Please note the difference:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example,

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
  • they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMONYMS are a kind of homophone, words that are written and said the same way but have different meanings.

Examples of HOMONYMS are:

  • book           – something we read and . . .
  • book           – to schedule something.
  • Spring        – the season and . . .
  • spring         – to jump up.
  • club            – somewhere to dance and . . .
  • club            – large, heavy object that people get hit with.
  • fine             – money you owe for bring things back late and . . .
  • fine             – feeling okay.
  • rock           – a type of music and . . .
  • rock            – made of stone.

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book – something we read and book – to schedule something

To help you improve spelling skills for each word listed below, I have included the most Homophone common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

pexels-photo.jpgPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. cite/sight/site

  • Sight is one of your five senses. As a noun, it is “the ability to see.” It is also someone or something that is seen.
  • Site means “a place where something has happened.” It can also be “a place where something is, was, or will be located.”
  • Site is also short for website.
  • Cite is a verb. It can mean “to write or say the words” of a person, book or another source. It can also mean “to mention something,” usually to support an idea or opinion.

 Using the correct use of cite/sight/site, fill in the sentences:

  1. The sunset last night was a beautiful . . . .
  2. There are some important battle . . . near Washington, DC.
  3. When you write research papers in school, for example, you . . . other sources to support your argument.

2. canvas/canvass

  • Canvas is a type of strong cloth.
  • Canvass is to seek people’s votes.

 Using the correct use of canvas/canvass, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . -made trainers did not last long.
  2. The MP has tried to . . . for re-election for a third term.

3. censure/censor

  • Censure is to criticize strongly.
  • Censor is to ban parts of a book or film; a person who does this.

Using the correct use of censure/censor, fill in the sentences:

  1. He was . . . (ed) for his remarks over the incident.
  2. My book was heavily . . . (ed) before its publication.

 4. climactic/climatic

  • Climactic is forming a climax.
  • Climatic is relating to climate.

 Using the correct use of climactic/climatic, fill in the sentences:

  • The film’s . . .  scenes were traumatic for the kids.
  • Under certain . . . conditions, desert locusts increase in number.

5. complacent/complaisant

  • Complacent is proud of oneself and self-satisfied.
  • Complaisant is willing to please.

 Using the correct use of complacent/complaisant, fill in the sentences:

  1. In all of this praise, however, there is a severe danger that we might become . . . .
  2. There are too many . . .  doctors signing sick notes.

6. council/counsel

  • Council is a group of people who manage or advise.
  • Counsel is to seek advice; to advise.

 Using the correct use of council/counsel, fill in the sentences:

  1. The . . .  has unanimously endorsed the agreement with the government.
  2. He had to go for . . . (ing) after the tragic incident.

7. cue/queue

  • Cue is a signal for action.
  • Queue is a line of people or vehicles.

 Using the correct use of cue/queue, fill in the sentences:

  1. Pearl  hasn’t yet been given the . . .to come on stage.
  2. We found ourselves in a . . .  for petrol.

8. complement/compliment

  • Use complement when referring to something that enhances or completes.
  • Use compliment as an expression of praise.

 Using the correct use of complement/compliment, fill in the sentences:

  1. The cranberry sauce is a perfect . . . to the turkey dinner.
  2. I was pleased to have received so many . . . on my new dress.

9. curb/kerb

  • Curb is to keep something in check; a control or limit.
  • Kerb (in British English) is the stone edge of a pavement.

 Using the correct use of curb/kerb, fill in the sentences:

  1. The parents had to . . . his wayward behaviour.
  2. She fell of the . . . on her to ASDA market.

 10. currant/current

  • Currant is a dried grape.
  • Current is happening now; a flow of water, air, or electricity.

Using the correct use of currant/current, fill in the sentences:

  1. He .enjoys eating . . . fruits.
  2. Ted enjoys listening to . . . . news about the economy.

11.  cast, caste

  • cast – throw, toss or cause (light or shadow) to appear on a surface.
  • caste – social class (with some privileges).

Using the correct use of cast/caste, fill in the sentences:

  1. He . . . the book down onto the floor angrily.
  2. Those educated at private schools belong to a privileged . . . .

 12. capital/capitol

  • Capital has several meanings. It can refer to an uppercase letter, money, or a city where a seat of government is located.
  • Capitol means the building where lawmakers meet.

