A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Learn to read and know basic sounds:
Learn days of the week:
Learn the months of the year:
The 4th of July!
It's America's birthday!
The United States of America counts its birth from July 4, 1776.
Why is that a special day?
From the many years from 1607, when the English created their first permanent colony in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, until 1776, England controlled most of the eastern part of North America. Called the 13 colonies, these colonies, from Georgia in the South to New Hampshire in the North, took their orders from London. The first settlers who came from England to live in America brought their culture, Christian religion, and of course language, with them. That's why the USA is an English-speaking country today, and it explains why you are reading this blog in English right now! (See how history influences the present?) Anyway, those early settlers thought of themselves as Englishmen living in America...but still Englishmen! At that time, the decision to move from Europe to America was nearly irreversible. Once you got on the ship, you knew you would probably never go back to Europe again. So, eventually those first English settlers married, had children, and died in America. Their children almost never traveled to Europe, but because they had heard their parents talk about English often, they too thought of themselves as Englishmen...living in America. But over the years and decades, something happened. It was gradual, not sudden, but with each passing generation, the mindset slowly changed. More and more, many of the people of European descent in America no longer thought of themselves as English, or Germans, French, or Dutch, etc....but rather as something new: Americans.
So, with the passing of the years, England and the Americans slowly drifted apart. Yes, both spoke English and ships regularly traveled back and forth acros the ocean, but since America was so far from England, and it took months for ships to travel that far, and since Americans had to solve their own urgent problems like Indian attacks, building roads, and running schools, etc., the Americans slowly began to take more responsibility for their own lives and did not look to England for as much protection and guidance.
So, by the 1760s and 1770s, when the English King George III kept putting more controls and taxes on the American colonists, there was more and more American anger!
At first the anger was in the forms of protests, letter-writing, etc., but eventually it became violent, like in the Boston massacre and finally open fighting took place at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. That was called "The shot heard round the world." See the video! War had begun between American citizens and English soldiers.
But even though war had begun, the 13 colonies still belonged to England! For that reason, delegates from the 13 colonies met in what is now called Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to discuss possible independence. The debates went back and forth for weeks. Finally, the delegates agreet to have a team of five members write a Declaration of Independence, claiming that the United States of America is an independent country, and explaining why we had the right to break away from England. The main author of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. You can read the Declaration of Independence here. You may notice that the Declaration has many references to God.
In fact, the delegates voted for independence on July 2, but since they did not vote to accept the Declaration of Independence until July 4th, that day is now considered the USA national day. Read more about it from History.com.
This video explains why we have fireworks on July 4th!
Even though the delegates voted for Independence, King George III of England did not care. He ordered armies and fleets to America, to crush the rebellion. This led to about five more years of warfare, called the American Revolution or the War of Independence. The main American general of that war was George Washington, of Virginia, and the final main battle was Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. Do you see the Role of Virginia in USA history?! So when you study with DreyerCoaching.com, based in the US state of Virginia, not only do you learn more about English, but you learn more about American culture, history, and thinking too!
How do Americans celebrate the 4th of July today?
July 4 is a national holiday. This means there is no mail, and all banks, schools and government offices are closed. Many private businesses are closed too. Since many people have the day off from work, they are able to spend the time with their family and friends. Here are some of the many things Americans do to celebrate that day.
- Because it's summer, many people go to WATER-- pools, rivers, lakes, or beaches! (See our family's lake cook-out to the right; note the grill at back.)
- put US flags or bunting out
- wear red, white and blue clothing or hats
- be thankful for our freedoms. In English we have a saying, "Freedom is not free." The USA is independent, and has remained so for over 200 years, because of the brave soldiers who first won and later defended those liberties. Sometimes it's easy to focus on the food and fun but forget the meaning, and this cartoon reminds us that LIBERTY is the meaning of the day.
- watch fireworks at night. It's usually hot during the day on July 4th in much of the USA, so it feels great to go out at night, after it gets dark and cool, spread out a blanket on the ground with your family and friends, and look up at the sky and watch the great fireworks. Cities, towns, businesses, and churches across the USA sponsor firework shows at night.
Here is a video from the July 4th fireworks and music in Washington, DC.
Learn more about July 4th:
ELCivics.com (intermediate level)
Voice of America (advanced level)
This day in history (advanced level)
Thanks for reading! I hope this gives you a better understanding of how most Americans celebrate our national day, July 4. Do you want to improve your English or understanding of life in the USA? Contact me today to find out how to join an online English class, right to your home or office, anywhere in the world! Find out how our classes run by reading this.
Many people ask me:
- How can I speak better English?
- How can I speak like an American?
- How can I speak more fluently?
I have good news for you!
This summer, I am offering classes to help you with your spoken English!
