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Learning Resources

Learning Resources (16)

Friday, 14 December 2018 01:10

DreyerCoaching 大使 Ambassador

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Do you like to help people?


Be a DreyerCoaching Ambassador!

成为Dreyer 大使!

Help your friends, and help yourself!


Our best ambassadors are our students and their parents, who are happy with their learning with To say "Thank You" to each person who introduces a new student who registers with us, we will give the introducer ONE FREE 1 on 1 English class -- an RMB 475 / NT$ 1,800 value! 



AND, from December 14-21, 2018, we are offering a special bonus. For EACH student you encourage to register with, before December 21, you get ONE FREE 1 on 1 class AND we will enter your name in a drawing to win the GRAND PRIZE:  50% off the tuition for one 2019-2020 small group class (September 2019 - June 2020)!

 还有,在十二月14-21日2018年,您所介绍的朋友报名上课了。会赠送您一次值美金$69元的一对一课程且会将您的大名(介绍一位,两位,三位或更多)放在抽奖里,您就有机会得DreyerCoaching的头奖(九月2019年-六月2020年)网路小组课打折 50%的学费。


When people register now, they get classes from January - June, 2019. AND, if they register soon, they can get the BONUS CLASSES during the week of December 17-20! 42497141 10217066690477368 8733907028247838720 n


We have NEVER offered this before, so take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Help your friends! Help yourself! Be a DreyerCoaching ambassador! 


Here is the current tuition for classes, January - June, 2019:

Small-Group Classes (2x/week--only 6 students maximum per class) (except for Writing Classes):

原价 RMB 8,950 / NT$39,550   RMB 5,500 / NT$ 24,500 (good until 1/31/2019)

Small-Group Writing or Conversation Classes (1x/week--only 3 students maximum per writing class):

原价 RMB 5,395 / NT$23,875   RMB 3,200 / NT$ 14,300 (good until 1/31/2019)

1 on 1 Class (with a USA Team Teacher)

原价 RMB 15,320 / NT$68,135   RMB 5,800 / NT$ 47,700 (good until 1/31/2019)


Do your friends want to know more about our classes? Give them this link.

Want to know more? Email Scott today! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018 13:48

最佳进步奖 Most Improved Award

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The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.   -German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt


I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

- Booker T. Washington, born in Virginia as a slave and later the first black to be a guest in the White House.


To celebrate success and improvement, we created the Most Improved Award (最佳进步奖) for the first quarter of the 2018-2019 school year, to help also celebrate our 10th anniversary online.


2018-2019 1st 9 weeks 

The FIRST winner of this new award, in November 2018, is Bob Liu, from beautiful Hangzhou, China. 

Why did Bob win this award?

His teacher Mrs. McKinney reports that Bob has made GREAT progress since she began working with him, and Bob attends almost EVERY Friendly Free Friday class he can. Bob knows that learning a foreign language is a long-term process, and on top of that, when my wife and I were in Nanjing in June 2018, Bob and his mother traveled two hours by train from their home to Nanjing, just to meet in person. Wow! What commitment! Lastly, Bob is inquisitive and likes to ask questions, and always has a GREAT attitude.


So, for all these reasons and more, Bob is our FIRST winner of the Most Improved Award. Congratulations, Bob!



2018-2019 2nd 9 weeks


The winner of the "Most Improved" Award for the second 9 weeks is Cici Liu, of Wuhan, China.


Over the past year or so, two things about Cici have made her stand out in my mind. First, she takes initiative to learn. At, we seldom ask our students to memorize passages, but several times her teacher, Mr. Woodson, told me that Cici had volunteered to memorize and then recite passages from her Reading 1 book about the US states like Vermont. He was so impressed, he would record her recitations and email them to me to look at. Second, once she learned the word "mayor" in English and when she realized the Chinese meaning, she told her teacher, "I want to be the mayor of Wuhan some day." When I met with her for her bonus class the other day to celebrate her winning this award, I asked her why she wanted to be mayor of Wuhan. She told me in English, "So Wuhan can be number one."   (Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, sits alongside the mighty Yangtze River and is home to more than 10.6 million people. That means, Cici's CITY has more people than the entire US states of VIRGINIA and WEST VIRGINIA combined!

