English Grammar HELP and Podcasts for the Inquisitive ESL Student: We're Interactive!

Stop by our friendly HELP! Desk, where English grammar is made easy to understand. Listen to an audio of a story written by an ESL student. Ask that question that you've needed an answer to. We have the answers for you, whether you are a native speaker or somebody learning English as a Second Language, whether you are a student or writing a business letter. A new podcast every week.


November 10th, 2010 10:14:14 MST -0700
My Pet, My Dog: Americans' Love Affair with Pets
Americans are in love with pets: dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, birds, and more! Some Americans even have pet rocks! Today we interview one American dog owner; join us for a fun interview!
November 2nd, 2010 14:19:57 MDT -0600
Noun-Pronoun Agreement: Mr. President and the First Lady
Nouns ("Mr. President") and pronouns ("he") must get along in English! They must agree about things like person (I, you, he/she/it, they) and number (singular or plural). In today's podcast, we practice with agreement of nouns and pronouns and listen to some examples from your essays. And there are opportunities for you to practice as well. And Mrs. President? She must be in agreement as well.
October 17th, 2010 16:22:15 MDT -0600
What Is a Verb? We Podcast about English Grammar
What is a verb? For the learner of English, the answer isn't always so obvious. In today's podcast, we learn the difference between time reference and verb tense. Join us as we explore the past, the present and the future!
October 15th, 2010 13:30:13 MDT -0600
English Grammar: Gerunds and Infinitive Phrases_Pattern_4
Next in our series in English grammar: gerunds and infinitive phrases! In this podcast lesson, we discuss the pattern Verb + Noun or Pronoun + Infinitive Phrase.
October 13th, 2010 16:12:26 MDT -0600
English Grammar: Gerunds and Infinitive Phrases_10_2
If you want to be confused with English grammar, just look at the problem of gerunds and infinitive phrases! At the ESL Help! Desk, with our podcasts, we make it easy for you. In this lesson, we discuss verbs when the object is an infinitive phrase.
September 9th, 2009 10:38:46 MDT -0600
Present Perfect Continuous: How've You Been Feeling Lately?
Ever wonder when to use present perfect continuous? Ever wonder how it's different from present perfect? Here we will answer your questions and give you lots of examples from authentic language.
June 16th, 2009 14:53:32 MDT -0600
Imperatives and Commands: Have a Nice Summer!
Want to learn how to express a command? Here we teach you positive ("do") and negative ("don't") commands. And we wish you a good summer at the same time!
February 12th, 2009 21:21:02 MST -0700
Paper or Plastic?
Here's a lesson in which you can learn how to save money, save energy, save the Earth, and improve your English grammar all at the same time!
January 20th, 2009 08:08:01 MST -0700
Barak Obama: A New Day for the USA
Today is the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. Millions are taking to the National Mall in Washington DC to witness Barak Obama take the Oath of Office. Mr. Obama is making history: He is the first person of African-American heritage to become the leader of our nation. Come join us as we watch history being made.
January 15th, 2009 12:07:13 MST -0700
Definitely Fattening!
We continue our lessons with demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, and those. We embellish our exploration of these, adding subject-verb agreement (is, are, was, were). And we learn more about food from countries such as Italy, Spain, Columbia, Israel and the Middle East, South Korea, and even the United States. Join us for a tasty lesson.
January 7th, 2009 17:50:53 MST -0700
I'll Have Some of That, Please!
You're in a bakery, a restaurant, or a store, and you see something you want - but you don't know how to ask for it! You don't have the right vocabulary. Do you point to what you want? We're going to talk about this and that, and these and those. And we're going to see some delicious international foods while we're learning!
December 17th, 2008 14:03:54 MST -0700
I Hate Finals!
Do you hate finals? If you are or have every been a college student or a college teacher, or the parent of a college student, you know how stressful final exams can be. We're going to discuss finals, listen to some of the complaints people have about them, and listen to some suggestions about how to deal with the anxiety and stress of final exams.
December 11th, 2008 19:38:21 MST -0700
Code Name ESL
Confused by acronyms ESL, EFL, TESOL, L1 and L2? Do you feel like an outsider with all these codes? We have good news for you: You and other learners of English are not alone, and have come to the right place. Today we talk a little about these codes and others and try to sort matters out.
March 25th, 2008 12:41:07 MDT -0600
The Inner Circle
This week we are kicking off a new feature for our users - the Inner Circle. The Inner Circle is for learners of all levels - beginner, intermediate, and advanced. In each of the Inner Circle's weekly lessons, you are presented with three mini-lessons, which feature the writing of other learners of English from all over the world. One writer might be from your native country! We know you'll enjoy reading these lessons and essays. Read an essay that has grammar errors in it; correct the errors. Or just enjoy reading an essay that has is correct. Finally, sit back and close your eyes and listen to inspiring, thoughtful, and entertaining writing from another learner of English. This feature promises to delight.
