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.
Most people hate them. In fact, a snake appears in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, and we have all had lots of problems ever since.
However, there are a few rare people who actually LIKE snakes, and one of those people is DreyerCoaching Team Teacher Mr. Dennis Woodson. He studied snakes and other reptiles in college--the field of zoology that covers snakes, turtles, frogs and other reptiles and amphibians is called herpetology. In his free time, Mr. Woodson likes to hike high and remote mountains to look for snakes. Most snakes are harmless, but some are venomous. There are 4 types of venomous snakes in the U.S., but the only types found in the part of the Eastern United States where DreyerCoaching is headquartered (western Virginia) are the timber rattlesnake and the northern copperhead.
Maybe you are wondering: What is the difference between POISON and VENOM?
Mr. Woodson is so excited about this subject and so willing to share his knowledge, he visited science classes at two Christian schools in Roanoke, Virginia in the spring of 2019 to share his passion.
DreyerCoaching teachers are not just interested in sharing "book knowledge" only; we want students to learn as many "real life" lessons as well. We believe, if the teacher and students are excited about the topic, everyone learns more.
Graduation Day is a happy day to celebrate! It normally comes in May or June. In 2019, we celebrate and honor our DreyerCoaching.com graduates!
Ricky Li: Ricky began kindergarten by learning British English in Singapore, then in third grade moved to Taiwan where he attended the International Bilingual School at the Hsinchu Science Park (IBSH), where classes were taught in American English and Chinese. That is the school where I taught from 1992-1997, and where Ricky attended a DreyerCoaching Summer English Camp in 2010. After that camp, Ricky joined our online English classes and kept attending all through school! After sixth grade Ricky transferred from the bilingual school to the rigorous all-Chinese language National Experimental High School, one of the top schools in Taiwan. However, thanks to Ricky's excellent English foundation and his parents' determination to keep him in weekly DreyerCoaching classes, he kept his English at a superb level. Over the years Ricky has invited his two cousins and several friends to improve their English with DreyerCoaching. Since Ricky joined our classes in 2010 and attended non-stop until his high school graduation in 2019, that makes Ricky the longest-attending student in DreyerCoaching history, to date. That itself is a remarkable achievement! Ricky plans to attend Purdue University.
Justin Chen: Justin began attending DreyerCoaching classes during middle school as a student at the International Bilingual School in Hsinchu Science Park (IBSH). He has faithfully attended a weekly writing class for many years where he polished his writing and word choice skills. Justin has a special knack for sports writing, and he would excel at that if he pursues that in the future. You can find many of Justin's writings about sports and other topics are in the "writing" section of our blog. Justin invited his sister and many friends to improve their English skills with us. Once when his family went on vacation to Japan, he took his laptop with him and, after a full day of fun and sight-seeing, joined class in the evenings from his hotel room. That shows dedication. He even attended his last DreyerCoaching class which occurred AFTER his high school graduation. That shows MORE dedication. Justin plans to attend Northeastern University in Boston, where he plans to study business.
Deron Geng: Deron came to us when his mother saw a poster about DreyerCoaching on a bulletin board at her church in Hsinchu, Taiwan. He joined us online as an 8th-grader. Since he was born in the US and attended grades 1-2 in Utah, he already had a strong English foundation. His mother later expressed she wanted him to attend high school in the US, so he and his family visited us here in Roanoke, Virginia and they all decided he would live with the Dreyer family and attend Parkway Christian School here, which he did from grades 9-12. Deron ran cross-country all four years in high school, studied martial arts, was active in youth group, attended weekly Bible study, and got his driver's license. Deron plans to attend Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville. (Community Colleges are a wise choice for many students, because the tuition is about one-third that of other universities, and if a student has a certain GPA after two years, they are guaranteed admission to a four-year university. I highly recommend this option for many students.)
Matthew Ma: Matthew is from Nanjing, China, and joined his cousin Deron Geng, first online with DreyerCoaching, then later as a high school student at Parkway Christian Academy in Roanoke, Virginia, where he also lived with the Dreyer family from grades 9-12. Matthew's dream was to live in the US so he could learn to communicate with native speakers of English and also experience first-hand American culture and life, which he did. During his high school years he ran cross-country, played baseball, and attended youth group. My wife and I truly enjoyed the red-carpet treatment Matthew and his family gave us when we visited Nanjing for five days in June 2018. Gifted with computers, Matthew plans to study computer science at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Founded in 1839, Longwood University has a beautiful campus and is the third-oldest public university in Virginia and one of the oldest colleges in the United States.
