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Editor's note: Andrea Uram retired early as an ESL professor from Gavilan College in Gilroy, CA. She co-coordinated a homepage sponsored by the California Community College Chancellor's office for all ESL professionals. The links from that page are now at http://www.jazvo.com/tellig/cvcresource.htm She continues to teach ESL and write online classes. She also trains teachers who are new to using technology in their ESL classes. Homepages are at http://host2.cvc4.org/andrea and http://www.andreauram.org She can be reached at andreauram@yahoo.com

April 2006

To our readers:
We are sorry to inform you that our column "Learning with the Internet" by Andrea Uram has been discontinued. Andrea wrote to us saying, "I have regretfully decided to not continue writing my monthly column. I wish everyone success in using technology to learn and teach ESL."
A huge THANK YOU to Andrea for her good work in bringing us this column!

Betty Malmgren and Lorraine Ruston,
Publisher and editor, Easy English Times

March 2006

Let's Go to the Movies!

How do you learn best? Is it by writing, listening, reading, or a combination of skills? Have you tried watching video clips (small sections of a larger video) to help you learn English? This month I will write about improving English using video clips.

The site I use most often with my students is from CNN News at http://www.literacynet.org/cnnsf/archives.html  Videos from real news stories are available. What was said during the video is one click away. First, click on a category. Adventure, education and health are just 3 of the 12 possibilities. Then, click on a title. Finally, choose to read an outline of the video, read a simplified version of the story, or read the original story from CNN or CBS. To watch the video, click on the word MOVIE. There are activities to improve vocabulary, comprehension, sequencing (putting events in order) and making conclusions.

Really beautiful grammar, punctuation and essay video clips are at http://www.splashesfromtheriver.com/clips.htm The clips are short and fun to watch. They were created by a retired English teacher and are a pleasure to watch!

To learn how to help children read, go to http://www.colorincolorado.org/reachingout/toolkit.php There are four video clips to choose from: 1) help children before they go to kindergarten; 2) listen to an ESL 5th grader encourage other ESL students; 3) get your children excited about getting books from the library; 4) advantages of taking your children to the library. Each clip is about three minutes long. The video clips are in Spanish or English.

Watch videos from the news at http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/. Click on "Video News." Scroll down to find the story you want to watch as you listen.

For fun, watch movie previews! English Trailers are at http://www.english-trailers.com/index.php The site is a little disorderly, however, it is worth visiting. Look on the right side of the site. Follow the directions for STEP 1 and STEP 2. Find the green screen. Follow the directions below the green screen to watch movie previews. Being the ESL teacher that I am, I cannot resist adding that under "Activities," click on "Script" to read what is being said during the previews.

Until next month,
Andrea

Editor's note: Andrea Uram is an ESL teacher who co-coordinated a homepage sponsored by the California Community College Chancellor's office for all ESL professionals. The links from that page are now at http://www.jazvo.com/tellig/cvcresource.htm She teaches ESL and writes online classes. She also trains teachers who are new to using technology in their ESL classes. Homepages are at http://host2.cvc4.org/andrea and http://www.andreauram.org. She can be reached at andreauram@yahoo.com

February 2006

New Year's Resolutions Revisited

How did you doing keeping your resolutions? Many resolutions are made about health and money. Here are some links to encourage you in those areas.

Did you decide to improve your health? There is an easy to read and easy to complete online health assessment created by the American Cancer Society. It is completely confidential. An individualized health report is created for us based on our answers. I recommend taking the Great American Health Check at www.cancer.org/healthcheck

Did you decide to stop smoking? At one site, you can get support in a program called Together Programme. All this information is at http://www.givingupsmoking.co.uk/

A lot of information is at another site. There are two articles that I thought were particularly well written: "Quit Smoking Support" and "Quit Smoking Without Willpower or Struggle." Read these encouraging articles at http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Spa/8183/tips.html

Did you decide to save money? One way is to use coupons. Read about using coupons at http://www.couponmom.com/index.php?cid=35

1. Find the rectangle after "Please Select."

2. Click on the down arrow to the right of the rectangle.

3. Click on a topic interesting to you such as "Best Web sites for Finding Bargains," "Find Big Savings in Small Cities" or "Gas Savings."