 Using the correct use of capital/capitol, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peter visited the cafe in the basement of the . . .  after watching a bill become a law.
  2. Basel visited Brasίlia, the . . . of Brazil.

13.  coarse/course

  • Coarse means rough, crude or harsh.
  • Course (n.) is a path or route to be taken.

 Using the correct use of coarse/course, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . manners were very irritating.
  2. Now that you’ve lost your job, what is the first . . . of action to be taken?

 14. choose/chose

  • Choose means to select.
  • Chose is the past tense of choose.

 Using the correct use of choose/chose, fill in the sentences:

  1. I . . . my puppy last week.
  2. I . . . that puppy in the window.

15. conscience/conscious

  • Conscience is your inner, moral guide.
  • Conscious is being aware of; alive; being alert

 Using the correct use of conscience/conscious, fill in the sentences:

  1. He had a guilty . . . about his desires.
  2. Tad became . . . . of people talking in the hall.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) sight b) site   c) cite; #2. a) canvas b) canvass #3. a) censured   b) censored #4. a) climactic  b) climatic; #5. a) complacent  b) complaisant; #6. a) council   b) counseling; #7. a) cue b) queue   #8. a) complement b) compliments   #9. a) curb   b)kerb #10. a) currant b) current   #11. a) cast b) caste  #12. a) capitol   b) capital   #13. a) coarse   b) course   #14. a) chose   b) choose   #15. a) conscience b) conscious

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!


HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even a spellchecker will not flag one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

blur book close up data

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1. buy/by/bye

  • Use buy when purchasing an item.
  • Use by as a preposition to indicate location.

Use bye in saying “goodbye” or when an athlete moves directly to the next round of a competition without playing.

 Using the correct use of buy/by/bye, fill in the sentences:

  1. I do need to . . . new shoes for the kids.
  2. John was given a . . . after Tad had withdrawn from the competition.

 2. bear/bare

  • Use bear when referring to the large mammal or to indicate the act of holding or supporting.
  • Use bare as an adjective indicating lack of clothing; uncovered.

 Using the correct use of bear/bare, fill in the sentences:

  1. How did that brown . . . open the security gate at the campsite?
  2. The wagon can hardly . . . the weight of the load.
  3. His . . . neck burned in the direct sunlight.

3. brake/break

  • Use brake as a verb meaning to stop or as a noun when referring to a device used to stop or slow motion:
  • Use break to indicate smashing or shattering or to take a recess OR
  • Use break as a noun to indicate a rest or pause.

 Using the correct use of brake/break, fill in the sentences:

  1. We took a water . . . after our first set of drills.
  2. The bike’s . . . failed, which is why he toppled town the hill.
  3. My back will . . . if we put one more thing in this backpack.

 4. breath/breathe

  • Breath is a noun; it’s the air that goes in and out of your lungs:
  • Breathe is a verb; it means to exhale or inhale:

 Using the correct use of breath/breathe, fill in the sentences:

  1. Chad held his . . . while Larry skateboarded down the stairs.
  2. After Shona’s spectacular landing, Holy had to remind herself to . . . again.

5. balmy/barmy

  • Balmy means pleasantly warm; soothing.
  • Barmy is being foolish, crazy.

 Using the correct use of balmy/barmy, fill in the sentences:

  1. I thought I was going . . . at first.
  2. We always enjoy the . . . days of late summer in Heysham.

6. bated/baited

  • Bated means in great suspense, very anxiously or excitedly
  • A bait is food attached or inserted as a decoy to lure

Using the correct use of bated/baited, fill in the sentences:

  1. The fish let go of the . . . .
  2. He waited for a reply to his offer with . . . breath.

7. bazaar/bizarre

  • Bazzar is a Middle Eastern market; a fundraising sale of goods
  • Bizarre means strange or unusual

 Using the correct use of bazaar/bizarre, fill in the sentences:

  1. They went to the Turkish bazaar to buy items.
  2. We found ourselves in a . . . situation.

8. berth/birth

  • Berth is a bunk in a ship, train, etc.
  • Birth is the emergence of a baby from the womb.