Graduation Party at Smith Mountain Lake. Deron's father (left) and Matthew' father
Ryan Hsiao: Ryan has attended all-Chinese schools all his life, but has learned English after school and on weekends. Even though he attended the rigorous National Experimental High School (NEHS) in the Hsinchu, Taiwan Science Park and earned a near-perfect score on the local entrance exam, high enough to get him into the coveted Taiwan University, Ryan has chosen to attend college in the US. He and his parents realized he needed extra English help to prepare for college in the US, so he has taken intensive classes with DreyerCoaching for over a year, including the summer after high school graduation, to help him hit the ground running in the US. Ryan, Ricky Li (see above), and eight other school buddies made life-time memories right after graduation, when they traveled around Taiwan by bus and train, taking in Taroko Gorge, Kenting Park, and Ali Mountain. They made their own travel, lodging, and meal arrangements as they circled Taiwan for more than a week. That shows great maturity and initiative. Ryan plans to study Psychology at Purdue University.
Felicia Li: Felicia and Ricky Li (see above) are cousins. We love serving entire families. Felicia lives in Taipei, Taiwan and has attended DreyerCoaching classes faithfully for many years. Felicia has done so well with us, she has encouraged her younger brother to attend classes with us too. A world traveler, she once did volunteer work in a remote village in Mongolia and right after high school graduation visited Vietnam. She has attended our advanced writing and vocabulary classes, where she has continually built her persuasion and word power skills. Felicia has attended schools all her life where Chinese was the language of instruction, but thanks to her diligence, curiosity, and faithful attendance with DreyerCoaching, she has continually built her English foundation. She plans to attend Durham University in England. Felicia shows us that DreyerCoaching does not only prepare students for university in the US, but all over the world.
The entire teaching team and I at DreyerCoaching.com are DELIGHTED to see these students be so successful, and for some of the students who have been with us a long time, we feel like we have watched them grow up and have been a part of their transition from childhood to adulthood. Over the years we have discussed vocabulary, reading passages, grammar, current events, politics, the weather, history, holiday traditions and where they come from, etc. We are THANKFUL and BLESSED to have been able to play this role. We teachers do not feel like we have only been "English teachers." We feel like we have shared each others' lives. Many students start with DreyerCoaching, and even study for many years. However, quite a few stop after grade 11. They tell us they are busy with school work, the college application process, etc. and we get it. But something that makes these six graduates stand out is, not only did they start with DreyerCoaching.com, but they stayed with it all through grade 12, right until graduation. We believe, when it comes to handling college-level work and adapting to life in the US later on, this extra year of classes will help them greatly.
To the Class of 2019, Congratulations, Thank You, and Godspeed! Stay in touch and keep us informed as you move upward and onward!
Matt, a student of ours in Beijing, China, was in one of his DreyerCoaching.com classes and asked this great question about this reading passage:
Why does the first paragraph have the word "were"? In China, the teachers tell us to use the word "are." Why is this?
That is a GREAT question! Matt is correct, in that we conjugate the present tense verb "to be" by: I am, You are, He/She/It is. In the PAST tense, it is I was, You were, He/She/It was.
However, this is a special kind of English grammar called SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD. You usually use this when you want to say or write something that is not true, make-believe, hypothetical, a wish, or an impossible situation, or to make a suggestion. The word "If" is a common hint or sign to use the subjunctive mood. Look at these examples:
- If I were a bird, I would fly away. (make-believe)
- If you were the president, what would you do? (make-believe/hypothetical)
- If I were to win a million dollars, I would take a big trip around the world. (hypothetical)
- I wish I were in college again.... (a wish)
- If I were you, I would look for another job. (suggestion)
- I suggest he not smoke when he goes to meet his girlfriend's parents. (suggestion)
There is a beloved musical called Fiddler on the Roof, about a Jewish family in Czarist Russia. The poor farmer uses this grammar point when he sings one of the most famous songs from that show: If I were a Rich Man.
(Note: the song is not If I WAS a Rich Man.)
Now, this photo is from a reading book we use at DreyerCoaching.com, and this passage is about the famous Botanical Garden near the U.S. Capitol Building. The opening sentence is a question:
What would you see if you were to go on a tour of the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C.?