4. Click on "Find Savings."

If you click on "Free Registration" you can then click on "Print Free Coupons Here." However, I have a word of caution.

Based on my experience, you might get hundreds of e-mail messages! I suggest you open a new e-mail address and use it only to register for free things or free coupons. Yahoo has a great e-mail feature. With one click we can mark individual e-mail messages as spam (unwanted e-mail sent automatically). Each time more e-mail comes from that same source, it automatically goes directly to a spam folder on your e-mail page rather than to the list of new e-mail.

A comprehensive site with both coupons to print instantly and free things (registration required) is http://www.coolsavings.com

Are you looking for coupons for a specific store? Do an online search.

1. Go to http://www.google.com or http://www.yahoo.com

2. In the rectangular box type _____ (the name of the store) coupon code.

An amazing variety and amount of freebies (free things) are available. Again, I strongly recommend using a separate e-mail address for these offers. Find free things at http://www.freebiemaniac.com

While clicking on these sites, did you find a really great site not listed here? Send it to me at andreauram@yahoo.com  and I will print it in a future column.

Until next month, Andrea

January 2006 - New Year's

I don't know about you, but each year about this time I make a promise to myself. In some manner I work to become a better person. Last year I worked on forgiveness (http://www.hawaiiforgivenessproject.org/Stanford.htm  is the site for the Forgiveness Project at Stanford and it is excellent.

Did you make a resolution (a promise to yourself to do something) for New Year's? It's not too late! Look at possible topics for resolutions at http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Counihan-Activities/Resolutions.html  and read the most popular resolutions people make at http://www.goalsguy.com/Events/n_facts.html.

If you really want to make a change in your life, there are two things you can do to help achieve your goal. Go to http://www.goalsunlimited.com/sites/NewYear/  and read the section "The Best Predictors of New Year's Resolution Success."

To learn more about New Year's begin with basic New Year's Eve vocabulary at http://www.teachervision.fen.com/page/8813.html?for_printing=1&detoured=1 Then work to match New Year's Day vocabulary with its definition at http://www.edhelper.com/themes/NewYearsDay26.htm

Read the history of New Year's at http://www.fridgedoor.info/winter-celebrations/new-years.php Learn about New Year's while you choose the correct verb form at http://www.manythings.org/voa/021230ta1.htm Practice phrasal verbs while reading about a typical New Year's Eve at http://a4esl.org/q/h/0101/gp-newyears.html Finally, read how New Year's is celebrated in the USA as well as other countries at http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/Jerrie/WebQuest/Kathie/NewYear.html

What's my resolution this year? I am continuing my work to be as authentic as possible.

Until next month,

Andrea

October 2005 - Are you and your children getting enough sleep?

So now that you and your children are back in school, how much sleep are you getting? Learning takes a lot of energy. Without sufficient sleep, learning suffers. How much sleep does a child in primary school need? If you guessed 9 to 12 hours, you are right!

Read "Sleep and School Children." Learn how to make it easier to get your children to go to sleep at http://hcd2.bupa.co.uk/fact_sheets/html/school_sleep.html

There is a very good booklet in comic book format called "Time for Sleep with P. J. Bear." It is filled easy to read information and great games for children (and adults too!). Learn how to get a good night's sleep and what really (italics) helps us learn better. Go to http://www.sleepforkids.org/index.html You can request a free copy. Click on "Free P J Booklet."

Would you like your children to get better grades in school? Read about sleep and school performance at http://www.theparentreport.com/resources/ages/early_school/education/128.html

Parents throughout the world sing special songs, called lullabies, to their children at bedtime. Hear samples of international lullabies at http://www.karenmerchant.com/#lyr Listen to a CD sample with a story to read children before they go to bed at http://www.hypnosishealthcare.com/seashoreebedtime.html

How is the reader's tone different from everyday speech? See if you can adopt a similar tone when you read to your children.

