sacrificed their lives in order to help us retain the freedom and rights we take for granted.

Also  when you buy and wear a poppy, you will be helping military families, and veterans in need and their families. 

Where does the money go in Britain? 


Last year the poppy campaign in Britain raised more than  £40 m ( that's about about $70 million Canadian).  The Royal British Legion said it spends £1.7m a week on care and support for military families, including grants, employment advice and funding, emotional support, tribunal and inquest advice, care homes and family breaks. This includes  the families of veterans returning from Afghanistan. or any other area of conflict.

Where does the money go in Canada? 


Last year, the sale of poppies raised about $16.5 million in Canada. 
  
The legion distributes about 18 million poppies a year via its members, veterans, military cadets and through direct mailings. Assuming all are given out to Canadians, it amounts to average donations of less than a dollar per available poppy.

The basic purpose of Poppy Funds is to provide immediate assistance to ex-servicemen and women in need. This may include food, shelter or medical attention for them or their families. Also, education bursaries are granted to children and grandchildren of ex-service personnel.  

Poppy funds can be used for low-rental housing and care facilities, community medical appliances and medical research, drop-in centres, meals-on-wheels, transportation and related services for veterans their dependents. Facilities and services are often extended to the elderly or disabled in the community as may be available. 


Write your answer in he comment box below 

1.   Do YOU think it is still important to wear a poppy?  Why or why not? 
2.   What else should people do instead?  Explain 



Saturday, October 29, 2016

4 more Halloween Listening Quizzes with Friends etc.

Here are four more quizzes to help you practice your Halloween listening . Three are from television comedy shows. One is a trailer for a scary movie that is  often shown on Halloween.  


Friends: Trick or Treat 

Big Bang Theory: Halloween Prank




Big Bang Theory: Halloween Costumes


The Other: A Movie

Friday, October 28, 2016

ESL Halloween: Five TV 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 existence of long running TV 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 "fast English" English speaker.   

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 




















Big Bang Theory
Back at The Big Bang Theory, the boys are planning to go to a costume party, but they have a dilemma. Watch and answer the questions.



How I Met Your Mother  
On the popular situation comedy How I Met Your Mother "How I Met Your Mother," the boys have a lot to say about Halloween. Watch and answer the questions.  For more information on the show and the characters go to  How I Met Your Mother   

Friends
One of the most famous Halloween episodes happened in the TV show " Friends", which millions of people still watch on DVD or cable channels. For more information on the show and characters go to  Friends  




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ten ESL Halloween Song Listening Activities




Halloween is almost here. Now that you've put up the decorations and prepared your costume for a "scary" night out, it's time to put on some spooky music to add to the atmosphere. Here are ten "classic" Halloween hit songs that never seem to get old. 

Whether you are having a party or just singing on  your own, these tunes should give you an extra scary shiver or two.  You can learn some new vocabulary, practice your listening and even learn a little grammar ( if you feel the need) 

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  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.

 # 2    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.  




Sunday, December 20, 2015

ESL Nativity Story Listening Quiz


Christmas has become a fun filled holiday for people all over the world - regardless of whether they are Christian or not.  As a result many people are very familiar with the idea of Santa Claus, gift giving, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Jingle Bells and Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings. 

However, some people are not familiar with the reason practicing Christians celebrate this special day. 

The following video tells the story of Christmas that comes from the Bible.  It does not matter if you believe the story or not, but IS is important to know the story itself if you want to understand Christian beliefs and culture.