I was on NPR!

Jerome McDonnell and me.

I was on NPR on Tuesday, January 3, 2017! National Public Radio (NPR) is a non-profit American news organization that provides news without advertising or government money. It’s supported 100% by listeners and private grants. The station in Chicago, Illinois is WBEZ 91.5 FM and they have a program called Worldview.

Listen to […]

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How to talk to Americans

Tips on small talk

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A brief history of Christmas

Many Americans don’t celebrate Christmas at all, but the holiday is arguably the biggest one in the American calendar. Do you wonder about the origins of the American Christmas tradition? Here’s my summary of the History Channel’s Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas. Part of our American Christmas tradition is for people to […]

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Job seeking and networking

Tips on networking

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Confidence speaking English

Tips on speaking

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American sports history

I know many of you are not baseball fans. Neither am I. I don’t like sports at all, but I am a big Chicago fan and the current standing of the Chicago Cubs in the World Series is a huge cultural and historic event. You have all claimed the U.S. as your home, at least for now, so you have […]

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The Art of Small Talk

One of the main ways Americans connect with each other is through small talk. We make small talk with friends, co-workers and complete strangers. Small talk uses inconsequential conversation to build rapport with someone. The subject of small talk might be the weather or plans for the upcoming weekend or a television show. It doesn’t […]

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Pronunciation: the English “th” sounds

A trio of brief videos on how to pronounce the “th” sounds in English (voiced and unvoiced). First, how to pronounce “th” at the beginning of the word:

Next, how to pronounce it in the middle of a word:

Third, how to pronounce the “th” at the end of a word:

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How to apologize properly

Being able to say “I’m sorry” is a critical skill in American business and personal life, but many people don’t know how to do it. Whether you’re an immigrant to the U.S. or were raised in American culture, make sure you’re not making a false apology.

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Immigrants, Trump and the RNC

Trump’s convention

This past week saw Donald Trump accept the nomination for president during the Republican National Convention (RNC) which lasted from Monday, July 18th until Thursday, July 21st. The Republican party is often referred to as the GOP, which stands for “Grand Old Party.” I don’t know if you watched their convention, but here’s what […]

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Slang expressions and idioms

Welcome Dialogue uses original materials with the latest slang and idiomatic American expressions.

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Workplace behavior

Let me help you with questions

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Parties & social time

Welcome Dialogue hosts regular events where you can relax and have fun making new friends. With Welcome Dialogue, you don’t just learn communication and social skills. You get a safe, welcoming place to practice them.

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Improve your writing skills

Tips on writing email

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Job seeking and networking

Finding a job in the U.S. requires much more than searching job websites and sending resumes. Or maybe you’re looking for clients, business partners or other opportunities. For any of this, you need a strong network of relationships.

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How to talk to Americans

Learn the art of small talk and how to connect quickly with people you’ve just met.

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Painful to be an American

Those of us who live in the United States pride ourselves on being a nation of equality and freedom, but on days like today we can’t deny the ugliness that we actually live with. Police officers killed a Black man named Alton Sterling on Tuesday morning in Louisiana, police in Minnesota killed a Black man named […]

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Pronunciation: “th” at end of word

Three-minute video on rules for pronouncing “th” when it comes at the end of a word. For the full pronunciation series, click HERE.

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“I’m having a potluck”

When you hear someone say they’re having a potluck, that means they are hosting guests for a meal, but each guest will bring a part of the meal. It can be breakfast, or lunch, but most commonly people have potluck dinners. Americans love potlucks. I have them all the time. In a practical way they […]

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Get rid of undocumented people? No.

This is one of my favorite stories about how badly it can backfire when the U.S. tries to legislate against immigrants. In October 2011, Alabama passed a law to make it harder for undocumented immigrants to live and work in the state. There’s an expression called “the law of unintended consequences” that applies perfectly to how it all turned […]

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How does the American presidential election work?

Do you wonder how we get from the presidential campaign season to Election Day? Do you wonder how we get from this mess of media-fueled speculation, polling and stories about candidates behaving badly to electing a new president? Let me help. Our election process reflects the American individualistic spirit, aversion to the federal government and need for media […]

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Pronunciation: “good” and “food”

The American vowels sounds in words like “good” and words like “food” are spelled similarly, but sound different. Use this video to practice distinguishing clearly between those sounds because American-born English speakers notice when you don’t.

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Pronunciation: “book”

The American vowel sound represented in the word “book” is a tricky one. This video helps you practice.

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Practice American vowels: o and a

Here’s a video for practicing the American vowel sounds exemplified in the words “boat” and “bought.” For the full pronunciation series, click HERE.

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Conversation group for English practice

Do you want to to practice your English? Are you a native English speaker who wants to practice another language? If you live in the Chicagoland area, join us at our new language exchange Meetup. We pair native speakers who want to practice each other’s languages. During our meetings, we have each pair change back […]

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Getting a green card without your husband’s sponsorship

[Disclaimer: I am not a legal attorney and the following is not legal advice. Please consult an attorney to confirm this information for yourself.]

Many immigrants who are married to a U.S. citizen apply for a green card through their spouse. But what if your spouse is abusive towards you and doesn’t want you to have a […]

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Practice the American vowel sounds

Do you want to make yourself better understood to Americans and other English speakers? Start by making sure your vowels are clear. English has many different vowels sounds that change the meaning of words. For example, don’t say “leave” when you mean to say “live.” Here’s a video to help you practice /i/ and /I/. For […]

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If you’re not networking, you’re not fully job-hunting

social networking

There are many articles with advice about how to find a job, but these days, in the U.S. there’s one critical skill you must have: the ability to network. Your resume can get lost in the pile, especially in these days of online job applications and automated evaluation (a program might be the first thing […]

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Chatting with Americans

Americans are often quite friendly with strangers and many of us particularly enjoy striking up conversations with people from other countries. We call casual conversation chatting. But if you are just getting to know someone that you’re hoping will be a friend, be aware of what topics of conversation are good. If you would like to […]

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St. Patrick’s Day

 

Typical bar advertisement (note the green beer)

Wondering what St. Patrick’s Day is all about? All over the United States, St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) is celebrated with parties at grammar schools, fundraisers, decorations at places of business and people enthusiastically wearing green clothing. The tradition is that if you aren’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, […]

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The rise of the continuous present

Once upon a time, American English distinguished between the simple present (I feel) and the continuous present (I am feeling). That distinction is disappearing. The American vernacular more and more uses the continuous present for sentences that used to use the present perfect, as in:

I am wanting to find out about tomorrow’s workshop.

(Instead of “I want […]

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Why Trump now?

I realize I’ve been living in a dream world by thinking that everything’s fine between mainstream Americans and Mexican-Americans. Last summer I felt blindsided by the response of many people to Donald Trump’s statement about Mexican immigrants being criminals, drug dealers and rapists. I expected them to be shocked and offended and many were, but apparently […]

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Texting slang from all over

Getty/HPMG

Yes, Welcome Dialogue covers texting, too. HuffPost’s LOL, Internet Slang Around the World gives examples of texting slang from France, China, Tunisia, India and other countries. Everyone texts in all languages and many cultures have interesting twists on the texting expressions we use in the U.S. For instance, the article reports that in the United States we […]

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Why did I start Welcome Dialogue?

immigration and assimilation services

The experiences that led me to start Welcome Dialogue include my move to Chicago, Illinois when I was a young woman with no friends or family in the state. Having left college and graduate school behind, I could no longer make friends in the college dorm or the on-campus cafeteria. I was an adult and […]

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