Great stories to read to your children about sleeping are at http://bookstore.mysleepcenter.com/subject_children_sleep.htm  Just click on the title of the book to read a summary. My daughter particularly enjoyed "The Napping House" when she was growing up.

Well, it is not time for me to go to bed. However, it is time for me to relax before I go to bed. Sleep well friends!

Andrea

August/September 2005 - Reading

Do you have children beginning school this fall? Vocabulary and letters are reviewed at http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/wil/home.html#Alphabet At this site there are many sets of alphabets. Some of the alphabet set themes are back-to-school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and winter.

Once students are familiar with letters and basic words that begin with those letters, they can practice printing and cursive at Handwriting for Kids at http://www.handwritingforkids.com

Vocabulary can be expanded by reading rhyming words. Beautiful sets of pictures with rhyming words are at http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/wil/rimes_and_rhymes.htm#This_Week

Very easy books can be read at http://www.starfall.com/n/level-a/le As each word is clicked on, each letter in the word is sounded out. If you cannot hear the letters, install Adobe Acrobat™ Reader for free at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

Groups of teachers developed the following sets of links to support parents helping their children in school.

1. To get ideas how to help children in kindergarten go to http://www.ed.gov/pubs/CompactforReading/tablek.html

2. To get ideas how to help children in first grade go to http://www.ed.gov/pubs/CompactforReading/table1.html

3. To get ideas how to help your children in second grade go to http://www.ed.gov/pubs/CompactforReading/table2.html

4. To get ideas how to help your children in third grade go to http://www.ed.gov/pubs/CompactforReading/table3.html

Books online for older children are at http://www.magickeys.com/books/index.html#yc At this site, if you click on The Farm Animals, real farm animal sounds can be heard! Also, the story can be listened to word-by-word or a page at a time.

Editor's note: Andrea Uram is an ESL teacher who co-coordinated a homepage sponsored by the California Community College Chancellor's office for all ESL professionals. The links from that page are now at http://www.jazvo.com/tellig/cvcresource.htm She also trains teachers who are new to using technology in their ESL classes. She can be reached at andreauram@yahoo.com

 

July 2005 - The United States of America

In July we celebrate the birthday of our country. Here are some of the best links I found for the citizenship class I taught*.

Let's start with the presidents. Go to "American's Story from America's Library" at http://www.americasstory.com/cgi-bin/page.cgi/aa Click "US Presidents" to read about some of our most famous presidents. Scroll down and click on "Dynamite Presidents." Help dynamite images of four presidents in the rocks at Mt. Rushmore! It's a blast! See images of all our presidents, famous places in the USA, and famous events in our history at http://www.thisnation.com/media/index.html

Now let's learn about the government. Test your knowledge of the three branches of our government at http://congressforkids.net/Constitution_threebranches.htm Show what you know about the constitution at http://congressforkids.net/Constitution_index.htm

This next site is the best one of all! Apply what you have learned at http://www.thisnation.com/quizzes/index.html

Finally, let's go to two sites my students go to again and again. Did you know the U.S. government gives away free green cards? Find out if you qualify to enter this lottery at http://www.usa-green-card.com/?c=7&s=45&kw=58

Who has contributed so much to this country? Immigrants, of course! Go to http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/introduction3.html to learn about the countries where most immigrants came from in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The interactive vocabulary games are great!

* On the homepage I wrote for the citizenship class, there are many more links with information about our government. If you would like to access this homepage, send your request to me at andreauram@yahoo.com I will e-mail you the directions how to enter the site.

  (Editor's note: Andrea Uram is an ESL teacher who also co-coordinates a statewide ESL homepage for all ESL professionals. It is sponsored by the California Community College Chancellor's office. Register at http://pdc.cvc.edu/ac/esl for resources and colleagues' e-mail who are using technology. She also trains teachers internationally in how technology is used to enhance language teaching.) 