When I told our teacher team that we have a new "Most Improved" Award, Mr. Woodson told me he wanted Cici to get it for the next 9 weeks. Below is his glowing assessment.


"I've been having 1 on 1 English lessons once a week with Cici Liu since July of 2016, and have seen remarkable improvement in her English reading, listening, and speaking skills over this two and a half year period. She is a highly motivated student who often scores at the top of her Wu Han school class in Chinese and math. This motivation clearly carries over into her online English class. Several times last year, Cici would recite from memory the text from her previous reading lesson, and she did so from her own motivation; this wasn't something I asked her to do at all. Her responsibility for her own learning is also shown when she regularly asks questions about vocabulary or concepts in a lesson that she doesn't understand. She frequently tells me, in English, about her school successes and interesting things she's done with her family. 
Cici has steadily progressed from beginning vocabulary such as clock time, ordinal numbers, simple present tense verbs, classroom objects, etc. to the level 2 reading book, and she's almost finished with the level 2 spelling book. Frequent entries in my lesson log for her go like, "Great lesson; good lesson; lots of improvement". 


Tuesday, 07 August 2018 18:59

Basic English

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Here are some resources to help you with learning basic English. Thanks to team-teacher Dennis Woodson for finding these resources!


Learn to read and know basic sounds:


Learn days of the week:


Learn the months of the year:



Screenshot 129

      Do you want to help your child learn English? Learn more about our basic English online classes; contact Scott today to find out how we can help you or your family!


Tuesday, 16 January 2018 19:39

Language Drills

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Do you remember times in school when you thought the teacher sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown, kind of like this?


As a teacher since 1987, I wonder how many times I sounded like that to my students? And when it comes to teaching a foreign language, I think the risk for sounding like this can be HIGH. Much research shows that a foreign language should be taught in the target language, as much as possible. But many times it's easy to talk ABOUT the foreign language instead of IN the foreign language, and there is a difference.


A slow, boring pace can be another "cardinal sin" of teaching. Sure, teachers don't want to go so fast that we lose or frustrate our students. However, it is easy to go so slowly, that we bore them too.  At, we want to find the right class speed. Not so fast we "lose" our students,  but not so slowly that we bore them.


This is where language drills can come in handy.


I first experienced these in the 1980's when I was a student at William and Mary. First, I encountered it as a sophomore student in French 101x. William and Mary required all students to reach a fourth semester in foreign language ability, (which thanks to high school German, I was able to do quickly.) The "x" stands for intensive, because the school offered intensive classes so students could fulfill their foreign language requirement quickly. Here's how it worked: students took French (or another language) with the professor four times a week, Monday - Thursday. Those sessions had the normal explanations, lectures, tests, etc.  However, in the afternoon, the students had a SECOND sesssion, called the "drill session." Here, the groups were kept small, usually eight to ten students, and they were led by an upper-level student. In our case, the drill was a senior girl who had just returned to W&M from her junior year abroad in France.  The professors gave the drill instructors a dozen or so drills to do each day, drills that gave us intensive practice using the grammar points we had learned in our lecture class that morning or in the previous day or so.


Drill topics might include vocabulary practice; working with masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns; verb tenses; forming questions, etc. 


How drills worked:


It was called "drill" because it literally "drilled" the information into our heads! The instuctor gave us the clue, a sample response, as a group we gave a choral response. We did this about 3-4 times, for some familiarity. Then she would give the same clue as we had in the choral response, snap her fingers, and point to one of us. If we got it right, great; then she went to clue #2 and the next student. If we got it WRONG, she just repeated the clue, snapped her fingers again, pointed to ANOTHER student, who then (hopefully) got it right, then she snapped her fingers and pointed to the person who got it wrong, giving that person the chance to say it correctly this time. If the student STILL missed it a second time, she repeated that procedure AS LONG AS IT TOOK for that person to get it right. So the good news is, the student ALWAYS got it right--it just might take awhile. But at least the student DID get it right, and that was a confidence booster. The teacher did a combination of  individual and group questions: usually about 3/4 individual questions, and 1/4 group questions. The teacher both starts and ends each individual drill with the choral response. You start with it to build confidence with the new grammar structure, and you end with it to end on a successful note. This intense drill session went on for 50 minutes, without a break! Needless to say, we learned A LOT of French that year!


