Story Pyramid Instructions

The story pyramid doesn't have to be written in complete sentences.  Instead,
try to think of the most descriptive, most important words to describe each element of your book.
Book Title

1- Write the name of the main character
• 2- two words describing the main character
• 3- three words describing the setting
• 4- four words stating the story’s problem
• 5- five words describing the first important event in the story.
• 6- six words describing a second important event.
• 7- seven words describing a third important event.
• 8- eight words describing the solution to the problem.


1 Mitchell
2 Intelligent Ambicious
3 Firm corruption joining
4 Murder associates taxes FBI
5 Extrench dead boat lawyer investigation 
6 Authorities contact Character explain illegal activity 
7 Trick Girl Photos blackmail quiet kill secrecy
8 Wife silence approach police help husband against criminals

Book Title: The Grapes of Wrath
Author: John Steinbeck

1 Joad
2 American family
3 The dust bowl
4 Find a better life
5 Moved to California for work
6 Sadness and suffering on the road
7 They are betrayed by chiefs and society
8 Laws that encourage a better lifestyle for everyone.

Round the world in Eighty Days
Jules Verne

1- Fogg
• 2- Calm, habits
• 3- London, India, America
• 4- Bet, travel, robbery, confusion
• 5- Robbery, London, bet, travel, world
• 6- India, Passepartout, save, Aouda, widow, priests.
• 7- America, Train, Indians, Shots, Fogg, rescue, Passepartout
• 8- Steamer, Liverpool, one, day, early, win, bet, marriage.

Book Title: Tales of Mistery and Imagination

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

1. Roderick

2. Sick Anxious

3. Old Dark Mysterious

4. Ghosts in the house

5. Friend come to the house

6. Stange things happen in his room

7. A ghost try to enter the room

8. The friend escape from the house very fast


1.- Bell
2.- terribly evil
3.- England, thirtyes decade
4.- human relations among neighbors
5.- a murder in strange circumstances
6.- the loving relationship between two woman
7.- Second protagonist able to kill for money
8.- second protagonist goes to prission rejected by all

The Body
Stephen KING

1. Gordon
2. Unwanted child
3. a dangerous forest
4. Desapereance of a boy
5. Adventure of four american teenagers
6. Looking for a young boy disappeared
7. Four friends facing dangers on their way
8. Four friends discovering how cruel the world is

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Motivate Students to Use Class Blog - Part 2

6. Reccomend Online Resources for Learning
I highlight lists of Blogs and Websites with useful resources for my students.  There are so many sites out there it makes it difficult to find the ones that are truly useful.  My students ask for recommendations, so this way I can have somewhere to refer them to and it's always there not lost in an email. To get students more involved in this process for my advanced classes I ask them to find and recommend useful websites. I am pleasantly surprised at the great resources they recommend.

7. Post Unit Vocabulary
Posting the vocabulary online is another way of getting them to review it.  One good thing of posting it online is that I post the pronunciation and they are able to hear it as many times as they need to. I also embed Quizlet into my posts with the pertinent vocabulary. We play the games in class and my students use them to review for tests on their own. My scores for vocabulary have gone up since I began using this.

8. Post Unit Grammar
Sometimes our book does not give an in depth explanation of how to use the grammar we are studying. Also some students may need more help understanding these concepts.  I sometimes post my grammar lesson straight from my class or find other resources online that give a good explanation and link to it. Some of my students like to get extra grammar exercises, so I provide links for these too. Some of my students don't look at the blog until it gets close to test time. They tell me it's a great resource for them to review for tests.

9. Connect to Book Resources Online
If the publisher has taken the time to create resources for the units in the textbook make it easy for your students to find them and encourage them to use them. Some of the resources are boring, but some are games and are a great way to help students with the material your are studying.

10. Humor 
I post pictures of bad translations I find. I encourage my students to send me same and then we talk about them in class.
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Motivate Students to Use Class Blog Part 1

To motivate my students to use the class blogg the most important thing I do is to make sure that whatever activity I do on the blog is helping them improve their English. In the end this is their main motivation. This keeps me on my toes to be more efficient with how I use my blog in my classes.  Here are some of the ways that I have been using it.

1. Uploading their Writing
Uploading their writing on the blog has various benefits.  One is that overtime students can see the progress they are making in their writing. It works like a writing portfolio.  The other thing is that students like seeing their work published.  At first I was posting all the writing in one post with the students names on it (omitting the last names), but then I began creating individual posts for each writing and labeling it with the student name and the writing assignment.  This motivated them to turn in their assignments otherwise their page was empty. I choose one or two writing assignments on the blog to go over in class. This puts pressure on them to do their best on their assignment and to implement the feedback I give them.

2. Respond to Reading
I post real news stories on themes we are covering in class and ask students to comment on these.  I also ask students to post their Response to Literature writing.  Each student has been reading a novel (leveled) and have been creating poems, character bios and more and they post these to the blog.