June 2005 - Time for E-mail?

Would you like to have a free e-mail account? Learn more about the vocabulary unique to e-mail at http://email.about.com/od/getstartedwithemail/l/blglossary.htm

First, decide which provider you would like to use to get your account. There is a list of available e-mail providers with free e-mail at http://www.dailyedeals.com/connect/email.htm#Compare. Scroll down to "Free Email Account Comparison Table." Click on the names of companies to read about the services provided.

The most popular providers of free e-mail are Yahoo and Hotmail. To sign up for e-mail through Yahoo go to http://www.yahoo.com/ 

1. Find the small envelope at the top right and click on "Mail."

2. Find "Get a free Yahoo Mail account" and click on "Yahoo! Mail." To sign up for e-mail through Hotmail go to http://login.passport.net/uilogin.srf?id=2

Click on "Sign Up." Click on "Get it FREE."

How did I choose between these two top e-mail providers? I got an account with both Yahoo and Hotmail and used the accounts for awhile. Also, I asked my friends about their experience with their Yahoo and Hotmail e-mail.

Second, decide what your login will be. A login is the first part of an e-mail address. For example, one of my e-mail addresses is andreauram@yahoo.com; "andreauram" is my login. I chose "andreauram" because I want people to be able to remember my e-mail address. Also, I want people to find me. However, I recommend that you not use your real first and last names for your first e-mail account. It is important to protect your private information. Choose a login that you and your friends will remember easily.

Third, decide on your password. It is very important that you not give your password to others. Why not? If someone has your login and your password, they can send e-mail to others and pretend they are you!

(Editor's note: There was no column by Andrea in the May 2005 issue.)

April 2005      :-) : ) ;-) :-o :-(    also known as E-mail Emoticons 

Have you seen any of these? What are they? How are they used?

Turn your head to the left and look again. You see a smiley face, a simplified smiley face, a face with a wink, a face with its mouth open, and finally, an unhappy face. They are emoticons. We use emoticons to show our feelings when sending e-mail. On a personal note, I confess that I have yellow pillows in my living room with smiley faces on them!

WEBWORLD 98 has some very easy tips on using emoticons at http://www.webworld98.com/newbie1.htm There is also an extensive list of over 50 emoticons!

You can vote for your favorite smiley, see the Smiley of the Week, or even play a Smiley game. Go to the Official Smiley Dictionary to do all this and more at http://www.smileydictionary.com/

There's a printer friendly version of emoticons, as well as weird emoticons at http://www.abc.net.au/rollercoaster/click/emoticons/default.htm

Are you creative? Use any keys on the keyboard to create an original emoticon and send it to this site on the Net.

For ESL students determined to improve their English reading comprehension, read about the professor of computer science who started all this. Read about Scott E. Fahlman from Carnegie Mellon University. Read his own words at http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/%7Esef/sefSmiley.htm

:-) Andrea

Hello Teachers! Good to see so many of you at our CATESOL conference! Thanks for stopping by! Send your questions and topic suggestions for "Learning with the Internet" to andreauram@yahoo.com

 

March 2005 - Like to IM?

I read "NO IMing!" on the board when I walked into the computer lab last week. Many students enjoy IMing and it seems like such a great way to practice English, right? It's fun too! My daughter likes to IM with four different people at the same time!*

So what is IM? It stands for Instant Messaging. It is a form of instant communication. We type a message, hit the Enter key, and instantly our message appears on the screen of the person we are communication with.

What's the problem? Well, as written in Newsweek, both AOL and Microsoft's Instant Messaging program, MSN, allow viruses and worms to enter a computer using an IM program. Yahoo's IM program also permits viruses to enter a computer. Yikes! No wonder the message is in the lab! Normally it takes days for a virus to infect computers throughout the world, IM allows viruses to spread in hours.