Class Name Intermediate English Conversation
Who can join? Students who have finished DreyerCoaching.com Step 3 or above.*
Days & Times 星期一到星期四 晚上8：00-8：50 Mondays to Thursdays, 8:00-8:50 pm China Standard Time
Class Dates 七月16日-八月16日 2018 July 16-August 16, 2018
Investment 人民币 RMB 1,399 / NT$6,299
*For students who have not yet taken a DreyerCoaching.com class, you can have a FREE English assessment with Scott, to see which class is best for you or your child.
1. This class will give you group class practice to improve your listening, speaking, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary skills.
2. This class will give you more confidence to speak English with foreigners in a variety of situations.
3. The class will be taught online, so you can attend anywhere you have Internet, including on vacation, in a hotel, or by phone in your car.
4. Many people ask to take a class with Scott; he will teach these classes.
5. Since this is a special summer only class, the class size is not capped.
6. Sorry, no refunds for missed classes.
7. The class goes until August 16; the sooner you enroll, the more you will learn!
Get ready for Fall!
2018-2019学年度小组课暑期大优惠 SUMMER SALE!
Register NOW to reserve your space in these classes, that run from September 2018 - June 2019. Each class is capped at 6 students!
原价Regular investment: RMB 8,950 / NT$ 39,550
优惠价至7月31日止SALE PRICE! Only RMB 8,550 / NT$ 37,600 Save RMB 400 / NT$ 1,950! Offer ends July 31, 2018!
第一阶级 線上指導，週二 / 週五晚上8:00-8:50 剩 余位Spaces left 5 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第二阶级 線上指導，週三 / 週四晚上8:00-8:50 剩 余位 Spaces left 3 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第三阶级 線上指導，週一 / 週三晚上7:00-7:50 剩 余位Spaces left 4 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第四阶级 線上指導，週二 / 週五晚上8:00-8:50 剩 余位Spaces left 2 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第五阶级 線上指導，週一 / 週三晚上8:00-8:50 剩 余位 Spaces left 4 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第七阶级 線上指導，週一 / 週四晚上8:00-8:50 剩 余位Spaces left 3 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第八阶级 線上指導，週四 / 週五，晚上9:00-9:50 剩 余位 Spaces left 3 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
第十一阶级 高中到大学線上指導，週三 / 週五，晚上9:00-9:50 剩 余位Spaces left 4 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
英语写作课-4 週五晚上8:00-8:50 Spaces left 2 Only 人民币 5,125 (SAVE 人民币 270!) Only NT$ 22,700 (SAVE NT$ 1,175!)
阅读級線上指導-4 國二到高三線上指導週一 / 週三晚上8:00-8:50 剩 余位Spaces left 5 Only 人民币 8,550 / NT$ 37,600
Contact Scott today to learn more and register!
I hope to see YOU online soon! -Scott
At DreyerCoaching.com, we are all about "celebrating success." One of our recent success stories was Aaron, a high school student in Hsinchu, Taiwan, who was chosen to attend an exclusive, prestigious summer program in Israel! What I found remarkable, is that the applicants had to write essays-- in English AND Mandarin Chinese! More than 200 young people applied, and only twenty--that's less than 10% for you non-math types out there--were chosen as finalists to go to Taipei for the face to face interviews, in English. Of those twenty, only TEN were chosen to go--and Aaron was one of the ten! It's a big deal! It's such a big deal, it scored Aaron the first spot on our DreyerCoaching.com Hall of Fame. Check it out, and see if we can help you too make YOUR dreams come true!
While discussing his entry into this program, Aaron told me his time with DreyerCoaching.com had been very helpful. He said his writing classes helped him with word choice, grammar, structure, and flow. Plus, he said the simple act of going online for his class with me each week had boosted his confidence and ability to carry on a conversation in English. So, his essay skills helped him get one of the 20 finalist spots, and his interview skills and poise landed him a spot among the final 10. What a wonderful success story!
However, for this post, I'd like to share with you his essays and some articles about the experience. Enjoy and be inspired! Don't be jealous of others! Be the best YOU that YOU can be!
Aaron's English Essay:
Dear application evaluators, my name is Aaron and I would like to apply for this year's event regarding the International Youth Leader Convention in Israel. From the very beginning, I have shown great interest in this program, but due to age restrictions, I was unable to dedicate myself in formulating such applications. However, now that I have reached 15 years of age, the urge to apply for the position has never been higher. In this self-introduction, I'd like to discuss my motivations for applying this through my interests, extracurricular activities, and overall expectations/aspirations as to what I would hope to obtain in the ten days that the event provides.
To begin with, there are numerous activities that I indulge myself in. For instance, badminton. I began my "career" with this sport from fifth grade and has enjoyed it ever since through the few times that I've been the team captain chosen to represent my school. Not only has it kept my body healthy in past years, it has also strengthened the bonds that I have with my friends, for which I'm grateful for. In addition, despite its uncommonness, attending debate competitions has recently become one of the activities that I appreciate. My friends and I recently went to NIFTy, a nationwide debate competition, and surprisingly got second place for our efforts. This sparked my love for debate, which resulted in NSDA being on my to-do list for the future.