3. Encourage Classmate Feedback
Getting feedback on their writing from their teacher is important for English learning students. However, it is also helpful for them to look at their classmates writing critically and catch some of the mistakes they might be making themselves.  Peer feedback is also important for the writer, as long as you set some guidelines as to what is appropriate feedback.  I recommend that my students find two things to complement the writer and one comment that they can grow on. Advice them not to make comments personal and to keep them constructive.  I assign partners to comment on each other and rotate partners so that they are getting feedback from different people.

4. Get them Thinking
In our textbook we are practicing phrases for giving their opinion, so I'm thinking of posing thought provoking questions and have students comment on these using the phrases we have been practicing in class.

5. Videos and Powerpoints that Illustrate
One of the great advantages of a blog is to be able to post videos.  I recently posted videos that illustrated stormy weather vocabulary like moonsoon, hurricane and tornado.  Since these are not natural occurrences in the country my students live they were not really familiar with these. This was a great way to illustrate it for them. Before I created my blog I had created a PowerPoint to illustrate textile nouns and adjectives I then emailed it to all my students.  Now that I have my blog I can just post it and we can easily refer to it.
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Unexplained Phenomena - Language of Speculation

What is the difference between:
a fact - something that can be observed or measured and
a theory - a possible explanation that has not been proven

Watch the video and see which are facts and which are theories in these mysteries. What language of speculation are they using.
 Remember speculative words and phrases are often used such as:
may                             might              could
It seems/appears...       It´s possible...
We suspect...               We think/believe

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Common English Adjective Suffixes

Understanding the meaning of Suffixes can help us understand the meaning of words and expand our vocabulary. Here is a list of Common English adjective suffixes.

Adjective Suffixes
-able, -ible capable of being edible, presentable
-al pertaining to regional
-esque reminiscent of picturesque
-ful notable for fanciful
-ic, -ical pertaining to musical, mythic
-ious, -ous characterized by nutritious, portentous
-ish having the quality of fiendish
-ive having the nature of creative
-less without endless
-y characterized by sleazy

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Stephen Krashen on Acquiring Language

I discovered Stephen Krashen with his book "The Power of Reading".  I found his theories for reading so interesting that I began to research what he had to say about language acquisition.  He is one of the most influential Second Language Acquisition theorist of the past few decades. If you're interested in Second Language Acquisition theory and how it translates into practice watch this video series:

"If we give people messages that are interesting and comprehensible, grammar will take care of itself."

"If we give people messages that are interesting and comprehensible, grammar will take care of itself."

Check out this website:
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IIE Library English Resources

Hours: Monday thru Friday 9:00 a 21:00
Saturdays 10:00 a 14:00
Acces to the library catalog: IIE Catalog

Our library has an extensive selection of books, movies and music in English. 
As a student at the International Institute you have free access to the library. 
Of special interest to you is the selection of leveled readers books. Level
reader books are books that help you build reading confidence in
English through accessible language and a variety of appealing topics.
The stories are classic literature that has been adapted to
various reading levels.

Of special interest:
Level reader booksBooks that help you build reading confidence inEnglish through accessible language and a variety of appealing topics.The stories are classic literature that has been adapted tovarious reading levels.
Speak Up series: This magazine is for English language learners witharticles and interviews. It also has movies that come with movie guidesto help you understand the movie better.
VIDEOSThe library also has an extensive selection of videos of original versionmovies in English. As well as a series of movies that have
English Reading Circle
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Encuentro con Stephen Tapscott

24 de enero a las 19:30h.

Stephen Tapscott, profesor de literatura en MIT y conocido
internacionalmente por sus traducciones de obras de Pablo
Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, poetas alemanes y polacos, dará una
presentación tanto de su obra personal como del arte de traducción

Estará acompañado por Margery Resnick,
profesora de literatura en MIT y

Presidenta del Instituto Internacional.

Este acto se desarrollará en inglés, sin traducción simultánea.
Al término del acto, se ofrecerá un vino español
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Improve your English through Reading

Republished from

Josef Essberger

Right now you are reading English. That means that you are using your brain in a very active way. Reading is a very active process. It is true that the writer does a lot of work, but the reader also has to work hard. When you read a text, you have to do some or all of these:
  • imagine a scene in your head
  • understand clearly what the writer is trying to say
  • agree or disagree with the writer

Advantages of Reading

When you learn a language, listening, speaking and writing are important, but reading can also be very helpful. There are many advantages associated with reading, including:

Learning Vocabulary In Context

You will usually encounter new words when you read. If there are too many new words for you, then the level is too high and you should read something simpler. But if there are, say, a maximum of five new words per page, you will learn this vocabulary easily. You may not even need to use a dictionary because you can guess the meaning from the rest of the text (from the context). Not only do you learn new words, but you see them being used naturally.

A Model For Writing

When you read, it gives you a good example for writing. Texts that you read show you structures and expressions that you can use when you write.

Seeing "Correctly Structured" English

When people write, they usually use "correct" English with a proper grammatical structure. This is not always true when people speak. So, by reading you see and learn grammatical English naturally.

Working At Your Own Speed

You can read as fast or as slowly as you like. You can read ten pages in 30 minutes, or take one hour to explore just one page. It doesn't matter. The choice is yours. You cannot easily do this when speaking or listening. This is one of the big advantages of reading because different people work at different speeds.

