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Welcome to Larisa English Club #2

What’s New? Everyday Phrases.

History Facts! History of The Internet.

Conversation Topic. Personal Information.

Dialog Practice. Question Words.

Basic Grammar Review. The Definite Article.

English Grammar. Modal Verbs of Probability.

What’s New?

The first meetingGreat question! In everyday English this phrase is used to say “Hello or Hi”. It can also mean, “How are you?”. Phrases come from just about every place on earth. Anywhere English is spoken for sure. Phrases come from movies, sitcoms and music.

Who makes a phrase popular? People who like to create stuff. People who are popular. People who like what someone created and decided to use it over and over. When others like it and can apply the phrase to a situation or experience, now we have a phrase.

Once a phrase is created and becomes popular, often it is used in a variety of different ways. Literal or idiomatic. Literal definitions refer to situations where we can see what happens. A common phrase might be “Look up”. In this example, we can see what is happening at the time of speaking. It is something we can refer to as an action. The phrase “Look up” as an idiomatic expression can have several definitions.

ConversationLook up is used in three specific ways as an idiomatic expression. Here are examples; “Things are looking up these days” means that a given situation is improving. “Look it up in the dictionary” means to search for a word, definition or information in a dictionary. “Look me up the next time you are in town” means to visit with me.

No matter what stage of learning you are at, phrases are required learning. Can you communicate without using phrases? Yes, you can. Without knowing phrases, can you understand what others are saying to you? Probably not. Study phrases and anything is possible in the English language.

History Facts!

History of The Internet

The history of the Internet begins with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. Initial concepts of packet networking originated in several computer science laboratories in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. The US Department of Defense awarded contracts as early as the 1960s for packet network systems, including the development of the ARPANET. The first message was sent over the ARPANET from computer science Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the second network node at Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

LAN - local-area networkWith limited exceptions, the earliest computers were connected directly to terminals used by individual users, typically in the same building or site. Such networks became known as local-area networks (LANs). Networking beyond this scope, known as wide-area networks (WANs), emerged during the 1950s and became established during the 1960s.

By December 5, 1969, a 4-node network was connected by adding the University of Utah and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Building on ideas developed in ALOHAnet, the ARPANET grew rapidly. By 1981, the number of hosts had grown to 213, with a new host being added approximately every twenty days.

More on this can be found on the Internet at Wikipedia. Thank you Wiki.

Conversation Topic

Personal information

Speaking practiceTodays topic for conversation is “Personal information”. Simple questions and answers are easy but, you need to know the proper question words. For this exercise, I will use general questions and simple answers.

Remember that when speaking, we need lot’s of words to form questions. For answers, we just need a few. It is all about what is important. Most of the time when answering questions, we just need a few words. Try not to repeat the question. Most students learn at an early age to repeat words from a question asked. Unless a detailed answer is needed, give an answer to the question and keep it simple.

Take a look at the dialog practice below for examples. Listen to me and repeat when appropriate. The idea is to practice speaking in a natural way.

Dialog Practice

Question Words

In these examples, I use the verb “To be”. Another common verb for some of the questions is the verb “To do”. There are other common question words to use as well. “Wh” question words are common too. The main idea is to keep your English simple.

Dialog Practice. The first meeting.

Speaking about personal information.Speaking about work and hobby

Speaking Practice. Everyday topics.

Notice how I chose to use simple terms to answer. I have also included questions directly after my answer. Dialog is very important. Short answers if done without enthusiasm, may sound rude or impolite. Be careful not to just answer a question without responding with a question or more information if it is important.

Practice the dialog over and over until you have memorized it without too much difficulty. Remember that conversation is all about “Ask, answer, ask”.

Basic Grammar Review

Definite Article

The “Definite Article” is the most used word in the English language. What is it? It is the word “The”. It is used many different ways and often there are no definite rules for it’s usage.

The definite article with countriesA country can use it or not. It is all up to the government of a given country to decide. Hotels are pretty much the same. Some examples might be; The Hotel Regency or The Regency Hotel or Hotel Regency. All of this said, there are basic rules that we need to follow to understand “The Definite Article” in everyday English.

Here are just a few. “The” is often used when we refer to groups of objects or people. Some examples are “The British”, “The Canadians”, “The Americans”. In these examples, we are referring to groups of people.

Other examples are “The USA”, “The UK”, “The Netherlands”. In these examples, we are referring to groups of places. There are examples when we don’t use “The”. For instance, we do not use “The” before a lake but, we do use “The” before groups of lakes. An example is “The Great Lakes”.

