Short Dictations for Course 2 Units

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted something on this blog. Too much time going into U.S.A Learns Facebook page.  If you haven’t seen the USAL facebook page yet, check it out, ( “Like” the page, and send your students there too. Everyone can benefit from a daily reminder from Facebook about topics of the day or special links to U.S.A. Learns.

I checked in here today and realized that I had found this great resource some months ago, but forgot to do the post. So, here’s a new “Partner in Practice” link for you. Thank you Fremont Adult School for these short dictations that correspond with the English for All video series, the basis of Course 2 in U.S.A. Learns.  I didn’t listen to them all, but it seems there may be 5 sentences per unit.

This is great reinforcement of vocabulary from the units, and of course good listening and writing practice for your students.  The dictations are meant to be sent to the teacher for correction.  If you have students working independently you may want to type up an answer sheet for them and let them correct their own sentences.

Short Dictations for Course 2  



Something Old, Something Borrowed, Some Things New

I haven’t posted any new additions here in quite awhile.  Part of the reason is that I had been busy helping USALearns create a DB of Web sites that teachers can access right from the Teacher Home Page.( – Once you’ve registered and signed in you’ll see the Home Page.) Look for “More Practice” under Resources for Teachers. With this new DB you can easily search for specific skills in specific units. I found a lot of great correlating Web sites that I haven’t posted here yet, so be sure to check it out.

Besides the “More Practice” link there are some other valuable new links on the Teacher Home Page. You can now download the video script of each of the 20 units of 2nd Course. (These may not be new to you if you downloaded Video Scripts under 2nd Course here on Partners in Practice.)

One link I think you (and your students) will really love seeing is the iTunes collection of 2nd Course video podcasts. These are actually old. Many people don’t realize that 2nd Course video stories were all originally filmed as a series called English for All and were shown on the Website,  USALearns borrowed the videos and a few of the activities from this site (but added so many new activities) to create 2nd Course.  If you can’t wait until you sign into the USALearns Teacher site, here’s the link to the podcasts below.

2nd Course (English for All) Video Podcasts

And finally, the very new thing for USALearns is an official Facebook page.  Be sure to visit and click “Like” and make some comments to help keep the conversations going.  And don’t forget to ask your students to “Like” the USALearns Facebook page and answer questions on the page.  There’s a new  post almost every day giving everyone a chance to use their English skills with people from all over the world.

USALearns Facebook Page

2nd Course: Everyday Life Skills

This is yet another one of my favorite websites. GCF Everyday Life has the coolest interactive Life Skills activities I’ve seen on the Internet. (and they’re all FREE!) Students get listening and reading/scanning for specific information practice with beautiful art. Students will need to drag and click locations or pictures to complete the activities, but there is a tutorial to help them with this navigation. However, showing them how to do it would probably be a whole lot faster. If you show them one activity, they should catch on to all the others quickly.

The link above will give you the entire menu of activities. I’ve listed some below that I think fit particularly well with the story lines, but it might be good to just let students explore the menu and make their own choices. They are all valuable Life Skill lessons. Each activity also has a printable handout. You could use it to pre-teach some vocabulary and concepts, or use it as review after they’ve done the activity online. Students may learn some of the more difficult vocabulary through the images and their exploration of the scenes.

USALearns tie-in stories would be U14: Women’s Changing Roles, where Benjamin promises to help Marta in the household if she lets him move back in. Benjamin really messes up when it comes to keeping house and paying bills, so these would all be perfect “lessons” for him. Also in U8: Men’s Changing Roles, Karina asks Viktor to take on more responsibility in the house. Any of these links below would be a nice supplement to either of those stories.

Reading bills and scanning for specific information:  Pay Bills

Finding specific information on a receipt: Check your receipt

Filling out a deposit slip at the bank: Deposit

Reading labels and prices while grocery shopping: Grocery Shelves

Following a recipe to make a cake : Measure

Following the directions for baking a cake: Bake

Learning about safety when grilling:  Grill Safety

…and many more good ones on the menu.  Check them out and let me know which ones you like the best and how your students liked them.


2nd Course: Workplace Roles Vignettes

Here’s an interesting website (Vignettes Learning: Story Impacts) offering short interactive vignettes that fit well with the themes of sexual harassment and decision-making in the workplace. New stories are always being added, and they provide lots of interesting discussion opportunities for workplace themes. Vocabulary can be pretty advanced, so this is a good step-up activity for more advanced students. These stories are not designed for ESL students, (i.e. authentic language!) so you will want to do some pre-listening activities with your students

“The Compliment” vignette is the easiest of my 3 suggestions and it works well with the sexual harassment theme in U15: Women’s Work Issues. The vignette is presented in the form of a dialog, and I’d suggest asking your students to write the dialog as a listening activity. The vignette leads to thought-provoking discussion questions.

Consider using the vignette, “Too Much Break Time” or “Can you tell me if my job is safe?”  in conjunction with U16: Women in Non-Traditional Roles to tie in with a manager needing to make tough decisions.

You have to click Next to go through each story, but be sure to get to the end where choices for different ways of handling the situation are presented. This is a good place to get your students discussing various options. Reading the posted comments is also a great reading activity for students and could inspire more discussion. After viewing and discussing the stories, students can write essays stating their recommendations for the situation. If you sign up (it’s free) you can get free links to the vignettes that you can post on your webpage, and your students could also post comments in the discussion.