In other words, the book is asking the reader, "IF you were to visit the Botanical Gardens, what would you see?" Probably most of the students reading this book do NOT live in or near Washington, so probably most children have never visited the Botanical Gardens, and probably never will. Most of the DreyerCoaching.com students who read this passage are in East Asia, some 8,000 miles away from D.C., so their chance of visiting that place is very small. So, the sentence uses the subjunctive mood. (However, DreyerCoaching.com is based in the US state of Virginia, and we are only about 4-5 hours' drive away from Washington, so come to the US with us and maybe you can visit the Botanical Garden and lots of other wonderful places too!)
There are some other times to use the subjunctive mood in English; please read the links below to find out more.
This blog post is dedicated to all the brave souls who made D-Day a success on 6-6-1944, especially those who never returned home.
Yorktown. Gettysburg. D-Day.
These are some of the most famous and revered in American history. Yorktown is in Virginia, where the Americans basically won their independence from England. Gettysburg is in Pennsylvania; the battle was the turning point of the Civil War and helped the North eventuall win. D-Day was fought across the Atlantic Ocean from the US, in France, but it is a key time in both American and world history. In fact, some have called D-Day, June 6, 1944, the single-most important day in the 20th Century. Why?
Where does D-Day fit into the "Big Picture"?
You have surely heard of World War II, that titanic struggle between the Axis and Allied forces from 1939-1945. The war began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany attacked its innocent neighbor, Poland. The movie The Kings Speech is set at this time, when King of England had to tell his empire why Britain was going to war for the second time in twenty years.) Poland surrendered within a few weeks, and the next spring Hitler quickly took over Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and what had been considered a world power, France. The movies Darkest Hour and Dunkirk are set at that terrible time, May 1940, the time of the Fall of France. For about one year, Britain and its Empire basically stood alone, holding back the tide of the Axis powers Germany, Italy, and Japan. On the other side of the world, Japan was brutally attacking its neighbor China. During most of 1940 and 1940, the Axis Powers took over more and more of the world. A turning point, however, came on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, thus bringing in the United States and its great might into the war on the side of the Allies. Learn more about Pearl Harbor in our blog. However, victory was still far off. With both the US and the USSR in the war on the Allied side, the tide gradually began to turn. The Russian Red Army was slowly pushing the Nazis out of the USSR. Still, most of Europe was solidly under German control. The Russians lost a staggering 20 million dead. The Allied leaders knew a second front had to be opened somewhere else in Europe, to relieve the Russians and start liberating Europe from the West. Since England was just across the English Channel from Nazi-held France, war planners decided to organize a sea attack across the Channel. D-Day was the code name for June 6, 1944, the day when that attack on the beaches of Normandy, France would begin and thus start the liberation of Europe from the West.
What actually happened on D-Day?
Twelve nations participated in the D-Day landings, although forces from the US, Britain and Canada provided most of the effort.
The Supreme Allied Commander overseeing D-Day was US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who ironically had a German last name. It is hard for us to imagine the pressure he was under. Right before June 6, the weather in the area was very bad, with high wind and rain. Weather forecasting them was primitive compared to what he have today, but forecasts did indicate the weather might get a bit better. Some of Eisenhower's advisers suggested he postpone the attack, but others urged him to stay with the schedule. The Allies could not attack France any time they wanted: the landings had to be carefully timed to be a new moon (when the night was totally dark) and the tides were just right. So, if Eisenhower had postponed the June 6 landings, they might have been pushed back into July. After hearing the contradictory advice on what to do, Eisenhower stepped outside his headquarters, looked at the sky, and made the fateful decision: attack as planned. In his two pockets he prepared two letters: one announcing that the landings had been successful, and the other announcing a failure. He would later decide which letter to release to the public, based on how the landings went.
Ironically, the bad weather helped the Allies. The German commander at Normandy was Erwin Rommel, the so-called "Desert Fox." He had been away from his wife for a long time, and with the bad weather reports, Rommel did not think the Allies would attack then. So, he left his forces and went home to see his wife for her birthday; he wanted to surprise her with shoes he had gotten in Paris. (Paris was then under Nazi control.) So, when he got the news that the landings had begun, he was far away at home, in Germany. By that time, the Allies had controlled air superiority so Rommel was afraid to fly to Normandy. Instead he had to drive small country roads across North France to get his headquarters at the front, arriving at 10:00 pm on June 6. This is one of those fascinating "What Ifs" of history. What if Rommel had been on the scene on the morning of June 6, to coordinate the German counter-attack. Might the Nazis have succeeded?
