Reading Print Books versus E-Books: Student Writing


My students asked me to choose a topic for them to write about, so I found the subject of e-books versus printed books, a common topic for a standardized language test.  We read an amazing article for inspiration, and that may have influenced everyone’s choice, but you can see that there were many perspectives offered on the subject.

We cannot say that e-books can completely replace printed books. With technology, there is a big change; in fact, a revolution has come into our lives. Some people say that in the future, printed books will vanish because of eBooks. Electronic books are more convenient and more efficient. In some ways, e-books seem more useful but it’s hard to collect them for a long time while print books are collectable. And if you really love books, you don’t want to lose your collection. Print books are always favorites and famous because of the different experience of reading them and owning them. Attractive and beautiful covers and lots of details on the book, make it easy to select a good printed books. In short, for book lovers, print books are always their first preference.

Printed books are not going to die.


Some people say that we are not going to use printed books in the future, because we need to care for our environment, and because computers will replace paper books as well. However, I think printed books will never die, due to several reasons.

First of all, printed books are collectible and reviewable, while e-books are not easy to collect or review. Sometimes, people choose physical books because of the beauty of their book covers; meanwhile, e-books do not have physical beauty. We can review printed books easily, however, if we need to review an e-book, it is not easy to find a particular passage.

Second, printed books have provenance and we can share them. We are able to use old or valuable books, which have belonged to someone else. In addition, we can borrow or lend paper books if we want to share them. However, we cannot possess any e-book for a long time even if we really like it.

Overall, there can be many benefits to using e-book or computers, such as avoiding deforestation and instant access to information. However, there are many advantages to having printed books such as collecting, sharing and having some memories. Therefore, paper books cannot be replaced by e-books.

Printed Books vs e-books

I like to read printed books rather than e-books. Printed books are always convenient for people because they don’t need any electronic device. Readers don’t need to spend money on the internet or find a charger. Lots of people look at a book’s front cover. If there are good cover pictures, they like to choose that book. So the front cover also helps readers to choose the book. Some people like book collections too.

Printed books last longer. They can stay in the family from one generation to the next generation. People read those books with great interest and passion. We have one Ayurvedic book, which my grandmother’s dad used. He gave that book to my grandmother, she gave it to my dad and my dad gave it to us [my brother and me]. It is not in good condition but some words are written in it by my great grandfather and we like to see his handwriting. So, books can always last a long time, with great memories.

Some people like to collect books. There are so many different kinds of books we can see on the shelf. We can also find a mini library . We can read those books anytime and anywhere. Sometimes we can get good solutions from these good books. If we read print books, they give us satisfaction.

Blind people can read books, which are written in their language (Braille). They cannot easily use electronic devices. It is good for them to see the world by books. If we see a book lying on the table, no matter whether we are interested in reading that book or not, we will take the book and flip the pages. In this way, people can create interest in reading and writing.

I prefer printed books for school students because otherwise they can become distracted by electronic devices. Some people are not familiar with e-books, so for them also, printed books are like a heaven. Considering all these points such as printed books last longer, interesting cover pages, as well as passing books from one generation to another, I am strongly in favor of printed books.

Printed vs. digital books

Since the first appearance of e-book readers in the year 2000, a battle embarked between the sales numbers of printed and digital books. Even though digital copies bring certain advantages to our lives, especially with the future possibilities of technology, physical copies will still remain in people’s lives. Perhaps they will have different or extended purposes other than only reading their content.

One of those reasons is that printed books can be collected. The collection does not only incorporate the simple possession of books it also contains the possibility of keeping memories and stories in connection to these books. A novel that was read to someone by a loved one who has already passed on, a documentary read on one of your travels around the world, or simply a book you enjoy while sipping your coffee on cold winter days next to your fireplace.

Furthermore, printed copies not only allow you to read them, they also give you the chance of marking and highlighting important passages, paragraphs or interesting quotes. You either want to keep them as a reminder but also to share them with other interested parties. This is also one of the magical impacts that a physical book has on the experience of a reader and the way that people can build special and personal relationships with these books. These books can be reminders, give you comfort or make you laugh in times when you are sad.

Moreover, the process of selecting your book in a bookstore is like walking in a meadow of flowers. The shelves are full of different publications, where each one looks more interesting than the other and still you have to make a choice. The different and exciting criteria that fall into a readers’ consideration can only be found in printed versions. For example, a book’s cover, the chosen paper, the paper’s thickness, the fonts used for the copy text, the book’s weight and smell are attributes that make them individual, when compared to others.

Despite the fact that e-readers and e-books are constantly on the rise, paper books bear a certain value for readers that digital copies will never be able to replace. This could be either the remembrance of special happenings, the former possession of your relatives or a keepsake or comfort to go to in difficult times. Not only the possession of books brings the readers enjoyment, it is also the strolling through libraries and bookstores, smelling the air of used paper and carrying the weight of old stories that will make most bookworms smile, bring a sparkle to their eyes and force them to keep them for a lifetime.