March 25th, 2008 12:32:18 MDT -0600
I'm Going
Another grim grammar lesson! You've heard the present progressive tense used to refer to the present, to now. You've heard the present progressive tense used to refer to the future. Could this possibly be confusing? In our lesson we'll try to untangle - or we'll be untangling - the confusion so you'll be using this tense with confidence.
March 25th, 2008 12:12:33 MDT -0600
The Green Monster: Hold, Please.
Tired of being put on hold while you're on the telephone? We'll take you to a baseball game and give you a little practical knowledge about dealing - in English - with this frustrating but common experience.
December 5th, 2007 18:36:51 MST -0700
Beep, Honk, Honk...Do you find yourself stuck in traffic more often than you would like to? Like it or not, traffic is a topic of conversation in our lives. In today's podcast and communication lesson, we will talk about traffic and learn useful vocabulary for such discussions.
November 21st, 2007 10:45:51 MST -0700
American Thanksgiving, Our National Holiday
Thanksgiving is America's most popular and highly celebrated Thursday and national holiday. Join us for a summary of how we celebrate this prized day.
November 15th, 2007 08:37:14 MST -0700
Gerunds and Infinitive: More Grammar!
Are you thirsty for grammar? Don't know when to say "I love to ski" and when to say "I love skiing"? Don't know the difference between "Did you remember to go?" and "Did you remember going?" Stop by today for an introductory lesson in gerunds and infinitive phrases.
November 7th, 2007 06:56:24 MST -0700
What Should I Bring? Wine, Beer or Chips?
Have you ever been invited to a social gathering and not known what to bring your host or hostess? Should you bring wine? Chips? Or nothing at all? In today's podcast, you will learn all about our social customs and you will learn how to communicate successfully and appropriately in this situation.
October 23rd, 2007 19:29:11 MDT -0600
The Nine Answers Podcast for Learners of English
Nine thoughtful and entertaining answers to nine thoughtful and clever questions! Listen to the answers, and see if you can figure out the questions! Then do the additional listening activities provided by this week's podcast, guaranteed to improve your listening comprehension.
October 17th, 2007 11:10:31 MDT -0600
He's Always Talking about Grammar
Is your English teacher always talking about grammar? Does he or she expect you to know how to identify the subject and verb of a sentence? Do you think that knowing this helps you to communicate better in English? Here is a podcast for those of you who love grammar, and for those of you who hate it!
September 24th, 2007 21:22:04 MDT -0600
Questions: People Who Ask Questions
People never stop asking ourselves questions. Short and sweet, challenging and thought-provoking, questions without a right or wrong answer....Stop by and listen to some very interesting questions; try your hand at answering them!
July 10th, 2007 08:39:44 MDT -0600
Dear Help Desk, Part 2
Perhaps you have to write a formal business letter in English, and you do not know how to end your letter. Using the wrong closure could be disastrous if you're trying to get a job or be admitted into a special program. Should you end with "Thanks", with "Yours", or with "Respectfully"? This lesson is second in a series that will tell you important information about the language and culture of writing formal letters in English.
June 28th, 2007 10:59:02 MDT -0600
Solving Family Problems
How does your family solve its problems? Do you have regular and open communication with each other? Come and listen to our podcast, in which we listen to an essay written by Adimir Ramos, in which he describes his family's way of dealing with each other's needs.
June 17th, 2007 22:18:59 MDT -0600
Dear Help Desk, Part One,
Perhaps you have to write a formal business letter in English, and you do not know how to even begin! Should you write "Dear Jane" or "My Dear Jane"? Should you comment on the weather or ask the reader how his family is? This lesson will tell you important information about the language and culture of writing letters in English.
May 31st, 2007 16:53:34 MDT -0600
It's a Date!
So much dialogue today is idiomatic: Expressions like "That works for me" or "I'm going to pencil that in" are essential to interpersonal communication nowadays. What do they mean? How do we use them correctly and still sound natural in conversations or even in written communication such as email? Today's dialogue and vocabulary will provide you with the language you need to make a date to get together socially with others.
May 19th, 2007 22:47:31 MDT -0600
The Blues and Greens of Ecuador
Imagine a country with sun, sand, blue water, banana and papaya trees, roses, and more. Imagine Ecuador! Join us today when we listen to an audio story written by an ESL student about his native country. Our photos of the Galapagos Islands will delight you!