Two years later, when I returned to W&M from my junior year abroad in Germany, I was thankful when some professors asked me to be a drill instructor for German 101x. That experience let me make some new friends, help people learn German, earn some extra pocket money, AND it was my first paid teaching gig! So even though I did not get my Virginia teacher's license and start full-time teaching until 1987, I actually became a paid instructor  in 1986, as a (very part-time) staff at William and Mary! 


So let's talk about English.


There is NO SHORTAGE of places where students can learn English. However, I wish I had a nickel for each time a student or parent told me, "I [my child] learned English for years, but never learned to speak it. Every time I [my child] sees a foreigner, all I [my child] can say is 'Hello. How are you?'"


So, with, one of our main ways to add value is to give our students lots of chances to speak English so they build their skills and confidence. 


Let's say you want to teach a key, high-frequency  language point. Sometimes, we need the slow, methodical explanation. For our basic learners, explaining it in Chinese can be a HUGE help too. But to give the students LOTS of chances to have verbal practice, and to keep the class pace lively, look for times to use drills. For each drill, I suggest using 5-7 clues, and use them over and over till the group can master the grammar point.)



Drill 1. Teaching "be" verb conjugations. The teacher should show a chart of some visual, maybe in the book, and explain how the "be" verb changes based on the pronoun. (Note: Chinese has NO verb conjugations! So that's one reason why Chinese is easy to learn, but it's hard for Chinese speakers to learn English.)

After the (brief) grammar lesson, try a drill. 

T: Teacher

SS: all students in class (choral response)

S1: first student

S2: second student, etc.


One idea behind drills is to START EASY, where the students only have to produce one item. You can add complexity as you go on, by gradually adding new elements to each drill sentence.

In person, the teacher snaps his fingers, then turns and points to the student who is supposed to speak. However, in an online class, the teacher can give the clue, then call the student's first name.)


T: I ... I am nice.    I... (waves arms in sweeping fashing, to signal "choral response.")

SS: I am nice.

T: I ... I am nice.   I... (waves arms in sweeping fashing, to signal "choral response.")

SS: I am nice

(Repeat 3-4 times, so students are confident with it. EACH student should be repeating.)

T: I  ... Jessica

Jessica: I am nice.

T: I ... Tom

Tom: I am nice.

T: You ...  Jerry

Jerry: You are nice.

T: You are nice. (wave arms for choral response)

SS: You are nice.

T:  He ...  Jack

Jack: He is nice.

T: They ... Jessica

Jessica:  They is nice.

T: They ... Jack

Jack: They are nice.

T: They ... Jessica 

Jessica: They are nice  (teacher smiles)

T: Mrs. Smith ... Fred

Fred: Mrs. Smith is nice.

T: Mr. and Mrs. Smith ... Jessica

Jessica:  Mr. and Mrs. Smith are nice.

T: You ... Jerry

Jerry: You are nice.

T: You  (wave arms for choral response)

SS: You are nice

(repeat 2-3 times, to build confidence and end on successful note.)


Drill 2: Reviewing "be" conjugations and teaching nationalities

Note: Give the pronoun and country; then model for students to conjugate the verb and say the adjective. Notice how this drill is a bit harder: the students have to conjugate the verb AND change the country to an adjective. Ideally, we want to always be moving our students to higher and higher levels of complexity and competence. 


T: I ... China (wave arms for choral response)

SS:   I am Chinese.

(repeat 3-4 times to build confidence)

T: You ... Russia   (Jack)

Jack: You are Russian.

T: He ...  Vietnam  (Fred)

Fred: He is Vietnamese

T: They ... Mexico  (Jessica)

Jessica: They are Mexican

T: She... Brazil  (Tom)

Tom: She is Brazilian

T: We ... France (Jack)

Jack: We are French

(Note: try to keep the clues consistent. That is, always use "they/Mexico, she/ Brazil, we/France" etc.  