Memories from my past~student writing

My Favourite Places

I can say that I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up in a small city among many cousins who were the same age as me. My mother is from a small town near my hometown, where we have a lot of relatives. We visited it every 6 months. The city is called Palermo, and it has several rivers, fields, trees, and good places to share time with your friends and family. Its environment is perfect for raising children. My cousins and I used to go to the river every weekend for swimming and making up new adventures and stories. We ran around the town playing different games such as soccer, hide and seek (it was the most common and exciting game for us), and parades. Moreover, we visited an uncle who lived on a farm, where all the family sat around a fireplace to listen to his old stories about ghosts. It was a great family moment, but at the same time, scary.

My other favourite place was my paternal grandmother’s home. She lived on a small farm, surrounded by nature. It did not have rivers, but instead, it had a lot of trees. I had good adventures with my 3 brothers in that place. We climbed trees to reach fruit, for instance, guayabas, mangos, avocados, mangas (it is a big mango), and guanabanas. Sometimes, my brothers made mischief and my grandmother always got mad. However, she calmed down quickly and we continued playing. She told us stories about when she was younger. We really enjoyed the time we shared with her.

Although I loved and enjoyed every moment with my brothers and cousins in those wonderful places, I hated the mosquitos. I had to wear repellent and long-sleeved T-shirts every single day. Otherwise, I could get painful and itchy hives. In spite of my precautions, I always got hives. Other bad memories about my adventures with my cousins are when my twin cousins pushed me into the river in deep areas with a strong stream. Luckily, their father, ‘’other uncle’’ always rescued me or I did it for myself, but finally I learned to swim and my cousins grew up. Therefore, this event only happened a couple of times.

To sum up, I enjoyed my childhood, sharing time with my cousins and brothers. So, if somebody asks me about how many friends I had as a child, I would say that I had few friends because most of my time was spent with my family.

A “Near-Death” Experience

I grew up in a small city close to Avignon, south of France. My city is surrounded by nature. As a child, I loved biking around with my friends, building tree houses or dams on the river. I have this nostalgic memory about this dam we built with my friend Remy. We were 12 and it was the summer season. Because school was done, we spent our whole time playing outside. Unfortunately and unusually, it can be rainy some days during the summer. When that was happening, we were pretty bored with Remy. However, during this boring rainy afternoon, we decided to plan what to do the next day. We thought it could be a great idea to build a dam, so we figured out where to do that, and what we would need. We decided a location not too far away, because we would have to bring stuff. Then we prepared all the equipment we needed in the garage at my house, such as ropes, wood planks, and nails. Also, because it was a big project, we prepared snacks and beverages for the big day and we also thought that taking our swimsuits could be a good idea. We were really excited about our project. After completing the preparations, we agreed to meet the next day at 10 am at my home.

Then the day came. Remy arrived at 10 and we loaded our bikes with our materials. The adventure could start! After biking for twenty minutes, we arrived at our chosen location. It was a small river, stuck between two vineyards. After the rainy day, that day was a shiny day and it was already really hot even though it was only 11. Taking our swimsuits was definitely a good idea! We also had chosen this location because lots of bamboo was growing there. In addition to our wood planks, it would be the perfect material to build our dam. We started working by cutting bamboo and gathering rocks. However, we had an incident. Remy got a splinter in his hand. It was really often that we got those when we were building something with wood and it could ruin our plans, because that was painful. Anyways, we couldn’t give up our project so we had to operate. I was the doctor and I had to take the splinter out. Without the necessary material I was thinking that I couldn’t succeed and our day would be ruined. By chance, I managed to take the splinter out. Even now, I realize it was not an exploit for this particular day. It was vital, and succeeding made me really proud. After several hours of work, the dam was almost done when suddenly we heard someone yelling at us. It was a furious farmer with a rifle (gun) who was running towards us. In the beginning, we didn’t understand why he was so mad but because of our fear, we just grabbed all the stuff we could and we biked away as fast as we could. Unfortunately, we left behind a hammer, our snacks, and one towel. My parents weren’t happy about that. We understood later why the farmer was mad. Even though it was just a game for us, our dam blocked and slowed down the river and the farmer needed the water for his crops. Now I laugh about this story but when it happened I was scared to death and because of this story, it took Remy and me several years before going back there.

One summer vacation that changed my husband’s opinion

 Most average people spend all their lives running somewhere or for something. Someone is running to work because he or she is late, parents are running to school to pick up their children, another is running to buy a meal at a store, or I am running to a gym and running here and there all my life. But the most important thing is to enjoy every moment of our lives, because you can’t buy happiness with money.

One day, I stopped running and we decided that every year, our small family would travel to a new place. Two years ago, my husband and I went for summer vacation to Christina Lake in British Columbia. Our route to Christina Lake took almost 12 hours to drive and 971 kilometers on highways number 2, then number 22, and finally we drove on #3. Because my husband is the only one who drives, we stayed at Fernie for one night. Fernie is a small mountain town that has saved the Wild West style in their downtown. There, we had the most delicious ice cream from a local store, “Happy Cow”. During our trip, we saw a few old ghost towns and a very old mini-museum.

