As we begin a new year, we might reflect on the past year and look forward to the next one.  For many people, this means thinking of what they would like to do better, or something they want to accomplish in 2017.  I’m a fan of small, achievable goals for my New Year’s resolutions.  So, I thought of a fun, achievable goal for all you English learners out there: a ten day English challenge.  All you have to do is spend 10 minutes learning English for 10 days.  Luckily for you, I’ve compiled ten fun, 10-minute learning experiences.  Some days we’ll practice grammar, some days listening, fluency, reading and more.  You might see topics you’re already familiar with, but extra practice never hurts.  Are you ready to set 2017 off on the right foot by improving your English?  Happy New Year, and happy learning!

 


DAY ONE: LISTENING EXERCISE

This interesting video explains why many people (including myself) don’t care much about NYE.  The narrator speaks very quickly, so pay close attention, and share your thoughts on this holiday and your answers in the comments section!

 

  1. 83% indicated they felt let down.  Not because of their actual plans, but because they ended __ having less fun than they expected.
  2. To end up is a common phrasal verb that means to finally be in a particular place or situation.  What did you end up doing at 12:00am on January 1st, 2017?
  3. Reflection can cause existential crises, and __________ on negative events ___ also ____ shown to increase stress.
  4. Since we wouldn’t want to increase stress, what has been a positive event for you in 2016?
  5. Prone is an adjective that means likely to do/experience/suffer from something negative.  What are we prone to when we drink alcohol?
  6. If ___’__ ___ someone particular on this already angst-ridden evening, a midnight kiss may not be so bad.
  7. What have you got to do in 2017?

 


DAY TWO: MODALS WITH CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

What to know about modals:

  • Do not use ‘s’ in third person
    • He cans run fast.
    • She should eat healthier.
  • Use ‘not’ to make them negative
    • You should not be rude.
    •  They might not come over tonight.
  • Usually, we can’t use modal verbs in future or past tenses
    • She will can take me home from work.
    • We musted finish our project.

You Try:  take a look at these common modals, choose five to say an example sentence of your own.  Or, even better, write your sentences in the comments below!

Sentence structure: (Subject) + (modal) + (base verb) + (object/adj).

Question structure: (Modal) + (subject) + (base verb) + (object/adj)?

  1. Can
  2. Could
  3. May
  4. Might
  5. Must
  6. Ought to
  7. Shall
  8. Should
  9. Will
  10. Would

Listening Practice:  watch the video and fill in the blanks with the modal verbs.

  1. Veruca.  ___ you _____ that for us, please?
  2. As soon as little Veruca told me she had to have one of these golden tickets, I started buying up all the Wonka bars I _____ ___ my hands on.
  3. From now on, you ___ ____ shelling peanuts and _____ shelling the wrappers off these chocolate bars instead.
  4. I vowed I _____ ____ up the search until I _____ ____ her what she wanted.
  5. We knew Augustus _____ ____ the golden ticket.

 


DAY THREE: FLUENCY FUN

Singing is known to help fluency, build vocabulary, and be fun!  So today, I found this song listed as a top song of 2016.  It’s easy to sing along to, so it’s a good one to learn.  Listen and read along a few times until you think you’ve memorized it.  For even more practice, put it on a playlist for your commute to work.  There are lyrics written in the video, or you can read them below.

Closer
(feat. Halsey)

Hey, I was doing just fine before I met you
I drink too much and that’s an issue
But I’m OK
Hey, you tell your friends it was nice to meet them
But I hope I never see them
Again

I know it breaks your heart
Moved to the city in a broke-down car
And four years, no calls
Now you’re looking pretty in a hotel bar
And I, I, I, I, I can’t stop
No, I, I, I, I, I can’t stop

So, baby, pull me closer
In the back seat of your Rover
That I know you can’t afford
Bite that tattoo on your shoulder
Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of that mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder
We ain’t ever getting older

We ain’t ever getting older
We ain’t ever getting older

You look as good as the day I met you
I forget just why I left you,
I was insane
Stay and play that Blink-182 song
That we beat to death in Tucson,
OK

I know it breaks your heart
Moved to the city in a broke-down car
And four years, no call
Now I’m looking pretty in a hotel bar
And I, I, I, I, I can’t stop
No, I, I, I, I, I can’t stop

So, baby, pull me closer
In the back seat of your Rover
That I know you can’t afford
Bite that tattoo on your shoulder
Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of that mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder
We ain’t ever getting older

We ain’t ever getting older
We ain’t ever getting older

So, baby, pull me closer
In the back seat of your Rover
That I know you can’t afford
Bite that tattoo on your shoulder
Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of that mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder
We ain’t ever getting older

We ain’t ever getting older
No, we ain’t ever getting older
We ain’t ever getting older
No, we ain’t ever getting older
(repeats)


DAY FOUR: SECOND CONDITIONAL AND THE BIG BANG THEORY 

Use: what we would generally do in an imaginary situation.