Drill 3: Countable and non-countable nouns (Note: Again, Chinese does not have this distinction, so it's a challenge for our students to master this. And let's face it: many native speakers of English make mistakes here too. How often do we see the ad "Less Calories"?)

T: Tomatoes ... delicious  (wave arms for choral response)

SS: Tomatoes are delicious

(repeat 3-4 times)

T: Milk .. delicious (wave arms for choral response)

SS: Milk is delicious

(repeat 3-4 times)

T:  Pizza ... Fred

Fred: Pizza is delicious

T: Chicken ... Jessica

Jessica: Chicken is delicious

T: French fries ... Tom

Tom: French fries are delicious.

T: ice cream ... Jack

Jack: Ice cream is delicious

T: ice cream cones  ... Jessica

Jessica: Ice cream cones is delicious 

T: ice cream cones ...  Tom 

Tom: ice cream cones are delicious

T: ice cream cones ... Jessica

Jessica: ice cream cones are delicious

T: peas...  Jerry

Jerry: peas are delicious

T: Peas are delicous (wave arms for choral response)

SS: Peas are delicious 

(repeat 3-4 times)


Drill 4: Forming questions

(Language note: It is easy to form most questions in Chinese. Many times you just say the sentence, then add the question word "ma" at the end, and that makes it a question. So, when one has to switch the word order to make a question in English, that is difficult for many students.)


T: You are a student.... Are you a student?

(Repeat 3-4 times)

T: You are a student (wave arms for choral response)

T: You are a student .... Fred

Fred: Are you a student?

T: He is an American ... Jerry

Jerry: Is he an American?

T: We are going ... Tom

Tom: Are we going? 

T: She is from France. ... Jessica

Jessica: Is she from France? 

T: They are from Japan ... Fred

Fred: Are they from Japan?

T:  They are from Japan ... Are they from Japan? (wave arms for choral response)

Are they from Japan? 

(repeat 3-4 times)



Drill 5: Using irregular verbs in past tense

These are difficult for even native speakers, so they are very hard for ESL learners.  Let's say you want to drill these: be, bring, eat, get,  read, ride. Say the infinitive form of the verb. Pause 1 second. Then say the sentence with the present tense. Students say the sentence in the past tense. 


(Note: Here is a list of irregular verbs. Some are more commonly used than others.)


T: BE.  He is happy. 

He was happy. (repeat 3-4 times)

T: He is happy.   He was happy. (Teacher waves arms for choral response) 

SS: He was happy.

T: BRING...She brings cookies to the party....  Tom

Tom: She brought cookies to the party.

T: EAT... I eat a sandwich.... Jessica

Jessica: I ate a sandwich.

T: GET....He gets a book....  Jerry

Jerry: He got a book.

T: READ...I read a book..... Jack

Jack: I read a book.

T: RIDE...She rides a bike.... Jessica

Jessica: She rode a bike.

T: RIDE: She rides a bike. (wave arms for choral response)

SS: She rode a bike.

(repeat 3-4 times)



Would you like to know more about learning or teaching English online? Contact Scott today.  


Chinese New Year is coming! 

 每年寒假很多家长很喜欢把握利用寒假期间来加强他们孩子的英文基础。因此, 为此需求开办了进阶小组课和一对一的课程来服务大家。

In honor of the holiday, normal classes will stop from Monday, Feb. 12 - Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. However, during those two weeks, we DO offer two extra kinds of classes! For many years we have offered intensive English classes during the holiday, because schools are out, students have more free time than normal, and many parents and young people want to improve their skills in an intensive way during these two weeks.  For example, during Chinese New Year 2017, we offered two book studies: 1984 and To Kill a Mockingbirdin addition to 1 on 1 classes. Please remember, since our classes are online, you can attend from anywhere you have an internet connection! You can spend all day relaxing and enjoying time with family, and attend just two hours a night, to keep improving your English! (Note: we do NOT have classes on Feb. 15 and 16, Chinese New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.)


Our Class offerings for Chinese New Year 2018 

What Kinds of Classes? Group Classes 小组课 1 on 1 Classes 一对一
What will be the topics students will learn?

