Spring forward…

It’s that time of year to Spring forward! What does that mean? It means that in the USA and many other countries, time will move one hour forward on March 14th, Sunday morning at 2am. It’s called Daylight Savings Time (DST).

It starts every year on the 2nd Sunday of March and it ends every year on the first Sunday in November at 2am, which it reverts to standard time. When we change in November, we say we: “Fall back.”

There are 2 states that don’t observe Daylight Savings Time in the US and one province in Canada. The states are: Hawaii and Arizona. Also, these US territories don’t observe it: American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands. The Canadian province is Saskatchewan – most of the province does not follow Daylight Savings Time.

Why do we have Daylight Savings Time? Why do we change our clocks 2 times a year? Because it saves electricity. It gives us an extra hour of sunlight. This means we don’t need to use lights in our house, as much during this extra hour. Also, the government says that it prevents car accidents. There are fewer accidents in the daylight.

In 2007 they increased Daylight Savings Time by 1 month, this way we can save even more electricity.

So, if you ever hear someone say: “Spring forward, and Fall back,” now you know what they are talking about.

Giving Compliments

In American society it is very normal and nice to give compliments to friends or to anyone. Women especially love to hear compliments. (I know I do.) Here are a few expressions and situations that might help you learn when and how to give compliments.

Friend to Friend:
You can give compliments on clothing or other things.
“I love your sweater, where did you buy it?” – You ask where did you buy it not because you want to go out and buy the exact same one, but more out of interest.

“Your hair looks great, did you style it differently?”
“Wow, you look great. Have you been exercising?” or “You look really fit. Have you lost weight?” – You have to be careful with these. You don’t want to offend the person by implying that they are overweight or that they never exercised before. I also think that a man shouldn’t say these to women, because the woman might be offended.

“You’re my best friend.” “You’re sweet!” “You’re the greatest!” “You’re the best” – These are used when you want to comment on someone’s personality and how they act towards you. Or perhaps they just did you a favor.

“Your presentation was wonderful!” “I love the book you wrote.” “These cookies you made are delicious!”

Parents to children or teachers to children:
“I’m so impressed with you!” “Wow, look what you did!” “I’m so proud of you.” “You did great!” “Way to go”

Children to parents and teachers:
“You are a wonderful mom/dad! I love you!”
“You are my favorite teacher.” “I’m glad I’m in your class.”

Man to a women:
“Your eyes are beautiful.” “You are so gorgeous.” “Your hair is so silky.” “You have a beautiful complexion.”

Women to men:
“You’re handsome.” “You are so hot!” “You’re good-looking!”

Responses to compliments:
Thank you (so much)
That’s so kind of you to say so.
I’m glad you like (liked) it.
It was nothing.

What American kids do after school

After school in the USA there are tons of activities in which boys and girls can participate. There are sports, clubs, academic competitions, and band. These activities are called extracurricular activities.

The first category is sports. Children can start participating in sports as early as they would like. They can play these sports in high school: football, golf, tennis, swimming, basketball, baseball, track, volleyball and a few others. Football is by far the most popular sport. But, not all schools offer all of the sports. Some of the poorer and smaller schools don’t have as many sports offered. Then you compete with schools in nearby towns. And if you win enough competitions, you an compete in a state event and win scholarships for college.

There is also cheerleading. It is considered a sport. But, the life of a cheerleader is for a whole other post.

There are many clubs kids can participate in as well. There is Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. And cub scouts and brownies for younger kids. In those groups, they learn how to go camping, fishing, tie knots and do a lot of outdoor activities. They earn patches that they can then put on their vests or other clothes. For fundraisers, Boy Scouts sell pop corn and Girl Scouts sell cookies.

There is also a club called 4H. Me and my siblings were in this club when we were younger. They have activities and contests for cooking, sewing, growing vegetables and more. It’s a club for all ages of children.

There are also academic competitions. They have lots of contests for kids from kindergarten until their last year in high school. The youngest students have a competition called story telling. They are told a story and then they have to tell the story back to the judges as best as they can. They have contests like: music memory – where you have to listen to and memorize classical songs, who composed them and their titles. They have spelling and math contests. They also have poetry reading contests, as well as debate contests. You compete for a place on the team in your own school and then you go to competitions with other schools.