As for extracurricular activities, Model United Nations along with Key Club scores the top spot. Starting from being an admin in 8th grade to representing Germany in this year's PASMUN conference, MUN served as a gateway to the world for me. In this rather daunting activity for first-timers, MUN allowed me to work with other delegates for hours to formulate feasible solutions to the various issues at hand. In the seven conferences that I've been to, the plight of human trafficking in the Middle East to the question of Palestine (which is surprisingly relevant to the program) has been the most interesting to me; through rich debate and discussion, I learned that every nation has different views in regards to any issue, and it is my wish that in this year's convention that I get to experience these different views first hand. Key Club has also played a big part in my school life; it has taught me valuable lessons such as responsibility and perseverance. Leading the club in beach cleanups in Nanliao and endeavoring in efforts to beautify my school has shown me that life can present many challenges, but as long as one perseveres, success will follow.
There are multiple causes that motivated me to apply for this position and also a few aspirations that I have for the program. One being the student exchange program that I attended last year: I went to Fremont High, a distinguished high school in Cupertino, California for ten days to participate and experience the excitement that American high schools bring while also demonstrating the art of calligraphy that I have learned in recent years. However, with this event, I wish to do more than to just enjoy the environment. I'd also like to share the many feats that Taiwan has achieved in regards to environmental protection while also socializing with Israelis in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of life in the country.
To wrap up, I sincerely hope that I would be chosen for this event in order to contribute my efforts to shine light on Taiwan as a progressive and innovative nation. Thank you.
Aaron's Chinese Essay:
TRULY AMAZING: Here is Aaron's post-trip evaluation. He did fine as it is--until you keep reading and realize he did the whole thing in Chinese too! This young man is fully bilingual to basically a native speaker level in both English AND Mandarin. Wow!
International Convention for Environmental Leadership in Israel: Post Event Report
In the seven days and nights that we were in Israel to attend the International Convention for Environmental Leadership as the delegation of Taiwan, friendships were made and memories were kept. I, Aaron Chen, embarked on this journey along with my nine other delegation members and two teachers. Through hours of hard work in preparation for the conference, I am proud to say that our overall performance during the convention was applaudable. From the never-ending laughs to the sleepless nights, I'm sure that everyone had fun and would not hesitate to call each other friends in the days to come.
In addition to all the academics, participants of the entire congress also visited renowned cities such as Jerusalem and Nazareth. The following five photos will not only demonstrate the things we saw, but also the entire experience that made this trip unique.
- Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv (8.12.2017)
In less than 24 hours after we've landed in Tel-Aviv, a number of our respective host families took us to the Carmel Market, one of the most renowned tourist attractions in the area. Under the blazing yet pleasant sun, the seven of us quickly congregated, enthusiastically discussing the major differences that can be discerned upon the first few glances. What we all noticed was the unique dress code that some of the people had: there were people with small round Jewish hats on their heads and certain individuals clad in complete Jewish outfits with a black suit and a Jewish top hat. This definitely surprised us, but what topped that off was the fact that we met the Austrian delegation who've also landed just a few hours ago; they would later become one of our closest friends in the environmental leadership program. After greeting each other and asking a few opening questions, we parted from one another and officially began our travels.
Through the crowded entrance and into the bustling market, there were three elements of Israeli life that stood out to me: food, art, and patriotism. First of all, food. From the perfectly stacked spices to the all-you-can-grab sweet shops, the "souk" was interesting to say the least. As customers lined up to scoop up their desired goods with a small shovel, I was fascinated by how diverse and vibrant all the food was. There were bicolored croissants and spiked pear-like fruits, both of which lit up my eyes upon examination. Secondly, the art. Tiny ornaments and elaborate painting lined the walls of the market. Upon squeezing our way through the walkway, we saw artists utilize their craftsmanship abilities to create glass sculptures and proprietors shout their punchlines to attract customers to their funny shirts. One of the shirts said "My Mom is My Google," which cracked me up almost instantly. Finally, the patriotism. Even though traces of this element were present all throughout my sojourn, it was the clearest in the premise of the market. People were waving flags proudly, selling Jewish phone cases, bargaining for Jewish key chains, and as mentioned before, wearing small Jewish hats. Following some thought, I concluded that it was necessary for Israelis to be to some degree, overly patriotic. This was because of the multiple threats that the country faces from all sides; it prompted them to bond tightly, hold on to their core beliefs, and never let go.
For that, I have gained tremendous respect for Israelis. The picture taken upon is dedicated to them, the ones who've kept the Jewish faith alive and would continue doing so in the days to come.