课程内容:第二十世记历史的最重要事件之教授---此课程乃是Scott老师 在美国高中教书时所开创的授课资



This year, we are offering a new kind of group class. Scott is to present a history class, an overview of some key events of the 20th Century, using class materials Scott made himself when he taught the class he created, "20th Century European Totalitarianism," at a local public high school. Specific topics include:

  • World War I and its consequences
  • Russia in World War I and the Russian Revolution
  • The Roaring 20's
  • The Great Depression 1930's
  • World War II
  • The Cold War (if time allows)


Topics will depend on the student's English level and interest



Who should take this class?

 Students who want to:

  • deepen their knowledge and undestanding of key 20th historical events
  • improve their social studies vocabulary
  • prepare for later classes in US, European, or world history
  • better understand how the past shaped the world we live in today
Students who want to improve their English skills, 1 on 1, during the Chinese New Year holiday while schools are closed. Students can improve their listening, speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary, reading, and writing skills
What English level is required? Step 8 or 10, Reading/Vocab. 2 or 3, and Writing 5 or 6. The class will be taught in a seminar/lecture format, with many opportunities for Q&A. Since the class pace will be fast and it will include many terms specific to history and social studies, a high-level of English is required.  Any level, Step 1 to Advanced
What are the dates and times of the classes?  Feb. 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 (8 evenings, 16 sessions total), 8:00-8:50 pm and 9:00-9:50 pm China Standard Time   Any evenings, 7:00-10:00, Mondays through Saturdays, Feb. 12-24, 2018
What is the investment?  RMB 1,900, NT$ 8,600 (Registration due by Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Minimum of 3 students required to open class; spaces limited! Register today! RMB 400, NT$ 1,800, per 50 minute session. You can register for as many 1 on 1 sessions as you like, from Feb. 12-24. (Registration due by Mon. Jan. 22, 2018. Register today!)
Who will teach it? Scott Dreyer  A highly-qualified Team Teacher (we will attempt to match the student with his or her normal school year teacher, when available.)
How to find out more or register?  Contact Scott today!  Contact Scott today!


Some topics and people we'll learn about in our group class!


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                                              Shigemitsu signs surrender4389401593 652a51eb80 z                                                                        


788px Lange MigrantMother02                                                                                                                                                               



Thursday, 05 October 2017 20:31


Written by


Do you want to improve your English? 

Do you have a question about English or life in the USA?

Join a FREE class with Scott Dreyer, president and founder of Scott speaks Chinese, so feel free to ask him questions in Chinese; however, he will be joining you in class live from his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, USA.

When? Fridays at 8:00 p.m., (Note new time) China Standard Time  

How do I join?     Download the free software at then on Friday at 8:00 p.m. click 

How long will the class be?  About 30-45 minutes.

What level does my English have to be to join?  Since Scott speaks Chinese, you can be at any English level, or speak none at all and just speak Chinese!  However, most of the discussion will be at a Intermediate Level (Steps 4, 5 or 6) or above. 

What kind of questions can I ask? Feel free to ask Scott any question about life in the USA or the English language, from basic level to advanced

Sample questions might include:


  • When do I use BORED or BORING?
  • What is the difference between a RUG, CARPET, and MAT?
  • What is the difference between a SHIP and a BOAT?
  • What is the difference between the words FOUNDER and PIONEER?
  • Do I say "The Philippines IS a country" or "The Phillipines ARE a country"?
  • How do I pronounce AGE and EDGE, SHIP and SHEEP?
  • You can even tell Scott a Chinese sentence and ask him to translate it into English for you.

What ages can join this class?  Any age is welcome, but due to the content and format, it is probably best for students ages 10 and over.  Adult learners welcome too!

Do you have a question you want to ask now, before class? Feel free to email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave a message on WeChat or LINE at:  scottdreyer

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, 02 August 2017 21:10

Interview Questions to get into a new school

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Back in the spring, I got a message on WeChat from a mother in Shenzhen, China. It went something like this:


We met about a year ago, when you talked with my son online. We did not sign up for your classes then, but we are in trouble now. My son has applied to an American school here in Shenzhen. He has passed the written part of the entrance exam, but he has failed the oral interview with an American teacher. He has taken the interview two times and failed both. He has a third interview in late May, but that's the last time. If he fails that one, he cannot get in. I am almost feeling desperate. Can you please help us?


