ESL blog by Nessa Palmer "Nessa's Blog" focuses on student growth

My thoughts on ESL

ESL blog by Nessa Palmer

Nessa's ESL blog focuses on student growth. Offering her inspirations and insights into learning ESL,  Nessa's blog also reflects her life as a teacher and her passionate commitment to teach English as a Second Language. 

FREE Tips and Tricks

Posted by by Nessa Palmer on June 3, 2017

3 Tips on How to Become an Awesome Student

Hi cats!! Today’s video is all about what you can do to become an awesome student.


This is Nessa on ESL TOP TEN. Now, if you don’t know me, I’m going to tell you about myself. I live in Canada, where I was born. I live with my partner, who I love. And I’ve been teaching English for over 12 years.


And I can tell you this: successful students, students who nail it, and grow quickly, and get better and better and better in a short period of time, do three things:


#1 They take notes. They don’t take pictures. They take notes.


#2 They ask questions.


#3 They experiment with the language.


So, make a checklist and make sure you’re doing those three things, because I want you be to AWESOME!

This is Nessa on ESL TOP TEN.

Catch you next time!

esl catMeow!!!

Luv, Nessa ❤️


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Posted by by Nessa Palmer on April 13, 2017

Using Contractions

Hi cats!! Today’s video is all about using contractions.



This is Nessa on ESL TOP TEN and here’s a little Quicktip.


Today, I have a little trick for you. A little trick that will make you sound more natural, more informal. And the best part? It’s super-easy.


Use contractions

That means instead of saying, “I am a student” say, “I’m a student.”
Instead of saying, “It is raining today” say, “It’s raining today.”
“He has lived here for many years” becomes, “he’s lived here for many years.”


Contract! Keep it short! Keep it simple!


This is Nessa on ESL TOP TEN and I will see you next time.


Luv, Nessa ❤️


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Posted by by Nessa Palmer on January 30, 2017

Understanding The Passive Voice

Hi cats!! Today’s video is all about understanding the passive voice.



This is Nessa with ESL TOP TEN , with a Quick Tip for you.


I want you to pay attention to the next three sentences and tell me–which one is different grammatically?  I’m not talking about verb tense but something else.


Here we go:


#1. Hiro Called me yesterday afternoon.


Who called me?


#2. Police have arrested 2 suspects from last week’s bank robbery.


Who arrested them?


#3. The film E.T. was directed by Steven Spielberg in the 1980’s.


Who directed the film?


Did you catch that the 3rd sentence was in the passive voice? Why? Because the subject of the sentence, the movie E.T., didn’t actually do the action. It didn’t direct the movie! Steven Spielberg did that.


So why do we use the passive voice?


In the last example, I might use the passive voice (#3 The film E.T. was directed by Steven Spielberg in the 1980’s) if I was writing an article about the movie E.T..


I might also use the passive voice if we don’t know (or maybe we just don’t care) who did the action. Because it is clear from the context who is doing the action.


Here is a sentence we all use in the passive all the time, that you might not even know.


Here we go. Here you ready?


I was born in eastern Canada


This sentence is actually in the passive voice. What I’m saying is that my mother (and, of course, it’s my mother, not my father or my grandmother) gave birth to me. She HAD me in eastern Canada. I was born; I was had by my mother in eastern Canada. *The verb “to bear” can mean “to have.”


To wrap up, I want you to remember that the passive voice isn’t just used to spice up your English. It has a job to do. So when you use it, use it with purpose.


See you next time,

Luv, Nessa ❤️


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Posted by by Nessa Palmer on April 2, 2016

Prepositions Must be Followed by a Noun – Nessa’s ESL Quick Tip #1


Hey all! Hope you’re rocking your English studies!


Today, I’m giving you a simple tip about verb forms.  It’s short, sweet, and best of all, a rule you can depend on.


Did you know that almost all prepositions must be followed by a noun or a gerund (remember that a gerund is just a verb + ing), which is just a verb dressed up as a noun?  That’s right!


For example, you would say I’m good at swimmingNot  I’m good at swim.  Or, my brother is interested in skiing Not, my brother is interested to ski.


Watch out for that trouble-making preposition “to”, which is sometimes confused with the “to” that comes with the infinitive!


That’s why we say  I’m looking forward to going on vacation, and not I’m looking forward to go on vacation.