So where can we chat safely? Go to http://www.eslcafe.com Click on "Chat Central" and then register. This is the most popular ESL site on the Net. I've chatted with people from all over the world. It's amazing to type a message, send it, and get an answer as quickly as the reader can type!

*Trust me, she doesn't IM on any of our computers at home!

VOCABULARY HELP
virus - a software program capable of reproducing itself and usually capable of causing great harm to files or other programs on the same computer

worm - A program that can replicate and send itself between computer systems. A worm can cause damage by itself or act as a delivery agent for a virus.

Teachers:
I'll be at the California statewide conference for ESL teachers in Long Beach March 3-5. Stop by the Electronic Village and say hi! I'm discussing Easy Writer during the Computer Software Fair and our statewide ESL homepage sponsored by the Community College Chancellor during the Internet Fair.

See you there!
Andrea

 

February,  2005 -  Have You Been "Phished"?

Have you received an e-mail asking for sensitive information (your birthdate, social security number, user names, passwords, your bank or credit card account number)? Have you received a very polite (but in poorly written English) e-mail from someone in Nigeria asking you to "help" them transfer millions of dollars to the US? If so, you have been "phished."

"Phishing" is when thousands of e-mails are sent asking for private information. This e-mail looks like it is from a real business or individual. The truth is that they are from dishonest people trying to get your personal information. They will use this information to open accounts with your information, charge items on your credit cards or to take money from your bank accounts. For examples of authentic "phishing" go to http://www.antiphishing.org/phishing_archive.html

What should we do if we receive an urgent e-mail that looks like it is from our bank? It may urge us to confirm our account number or else all our money will be lost! Or how about if we get the message, "You've Got (2) Pictures@AOL.com"?

I recommend the following:

1) never reply to an e-mail asking for your birthdate, social security number, user name, passwords, or bank or credit card account numbers

2) do NOT click on any link in the message

3) forward the suspicious e-mail to reportphishing@antiphishing.com and to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov

4) read about "phishing" at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/phishingalrt.htm

5) finally, learn more about how to protect yourself at the Anti-Phishing Working Group at http://www.antiphishing.org

If you are wondering, I have received many, many messages that appear to be from someone in Nigeria asking for help to get money out of their country. They just need my bank name and account number so the money can be put into my account . . .

January 2005
Organizing documents into folders
on PC computers
by Andrea Uram

Do you have trouble finding a particular document on your computer or your floppy disc? It is easier to find a document if it is with other documents about the same topic. Related documents belong together in a folder.  A new year is a good time to organize documents into folders.

First, let's look at how to save a document to your computer.
1.  Open your word processing tool.
2.  Click on "File" in the top left corner.
3.  Click on "Save As . . ."
4.  After "File name" write a short title for the document.
5.  Click on "Save."

Second, let's look at how to save a document to a floppy disc.
1.  Put a floppy disc in your computer.
2.  Go to your word processing tool.
3.  Click on "File" in the top left corner.
4.  Click on "Save As . . ."
5.  Find "Save in" at the top.  To the right of the white rectangle, click on the small down arrow.
6.  Click on "3 _ Floppy"
7.  After "File name" write a short title for the document
8.  Click on "Save."

    It is very important to frequently save a document as you work on it.  After you have saved a document for the first time, you only need to  click on the icon of a small floppy disc in the area of the left upper corner. 

How do we make a folder so we can put files about the same topic in a folder?
1.  Go to your word processing tool.
2.  Click on "File" in the top left corner.
3.  Click on "Save As . . ."
4.  Use your right mouse key and click on the white space inside the window that opened.
5.  Click on "New."
6.  Slide your mouse pointer to "Folder" and click on the folder.
7.  Type a name for your new folder.

How do we put a document in the Folder?
1.  Go to your word processing tool.
2.  Open a document.
3.  Click on "File" in the top left corner.
4.  Click on "Save As . . ."
5.  Find "Save in" at the top.  To the right of the white rectangle, click on the small down arrow.
6.  Click on the name of the folder you made.
7.  After "File name" write a short title for the document
8.  Click on "Save."

