Monday, September 21, 2009

Literacy Development - Lemons for Literacy Awareness

I participated in an event on Saturday that promoted literacy awareness that I thought was worth mentioning. Reading Horizons sponsored an event to promote literacy awareness and help raise funds for a new literacy center opening up in Utah valley. Passers-by were invited to donate a few minutes of their time to a good cause by playing an online game called Lemons for Literacy.

Laptops were set up on the grass outside the new literacy center where individuals played the Lemons for Literacy game. To play this game, individuals select the correct definition for a randomly-generated vocabulary word. With each correct answer, or "squeeze" of a lemon, ounces of "lemonade" are produced. For each ounce of lemonade that is earned, Reading Horizons makes a cash donation to a site in need of literacy assistance. The site in focus is a new literacy center called the Superhero Training Center located in Orem, Utah. Free donuts and lemonade were offered to those who stopped by to check out the event.

Individuals who participated in the event were happy to take part in a good cause. They commented on how they enjoyed the "fun" aspect of it--that they didn't know that helping to make a difference could be so much fun. Individuals were encouraged to continue to help by playing the Lemons for Literacy game on their computers at home.

The Superhero Training Center hopes to be able to serve individuals ages pre-school to adult learn literacy skills needed to contribute to a life of life-long learning. To "make lemonade" for the Superhero Training Center, go to

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tricky Words: Usage and Spelling Help

Do any of these sound familiar?

"Which do I use: affect or effect?"
dessert spelled with one s or two?"
"Which is correct:
raise or rise?"

If you can relate to any of the above, then you're not alone. Even though I am an ESOL professional, I admit that I have had my fair share of moments when I have had to think twice before using these words. I found a great resource that I have referred to on occasion to clear up some confusion that I used when teaching writing in American Samoa.

Here are just a few combinations of challenging words, instruction of which would prove helpful in an ESOL classroom, which I've adapted from The Essentials of English: A Writer's Handbook.

Accept is a verb; except is a preposition.
Examples: Please accept my apology.
Everyone except Sam went to the party.

Affect is a verb; effect is a noun.
Examples: Her decision will affect the rest of us.
We hope it will have a positive effect on us.

Use amount with noncount nouns. Use number with count nouns.
Examples: That property is worth a large amount of money.
A large number of investors are anxious to buy it.

Borrow is a verb that means to use something that will be returned later. Lend and loan are both verbs that mean you give someone something that will be returned later. (Loan can also be a noun.)
Examples: May I borrow your book? I will give it back to you tomorrow.
Will you lend me your book?
Will you loan me some money?

A desert is a large area of hot, arid land. A dessert is a sweet treat usually eaten after a meal. (When I was learning the different spellings of these two words, my teacher taught this pneumonic: "You spell dessert with two s's because you want two desserts!"
Examples: My hometown is a desert.
I would like some pie for dessert.

Loose is an adjective that has the opposite meaning of tight. Lose is a verb that means "unable to find," "not have anymore," or "not win."
Examples: My seatbelt feels loose.
I will lose my keys if I don't put them in the same place everyday when I come home.

Passed is the past tense and past participle forms of pass. Past is a preposition or adverb that means "farther/later than." Past is also an adjective or noun meaning "before now."
Examples: I passed the test.
We drove past the scene of the crime this morning.
I have worked for this company for the past 12 years.

Raise (raised) is a transitive verb and always has an object; rise (rose, risen) is an intransitive verb and never has an object.
Examples: If the student does not raise his grades, he will be suspended.
My grandmother raised 10 children.
The sun always rises in the east.

Set is a transitive verb and always has an object. (Set can also be an intransitive verb, as in, "the sun sets in the west.") Sit (sat) is an intrasitive verb and never takes an object.
Examples: Could you help me set the table?
Please set the grocery bags on the table.
Please sit wherever you feel comfortable.

They're is a contraction of they are. There is a word that indicates a place. Their is possessive.
Examples: They're coming at 5:00.
Let's go over there.
My grandparents love their neighborhood.

Reference: Hogue, A. (2003). The Essentials of English: A Writer's Handbook. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.