While it was still dark in the early hours of June 6, many Allied soldiers parachuted or flew silent gliders into France, short distances behind the beaches. Their job was to band together on the ground to improve the chances for the soldiers to land a few hours later. Imagine the courage of those young men, parachuting or gliding into enemy lines. They knew if the landings failed, they would be stuck in enemy territory with no way to escape. There are stories of the paratroopers flying over the English Channel to France. They were so airsick and scared, many of them were vomiting into their helmets, and the planes stank. Many died as they fell behind enemy lines. Those who survived used little metal clickers that made a chirping noise like a cricket. Obviously the men had to band together after landing to improve their chances of survival, but they couldn't yell out in English "Hey everybody, I'm over here!" So instead they were to click their clickers to quietly help them identify each other and group up.
At 5:30 a.m., shortly after sunrise, Allied ships in the English Channel begin a heavy naval bombardment of the Nazi-held beaches. Seven battleships took part in the bombardment, including the USS Nevada. The Nevada was severely damaged in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese thought it would never see service again. On the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack, the navy band aboard the Nevada was playing The Star-Spangled Banner as they did their daily flag raising-- just as the bombs began to fall. That ironic moment is shown in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! Also, some 13,000 aircraft based at 70 airfields in Southern England flew missions across the Channel to bomb Nazi positions and cover the Allied landings. The Allied pilots feared what they called "the 4 F's." They were Flak (ground-based anti-aircraft fire), Fighters (enemy planes), Fear, and Fire (if their planes were hit.)
There were a total of five beaches where the Allies forces made landings that day: code-named Utah and Omaha beaches were where the US forces landed, the Brits landed at Gold and Sword beaches, and the Canadians were responsible for June beach. See the map. Soldiers crossed the English channel in ships, then moved into small landing craft like this. These small boats were to get within 50-100 yards (meters) from the shore, drop their front door, and let the men out. The men jumped from their boats into cold sea water that was waist- or even neck-deep. When you consider they were wearing heavy uniforms and carrying heavy guns and equipment, you can see why many foundered in the water and drowned before even hitting the beach. Once they hit the beach, many had to run across 100 yards or more of open sand to get to the sea wall or small hills of sand. The Germans were dug-in with concrete pillboxes and emplacements.
It is hard to imagine the courage those young men faced, on those open landing craft nearing the beach, under heavy gun and artillery fire, and then as the boat door swung down, they all had to scramble out, get across 50 yards or more of sea, then 50 yards or more of open beach, all while being shot at. And do you think many of those young men spoke French, understood French culture, or had relatives in France? Almost none! They obeyed the call to serve because they loved their country and the cause of freedom, and were willing to sacrifice their lives, not to conquer, but to liberate -- in their case, liberate total strangers.
You can see an excellent timeline of key D-Day events here.
Some 4,413 Allied troops lost their lives on that single day, although historians still debate the total death toll.
Why are there only a few photos from D-Day?
Robert Capa, a Hungarian-born photographer for Life magazine, went ashore with the first waves of soldiers at Omaha Beach. Amazingly he took over 100 photographs and sent them back to England for developing. Sadly, however, a nervous technician botched the job and ruined almost all the photos, so only about 11 faint images exist from the early landings. Read more here.
How does D-Day relate to me?
Do you value your freedom? Do you live in a free country? Do you value freedoms of speech, religion, the press, voting, or bearing arms? We enjoy those freedoms and so many more, thanks to the brave souls who fought in World War II and at D-Day. No wonder those people are now called "The Greatest Generation." We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. I may be wrong, but I think many of us Americans and people in the Free World are very naive about the reality of human evil. When we live in free countries based on the rule of law, representative democracy, individual liberties, etc., we are usually shielded from the worse excesses of human evil. Add to that the Judeo-Christian ethic that has helped create the moral framework that is a key basis of the Western World, and all this has helped create the wealthy, free world many of us enjoy today. However, these liberties have not always been enjoyed in human history. In fact, when you look at history, you will see that wealth and liberty are very rare. In 1981 I visited Europe for the first time, on a family trip to meet up with my brother who was on spring break from his Junior Year of college in Scotland. We visited the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, where the Nazis killed more than 41,000 innocent people, many at the hands of inhumane "medical experiments." In June 2019 friends in Nanjing, China took my wife and I to see the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. Many Americans have never even heard of the "Rape of Nanking," a months-long bloodbath when the Japanese army entered what was then the capital of China and committed untold acts of evil, but we need to know our history. As I often tell my stories, World War II and the Holocaust were not ended by a peace conference, a treaty, or a letter-writing campaign. It ended when brave soldiers and others gave their all to stop Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan by force.
Why is the National D-Day Memorial in tiny Bedford, Virginia?