Band is another activity that kids can participate in. Depending on the school, you can start band at different ages, the norm is about 5th grade. You get to choose the instrument you want to play. You can then either buy the instrument or rent one. Practice takes place during 1 period during the school day, but also there are times outside of the school day where the kids will have competitions. You start doing marching band when you are in high school. This is where you learn how to march in the middle of football field during a football game.

There are other extracurricular activities as well, but these are the most noteworthy ones.

An American Grocery Store

I decided to take some pictures of an American grocery store today. You can say supermarket or grocery store. They mean pretty much the same thing. Where I live grocery store is said much more frequently though.Here is the entrance to the grocery store. They usually have weekly specials at the front of the store.

This is a picture of the produce area. Produce is fruits and vegetables. Here you can see potatoes and onions.
Here is another view of the produce area. You can see different kinds of squash and other vegetables. Here is a picture of the frozen food aisle. You can see my daughter pointing to something she wants me to buy for her.This is a frozen dinner. It has everything you need for a complete meal for 1 person. This one has fried chicken, potatoes, corn and even a dessert – chocolate cake. These are usually put into the microwave and heated for about 10 minutes.
Here is a child version of a frozen dinner. It has chicken nuggets, corn, macaroni and cheese and a dessert. (This was what my daughter was pointing to in one of the pictures above. No, I didn’t buy it for her.)
This is the junk food aisle. There are tons and tons of chips! This is the candy aisle. Tons of yummy chocolate candy bars! The seasonal section is at the front of the store where you checkout. Since Easter is coming, the they are selling chocolate bunnies, stuffed animals and other Easter items.

The Easter Bunny!

Ahhhh…It’s March and Easter is around the corner. It’s on April 4th this year. Every year it changes due to religious calendars, but it always falls on a Sunday. During this month there will be several Easter egg hunts and other Easter activities for kids to Enjoy. I thought I’d write about some of our traditions and introduce some Easter English vocabulary as well.

An Easter egg hunt is for kids of all ages. People put candy, coins or small presents in plastic eggs and then they hide them all over a park or garden and let kids find them. Last year I went to 4 huge Easter Egg hunts and my kids came home with loads and loads of plastic eggs and candy. Some people use dyed hard-boiled eggs for their Easter egg hunts, but this is less often because if you leave out the eggs too long in the sun, they could spoil and make you sick.

Dying eggs is a huge tradition. You can buy a kit with dye, stickers and other things to decorate your eggs with. The dye is in the form of a tablet and then you drop the tablet into water. After boiling your eggs, you can then dip them in the colored water. There are also plastic wraps you can put on your eggs that will shrink and fit completely around the egg when you dip the egg in water.

Let’s not forget about the Easter Bunny…. On the night before Easter Sunday when all of the children are sleeping, the Easter Bunny goes into the houses and leaves chocolate bunnies, marshmellow chicks, and other types of candy. Also, he may leave toys for the kids. He puts them in a Easter basket usually.

One of the songs that kids sing for “Easter is Here comes Peter Cotontail.” Below is a link to the lyrics and song. Enjoy!


Life in Texas!

It’s important to learn about some of the cultural aspects of a country when learning their language. Below is a text I wrote about life in Texas. Read it, then answer the questions below to make sure you understood it all. Post a comment if you have any questions!

I live in South Carolina now, but I was born and raised in Texas. When I tell people I’m from Texas they always ask me if I know how to ride a horse. And the answer is yes, I can. But, not everyone rides horses in Texas and not everyone is a cowboy or cowgirl in Texas. I did wear cowboy boots and special cowboy jeans. I grew up with horses and we had a big ranch. So, in many ways I lived the classic life of a Texan.

However, the interesting thing is that I don’t speak like a Texan. Most of my friends and family from Texas have a drawl. All of the words are said longer and slower than in other areas of the US.
I am from San Antonio in Texas. San Antonio is rich in Tex-Mex culture. You can find the best Mexican food in all of the United States there (in my opinion). There are also lots of country-western dance clubs and you can learn how to dance the two-step.

Texas is a huge state, so the climate is different in various regions. Dallas can be cold and snowy in the winter. Where I’m from in San Antonio, it is not very cold in the winter, but is sure does get hot in the summer, up to 110 degrees F.

To me, the people in Texas are some of the friendliest Americans you’ll meet. And we do sometimes say, “Howdy” when we greet someone and we definately say “y’all” when we speak of more than 1 person.

Now, you can read these questions and see if you undestood what I wrote by answering the questions…
1. What is another word for ‘hello’ that is used in Texas?

