ESL – ALEX HARRIS

ENGLISH

INTRO

ESL (English as a Second Language) is a very particular field of work. Because you’re dealing with linguistics, the range of jobs in the industry is incredibly broad. In this case we’ll just focus on teaching English as a second language and within Europe. Oh and by the way, don’t judge my English here😉

I once told a friend who frequently played the lottery that if he just opened an English school (here in Italy), he’d hit the jackpot in less time and with less money. In the latin countries specifically, a person’s good level of English is a plus, compared to Germanic or Scandinavian countries where a decent level of English is assumed. There is so much demand, that it actually doesn’t make a difference whether you work for a school or fly solo.

BRIEF HISTORY

Having an American father and Italian mother, since birth, languages have always been a part of my identity. At school however, literature and books in general were my biggest enemy. I saw books the way other kids saw monsters under their beds. There was nothing that bored me more in the world than reading. If you locked me in a room for a day and gave me the option of having a book to read in the meantime or sit alone with my thoughts, I would opt for the latter. Whenever we had our famous book reports to present, I’d just invent a book or take a movie and change the names of everything. I was once a devout Christian, and yet, I couldn’t even make peace with the bible. However, whenever the rare occasion popped up in English class where we would look at etymology or vocab, you would see a sudden spike in my interest. I always liked studying words but despised reading them. So, when I moved to Madrid at 22 and in no time found a job teaching English with a school called Vaughan Systems, everyone in the family said “Wait, you got a job doing what?!” Understandably, the class I hated most at school was called English, but…it wasn’t the grammar I hated, so it took some explaining on my part.

Vaughan had its own system, its own method, and didn’t just hand you (the teacher) the manual and through in the deep end. Instead, they spent a few weeks teaching you how to teach. This was fascinating to me. Having a manual was one thing but learning how to teach a language just blew my mind. After all, I knew Italian and had studied German, French and Spanish, but always with outdated approaches. So, I finished the course, and then, indeed got thrown in the deep end. Later, I moved to Dublin where I found myself teaching Spaniards and Italians on the side for extra cash. At this point, I was taking things to different level. The manual started to serve as a reference point more than a lesson planner because I started to develop my own ideas. Nothing was wrong with my previous ways of doing things, I was simply evolving. It’s one thing to teach a person something they might need, it’s another thing to teach a person something they do need. Then, while living in Sweden, I found that teaching English was basically out of the question because everybody already knew it. For reference, in Sweden I met the only people I’ve ever actually mistaken for Americans. That, is an example of just how great their English can be sometimes. Though Sweden didn’t play any role in my teaching experience, a peculiar thing happened one day when I noticed that a few aspects of my teaching methods, could easily be applied to learning Swedish. I started to notice that my methods had more to do with linguistics rather than just a language. Some time passed, and I began to focus more on my own methods.

INFO

Education
Language Services

SAMPLES

Indicative

Subjunctive

Present

Ieat
youeat
he;she;iteats
weeat
youeat
theyeat

Past

Iate
youate
he;she;itate
weate
youate
theyate

Future

Iwill eat
youwill eat
he;she;itwill eat
wewill eat
youwill eat
theywill eat

Perfect

Ihave eaten
youhave eaten
he;she;ithas eaten
wehave eaten
youhave eaten
theyhave eaten

Pluperfect

Ihad eaten
youhad eaten
he;she;ithad eaten
wehad eaten
youhad eaten
theyhad eaten

Future Perfect

Iwill have eaten
youwill have eaten
he;she;itwill have eaten
wewill have eaten
youwill have eaten
theywill have eaten

Present

Ieat
youeat
he;she;iteat
weeat
youeat
theyeat

Imperfect

Iate
youate
he;she;itate
weate
youate
theyate

Perfect

Ihave eaten
youhave eaten
he;she;ithave eaten
wehave eaten
youhave eaten
theyhave eaten

Pluperfect

Ihad eaten
youhad eaten
he;she;ithad eaten
wehad eaten
youhad eaten
theyhad eaten