May 7th, 2007 20:33:57 MDT -0600
Get Me to the Train Station (On Time)
Are you planning or considering taking a trip by train? Do you want to avoid having to deal with parking and traffic? In today's podcast, we're going to get you to the train station - on time. All aboard for today's lesson, where we teach important vocabulary and expressions dealing with transportation, how to make suggestions and to respond to suggestions.
April 24th, 2007 21:44:07 MDT -0600
Yum...Can I Get That Recipe?
Surely you have tasted something so delicious that you wanted to get the recipe for yourself, so you could cook it in your own home. In today's lesson, we'll guide you along with how to get that recipe. And while you're at it, you'll get a wonderful Japanese recipe for salmon and yogurt!
April 16th, 2007 13:47:24 MDT -0600
Cross-country Skiing
Millions of people worldwide love to ski and cross-country skiing is one of the more popular types of skiing. Listen to our podcast today as we present a dialogue between two skiers enjoying a beautiful afternoon on skis.
March 14th, 2007 20:56:38 MDT -0600
How Have You Been? The Present Perfect Tense
This verb tense, the present perfect, seems so difficult. After all, it refers to the past, despite its name, and it's hard to know what is so perfect about it. We're going to explore this verb tense so that it becomes easy to use.
March 7th, 2007 19:53:54 MST -0700
This Writing Just Confuses Me
When you write, do you like to have music playing in the background? Or does background noise confuse you? Try writing in a different environment, and write about your experience as it is happening. In this audio story, you will listen to Alexandre write about his experience writing in a new situation. When you write, do you like to have music playing in the background? Or does background noise confuse you? Try writing in a different environment, and write about your experience as it is happening. In this audio story, join Alexandre in his experience trying to write amidst background noise.
February 28th, 2007 21:17:59 MST -0700
Quantifying Nouns: A Lot of Nothing
Much or many, less or fewer, these noun quantifiers can be too much! Join us for this lesson, when we continue our lesson on countable and noncountable nouns, focusing on quantifying such nouns.
February 20th, 2007 21:06:39 MST -0700
One, Two, Three Little Countable Nouns
Today we have a grammar lesson for you, in which we explore countable nouns, both regular and irregular forms. We have some fun listening activities, as well as a visual activity too. Come snack on a few tidbits of English grammar today!
February 13th, 2007 22:03:32 MST -0700
Juan de Pareja
What do you know about the great Spanish artist Diego Velazguez, or his slave Juan de Pareja? Join us for this fascinating podcast in which we learn about both, and about the famous painting by Velazgues, Juan de Pareja. You will be listening to an audio story written by an ESL student who used to be an art curator.
February 6th, 2007 17:48:38 MST -0700
Are You Okay? Podcasts for Learners of English
Did you ever wonder how to express concern, to be grammatically correct and socially appropriate at the same time? Join us for this lesson when we discuss a variety of expressions and when to use - and not use - each one. At the end of this lesson, you will be able to express concern in a grammatically correct way and in a variety of social situations.
January 30th, 2007 17:31:18 MST -0700
How I Saved Somebody's Life: A True Story
Listen to a short essay written by an ESL college student, in which he describes saving two people's lives. If you have the Easy Writer CD-ROM, you can read along while the audio is playing.
January 24th, 2007 11:30:42 MST -0700
Hello, this is Luis.
A fun lesson in which we visit ways to begin a telephone call. We pay special attention to using the pronoun "this". At the end of the lesson, you will be able to call the White House and speak to the President.
January 16th, 2007 17:07:54 MST -0700
Would You Please! Podcasts for Learners of English
Today we learn when to use "would" and when to use "will". Learn the proper way to make a polite request. You'll also learn how to propose marriage while you're improving your English grammar.
January 9th, 2007 09:14:06 MST -0700
My Wedding: An Audio Story
Listen to a short essay written by an ESL college student, in which she describes her wedding in Puerto Rico. If you have the Easy Writer CD-ROM, you can read along while the audio is playing.
January 2nd, 2007 08:06:20 MST -0700
Thank You Very Much!
How do you express gratitude? In this episode, we visit several ways to say "thank you". We look at commonly made mistakes in saying "thank you". Then we show you how to express gratitude correctly. Finally, our friendly Help Desk explains the grammar rules of saying "thank you" and the reasoning behind these rules.
December 6th, 2006 10:42:21 MST -0700
Getting to Know Me: Podcasts for Learners of English
We introduce you to our website and podcasts. Are you curious to know a little about the person behind the Help Desk? In this podcast, you will be able to read and/or listen along while we tell you. And while you're here at the HELP Desk, send us your questions and comments about English grammar and writing for next week's show. After all, your feedback is our feed.