This is a super tip ‘cause prepositions are everywhere! So keep your eyes peeled for them and the words that follow them.


Need some help? Drop me a line or send me a voice message from my podcast page and tell me what your biggest challenge is, and I’ll do my very best to get back to you!.

Luv ya’ ESL cats!



Posted by by Nessa Palmer on November 6, 2016

What is your #1 ESL Learning Resource?


I have a question for you. What’s your number one online resource for ESL learning? Is it your favourite dictionary, a language exchange forum? Did you choose Youtube or Netflix? Are you a fan? Of course I’d be thrilled if you picked, or our Instagram profile, however, there is something even better.



Your number one best buddy for everything English is …



Yes, you heard me right! I don’t think there’s another language learning resource in the world that has as much to offer. Put simply,  Google is the doorway to every ESL (English as a second language) learning resource out there. Now, before we get down to it, let me give you three essential tips to make the most of your internet searches:


  • All your searches about English (vocabulary, grammar, listening resources, test practices) should be In ENGLISH! Let me repeat that. Search in English!
  • Don’t use a lesser search engine. Use Google! Forget about Naver or any other search engine when it comes to the English language. Google is #1 for searches for a reason, especially in, or anything related to English.
  • Make your searches as specific as possible.





Sometimes, using google images to understand a new word is faster and clearer than trying to understand a definition. This is especially true when applied to nouns. Imagine how clear it would be if you typed in a word like “manhole cover” and saw this:


manhole covers google image search


If I’m just searching for a quick definition or an example sentence of a new word, I’ll use Google instead of going to my favorite, trusted, online dictionary. Why? Because it’s going to find the information faster. More importantly, if I don’t like or understand the first definition that comes up as a result, I’ve got another 400,000 to choose from.


An easy way to find definitions is to type in the word, phrasal verb or even an idiom you’re interested in with the letters “def”, which is short for definition. Or, if you have another 0.8 seconds to waste, type in the complete word “definition.” (Hey, I’m trying to make this faster and easier for you!)

google search for definition of compromise





Now, let’s say you want to know the difference between “affect” and “effect”.  You could go to a dictionary or a translator and look up the words, spending time reading each definition. If you’re lucky, your dictionary of choice may even have some example sentences. But with Google, all you would need to do is type: “Difference between affect and effect” in the search bar and boom! This is what you’d see:



Nothing is going to get you there as quickly and effectively because that’s what Google is truly great at—sorting, categorizing and finding information. It’s their thing!





How about another example of how Google is your super English study buddy? What if you have a big exam coming up and you want to get some practice. You could go to the library and hope they have a recent textbook or practice exam book that is available. And, if they do, you’ll be lucky to finish using it before it has to be returned 2 weeks later. Or, you could go to Google and again do a specific search. (Remember, in English!) Type: “Practice test with answers, IELTS”, or “Practice Writing test, TOEFL” or “CAE, Use of English, practice”.


CAE, Use of English, practice Google search for





Want to practice a skill, such as listening or brushing up on grammar? Or maybe you’re looking for a great video on English pronunciation. The more specific you can be, the better your results will be. For this example, I just typed “Best English listening practice” in the search bar and I got over 32 million results! Incredible, right? I think I’ll only have time to read 20 million, lol!



Remember, no dictionary, website, or other online resource comes close to having the power and scope of Google. Google really is your best English study buddy! Though ESL TOP TEN  is a very close second. winky face


What do you use Google for? And if you’ve never taken advantage of Google as a study aide, what’s your very first search going to be? Write your Google search terms in the comments below! I’d love to see how you’re using this super tool!

Bye for now! And I’ll catch you next time.

Luv Nessaheart

Posted by by Nessa Palmer on September 17, 2016

Nessa's Quick Tip how to start an email

How to Start a Text or an Email

In English, when we start a text message by saying who we are (meaning who’s sending the message or email), we actually begin with  “it’s.”


For example, “Hey Christina it’s Nessa, I hope your day went well, talk soon!”


We don’t begin with “I am.”  So remember, don’t say, “I am Hajun.” Say, “it’s Hajun” and then start your message.


Have a great day!

heartLuv Nessa


Need some help? Drop me a line or send me a voice message from my podcast page and tell me what your biggest challenge is, and I’ll do my very best to get back to you!.