2. How hot does it get in San Antonio, TX?

3. What other culture influences life in San Antonio, TX?


1. Howdy

2. 110 degrees F.

3. Mexican

The differences between British and American English

There are a ton of differences between British English and American English, but I thought I’d highlight some of the ones that stick out in my head that I notice that you may run into.

The biggest difference that I hear is the difference between vocabulary:



Spelling differences:

theater/theatre (er is switched to re)
favorite/favourite (0 is changed to ou in many words)
memorize/memorise (lots of words where the z and s are changed)
check/cheque (ck -> que)

Those are just a few of the differences that I come across often, to see more differences, refer to these websites:


The School System in the USA

Today I wanted to write about the school system in the United States from my view. It may vary a little from state to state, but on the whole, this is how the system works and the options parents have for their children.

A lot of mothers are going back to work right after they have children. Mothers can take maternity leave for up to 3 months and still keep their job. Lots of mothers opt to take less maternity leave, but they are required to take at least 6 weeks off. Thus, a baby can be as young as 6 weeks old in order to go to a day care.

A day care is a place for children 6 weeks old to 5 years old. They are in the day care for about 9 hours a day while both parents work. There are other options for parents as well. One option is for one of the 2 parents to quit their job and be a stay-at-home mom or dad. Another option is to get a babysitter or a nanny to stay at home with the children. A nanny is much more expensive than putting your child in day care.

When children are 3 or 4 years old, they can also attend a half-day preschool. At preschools they can learn their alphabet and engage in activities which will prepare them for school. Many stay-at-home moms choose to put their children into preschool for 2 days a week, so that they can have a break.

Kindergarten in the United States starts when the child turns 5 years old. But, they have to be 5 years old before Sept. 1st or they have to wait for the next school year to go to school. There are 3 types of schools: Public schools, private schools and religious private schools. Public schools are free and are paid for through property taxes for houses. Private schools and religious private schools cost money to attend. The cost depends on where you live and the quality of the school, but where I live it is about $4000-$5000 per school year.

The school system consists of Elementary school (or primary), Middle school and then High school. High school students are usually 18 years old when they graduate.

There are also magnet schools for arts or sciences. These schools are special schools where you have to excel in arts or sciences in order to attend them.

Another option is to home school your children. This is where the kids stay at home with their mom or dad and their mom or dad teaches them what they would normally learn in school. This used to be very rare, but now more and more families are turning to this option.

After high school, you basically have 4 options: 1. join the work force 2. join the military 3. go to a community college (Jr. college) or 4. go to a University (also called a college).

As always, please leave a comment if you have any questions!

Driving in the USA part 2

Hi there! I hope you are all having a wonderful day learning English! Below is the script to the podcast from yesterday. Please leave a comment if you have any questions at all! I’m always willing to help!


Hi, My name is Yvonne and this is The English Guru podcast #5. Today I wanted to talk a little about driving in the United States since all countries have different laws. First of all, when you are 15 years old you can begin to drive. You take a classs where you learn the laws and then you practice driving as well. After you pass the course, you can take a test and get your ‘driver’s permit’. When you are 15, you can drive, but only with an adult in the car with you and only after you have passed the course.

When you turn 16, then you can drive by yourself anywhere you want to go. Most Americans go to the Department of Motor Vehicle, the place where you get your driver’s license, the day they turn 16 in order to get their driver’s license that very day. This is a huge day for American teens. It symbolizes their independence.

Concerning laws, it is the law that you have to wear your seat beat in the car. If you do not wear it, you will fined. Also, all babies and children must be in a properly secured car seats or else the adults will be fined.

An intersting thing is that in most states you are allowed to drive while talking on your cell phone. You see this a lot as you drive around the city, people driving with one hand while holding and talking on their cell phone with the other hand.
Unless a person lives in New York or another huge city in the US, they usually own a car. And families usually own 2 cars. The problem is, that public transporation is usually not reliable or not accessible in lots of areas. Where I live, there are no buses or any public transporation at all. So, it is necessary for me to own a car.

This is the end of podcast #5

Driving in the USA!

Here is a podcast on some of the more interesting aspects of driving in the USA. For example, how old you have to be to drive in the United States and a few driving laws as well.


Tomorrow I will post the script to the podcast.
Also, please let me know if there is any topic you would like me to have a lesson about!
Have a great day! (or night!)