SSAT & ISEE Exam Preparation

mult choice

I’ve been helping a young man prepare of an exam.  He wants to enter high school in the U.S.  But as a foreigner, he will need to take either the SSAT or the ISEE, depending on the school he chooses.

One of the things we do is learn a set of at least 10 words each week.  He uses flash cards, writes the words over and over, and uses them in sentences in order to learn and remember the definitions.

And then I QUIZ him!

Here’s a list of some of the words he studied recently.  Can you fill in the blanks below with the correct word?

Atone     Don      Subsidy       Compel       Barbed       Splintered       Obscure       Dispute

  1. The wooden board broke and ________________ into pieces.


  1. In the olden days, women would __________________ a beautiful hat at Easter.


  1. He felt badly over what he had done.  It was time for him to __________________ for his sins.


  1. He and his friend were caught up in a(n) ___________________ over which movie to see.


  1. He was so tired.  But he knew his mother would have a good reason that would  _________________ him to go.


  1. The junk yard had a(n) __________________ wire at the top of the fence.  No one could climb over it.


  1. He didn’t have enough money for the school.  Luckily, the government gave him a(n) _____________________.  Another usage:  The smaller company was purchased by the larger company.  It now operates as a(n) _________________ of the larger one.


  1. He didn’t know anything about his ancestors.  His heritage was quite ____________________.




School Vocabulary for Kids

If you are sending your child to an English speaking school, there are basic words they should learn to assist them in the classroom.


I came across this fabulous video today, “School Objects:  English Vocabulary.” You can find it on YouTube, posted by AME836.  Below is the link to the video, but I suggest you check out all of AME836’s videos by clicking here.

This video shows the written vocabulary with photos.  The words are pronounced slowly and carefully.  It also includes a quiz.  What a wonderful way to learn English!

Past Tense Workshop

ALE will be starting a workshop in October to learn and review past tenses.  The workshop will be held on Monday evenings for 4 weeks.  If you are interested in joining us, please contact us at


Focus will be on:

  • Past Simple: I looked
  • Past Continuous: I was looking
  • Past Perfect: I had looked
  • Past Perfect Continuous: I had been looking

Lessons will include conversation, readings, videos, handouts and writing practice.

Here is a great overview of the English past tenses of verbs from TEFL & TESOL Courses – ITTT on YouTube:

The Importance of Learning Phrasal Verbs


Phrasal verbs

We have written several posts about Phrasal Verbs.  Today we hope to clarify why learning phrasal verbs is important.  

Phrasal verbs are generally made up of a verb and a particle/preposition.  Together, the words take on a very different meaning.  As an ESL student, your first impulse may to ignore learning PVs.  But eventually, as an advanced English student, you will want to know them.  Why?  These are phrases that native English speakers use every day – not just once in a blue moon.

Sometimes, you may be able to gather the meaning from the context of the conversation.  But that is not always true.  Consider the following examples.  On the left, I have added short sentence using common phrasal verbs. Review just those sentences in the left column.  Do you understand the meaning of each?

If you did not understand the sentences in the first column, you should appreciate the value of studying PVs.  Go ahead and take a look at the second column.  We have used the same PVs with more context.  Do you understand all of them now?


How were her parents?
They put on a good show.
Her parents were sad, but they didn’t show it.  They put on a good show.
She didn’t show up. Her friend was supposed to meet her.  She waited an hour, but her friend did not show up.
Last night she threw up. She had too much champagne last night and felt very sick.  She made her way to the toilet and threw up.  She felt better after that.
She dozed off in class. She didn’t sleep well last night.  Today in class, it caught up to her and she dozed off.
It came off well. You can tell she put a lot of work into planning the event.  It came off well.
Did you do your homework?
I couldn’t figure it out.
I worked on those algebra problems for hours.  I am normally good at math, but not so good at algebra!  I couldn’t figure them out.
He always gives in to his father. His father is very persistent.  He is constantly asking his son to do things that his son does not want to do.  His son always gives in and does them.
I just want to get it over with. I am dreading the algebra exam.  I studied, but I don’t think I will do well.  I wish it were today so I could get it over with.
I can’t put up with her anymore!

I don’t like that saleswoman.  But she is there every time I go to the market.  She is very pushy – she always tells me what to buy.  She also tells me not to buy the things I like.  I just can’t put up with her anymore!  I am going to go to a different market!

For more information on Phrasal Verbs, view these posts: