Inspiration Lane was created by Susan Alyn in 2007 when she was a certified ESOL teacher in the USA. This site is an online magazine for all levels of ESOL, ESL and EFL classes. It's unique because each day the reading content here automatically changes. The site can be projected onto a white board and enjoyed by the whole class. The daily readings and interactive language activities are intended to provide a free, fun and encouraging experience for students learning English -- especially during those last minutes of class time!

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Quote of the Day

This Day in History

Article of the Day

Elvis says . . . Sing your grammar lessons!

Hello to all my friends around the world! I’m glad you’re learning English! To my teacher friends: Did you know using popular culture in your teaching may help motivate your students? (Perhaps you've already read this research article titled: "The use of popular culture as a stimulus to motivate secondary students' English learning in Hong Kong" by Professor CK Cheung at the University of Hong Kong. As you can see here on this Google Scholar page, the above research was published by Oxford University Press.) That’s why every month I invite teachers and students to travel with me on an educational, online field trip.

These past few months we’ve been visiting our friends in Argentina, and teaching English grammar and vocabulary with lessons using: classic movie tunes, songs from the Beatles, Broadway show tunes, and oldies from the café jukebox. Next month we’ll visit friends in Europe, to teach reading comprehension with pop music trivia. I hope you and your students will join us! You can email your teacher friends about our travels, by using my free, singing postcards. My favorite is All Shook Up! (Students, you can email your friends about our travels, too!)

Caption Central - Write a caption!

Students, these three pictures need your captions!

Ask your teacher to show you how to write a caption. If you learn at home, ask your mom or dad, or whomever takes care of you at home, to show you how to write a caption. Examples of imaginative captions are shown at the bottom right of this homepage in "Daily Slideshow: Beautiful Sunsets."

Then, write your own imaginative captions, and share aloud. [Tip: If you need help thinking of a descriptive English word for a caption, scroll down and use the "Translation Dictionary," below, to translate a word from your language to English. Then, use the "Audio Dictionary," also found below, to hear the English word.]

Three new images will need your captions tomorrow!

Cooking State

The Newest Recipe Here!

Students, it's lots of fun reading a recipe in English! Simply click on "The Newest Recipe Here!" picture caption, at left, to see the latest recipe.  

Or, click on a title of any recipe from the list titled "Your recipes."  You choose which recipe you want to learn more about today!

After you read the recipe, write the ingredients on a list. Working with a classmate or independently, decide which category on this grocery shopping list chart is the correct category for each ingredient. Then create your shopping list. When you're finished writing your list, do a buddy-check with a classmate to check your answers, before your teacher checks your answers.

If you're in an English speaking country, bring your written list of ingredients when you shop for food. Then, write the name of the grocery store aisle or section where you actually found each ingredient. Did you know the correct category for each ingredient?

Practice these listing, categorizing and organizing skills again tomorrow, with a new recipe here. Now you're cooking!

Note to Teachers: Create your own ideas for ESL reading, speaking and writing activities by using recipes from the link above -- and the accompanying comments reviewing the recipe. And, remember: each month you'll find a NEW recipe posted!

Building Art - Are you a poet?

Students, have you ever wanted to write a poem? People of all ages enjoy writing a Japanese form of poetry known as haiku. You, too, may enjoy writing haiku to build your creative writing portfolio.

Haiku is defined as: ...a brief verse which attempts to convey a feeling or experience through the use of images drawn from nature. Instead of merely stating a feeling, it says: "This is what I saw; perhaps it will rouse in you a feeling similar to mine when I experienced it."

The following poem is an example of haiku from Canada, written by Linda Pilarski, with a photo by her, and published in Daily Haiku:

To inspire you to write your own haiku, here is today's nature photo:

(Note: You can click on the above photo to read
the photographer's description of this photo.)

Museum Town: Ready to Research

Students, let's practice researching and reading for information. We'll research today’s masterpiece artist to find out:

Which museums display this artist's work?

Here is today's artist, and a famous painting by the artist:

To find out which museums you can visit to see this artist's work, look up the artist's name on this search site.

Did you discover which museums display today’s artist? Which of these museums is nearest your town? And, which museum, if any, displays this famous painting?

If none of the museums are close by to where you live, which of these online museums do you think might show this artist's work? Why do you think so?

Comic Creators - Write a comic!

Today's Garfield comic is here:

Now, let's create! Students, can you identify any nouns, adjectives or verbs from today's "Garfield" comic strip? If so, what other English words have similar meanings as those used in this comic? [Tip: Use the online dictionaries.] Now, let's rewrite this comic, using different nouns, adjectives or verbs. In fact... can write your new cartoon using Garfield's Comic Creator!  Then, create another Garfield comic, using your own new ideas!   

Special thanks to Jim Davis, creator of Garfield

 More fun with comics:

Teachers, in addition to your own ideas to using comics to teach English, explore Grammarman, a site with comics for EFL/ESL students, and Awesome Comics, a webquest for ESL students. The creator is an ESL instructor and author in Thailand, Brian Boyd. Also, see The Comic Book Project, from Columbia University's Teacher College in New York.

Writer's Way - Are you a writer?

Writer's Way - Are you a writer?
Remember: Every successful student is a writer!

If you're a student learning English, you may be interested in reading the writing of other students learning English. Click here to learn more.

Below are two essays written by students learning English...

Arrival by Kadi Musas

In 2002, I left my home in Zaire in Central Africa to come and live in the United Kingdom with my husband and my two children.

On our arrival at Heathrow airport, we met another couple who were also in the UK for the first time. None of us could speak or understand a single word of English. I started condemning my husband for the decision to come to England and shared these regrets and recriminations with the other couple. We all felt weak and vulnerable because we didn’t even know how to deal with the simple problem of getting out of the airport.

“Parlez-vous francais?” (Can you speak French?), asked my husband to one of the other passengers in the corridor but the man seemed to be on another planet.

We started to follow the arrows showing the way out, but we were uncertain about what was going to happen next. We were not even sure if we were going to get our luggage or not.

After a while, we noticed that everybody else had left the corridor and only the four of us were in that part of the airport. Luckily, I suddenly remembered I had my French-English dictionary in my handbag. I got it out and began to try to build some phrases in English for us to ask for help. However, my dictionary didn’t solve the problem. I was just met with vacant expressions. It was only when we met a man who could speak French that we got the help we all needed.

Once out of the airport, we met the person who was coming to pick us up. We got in the car and we were on the road for about two hours; as I looked out of the car window, everything was strange to me. I felt sick that night and went to bed without eating anything and feeling uncomfortable and confused about everything. I needed more than twelve months to recover from my sickness and depression.

Money by Robert Szewczyk

Money is everything in our life. It is around us and controls our future. People who say that they don’t care about money are probably lying. Rich people always want more money- Lotto winners still buy lottery tickets. Why? What for? This is the main question and issue of my writing.

One of the good things about money is that money gives people confidence and an established life. People work hard to get a better future. That’s ok if they really think about their family and children’s needs. They should have time for family during the weekend.

Another good thing is that money can help other people who really need help, like those poverty stricken after disasters like flood, storm, terrorist attack, war etc. Even a little help can make a big difference if people come together to support charity.

One of the bad things is that people get sick from money. They become materialistic. They lose family and friends because they always want more and more.

Money is as well the main reason why we have war in our lives. Not only the big ones like World War II, but even small wars with our friends.

I think that a lot of the rich people are more unhappy than people who haven’t got a lot what will you do if you have everything already? Where will you have it all? No hopes? No dreams, no thought to make other people happy.

The best thing is to have money and a brain as well, to appreciate money and not be greedy. If not, we are losers.

To read others essays written by students learning English, click here.

Five Minutes of Fun

If you enjoy using ESL games in class, visit esl flow, which is chock full of ESL game links. Of course, you may never find time to play all those ESL games, but even when there's only five minutes left of class, everyone can still have fun -- by using any one of the interactive language activities below. Why stop learning? :)

[Tip: If you want to listen to the English pronunciation of any of the words in the "Daily Proverb or Slang," scroll down on this site, and input the word into the "Audio Dictionary" below.]

Spelling Bee
difficulty level:
score: -
please wait...
spell the word:

Match Up
Match each word in the left column with its synonym on the right. When finished, click Answer to see the results. Good luck!



Audio Dictionary

Online Reference - Dictionary
Online Reference
Dictionary, Encyclopedia & more

Translation Dictionary
Translate with the Universal dictionary

Video: "When I Become a Teacher" (Time: 1 minute, 39 seconds)

Visitors to Inspiration Lane

Visitors to <i>Inspiration Lane</i>
According to Google, since March 2007 visitors to Inspiration Lane have come from: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts And Nevis, Satellite Provider, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad And Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, and elsewhere...

To All the Learners and Teachers Visiting Inspiration Lane...

...With love from Susan, the creator of this site, Inspiration Lane.

I'm a lifelong learner, and I'm proud to have been a Girl Scout.. I'm looking forward to becoming a published author of books!

Susan, Age 11, in her Girl Scout uniform. Long Island, New York

Teacher's Corner by Susan Alyn - June 2012

Teacher's Corner by Susan Alyn - June 2012
Bye bye K-12 teaching! My teaching certificate expires on June 30, 2012. This is the first time since becoming certified to teach in 1997 that I will not seek a renewal.

I am glad I was able to help students and teachers here on this site and elsewhere. I expect to become an author in the near future. (And yes, of course, I will also write about American education.)

Thanks for being here, and I wish you well! Best, Susan

Humanising Language Teaching

<b><i>Humanising Language Teaching</i></b>
CLICK ON THE ARTICLE ABOVE to see it in Humanising Language Teaching. The article is written by the USA teacher who created this site, "Inspiration Lane."

"Recommended website: Inspiration Lane,
Susan Alyn"

<br>"Recommended website: <i>Inspiration Lane</i>, <br>Susan Alyn"
CLICK ON THE YELLOW HIGHLIGHTED LINE ABOVE to see this site named as the "Recommended website" in Spain's edition of The EUROCALL Review.
CLICK HERE to learn more about The EUROCALL Review (EUROCALL’s online scientific journal, ISSN: 1695-2618).