About aumesl

The English as a Second Language at AUM is an AAIEP accredited language program specifically designed to better help international students master the English language. Courses are taught at five proficiency levels: Level One Beginning Level Two Low Intermediate Level Three Intermediate Level Four High Intermediate Level Five Advanced

Game Night: Playin’ Games, Learnin’ English

Learning English in a classroom-setting is an essential way to master the language. However, have you ever had trouble communicating at the grocery store, at a fast food restaurant, or even on campus during break time?

Well, it is probably because you are experiencing English in a very different way. Because ESL classes focus mostly on “English for academic purposes” (EAP) it may be difficult at times to understand everyday English such as slang and reductions. You may be wondering…How do I fix this problem?

The answer is simple. Join the ESL Program during events such as Game Night, English Table, and Movie Day. During these events, you can communicate with friends and teachers in an informal environment, which means you will be exposed to slang, reductions, puns, idiomscolloquialisms, and even a few jokes!

In fact, we have a Game Night scheduled tonight from 5:30 – 7:30! Come join us! We will be playin’ games and learnin’ English!

game night flyer Spring 2 5-1-13


Do you like to read, but not in English?

Daniel, Level 3 Reading Instructor

Daniel, Level 3 Reading Instructor

There is a program for Google Chrome that will translate a few words randomly into any language you choose.  So, if you like to read in your first language and want to start learning new vocabulary then this program may be a good choice for you.

It is called Language Immersion for Chrome, and you can download it from the Chrome Web store.

Once you add the Language Immersion for Chrome App to your Google Chrome browser you will see a new Icon next to the browser page.

dan1When you are ready to try the service, find an article that you want to read and click on the APP.  You will see a box like this:

dan 2If the article is originally written in your language, translate it into English.  If the article is in English, translate it into your language.

The “immersion level” is where you choose how much of the article you want translated.

For extra points on an AWL quiz, use this APP to translate an article and tell me if the translation is correct or incorrect.

Send me your answer in an email: dhovey@aum.edu

A Quick Reference Guide for Relative Clauses

What are the basics?

We know that relative clauses modify nouns. This explains why they are sometimes called adjective clauses. Unlike adjectives, relative clauses come after the noun they modify.

Courtesy of blog.powerscore.com

Courtesy of blog.powerscore.com

What kinds are there?

Relative clauses can be either restrictive or nonrestrictive. Some people use other words to classify them, but they have the same meaning. Restrictive clauses identify the noun that is being modified. Nonrestrictive clauses simply add information about the noun. Notice the difference here.

  • The boy who had his birthday party here was sick.
  • The boy, who is ten years old, is sick.

What about the pronouns?

There is a set of pronouns that is usually used with relative clauses. These are called relative pronouns. The most common relative pronouns are that, who, and which. Sometimes the pronoun can be omitted altogether.

When do we use these pronouns?

The most commonly used relative pronoun is that. It can be used with people or things. For people we can also use who or whom. Who is used for subjects and whom is used for objects. Many people use who for both. Which is used with things.

Do I have to use a relative pronoun?

No, sometimes it is possible to omit the relative pronoun. When the relative clause is for an object, the relative pronoun can be omitted. They cannot usually be omitted when the relative clause is for the subject.

These are some basic questions and answers about relative clauses. In our Grammar and Writing level 4 class, we go in to more detail about these clauses. If you are up for a challenge, try to find out what information I have left out. You can bring it to class or post it online.

Kody, Level 4 Writing Instructor

Kody, Level 4 Writing Instructor

Learn 5 Common English Idioms to Describe People

KrystalListening and Speaking:Beginning

Krystal, Level 1 Listening and Speaking Instructor

Sometimes, even when you know a lot of English, you can have difficulty finding the right words or phrases to describe people’s appearance and personality. Having the right words to describe the different people that you meet is helpful. Here are 5 English idioms that you may hear when people are describing others.

1.   Has a heart of gold – hǽz ə hɑ́rt ə́v gól

  • A person who has a heart of gold is very kind and considerate.
  • Example: She has a heart of gold. She’ll always help anyone with anything.
  • ʃí hǽz ə hɑ́rt ə́v góld. ʃíl ɒ́lwèz hɛ́lp ɛ́niwən wɪθ ɛ́niθɪ̀ŋ

Image courtesy of inkfoundry.com 

2.   Pain in the neck – pén ɪn ðə nɛ́k

  • A person who is a pain in the neck is very annoying or a bother.
  • Example: My little sister is a pain in the neck.
  • máj lɪ́təl sɪ́stər ɪ́z ə pén ɪn ðə nɛ́k.

3.   Happy-go-lucky – hǽpi gó lə́ki

  • A person who is happy-go-lucky is very cheerful and carefree all the time.
  • She is a happy-go-lucky girl. She’s always so cheerful.
  • ʃí ɪ́z ə hǽpi- gó- lə́ki gə́rl. ʃíz ɒ́lwèz só tʃɪ́rfəl.

4.   Hard as nails – hɑ́rd ǽz nélz

  • A person who is (as) hard as nails is unsentimental and shows no sympathy.
  • He doesn’t care who he hurts. He’s as hard as nails.
  • hí də́zənt kɛ́r hú hí hə́rts. híz ǽz hɑ́rd ǽz nélz.