 Using the correct use of berth/birth, fill in the sentences:

  1. I will sleep in the upper . . . .
  2. The . . . of his son was a turning point.

9. breach/breech

  • Breach is to break through, or break a rule; a gap
  • Breech is the back part of a gun barrel; in birth, feet coming out first

 Using the correct use of breach/breech, fill in the sentences:

  1. The way he acted was a . . . of confidence on Sarah’s trust.
  2. She has had a . . . birth of her first born son.

 10. broach/brooch

  • Broach to raise a difficult subject for discussion; pierce
  • Brooch is a piece of jewellery

 Using the correct use of broach/brooch, fill in the sentences:

  1. He . . . the topic he had been avoiding all evening.
  2. Ted enjoys wearing an emerald . . . .

11. beside/besides

  • Beside means next to.
  • Besides means in addition.

Using the correct use of beside/besides, fill in the sentences:

  1. He sat . . . me.
  2. I love ice cream . . . chocolate.

12. capital/capitol

  • Capital has several meanings. It can refer to an uppercase letter, money, or a city where a seat of government is located.
  • Capitol means the building where lawmakers meet.

 Using the correct use of capital/capitol, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peter visited the cafe in the basement of the . . . after watching a bill become a law.
  2. Basel visited Brasίlia, the . . . of Brazil.

13. coarse/course

  • Coarse means rough, crude or harsh;
  • Course (n.) a path or route to be taken;

 Using the correct use of coarse/course, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . manners were very irritating.
  2. Now that you’ve lost your job, what is the first . . . of action to be taken?

14. choose/chose

  • Choose means to select.
  • Chose is the past tense of choose.

 Using the correct use of choose/chose, fill in the sentences:

  1. I . . . my puppy last week.
  2. I . . . that puppy in the window.

15. conscience/conscious

  • Conscience is your inner, moral guide.
  • Conscious is being aware of; alive; being alert.

 Using the correct use of conscience/conscious, fill in the sentences:

  1. He had a guilty . . . about his desires.
  2. Tad became . . . . of people talking in the hall.

pexels-photo-416322.jpegSo, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) buy   b) bye; #2. a) bear b) bear c) bare #3. a) break   b) brake c) break #4. a) breath     b) breathe; #5 a) barmy   b) balmy; #6 a) bait   b) bated; #7 a) bazaar b) bizarre   #8 a) berth b) birth   #9 a) breach   b) breech addition   #10 a) broached b) brooch   #11 a) complement b) compliments  #12 a) capitol   b) capital   #13 a) coarse   b) course   #14 a) chose   b) choose   #15 a) conscience b) conscious

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!


HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even the spellchecker will not flag one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegIncluded below are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones.

To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • what part of speech it is (sometimes).
  • a very brief definition.
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.
  • answers to the sentences given at the end.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. affect/effect

  • Affect means to change or make a difference to . . .
  • Effect means a result; to bring about a result; used as a verb meaning to cause/achieve or to bring about . . .

Using the correct use of affect/effect, fill in the sentences:

  • The medicine did not . . . . the way the doctor had hoped.
  • The magician . . . (ed) his escape with a false door
  • The new medicine had negative side . . . .

2. accept/except

  • To accept is to agree to receive or do . . .
  • except means not including . . .

Using the correct use of accept/except, fill in the sentences:

  1. The organization will . . . donations from well-wishers.
  2. You may donate all items . . . car seats and cribs.

3. altogether/all together

  • Altogether means “completely” or “entirely,”eg: He denied all knowledge of it’
  • All together refers to a group of people or things that act collectively or at the same time, eg: “Let’s raise our glasses all together!” 

4. aloud/allowed

  • Use aloud when referring to something said out loud.
  • Use allowed when referring to something permitted.

Using the correct use of aloud/allowed, fill in the sentences:

  1. Reading . . . – and doing it well– is a skill that requires much practice.
  2. Dogs are not . . . to be on school property between 2:45-4pm.

5. advice/advise

  • Advice is a recommendations about what to do.
  • Advise is a verb meaning to recommend something.

Using the correct use of advice/advise, fill in the sentences:

  1. Shona . . . Holy to avoid the questionable chicken salad.
  2. Charles gave Paul good . . . .

6. assure/ensure/insure

  • Assure means to tell someone that something will definitely happen or is definitely true.
  • Ensure means to guarantee or make sure of something.
  • Insure means to take out an insurance policy.