We also use “The” extensively as a “Determiner”. Examples are “The City of New York”, “The County of New York”, “The State of New York”. When we want to clearly refer to a place or thing, we use “The Definite Article”.

The word “The” is used for “Singular, Plural and Uncountable Nouns”. When you see the word “The’ before one word, you need to know that word is a noun. This rule applies to any word we refer to as a noun.

While there are many definite rules for “The”, here is just one more. Remember pronunciation before “Vowels” and “silent letters”. Here are a few examples: “The apple”, “The elephant”, “The ice cream”, “The orange”, “The umbrella”. In these examples, the word “The” is pronounced with a long “E” sound. Something like this “Theeee”.

This pronunciation is also used for words like “Honest” and “Hour”. These are words with silent consonants. While the word “The” is not commonly used before “Abbreviations or Acronyms”, there are exceptions. These exceptions are when we refer to “Initialisms”. Words like “The FBI” or “The FFA”.

The definite article is an interesting subject in the English language. Just remember that although there are basic grammar rules, there is also an uncountable number of exceptions.

English Grammar

Modal Verbs of Probability

Modal verbs of possibilityWe use modal verbs of probability when we speculate, assume or guess at facts. Modals used are: can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would and must.

Other verbs used as modal verbs are; have to, want to and need to. We use Modals of Probability when we refer to a fact in the past, present and future. Generally, Modals of probability are taught at the intermediate level of English. Based on a students English level when studying English for a second time, Modals of probability might be taught at lower levels of English. This all depends on a students ability to understand the tense system in its entirety with confidence. The use of the tense system, as well as adverbs play a major role in the use of Modal verbs of probability.

Modal Verbs of probability used with the verb “Be” and “Get” are used to refer to the present and future. For this teacher training, I will focus on the past use of Modals of probability. There a few important keys to fully understand Modals of probability in the past.

Those keys are the usage of the “Present perfect” and “Adverbs” as well as “Participle 2” or the third form of a “Verb”. An example of a past fact might be “She has been to work recently”. This a “fact” in the past without a specific time reference. Of course, “Present Perfect” is used a number of ways with one clear distinction from “Past Simple” and “Past Continuous”.

Generally, when we use “Present Perfect”, exact time references are not used or are not important. Understanding the “Present Perfect” is a “must” to fully understand “Modals of Probability” in the past. This is one important element. However, with a combination of “Modals” and “Present Perfect”, we can refer to specific time in the past as speculation.

In other words, we sometimes use “Modals of Probability” with “Present Perfect” to refer to a possible fact in the past without being absolutely positive the event took place. In other words, we “Speculate, Assume or Guess” at what occurred in the past.

Modals of ProbabilityExamples might be; May have “May’ve”, Might have “Might’ve”, Could have “Could’ve”. These are all examples of an event in the past that we are not absolutely sure about. “May”, “might” and “could” in the following examples are fully interchangeable. “She might have worked yesterday, I am not sure”. She may have worked yesterday, I am not sure”. She could have worked yesterday, I am not sure”. In all three examples, these three Modal verbs have the same meaning.

One simple method that can be used to teach this grammar is “Bridging”. This is a method I have used for years while teaching English to Ukrainian students in Nikolaev. “Bridging” is when we teach a higher level grammar element using a comparison in grammar at a lower level. We can also use it to compare and instruct grammar at the same level of English. The main idea here is to compare known and understood grammar to something new.

This is where the usage of “Adverbs” takes an important role in teaching methodology. “Adverbs of Probability” are often used the same way as “Modals of Probability”. For instance, here is a question and answer comparing both parts of grammar.

Modal verbs vs. adverbs of probabilityQuestion; “Was Sally at work yesterday?” Answer; “Maybe she was at work, I don’t know” a second response could be “She could have been at work, I don’t know”. In the first response I used an “Adverb of Probability” to express a possibility. In the second example, I used a “Modal verb with present perfect” to express the same opinion. Neither are facts.

The statements made are simply “Speculation or guess” based on my thoughts and opinion. My answers are speculative without being absolutely sure.

Remember that the use of “Adverbs” play an important role in the English language. If you are a teacher, don’t be afraid to introduce “Adverbs” as often as possible at the earliest stages of classroom instruction.

English Resources

English grammar at YouTube

Free English grammar PDF workbook.

Until next time…

I hope you enjoyed the Larisa English Club. Please join us for the next episode. Remember, “Life is an Adventure, Live it to The Fullest Each and Every Day”.


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