5.   Average Joe – ǽvərɪdʒ dʒó

  • A person who is an average Joe is someone who’s just like everyone else; a normal person.
  • He is an average Joe student. He isn’t rich and famous.
  • hí ɪ́z ǽn ǽvərɪdʒ dʒó stúdənt. hí ɪ́zənt rɪ́tʃ ǽnd féməs.

Now you give it a try. Can you think of people you can use these idioms to describe?

Is there an English idiom you don’t understand? Post your idiom question below as a reply, or send me an e-mail (kkillcre@aum.edu) and tell me about it. I’ll try to help you understand it better.

Happy Learning!

Image courtesy of chappellroberts.com

Welcome Spring-2 Students!

Welcome back! We hope that all of you are having a great first week of classes. If the first day is any indicator, this is going to be a wonderful term. We have many exciting activities lined up for you all this term: Game Nights, Movie Days, English Tables, and a Paintball Trip!

To better help you plan for our events, here is a printable calendar:.SPRING-2 CALENDAR.

Also, the sign-up sheet for the Paintball Trip will be in the ESL Office. Please sign-up before April 9! There are limited spots available, so make sure that you come as soon as possible to reserve your place.

Paintball Flyer

From all of us here at AUM’s ESL Office, we look forward to another great term! 

Effective Writing = Organization

Emily,  Level 5 Writing Instructor

Emily, Level 5 Writing Instructor

Many students wonder how to make their writing more effective, and the answer is quite simple: O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N-!

Yes, organization is a fundamental component to the writing process. In order to write an effective essay, it’s important to first choose the proper method of organization. This sounds easy, but different types of essays have different types of organization.

For example, let’s review one of the basic types of essays—cause-effect. In our Advanced Writing and Grammar class, we have spent time researching the basic organization methods for cause-effect essays: “focus-on-effects” and “focus-on-causes.” These two methods are suitably named because one focuses on effects and, indeed, one focuses on causes.

Focus-on-effects: analyzes the ways in which numerous effects result from one cause

Focus-on-causes: analyzes the ways in which numerous causes lead to one effect

So, let’s say that you needed to write a cause-effect essay about the picture above. If you were to use the focus-on-effects method, you could focus on the results of the boy receiving a shot.

  • Cause: receiving a shot
  • Effect 1: tears
  • Effect 2: pain
  • Effect 3: fear

However, if you were to use the focus-on-causes method, you could write about several causes of the boy crying.

  • Effect: the boy is crying
  • Cause 1: he is in pain
  • Cause 2: he is scared
  • Cause 3: he is confused

As you can see, writing an effective cause-effect essay is as easy as pie. Just choose your method and start organizing!

Daylight Savings – Time Change

Krystal, ESL InstructorIt’s that time of year again, time to spring forward! Every spring and fall the clocks are changed in the United States in almost all states. As an international student, this may be something new to you if you do not have daylight savings time in your country (check out the map at the bottom of this post to see which countries participate in daylight savings time -DST). So, we enjoy our sleep while we can, and we look forward to more sunshine in the days ahead. Spring is right around the corner!

Here’s what you need to know…


The clocks will be springing ahead one hour this weekend. Clocks are scheduled to change on Sunday, March 10, 2013, from 2:00 AM to 3:00 AM.  You can change your clock before you go to sleep on Saturday or when you wake up on Sunday morning. Just remember to change it, or you’ll be late for class on Monday morning!

More information about Daylight Savings Time can be found here.


image courtesy of Wikipedia

Need Listening Practice? Try NPR

Robin, Level 2 Listening and Speaking Instructor

Robin, Level 2 Listening and Speaking Instructor

Listen up! Many listening students wonder how they can find resources for listening and speaking. For speaking, there is no better practice than speaking with a real person. Remember to speak constantly, to anyone who will talk with you.

However, maybe you just want to practice listening. There is no reason to ever run out of listening resources, and there are three reasons why: N-P-R. NPR means National Public Radio, and is some of the most high quality and realistic listening you could ever hope to find. The three benefits of NPR are: accessibility, variety, and authenticity. 


NPR means National Public Radio, and is some of the most high quality and realistic listening you could ever hope to find. You can listen in your car (on your way to school) on the radio at 89.9 FM. The Internet is also available. Go to NPR.org to explore the big website.

which way

Speaking of big, the website has hundreds of options. You can listen to almost any topic you want, including news from your home country. Are you interested in gardening? Maybe you want to hear about a soccer match in England? NPR.org has so many stories to listen to, you will never run out. What’s more, there are often transcripts to each story, which means you can read while you listen.

NPR is not a textbook, which means everything on the website is real. Real English can be difficult to hear sometimes, so it is important to practice whenever you can. NPR gives you chances to hear English from all over the world. You may hear British reporters, Australian interviews, or expert chefs from the American South. Real English is varied, so the variety on NPR is very useful for all learners.

Practicing your listening and speaking is, of course, very important. Knowing which resources to use is sometimes difficult. Many learners want to practice, but don’t know where to go. NPR.org is a useful place to start. Explore the website, listen to the stories, and read along if you can. There’s no reason not to improve!