Archive for July 2013




Since my first post on grammar & creative writing was so popular, I thought I’d do a follow-up series. It’s important for creative writers to know the rules of the language–even if it’s just so we can break them later. 


Cthulhu hates adverbs

At some point in most writers’ lives, we’re told to avoid adverbs like the plague. (We’re also told to avoid cliches, but I’ll save that for another post.) We develop a Pavlovian response to adverbs, mercilessly cutting them from our pages. But is it always necessary? And, in our quest to eradicate -ly words, are we missing the most pernicious adverbs of them all?

First, a refresher: The Chicago Manual of Style defines an adverb as “a word that qualifies, limits, describes, or modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.” (16th ed., 5.153) When I taught Fundamentals of English, I would tell my students that adverbs answer the questions How?, When?,Where?, and How Much?

Ryan Gosling strode across the street.

Adverb Type #1: “How” adverbs, also called adverbs of manner, are the ones that most often have the suffix -ly. How did he walk across the room? Slowly, quickly, loudly, etc. I’m sure you can see the problem–why write “He walked across the room quickly” when you can use a stronger verb instead? At this point, I’d ask my students to brainstorm different verbs.

Example: He dashed/ran/sprinted/skipped across the room.

To drive the point home, I’d act out the verbs, since nothing reinforces learning like seeing your teacher making a fool of herself by hopping across the front of the classroom. Every one of those verbs is more descriptive than”walked quickly” because they convey different shades of meaning. Skipped connotes cheerfulness, while sprinted gives a sense of urgency.

I’m a believer in cutting the chaff from your writing. George Orwell’s rules for writing include “Never use a long word where a short one will do,” and “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” If you’ve never read Orwell’s “Politics and The English Language,” I encourage you to do so. Orwell understood better than almost any other writer the way that language can be used to both conceal and reveal meaning.

“How” adverbs prop up listless verbs. Cut them out and use a stronger verb instead.

Adverb Type #2: “When” adverbs describe the time in which an action takes place. Usually, sometimes, never, frequently, tomorrow, yesterday, before, weekly: These are all adverbs.

Example: “Buddy went to Momma’s house yesterday.”

The adverb “yesterday” tells us when he went. Without it, we’re missing part of the puzzle. We’d know that he visited Momma, but we wouldn’t know when. If it’s important for the reader to know when an action happened, then it’s necessary to use an adverb.

The “Back” in “Baby Got Back” is a noun. Incidentally, I also used Sir Mix-A-Lot to illustrate the proper use of coordinating conjunctions.

Adverb Type #3: “Where” adverbs are weird. Some of them are perfectly fine: here, there, inside, outside, somewhere, anywhere. Others have a tendency to clutter the page like cigarette butts. “Back,” “up,” and “along” can all be used as several different parts of speech, but when they are used as adverbs, they should almost always be cut.

Example: ”She ran along beside me.”

How does the word “along” add anything to the reader’s understanding of the sentence? It doesn’t; cut it.

“Back” is the worst offender in my writing. When I was working on an early draft of Grey Magic, I ran it through Wordle, which creates artistic word clouds from text files. The size of the word is directly related to its frequency, so I wasn’t surprised to see “Grimoire” as the largest word. She’s the main character, after all. What did surprise me was the size of the word “back.” How the hell had I used it so many times?

I did a CTRL-F search of my Word document, and sure enough, I’d used it something like 900 times in a 50,000 word document. Almost all of them were chaff. Most instances happened in sentences like “She walked back to the room,” or “He went back to the tower.” “Returned” is a much simpler–and better–choice.

Brobdingnagian Rabbit

Adverb Type #4: Adverbs of extent, or “how much” adverbs, are the nasty ones. They prop up weak adjectives in much the same way that adverbs of manner prop up weak verbs. They include really, very, rather, quite, somewhat, extremely.

Example: “It was very big.”

There are dozens of adjectives that you could use instead of “big” to describe the size of something. Gargantuan, huge, enormous, elephantine. If you’re feeling fancy, maybe Brobdingnagian. And, you know, sometimes its okay for things to just be big. Like the lowly “said,” simple words are often the best choice, even if they don’t show off your mighty vocabulary to the ladies.

Unless they’re used to as a deliberate stylistic choice or to improve the cadence of your writing, adverbs of extent have no place outside of dialogue. A stereotypical stuffy British character might say “quite” and “rather” (just before his monocle popped off into his teacup, no doubt), while the title of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close uses adverbs to create a certain rhythm. These are okay. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they can be cut with impunity.









RESOURCE BOOK:  PRONUNCIATION PAIRS                                                            LEVEL: BEGINNER to ADULT



Nationality AMERICAN





This one month class is to learn to speak American English with a clear sounding of the words, to be able to speak to other people and have them understand what you are talking about, not slurred, or with slang.