Of course I wanted to help her, so we set up a time to meet online. I assessed her son's English level, heard more about about their goals, and we made a plan. Her son would have four 1 on 1 classes each week with a teacher, over the next two months or so, leading up to the interview. Each class lasted fifty minutes. His teacher used these and other questions as the teaching material.

1. The teacher would ask the question, so the young man would practice his listening skills. Let's face it: if you can't understand the question, there is NO WAY you can answer it correctly!

2. The student would try to answer the question, to the best of his ability.

3. The teacher would coach and correct the student, to help his word choice, pronunciation, and overall clarity. 

If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is. As the old saying goes, "There is no shortcut to success." But the student and teacher met consistently and worked diligently for many weeks, about four nights per week.

The result? During the last week of May, I asked his mom how things had gone.

Thank you, teacher, we are so happy! My son passed his interview and will enter the new school this fall. Thank you so much! 


Her news made the other teacher and I SO delighted to hear. Thanks to that targeted, intensive time of classes, that young man got into his desired school so he can pursue his dream. That's what we want to do at Help you make your dreams come true!

Contact me today to find out how we can help you!


Here are some of the questions the teacher used with this young man, to help him PASS his school enterance interview:

Interview Questions you might be asked:

What are you looking for in a school?

Tell me three things you would bring to this school?

What  classes are your favorite and why?

If you could meet one person from history, who would that be and why? 

Do you hold a leadership position at your school? Do you want to in the future?

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Who are your heroes?

What are you most proud of?

Are you involved with sports?  Which teams?  What position?

Do you like music or art? What type of music do you like? Do you sing in a chorus?  Do you play an instrument?  Are you involved with acting? Do you want to continue with these interests?

Do you keep a journal? 

Are you involved with a community service project?  What did you learn from this project?  What was most significant about this project or projects?

Do you read outside of school?  If so, what types of books do you like? Why?  

If not, what books that you have read in school do you like? And why?

Do you like to go to the movies?  What types of films are of interest to you?

Who was your best teacher ever and why?

Did you ever have trouble communicating with a teacher or coach? If so, what did you do?

What do you like to do with your friends outside of school?

What did you do this past summer? Go to camp? Work? Go on a remarkable vacation?

What does your typical day look like?  How much time do you spend doing your homework?  How organized are you and what types of methods do you use to keep yourself organized?

When you are faced with a problem, how do go about solving it?

What activities do you like to do with your family?

Tell me one thing about your current school that you most appreciate?

Why do you want to come to this school? 

What do you see yourself involved in, if you were to come here?

More students apply here than we can accept. Out of all the qualified applicants, why should we admit you? What unique qualities or background do you bring to the table?

Do you have any questions about this school?




Here is a list of 40 new topics that you might find useful if you are preparing for Part 1 of the iBT TOEFL Speaking section. These are all Independent topics of the "open choice" / personal experience or opinion type.

