Phrasal Verb Friday: Paulo and Jennifer’s Love Story

Happy Friday! Today is an extra special day for me, not only is it phrasal verb Friday (wooo!), and Valentine’s Day in Brazil (feliz dia dos namorados gente! – Happy Valentine’s Day gang!), it’s also the day Paulo and I celebrate … Continue reading

Reading Comprehension with Bree-Elizabeth | Part 1

Just as the title suggested, today’s post is brought to you by guest-blogger, Bree-Elizabeth. To keep things interesting, we’re changing up (doing things differently) the posts that Bree-Elizabeth does, with this week being a 2-part short story to practice reading comprehension … Continue reading

Phrasal Verb Friday

Happy Friday! Phrasal verbs are an important part of everyday English, and help you understand more natives, and sound like one too! Check out Phrasal Verb Friday to learn about animals p.vs with definitions, examples, and discussion questions. Continue reading

Poetry with Bree-Elizabeth

I am extremely delighted for today’s post, as it’s not only a breath of fresh air (something new and refreshing), but an introduction and the first of what I hope is many upcoming posts from a very talented writer. Bree-Elizabeth has jumped on board of English Outside the Box’s blogging journey, and I hope you are excited to be exposed to new literary works (pieces of writing). From poems to short stories, and other masterpieces in between, her writings will definitely provide learning opportunities.

Her first post is a poem! Pay attention to how she writes this rhyming couplet. Do you notice the rhyming scheme? You can also use the poem to practice reading comprehension with some questions following her work, and don’t be shy to practice writing by commenting and sharing your thoughts. Who knows, maybe Bree-Elizabeth will even answer questions you may have! This is also a great way to practice new vocabulary. I’ve selected and defined some words, but I encourage you to look up the definitions of any new words. Don’t forget to take it one step further and break out that thesaurus, too!

Well enough is enough, here is Bree-Elizabeth:

 Hello, English Learners, my name is Bree-Elizabeth.  I was very excited when Jennifer asked me to contribute to English Outside the Box!  This website is a ‘pot of gold’ for anyone trying to learn English.  I’m lucky enough to know Jennifer very well – she is my sister after all!  And if there is one thing I know, she is a very passionate and devoted person.  See what she does for you all only stokes my passion for learning new languages.

That being said, here is my first contribution to Jennifer’s cause.  I can’t wait to write more!

The Girl 

“The lonely girl left home to travel the world around her
And to see what different countries had to offer.
She arrived in the busy city on a beautiful winter night
But she realized the cold was not her only plight.

The girl could not understand the words these new friends said
Their language was so new to her she could not even buy bread.
She did all she could to learn any word,
No one stopped to help until a kind boy overheard.

Though they spoke different languages, they became good friends
The boy helped her find her way through the city’s twists and bends.
He was patient and kind when something happened the girl did not understand
And did not hesitate to give her a “helping hand”

While the girl studied hard to speak and have fun,
The boy fell in love and knew she was the one.
Soon they were getting married to be husband and wife,
Because a kind boy gave a sad girl a smile and a new life.”



plight [noun]: difficult situation
kind [adjective]: gentle in nature, wanting to help others and do good
overheard [verb]: to hear what someone said usually by accident
twists & bends [plural noun]: referring to the streets and area of this city; an area that is easy to get lost
hesitate [verb]: pause/stop in doing something because one is nervous or unwilling
“helping hand” [noun] assistance, giving help
“the one” [noun]: refers to the person who will become your husband or wife

Comprehension Questions: (answer in the comment section, and we’ll let you know if you are correct!)

1. In your own words, why did the girl leave home to travel?
2. Why was the new situation difficult for the girl?
3. What are some of the ways the boy helped the girl?
4. What happened in the end?

Did you accurately answer the question in the introduction: What was the rhyming scheme?

Do you have questions for Bree-Elizabeth, about her poem, the idea, or her writing? Post in the comment section!

Can you relate with the girl in this poem? Have you ever set out for an adventure and faced difficulty, found love and/or happiness? Share your story..

As always.. Happy Studying! ♥And please, share this post and blog with friends, families, learners, and lovers to help support English Outside the Box and keep up the fabulousness!

Happy New Year!

Firstly, I’d like to say a big..

Happy New Year!!! 

.. to everyone. It’s been too long.