During World War II, the War Department often created military units from men from the same town or area. However, this had a huge risk. If one particular unit was in a dangerous place, then many of the men would be killed or injured and one small town would suffer a huge loss. That is why today, units are made up from soldiers from across the country, to spread out the risk. Company A lost 103 men on Omaha Beach on D-Day, 19 of them from Bedford. Another Bedford man was killed in Company F elsewhere that day. There were 32 Bedford men involved at D-Day, and over half of them perished. So, one one day, the tiny town of Bedford, Virginia with a population then of some 3,000 lost 20 men. As a ratio of population, Bedford had heavier losses than any other American community on D-Day. So, to honor that loss, the National D-Day Memorial is in Bedford, only a 30-minute drive from the world headquarters of DreyerCoaching.com. I still remember when the Memorial was being built: there were many fundraisers and many restaurants in Southwest and Central Virginia had a small box at the cashier so people could make contributions on the way out. The Memorial was opened and dedicated on June 6, 2001, and President George W. Bush gave the opening speech. There was a huge push to build and finish the Memorial, because by that time, the D-Day veterans were in their 70's and many were leaving this earth. Visit the Memorial's website to learn much more about their work and D-Day.
How was the 75th anniversary of D-Day celebrated, and why is this year especially important?
June 6, 2019, the day I am writing this post, is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. It is sad but true, the D-Day veterans now are at least 93 or older. This year's commemoration was called "The Final Salute," because this will be the last major anniversary where many survivors will be present. I watched the service online today. Remarkably, there were over 100 WW II vets at today's program. Near the end of the service, they came forward to receive a medal and handshakes for their service. Their name and places of service in WW II were called out. Many were in wheelchairs or with canes or walkers. Surprisingly, many though were able to walk well by themselves, despite being in their 90's.
It was an important event. US Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech. One of my sons called me about 9:45 from Bonsack, Virginia, saying he has been caught in traffic. At first when we saw all the police cars, 5 helicopters and stopped traffic, he thought something bad had happened. Then, he learned it was Vice President Pence's motorcade.
Today's event case carried live by WDBJ Channel 7 and sponsored by F&S Construction, a successful Roanoke, Virginia-based business with a strong commitment to positive community involvement. Thank you WDBJ and F&S Construction!
History.com- how many casualties?
In our Advanced Writing class, we are working on writing a biographical sketch. The textbook* gave us a list of several key events in the life of American pioneer Daniel Boone. However, writing an interesting biographical sketch is not just writing a boring "laundry list" of events. (Doing that can make it sound like you are writing an encyclopedia.) Instead, the challenge is to make the story engaging and readable, and one way to do that is to pick a FOCUS. The textbook* suggested one of these four themes to focus on:
- Boone as a soldier
- Boone as a hunter/explorer
- Boone as a family man
- Boone and the Native American tribes
* Writing with Skill, Level 1, Susan Wise Bauer, p. 258.
Take a look at what this student wrote. He took the list of events from the life of Daniel Boone and wrote two sketches. Look carefully; which of the above four themes does Essay 1 focus on? Essay 2?
Daniel Boone. A legendary man. A soldier and pioneer who left behind boundless legacies and served as an inspiration for many. Born in 1734 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Boone lived in a colony under British rule. As a young boy, he was already familiar with firearms, having received his very own rifle at the mere age of 12. Time would prove how crucial his early mastery of firearms was to his later successes.
As time passed, it seemed he was born to be a soldier. As a young man, he had grown to become a man of remarkable stature-- broad chest, muscular arms, and a strong frame. He fought numerous battles and war, having actively participated in the French and Indian war and fought against the “Cherokee Uprising.” It was also during this time he married the love of his life, Rebecca Bryan, and settled on the Yadkin River in North Carolina. For the young Boone, his life was full of nothing but hopes and aspirations.
However, during the aftermath of the Cherokee uprising, Boone was forced to leave North Carolina. Indeed, it was a difficult moment, leaving his house and past behind to face the daunting unknown. This turn of events, however, seemed to have presented new opportunities. In 1769, Boone decided to embark on a two-year expedition into Kentucky, which was then a land of wilderness. A true pioneer, Boone started a settlement. He was met with fierce opposition from the Shawnee tribesman, who deemed his action a transgression of the sovereignty of their land. After a lengthy conflict, Boone and his fellow colonists finally prevailed, allowing them to establish settlements for other American pioneers to reside in.
