ESL Teachers' Blog of Substance

ESL Teachers' Blog of Substance

You are welcome to email me with your questions and ideas.

State of the Union Address 2015

January 20, 2015

President Obama will give his sixth State of the Union Address tonight at 6:00 Pacific Time, 7:00 Mountain Time, 8:00 Central Time, and 9:00 Eastern Time. He is expected to talk about increasing taxes on the rich to help the middle class, job creation, gas prices, the War on Terror, free junior college for two years, etc. You can stream the State of the Union Address online at the White House website.

Happy New Year to All ESL Teachers

January 3, 2015

Happy New Year to all of the hard-working ESL teachers out there. May you all be blessed in 2015. I had a wonderful time on New Year's Eve. I went with several other Lion's Club members to a veteran's home in California. We played Bingo games with the vets and played music. We also helped serve the drinks and snacks. Everyone had a great time and the vets were made to feel special for an evening. They are special, and I am thankful for their service and sacrifice.

ESL Lessons for the First Week of Class

August 11, 2014

It's important to review basic ESL vocabulary words the first week of school. Here are some easy ESL lessons for the first week of class. They include: items in the classroom, days of the week, counting by tens, the alphabet, telling time, months of the year and more. I hope ESL teachers find the lessons helpful. Be sure to check out the free downloadable worksheets at the bottom of the lesson pages. I hope you and your students have a great semester.

President JFK's Assassination

November 11, 2013 has a three-part series on the life of President Kennedy. The fifty year anniversary of his assassination is coming up on November 22. I watched all three parts and was mesmerized, especially by the first part. I learned a lot about his early life that I didn't know. We, the public, now know that he had Addison's disease and was in pain, but I didn't realize how bad it was. The third part by NOVA shows that the one gunman theory was probably correct. I was eight years old and was at school when his death was announced. I remember my teacher going in the hallway and coming back with swollen eyes. Our principal announced it on the PA system and played a snippet of the newscast announcing Kennedy's assassination (or death). We drew a scene of his burial place. I place his grave under a tree with a small standing tombstone that was rounded at the top. Where were you when Kennedy was shot? It's a day we all remember.

College Grads Lack Civics Knowledge

November 15, 2013

This is a quote from TIME magazine regarding new college graduates per information from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni: "half know that the U.S. Constitution establishes the separation of powers. Forty-three percent failed to identify John Roberts as Chief Justice; 62% didn't know the correct length of congressional terms of office." I think they need to use my website to review their civics knowledge.

Veterans Day

November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all the past and current soldiers of our armed forces. TIME magazine has an article this week about Bobby Henline, a young man who was burned over 40% of his body while serving in Iraq on his fourth tour of duty in 2007. He works as a stand-up comic now. His routine includes jokes about his burns. He enjoys confronting his injuries head on and believes that sharing jokes with fellow wounded soldiers keeps their spirits up. God bless you, Bobby. You can find our Veterans Day lesson here. It is designed to be shown on classroom interactive white boards and it includes free downloadable ESL worksheets.

Chris Christie Won Re-election

November 6, 2013

New Jersey governor Chris Christie won re-election yesterday. He is a moderate Republican who is able to work with Democrats to get things done. Do you think he will run for president in 2016? I think he is leaning toward doing so. I'd like to see him and Hillary Clinton on the same ticket! Dream team: a Republican and a Democrat working together? Okay, that's not going to happen, but they might run against each other.

Daylight Savings Time Lesson

November 2, 2013

Halloween is over and ESL teachers are moving on to the next holiday. Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday, November 3. I have an easy ESL Daylight Savings Time Lesson on this site. It has nine photos and some free downloadable worksheets. The lesson shows well on interactive whiteboard. The photos can be seen from the back of the classroom.

Affordable Care Act for ESL Students

October 21, 2013

The government's ACA website is You might want to write this website address on the board and let your ESL students know that they might qualify for free or low cost health insurance. I created an account and applied online a few days ago and the site was working, but it is a complicated process with lots and lots of questions. It took me about 12 minutes to complete the process. I don't see how ESL students who are intermediate or lower could handle this process on their own. There is also a link on the main page where you can call an operator instead of applying online. This is probably a better option for English as a Second Language students.

ESL Teachers Prepare for the New School Year

August 14, 2013

If you're teaching ESL this semester, remember to relax before the start of the new school year. You'll want to feel refreshed and ready to give your students your best. I find that the better prepared I am the more I can relax. It really pays to have one week's worth of lesson plans written and all materials selected, gathered, and copied.

Hidden Picture Worksheets - Printable and Free

June 20, 2013

Summer school should be FUN for K12 and ESL students. Here are some free hidden picture worksheets that I posted to this website. I usually have my students describe the picture and practice saying the vocabulary words after they have found the hidden items in the picture. These worksheets are perfect for classrooms because they have the English vocabulary words listed on the bottom of the downloadable pages. The pdf files may take a little longer than usual to download because of the images. Enjoy and have a fun game day.

Google Invited Me...!

April 12, 2011

Google has invited me to an AdSense conference in Irvine. I'm thrilled. It's from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. They discuss how website owners can improve traffic and ad income. The neatest thing is that they also give one-on-one customized SEO recommendations for one of your sites. I imagine they will have some great suggestions about ad placements and colors. I think they are also interested in signing people up for their Double Click program. The notice they sent said that 400 people in Southern California attended last year's event. It's invitation only, so I'm glad I made the list. Can't wait to hear what they have to say.

ESL Teachers Applying for Unemployment

June 25, 2010

Like many other ESL teachers, I'm off for the whole summer this year. Bummer! I usually work summer school, so I'm going to miss the income. I filed for Unemployment and had my phone interview on Tuesday. I filed using the online form on California's official website. You can go to and click on the link near the top that says "Jobs" and then select "Unemployment and Disability".

If UI denies your case, be sure to appeal. I was denied benefits last year, but I won on appeal. I cited a California legal case called Cervisi et al. v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. You can look up this case online and learn more about it. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't want to mislead anyone.

Here's a quote: "The Superior Court concluded that "under the statute, an assignment that is contingent on enrollment, funding, or program changes is not a 'reasonable assurance' of "employment." The Court of Appeal adopted the Superior Court's findings and held that a contingent assignment is not a "reasonable assurance" of continued employment within the meaning of Section 1253.3."

Hope this helps. I'm glad we live in a country where the courts protect our rights. (I'm going to leave this blog post up so that you can find it next summer.)

Copyrights to the pictures and photos on this ESL blog and EL Civics website belong to individual photographers. We have purchased the rights to use them. Do not copy the pictures and photos on this site. Permission is granted to copy any of the ESL worksheets for classroom use. Permission is granted to link to any page of this website. Contact Christina Niven, Web Developer, at Please send corrections, comments, greetings, and requests for new lessons. Copyright © Christina Niven, 2007.