Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
How Good Is Your English? Page Reading Comprehension

Assess how well you understand what you read in English. You may attempt this activity again after you have completed this course to see if your comprehension has improved.

Page Vocabulary

How strong is your English vocabulary? Complete this activity to measure your vocabulary size.

1.1: Singular and Plural Nouns Review Page Making Nouns Plural

In English, a noun is used to show a person, a place, or a thing. If we have one noun, we call it singular. For example, dog, tree, and city are all singular nouns. If we want to show that we have more than one noun, we need to make the noun plural. For most nouns, this means adding the letter "s" to the end of the word (dog, trees). If a noun only needs "s", we call it a regular noun. For other nouns, called irregular nouns, we need to change the word's ending to make it plural (city → cities). Read the following resource to review regular and irregular singular and plural nouns.

1.2: Subject-Verb Agreement Page Sentence Agreement

Now that we're familiar with singular and plural nouns and verbs, we need to be sure we use nouns and verbs together correctly. When writing a sentence, we want to take care to use the same plural or singular tense to not confuse our readers. This is called "subject-verb agreement". Take the following two sentences, for example; the first one uses correct subject-verb agreement, while the second sentence makes an error in number agreement. Can you see the difference?

  1. The pants are too small for my brother.
  2. The pants is too small for my brother.

The noun "pants" is plural, so the verb needs to be plural, too. "Are" is plural, but "is" is singular, so "pants are" is the correct use of the noun and verb together.

1.3: Using Verb Tenses to Show Time Page English in Use – Verbs

In addition to using verbs for singular and plural nouns, verbs also tell the reader when something happens. In English, a verb uses different tenses to tell the reader if it is an action happening in the past, present, or future. Read this page to review verb tenses.

1.4: Verb Tense Agreement Page Verb Tense Shift

Just like with numbers, verbs need to agree in tense. If a sentence is talking about the past, all the verbs need to remain in the past tense. Similarly, if the sentence is talking about the present, all the verbs needs to stay in the present tense. When you have two sentences giving information about the same event, keep the verbs from both sentences in the same tense to avoid confusing the reader.

Page Unnecessary Tense Shift

Read this page for some examples of making sure your writing stays in the appropriate tense.

2.1: Synonyms Page Vocabulary Choice

In English, different words may mean the same or very similar things. These words allow us to use better descriptions when we talk or write. Recognizing synonyms helps you build your vocabulary to better understand what you read and be expressive when you write. Read this page on synonyms.

URL 2.1 Discussion: Synonyms

After you have read the page on synonyms, make a list of five words related to education, then pair each word with a synonym. For example, "grade" and "score" or "test" and "exam". When you finish, post your list in the discussion forum. Read what your classmates posted and see what new words you can learn from their synonym lists.

2.2: Antonyms Page Antonyms

English speakers and writers use antonyms to show opposites. Knowing when a word is being used as an antonym can help you understand the meaning of another word or sentence.

URL 2.2 Discussion: Antonyms

After you read the page on antonyms, take the list of five words related to education that you created in the previous section and pair each word with an antonym. For example, an antonym for "educated" is "uneducated" and an antonym for "well-read" is "uninformed". Remember to read what your classmates posted and see what new vocabulary you can learn from their antonym lists.

2.3: Using Context Clues to Find Synonyms and Antonyms Page Context Clues

When you read, you use clues to help you figure out what is happening. Synonyms and antonyms are useful as context clues. Recognizing synonyms tells you when something is similar, and recognizing antonyms tells you when something is in contrast. When you don't know a word, use any synonyms or antonyms around it to help you learn its meaning. Read this page on context clues to see how you can use synonyms and antonyms to understand what you read.

3.1: Reading "Between the Lines" Page Making Inferences

The English idiom "read between the lines" is often used when talking about making inferences. When we make an inference, we take the information we already know and apply it to what we read, see, or hear. Combining what you already know with what you want to know helps you better understand what you read. Read this page for strategies on "reading between the lines" to make inferences.

Page Types of Inference

Watch this video on inferencing to learn how to identify what a text is implying rather than directly stating.

3.2: Combining Ideas Page Putting Ideas Together

When you make inferences, you think about what the writer says about a topic, what you already know about it, and what ideas we can add. This strategy is called "It Says, I Say, And So".

It Says – What an article says

I say – What you think or already know about the reading's topic.

And So – Your ideas from combining the reading and your own knowledge

Thinking about what you already know and adding it to what you read helps you to better comprehend, or understand, the points the writer makes. Taking notes as you read is a strategy to help do this. Review this page for information on how to combine your ideas with a reading and take notes to keep everything organized.

URL 3.2 Discussion: Putting Ideas Together

Share your "It Says, I Say, And So" responses on the discussion forum. What answers did your classmates have? How were their responses different or similar to yours? If you'd like, respond to your classmates' posts.

4.1: Using Context Clues and Inferences to Draw Conclusions Page Use Context Clues to Define Words

Context clues tell you what a word means. Inferences tell you what is happening in what you're reading. When you put them together, you can better comprehend the things you read. This video explains what context clues are and how to use them to decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words you come across while reading.

Page Putting Clues Together

As you've seen, using context clues can show you what a word means without looking it up in a dictionary. When you think about the meaning of a sentence, you can figure out new words. Similarly, when you make an inference about something in an article, you can deduce, or figure out, what the writer is telling you.

To take this one step further, when you can better understand an article, you can explain your own conclusions, or judgments, about the ideas in the article.

4.2: Organizing Your Ideas Page Annotating

When you're able to draw your own conclusions about an article, you can use your writing to explain those conclusions to others. When writing about your inferences, first organize your ideas to present them clearly. Watch this video to learn how you can radically improve your understanding of what you read if you write while you read.

4.3: Write About Your Conclusions Page Explain Your Ideas

You now have strategies to comprehend what you read, apply your prior knowledge, combine your ideas with those of an author, and organize everything to draw conclusions about a reading. Now you can bring all of those skills together to explain your ideas in writing. This page walks you through a writing assignment.

URL 4.3 Discussion: Write About Your Conclusions

In the previous exercise, you were prompted to provide your conclusion on the short text about Jack. Post your conclusion in the discussion forum, and be sure to review and respond to another student's post.

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