His troubles did not end after he established his colony, however, as Boone and other colonists still faced constant aggressions from the Native Americans. After the US gained its independence, the Shawnees allied with the British empire to attack Boonesborough, Kentucky, Boone’s settlement. During this fight Boone was shot in the leg, yet survived. With sheer grit and determination, the colonist once again prevailed.
Boone, in his middle age, was still keenly interested in adventure. He was promoted lieutenant in his local militia and fought in the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782, one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War. The American hero published the stories of his adventures in 1784, a culmination of his unique experiences. He later moved to Missouri, famously stating, “Too much crowded-- too much crowded-- I want more elbow room.” It was in Missouri where this legendary adventurer and brave man who seemed to defy all odds finally succumbed to father time. In 1820 he died at age 85. His legacy will live on forever.
-- Tim in Hsinchu, Taiwan
When talking about legendary American adventurers, one cannot help but think of Daniel Boone. However, what most people do not know is that Boone was also a loving father and a considerate husband. Born in 1734 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Boone lived in a colony under British rule. As a young lad, he had all kinds of dreams of exploring the unknown. Later, the determined Boone, a step at a time, fulfilled his childhood dream, traversing thousands of miles, fighting against different enemies, and most importantly, fulfilling his own destiny.
Boone was a man of remarkable appearance-- a handsome man with a muscular frame, always donning his favorite hunting attire. Despite his unprecedented achievements as a pioneer, soldier, and adventurer, surprisingly, Boone never neglected his role in his family. In 1756, Boone married the love of his life, Rebecca Bryan and settled in North Carolina. He and Rebecca were eager to start a family. Not long after, they were blessed with their baby son James. Unfortunately, the eruption of the “Cherokee Uprising,” which ultimately resulted in Boone’s exile from North Carolina, signified the shattering of his dream of stable home life. However, Boone never gave up. Never did. Eager to find a new home for his family, Boone moved to Kentucky, an undeveloped land, but also, a land of infinite possibilities.
The start was difficult as Boone and his fellow explorers were met with hostilities from the Native Americans. Boone was determined to settle on the land with his family. During this period of time, Boone never faltered to care for his family and children. He, a wild spirit, “was compelled to take extended trips in his search for less-frequented places…. As early as 1764–65 Boone was in the habit of taking with him, upon these trips near home, his little son James, then seven or eight years of age. . . .Frequently they would spend several days together in the woods during the
autumn and early winter.” As a father, he was eager for James to grow to become a great man. His adventures with James culminated a powerful father-son relationship that transcends bounds.
Boone’s family was never short of challenges, but again and again, Boone seemed to defy all odds and helped his family overcome them. The single most challenging obstacle came at 1776, which is, ironically, the year that the US signed the Declaration of Independence. Native Americans, furious at the colonists’ transgression of their hunting ground, decided to kidnap children, one of which was Boone’s daughter Jemma. A man of mettle, Boone did not back down, nor did he falter. He chased the Natives relentlessly and captured the girls back, saving them from a fate that might be too horrible to describe.
Boone, the legend, the explorer, moved one last time in his exhilarating life of adventure to Missouri. It was there where he finally passed away. Beloved by his family, admired by all, Boone closed his eyelids for the last time, at age 85, knowing that his legacy would live on for eternity.
-- Tim in Hsinchu, Taiwan
Do you see the shift of focus? Essay 1 is based on "Boone as soldier." Tim tells us that in paragraph 2 sentence 1. Essay 2 is based on "Boone as family man," as we see in paragraph 2 sentence 2.
- You are my sunshine.
- He roared with laughter.
- Variety is the spice of life.
What do these three have in common? They are METAPHORS. These, along with similes, are a great way to spice up your writing. (Actually, "spice up your writing" is a metaphor too!) A metaphor is a comparison between two people or things, without using the words "like" or "as." (In contrast, a simile uses either "like" or "as." English teachers will tell you, remember the "S" in "simile" and in "as," and that will help you remember the difference between the metaphor and simile!）
In a recent Advanced Writing class, the students and I looked as what our book called a "governing metaphor," or what some other people call an extended metaphor. That is, instead of a single comparision, this is a metaphor that is referred to many times throughout the text. A famous example is one of the most widely-loved passages in the Bible: the 23rd Psalm, of David. Take a look: can you find the extended metaphor?
Psalm 23 New International Version (NIV)
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Can you see it? The extended (governing) metaphor is that of a SHEPHERD.
