English is Stupid, Students are Not

By Judy Thompson

Link to the textbook:

Communication & Culture
Here is a short video on communication and culture ...

I have always thought you could learn to get around in any language if you could concentrate on about thirty well-chosen verbs, a couple of dozen nouns, a few pleasantries and some basic sense of word order. - Alan Alda (famous American actor > "MASH")

Let's make small talk !

Ask me a question ? Give me a compliment.

Write about your English language learning experiences here.

Tell us about a sweet & smart small talk experience that you had ...

Tell us about positive or negative English language learning experiences that you made happen ...


Do it.... daily.
Keep a little notebook with prepared questions & compliments to "start a chat with a stranger" and "stretch the conversation".
? ? ? Where / What / When / Why / Who / How ? ? ?
Share your Positive English Language Learning Experiences with us ! ... I'll give you a cupcake ;-)
- Kinetic 10/15


OK. Back to topics. Here are a few categories of topics to start off:
  • description
  • compare/contrast
  • recounting - telling a story/event
  • introduction (person, product, company, country)
  • plays/skits
  • procedures and processes (how to…)
  • informative (telling about something as a concept)
  • change

This is just a list of generic types of presentations students can do.
After that, focus in on a particular theme, question, task, whatever that students would like to cover.

While it isn't about presentations directly, Discussions that Work: Task-centred Fluency Practiceexternal image ir?t=canadianiss05-20&l=ur2&o=1by Penny Ur is a great source of ideas for discussions and presentation topics.

- Kinetic 10/15


Giving a compliment is a possible start to making a new friend or opening up a "small talk" conversation.

You can google "compliments" to find some examples.
Type your favourites here below.

Here is a YouTube with 10 top compliments. You would have to see if they were appropriate or comfortable for you to use.
Notice the body language.

Kinetic 10/15

Conversation Resources for warming up

Pronunciation Resources

Fun Pronunciation videos– laugh and talk about the importance of pronunciation and of learning in a country where English is the native language:

Vocabulary resources

Level 2 - Vocab and Grammar – Describing People -

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the Conversation with Questions

On Sunday, my sister-in-law and I went for a walk, and then we went shopping. When we entered into a clothing store, a salesman said, "Good afternoon." We responded, "Good afernoon, how are you ?" She said to us, "good, thank you." Then she told us that if we buy one thing the other is 50% off. I said, "thank you." Then she asked, "Are you sisters?" I said that we were not sisters, and that she was my sister-in-law. Many people ask us that because we look similar. One woman came over and said, "Hi! How are you?" We answered, "Hi!" My sister-in-law told her that we were well, and asked her "How are you?" She replied that she was fine. She was her co-worker. I said, "nice to meet you." She said to me, "nice to meet you, too." She asked me, "How long have you been in Canada?" I told her that I have been here thirteen months. She said that she lived in Canada for five years. Then she asked me, "Do you work?" I told her that I go to school and learn English. She said that it is very important to learn English well. Then she said that her husband should come for a month in Canada. Then she asked me, "How do you spend your free time ?" I told her that I love to walk and to read books. Then she said that she came to buy a sweater. Then the woman said, "Good-bye." We told her, "Good-bye, have a nice day." She said, "Thank you, you too." Then she said, "See you tomorrow."
- Smart, 23 Nov 2011

Hey Smart,
Your conversations are coming along ! Did you notice how many questions the lady that you met asked ? I have underlined those questions so that you can try asking those kinds of questions the next time to make your 'small talk' conversation s-t-r-e-t-c-h longer.
Keep up the great work !
- Keen 23 Nov 2011


Ever speak to a total stranger ? ....
CBC Radio Podcast (check out the CBC Radio podcast archives)
"Your DNTO" - host SookYin Lee
Heard Tuesday, November 23, 2010 2:54 PM
- Keen, November 2010

Note: These guidelines should be rigorously followed, even if you are taking a language course.
Learn a Foreign Language
1) Spend the time!
By far the most important factor is how much time you are immersed in the language. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This does not mean sitting in class looking out the window, nor listening to other students who do not speak well, nor getting explanations in your own language about how the language works. This means spending time enjoyably connected to the language you are learning.
2) Listen and read every day!Listen wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language. One hour of listening or reading is more effective than many hours of class time.
3) Focus on words and phrases!Build up your vocabulary, you’ll need lots. Start to notice words and how they come together as phrases. Learn these words and phrases through your listening and reading. Read online, using online dictionaries, and make your own vocabulary lists for review. Soon you will run into your new words and phrases elsewhere. Gradually you will be able to use them. Do not worry about how accurately you speak until you have accumulated a plenty of words through listening and reading.
4) Take responsibility for your own learning!If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest, that you want to listen to and read. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.
5) Relax and enjoy yourself!Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.
Steve Kaufmann is a former Canadian diplomat, who has had his own company in the international trade of forest products for over 20 years. Steve founded The Linguist Institute Ltd. in 2002 to develop a new approach to language learning using the web. The new LingQsystem for learning multiple languages is now available in Beta. Steve speaks nine languages fluently and is currently learning Russian using LingQ. Steve maintains a blog on language learning.