- HaKfar HaYarok (8/13 – 8/18)
As the sun rose from the horizon and the roosters croaked in the distance, Maya, my host, woke me up and took me to HaKfar HaYarok, the school in which the event took place. Upon entering the village with my suitcase and overly stuffed backpack, I realized why the English translation for HaKfar HaYarok was "Green Village": it was due to the lush green trees, the strong camaraderie, and the cheerful animals that roamed about freely. For me, not only did this discovery pleasantly surprised me, the two elements showed the major contrasts between Israeli schools and Taiwanese institutions; they enabled me to gain a whole new perspective on education as a whole.
HaKfar HaYarok had plenty to offer, from endless sceneries of pure green to the never-before-seen harmony between the students, the school was more of a happy playground. This was even more evident in the program; the heated discussions during MUN and the participative audience lectures elucidates my understanding that schools are meant for both learning and enjoyment, not dead memorization. In addition to the teaching methods, the environment also played a crucial role in the difference of attitudes that the students had. Peacocks and rabbits and cats and cows dotted the campus, gracefully going about their respective daily routines of brushing their feathers or attacking others for territory. Of course, with every cute animal comes a caring soul willing to allocate time and energy to ensure the animal's survival; this natural obligation of animal protection that the students had bonded them together, which had a positive effect on the overall atmosphere during the span of four days that we marked our stay. Finally, what I would say differed the most from Taiwanese traditional schools was the spirit: the attitudes that people had towards the beginning of each day. In Taiwan, students are greeted with mock tests, weekly tests, and monotonous lectures while Israeli students begin each day with interactive lectures and outdoor activities that focus on having fun, not timed runs or class rankings seemingly engraved on the bulletin board. Overall, these dissimilarities helped me realize what I can help my classmates understand, and prompted me to live the few short days I had in Israel to the absolute fullest.
3.Shabbat Meal (8/12)
It was a sunny Friday morning; all the shops on the streets were open and ready for a big payday. Maya and I began the day by in the neighborhood mall to look around to check if it sold the cosmetics that my mom wanted to have desperately. What struck me as interesting was the difference in how people greeted each other: on normal days it was "shalom," but that turned into "Shabbat shalom" on Friday. I asked the locals about this phenomenon, knowing it had to be some kind of occasion. One bearded muscular man responded with telling me that Friday was the day in which God rested, which is why the people should also rest, stay with the family, and prepare themselves for the busy days to come. Anyways, I didn't find the cosmetics, but I wasn't devastated. We then left the mall and went to grandma's house for the Shabbat meal.
To be honest, I never expected a grandma's house to be all that elaborate, never mind a wall of wine and a giant flat screen TV. But in the moment that I stepped foot into the apartment, I saw everything that I thought was far-fetched. The room was capacious, the interior felt welcoming, the kids were enjoying rock paper scissors, and above but, everyone spoke near perfect English. After greeting one another with "Shabbat shalom," we sat on the dinner table and watched the grandpa press against the wall and opened a closet-door like door, revealing the countless bottles of wine, including beer, scotch, whiskey, etc. He cheerfully poured a bottle that he explained to be one for Shabbat meals into the adults' glasses and gave us some sprite just so we won't dehydrate. Then began the meal.
The meal was both flavorsome and eye-opening beyond belief. From the hummus to the cold fried vegetable to the delectable steak, the occasion was like no other. Inside the one-of-a-kind atmosphere between the family members, I actually felt that I was included in the conversations. This was when a revelation came to me: family is like no other; it bond people together much tighter than religion. It is the core of all human beings. And for that, I truly enjoyed the experience.
- Gala Night (8/16)
Into the third and final day of the conference, my team members and I attended the Gala night, an event in which all the delegations are required to perform something that is symbolic of their hometown, along with the delegations from five other countries. Into the venue, there weren't too many surprises for anyone except for the Israelis and guests. This was because before the event, we ran through the entire performance once and the finale twice. Either way, we were still pumped to see all the different cultures that are to come during the span of the event. Firstly, the house entertained the school orchestra, which by the way did a phenomenal job, then we had the former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) speak as well as other influential figures provide us with their inspirational words. In all honesty, we weren't the best audiences among the crowd because during that time, we were all scrambling to finish up our preparation for the play that we decided to perform. Luckily, the order of performing delegations was in alphabetical order, which meant we were the last one to perform. This gave us ample amounts of time for us to finish up while we enthusiastically watched the other delegations perform their seasonal dances, sing Ode to Joy, and enable us to have a great time. After our Taiwanese-standard acceptable performance which the previous acts ensued, all the delegations were instructed to approach the stage and sing "Imagine," which was the finale, by John Lennon, a songwriter, and singer who co-founded the Beatles. Because we were all well-rehearsed, the performance went on in harmony. With an Israeli student with a beautiful voice leading our somewhat disorganized bunch and the instructor trying his hardest to keep us in line, the finale was a great success. People laughed, people smiled, people hugged, and people cried. It was one of those moments where you don't want to let go, it was also one of those moments where you would cherish forever.