  1. Who is your best friend? Describe this person and say why he/she is your bestfriend.
  2. What is your favorite place to visit on weekends? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite place to go.
  3. What is your happiest childhood memory? Describe it and give reasons to explain why it is your happiest memory.
  4. What is your most important possession? Describe it and say why it is so important.
  5. Talk about a person in your life who has inspired you. Describe the person and explain why you found him/her inspirational.
  6. Where do most like to go to eat out? Describe this place and say why you like it most.
  7. Talk about an important national holiday in your home country. Describe it and explain why it is important.
  8. What is your favorite book or movie? Describe it and say why it is your favorite.
  9. Who do you feel close to in your family (or extended family)? Describe this person and say why you feel close to him/her.
  10. Where is a good place to have fun in your city or town? Describe this place and explain why it is fun.
  11. Talk about an experience in your life that made you feel embarrassed. Describe it and say why it was embarrassing.
  12. What was your favorite subject at school? Describe it and explain why this subject was your favorite one.
  13. Who is an important person in your country? Describe this person and explain why he/she is important.
  14. Talk about an interesting tourist attraction you have been to. Describe it and say why it was interesting.
  15. Talk about a time when you experienced success. Describe the experience and say why it was a success for you.
  16. What is your favorite style of clothing? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
  17. Name a person whom you truly admire. Describe the person and say why you admire him/her.
  18. Think of a place that makes you feel relaxed and peaceful. Describe it and explain why it is relaxing and peaceful for you.
  19. Talk about a difficulty you have overcome in your life. Describe the experience and say why it was difficult to overcome.
  20. What is your most useful study aid? Describe it and explain why it is useful in helping you to study.
  21. Talk about a teacher who had a positive influence on you. Describe this person and explain why he/she was so influential to you.
  22. Where is your favorite place to study? Describe this place and say why it is a good place for you to study.
  23. Talk about a positive experience with learning or using English. Describe the experience and say why it was a positive one.
  24. What is your favorite kind of food? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
  25. Name a famous or influential figure who has inspired you. Describe this person and say why he/she has been inspirational to you.
  26. Which place has fond memories for you? Describe this place and explain why it is memorable to you.
  27. When have you been happily surprised by something? Describe the experience and say why the surprise was a happy one for you.
  28. Describe a resource that helped you to do something better than before. Describe it and explain why it was helpful to you.
  29. Describe a person from your country’s history. Why do you think this person was important?
  30. Where would you like to go to spend a vacation? Describe this place and say why you would like to holiday there.
  31. Talk about something you and your family enjoy doing together. Describe it and explain why you all enjoy it.
  32. What is your favorite recreational activity?  Describe it and say why you enjoy doing it.
  33. Who is the most intelligent person you know? Describe the person and say why you think he/she is intelligent.
  34. Where would you most like to live? Describe this place and explain why you would like to live there.
  35. What is your favorite season of the year? Describe the season and explain why you like it so much.
  36. What custom from your home country are you most fond of? Describe the custom and explain why you are fond of it.
  37. Which person are you most likely to go to with a personal problem? Describe this person and say why you would go to him/her in particular.
  38. Name a place in your country you would recommend others to visit. Describe this place and explain why you would recommend it.
  39. Talk about an event from the past that you would like to relive. Describe the original event and say why you would like to relive it.
  40. What is your favorite way of getting around? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite means of transportation.
  41. What career would you like to pursue/prepare for? Why, in terms of your abilities and motivation, do you think you are suited for this life work?



Friday, 29 May 2015 00:55

"A Summer to Remember..."

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This morning I was having class with Queenie, a middle school-aged girl in Shenzhen, South China. We were working on  some Q&A about a reading passage, and as I usually do, I asked "Do you have any questions?"
(Cultural note: many Chinese students, for various reasons, are often reluctant to ask questions, so I am always glad when my students do.) She asked about question 4 in the book: "Why is the bridge in India a bridge to remember?" The answer was, it carried 100,000 automobiles a day. However, she was curious about the phrase, "a ______ to remember." So, I was able to explain it thus: In Chinese, it's most like 很难忘.   It is literally "Hard to forget." So, you might have sentences like:

Graduation from high school is a night to remember. (Since our son David is graduating from high school in a few hours, that thought was on my mind.)


Our visit to Hawaii in 2010 was a trip to remember.


Hiking on the Appalachian Trail

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail--an experience to remember!

The baseball game where we went into extra innings and won by one run was a game to remember.


And I asked Queenie, "Last summer, you came to our summer camp. Was that a summer to remember? She said, "yes!" So, Queenie can say, The 2014 Summer Camp with was a summer to remember."


Queenie in America


Are YOU looking for a summer to remember, for yourself or a child or other loved one? Join one of our summer or winter camps! Watch this short video to see Queenie (the second person speaking) and her friends from Vietnam and Brazil telling about "a summer they'll never forget." Contact me today for details!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 00:08

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

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Fear of Public Speaking

(This came in an email from Brian Flanagan, a man I had the pleasure of meeting when Zig Ziglar and his team came to the Roanoke Valley a few years ago.)