When we got to Christina Lake, we were surprised, because we saw that it was a very small town with a big and beautiful lake. Canadians say, “Christina Lake is one of the best-kept secrets in British Columbia”. For the whole week, our busy lives changed to lazy and relaxed lives. Every day, we had a regular cup of coffee with our neighbours. There was a very friendly squirrel, which visited us every morning. During the day, we went swimming and had our lunch on the beach or in a local café. One day it was cloudy and we went hiking on Cascade Gorge Trail and by the Christina River. In the evening, we usually stayed in the campground and cooked our supper on the barbecue. I almost forgot, one evening we had a country music concert at the campground. It was the most romantic night under a starry sky. And finally, when we came back to Edmonton, my husband said, “I learned how to enjoy life”. I just smiled because it had taken me a few years to convince him that we should stop running and have a vacation every summer. At this moment, I knew it was a new beginning for our family. It was the most fabulous time for our family, and we still discuss every pleasant moment of our trip to Christina Lake.



Books2Buy | Edmonton Public Library

Many students ask me how they can improve their vocabulary, as well as their writing, and in my opinion, the best way to do that quickly is to read as much as you can in English, about subjects that interest you.  New books are expensive, and if you borrow books from the library, you may find it hard to finish them within 3 weeks.  An excellent way to learn about many new things is to visit the Books2Buy booksale, which is held several times/year at the Stanley A. Milner Library, in downtown Edmonton.  It’s just upstairs from the Churchill LRT station.  The best selection is available early Friday morning, and the best deal is available on Sunday, when you can fill a whole box with used books for only $10!  For only $1-2/book, I recommend buying a good selection: some children’s books, non-fiction, English learning, and books that teach you how to do something new.  Don’t miss this opportunity!

Books2Buy | Edmonton Public Library.

Student writing, retell a story you know (students’ choice)

20150511 Write for Success writing

Turkey, an Interesting and Paradoxical Country

In the spring of 2009, I was in bed. It was about 2:30 am when the phone rang. I had a long distance call from Turkey! What an unexpected event for a Cuban, who was not supposed to know anybody from abroad, and even more, from a country so geographically distant.

In order to make a living in Havana, I was working as a musician at that time. One of my former bandmates had already been sent by the government to Turkey to work there under a contract. So, he contacted me that night to find out if I was interested in joining his band on a tour throughout the south of Turkey and Istanbul for five months. I didn’t think twice. Of course, no Cuban that I know would hesitate either.

The sensation of freedom that I experienced after arriving in a foreign country’s airport was overwhelming, considering that for Cubans, being able to travel abroad is not even a possibility. Firstly, Cubans don’t earn enough money to buy a plane ticket. Secondly, you need a visa to visit almost any country, and last but not least, is that at that time you had to have permission from the government to leave the country.
In addition to all of this excitement and my desire of being abroad for the first time, my expectations were exceeded once I started to discover an interesting and different new culture.

The first thing that really impressed me was the combination of old traditions and modern life throughout the country. In spite of the fact that Turkey was at one time considered to be a socialist country, Turks had indeed embraced capitalism.

If you travel across the country you notice right away the differences between small villages and big modern cities. Both have become tourist destinations for thousands of visitors a year. Small hamlets are often ancient. Their people still embrace traditions like weaving fascinating rugs, and if you are an enthusiast of eating well, you can get really addicted to their cuisine. Villages also look very clean although their houses are in disrepair, reflecting in my opinion, their pride and hard-working spirit. Big cities are in different ways always fascinating too. Places like Marmaris, Bodrum and Kucadaci have now become tourist destinations because of their beaches and active nightlife. But you can still experience the real life of an average Turk. These places have plenty of humble restaurants, markets and other attractions where interacting with nationals is very easy.

Istanbul is a unique city. About 20 million people live there. Its main streets are packed most of the time, mostly at night. Turks like going out for dinner, drinks and listening to music all the time, as you can see on Istiklal Kadeci, one of the most popular downtown streets in Istanbul. There are hundreds of restaurants in the neighbourhood, but it is difficult to find a table on a Saturday night. One example that illustrates how dynamic life is in the city is a bank employee who I met through a friend of mine one night at a pub. He and my friend spent the whole night drinking and eating until sunrise and they both went directly to their jobs that morning.

Turkey is an interesting place to discover. There is a mixture of the orthodox Muslim traditions and the new westernized country. Turks are still very nationalistic, proud of their origins and traditions, but they are taking the risk of building a modern and prosperous country.

Drawing a snake and adding feet (superfluous details)

This is an ancient Chinese story. There was a sacrificial activity that had just finished. Many people had come to help the employer. For appreciation, the employer had prepared some food and a pot of wine as a gift. But only one pot was not enough for everyone.

Everyone quieted down, and then someone suggested, “How about we have a drawing competition? We can paint on the ground, and the person who finishes a snake the first, will win the wine!” Everyone thought that was a brilliant idea, and they all agreed. So they started to draw.

A man drew very quickly, and he finished in an instant. He took the pot of wine and got ready to drink it, but he stopped and looked at the others who had not finished yet. And He thought, “They are so slow, let me show them what else I can do!” So he held the wine in his left hand, and started to use his right hand to draw feet for his snake. He said triumphantly:” You guys are so slow, look at me, I have even given the snake a few feet! It’s not too late yet!”

While he was drawing it and talking, another person had just finished his snake. Suddenly, the second person snatched the wine from the first person’s left hand immediately. The second person told the first person: “I won the competition. Have you ever met any snake with feet? I drew a snake, but you did not.” After that the second man started to enjoy the wine.

