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Adverbs of Degree in English + 4 ‘Really Awesome’ Libraries in California

April 1, 2017

Adverbs of Degree in English

Adverbs of Degree in English

What are adverbs of degree in English? Adverbs of degree show the level of intensity of a verb in the sentence. Using them makes your writing and speaking much more effective (or can even change the meaning of a sentence)!

Here is an example of a sentence with and without an adverb of degree:

  • He won the race.
  • He almost won the race.

The meaning completely changes when we add this adverb.

The meaning doesn’t always change when we add adverbs of degree. Sometimes, these adverbs of degree just give us more clarification.

  • I love you.
  • I deeply love you.
  • I agree.
  • I highly agree.
  • You said what I was thinking.
  • You perfectly said what I was thinking.

In these cases, the verb is strengthened by the use of the adverb of degree.

Here is a list of some of the more common adverbs of degree.

almost absolutely  barely completely decidedly deeply enough enormously
entirely extremely fairly  far  fully greatly hardly highly
how incredibly indeed intensely just least less little
lots most much nearly perfectly positively practically purely
quite rather really scarcely simply   so somewhat  strongly
thoroughly  too totally utterly very virtually well

4 ‘Really Awesome’ Libraries in California

It’s almost impossible to choose just four really awesome libraries in California. However, we are absolutely sure that these are some of the best in the state! Notice how we use these adverbs of degree in English for the descriptions of each library: the words on the adverbs list are in bold. When are these words being used as adverbs of degree?

The San Diego Public Library, Downtown SD

While some people believe that people barely read books these days, we highly disagree: San Diegans read enough that the city just finished an entirely new library! The completely new structure is one of the coolest architectural designs in SD: check out our article about this amazing place.

San Francisco Public Library, Potrero Branch

What a view! This structure was recently renovated in 2010 and offers beautiful city views, lots of natural lighting, free wireless internet, and many places for group meetings and individual study.

Los Angeles Public Library

The Los Angeles Public Library holds more than 6 million books: that’s well more books than any other public library in the U.S.! The building is an utterly beautiful piece of architecture (check out the simply gorgeous globe lamp!) that is worth a visit.

Hearst Castle Library, San Simeon

The Hearst Castle is extremely famous for being one of the most beautiful castles in the United States, so perhaps it is fairly unsurprising that the castle has an incredibly stunning library. The details of the warm and lavish structure are impressive!

Have you been to a library in California? Tell us about it on Facebook!

 

American Traditions Featured Grammar Holidays Listening Practice Reading Writing

Grammar Lesson of the Month: Irregular Verbs in Christmas poetry

December 1, 2016

One of the most difficult aspects of learning English is the language’s irregular verbs. These verbs make it tough for students to correctly use grammatical structures that require a past tense or past participle verb, such as the Simple Past, the Present Perfect, or the Passive. Students spend hours practicing long irregular English verb lists, but still have difficulties when speaking English.

The best way to practice? Learn these verbs while in use! This month we are looking at irregular English verbs in use through a famous Christmas poem: “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore. (Fun fact: this poem is more commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which is the first line of the poem.)

For many American families, it is tradition to read this poem around the holidays. Enjoy this piece of American holiday culture (and the chance to practice these irregular verbs)!

 Christmas-ESL-SanDiego-San-Francisco

Irregular Verb Practice: Gap-Fill Exercise

First, read the poem below and see if you can complete the missing words with the correct form of the verb in parenthesis. If you need to, listen to the poem being read as well: the video is below.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were _____ (hang) by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there _____ (arise)  such a clatter,
I _____ (spring) from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I _____ (fly) like a flash,
_____ (tear) open the shutters and _____ (throw) up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
_____ (give) a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I _____ (know) in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they _____ (come),
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they _____ (fly) 
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I _____ (hear) on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I _____ (draw) in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas _____ (come) with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had _____ (fling) on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he _____ (hold)  tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That _____ (shake) when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon _____ (give)  me to know I had nothing to dread;
He _____ (speak) not a word, but _____ (go) straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And _____ (lay) his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he _____ (rise) ;
He _____ (spring) to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all _____ (fly) like the down of a thistle.
But I _____ (hear) him exclaim, ere he _____ (drive) out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

 

Answers: Irregular Verbs

Did you get the correct answers?
A Visit from St. Nicholas
By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Academic English Featured Reading

Novels for ESL Students + “Page” Idioms

November 14, 2016

What is one of the best ways to study English on your own? Read! CISL students often ask what novels they can read to improve their language skills. CISL teachers put together a list of some of their favorite books to read and teach. Try some of these and see how quickly your reading and vocabulary skills improve.