Here are links if you’d like to show the vignettes in class to the whole group:

The Compliment

Too Much Break Time

Give students these links for work at home so they can read the vignette summary and comments.

The Compliment Page

Break Time Page

The Little Secret

And, keep checking back on the site because they keep adding new vignettes!


2nd Course – Education and Information – Grammar

As much as I love the video series in this course, I must admit to one issue that another teacher brought to my attention some years ago. The grammar is at a lower level than one would expect. This is especially true in this story about Tony Park and his struggles to keep his sandwich shop. The story was placed as the last story, but considering the grammar, I sometimes think it should have been the first story. WH-Questions and prepositions are fairly low-level grammar points. So I am motivated to provide some links that will provide more practice for your students in the grammar points of the stories.

I thought it would be easier if I put my grammar suggestions for all 4 units of a video story in a single post. It makes the post long, but let’s see if this works for you.  At least you’ll have all the grammar in one place so you can always go back and have students review anything they may have missed in previous episodes of the story.

17: Accessing Learning Opportunities – WH-Questions

The first activity is based on the 3 Bears story, so you may want to be sure your students are familiar with the story before sending them to this link. Make sure they understand that the sentence is the answer to the question and they must chose the WH-Question word  that would lead to that answer.  The second activity is a straight-forward MC activity and the third asks students to type the question.

Three Bears WH-Questions


Type the Question

For more practice on a variety of question forms go to the Road to Grammar site and scroll down the Quiz list to find:  #261 Question Forms 2  and  #262 Question Forms 3

 Road to Grammar


18: Involvement in Children’s Education – Prepositions

Here’s a quick little “type-in-the-answer” activity with 22 questions:

Type the Preposition

For a thorough review of prepositions and lots of exercises, send your students to the English Grammar online website.  There’s a very extensive table of prepositions and many MC exercises that get progressively more difficult at the bottom of the page.

Prepositions on ego4u

 Another good site from Germany offers type in the answer activities:

Prepositions in sentences

If you have students who really need a challenge beyond prepositions of time and place, move them into Phrasal Verb exercises.  They’ll have to type in the correct verb and preposition in the next link.

Phrasal Verbs


19: Transferring Professional Degrees – Past Tense Questions

Find a very easy 10-question MC activity: #214 Past Tense Question Form on the Road to Grammar site.

Road to Grammar

English Grammar Online has a detailed explanation of the past tense and there are lots of excellent exercises to choose from.  For past tense question formation, send students to these exercises: Questions in Simple Past or Questions with Interrogatives  in Simple Past or Pool of Exercises where they will choose Simple Past questions.

English Grammar Online

And again, has good activities where students will have to type in the answer.

Questions in  Simple Past 1

Questions in Simple Past 2


20: Learning to Learn – Past Tense Verbs

The English Grammar Online link above is a great site for past tense practice. You can also click on the “Tests” tab on the left side of the page and the site offers 3 levels of tests on the Simple Past tense.

But for listening and speaking practice of the Past Tense, my favorite site is Real-English. Students see and hear real people speaking as they answer the question of what they did yesterday. The verbs are all pretty basic, but there are 19 pages of activities!

What did you do yesterday?


2nd Course – Housing and Family Life – Grammar

Students often ask for more grammar practice and here’s a site that will give them lots of activities.  I found activities that fit with the grammar covered in 3 of the units about the Pushkins, but students who like grammar can find many more hours of practice here. Give students the URL for and suggest the following exercises for each unit. You might also wait till the last unit of this story and have students do all of them as a grammar review.

Managing Family LifeMust vs. Have to — Road to Grammar #72 (10 MC questions on DON’T HAVE TO or MUST NOT)

Using Information ServicesCan and Could  —  Road to Grammar #34  (25 multiple choice questions)

Men’s  Changing Roles – Make vs. Do  —  Road to Grammar #150 (Make or Do 10 questions) and #125 Household Chores (10 Questions)



This next 10-question exercise doesn’t really line up with the grammar lessons in this video story, but it provides students with more modal practice in sentences used in business situations. A good fit would be with Accessing Services when Karina needs to contact the phone company.

Telephone English

On the same site, there’s another activity for practicing the use of make vs. do to supplement the Men’s Changing Roles unit. These expressions go beyond just household chores. I always think having students write down new expressions and using them in sentences is a good way to help them remember these forms.

Make or Do


2nd Course – Health

There’s not a lot of content about Health in this course so you may want to divert your students to health literacy when an occasion arises. In the Workers and the Workplace story Alejandro lands in the hospital with a broken leg after an accident at work. This would be a good spot to direct your students to some listening and reading that will improve their health literacy awareness and health-related vocabulary.

This link will direct the student to the Emergencies topic. There are lots of good audio slideshows and you could let students choose one that interests them. But they will have to scroll down the list to find the one about the Emergency Room which connects to the fact that Alejandro was taken to the emergency room. Click English to see the audio slideshow and get the handout.

What to expect in the Emergency Room

This next link will direct the student to the Injuries and Wounds topic. The third one down is Bone Fractures. Click English to see the audio slideshow and get the handout.

Bone Fractures

In this story Alejandro’s wife announces that she is pregnant. There are also good presentations about pre-natal care for students that might find that useful.  Just scan the list. Lots of great material on this site and the level is good for Second Course students.