After this story, people comment based on the story, “Drawing a snake and adding feet”. This idiom means, “superfluous”. People try to be smart, and often do extra things, which even make things worse sometimes.

-From a Chinese idiom story

My story is fiction:

One morning, a five-year-old girl looked at the sky and wondered how it became so beautiful. She thought, “Can I touch this wonderful world?” After that, she ran home and asked her brother to go outside with her. When they came out, he didn’t ask any questions, and they walked and walked, until they were tired. Her brother asked where they were going, and she told him today we are going to touch that beautiful world. Her brother was older than her, so he understood what she wanted. He said, “My sister, we must go back home and ask our father to drive us there”. When they got home, she went to her father and asked for his help to get what she wanted. Her father couldn’t believe what his daughter was saying. He said, “My Honey, you must wait until you grow up, and if you still want to go at that time, you will go there.


Dear Ellen,

What a very enthusiastic class we have! Thank you for being there for us. You always come to teach us in Write for Success class with 100% full energy!

English Writing is the most daunting task for me! I have to face the music if I want to get a higher mark on my TOEFL or IELTS test. As you know, I have limitations in my English, especially in Academic Writing.

After my second class, I am going to make a list of what I have to improve in a very short time in order to improve my writing skill. Firstly, reading more, to become familiar with more words and their applications. I am going to read magazines, especially those magazines that relate to history, nature, sports, people and other things that interest me. By reading those magazines, I will get two benefits. Magazines are always entertaining to me and they only contain short stories, so I will not get bored easily. For the next step, I would like to read more novels. Actually, I prefer reading non-fiction stories, rather than fiction ones. Nowadays, people like watching television or movies more than reading! That includes myself!

Secondly, I would like to use more idioms or more advanced words in my academic writing. I have to build some vocabulary, including synonyms, and antonyms. I will get started from now on.

Thirdly, I will try to write everything, about any subject that matters to me in my everyday life. This is a writing activity that I have never done, only when I was at school, of course. I don’t know why, but somehow, I have done more reading than writing in my life.

I am eager to see the outcome of my writing class in four weeks time. Hopefully there will be progress in my learning curve. Can I do that? What’s a big challenge to myself!

Yours sincerely,

Name On The Red Paper

P is the only son of mine. He has played computer games since he was thirteen years old. He was knowledgeable in science. He read a lot, including books about finances, war, politics, and life in New York.

One day, he requested a flight ticket to New York from me. He wanted a one-way ticket. He wanted to stay in New York, and he did not want to come back to Edmonton again. He thought that he could make a good life there, because there are many casinos there. If he were smart enough and lucky, he could become a billionaire. He would be rich.

I was shocked by this request. I was going to lose him. He was in danger. I couldn’t imagine what kind of life would be in his future. I worried and worried, and I thought about how to stop him, and how to change his mind. After a couple days of thinking, I phoned a fortune-teller to discuss this situation. He gave me advice. He wanted me to write my son’s name and birthday on a red paper, put it into a small box, and then seal it. Never open it again. I did this. This took some days to make it work. By the way, I postponed buying a ticket for him. I was trying to show him how good it would be if he stayed in Canada, as well as how much love we shared. The days slowly passed on. Finally, he forgot the ticket to New York.

He went to U of A and listened to me about studying in our country to become a dentist. I never opened the box.

I am getting older now. I started to think about what would happen, if one day I passed away, and nobody opened the envelope for me. After discussing it with my husband, I decided to open it. I opened it last week. I prayed to Buddha, “Please protect P; please give him a peaceful life”. I’ve lifted a heavy weight from my shoulders now. It was my secret, and I didn’t want to keep it for my full life.

My story: I worked in Brooks, for the company called Lakeside in Alberta. It’s a meat company, and there was a time that I left at 2:30 in the morning to come to Edmonton. This was on January 22, 2001. It was very cold, the weather was bad, and my car was making some noise while I was driving. Suddenly the car stopped on the road. I got out of the car, and then waved at every car. However, the first car that stopped was my neighbour. What can I say? I am a lucky woman, and that’s my story. Thank you.

A popular narrative story I used to hear

This tale, all parents have told it since long ago, to small kids, usually in the evening after dinner. At my earlier age, all fellows like me were very fascinated to hear about it, and we never missed the nightly get-togethers, which never bored anyone. Even nowadays, adults from my tribe have shared and reported this story to children, grandchildren, and it still is popular forever.

The tale is about animals who lived in the community. One of them was very smart with a strong bond to his widowed mother. He was called “KABUNDGI” a small and smart animal. One day, the younger animals decided to kill their parents because of lack of food in the community. Everyone followed this decision and killed his parents. Only Kabundgi didn’t do so.

Life kept going in the same way, which means it became worse and worse, and there was no chance of getting food. Crime increased in the community, and most of the animals became scrawny, starving, and sick. After all this, the community figured out that Kabundgi was the only one in good shape, and wasn’t affected, and they wanted to know how come?

Elephant, the chief, made an investigative group after the small fellow, Mr. Kabundgi. They learned that he had escaped in the forest many times, after checking to see that no one was around him. The investigation revealed that Kabundgi had a secret, which was, after he was a long way into the wilderness, he stopped, and started singing further up a high and huge tree. The song was to call someone, please him, and beg him. The others hid in the bush and Kabundgi never saw them.