Personal Interest

If you choose something to read that you like, it can actually be interesting and enjoyable. For example, if you like to read about football in your own language, why not read about football in English? You will get information about football and improve your English at the same time.

Five Tips for Reading

Tip #1

Try to read at the right level. Read something that you can (more or less) understand. If you need to stop every three words to look in a dictionary, it is not interesting for you and you will soon be discouraged.

Tip #2

Make a note of new vocabulary. If there are four or five new words on a page, write them in your vocabulary book. But you don't have to write them while you read. Instead, try to guess their meaning as you read; mark them with a pen; then come back when you have finished reading to check in a dictionary and add them to your vocabulary book.

Tip #3

Try to read regularly. For example, read for a short time once a day. Fifteen minutes every day is better than two hours every Sunday. Fix a time to read and keep to it. For example, you could read for fifteen minutes when you go to bed, or when you get up, or at lunchtime.

Tip #4

Be organised. Have everything ready:
  • something to read
  • a marker to highlight difficult words
  • a dictionary
  • your vocabulary book
  • a pen to write down the new words
Tip #5
Read what interests YOU. Choose a magazine or book about a subject that you like.

Things to Read


You can find English-language newspapers in all large cities around the world. Newspapers are interesting because they are about real life and the news. BUT they are not easy to read. Try reading newspapers if your level is intermediate or above.
Some British newspapers:
  • The Telegraph
  • The Times
  • The Independent
  • The Guardian
  • The Financial Times (business)
  • The Sunday Times
Some American newspapers:
  • The International Herald Tribune
  • The New York Times
  • The Wall Street Journal (business)


Some magazines are published weekly, some monthly. You can find English-language magazines in many large cities around the world. If you cannot find the magazine you want in your town, you may be able to order it for delivery. Many magazines have pictures which can help your understanding. You will need an intermediate level for most magazines, but a pre-intermediate level may be ok for some magazines.
There are magazines on every subject:
  • Politics
  • Sport
  • The House
  • Cars
  • Music
  • Romance
  • Travel
  • Language
  • etc


Books are divided mainly into:
  • Non-fiction (history, biography, travel, cooking etc)
  • Fiction (stories and novels)
Some books are easier to read than others. It often depends on the author. Agatha Christie, for example, wrote in an easier style and with simpler vocabulary than Stephen King. You can buy books in specialised English-language bookshops in large cities around the world. You may also be able to find some English-language books in libraries. And if you have a British Council in your city, you can borrow many English-language books from their library.

Short Stories

Short stories can be a good choice when learning a language because they are...short. It's like reading a whole book in a few pages. You have all the excitement of a story in a book, but you only have to read 5,000 or 10,000 words. So you can quite quickly finish the story and feel that you have achieved something. Short stories are published in magazines, in books of short stories, and on the Internet. You can also find short stories at English Reading.


Readers are books that are specially published to be easy to read. They are short and with simple vocabulary. They are usually available at different levels, so you should be able to find the right level for you. Many readers are stories by famous authors in simple form. This is an excellent way for you to start practising reading.

Cornflakes Packets

By "Cornflakes Packets", we mean any product you can buy that has English writing on or with it. If you buy a box of chocolates, or a new camera, why not read the description or instructions in English? There are many such examples, and they all give you an opportunity to read real English:
  • airline tickets
  • cans or packets of food
  • bottles of drink
  • tapes and CDs
  • user guides for videos, computers...
  • etc


If you like poetry, try reading some English-language poems. They may not be easy to understand because of the style and vocabulary, but if you work at it you can usually get an idea - or a feeling - of what the poet is trying to say. You'll find some classic poems, with explanations of vocabulary, English Reading.
Good luck with your reading. It will help you make a lot of Progress!
© 2000 Josef Essberger
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Police Mystery Story-Responding in English

Read Story and add a comment about the story here or email it to me. 

New Theory: Jack the Ripper Was a Woman


By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted May 10, 2012 9:30 AM CDT | Updated May 13, 2012 9:58 AM CDT

(NEWSER– The sadistic killer who struck London in 1888, killing five prostitutes over a 10-week span may have been ... a woman? A new book (titled the says-it-all Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman) puts forth a new theory: That Jack the Ripper was indeed a female, specifically one named Lizzie Williams, wife of royal physician Sir John Williams. Author John Morris tells the Birmingham Mail that "numerous clues scattered throughout the crimes, taken individually, may mean little, but when grouped together a strong case for a woman murderer begins to emerge."
What are these clues? For one, Lizzie was unable to bear children, which makes the fact that three of the prostitutes' wombs were removed suspect. Morris believes a crazed Lizzie Williams decided to take revenge on those who could have children, and notes that she suffered a breakdown after the murders. Supporting Morris' case: The women weren't sexually assaulted, and bits of a woman's cape, skirt, and hat were recovered from the fireplace of the final woman to die, Mary Jane Kelly. Except Kelly had never been seen wearing the items—and she was reportedly having an affair with Sir John Williams, who was himself considered a prime suspect. Lizzie Williams died in 1912, having never been interviewed about the murders.

What do you think?
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