- Jerusalem (8/17)
Out of the few short-lived days in the trip, I would say the second to last day was by far the best. For the entire duration of that day, we visited Jerusalem, the city that many influential works such as the Bible and Torah mentioned many times. After a grueling 90-minute drive to the site, we began by visiting the market. While the attraction didn't seem like it was meant for tourists due to the lack of ornaments and collectibles, it provided us with the unfiltered and uncensored Israeli way of life. In addition to the three main elements that I mentioned above, another unique aspect about the place was the people. The similarities were striking; we saw customers bargaining ferociously with proprietors, kids holding food bags while parents laugh, and managers shouting at the top of their lungs to attract heads. Despite few downsides to this souk, I was able to pick up some magnets and small decorations for my friends back here in Taiwan while also trying my first shawarma, a delectable Israeli chicken sandwich topped with a salad and some fries.
Soon after our visit to the market, we continued on to one of the most sacred sites of many religions: the Old City of Jerusalem. Even though I acknowledged the holiness and importance of the premise, I didn't expect to be so surprised by the compound. Everywhere I looked, I feel like I've seen it before. Then it hit me: the pictures on my history textbooks were taken right here! This immediately boosted my energy and encouraged me to listen intently to our tour guide and make mental notes on the information that she gave.
I had a blast in the Old City. But that joy turned into deep thought when we reached the Western Wall, a site where mainly Jews go to confess their sins and formulate wishes for themselves. With tight security and military personnel guarding the area, it quickly changed our mood from a cheerful one to one of caution. As we entered, we discerned many Jewish individuals clad in either complete black suits or fitted with a round Jewish cap. Without hesitation, we decided to follow them to the Western Wall itself where many are reciting the Torah and placing little notes into the cracks between the walls.
I myself wrote a little note that said, "Don't fear what's about to come. Embrace life,"
I thought of my work as pretty inspirational, but I completely took it back when I saw four of my delegation members come out with tears dripping from their eyes. It was only hours later that I realized it was not the atmosphere that pulled their heart strings, it was they themselves who reflected upon their lives and thought of all the good and the bad. For that, I gained massive respect for everyone in my representative team; I will be proud of them forever.
- For self improvement
- Be more vocal in the chat room with my delegation members
- Way of improvement: improve my confidence through ways such as but not limited to leading clubs events or taking on roles of responsibility within the classroom
- Be more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the conference
- Way of improvement: taking initiative in the classroom by volunteering to participate in community service activities.
- Be more conversational when awkward silences arrive during conversations
- Way of improvement: Engage in conversations with people more often to obtain more social knowledge and opinions on prominent issues today.
- Be more vocal in the chat room with my delegation members
- For the event as a whole
- Better plane schedules
- Everyone had to rush to the plane; I had to sprint just to catch the plane. To be honest, I feel like we'd all be fine if we paid a bit more money to stay one more night. We missed the Dead Sea.
- Better wifi sharing device
- Only 3-4 people could connect to it at the same time, the speed of the device was slow too.
- Better plane schedules
- Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv
- HaKfar HaYarok
在寄宿家庭2天後我搬到HaKfar HaYarok 高中學校宿舍，印入眼簾的是翠綠色的校園，溫暖熱情的各國高中生代表與自由漫遊在校園的各式動物，對我來說，這個開放包容式的校園氣氛，讓我獲得全新的教育觀。
每個星期五，是猶太人傳統的安息日。在平常的日子朋友互相問候打招呼稱作 “Shalom”，但在星期五安息日就互稱“Shabbat Shalom”。我問當地人關於安息日的由來，一位有大鬍子的男子告訴我，星期五是神休息的日子，人們也應該休息，留在家裡，為繁忙的日子做好準備。
- Gala Night
Check out the final episode of our 10-part Civil War mini-series about life and leadership lessons we can learn from that conflict!
If you know anything about the US Civil War at all, you know names like Lee, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant, and Davis. However, do you know the name Jubal Early? You may be surprised, he was at MORE Civil War battles than any other Confederate general. Plus, this podcast originates in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and Jubal Early was from here, being born and raised in Franklin County, Virginia. For the many locals who listen to this podcast, you might be surprised to hear his home is just southeast of Roanoke, right off Rt. 616, in the Red Valley area between Burnt Chimney and Windy Gap Mountain! His home is now preserved by a volunteer agency and is sometimes open for tours; check out their website. Also for our local listeners: in the summer of 1864, Early left Richmond and headed west. He defeated a Union Army under General David Hunter near Lynchburg, then Early's men sent straight over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Valley beyond--their path followed what today is Route 43 from Bedford to Buchanan, and they passed right by what is today the Peaks of Otter Lodge! (Hear the podcast about that beatiful spot.)
You might be shocked to learn that in July 1864, less than a year before the war ended at Appomattox, Jubal Early invaded Maryland and was at the outskirts of Washington! This is one of the biggest "what if's? of the Civil War. Imagine Early and his CSA army invading Washington, arresting Lincoln, and burning the White House and Capitol--it boggles the mind, and he came close to pulling it off! Listen to find out more, and why his effort failed at the last minute.