The song with a specific melody was a sign to be identified before gaining access to the tree. He had to sing it three times in this way, “You are the lovely mother for everybody, the others killed and ate their mothers, instead of doing that I hid you very far in a secret tree where nobody could find you, and you are the special one”.

He had seen his mother many times, and he ate what his mother cooked. After a short rest, Kabundgi went back to the community without any clue that his secret was already revealed. One day, the chief sent three of the others to kill Kabundgi’s mother. Upon arriving under the high tree, they tried 3 times to sing like Kabundgi but they couldn’t get it. The fourth time, one of them perfectly imitated Kabundgi’s voice and his mother opened the access. They ate Kabundgi’s food and killed his mother. After this, they made some nice meat from Kabundgi’s mother’s body, and they left the place.

Kabundgi showed up late, tried several times to be identified and never got any response from his mother. Therefore, he decided to enter, and he was surprised that his mother was absent but left him a nice dinner. Without any suspicion about the meat, he took a short rest as a routine. When he wanted to leave, something fell from above, and it was his mother’s head. He realized that his dinner had been made from his mother’s body, and he started crying. It was very horrible for him.

It took a while to recover from what had happened. One day, he apologized to everyone about what he had done by not killing his mother at the same time as the others. He invited everybody to a big party he would soon organize, and the entire community accepted the invitation he gave. The day of the event, no one missed the party, and they enjoyed the big fiesta. But, earlier, the smart Kabundgi prepared fire pits surrounding the area, and later, during the time of the celebration, he started the fire in the pits, and everyone died. That was the way Kabundgi avenged his mother’s death. This tale pushes kids like myself to be close to their mothers.


Tea and coffee’s health benefits, from weight loss to cancer prevention revealed | Daily Mail Online

If you are taking the academic IELTS exam, one of your writing tasks involves interpreting information on a table, a chart, or a graph.  If you don’t have experience with this, it can be quite difficult.  I recommend that you look at charts or graphs every few days, about subjects that interest you, in order to practice this writing exercise.  This page has a lot of information from research, and some of it is presented in graph form.  See what you learn by looking it over.advantages and disadvantages of tea and coffee

Tea and coffee’s health benefits, from weight loss to cancer prevention revealed | Daily Mail Online.

21 Clever Writing Prompts That Will Unleash Your Students’ Creativity

21 Clever Writing Prompts That Will Unleash Your Students’ Creativity.

Many students feel that it’s very difficult to improve their writing.  We frequently use speaking, listening, and reading, if we’re living in an English-speaking environment.  However, many people rarely write, even in their first language.  This means that it will take you much more practice to improve your writing.  Fortunately, I believe that you can improve your writing much more rapidly than you can improve your other skills, because your work is right in front of you.  When you have corrected errors in your writing, you’re likely to remember those errors much more easily than a speaking error, and you’ll try harder to correct it.  What should you write about? You should write about anything and everything, what you did during the day, your plans for the future, arrangements with friends and family, instructions, anything.  These ideas are all a lot of fun.  Try them out some day, and see how your skills improve!

Compare and contrast: How can you become happier?

We all want to be happier in our lives, and we are lucky that so many scientists are looking closely at what will improve or reduce our happiness.  Here’s an excellent essay, as well as an excellent speech about ways to improve happiness.  It’s a great subject for a compare and contrast essay, as well as an excellent area for us to research for our own lives.  The essay says: “So instead of chasing happiness to the extremes, we may be better off pursuing happiness calmly and rationally.”  Arianna Huffington says,  “Modern science has really validated everything that philosophers and spiritual teachers have said about how giving is a shortcut to happiness. Now we have the data to prove it.”

Arianna Huffington on How to ‘Thrive’ – Knowledge@Wharton.

Happiness Hacks: The 10 Most Unexpected Ways to Be Happy.


Students respond to “What are neural pathways, and why are they important?”

Recently, students in my writing class watched the video about neural pathways and summarized the information that they got from the video.  They did a fantastic job, and if you read their responses, it will help you to understand the video better.

The original post is here:


Learning from the video, when people start to learn a new thing, their brain will create a contact to cross the tiny gap between every Neuron. Although the gap seems to be small, in our daily life it can still be a deep gap. Learning a new thing is like crossing a deep gap. Like a huge mountain you’ve never known or visited, the new things stands there, waiting for you. However, to climb the mountain, first you should try your best to cross the gap. How difficult it is! The first attempt is always not only quite hard but also dangerous. Using tools, the people in the video are trying to build a bridge between here and the other side. Feeling scared, some may stop and give up, and some may hesitate. Only by being brave enough, can you be successful. Also, on the trip, there are always some failures which may dull your enthusiasm, telling that you are a loser and you can’t finish you work. Therefore, it’s important for us to insist on trying again and again. Naturally, we will gradually become more and more skillful. As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day”. As time goes by, finally we will find we are successful.



In my opinion, understanding neural paths is really important because that knowledge would make it possible to change some undesirable habits and to make learning like an exercise routine. First, changing some undesirable behaviors is possible by repeatedly exchanging the undesirable action for another more acceptable action. On the other hand, learning new things is not only fun but it creates new paths in the brain which is an awesome exercise.


