Friday, August 31

I'm One Year Old!

Today is the first year anniversary of my blog Cool Elf !!

Yes, I decided to set up this blog just last year.

At that time, I knew 0% about web design and basically how to operate a computer. I didn’t know how to upload pictures, make links, or color-coordinate.

(The first version of Cool Elf was painful to the eye ;-D)

But little by little, I learned everything by myself. I even learned a bit of HTML, which is some basic programming code. It was very helpful that there are blog services on the Net that give free and pre-set design templates and tutorials. It’s actually easy if you just follow them, but of course it takes time and dedication.

In the end, I was able to make Cool Elf. And I’m really proud of it because it’s a new skill that I have acquired.

I guess the strongest point of a blog lies in its content. There are far too many blogs that get created every day, but only a few of them last and survive. Because there are too many different kinds of blogs on the Net -- of all appearances and themes -- what makes one unique and stand out among the rest is its content.

Content is what the writer (blogger) has to offer to others, the readers. It should be a special idea that only YOU can give.

I know, in today’s modern world, there’s hardly any new idea left. Everything has of course already been realized ahead of you.

But don’t worry. Even if your idea isn’t the first one in the world, it’s okay. As long as you’re able to show the idea in a fresh and creative way.

In Cool Elf, what I wanted to do above all was to provide a free English learning site that’s simple, direct, and accessible to many people.  There are a lot of English learning sites out there, but not many of them fully consider the average English learner’s level. Most of the English sites are either too hard or confusing for learners.

I’ve also been giving person-to-person lessons for the past 10 years – mostly to my Korean and Japanese students. And most of my students have said that I have a talent for making the difficult parts of English very clear and easy to understand.

And so I have decided to share the same style of teaching here on Cool Elf.


I know English will only become more and more important as the world moves on towards greater globalization. As the world becomes tighter and tighter, so the opportunities of many non-English speaking people shrink. English has become a necessary tool for success. This is true for people of whatever gender, age, or nationality.  

There are many people in the world in need of proper English education. I want to share my knowledge and skills to as many as I can reach. This is why I made Cool Elf.

In the first year of my blog, I have received 30, 000 visitors from different parts of the world. Some of them are my former person-to-person students; and some are new friends I just met online.

My top audiences by country are:

    #1.  America

    #2.  Japan

    #3.  Philippines

    #4.  South Korea

    #5.  Russia

    Aside from these countries, it’s very interesting to know that I receive visitors from cities and towns with exotic names like Robat Karim, Johor Bahru, Marktoberdorf, Addis Abeba, etc.

    I welcome everyone! ;-)

    I really believe the English language can promote peace and friendship between and among different cultures. This is why I said before that one of my guiding principles as a teacher is: B.B.B.B. = This means “Break Barriers and Build Bridges.

    I have a dynamic group on Facebook called “1 English, 1 World.” I also have other English learning communities on the Net that I either made or joined.

    (If you want, you can try and search our group name on Facebook. We are easy to find and all the members there are very friendly.)

    As  John Lennon once sang:

    Imagine there's no countries

    It isn't hard to do

    Nothing to kill or die for

    . . .

    Imagine all the people living life in peace

    No need for greed or hunger

    A brotherhood of man

    Imagine all the people sharing all the world.

    You may say 

    I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one

    I hope some day you'll join us

    And the world will be as one.


    I’ll keep on trying to come up with fresh and interesting ideas on how to learn English. If you’re one of my regular readers, please don’t hesitate to send me a message, offer me a suggestion, or ask me a question anytime.

    Good luck to everyone!! Thanks for reading!


    Tuesday, August 28

    The Lost (Last) Letter

    image courtesy of stock.xchng

    There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.

    If you’re not so sure, consider the alphabet song that children sing:

    A, B, C, D, E, F, G,

    H, I, J, K, L-M-N-O-P.

    Q, R, S,

    T, U, V,

    W, X, Y, and Z.

    Now I know my ABCs.

    Next time, won’t you sing with me?

    The English alphabet has 21 consonants and 5 vowels.

    A total of 26 letters.

    Did you know that, hundreds of years ago, there were more than 26 characters?