The episode then switches sides and discusses some about Union General William Sherman, and how his victory in the fall of 1864 saved Lincoln's re-election chances and thus the preservation of the USA, and how the little-known Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas, by a single vote, saved the presidency of Andrew Johnson! This episode has all sorts of surprises!
Listen to Episode 36 below.
To help our ESL learners, you can practice your listening abililty by answering these question! (Answers at the end.)
1. At 14:40, Early was "making tracks to D.C." What does this mean? Early was...
A. making a railroad
B. following an animal to hunt it
C. traveling and moving
D. none of the above
2. Around 16:40, General Grant "dispatched soldiers from Richmond to Washington." What does "dispatched" mean in this sentence?
A. Grant killed the soldiers
B. Grant sent the soldiers on specific business
C. Grant sent an important message
D. None of the above
(Note: the word "dispatch" is on p. 154 of Wordly Wise 300 Book 7, a book we often use at DreyerCoaching.com. The SAT, ACT, and TOEFL exams often ask about words that have multiple meanings.)
3. Around 15:30, you hear that the Union general defending Washington was "Old Brains" Halleck. Why was he nicknamed "Old Brains"?
A. He was a genius
B. Only older people could realize how smart he was
C. Even though he was old, he had managed to keep his mind sharp and active
D. He had many old-fashioned and out-dated ideas
4. Around 17:00, you hear "Early had fought an engagement." What does "engagement" mean here?
A. a battle
B. a man and woman deciding to get married
C. an important meeting
D. the telephone was busy
5. What was unique about Lincoln at Fort Stevens, right outside Washington DC? (18:00-20:00)?
6. What is the name of the tiny village in Central Virginia where Lee had surrendered to Grant in 1865, thus ending the US Civil War?
7. Where did Early go after Lee's surrender to Grant?
8. True of False: When you study world history, it is common for the winning side in a civil war to show mercy and grace to the losing side and let the rebel soldiers go home freely.
9. What powerful idea, or belief, in the US caused the North to show great mercy to the South after the South lost the Civil War?
10. When Jubal Early's homeplace came on the market in the early 2000s, what are the two reasons why Scott and his family did not buy it?
11. Lee : Jackson :: ____________ : Sherman
12. What city was Sherman's main target in the fall of 1864?
13. Why were Sherman and his army especially harsh to South Carolina when they marched through near the end of the war?
14. Why does Scott often say, "Let that sink in"?
15. Why did Lincoln, a Northern Republican, choose Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat from Tennessee, to be his vice president in 1864?
1. C. traveling and moving
2. B. Grant sent the soldiers on specific business
3. D. He had many old-fashioned and out-dated ideas
4. A. a battle
5. It was the only time in US history that a sitting president had been shot at, in a military conflict. (Many US presidents had been soldiers or generals before the White House, but only Lincoln came under enemy fire while president.)
7. He hid in his basement at his homeplace in Franklin County, Virginia, then he went to Texas looking for more soldiers to fight with, then fled to Cuba, to Canada, then finally back to the US
10. They did not have the money for it right then, and the maintenance of an old home would be expensive.
11. Grant (This is called an analogy. Since Lee's "right hand man" was Jackson, Grant's right hand man was Sherman.)
12. Atlanta, Georgia-- it was an important rail center
13. South Carolina had been the first state to seceed, or break away from the Union, so the North blamed South Carolina the most for secession and the horrific losses of the war.
14. This is important; take a moment to think about it and its consequences
15. Lincoln by 1864 was thinking about how to best reunite the nation after he had won the war. So, he thought it would be a great symbol of peace and forgiveness, to choose a Southern Democrat from a state that had broken away, to be his vice president. (Also, it was a political reward to Johnson, who had opposed secession and had stayed at his desk in the US Senate during the Civil War--even though he was a Southerner, he was a firm Unionist.)
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In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day. It falls on the last Monday of May, so it will be May 28 in 2018. On Memorial Day, we remember all the soldiers who have died while fighting for our country. People wave flags and hang them from their porch. Many people hang their flag at half-mast on that day, to honor the fallen. (Below see a flag at half mast at a popular fast food restaurant, Chick-fil-A, to honor the loss of First Lady Barbara Bush.) We also have Veterans Day, in November. Veterans Day honors everyone who has ever served in the United States military, whether they survived battle or not. However, Memorial Day specifically honors those who have died while serving their country in the US military.
Because Memorial Day is a national holiday and it falls on Monday, a week day, many businesses and activities are closed. (In the USA, we have about a half-dozen holidays that always fall on a Monday. This is so we Americans can have more beloved "three-day weekends," when we get a break from Friday afternoon till Tuesday.) As with many other holidays, including Christmas and Easter, the initial purpose of the holiday has been lost, or made less important, over the years. For example, Memorial Day is thought of as the unofficial start of the summer. Some schools end their year the Friday before Memorial Day. Outdoor pools open on Memorial Day, and since the weather is usually warm by late May, many people go to a nearby lake, river, or have a cook-out that weekend. Stores have Memorial Day or Memorial Day Weekend (the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Memorial Day) sales featuring low prices for summer clothes. The city that hosts the headquarters of DreyerCoaching.com, Roanoke, Virginia, hosts Festival in the Park on Memorial Day Weekend.