Good Habits Make You Feel Like You’re Gonna Die.  Published on May 31, 2012 by Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D. in Your Neurochemical Self

What’s a neural pathway, and why does it matter?. Published on June 04, 2014 in ellen’s esl teaching blog




We learn so many things in our life, and indeed, sometimes, learning new things is not easy for us. But we have something incredible in our brain that takes this new information, rearranges it, and keeps it until we need it. So how could our brain do this for us? Does it have some kind of miracle to help it?

Learning is about creating pathways. Our brain has billions of neurons and cells. Neurons help to connect brain cells to each other. Signals and electric impulses go thru neurons and between every brain connection in tiny gap called synapses. All the new things that we learn are through these electric signals. The electric signals have to jump to cross this gap and get from one side to other.

If I’d like to give you an example from life, I can use a mountain climber. They sometimes have to cross a deep ravine. Crossing a ravine for a climber is very similar to the electric signals crossing the gaps. Maybe you have to make a pathway between sides and this is not a thing you can do for the first time. After you cross the ravine, then you can do it again and again, and it gets easer. To learn something new is similar to crossing a ravine, so we need pathways. When the signals cross the gap between our cells again and again, we establish the most solid pathway, which is a neural pathway. These neural pathways help us to learn something new, and they are the miracles in our brain.


 What’s a neural pathway, and why does it matter?


Neural pathways help to link relatively distant areas of the brain or nervous system, associated with the local communication of grey matter. It helps us to learn new knowledge and to create new pathways trough the repetition process. The learning process is not easy, and it involves patience and time.


For that reason, when we are learning a new language or studying for a subject, we should have time to concentrate, practice and repeat the procedure. Especially knowing, when it is our first time studying or learning a material, it’s always difficult to process the information. The second time, it becomes a little easier, and successively, it becomes easier until you create a solid pathway. As a result, our brain internally changes, strengthening and creating new pathways in our brain, developing our knowledge and our way of thinking.


What’s a neural pathway, and why does it matter?


A neural pathway is a road where something new passes to the brain. When we learn anything new, it is difficult, complicated, hard and sometimes confusing, but if we learn and study continuously and repeat new information constantly, our brains will organize to accommodate the new ideas and we’ll able to use new information easily. For example, I had a poor sense of directions so I couldn’t go anywhere without navigation in Korea. However, I drove a lot to meet my customers everyday for my job and now, I know the main road and street of most cities and I can find route to anywhere easily without navigation. It was possible because of repetitive experience.


Neural pathways are the connections that transmit messages between brain nerves. They are formed from childhood when we start to learn for the first time. Then, they are intensified by more learning exercises. The more we learn, the more our connections are boosted and finally they are solidified. However, there are many learning pathways. It is possible to change a pathway or retrain the damaged part of the brain by exercising. Scientific methods can be used for retraining the brain. Transforming our common habits and setting a strong intention would be a useful way. High motivation can send our brain more pulses to make connections for learning. Focusing on outcomes of negatives habits can also motivate our brain to stop them and find a new positive way. However, it is very important to have a substitution for a negative habit. For example, we can replace smoking with jogging when we are stressed. Another important issue in retraining the brain is determination. If we believe that we can change a negative habit, our brain will be motivated and change unintentionally.





Advice to travellers to a new country (student writing)


Hi M,

T told me you are going to visit Naples, Italy next week for a couple of days. I am writing to you because I want give you some little suggestions that I hope will be useful during your vacation in Naples.  T told me you have booked a room in a B&B somewhere in the oldest part of the town. As you probably already know, people in Naples are very nice, and you will be surprised about their curiosity in getting to know you. Don’t be worried about chaotic traffic. After the first day, everything will be more comfortable for you. Food in Naples is very good; the city is famous for pizzas, and you can find the most original pizzas in the world there. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Pompeii. It’s not so far from the city, so you could reach it in around one hour by bus.

I hope you will have a good vacation in Naples,

See you soon,


Good Morning Mr. Page,

Here below, I would like to list some useful advice during your business trip in Paris. If it’s possible, it will be convenient to book your hotel near the conference building. Once you get to the airport in Paris, first call Mr. Blake’s mobile, and he will pick you up in half an hour.

I am attaching the conference agenda, highlighted in red.

Best Regards,


Hi K,

I know you got married to an Iranian boy and you have a plan to go to Iran for one month. You asked me to tell you something about our culture.  I know H told you something about Iran, but I want to tell you everything in detail. You will be extremely surprised when you go there because our culture is really different from Canadian culture.

I want to tell you how people greet each other when they meet each other for the first time, because I know you never met your husband’s family.  When you meet a female for the first time you can shake hands and kiss her. Three kisses are common in Iran, and some people hug each other for a second, but if he is male, it’s not common to kiss him. You can just shake hands and tell him you are happy to meet him. 

I know if you go there, your husband’s family will want to invite you to their house. Since it’s common in Iran that during the month after a wedding, all of the family has to invite a groom and bride to their house, I think you will go to parties every night!!!

I don’t know H’s family but in some families, people are quite religious, so they don’t drink any alcohol, and after a party they don’t have a dance. However, in some families you can drink alcohol and have a dance.

When they invite you to their house, it’s better to buy a gift for them. In Iran, sweets, cake and flowers are common, and you don’t have to buy them.   



Hi Ellen,

Thank you for sending me a request!