Sincerest apologies for my hiatus (noun: a pause or gap in process), the past few months have been absolutely crazy and so hectic. Apart from the expected chaos of the holiday season and everyday life, add a couple sicknesses and an out-of-state move to the list…and there you have my Nov/Dec/Jan. But enough about me, I am back in the game and here to provide you with even more exciting things on English Outside the Box‘s learning blog.

First, besides signing up and subscribing to this blog, I’d like to invite you to sign up for English Outside the Box’s newsletter. This newsletter will be providing you with all of the latest and greatest Outside the Box news, information, and learning opportunities. It will give information about upcoming giveaways, free class options, even more learning resources, and other things I may not necessarily include on this blog. To sign up visit:

Next, did I say free class options? Yes, I did!! Starting this coming month, February, I will be hosting a free Conversation Hang Out (via Google Hangouts) for 7 students (and me of course). These Conversation Hang Out’s will happen once a month, will vary on themes/topics, and will be an excellent way to talk with a native speaker, other learners, and make connections! Because of different time zones, the class start times will vary month-to-month to allow multiple countries to participate, but space is limited so make sure you sign up fast! To sign up, send an e-mail with your name, country, & e-mail to:  To check the current class information for this month, visit: and of course, check your e-mail newsletter updates!

Another great (and exciting) feature coming up on the blog next month (& this year) is a new writer & maybe, a short story series. An incredibly talented writer has come on board to give you even more things to read, more ways to connect, and more opportunities to practice English. Through these posts, you will be able to practice reading, writing (commenting), new vocabulary, potential new grammar concepts, and speaking…talking and sharing your thoughts with others. I’d say this will be an excellent addition to your learning routine!

Finally, in addition to all these great new things coming to the blog, don’t forget to take advantage of all the ‘old stuff’. You know what they say, “an oldie but a goodie.” (something old but still valued) The menu has changed (new year, new menu), and should be a little bit easier to navigate. If you want to find specific posts, exercises, or lessons that focus on a particular skill, you can search under “Practice English”. You can also connect with me, and utilize the English opportunities I give via Social Media. English Outside the Box can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, all with the name: JenESL760 . On these social media sites you will find a lot of visual learning tools: infographics, pictures, charts, cartoons, quotes, videos, etc.. all of which will help different skill areas. If you haven’t connected yet, what are you waiting for?

It feels good to be back, and I wanted to say hello and give some updates before I get back into the swing(return to normal routine) of regular blog updates. So, HELLO! I am so looking forward to 2015 and all the world has the offer! I hope you are too…

Happy Studying & Connecting! ♥♥

If you like what you’ve read, and are excited for the new features and updates coming…share your excitement, and share the blog with a friend.

Thanks! xo Jennifer

Free Friday: Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Today’s lesson will be full of FUN & FRIGHT. You’ll learn some vocabulary, idioms, and have some fun with puns. What is a pun? A pun is a joke using the different possible meanings of a word or … Continue reading

Free Friday: Confusing Words + Spelling help!


Thanks God? or Thank God?

The correct answer is Thank God, with no “s.”  “Thanks” is used singularly, as a short way to show your appreciation. It is never used with a direct object. Are there other common words and/or spellings that you often question? You’re probably not alone, which is why these incredible infographics exist! With the help of this colorful lesson, I hope you are taking away some very valuable information, and improve the way you present yourself through words!

Here are some commonly misused words. I would say that LIE vs LAY is at the top of the list for most misused, despite its position on the bottom of the infographic.

Try using some, and creating your own sentences.


Next on today’s Free Friday lesson: “Getting a Grip on Good Grammar” with 10 excellent tips to perfect your writing.

Did you say the word, “perfect” correctly in the sentence above? Check out my pronunciation post to double check~ Heterophomes.


Nail your spelling with this helpful post highlighting common words that often cause mistakes.


You may see some repeats in these 3 infographics, but that’ll show you how common mistakes can be! Better your English and better express yourself by avoiding these errors.

Care to show off your new skills? Go ahead…. share with English Outside the Box’s other readers, don’t be shy.

Happy Studying! ♥


Note bottom of infographics for credits and sources.

Are you in love? Express yourself with these English idioms!

To be in love with someone is certainly a special feeling. I am feeling extra, extra in love today because Paulo and I are celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary. ♥ In honor of us, this post will teach you 7 … Continue reading

Literally, the most, like, overused words, like…ever, you know?

“There are like, literally a million words that like so many people overuse and misuse, you know. I mean, like,literally  die every time I hear them!”