These are all terrific activities and a great way to spend time with family and friends. It can also be great weather, a great reason to spend some time outside. But Memorial Day was enacted to remember the soldiers who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom and ability to live in the United States. It is because of them that we can have Memorial Day activities. In many towns, there is a parade downtown on Memorial Day with a military band like this one.
These two political cartoons show us how people's thoughts about Memorial Day have become less focused on the soldiers and more focused on the activities. Being able to interpret a political cartoon and identify the symbolism, irony, and overall message is a great intellectual skill. It is a fine way to keep your mind sharp.
This cartoon has a man grilling his food, making sure he has everything ready for the Memorial Day picnic. He doesn't want to forget anything, but the picture reminds us he is forgetting about all the soldiers who have died.
"Sharp" is one of those wonderful words where we have one word in English, but there are two words for it in Chinese.
Sharp is used to describe something with a pointed or fine edge. Sharp things can prick, poke, slice, and cut.
This knife is sharp. Its edge can slice fruit or open an envelope. It can cut your finger if you are not careful. The Chinese word for this is 尖利 Jiānlì or just 利 Lì.
Scissors are also sharp. They are used to cut a length of material or paper.
This tack can poke and prick. It is used to attach papers to corkboard. It is sharp so that it can stick through things. The Chinese word for this is 尖锐 Jiānruì.
Don't let Billy handle the knife; it's too sharp.
Be careful handling those sharp tacks--they can poke you!
In English, we use common items and words in idioms. Today, I was teaching Phil in Chiayi, in South Taiwan. His English has greatly improved through taking classes DreyerCoaching.com and I wanted to compliment him on his improvement. We have been studying metaphors and similies in English. I asked him to write a simile, and I also used a simile, "Phil is sharp as a tack." To be "as sharp as a tack" means to be intelligent or smart. In contrast, to be dull is to be stupid or unintelligent. Sharp can also mean smart. So, we have the idiom, "sharp as a tack," to compare an intelligent person with an item that is very sharp.
"To sharpen" means "to make sharp," and it can also mean "to improve." For example, if you want to sharpen your reading skills, read more of our blog posts! To sharpen your listening skills, listen to some of my podcasts!
Hebrews 4:12 says the Bible is "sharper than a two-edged sword." In the verse, the word of God pierces the soul, spirit, bones, and marrow to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. In other words, the Bible metaphorically cuts us in half to show us our true selves.
To make things even more interesting, "sharp" also shows a music note that is half a step above the regular note. That is, the black keys on a piano are sharps. However, a note that is half a step low is NOT called dull, but it is called a flat.
Keep your mind and your English skills sharp--sign up for an online English class today!
For example, sometimes DIFFERENT letters make the SAME sounds, like: "Daisy is in great shape."
But at other times, the SAME letters make DIFFERENT sounds, like: "Eat bread & steak."
So it is with the /-ed/ at the end of many verbs. In fact, you can put regular verbs into the past tense by just putting an /-ed/ at the end. It's like this:
We play today. We played yesterday.
The problem, though, is the pronounciation of that /-ed/. In fact, there are THREE ways to say it, based on what word it is in. Let me explain; there are three rules.
Rule 1: If the base word ends with a /d/ or /t/ SOUND, add an extra syllable so that the word ends with the /-id/ sound. (NOTE: Some English words end with the /d/ or /t/ SOUND, but that is not that actual letter. For example, "hate" ends with an /e/, but the /t/ sound.
Rule 2: If the base word ends with the sounds "p," "f," "s," "x," "ch," "sh," or "k," then the word ends with the /t/ sound. Again, be careful. The word "promise" ends with the letter "e," but it ends with the /s/ SOUND. "Laugh" ends with the letters "gh," but it ends with the /f/ SOUND.
Rule 3: This is the easiest rule of the three; all other sounds end with /d/!
Do you need help with your English? Many students tell me, "I want to be able to speak English fluently like an American, so that's why I take classes with DreyerCoaching.com." With our all-American, professional teaching team, we can help YOU sound better and better when you speak English! Find out more here. Contact Scott today to find out how we can help you!
Mother's Day is a major holiday in many countries of the world, on the second Sunday in May. It is a major holiday in both the USA and Canada, but since it is always falls on a Sunday, it does not usually change one's work or school schedule.
Mother's Day is a day to honor and thank one's mother, and in many families, also a grandmother. Since it is always on a Sunday, that usually makes it easier for families to get together.