I’ll be so glad, to receive you in my home, and to show you my huge concrete city (Sao Paulo, Brasil), and we will have a lot of fun here!

Since it will be your first time in Brazil, I have some tips to make your trip to my country easier and safer; Follow these tips:

1) When you arrive at the SP airport, please pay attention to the right place to collect your baggage, because sometimes it’s not too clear.

2) Use the airport bus to come to SP. There are a lot of taxis, but they are so expensive since the airport is 1 hour away from SP. Come down to the Avenida Paulista.

3) Let me know what time your flight will arrive in Brazil. I’ll pick you up at the Avenida Paulista.

4) Please bring your credit cards (VISA, MASTER CARD) with you, and some Brazilian currency (Reals) because the dollar isn’t acceptable anywhere here, only reals!

5) I have a map of the city for you and a key to my home, so feel free to go as many places as you can, and anytime! A good way to get to know the city is by using public transport (bus, train and metro), because all of these kinds of transport are connected and also, you can use as many as you can in a period of 2 hours, paying only once, and the price is 3.00 reals (around 1.50 CA). But you need a card to use the transportation called “Bilhete Unico” and I have one to lend to you, but you need to pay in any bus, or metro station.

6) If you walk around the downtown (Centro de SP), please take care of your things, because there are a lot of homeless people in that area, and is safest to go there with simple clothes and a backpack.

7) At bars and restaurants, usually we pay a 10% tip for the service, but we just do it if the service was good. You can decide if you want to pay or not.

8) In almost of all the clubs here there’s a tax to enter, and to stay. Usually they open at 11:00 PM, but the people start to arrive around 11:30 and the clubs close at 7:00 AM. Don’t forget your ID.

9) Brazilians are very communicative, so don’t be afraid if people start to speak with you and want to know about your life. If you don’t feel comfortable just say:  Thank you for asking, I need to run. (A little white lie, but it works).

10) It’s common in Brazil for people to invite you to dinner, to drink beer, or to go out. But being on time is not really customary. If the appointment is 9:00 you should arrive at 9:15, because if you arrive before that, you’ll probably wait! But there are people who arrive on time too. BTW, if you aren’t on time, you don’t need to worry about that.

11) We don’t have taboos about anything; it’s a very open country.

Be my guest to drink some beer with me, and I’ll enjoy telling you more about my country, my city and the best places to visit!

Have a safe trip!

I am waiting for you!






Hi M,

I know that you will come for my birthday party. But you have to know that in my country (Macedonia) the customs are different than in Canada. In my country I must organize everything: buying the birthday cake, getting something to drink and I have more surprises for you because you will be my special guest. Please don’t worry about a gift. In my country just your presence is a gift. Also, for your clothes, most people prefer to come in casual clothes. I prefer that too. Here, you will meet so many people. Usually, they prefer you to call them by their first names. I plan to buy special beer for you. But you must taste our traditional drink “Rakija”, which is made by my grandfather. I think that you will love it J. Don’t worry my friend, take your time, you could come late. JIn my country, punctuality is the worst side of all people. They always come late. Usually we start with rock music and when everyone gets drunk we finish with traditional music from my country. You will see the special traditional dance. I’m sure that you will love it J It will be very funny. Can’t wait to see you.


Hey A,


How are you doing? I’m looking forward to seeing you next Friday. I will pick up you at the airport, in Lisbon, Portugal, by 10am like we planned. After that, I’ll drop you off at the hotel, and we can have lunch there. There is a really nice restaurant, with the best chef in the country.

I would like to suggest that you bring some different kind of clothes with you, like: more formal (because we will go to certain meetings and events), and lots that are informal (because it is summer and we’ll go to the beach, to the mountains, to the river and to different cities).

This is a small country but we have so much to see, from the ocean, to the castles, the churches and the mountains! We’ll go out dancing and have a drink every night if you want, you will see that you will love it 😉


See you soon,

Big hug and kiss****




Basic Writing for ESL Students | Sample

Basic Writing for ESL Students | Sample.

In many Asian countries, it’s not common to write in paragraph form.  Students often write one sentence at a time, and then they start the next sentence on a new line.  This simple explanation shows you a little bit about what a paragraph looks like.  We connect related ideas together in paragraph form, and this is important to write English well.

Questions and answers about a vacation (Simple Past)


I posted in March about my warm weather trip to San Diego, and I included a lot of photos.  Students have been studying vacations, and Simple Past, so I asked them to write questions to me about my trip.  Here are their questions and my answers.

Hello Ellen, I have some questions about your trip to San Diego, please.

1) What was the main reason for your trip?

-I went to San Diego to meet my friends.

2) How was your trip?

-My trip was awesome.

3) Were the costs of your trip high?

-No, my trip was very affordable. My flight wasn’t expensive, and my hostel and bicycle rental were very inexpensive.

4) I saw your marathon pictures, tell me about it.

-I ran and walked a half marathon (21 kilometres).  I really enjoyed it, but the weather was very hot in San Diego (26C), and we had a very cold winter in Edmonton (-30C), so that was difficult for me.

5) How long was your trip?

-On the way there, I travelled from midnight until 10:30 am.  On the way home, I travelled from 4:30 until 11:30 pm.

6) Who was with you on the journey?