Progressive (Continuous) Forms

Indicative

Conditional

Present

Iam eating
youare eating
he;she;itis eating
weare eating
youare eating
theyare eating

Past

Iwas eating
youwere eating
he;she;itwas eating
wewere eating
youwere eating
theywere eating

Future

Iwill be eating
youwill be eating
he;she;itwill be eating
wewill be eating
youwill be eating
theywill be eating

Perfect

Ihave been eating
youhave been eating
he;she;ithas been eating
wehave been eating
youhave been eating
theyhave been eating

Pluperfect

Ihad been eating
youhad been eating
he;she;ithad been eating
wehad been eating
youhad been eating
theyhad been eating

Future Perfect

Iwill have been eating
youwill have been eating
he;she;itwill have been eating
wewill have been eating
youwill have been eating
theywill have been eating

Present

Iwould be eating
youwould be eating
he;she;itwould be eating
wewould be eating
youwould be eating
theywould be eating

Perfect

Iwould have been eating
youwould have been eating
he;she;itwould have been eating
wewould have been eating
youwould have been eating
theywould have been eating

THE VERB GRID

BASE VERB

*simplest form of the verb and is also the present for all persons except 3rd singular

PRESENT

*3rd person singular

PAST

*same for all persons

PAST PARTICIPLE

*always preceded by have

PRESENT PARTICIPLE

*always preceded by be

eat

eats

ate

eaten

eating

THE MAGIC FORMULA

1. PRESENT SIMPLE

2. PRESENT CONTINUOUS

3. PRESENT PERFECT

4. PAST SIMPLE

5. FUTURE

6. FUTURE

He eats pizza.

He is eating pizza.

He has eaten pizza.

He ate pizza.

He will eat pizza.

He is going to eat pizza.

present

be + present participle

have + past participle

past

will + base verb (aka future)

be + going + infinitive (to + base verb)

*On 6., you could also say, continuous of ‘go’ + to + base verb, that’s the beautiful thing about English, it’s relative.

  1. It’s vague. It’s not that specific. Unless you’re using be or have, you’re just speaking about things in general.
  2. It’s actual. It’s what you are doing right in that moment.
  3. This is a general past. This is tough for Italians because they don’t know how to distinguish 3. and 4. in their own language. Basically, when speaking about the past, assuming you’re not dead, this is the tense you use if you can hypothetically preface your sentence with, “In my life,” or “Up to this point,”
  4. This is a specific past. If you use, last (eg. last week), ago, yesterday, or just, this is the tense you’re using. If you’re speak about the past, use this tense.
  5. The correct use of 5. and 6. are often difficult to explain. The simple version is, use 5. for an improvised future (eg. I’ll call you back later.”) and 6. for a planned future (eg. “Tomorrow morning, I’m going to wake up at 10.”)
  6. If you’re still confused, just use 2. instead of 6. and 90% of the time you’ll will be fine. (eg. “Tomorrow morning, I’m waking up at 10.”)

THE CONDITIONALS

A. If he practices, he will improve.

B. If he practiced, he would improve.

C. If he had practiced, he would have improved.

If + present , will + base verb .

If + past subjunctive , would base verb .

If had + past participle , would have + past participle .

*The past subjunctive is basically the past. The only changes occur when using be. The past subjunctive for be in all persons is were. In Fiddler On The Roof, Chaim Topol sings “If I were a rich man…” whereas in Rich Girl, Gwen Stefani sings “If I was a rich girl…” However, almost nobody knows the difference so you can just use the past and you’ll be fine.