If (subject) (past simple), (subject) would (verb).

If this thing happened, that thing would happen.

Would (subject) (verb) if (subject) (past tense)?

Would that thing happen if this thing happened?

Good to know:

  • We can’t use ‘when’ since we’re talking about imaginary situations that probably won’t happen
  • It is considered grammatically incorrect to use ‘was,’ in this conditional.  For example:
    • If he were rich, he’d buy a car.

You try: watch the video for examples of second conditional, then answer the following questions with your own examples.  Don’t forget to share your knowledge in the comments section!

 

  1. If you had your own video game character, what would they be like?
  2. If you were to ask someone out on a date, where would you take them?
  3. If you made a robot, what would it do for you?
  4. If you had a time machine, where would you go in time?
  5. What would happen if everyone was like you?

 


DAY FIVE: ADVERBS

adjective + ly

Uses: we use adverbs to…

  • Modify verbs: Usain Bolt ran quickly to the finish line.
  • Modify adjectives: Usain Bolt can run impressively fast.
  • Modify other adverbs: Usain Bolt ran incredibly quickly.

Irregulars:

  • good->well, fast->fast, hard->hard, late->late, straight->straight

You try: start the following video at 3:10.  Listen to the examples of adverbs.  Choose 5 out of the 7 adverbs and create sentences of your own.  Remember to post your ideas in the comments section!

 


DAY SIX:  TONGUE TWISTERS

Tongue twisters are a great way to practice pronunciation and fluency.  Take the next ten minutes to read the following tongue twisters several times.  The first time, read them nice and slow, focusing on good pronunciation.  Then, pick up speed.  You’ll want to say them as fast as possible in the end, while also using correct pronunciation.  You can even memorize them and practice throughout the day!

This one is a personal favorite and common tongue twister:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

This helps with pronunciation of /sh/, and is particularly difficult for me:

I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop.
Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits.

For those of you who have trouble with /r/ and /l/ pronunciation:

How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?

This helps with people who have trouble with the /w/ pronunciation (many people mistakenly pronounce it like /v/) as well as the /r/ and /l/ sounds:

Why do you cry, Willy?
Why do you cry?
Why, Willy?
Why, Willy?
Why, Willy? Why?

(source)


DAY SEVEN: IMPERATIVES

Form: we start an imperative with the base verb.

Uses: we use imperatives for…  

  • Direct orders: Chew with your mouth closed.
  • Instructions: Complete the exercise. 
  • Invitations: Come on over.
  • Signs: Stop

Your turn: listen for the imperatives in the following video clip, and write them in the comments section.  Can you find all 6?

 


DAY EIGHT: READING COMPREHENSION

Today we’ll focus on reading.  So, even though this video has sound, try turning it off for this exercise.  Press play to read this inspiring story, then answer the comprehension questions.  Remember to answer with complete sentences, making sure to use correct verb tenses and sentence structure!

  1. How is the dance company empowering people with disabilities?
  2. What does it mean to empower?
  3. What is the company’s mission?
  4. Why did Hamamoto start the dance company?
  5. What did the doctors think Hamamoto would never do again? (2)
  6. Why did she think her life was over?
  7. How does she adjust her choreography (dance routine)?
  8. How long ago was Hamamoto told she’d never dance again?

 


DAY NINE: PRESENT PERFECT

have/has + (past participle)

Uses:

  • Experience: Have you seen Human?  It’s a long movie, but it’s so good!
  • Change: He has lost weight since last year.
  • Accomplishments: Scientists have found vaccines for many diseases.
  • Incomplete, expected action: Have you finished your homework yet?
  • Several actions in the past at different times: I have tried that 20 times.

You try: check out this clip from a great movie, Freedom Writers, and fill in the blanks with examples of present perfect.

  1. How many of you ____ ____ Boys in the Hood?
  2. How many of you ____ ____ in juvenile hall or jail for any length of time?
  3. Stand on the line if ___’__ ____ a friend to gang violence.
  4. Stay on the line if ___’__ ____ more than one friend.

 


DAY TEN: QUIZ

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to the final day of the ten day English challenge!  Pat yourself on the back for starting 2017 on a positive note by improving your English skills.  Let’s finish off the challenge by completing this short quiz.  Don’t forget to continue your learning with our friendly, experienced English teachers at LOI.

  1. What did you end up doing last Friday night?
  2. Finish the sentence: You are prone to get sick if you…
  3. What should you do before bed?
  4. What can you do well?
  5. Sing the song from day 3 again.
  6. What would you buy if you won the lottery?
  7. If you had time off, where would you travel?
  8. Use an adverb: He sings _____.
  9. Do a tongue twister from day 6 as fast as you can.
  10. Write an imperative.
  11. What have you accomplished since January 1st, 2017?