-I travelled alone.

7) I saw some pictures of the beautiful beach.

– Tell me about it.  I really wanted to visit the Pacific Ocean, while I was so close.  There is a short ferry trip from San Diego to Coronado Island, and the beach there is very nice.  The water was warm enough for me to go into the surf.

8) What was the duration of the trip and by what means of transportation did you travel?

-I flew there, and it took 10½ hours on the way there, but only 7 hours on the way back.

9) How was staying there and what about eating and restaurants?

-It was wonderful to visit San Diego.  The restaurants near my hostel were fantastic.

10) Was your trip fun?

– It was lots of fun!


Hi Ellen, tell me about your trip to San Diego.

Did you have fun?

-I had a great time.

So, how was the flight? Did you have many problems in your flight?

-My flights were fine.  My only problem was that my flight to San Diego was cancelled, so I arrived later than I planned.

How long did you stay in San Diego?

-I stayed in San Diego for 4 nights

Where did you go in San Diego?

-I went to the Marine Recruiting Depot, Coronado Island and beach, the Air and Space Museum, the Art Gallery, and the Old Town.  I spent a lot of time in the Gaslamp District, with historical buildings.

Would you recommend any place or restaurant to me?

-I think that the whole city is very nice to visit, and I would really recommend the art gallery, and Nobu Restaurant

What did you do for most of your time?

-I did many different things, visiting my friends, running a race, going bike riding, and looking at the scenery.  It was great to have many different activities to enjoy.

Did you complete a ½ marathon, and how much time did you take to complete it?

-I did complete the half marathon (21.1 kilometres) and it was very hot that day (+26C).  It took me 3½ hours to complete.

What activities did you think were more interesting in San Diego?

-I really enjoyed the downtown area, the art gallery and visiting the ocean.  I’ve heard that the zoo and the marine park are amazing, but I didn’t want to take so much time and money to visit them on this trip.  I wanted to visit Tijuana, Mexico, but I heard that it’s very slow to come back into the USA.


About San Diego

1-Where’s San Diego city?

-In Southern California, on the Mexico border

2- How do I get to San Diego?

-You can fly, or you can drive for a few days.

3-How was your trip to San Diego?

-It was awesome

4-Where did you stay in San Diego?

-I stayed in a hostel, downtown

5-Did you go to there by airplane?

-Yes, I flew there through Houston, and I came back through Seattle

6-Was the hotel good?

-My hostel was amazing, so affordable, and very comfortable and convenient.

7-What did you eat there?

-I ate a lot of Mexican food, seafood, and pizza.  My best meal was at Nobu, a famous Japanese restaurant.

8- Did you have a good trip?

-It was excellent

9-Did you have any problems?

-My only problem was that my flight to get there was cancelled, so I arrived later than I planned.

10-What did you see there that was interesting?

-I loved visiting the ocean, and the Art Gallery was fantastic.

11- Were the people polite?

-Yes, people were quite helpful there.

12- Was the food good?

-The food was fantastic.

13-Was there terrible traffic there?

-No.  I rode a bicycle and I took the bus and trolley to get around.  It was very easy and inexpensive.

14- Did you meet any new people in San Diego?

-Yes, I met people from my online running club, from the November Project club, and at my hostel.

14-I heard San Diego is very beautiful country right?

-It is a pretty city.  I prefer the scenery in San Francisco and Palm Springs, though.

15- Did you have a cruise on the beach?

-I went to the beach by ferry, and I went in the water there.

16-Did you swim at the beach?

-I walked into the water, but I didn’t go swimming.  It’s dangerous to swim alone in the ocean.

17-Was the hotel’s room great?

-I really liked my hostel room.  It was quiet and comfortable, and there were plugs for my computer and phone.

18-Who did you go to with?

-I travelled alone.  I met many friends from other cities, when I arrived.

19-How was the flight?

-The flights were fine.

20-Did you have a safe flight?


21- Actually what did you usually do in San Diego?

-I never went to San Diego before, so I spent a lot of time looking around to see about the environment there.

Thank you so much.


Hello Ellen how are you doing today? Actually I don’t have enough information about San Diego city. But I think San Diego is a very nice city because I saw so many pictures and there were so many people looking very funny and friendly, and then there were so many beaches. I thought you had a beautiful time in San Diego. I think there were so many activities. We can do anything.




Were you happy on your trip?

-Yes, I really enjoyed my trip.

Did you visit the Zoo?

-No, I didn’t visit the zoo.  The San Diego Zoo is very famous, but it’s quite expensive, and it takes a long time to visit.

Did you sleep in a good hotel?

-I stayed at a great hostel.  It was very inexpensive, and the location was so convenient.

Did you visit the museum?

-I visited the space and flight museum and also the art gallery.  The art gallery was amazing.

Did you have a problem at the Mexican border?

-I decided not to go to Mexico, because I heard that it was very slow to return to the USA>

Where did you change planes?

-I changed planes in Houston and Seattle.

Who travelled with you?

-I travelled alone, but I met many friends from the US, while I was in San Diego.

Did you have rain on your trip?

-The weather was hot and dry on my trip.

Did you watch any shows?

-I didn’t attend any shows.

Did you go alone?

-Yes, I did


The art gallery had work by many famous artists, like Salvador Dali.