SUBSTITUTIONS

receive
I get 50 emails everyday.
*Anything that you can receive, you can get
obtain
We finally got the permits to build our new house.
*Anything that you can obtain, you can get
fetch
Would you please get my wallet?
*Fetch is a relatively old word that most people don’t use anymore. You can still hear used when people play with their dogs or in some programming languages. It is a combo verb which implies 3 actions: to go, to take, to bring back
arrive at
I get to Rome at 3:30.
*Arrive is commonly followed by at when adding a location, but get will be followed by to. There are 4 exceptions to the rule when get is not followed by a preposition. When using these locations: home, here, back, there (I get home at 3:30.) In reality, this exception of the rule can be applied to most verbs regarding movement such as run, walk, drive, fly, go, travel and so on. Substituting arrive is actually more common in North America than it is in other English speaking countries.
understand
I get what you mean, I just don’t agree.
*It is perfectly acceptable to use this substitution in speech while it should be avoided in written communication such as emails and letters for the sole reason that it can cause confusion when lacking context.
buy
I want to get the new iPhone.
*Out of all the forms, this one requires a more comprehensive understanding of the substitution in order not only state something, but to portray yourself genuinely. Think of this as to buy with ease. Here’s a simple way to depict its use and limits: A middle class family gets a new car, but buys a new house. An upper class family gets a new house, but buys a new yacht. The super rich get everything and those with no money just find whatever they can.
to be allowed
I get to stay out until midnight.
*This shouldn’t be conflated with laws and what they permit, therefor, excluding government legislation, this form implies that someone else gives you permission to do something. If you’re wondering about let, consider this: get – having permission whereas let – giving permission.

REFLEXIVES

These are just some examples.

to get dirty
to get confused
to get drunk
to get sick
to get rich
to get wet
to get angry
to get dressed
to get tired
to get lost
to get bored
to get jealous
to get dark
to get better
to get tired
to get fat

PHRASAL VERBS

These are just some examples.

to get in = to enter
to get out = to exit
to get across = to traverse; to convey
to get over = to recover (emotionally)
to get by = to succeed (with minimal results)

PERSONAL TOUCH

These are tiny samples of lessons. The point is that when taking a single verb and applying it to the Magic Formula and with the exception of interrogatives, you’ve covered the vast majority of tenses that will get you through the day. These tenses, including the conditionals were not chosen arbitrarily, in fact, they were the result of a survey done on 5 minutes of 100 conversations. The Verb Grid actually contains the most commonly repeated verbs used in those conversations. As far as vocab is concerned, though English is not phonetic, there are so many tools available today that allow you to hear the pronunciation of a word, even in various accents. So, I leave vocab to the student.

Get is a peculiar word that left on its own, means nothing. It is a word that simply substitutes other verbs, making it appear like a word of choice, but actually ends up being one of the most important words a student can learn. When students ask if they can simply revert to the original verbs like receive and obtain for instance, I say yes. However, while in most cases, get can indeed be avoided when you are the one speaking, the other person speaking may not be of the same habits, and thus will use it in all of its forms. So no, you don’t have to use it, but you do have know what it means.

Though it is my sales pitch, it is backed by truth, knowledge and experience and empirical evidence. When you simply learn a language, you can forget it over time, whereas if you understand a language, it becomes second nature. The school counts on you returning, lesson after lesson, month after month. My method, actually has a destination. The destination is basically that point where you as a student say to yourself, “Ok, got it. I’ll take it from here.” Understanding this concept is fundamental. With languages being so vast and some constantly evolving like English, one might ask how there can be a finish line or destination if you will. The question is legitimate, but unfortunately, it’s based on a massive industry’s con. See, you’ll notice that the entire industry’s strategy is to teach you the answer, not the equation. Society would be upside down if our math teachers had taught this way. They teach us that if you have 1 object and add another object, we now have 2 objects. What they don’t teach you is that 2 is the sum of 2 objects combined. This is why you don’t have to take a math class every time you are confronted with a set of numbers you haven’t summed before…because now, you know how to add. In effect, using my method, I don’t teach English, rather, I teach you how to learn English, that way one day, you’ll be able to answer your own questions…you’ll be able to improvise. Most parents would agree that you couldn’t possibly prepare your child for every street in the world, that’s why you teach them to simply look in both directions before crossing any street.

My catch phrase is, “Once you take a course with me, you’ll never have to take another lesson.”

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