Yesterday, I went to Gage park with my husband and my baby. We were sitting together and we were enjoying the outing. We saw a water fountain and some flowers. The beauty of the park was very enjoyable. I saw a young lady with two children, a boy and a girl. She came to me and started a conversation with me. She sat with us for half an hour. After that she became a new friend with me. She was a very nice lady. She asked me some questions. How did I come here. How long had I lived in Canada. How many babies did I have. I answered that I came here through my husband 11 months ago and I had one baby girl. After that, I asked her where she lived and she told me that she lived on Meadowlark Drive. It was a surprise to me because i also live on Meadowlark Drive. I asked her to please come visit us at my home and she agreed. She was a very nice lady. I liked her. I improved my English speaking with her. She was a good English speaker. At 5:30 pm we went home. I told my husband that my new friend was very nice. He agreed. After we arrived at home, I had a rest and read a book about immigrants. A How To book about how to move and adjust, and how to find a job.

- Minty, Aug 2011

Hi Minty,
What a wonderful experience ! Didn't you have lots in common because you are both young mothers ?
Keep up the great work, and don't forget to visit your friend again.

- Keen, Sept 2, 2011

Teacher Linda’s Guest Speaker for LINC 1/2 - Monday, December 6, 2010
Mrs. Angela Tedjo “My experiences as a Newcomer – 32 years ago”
Born in Jacarta, Indonesia, Ms. Tedjo came to Canada January 1978.
I didn’t speak English at all (only 4 words: goodmorning, good afternoon, thank you, welcome … )
It was really really cold when I came here.After one month I went to ESL school, full time 9 AM – 3 PMAt 11:00 am the teacher said, “Go home, there is a snow storm!”In Indonesia, there is a lot of rain, but we never go home if there is a lot of rain.I didn’t understand why we had to go home – I didn’t understand the word “storm”.It took me 6 hours to get home by the bus and subway when it normally takes me less than an hour. I couldn’t see anything ! So I wrote my address down on the paper and showed the bus driver. I said “here” and pointed to my address. I sat behind the bus driver. He told me where to get off.
I couldn’t cross the street because it was windy and snowy. I remembered that there was a gas station on the corner… but again, “no English”. I said to the worker “Me, Freddy sister.” So the gentleman asked me if I needed him to take me home, and he drove me home. This was my first day of school and my first day of snow!
After a few months of school, I could speak a few words. I looked for a job. I found a job in a Chinese restaurant (but I didn’t speak Chinese, only Indonesian). This restaurant was take-out only. The boss saw that I was a young lady, a teenager, and thought that I was brave enough to apply for the job. The boss gave me the job of answering the phone and taking the orders ! But when the customers talked to me, I didn’t have a clue ! I asked the customers to give me the menu number. So it made it easy for me to write down a number 3 order item. The boss saw that I was bad, I didn’t understand English. So the boss said “just help in the kitchen”. At night, they gave me something to eat, and then said, “don’t come back tomorrow”.
I got fired after one day. I was kind of sad, but now I gained something … “Canadian Experience.”
I didn’t make any money, but I ate for free.
After a few more months, I applied for another job in a hamburger place.
In Indonesia you don’t have to be rich to have a maid. So I never had to cook, I never even washed my plate before. Anyways, I learned. The second job, they kept me for 3 days only, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday … they were short staffed on the long weekend. I was sad, but I was happy because 3 days was betterthan 1 and I learned something new.
I still went to school everyday. Not only learning English, but meeting people from all over the world. I learned how to ski, bowling, curling, going to the library. I was so happy going to the library, borrowing magazines and books, and didn’t have to pay any money !
I thought this was a great country ! I was so happy.Canada is a good country, and you made the right decision to come here. At the beginning it is a very hard, but you will know and understand what I mean after a few years.
After a few more months, I spoke much better, I got another job, at Swiss Chalet. Thirty years ago, the menu was so simple, ½ chicken, ¼ chicken, and sandwich … and the bar menu... which wasn't simple.
They hired me and everyday I practiced my English. A lot of times I didn’t understand, I just smiled and nodded. Sometimes I picked up a few words and I guessed alot!
It’s good to practice, and ask that person to explain; at the time I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell them that I didn’t understand. This is a big mistake.Ask, so they can explain it again... so you can understand more.
The Bar Tender at Swiss Chalet was a very nice woman. She said that if I had a problem, to ask her. "If you don’t understand, show it to me on the menu."
After a year of ESL, I applied to George Brown College. I passed the English test, and I passed the Math even better. Do not feel bad if you don’t speak good English, it is not your language! Sometimes, somebody laughed at me and made me feel bad, so I got mad … and said “don’t make fun of me” … tell me one word that you know of my language.!” You have to feel special about yourself.
After George Brown, I got a better job in an office which was easier with better pay. At Swiss Chalet the pay was $2.75 per hour.
In 1980 I got married. My husband came from my country also. Once I got married, life didn’t get better, because he had to go to school and I had to support him. I went out to get two jobs 8 AM – 4 PM and 5 PM – 11:30 PM every single day for 2 years... If you have love in your heart, nothing is hard. You do this so that you will have a better life in the future.
In Indonesia, learning English is very passive (copying and memorizing, no speaking), unlike here where the teacher makes you think and participate.I am not better than you. Everybody here is special.
Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask any questions. If you are, people won’t know that you don’t understand.Don’t be lazy. Take any job to get experience. Some of you have been rich or had a good job at home.Once you come here, you need to start from the beginning.You won’t be like this forever. It’s only for temporary – and there is nothing wrong.I always spoke Indonesian at home with my 3 children and my one grandchild..You have to be proud of where you come from and pass it down to your children.
Ms. Tedjo is a successful Real Estate agent in Peel, 416-878-3477
Ms Tedjo has given some very useful advices to new comers.We should not feel shy talking people wherever possible.