Posted by by Nessa Palmer on May 12, 2016

BLOG POST 2 - Movies and TV2


Lights, Camera, Action! – Learning English with Movies and TV


Want to know something I truly love? TV! Movies! I must confess this is a minor obsession for me, so I’m relieved (phew!) that I can finally do something useful with this fun little habit of mine. And if you’re an English student, so can you.


I’d like to share a few tips on how you can make TV and movie watching a real tool on your journey towards mastering English.


First, find a show or movie you really enjoy. Don’t force yourself to sit through anything that doesn’t hold your attention. Life is much too short for that!  (See below for some of my absolute faves!)


Second, don’t hesitate to put the subtitles on. The characters on the screen are not going to slow down for you, which means you could end up missing the entire plot. How is that useful?  If, after a few minutes, you don’t understand 40- 60% of what is going on, I suggest you watch and listen to the piece with subtitles on. English ones! If you’re still struggling, then try watching with subtitles turned on in your native language.


Then, after you’ve watched it all the way through, start again. This time with the subtitles off. Since you’ve already seen it once,  you’ll be able to catch so much more, and all the vocabulary you don’t know yet won’t stop you from understanding the story.


And, what about all those new words and expressions you’re hearing? There’s no need to get stressed out. This is actually a perfect learning opportunity. First, don’t go running to your dictionary. Just stay focused on what’s happening in the scene and try to work out the general meaning of the word, phrasal verb, or expression from the context. Let your inner Sherlock Holmes take over.


Take this example. A young girl comes running into her home with a piece of paper in her hand and a huge smile on her face and says to her mom, “Hey, I passed with flying colors!”  Now, if you think that this idiom means she did really well on a test, you’re correct!


What if the same girl comes slowly into the room with a look of complete despair (sadness) and says to her friend, “I can’t believe I bombed the exam.” What could “bomb” mean here? If you said it is “to drop weapons of destruction on a building or city in wartime” then you’re not paying attention to the context. (to bomb something- to fail at something)


Also, while watching your show or movie, make sure you stop once in a while to summarize what’s going on. Who are the characters? A doctor, a police officer, a little lonely alien stuck on planet Earth who is trying to get home? How are they related to each other? Siblings, spouses, enemies, neighbors? Who is in trouble and why? What might happen next? Of course, this is easier and more fun to do if you’re watching with a friend, but you can do it alone too.


Lastly, and probably most importantly, have fun. Make some popcorn, get cozy on the couch and pick a movie or TV show that you love. Learning a language can sometimes be tough, so take the time to enjoy it when you can.


If you don’t know where to start, here are some of my faves:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Little Miss Sunshine
District 9
Reservoir Dogs
Life Is Beautiful


Breaking Bad
Modern Family
Orange Is The New Black
Game of Thrones (for Advanced to High Advanced students)
The Dragon’s Den
Top Chef


My list is quite short, so I’m hoping you can help me by adding your favorite show in the comment section. I’d love to hear what’s got you hooked! (hooked on something- addicted to something)


Have fun!

heartLuv, Nessa

Posted by by Nessa Palmer on April 2, 2016

Post 1 – Showing Your Gratitude

BLOG POST 1 - Gratitude
One of the perks of my job is being able to meet so many fun, hardworking, inspiring and brave people from all over the world. That’s why so many teachers of English love their job. But, can I confess another reason I’m a teacher? It’s because of the gratitude, those heartfelt thank-yous.


It may seem like a small gesture to thank someone, but you’d be surprised at how those tokens of gratitude stay with me. And there are so many forms these thank-yous can take. Whether it’s a graduating student who pops by my classroom to say goodbye before they head off into their future, or a small hand-written card, or a thoughtful gift, I keep these moments close to my heart.


Most Christmas and birthday cards from my friends and family last about two weeks before they get tossed in the recycling. (Sorry Aunt Lilly.) Whereas I still have notes and thank-you cards I received from students ten years ago! They mean a lot to me, and each time I see one, old or new, I feel a renewed love for that person, and that extends to all my students and my job too! Now, that’s a gift.

cards for Nessa from students

So, next time you have to say goodbye to a teacher who helped you in your learning journey or made you laugh or took the time to show she cares, don’t forget to say thanks.


And now it’s my turn, A BIG thank-you to all my students past and present. You inspire me every day!


With love and gratitude, Nessaheart100x100


“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

 – Carl W. Buechner

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