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:


“The Alchemist” by Paulo Ceolho

Kody, Level 1 Reading Instructor

Kody, Level 1 Reading Instructor

Read Paulo Ceolho’s story from “The Alchemist” and guess the moral of the story.

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

The Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls.

He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages.

“The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

Courtesy of artsbeat.blogs

Nat King Cole

Emily,  Level 3 Reading and Discussion Instructor

Emily, Level 3 Reading and Discussion Instructor

During the month of February, America celebrates Black History Month, which is a celebration of African-American culture and customs. This nationwide celebration was created in 1962 as Black History Week, but the week was extended into a month in 1976. Our class has discussed numerous influential African-Americans such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.; however, we focused our discussion mainly on a legendary musician, Nat King Cole. In honor of this revolutionary artist, we read Nat King Cole: An Unforgettable Life of Music. 

natkingcoleNat King Cole was born in Montgomery, Alabama and grew up to revolutionize music. Though he began his career in jazz, he eventually transitioned to pop music. Our class thoroughly enjoyed learning about Nat’s interesting life, and I hope you take the time to do the same.

Making Reading Easier

Robin, Level 5 Reading Instructor

Robin, Level 5 Reading Instructor

Greetings Reading students! The return of the new school term means the return of my favorite extracurricular program: Book Club. Reading students are encouraged to take advantage of this program to encourage reading for pleasure, rather than just homework or other requirements. In fact, reading is a must for language learners, and it must be done daily! In fact, there are many tips and tricks for ESL readers who may have a hard time reading because of a small vocabulary or limited access to resources.

If you are looking for simple, easy access to books, then the Internet is your friend. There1st picture
are lots of websites that provide access to free books of a variety of formats, subjects, and
levels of difficulty. One simple website is This website has compiled many English-language classics, and they are all free! If you want to browse for the perfect title for your level or interest, is a fine place to start.

These days, everybody knows about tablets: iPads, Kindles, Nooks, etc. Did you know that reading on these devices can make difficult vocabulary much simpler? One problem for
2nd picturelanguage learners is vocabulary: every time you see a new word, you want to translate or maybe open up a dictionary to find the definition. This process is too slow, and interrupts
fluent reading. So, it is important to know that some e-readers enable one-touch translation. This means that if you touch the word on your tablet, then the tablet will translate the word to your language! Even more useful, however, is the same function with a monolingual dictionary. Instead of taking seconds—or minutes—closing your book and opening a dictionary, you can instantly find the definition of a confusing or difficult word. Search the Internet to see the dictionary and translation functions of your tablet to make reading a better learning experience.

3rd picture

Finally, you don’t have to have an e-reader to make reading easier. You can get help from different tools online, such as web page translators to help you read English-language news, blogs, or . . . anything! There are lots of free programs, too. One example is Google’s web browser, Chrome. It is free to download and has an easy to use translation option:

“Google Chrome’s built-in translation bar helps you read more of the web, regardless of the language of the webpage. Look for the translation bar at the top of the page whenever you come across a page written in a language that isn’t one of your preferred webpage languages.”

With this browser, you can swap between English and your language easily. You can test yourself: read a page in English, and translate it to your language in your head, and vice versa.

Thus, browsing web pages in English can be easier. Google Chrome, though, is not the only software to help ESL students. There are lots of resources for the English language learner—free books, easier access to dictionaries, simplified translation, the list goes on. The Internet is your friend! Depending on your needs, it can make reading, and language success, that much easier.

Identifying Words in Context

Toby, Level 2 Reading Instructor

Toby, Level 2 Reading Instructor

Welcome back students!

I began teaching a new reading class this semester, and I am enjoying the new experience. The class is low-intermediate reading and discussion. These first few weeks, I have noticed many of my students struggling with the ability to identify words in context. Identifying words in context is very important for English classes and tests. While taking the TOEFL test, you are not able to look up the meaning to a word in the dictionary. Therefore, you must be able to identify an unfamiliar word in context using the words and phrases around it to give you the meaning.

Let’s look at the following examples:

1) I took the tome off the shelf and opened it to page 94. Then I began to read.

What does tome probably mean?
A) some food
B) a bad dream
C) a cigarette
D) a book

  • We know that tome is a book because we see the words “shelf” and “read”. Also, we see the phrase “took the tome off the shelf”. Therefor, we can assume that the meaning of tome is “book”.

2) Hurricanes and tornadoes are treacherous. Only a very foolish people would go out during that kind of weather.

What does treacherous probably mean?
A) exciting
B) dangerous
C) delirious
D) safe

  • We know that treacherous has to mean dangerous because we see the words “hurricanes”, “tornadoes”, and “foolish”. Also, we see the phrase “only foolish people would go out during that kind of weather”. As a result, we can assume the meaning of treacherous is “dangerous”.

That’s all I have for today. I hope this will help you to see how easy it is to identify unfamiliar words by using context when there are no dictionaries around to help you.