Since our writing class was held just a few days before Mother's Day, I asked the students to write something loving and respectful for their mothers, using an extended metaphor in it. One student wrote a poem while the other wrote prose, but both were excellent. These young men attend a prestigious bilingual school in the Hsinchu, Taiwan Science Park, and they have also studied writing with DreyerCoaching.com for many years; their hard work shows! Take a look: can you find the extended metaphors?
Mother is a gardener, who gave us the gift of life.
A quiet and caring figure, always with a tender smile.
Humble and persistent, she always thought for us first.
She meticulously cared for our well-being and fertilized us with knowledge.
And with a caring hand, she guided us forward in life.
She gave us the ability to blossom.
She gave us the power to thrive.
Enduring many hardships, windstorms, hail, and cyclones.
Never gave up. Never did. Always there, patiently, caringly.
She pulled out the weeds and killed the pests, all to ensure
That we live a peaceful life.
Always tender and caring, her smile,
Melts the bleakest of winters.
As years flew past,
And the saplings grow into trees.
She smiles, tenderly.
-- Tim in Hsinchu, Taiwan
While calm and seemingly boring on the surface, the ocean holds limitless possibilities beneath. Not only does it produce the best proteins in the world for people like me, it also provides humanity the very basic resource of water for survival. But I think the ocean is much more than that: it holds the world’s richest source of information. The ocean’s deepest parts reveal our ancient past, and its shallow shores reveal our current desires. From this viewpoint, the ocean seems to understand everything; it has existed for our entire life, it exists unconditionally, and will always be acknowledged by us — but not necessarily appreciated.
Just like how we may see our mothers, we recognize her existence, but do not always care for her. She provides unconditional love, yet we fail to reward her with reciprocal support. She holds the experience of a sage, yet we fail to seek her counsel regarding our decisions. It’s mother’s day. I love you mom!
-- Aaron in Hsinchu, Taiwan
Do you want to know more about Mother's Day and how we celebrate it in the US? Read our blog post. Do you want to improve your English writing or vocabulary skills? Contact Scott today to find out how!
Recently a member of our DreyerCoaching teacher team and I were working with a Chinese professional man and his American supervisor. We were working on helping the Chinese man write better emails in English. One big issue was: expressing certainty and uncertainty. This is important, because you need to tell your reader (or listener) how sure you are about something.
Take a look and you can use these words and phrases in your communication:
|CERTAIN / SURE||UNCERTAIN / UNSURE|
|I am sure that....||I think .... I believe....|
|We have already ...||We could ....|
|We do have ...||We might be able to ....|
|It is clear that...||It is possible that....|
|Surely||I am not sure that....|
|There is no doubt that...||There is some doubt that...|
|Maybe / Perhaps|
|In my opinion...|
Recently I taught one of our Advanced Writing classes--the students attend the prestigious middle school in the Hsinchu, Taiwan Science Park where I taught from 1992-1997. The students have been working on description essays, so as homework, I gave them this prompt: Describe what it is like to attend a writing class with DreyerCoaching.com.
Here are their answers. Wow! I am SO thankful and impressed.
Learning and practicing English with DreyerCoaching has significantly improved my grammar and the ability to produce more lucid, advanced writing. Through the years of taking DreyerCoaching classes, I recognize that my English skills have escalated into a much higher level. Though improving English is the main benefit of taking this class, there is much more. Being able to learn with sophisticated and qualified teachers without the need of leaving your house, being able to connect to the teachers anywhere and anytime, and being able to personally have conversation with the CEO of the online class are boons of DreyerCoaching that most other extracurricular classes do not offer. During the classes, students are free to ask questions at any time, and the classes are relaxing because the teachers are friendly and convivial. Because there is little stress when taking the class, students (for example, me) enjoy it and can learn more effectively. In conclusion, taking DreyerCoaching is the right choice and I encourage everyone who has a chance to take the class to apply for it.
Learning with DreyerCoaching is an experience like none other. Usually, to learn English in Taiwan, one would have to leave their house and drive for at least ten minutes to arrive at the designated teaching location. However, with DreyerCoaching, it is incredibly convenient; turn on your laptop, connect to the meeting, and you are all set! The learning experience is entirely different with DreyerCoaching compared to the average extracurricular class. With the advanced curriculum and knowledgeable teachers, one can learn much more effectively… at home. This is by far the best feature about DreyerCoaching that you can not get anywhere else. If you are struggling with time and scheduling issues, DreyerCoaching can help ease the problem by allowing you to connect right from your desktop, phone, or tablet, and still learn English!