Suggestions / Recommendations

Pronunciation Pairs:   (To say the words very clearly), (To Remember to sound the words very clearly),

(To say the correct “ED” sound and the correct “S” “IZ” or “Z” sounds), (To say with the correct Intonations),

(Flow of the words together), (To put the emotions into your words), (To find the sounds that change in a word).

(To stress on words that have a different meaning), (To show excitement with some parts of speech).


Course Outline

Week 1 – Students will begin the class with a basic pronunciation test which will cover all vowel and consonant sounds as well as consonant clusters. From the students performance on this test individual vowel and consonant sounds will be identified and targeted for classroom learning. More complicated consonant combinations as well as past tense verb and plurals “S” endings will be practiced and reviewed.

Step 01:  One hour of Pronunciation Pairs.  Five Units per hour, will improve there pronunciation level in one week, each week will build confidence in there ability to speak and understand the new vocabulary of English.


Week 2 – Students will be introduced to word stress. As a means of teaching this students will learn syllable count, prefix and suffix pronunciation and compound word pronunciation and stress. Students will begin to learn higher aspects of American accent word stress and reduction of pronouns and modals.

Step 01:  One hour of Grammar, will help the student start saying sentence patterns, this week will be the growing of Pronunciation with Vocabulary words.  The American accent and word stress and reduction of pronouns will also be used to help the student understanding the forms of America stress and other country’s English.

Step 02:  One Hour of Pronunciation.  Continuing the Five Units per hour with now the Grammar you will start to see the students using the English outside of the classroom.


Week 3 – Students will work on English rhythm patterns to include highlighting stressed words within a sentence, thought groups and usual patterns of speech associated with pronouns, articles, contractions and prepositions. A closer look will be taken at phrasal verbs and descriptive devices such as simile and metaphor.

Step 01:  Reading, Writing, listening.  One hour of Reading, Writing, listening, will play a roll in the developing of the student’s interest in the English language as well as the understanding of “WHY” when a student can understand the why of English they start learning at a faster pace.

Step 02:  One hour of Pronunciation.  Continuing the Five Units per hour with now the Grammar, Reading, Writing, Listening, you will start to see the students using the English outside of the classroom even more then the first two weeks.


Week 4 –Students will be introduced to Intonation. Listing intonation, question/tag question and drop-rise intonation. Pitch range and expressive intonation will be covered. Blending, reduction and higher level English speaking skills useful in IELTsTOEIC and TOEFL will be learned.

Step 01:  Review, It is important for the student to review all that they have learned, and the mistakes that the teacher now can correct and get the student to remember the correct way to Speak, Read, Write, Listen and use the proper Grammar.



RESOURCE BOOK:  BASIC GRAMMAR IN USE                                                                                  LEVEL: BEGINNER to ADULT

BOOKS: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, READING, WRITING, SLE,                                                           TIME FRAME: ONE MONTH

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Grammar is important because it is the language that makes it possible for us to talk about language. Grammar names the types of words and word groups that make up sentences not only in English but in any language. As human beings, we can put sentences together even as children–we can all do grammar. But to be able to talk about how sentences are built, about the types of words and word groups that make up sentences–that is knowing about grammar. And knowing about grammar offers a window into the human mind and into our amazingly complex mental capacity. People associate grammar with errors and correctness. But knowing about grammar also helps us understand what makes sentences and paragraphs clear and interesting and precise. Grammar can be part of literature discussions, when we and our students closely read the sentences in poetry and stories. And knowing about grammar means finding out that all languages and all dialects follow grammatical patterns.


GRAMMAR: To Learn English Grammar and how the differences are between learning English in it true form.  The English Language has many different parts of Grammar and to understand each part it must be done one step at a time.

Suggestions / Recommendation:

Basic Grammar in Use:  (To learn Grammar is a short time and to insure that the Grammar can be used in a formal and a business setting).  To learn all the parts of Grammar, Present, Past, Present Perfect, Passive,

Verb Forms, Future, Modals, Imperatives, Auxiliary Verbs, Questions, Reported Speech, Pronouns, Possessives, Determiners, and Pronouns, with Adjectives and Adverbs, Prepositions, Two Word Verbs,

Conjunctions and Clauses.