Novels for ESL students

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coehlo

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A young shepherd from Andalusia goes on a journey to Egypt after having a dream of finding treasure. Originally published in Portuguese, the novel has been translated into over 60 languages! Many students have read the novel in their language and therefore have a great time reading it again . . . this time, in English.

Some resources for reading The Alchemist:

– This The Alchemist vocabulary lesson from 5 Minute English.

– An overview of The Alchemist (including critical reading and analysis) from Spark Notes.

– This audiobook of The Alchemist on YouTube.

 

 

Charlotte’s Web

By E. B. White

charlottes-web

This beloved book is a favorite for most American children, but it’s a great novel for English learners, too! Talking pigs, spiders who write . . . it’s a lesson in humanity, taught by animals.

Some resources for reading Charlotte’s Web:

– This vocabulary list of words from the novel from Vocabulary.com.

– The original movie adaptation from 1973.

– The remake of the original movie from 2006.

 

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

By Mark Haddon

the-curious-incident

What is is like to live with an illness that makes you see the world differently? In this novel, we see the world through the eyes of the narrator, Christopher, who has a mental disorder that makes social interactions difficult.

Some resources for reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time:

– This overview of the novel, including chapter by chapter analysis, on SparkNotes.

A New York Times review of the book.

– The theater production of the book. Go see it!

 

The House on Mango Street

By Sandra Cisneros

the-house-on-mango-street

Told through the eyes of a young Mexican-American girl, The House on Mango Street is the story of an immigrant family living in the United States. Each chapter is a separate story and can be read in order or out of order. Part poetic, part social commentary, this is a beautiful novel read in many U.S. classrooms.

Some resources for reading The House on Mango Street:

– This free copy of the book: it’s available online!

– The audiobook of the novel, read by the author Sandra Cisneros.

– This interview with Sandra Cisneros about the novel.

 

The Little House on the Prairie

By Laura Ingalls Wilder

little-house-on-the-prairie

Learn about life as a settler in the United States with the first of the books in a series about the life of Laura, a little girl who travels west with her family to make a new life on the prairie. Her descriptions of their hard life provide a fascinating look at a time when things like electricity were a luxury!

 Some resources for reading Little House on the Prairie:

– This vocabulary list of words you find in the book.

– The Little House on the Prairie YouTube channel, which shows clips from some of the episodes from the TV show of the same name.

– This article about reading Little House on the Prairie as an adult.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia

By C. S. Lewis

narnia

This seven-book series that begins with a book called The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is considered a classic of children’s literature (and loved by many adults)! The author, C. S. Lewis, borrowed themes from Greek and Roman mythology, British and Irish fairy tales, and Christianity, and then incorporated them into the books.

Some resources for reading The Chronicles of Narnia series:

      – This website with many vocabulary lists for English learners.

Vocabulary list for the first book (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) of the The Chronicles of Narnia film series.

 

The Call of the Wild

By Jack London

call-of-the-wild

A book from the point of view of a dog might seem strange, but this classic novel provides a look into the life of a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and also provides a philosophical look into nature and human existence.

Some resources for reading The Call of the Wild:

    – The book online, for free, from Sonoma

    – Fascinating information on the life of Jack London from Sonoma State University

    – SparkNotes summaries and analysis of the book

 

Animal Farm

By George Orwell

animal-farm

Another animal novel! In this classic allegorical and dystopian novel, Orwell uses animals to symbolize the struggles with political parties and government systems. Originally inspired by events in Russia, this book is now used to understand the concepts of symbolism and allegory.

Some resources for reading Animal Farm:

     – Cliffs Notes of Animal Farm 

     – This great site on Orwell and his works

     – The audiobook on YouTube

 

Idioms with “page”

Read.Reading.Book.TOEFL.IELTS.CAE.FCE

The English language is full of idioms with the word PAGE. Do you know some of them? Below are a few to learn before you begin flipping pages of your own book!

Be on the same page

Definition: to be in agreement.

Example: My boss and I are on the same page with how we want this company to grow.

Example: My best friend and I are always on the same page. That’s why we are best friends!

Turn the page

Definition: to stop thinking about or dealing with something.

Example: They are turning the page on this failed project and trying a new one.

Take a page out of someone’s book

Definition: to imitate someone.

Example: I’m taking a page out of your book and waking up early.

See you in the funny pages

Definition: an informal goodbye.

Example: Great seeing you again! See you in the funny pages!