Usually, when people think of English classes in Taiwan, they think of cram schools, tutoring, or other conventional methods of teaching. However, DreyerCoaching has ways of teaching English that are entirely different. Not only does it utilize the technology of the 21st century by teaching over the internet, it provides a further reach of the services it offers, and allows more diversity in students and teachers alike. Along with that, DreyerCoaching also offers interesting and engaging topics to teach the students. For example, students can write their own pourquoi stories, learn about what happens on the ocean floor, and create historical narratives. These topics allow students to engage, therefore making learning more enjoyable. During the classes, students also improve their writing by discussing sentence structure, vocabulary, and grammar. Students can go over their writing in class with individualized attention, making it a wonderful learning environment for students.
February 14 is Valentine's Day in the US and many other countries.
Like many holidays, Valentine's Day has main colors: these are red, pink, and white.
Starting several weeks before February 14, you will start seeing many candies and chocolates for sale. Many are in heart-shaped boxes. For the holiday, many people also give red roses, cards, or other small gifts. Cards sent on this holiday can also be called "Valentines." Many of the cards will say "Be my Valentine." Many people take their loved-one out to eat at a nice restaurant that night, or the weekend before.
This holiday is also called St. Valentine's Day. The abbreviation "St." can mean "street" or "saint." A saint is a holy person. No one knows for sure how Valentine's Day began, but the most popular story comes from the Roman Empire. At one time, a roman emperor made it illegal to for his soldiers to get married. The emperor thought that single men made the best soldiers, and if a man were married and had children, then his mind would be more on his family and less on fighting for the king. However, an early Christian leader named Valentine broke the law and performed secret weddings, in order to help people. Finally the police caught him and put him in jail. While in jail, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter and wrote her letters, signed "from your Valentine." According to legend, this is how the tradition of sending Valentine cards began. The legend continues that the authorities killed Valentine on February 14 for breaking the law, so that date became his "holy day" and is now the holiday. After all, the word "holiday" comes from "holy day."
This page tells you more about Valentine's Day in simple Englislh.
Learn more about the history of this holiday here. (native-speaker level)
During a Chinese New Year 1 on 1 class, our student Nicky in Hunan Province, China had this writing assignment:
If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive), who would they be and what would you ask them?
She was creative and wrote this essay below. I particularly like how she added the idiom "let the cat out of the bag," a saying that her teacher taught her. It means "to tell or reveal a secret." (To learn more English idioms, visit our blog post.)
I think they would be vampire, zombie and skeleton. Because they are not usual things. We all know vampires suck blood. But can they accept all kinds of blood? So this is a question I want to ask him. The second question is : Why are you afraid of the garlic? I think garlic is a nice food. Why vampires have to be afraid of them?
The first question I want to ask Mr. Zombie is: What do you usually eat? I am interesting in it. And I also want to know why zombies can no bend their knees .They just jump and jump and jump. Aren’t they tired?
I’ve always been curious about how skeletons eat and drink. This is a question that I will ask the skeleton. The second question is very interesting. Why don’t skeletons fall apart? I think everybody wants to know the answer.
These are my thoughts. And I know the answers to these questions are secrets. I don’ know I will let the cat out of the bag or not. But I think if I can have dinner with vampire, zombie and skeleton, I will have a good time.
Nicky did a fine job with her first draft, then her DreyerCoaching.com teacher, Mr. Woodson, read it with her, discussed it, and gave her some suggestions to make it even better. For example, he revised the first sentence to be: a vampire, a zombie, and a skeleton.
Here is Nicky's revised essay, with smoother, more polished English:
I think they would be a vampire, a zombie and a skeleton because they are unusual things. We all know vampires suck blood, but can they accept all kinds of blood? So this is a question I want to ask him. The second question is: Why are you afraid of garlic? I think garlic is a nice food, so why do vampires have to be afraid of it?
The first question I want to ask Mr. Zombie is: What do you usually eat? I am interested in that, and I also want to know why zombies cannot bend their knees. They just jump and jump and jump. Aren’t they tired?
I’ve always been curious about how skeletons eat and drink. This is a question that I will ask the skeleton. My second question is also very interesting. Why don’t skeletons fall apart? I think everybody would like to know the answer.
These are my thoughts, and I know the answers to these questions are secrets. I don’t know if I will let the cat out of the bag or not, but I think if I can have dinner with a vampire, a zombie, and a skeleton, I will have a good time.
If you read both versions of this essay, you will see how Nicky was able to improve the flow and smoothness of her essay. Do YOU want to improve your English writing? We have classes available! Contact Scott today to find out more, and read this page also. Hope to see YOU online soon!