ESL and IELTS Help 4 U

George Lucas, the man who gave birth to the Star Wars movies, has a big interest in education. Not just any kind of education! Education that is creative, collaborative, exciting and fun.

He has a superb organization called Edutopia and I’d love for you to go to his website and read everything that interests you.

It will be good English reading practice and I bet you will find something that you want to see in your own education system.

There is also a great learning styles quiz to help you understand how you learn and then give you some tips on how to study.

Here’s the address:



I’ve been thinking about words that describe how often something happens. There are many great English words that we can use depending on….well depending on how often!

How often do you study?  go to the mall? talk to your friends? have dinner with your parents? play a game? take a walk? watch television? go online? get your hair cut?

Starting with not doing something at all to doing it all the time, here are some words you can use to stretch your vocabulary. When there is more than one word that means about the same thing, I’ve inserted (or).

Not at all: I never seem to have time to get any exercise.

Not often: We rarely (or) seldom (or) hardly ever see squirrels in the city any more.

Sometimes: Occasionally, during the term, your teacher will meet with you to discuss your term project.

From time to time we can see the stars, but the smog is usually too thick.

Every so often, especially when we’re in a crowd,  my dog will just jump out of my arms and run away.

Often: He usually goes to the cinema on the weekends.

In the summer I frequently travel to the beach with my friends.

She loves art so she makes regular visits to the local galleries.

Very often: I see him all the time when I go to the park.

I walk daily, the first thing in the morning.

He is constantly forgetting to do his assignments.

Day in and day out you will find most students online doing research, watching movies or playing games.

Those two girls are always together.

Theirs is a never-ending love affair.

The planets are in perpetual motion.

Wow! Now you have many new words and phrases to use when you want to describe how often something happens. Try them out! Experiment! Take a risk! We say in English: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. This means you can only grow and improve if you try new things.

Study hard! Enjoy your English! Use a new word today!

Most students feel like this the day before the IELTS test:

Their heads are full and overflowing with information. They are worried about doing well.

Of course, it is stressful to take a big test like the IELTS. Everyone will be “feeling the pressure” as we would say in English.

Many students will study up to the last minute, staying up late the night before the test, reviewing and memorizing.

Actually, by the day before the test, you know all you’re going to know. You won’t learn one more thing in the last 24 hours.

You will benefit more by giving yourself time to rest and relax. Get your mind off the test. Watch a funny movie! Have dinner with a friend. Go to bed early and sleep as well as you can.

You want to rest and relax your mind just like you rest and relax your body. If your mind is well rested, it will work better for you when you get into the test.

Good luck! Have a wonderful day!

For years, when we first start to study another language, we

1. know what we want to say in our own language. Then,

2. in our minds, we translate that into the new language. Then

3. we write or say it in the new language.

When I was in Thailand, learning Thai words, I did the same thing: thought of the word in English, translated into Thai in my mind, and then said it.

This is the only way we know how to do it.

There comes a day when we must begin to think in the new language, not translate in our heads.

In order to take this step, we have to trust ourselves. We have to take the risk of just saying the word or words in the new language. Maybe we’ll say it right. Maybe not. But we have to try.

We practice and practice and then it becomes easy. We must take this step to become fluent in the new language. Are you ready to trust yourself?

Have a wonderful day!!!

Wow! These young people look frustrated! They must be trying to understand prepositions!

They need to step back, take a big breath and become calm. Prepositions are tricky but they are also simple. Please remember to use the most simple preposition for the sentence you are writing. It’s not useful to try and write in an advanced way when you’re choosing the correct preposition. Keep it simple…KIS!

A preposition is just a connecting word.

I am going to the store. The preposition “to” connects what I’m doing (I’m going) with a place, (the store).

I paid $1000 for my computer. “For” connects what I paid ($1000) with what I bought (my computer).

The meeting starts at 3 o’clock. We use the word “at” to connect the time with the event.

I often study with my friend, Pam.

So we can say that often, when we add more information to a sentence, we use a preposition, especially if we’re adding information that tells, who, where, what or when.

Here are some more prepositions taken from a good list which you can find at the English Club website with examples of how you might use them in your writing. I’ve chosen ones that are a little more challenging.

Everyone except Jane is going to class. Jane’s sick and cannot attend.

We will be going through the entire book of exercises during this term. When you’re finished, you will have learned everything you need to know!

This movie is unlike any you have seen in the past. You will enjoy it because it is so different.

Try to make your presentation without using your notes. It is good practice to try and speak naturally, not reading from a sheet of paper.

He is better at speaking than she is, but she is better at writing.

Since you’ve already taken the introductory course, the intermediate course will be easy.

Sometimes he feels like everyone is against him. He feels like everyone wants him to fail.

They gathered around the table for the meeting so everyone could see one another.

He was dressed as a clown at the costume party.

Try to begin using these prepositions in your writing and speaking. Experiment!!

Take a risk!

Practice and enjoy your English!

Many students feel like this when they think of prepositions.

It’s easy to see why. There are over 150 prepositions in English. There are some rules to help you but not every preposition seems to follow a rule every time it is used. So we have to memorize.

In this post, we will review some of the most often used prepositions, ones that refer to  “where” something or someone is and give some other uses as well.


This water comes in a bottle.  

We are also in love. My friend is in training to be a doctor. A student could be in trouble if he gets caught cheating on a test.  If you are giving a speech you are probably standing in front of your audience.


This cute kitten is on the table.

We are also on time if we have a 3 o’clock appointment and we arrive at 3.  My friend is on TV if she’s in a reality show. If I’m traveling to Thailand and my plane has departed, I am on the way.


The Peanuts kids are sitting under the tree.

We are also under pressure if we are stressed. Fish swim under water although we can also say a fish is in the water. If a building is in the process of being built we say it is under construction.


This little pig is behind the fence.

If my essay is due tomorrow and I have not started it yet, I’m behind on my homework.  If a soldier goes into the country of his enemy in a war, he is behind enemy lines.


These young people are laying on the grass beside one another.

But if you hear someone say: “Your comment is beside the point,” it means the comment is not important, does not relate.


This beautiful girl is standing between two cute guys.

I could also say, “Between you and me, I think Tata is the best singer in Thailand.” This means I’m telling you something that I don’t want you to tell anyone else. I’m sharing a secret with only you.  In English we also say someone is between jobs if he lost his job and has not found a new job yet.

More prepositions to come! Enjoy your English! Study every day!

In English, the term “pep talk” means a speech to inspire people.

So today, I want to give a small pep talk.

Every student I’ve ever had knew more than they thought they knew. It’s true for you as well.

You know more English than you think you know.

Your English is better than you think it is.

Trust yourself.

We are taught to always be improving. We’re told to study study study. We’re pushed forward by our families and our cultures.

So we always focus on how we need to improve. We say our English isn’t perfect. Our English isn’t good. We need to learn more, study harder.

It’s okay to have the desire to improve. It’s good to want to study and get results.

And…the one thing that always helps us learn is acknowledging* our current abilities. Appreciating* what we do know. Trusting ourselves to build on what we have already learned. Having confidence in our knowledge. Relaxing.

This is an attitude. The attitude of building and expanding the knowledge we have gathered over years of study, not the attitude of we’re never good enough.

Every student I’ve ever worked with knows the feeling of not being good enough.

This little pep talk is to say: We’re always good enough. And then there’s more to learn.

Enjoy this beautiful day…. Trust yourself.

* If you don’t know these words, look them up at