Note to teachers:  See you at our state CATESOL conference March 3, 4, 5, 6 in Long Beach!  I'll be demonstrating Nicenet at the Online Faire and Easy Writer at the Software Faire.

November/December 2004
My Gift to You
by Andrea Uram

As we say in English, it is that time of year again when some people spend an obscene amount of money. It is the time when some people send a lot of season's greeting cards. It is the time when some people give expensive gifts.

Let's look at this time differently. What can we give that has no price? What about giving our time? What about giving a list of your favorite Internet sites. It certainly takes time to put it together. After each site you could write why you chose this site. You could send it electronically and help save Mother Earth. Here's my gift to you.

For fun, go to Never be Late Again at http://www.neverbelateagain.com. You can send an anonymous lateness citation at no cost!

For education of new e-mail users, send your friends to www.getnetiquette.com/courtesy1.html. Let them find out why we don't type in all capitals.

For blogging news, go to Live Journal at www.livejournal.com and invite your friends to join you. It's free and fun!

For a new way to search, go to Vivisimo at http://vivisimo.com. It's much easier, much more organized and a lot more fun finding the information you want!

For you teachers, I find the easiest template to use to create homepages is www.nicenet.org. I'll be talking about it at our state CATESOL conference next March in Long Beach.

Need a lesson plan? There are over 2,500 at http://www.lessonplanspage.com.

Finally, find out about sponsoring a Laws of Life contest at www.lawsoflife.org/resources/index.html style. You just might change another life.

Warmly, Andrea

P.S. I don't recommend sending electronic greeting cards unless you are positive your friends really like them. They take a lot of time to download.

 

October 2004
Mexican Independence Day and the Elections
by Andrea Uram

This year I celebrated Mexico's independence day in Mexico. I was thrilled by the enthusiasm of the people! At the stroke of midnight, the mayor shouted three times, "Long Live Mexico!" The throngs of people gathered shouted the same each time. (btw, when is the independence of Mexico? I will send a flag of the United States of Mexico to the first person who responds. )

I began to think of the coming presidential elections in November. Do you plan to live in the United States of America the rest of your life? Have you considered becoming a citizen? Why become a citizen? I will send a flag of the United States of America to the first person who answers both questions.

To begin learning about our government, I think a great URL is "Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids." I like that the same information is given at four levels of ease. It is at http://bensguide.gpo.gov

The homepage of the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is at http://uscis.gov/graphics/citizenship/index.htm .

At that site you can get copies of the forms you need to become a citizen. You can even send your application online at that site. Are you ready for your interview? Make your appointment online there. Have you already sent in your application? You can find out the status of your application there too!

Would you like to practice some of the 100 US history and government questions you might be asked? Go to http://www.casas.org/ELC/vc_elc_cit_prep.cfm .

Do you think you are ready to take the test to become a citizen? You can take a practice test at the California English Literacy and Civics Education Web Site at http://uscis.gov/graphics/citizenship/index.htm .

Until next month, Andrea Uram (the ESL teacher who takes first semester ESL students to the computer lab the first week)

VOCABULARY HELP
btw - by the way - (introducing a new topic of conversation)
site - place, in this article it means a place on the Internet
stroke - the hitting or sounding of a bell, gong, or clock
thrilled - felt strong excitement
throngs - large groups of people
URL - a site on the Internet

*Most definitions from The Newbury House Dictionary of American English 4th edition, by Rideout. © 2004 Monroe Allen Publishers. Reprinted with one-time permission of Heinle & Heinle a division of Thomson Learning. FAX 800 730-2215.

(Teachers: If you are interested finding out about superb online tech training, go to http://www.lclark.edu/~krauss/usia/home.html . Michael Krauss of the Graduate School of Education of Lewis & Clark College has been training online for six years. He's extraordinary!)