Have you ever heard anyone that sounds like this? Are you someone who sounds like this? The suggestion this week will be helpful for English learners, to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of abusing some common words in English, and also incredibly helpful for English speakers to break their, like, bad habit.

1. First, let’s consider the word, literally

What does it mean?  According to Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary: 1. in a literal way, using the ordinary and usual meaning of a word. 2. used to stress a statement/description that is true even though surprising. 3. in a completely accurate way.

Looking at it from this point, the most common misuse of the word would be confusing it with figuratively. Figuratively can be seen as the opposite of literally. Figurative language is creative, instead of using a word in its original way, we use it non-literally, in a way that’s untrue, usually in order to describe something else. There are different types of figurative language, but that will be in another post…

Consider the following video of Rachel Zoe, celebrity fashion stylist, and her complete misuse (and overuse) of the word literally. Hopefully you can see the issue with it. In the very first statement she says, “I literally want to cut myself in half.” If this were literal, then she REALLY wants to end her life, and is it even possible to cut yourself in half? A few seconds later she states, “I literally die for Paul McCartney.” Well, again this would be that if she met him, she would die. I don’t think anyone can actually die FOR someone, and just by meeting them? See for yourself the amount she can butcher the word in a 1:27 video clip: How many times did you count her use the word?

Courtesy Youtube channel: EngLangAUS

Not only can you misuse literally, you can overuse it, too. The Learner’s Dictionary also explains that this word can be used informally, to exaggerate information that couldn’t possibly be true. However, for some strange reason, this word has become popular, especially amongst those seen on T.V. (seen above).  If celebrities say it, it must be cool right? NOI think most individuals, especially those with their own intellectual thought processes can agree that it’s not okay, and actually quite annoying to hear. In fact, it was a friend who inspired to write the article based on his annoyance, and when I started to listen for it…. it literally blew my mind! Or wait, literally? No.. I meant to say, figuratively. 🙂

To show overuse, check out clips from T.V. show “Parks and Recreation.”

Courtesy Youtube channel: BuenozAres


2. Next, let’s look at vocalized pauses.

Vocalized pauses are the words used while speaking that are known as ‘fillers.’ These are the words like, “um” “er”  “uh” or popular for some, and our focus today:

1. “like”     2.  “I mean”      3.  “you know”

These words fill our sentences while speaking for numerous reasons. Sometimes they are natural, and part of our natural speech (to avoid sounding robotic), other times they happen because we get lost in thought, forget what we want to say, don’t know what to say, are nervous, etc… However, it can be mutually agreed that, when used too much, a person can sound unintelligent, or someone who lacks confidence.  The three words listed above are commonly used in film to represent the ditzy (dumb) girl, too-cool-for-school laid back stoners, or others similar. These representations aren’t always true, and yes it can be said that intelligent people use these words; however, stereotypes don’t exist entirely based on false information. Point of this message, avoid saying these words unless,

1. like:

  • you’re making it known what you enjoy, want, or prefer. (I like the color yellow.)
  • you’re using a preposition to compare similar things, describe something, or introduce examples. (This shirt looks a lot like this other one I am wearing.    OR    In college, I studied a lot of subjects like psychology, spanish, and sociology. )

2. I mean:

  • you’re giving a literal meaning of something, or clarifying information. (When I said, “it literally blew my mind,” I meant that it surprised me.)

3. you know:

  • when you’re forming a question, and what to know if the person listening is aware of some knowledge (Do you know this band?) 
  • I am going to say strongly avoid using it at the end of a sentence, there are so many other things you can say. (….do you understand? ….do you agree? … what do you think? …etc) 🙂 

When you find yourself wanting to use such words, pause, take a breath, and then continue your normal speech. Don’t fall into the routine of using  too much slang, or informal speech because you don’t always want to represent yourself in this manner. Be aware of your surroundings, and be aware of how you want to show yourself.

What other words do you hear that are overused, misused, or just get under your skin (bother/annoy you)? Tell me about them in the comments! If you like the article, please share! 

Happy Learning! ♥


Here’s another topic I found interested and related to this topic. The Wire writes, “What your crutch words say about you…” Find it here.

“Talk the Talk & Walk the Walk” with these Conversation English Idioms (+ exercise)

   So, do you think you can talk the talk and walk the walk? Well, after learning these useful idioms related to conversation, language, and speaking, you definitely will be able to! Communication is so important, we rely on it … Continue reading