Reading Tip: Develop the Skill of Marginal Note-Taking

Obie, Level 4 Reading and Discussion Instructor

Obie, Level 4 Reading and Discussion Instructor


During reading class today (while completing the main idea activity), I mentioned the idea of taking notes in the margins of a book or passage. Highlighting alone in the passage is good, but to me it seems to turn into a colorful page that is not easy for me to follow or understand. Highlighting and writing in the margins is more beneficial in my opinion (and something I have personally tried) for a few reasons:

-Allows you to quickly reference the location of information while reviewing the passage or when asked a question about a passage

-Makes it easier for you to summarize the passage since the main ideas are already written in the margins

-Makes it easier to find passages that were confusing or that you did not completely understand (place a question mark [?] in the margin)

This method may not work for everyone, but I would recommend that all reading levels try to develop the skill of marginal note-taking.

Look at the following example taken from Educational Connections Inc.

obie reading post highlighting

Have you ever heard of the flu or influenza?

December signals winter in the United States. When you think of winter, it doesn’t take much to start thinking about getting sick. Here in Alabama, everybody starts to worry about the flu.

Coincidentally, the level four Reading and Discussion class is currently learning about epidemics. An epidemic is the name for a sudden and widespread virus which affects a large area. There are lots of historical examples that show the danger of a flu epidemic. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed more people than any flu epidemic in history, almost 50 million. The flu (or influenza) is a virus that goes around in any season of the year, but during cold weather people can catch it easier.

You may have heard and seen lots of advertisements about flu shots. Flu shots are a vaccine. They are meant to help prevent people from catching the flu. Luckily, they are widely available in the United States. If you are interested in getting a flu shot to protect yourself for the cold months, a quick Google search for vaccines in your area is enough to find a provider nearby.

The flu mostly affects very young and very old people.  Even if you are healthy, the flu may affect you, and you may be sick for one or two weeks! Being informed about your health and medical options is very important, especially in a foreign country. The flu shot does not guarantee you won’t get sick at all, though. Furthermore, many people who don’t get a flu shot never catch the flu anyway. But it is always a good idea to be informed about the health options for you, your friends, and family.

Robin, Level 4 Reading & Discussion Instructor

Robin, Level 4 Reading & Discussion Instructor

Reading Tips – How to Skim or Scan

How do they read so fast?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

If you teach English to International students, I am sure you have heard this question many times. International students want to be able to read as quickly as a native English reader reads and still understand the text. However, what most International students do not understand is that many of these readers are not truly reading the entire passage. In fact, the native readers rarely read every word. Instead, native readers will either skim or scan the passage for information needed to answer general questions about the passage.

If you are an international student and you want to be able to read a passage quickly and understand it, learning the skills of skimming and scanning are vital to this goal. Additionally, these skills are very important for your academic success.  For example, when you have lengthy reading assignments in your classes, you might have to skim or scan in order to determine the main ideas quickly to discuss the passage with your classmates. Furthermore, these skills can be useful on timed tests such as TOEFL or IELTS.

In the Intermediate Reading Class the past few weeks, we have been practicing these skills.  I think many of the students have seen a great deal of progress in their reading and understanding of the text. So, if my students can do it, you can do it also. If you would like more information, check out this useful handout. Happy reading….or skimming / scanning! Whatever you do, just READ, READ, READ!

Check out this link for extra practice and tips on skimming and scanning.


Toby, Level 3 Reading Instructor

Toby, Level 3 Reading Instructor

An Entertaining Way to Study English

If you ever want a fun, easy, and entertaining way to study English, AUM’s level 2 reading class recommends propping your feet up, popping a bowl of buttery popcorn, and watching a movie in English.

This week our class has been discussing movies and the increasing trend of computer generated imagery (CGI). By using CGI, filmmakers create characters that are otherwise left to the imagination. We took a poll of our favorite movies and were surprised to see that some of our favorite characters were brought to life by CGI! Some of these characters can be found in movies such as:

The Lord of the Rings


Star Wars

Pirates of the Caribbean


As you can see, CGI characters are taking over the entertainment industry. Our class discussed the possibility of these characters completely taking over the jobs of actors and actresses. Can you imagine a world without Brad Pitt? Our class voted that movies just wouldn’t be the same.

So, which do you prefer?






Here’s a clip to Emily’s favorite CGI enhanced movie:

Emily, Level 2 Reading & Discussion Instructor

American Presidential Elections

If you haven’t noticed, the United States is currently in the middle of a very important season. It’s election season.

Every four years, America chooses its next president. The process has not changed very much in many years, but it is complicated and very expensive.

Currently the United States government has two main political parties. There are other parties, but they are relatively small. Every president in the past 150 years has been associated with one of these two major parties.

The first step in choosing our president involves choosing a nominee from each of the parties. The parties hold elections called primaries to decide which candidate will be the nominee for the party. Once the two nominees are chosen, the parties hold a convention and officially begin the race to the White House.

The candidates or nominees spend a lot of time giving speeches, debates, and appearances in virtually every state in the country. They also raise huge sums of money to run their campaigns and to purchase advertisements promoting themselves.

On election day, which is the first Tuesday in November, Americans vote for their choice for president. The president is not elected based on popular vote, but on Electoral College votes. The Electoral College is a system that gives each state a number based on that states population. When the votes are counted for each state, the majority winner receives all of the Electoral College votes for that state. The candidate with 270 electoral votes wins the election.


Primary – an election to choose a candidate for each party

Nominee – a person who is entered as a candidate

Candidate – a person who is nominated for a job

Convention – a large meeting of a political party

Campaign – organized actions of a politician taken to win an election

Kody, Level 1 Reading & Discussion Instructor