Course Outline

  1. Week 1 – Students will begin the class with a basic grammar in use test. If they are a beginner then they will start at the Unit 01.  AM/IS/ARE, This will start them learning the Positive and Negative with sentence structure and where to use them.  (That’s=That is There’s=There is) they will do the exercises 1.1 to 1.6. Start:  Unit 2. Exercises 2.1 to 2.5 (Questions) How to ask questions.  Unit 3. Exercises 3.1 to 3.4 (Present Continuous)  In these Exercises there are complete the sentences with a follow up with the teachers and with there homework.  Writing about a small picture and using the proper Grammar, also writing about true sentences.                                                                        Students will start Learning (Present Continuous Questions) this will build there Grammar at a faster pace.  Unit 4 – 4.1 to 4.4 Exercises looking at the picture and write the proper questions to be asked in the conversation.  Unit 5 – (Simple Present) Exercises 5.1 to 5.5 using Verbs. Asking Questions to other students and staff.  Students will began learning (Simple Present Negative) Unit 6 Exercise 6.1 to 6.5 This will be writing negative sentences, study the information and write sentence with like, putting the verb in the correct form (Positive or Negative) Unit 7- 7.1 to 7.4 (Simple Present Questions) Write Questions also using the verbs.  Write true short answers. Unit 8 – 8.1 to 8.3 (Present Continuous and Simple Present) using Present Continuous in the proper way of a sentence structure.                                                                                                                                                                  Week 2 – Unit 9 using 9.1 to 9.4 Exercises Rewriting sentences with (got) (have) (do’s and don’t) Unit 10 is using Was/Were will be doing (Positive) (Negative) (Questions) with short answers.  Start learning the correct order of the sentence. Unit 11 (Simple Past) Exercises 11.1 to 11.2 will use simple past of the verb usage.  Fill in the blanks with the proper verb and Simple Past forms.  Unit 12 (Simple Past Negative and Questions) Exercise 12.1 to 12.5 Complete the sentences with the proper past tense words putting the verb in the correct form.                                                                                                                       Week 3 – Unit 13 (Past Continuous) Exercises 13.1 to 13.4 looking at the picture and fill in the blanks. What did the student do?  In past continuous form, complete the questions. Unit 14 (Past Continuous and Simple Past) Unit 15 (I Used to ) Unit 16 (present Perfect) Unit 17 (Simple Present and Present Perfect) Unit 18 (For, Since, Ago) Unit 19 (I Have Done and I Did).                                                                                                                                                                                         Week 4 – Unit 20 (Just, Already, and Yet) Unit 21 (I’ve Lost My Key,) Unit 22 (Passive) Unit 23 (Is Being Done) Unit 24 (Be, Have, do, in Present and Past) Unit 25 (Regular and Irregular Verbs) Unit 26 (What Are You Doing?) Unit 27 (I’m Going To) Unit 28 (Will) Unit 29 (I’ll, Will) Unit 30 (Might) Unit 31 (Can and Could) Unit 32 (Must)
  2. This is where we will start the review.  The review is very important to show what the student has really learned. There will be a Grammar test to show how much the student has learned.








(GROUP) OR ONE ON ONE                                                                                                                                                                                            RESOURCE BOOK:  WRITING                                                                                                                LEVEL: BEGINNER to ADULT

BOOKS: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, READING, WRITING, SLE                                                           TIME FRAME: ONE MONTH  




MORE STEPS TO WRITTING: To Learn English Writing and how the differences are between learning English in it true form.  The English Language has many different parts of Writing and to understand each part it must be done one step at a time.

Suggestions / Recommendation:

More Steps to Writing: To establish writing skill’s for Business, a Contract, a E-Mail, just about anything you will need the ability to write in some form or another.  Even though we live in a computer age there are still many things that need to be written or typed correctly.


 Week 1- Unit 01 (Sports) Descriptive Composition Unit 02 (Entertainment) Informal Letter Unit 03 (Relationships) Discursive Composition


 WeeK 2- Unit 04 (Emergencies) Short Story Unit 05 (Travel) Letter to a friend Unit 06 (Health and Fitness) Report Writing


 Week 3- Unit 07 (Employment) Article Unit 08 (City and Country life) Discursive Composition


 Week 4- Review, make sure of all the spelling of each thing that is done, Grammar, and content will be the best for the student to learn how to write a good report, letter, e-mail.                            


RESOURCE BOOK: English VOCABULARY in Use                                                                              LEVEL: BEGINNER to ADULT

BOOKS: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, READING, WRITING, ESL                                                             TIME FRAME: ONE MONTH



COURSE OBJECTIVES: To teach the student a group of vocabulary words and how to use them in a sentence with the proper Grammar, and to understand the definition of vocabulary words and how to use them in different ways.  English has a vast way of using the vocabulary words, so by teaching them how to use them in different situations will increase the ability to use them correctly.