How we celebrate it in the USA
Like most holidays, different families celebrate in different ways. And of course, there are some people who do not celebrate the holiday. Maybe they have, for whatever reason, painful memories or experiences regarding their mother, or motherhood. However, there are some common ways this day is marked.
- Church attendance: Since Mother's Day is always on a Sunday, many families go to church together, and the children or grandchildren sit with their mom or grandmother. Many people who do not attend church regularly as a habit, will go on this day, to support mom, so church attendance is usually higher on this day than normal Sundays.
- Church activities: Most churches recognize Mother's Day in several ways. In many if not most, the clergyman will deliver a sermon, or message from the Bible, based on the role and importance of mothers. (It is widely recognized, that in many churches, women are more active in attendance and paraticipation than men, so women play a crucial role in church as they do in family.) The Bible teaches that mothers are important. Proverbs 31:28-19 reads:
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.” (NIV)
In many churches, the congregation will give each mother a small gift, or maybe the children of the church will enter the sanctuary and give each mom a small gift, like a handdrawn picture or a flower. In many churches, the pastor will ask questions to honor certain mothers: Who is the youngest mother here today? Who is the most experienced mother? (This is a nice way of saying, "Who is the oldest mother?") Which mother has the most children? Which mother has a child the furthest away? (Once the pastor at the church my parents attend in Virginia asked this question. My mom raised her hand, because I was in Taiwan, but another woman raised hers too, because she had a son in Germany, serving in the US Army. At that point, a discussion erupted: Which is further away, Taiwan or Germany? To which my dad answered, "I think Taiwan is about as far away as you can get, until you start coming back again." That year, mom won that prize.) A student from Germany recently spent three weeks with us here, and he said, at his church in Germany, all the members have a cook-out for Mother's Day after the Sunday service.
Take a look at this video from a US church service on Mother's Day: and the woman who is speaking and singing knows a lot about Mother's Day--she has 7 kids!
- Lunch together: It is common for families to eat lunch together on Mother's Day. (Most moms say they do NOT want to cook or wash dishes that day!) So, most restaurants are packed. After several years' of bad experiences waiting for hours in crowded, noisy restaurants, our family eats our Mother's Day meal at home, but the men and children in the family are responsible for the meal--and the clean up.
I do not pretend to be a gourmet chef, but I did not want my wife or mom to have to cook on Mother's Day. So, we plan to grill hotdogs and hamburgers, and I made this bean salad so we'd have something healthy to go with it.
Mrs. Dreyer's 3-bean Salad:(healthy, quick, AND easy!)
- 1 can of green beans
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can garbanzo beans (also called chick peas)
- (You can also substitute canned wax beans, pinto beans, red beans, black beans, etc.)
- 1/2 cup sliced green pepper (optional)
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- Dressing: Heat on stove 1/2 cup cider vingar, 1/3 cup cooking oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Pour dressing on the salad, chill in the refrigerator and enjoy!
- Cards and Gift: Most children and husbands get a nice card and gift for mom. Common gifts include flowers, chocolates, new clothes, gift cards to mom's favorite restaurant or store, etc. When children are on their own and away from home, they might ship a gift to mom, or at least call her on the big day.
Here are some flowers that some of our children gave their mother for Mother's Day: they knew purple is their mom's favorite color!
Watch how these two young men answer the question, "What does Mother's Day mean to you?"
This is very funny at Mother's Day or almost any time, because "The Mom's Song" takes many things a mom (or dad) will tell a child in 24 hours, and reduce it to 3 minutes. Take a listen! (And you can read the lyrics too--it's fast!)
Many years ago I heard a story from family expert Dr. James Dobson, that has always been in my mind. This story is from many decades ago, before the age of computers and cell phones, when people made calls from phone booths. He said that a card company, I think Hallmark, wanted to do something good for society so they brought a phone line into a prison for a day, to let each inmate make a free call to his or her mom, for Mother's Day. The outreach was more successful than any company executive had dreamed, because all the prisoners came to the courtyard and stood in line for hours, to call mom. In fact, the event was so successful, the company leadership decided to redo the offer in June, for Father's Day. However, that time, the outreach was a failure. Why? Only a few prisoners came out to call dad; instead, most stayed in their cells. Dr. Dobson said this story illustrates how important a role moms have, in that those prisoners all wanted to call mom on that day. However, the story also shows how important fathers are; in this case, most prisoners either did not have a dad, or did not have a good relationship with their father, so they did not bother to call home. Furthermore, Dobson suggested that it was this poor father-child bond that may have contributed to so many people ending up in prison in the first place. So, moms and dads are both important, though maybe in some different ways.
Grammar question: How do you write this holiday? Mothers Day? Mother's Day? or Mothers' Day? This article explains that actually all three are gramatically correct, but each grammar change brings a small change in meaning. However, the woman who created the idea of Mother's Day wanted it written as a singual noun with the apostrophe BEFORE the "s," so that ishow we will use it here: Mother's Day.