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

Never Travel.


Never Travel.

Said no one…ever.

How the travel bug is not a world-wide infectious disease baffles me. (baffle=completely confuse) However, I must keep my open-mind and accept that not everyone has the same interests and passions. I will say though, that I am where I am today, only because of the adventures I’ve taken in the past. I cannot even begin to imagine where my life would be had I not been intrigued by the idea of studying abroad when the study abroad fair was on my college campus. Luckily, the Australian application was due that same day, otherwise…maybe I wouldn’t have gone later on, in 2009, and met the hubs.

Anyways, how perfect was the idea to study abroad? Experience a new place, new culture, new food, new people, new…EVERYTHING. What better way to learn? I’ll let you in on a secret, experience is much more interesting than a book ūüėČ The only thing I had to do was convince my family of this amazing idea. Big THANK YOU for their support from the beginning.

San Sebastian, Basque Country (Northern Spain *sorry to anyone I upset calling it either place*) was my first real abroad experience. Well, except for the week exploration adventure in Madrid where I made dear friends and unforgettable memories. Toledo, cathedrals, museums, El Prado, Valley of the Fallen, El Escorial, Royal Palace…and those are just the places off the top of my head. In San Sebastian, I lived with Mertxe, the sweetest 77 year old woman. Immediately submerging me into the culture, as she did not speak 1 word in English. We watched movies, TV, and could eventually have long conversations over lunch and dinner. It was definitely one of the better choices to live with a host family.

Looking back, something I would have changed…and a BIG recommendation for students, or anyone else going to study abroad.

Surround yourself in the language and culture as much as you can.

Being my first time out, I will admit I spent most of the time with Americans. That said, mi espanol es muy malo. My spanish is very bad. However, no regrets!

It was there that the travel bug bit me. I loved hearing different stories and meeting new people. I loved doing things that would be impossible from my own city. I took advantage of my time in Europe, and the incredibly cheap flights and eurail passes between the countries and spent weekends visiting new places, and explored 6 weeks after my course with a backpack. Upon returning home, I finished school and was faced with a very important question: Do I continue studying, start working, or do more exploring? The answer seemed so clear. So, how does a recent graduate with no money explore the world? Easy…find a place that will allow you to work! Australia. Working-Holiday Visa.

The rest, is history. Met my man, fell in love…and since then have explored New Zealand, Thailand, and lived in Brazil. In fact, I am in Brazil right now. Spending time with my friends and family, enjoying some World Cup excitement, and really, in my mind, living the dream.

I’ve learned so much along the way, and look forward to continuing to expand my mind….broaden my perspective, and hopefully, with this post, inspire others to do the same.

So, please share some experiences with me!

Have you had any eye-opening travel experiences? Have you defeated narrow-mindedness and broadened your perspective? Where is next on your list of travel destinations? What is your favorite part of travel? What is your favorite memory? What advice can you give to someone who’s scared to take the travel leap?


Improve your English skills with Music

Love music as much as I do?

If the answer is yes, then I really hope you are using music to improve your language skills. If you’re not, or you’re not quite sure how, then this suggestion and these tips will help you make the most out of something you love.

A great way to find music in English, if you don’t already have some favorites, is to check out the Billboard Charts. Here you can find many lists, including the Hot 100 or lists by genre of music, so you will be sure to find something that you like. For a greater chance of¬†appealing to the majority of you, I choose the Hot 100’s number 1 song right now: “All of Me” by John Legend. This is just to use as an example, and to show you some of the exercises you can do, but please feel free to use anything that strikes your fancy (interests you).

Exercises with music to improve listening:

1. Music Cloze (listening, writing/spelling, reading)

A music cloze is an activity that has blank spaces within the lyrics of a song. The goal of the activity is to listen to the song, and fill in the blanks with the words you hear. This is helpful for overall listening skills, as well as helping with your spelling and phonetic awareness through dictation (hearing & recognizing sounds).¬†This activity also helps reading, because you’ll be following along with the words written down as you listen. You can try it here with the music cloze I created for John Legend’s “All of me”. Feel free to print and try it yourself!¬†*NOTE: if you’d like a¬†cloze created for your favorite song, please comment below and give me the artist and song title, and I will upload a copy to the post!*

all of me_johnlegend_cloze

2. Sing along with the lyrics (pronunciation, intonation, reading, listening)

The lyrics for just about every song are available on numerous sites across the Internet. All you need to do is do a Google search:¬†“song name” + lyrics You will definitely find something! There are also videos available on YouTube with the lyrics in the video. Not sure of every song’s availability though, due to YT’s copyright rules. Following along with the lyrics, and reading aloud can help you identify correct pronunciation, and help with some English intonation (I know a song is different than speaking, but still helpful). In addition to this speaking practice, you’ll also practice reading and listening skills as you follow along.