Using the correct use of assure/ensure/insure, fill in the sentences:

  1. Lennie took steps to . . . that no one cheated at Bingo.
  2. The car was . . . against damage caused by flooding.
  3. Tad assured Pearl that no one would cheat at Bingo.

7. addition/edition

  • An addition is something that is added.
  • An edition is one in a series of printed material.

Using the correct use of addition/edition, fill in the sentences:

  1. Did you see the latest . . . of the paper?
  2. We built an . . . . onto the house.

8. adverse/averse

  • Adverse – unfavourable, harmful
  • Averse – strongly disliking; opposed

Using the correct use of adverse/averse, fill in the sentences:

  1. Taxes are having an . . . effect on production.
  2. He was a man known to be extremely controlling and . . . to intrusions.

9. aisle/isle

  • Aisle a passage between rows of seats
  • Isle is an island

Using the correct use of aisle/isle, fill in the sentences:

  1. He lives in the British . . . .
  2. The musical had the audience dancing in the . . . .

10. along/a long

  • Along is moving or extending horizontally on
  • A long refers to something of great length

Using the correct use of along/a long, fill in the sentences:

  1. We just continued to plod . . . the tasks.
  2. I went for . . . . walk.

11. altar/alter

  • Altar is a sacred table in a church
  • Alter is to change

Using the correct use of altar/alter, fill in the sentences:

  1. Andrew was persuaded to . . . the passage.
  2. I spent time in the cathedral admiring the . . . and ceiling.

12. amoral/immoral

  •  Amoral is not concerned with right or wrong
  • Immoral means not following accepted moral standards

Using the correct use of amoral/immoral, fill in the sentences:

  1. The client pays for the . . . expertise of the lawyer.
  2. The council judged the film to be . . . and obscene.

13. appraise/apprise

  • To appraise is to assess
  • To apprise is to inform someone

Using the correct use of appraise/apprise, fill in the sentences:

  1. There is a need to . . . existing techniques in the Department.
  2. I thought it right to . . . Chris of what had happened.

14. assent/ascent/accent

  • Assent is an agreement, approval
  • Ascent is the action of rising or climbing up

Using the correct use of assent/ascent, fill in the sentences:

  1. There was a loud murmur of . . . to the new proposal.
  2. The . . . grew steeper as we climbed the mountain.

15. aural/oral

  •  Aural is relating to the ears or hearing ‘
  • Oral is relating to the mouth; spoken

Using the correct use of aural/oral, fill in the sentences:

  1. The information was held in written,  . . . , or visual form.
  2. The class had an . . . discussion of the topic.

ANSWERS: #1. a) affect   b) effected   c) effects; #2. a) accept   b) except; #4. a) aloud    b) allowed; #5 a) advised   b) advice; #6. a) ensure   b) insured c) assured; #7. a) edition   b) addition; #8. a) adverse   b) averse; #9. a) Isles    b) aisles; #10. a) along    b) a long; #11. a) alter   b) altar; #12. a) amoral   b) immoral; #13. a) appraise   b) apprise; #14. a) assent   b) ascent; #15. a) aural   b) oral

How did you fair?

HOMOPHONES are quite tricky and need a lot of care and attention. It is always advisable to EDIT your work if you are someone who tends to get confused with them. In the end you will get the hang of it!

AGAIN, PRACTICE makes it perfect. Good luck in all your endeavours

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL



You can be given responsibility, but you have to take accountability.

BEING RESPONSIBLE for decisions, and for the actions of others, can carry a significant amount of pressure. For that reason, some people would rather leave the decision-making to others. In truth, responsibility doesn’t have to be such a burden. Those who reject it could be missing the chance to progress in their career.

group hand fist bump

Being Responsible

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” ― Sigmund Freud

It is sometimes tempting to do exactly what you want, exactly when you want to do it. This is an ineffective and inconsiderate way to work because it doesn’t consider the implications for others. A responsible person will always think about the consequences of their actions before they do anything.

RESPONSIBILITY is an admirable trait and leads to further gains. Responsibility isn’t just doing your homework or feeding the dog; it is making proper choices and doing the right thing because you were asked to and you said you would. But you can’t show responsibility without having it! “When life gives you lemons…” what do you do? The answer is different for everyone, but showing and having responsibility can, and will, pay off.

Being responsible also means making decisions for the overall good of anything you’re working on. It’s about considering the benefits to long-term goals, not your own short-term gratification.