Book: English Vocabulary in Use:


(Everyday Verbs) (Words and Grammar) (People) (The World) (At Home) (School and Workplace) (Leisure) (Social Issues)


Week 1:  Everyday Verbs, Using language Words, Talking About Language, Learning Vocabulary, Learn words in Family, Picture and Diagrams, Exercises, 2.1 to 9.5


Week 2:  (Bring) (Get) (Phrasal Verbs) (Everyday Things) (Talking) (Moving) (Conjunctions) (Time Words) (Places) Exercises, 10.1 to 18.5


Week 3:  (Manner) (Irregular Verbs) (Common Uncountable Words) (Common Adjective Good and Bad) (Words and Prepositions) (Prefixes) Exercises, 19.1 to 25.6


Week 4:  Review Exercises 2.1 to 25.6, Test, and correct the mistakes the student are making.

(GROUP) OR ONE ON ONE                                                                                                                                                            RESOURCE BOOK:  SPEAKING LISTENING EXPRESSION                                                                 LEVEL: BEGINNER to ADULT

BOOKS: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, READING, WRITING, SLE                                                          TIME FRAME: ONE MONTH   


COURSE OBJECTIVES: Intro provides numerous opportunities for high beginning students to actively learn contemporary American English expressions. This text is also appropriate for vocabulary courses.
– Expressions are presented in interesting contexts — i.e., speaking on a car phone, being afraid to talk in school — and are spiralled through natural dialogues and listening activities.
– Learning strategies, such as vocabulary indexing and clustering, focus students on becoming independent learners.
– Activities include games, cartoons, role-plays, surveys, and dictations, as well as listening and writing activities that appeal to a wide range of learning styles. 



The SLE (Speaking, Listening, Expression) program is a conversation program for adult and young adult learners of English as a foreign language. It aims to improve learners’ communicative competence through an emphasis on interaction. It enables learners to acquire and practice using important functions and expressions in natural contexts while, at the same time, stimulating conversation related to various topics and real-life situations. It utilizes a number of communicative approaches to language learning in order to facilitate the learners’ timely and effective acquisition of English. The aim of the program is to improve learners’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills as well as their vocabulary and grammar skills. The SLE series provides learners with the tools they need to use their newly acquired language skills in the real world. It aims to help build learners’ confidence in using English outside the classroom by increasing their understanding of and involvement in the learning process. Most importantly, the SLE series will challenge learners and help them believe in themselves. All learners participating in the SLE program will be able take the Pagoda motto to heart.                                                                                                                                   Week 1: (Nice to Meet You) (What’s your Favorite?) (Time is on my Side) (What are you doing Nowadays?) (Weather and Seasons) (Red Letter Day) (There’s still a lot Left)

Week 2: (All in the Family) (The Future is Bright) What Happened?) (I can Do It!) (Nice Suit) (Not Just Another Pretty Face) (Learning the Ins and Outs) (Wild Kingdom)

Week 3: (Would You Rather?) (Growing Up) (That Sounds Fine) (Give Me One good Reason) (Home is Where the Heart is)

Week 4: Review, Test, and correct the mistakes from each Unit, make sure there is no questions that are not answered.

(GROUP) OR ONE ON ONE                                                                                                                                                                                RESOURCE BOOK:  READING ADVANTAGE                                                                                        LEVEL: BEGINNER to ADULT

BOOKS: GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, READING, WRITING, SLE                                                          TIME FRAME: ONE MONTH   

COURSE OBJECTIVES: what a language objective is

  • steps that teachers can take to create language objectives
  • how to implement language objectives in a general education classroom
  • how to align objectives to content and language standards
  • articulate for learners the academic language functions and skills that they need to master to fully participate in the lesson and meet the grade-level content standards.
  • are beneficial not only for language learners but for all students in a class, as everyone can benefit from the clarity that comes with a teacher outlining the requisite academic language to be learned and mastered in each lesson.

Week 1: (Reading Comprehension) (Idioms) (Vocabulary Reinforcement) (Target Vocabulary) (What do you Think?) (Video Jockeys) (Coffee Culture) (Around the World)


Week 2: Review last week progress and (Test) (The Puffer Fish) (Getting Married) (Say It with Flowers) (Bollywood) (The Nobel Prize)


Week 3: Review last week progress and (Test) (A Funny Cure) (Palm Reading) (Amazing Memory) (Incredible Dogs) (Diamonds)


Week 4: Review last week progress and (Test) (Space Explorers) (Happy New Year) (Text Messaging) (Urban Legends)

08:00 to 08:50:   Pronunciation Pairs

09:00 to 09:50:   Basic Grammar in Use

10:00 to 10:50:   More Steps to Writing

11:00 to 11:50:   English VOCABULARY in Use                                                         

12:00 to 13:00:   Lunch


14:00 to 14:50:   READING ADVANTAGE

 15:00 to 16:50:   Optional Classes (POP) (MOVIES) (SURVIVAL) (PATTERN) (CNN) (BUSINESS) (PRESENTATION)