3. Write about the meaning (writing, creative thinking, reading)

Practice your creative and critical thinking skills, while improving your writing, by expressing your thoughts on what the song means. The beautiful thing about music, is this art can be interpreted in so many different ways, it just depends on how you look at it! Is it about someone, or something, an experience, something positive, negative, beautiful or ugly? What do you think about John Legend’s song?

4. Learn and expand vocabulary (vocabulary, writing/spelling, reading)

Can you find last weekend’s ”¬†Word 2 of the Weekend’s¬†” vocabulary word in the lyrics for “All of Me” ? ūüôā You can find many different collocations, expressions, or new vocabulary words when reading the lyrics to your favorite song. A great way to learn new vocabulary¬†is to write down the words you can’t recognize, and look them up in a dictionary. You know my favorite is Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary! Want to expand on those words? Visit an online thesaurus, and type in your new vocabulary to learn even more ways to express the same idea. Don’t forget about identifying the different related words in the same word family: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and verbs. Knowing these related parts of speech will help you understand how to use the words correctly, as well as other ways to express them in sentences. Finally, a different way to use lyrics to expand vocabulary is to create word webs, or connections/associations. Identify your target vocabulary, and make associations with that word. What comes into your mind when thinking about it, what ideas can you connect.

Let’s look at the word: dizzy.

1st: define:¬†feeling you’re moving in circles and going to fall, even though you are still; or, mentally/emotionally upset.

2nd: thesaurus: according to, the most related words: dazed, distracted, groggy, wobbly, shaky.

3rd: word family: dizzy (adjective) dizziness (noun) dizzily (adverb)

4th: word web/connections: when I think of dizzy, I think of sick, nauseous, fainting, roller coaster, spinning, circle, illness, etc….

Bonus exercise:

This is a great website, with MANY songs to choose from I might add, to practice listening, reading, and typing (spelling) skills. You can find this week’s song, “All of Me” here.

How it works:

It’s the same concept of a music close, but already online and with a video! You choose your skill level, beginner to expert, and then listen and follow along with the song, typing in the blanks with the word you hear.¬†The beginner level has you fill in about 10% of the song, intermediate is 25%, advanced 50%, with expert requiring 100% of the song lyrics (good luck!)


Your challenge:

Practice your language skills using the exercises above, and use the comment section to let me know about it:

  1. Complete the music cloze. It may be easier to find it online rather than printing mine.  *Comment: how did you do?
  2. How was your pronunciation?
  3. What do you think the song means?
  4. Identify new words or phrases, or practice expanding your vocabulary with these words and expressions:
  • draw me in
  • kick me out
  • out of my mind
  • distraction
  • risk

5.  What was the word of the weekend in these lyrics?


Happy Studying, and enjoy the Music ♥

related posts:  
     * Music Idioms 
     * Learning for your Style
     * Improving Speaking Fluency 


News in Levels: Animal Week

Practice your reading and writing comprehension with

There are a few articles related to animals this week, so I want you to choose one of the following, and in the comment section:

  1. summarize the article in your own words.
  2. try to use the new vocabulary and create your own sentences.
  3. share your opinion. What do you think?
*I have linked the articles to the website’s level 3. However, remember you can test your level if you’ve never used the website before, or try the level below the one your reading if it’s difficult.*


Giraffe has new friends   ((this one features our very own, San Diego Zoo!))

Leopard on a house

Doctors help a gorilla


Happy Studying! ‚ô•


Cartoon Friday ~ English Rules!

Happy Friday English lovers! Cartoon Friday is here, and to keep things interesting, I’ve included some fun information about English. What do you think?

Cartoon Friday ~ Get in My Belly!

This gallery contains 6 photos.

T.G.I.F !! Another Friday is here, and another long-awaited Cartoon Friday follows! I’ve decided to link up my¬†Idioms of the Week¬†¬†post again and make these cartoons all about FOOD. In the comments section, I would love to hear about your … Continue reading

News in Levels: Finding your appropriate reading level

Reading comprehension practice anyone? Luckily, I’ve come across this great news website created specifically for English learners. Click here¬† to go to the website, and take a quick (1 minute) test to find the reading level appropriate for the site. When you get your level, choose the stories that match you by clicking on the correct level tab on the top of the site. Choose an article that is interesting to you, and once completed, summarize what you read in the comment section.¬† Please also tell me what level you tested.


Happy reading! ‚̧