    Little by little, through time, the English alphabet became the version that we know now.

    But up until about 2 hundred years ago, there was a 27th member of the alphabet.

    What's the lost letter?

    The 27th letter of the alphabet was this symbol:


    Its name is “ampersand.”


    A Brief History

    The symbol “&” is actually made up of two letters:

    (1) E

    (2) t

    E + t = “et.”

    Et” is a Latin word which means “and.” 

    In 1st century A.D., the Romans wrote in cursive. So, if you fuse the two letters together (like what the Romans did), you will get this symbol:


    Can you see the two different letters blended into one?

    The symbol didn’t and doesn’t only look like this. Here’s how the symbol evolved over time:

    image from Wikimedia Commons

    You can also find “et” inside the similar expression “etc.

    etc” is the abbreviation of “et cetera.” It’s another Latin expression which means:

    et = and

    cetera = the rest

    So, et cetera =  and other things.


    This summer camp is a great opportunity. We can learn art, dance, languages etc.

    The Last Letter of the Alphabet

    &” was included in the Old English alphabet until the mid-1800s, when it eventually fell out of use.

    This last image was taken from “The Dixie Primer, For the Little Folks” published in 1863. The entire work is available here

    Why Such a Weird Name?

    & is called “ampersand.”

    If you look once more at the image from the 1863 Dixie Primer, you can see how, as school children recited the whole alphabet, the last part would be like this:

    … X, Y, Z, &.

    It was definitely confusing and awkward to say:

    " … X, Y, Z and."

    So people instead said:

    " … X, Y, Z and per se and."

    Per se is another Latin expression which means “by itself.” 

    Because the letter “&” can actually stand alone as a word (like “A” and “I”), people just said:

    " … X, Y, Z and per se and."

    Over time, the saying would eventually slur together into another word:

    " … X, Y, Z ampersand."

    And this finally became the real name of the character “&.”

    & = ampersand

    So, you can say that the name actually originated from a bit of wrong pronunciation.

    Hope you learned something!

    Keep on learning !

    This article uses material from the Wikipedia article <a href=">"Ampersand"</a>, which is released under the <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0</a>.

    Saturday, August 25

    Protect, Prevent, Preserve

    Today, I’m going to talk about 3 Verbs: Protect, Prevent, and Preserve.

    In order to learn the differences between these Verbs, please take a look at their basic meanings:

    Protect = keep safe; cover or shield

    Prevent = stop someone or something

    Preserve = keep in original condition

    As you can see, the words may seem similar but, upon closer inspection, you will discover that they actually talk about different situations.

    Now, let’s take a look at the structure of sentences for each word. Again, in their structures, you will find some similarities that often cause confusion among students.

    •   protect someone/ something + from/ against + someone/ something (Noun)


    Sunscreen protects the skin against sunburn.

    As a goalie, you have to protect the goal.

    This software protects your computer against viruses.

    You should protect your privacy against hackers.

    images courtesy of stock.xchng

    •    prevent someone/ something from doing something (V+ing)


    I feel terrible. We could’ve prevented that accident from happening.

    Your job as a goalie is to prevent the other team from scoring (at your goal).

    The goalie prevented the ball/ shot.

    Her mother’s warning prevented her from going out.


    Note: At this point, it’s interesting to mention the difference between British and American English:


    prevent someone/ something (from) V+ing  
    = “from” can be omitted


    His mother prevented him from marrying.

    -- or --

    His mother prevented him marrying.


    prevent someone/ something from V+ing 
    = with “from”  


    His mother prevented him from marrying.

    Finally, the same pattern for “prevent” is used for the Verbstop.”

    •     stop + someone/ something + from + Ving


    The health officials are trying their best to stop the disease from spreading.


    •     Preserve + Something


    We can preserve fruit by turning them into jam.

    It’s our duty as responsible citizens to preserve our country’s rich culture.

    The art conservators know best how to preserve the Mona Lisa.

    I hope you learned how to distinguish each word from the other. Finally, here are their Noun forms:

    Protect (verb) = Protection (noun)

    Prevent (verb) = Prevention (noun)

    Preserve (verb) = Preservation (noun)

    Thanks for Reading!


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