According to that great medical journal, The Readers Digest!, speaking in front of a group of people is still the number one fear in America.These three strategies might help you deal with that fear, whether speaking to a group of two, or 20, or 200

1. Preparation compensates for a lack of talent! Prepare the talk in advance. Organize your visuals, handouts, props, and material. Practice and rehearse not only the content, but also the delivery. Analyze the audience by asking yourself these questions: In what are the attendees interested? What is important to them? How do they want to feel or think about the topic at the end of my presentation?

2. Your "first burst" is important! You should practice, rehearse, memorize, and/or choreograph your "first burst." This is your opening sentence or paragraph. The purpose of the "first burst" is to grab the attention AND the interest of your audience. Using hilarious humor, quotable quotes, startling statistics, topical stories, and/or a focusing question can accomplish this. Use your imagination when creating your "first burst."

3. Your audience is more forgiving than you are! Loosen up, lighten up, and have fun when making a presentation. Don't take yourself too seriously. The audience is not expecting perfection and neither should you! Remember: angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

One more thing: when in doubt, just get in front of the audience and "let 'er rip."

This rhyme summarizes my point. It seems a 17-year-old boy was debating whether to kiss his girlfriend. He dropped to his knees and prayed. "Lord, Lord up above, should I kiss the girl that I love?" A voice came back saying, "Sinner, sinner down below, pucker up and let 'er go!"

When in front of an audience, remember to "just pucker up and let 'er go!"

Now, go sell somebody something!
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Bryan's website

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 11:18

Keeping it Real

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When I began my teaching career way back in 1986 (instructing a daily German 101 intensive drill class at William and Mary--I was a senior who had just returned from a Junior Year Abroad program in Germany), I made a decision to try to "keep my teaching real." That is, I wanted to connect my teaching with real life, and the real needs of my students, in a real world--not the "vague otherness" of a fake world of textbooks only. So, as I taught the German grammar and pronunciation drills, I also tried to explain when the students would use those patterns, with a few illustrative stories from my year in Europe thrown in.

In the intervening 29 years I have been blessed to be in this very rewarding and satisfying teaching career, I have certainly spent a fair bit of time in the artificial world of textbooks. And I do not mean to unduly criticize textbooks-- they have their place and role. (Disclaimer: I have also co-written at textbook.) But wherever possible, I believe it is best to try to "meet students where they are" and try to "make connections" between the material I am trying to teach and the real life and experience of the students.

Now in our eighth year of offering online English classes, the wonderful team of teachers I am blessed to belong to is able to teach students, by the miracle of the Internet, across the world, from China to France to right here in the USA. And so it is a particular delight to see other members of this team making real-life connections and building relationships with students in other countries, from other cultures. For decades I have encouraged my students to "learn your foreign languages!", and as we at help students improve their English skills, they will be better-able to communicate with others and I hope, in a small way at the individual level, be better-able to contribute to a world of peace and understanding.

So it was a pleasure to receive this photograph from Mrs. McKinney, a master teacher on our team, of her recent class with Jason, a young student in South China. He plays the clarinet, and to "keep it real" in class, he played a few tunes for his teacher, across the 8,000-some miles (13,000 km), in real-time. What a fantastic way to build the student-teacher relationship and take a personal interest in the lives of the students we are are blessed to work with on a weekly basis.


My mother tells the story of her mother, who was born in the milestone year of 1900, in southern Indiana. As a young girl in a one-room schoolhouse, my grandmother vividly remembered the day when the peace outside was shattered by the novel noise of a passing-by motor car--a newfangled invention the children had never seen before. (Imagine the peace and quiet the world must have had, not to mention the slow pace of life, before the advent of the gas-powered engine and cars.) Naturally curious, all the children sprang from their desks and bolted to the windows to see that new spectacle: a motor car! At that moment, my grandmother also vividly recalled, the teacher barked out an order for all the children to return to their wooden desks, to continue their lessons uninterrupted. As a teacher, I think of that story and ponder: what a waste! For those children (and that teacher) in the early 1900's in rural Southern Indiana, they had caught their first sight of an invention that would soon spread round the world and change life for all of us, forever. Yet the magic of the moment was quashed by a teacher focused on getting through her lesson plan. Thank you, Mrs. McKinney, for making those real-life connections with our students. Let's "keep it real," fellow teachers!

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