Responsibility In The Workplace

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” ― Winston S. Churchill

First you need to understand what responsibility in the workplace means. Without showing responsibility in the position you hold now, you won’t likely be granted additional responsibilities until you are able to demonstrate the ability to do so. There are basic responsibilities like:

  • showing up for work on time and putting in expected hours.
  • making appropriate choices – such as how you dress and how you interact with others.
  • being reliable – your boss, the people you work with, and clients should be able to rely on you on a daily basis, especially during peak or urgent periods.

In addition, to show you truly fulfill the responsibilities of your position you should be able to:

  • meet deadlines (or complete work prior to deadline).
  • meet or exceed each of your current job goals.
  • quantify and present your successful results.

If you regularly demonstrate success in all the responsibilities above, you can be assured that you will be a valued employee and success will definitely come your way if you plan and aim higher.

Why Is Responsibility Thought Of As A Burden?

“To say you have no choice is to relieve yourself of responsibility.” ― Patrick Ness

There are a number of reasons some people avoid responsibility:

  • If you’re in a position of responsibility, you’ll make decisions –some of these may be unpopular. As a result, decision-makers often have to develop a thick skin. You should always give reasons why you’ve taken the steps you took – this is to illustrate you’ve taken them for the right reasons. Being open about everything means it will be much easier to deal with any negativity that may come your way as a result.
  • Some people just don’t like to delegate. They feel they have to trust others for things they’re responsible for, and don’t like handing over that trust. But you’re only delegating actions to others. You’re still the one who is ultimately accountable.
  • Despite the best efforts and preparation things can still go wrong, and people will look for someone to blame. Being the one who is accountable means you’re the easiest target. However, if mistakes happen the first time, they’re much less likely to occur when you try the same thing again. Lessons will be learned, and these can be put into practice in the future.

While this all sounds rather daunting, bear in mind that those who welcome responsibility find they have tremendous job satisfaction, and enjoy interesting and varied work experiences.

Also remember that you will have been given responsibility for a reason – you’ve clearly displayed the skills and attributes that mean you cope well.

pexels-photo.jpgRelish The Roles Of Responsibility

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” ― Adrienne Rich

When next faced with responsibility for a role or task, these top tips will help you perform well and enjoy the challenges that come with it:

Identify your daily routine. Think of your day to day life, and make a list of things considered to be responsibilities. Then, write next to each item little notes such as “crucial” and “important” for tasks that must be completed, or “minor” for tasks that could be put off, if needed. Some things may be important or non-important according to your personal views, but don’t put off events you can’t escape. Making this list will help you become more organized and help you use your time wisely to get what needs to be done out of the way (thus showing more responsibility).

Work Ethic and Character. Some people could care less about their work product. However, people with solid work ethic and character take responsibility for the work they do. They demonstrate a willingness to not only ensure the job is done, but also accept responsibility for the results — good or bad. They take their assigned duties seriously and go the extra mile to make sure the work is the best that it can be. When you have character and are accountable, you recognize that the quality of your work is also a representation of you.

Plan. When you have your list made, go though all the events marked “important” and think about where they’ll fit into your day. Determine how long each task will take and what materials you may need to help complete it. Organize a chain of events in the order of importance, and go for it!

Accept! It may not always be easy to complete your goals, or turn past mistakes around. The reality that you might have to accept is that you can’t do it all alone. So find someone you trust and ask for help! Anyone who tries to hold you back or bring you down is not helping, and simply ignoring them and sticking with your goals is the most responsible thing that you could do.

Use your resources. If you don’t have the tools you need, you might not be able to reach some goals. But don’t give up right then and there; be a problem solver! Invest in certain things you want. A little brain power may save you some stress and time.

Be truthful. If you’ve made promises, keep them! Don’t make promises you know you may not be able to keep: this is very irresponsible. Even if it’s not a promise, if you said you’d do something, then just do it. That’s just being a good friend.

Is Responsibility and Accountability Part Of You?

“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.” ― Hubert Selby Jr.

When you were hired for a job, you were provided with a list of your duties, also known as responsibilities. You were also made aware that it is your job to ensure the tasks on the list are completed when due. While you can be assigned a variety of responsibilities, whether or not you are accountable depends on your character. A person who demonstrates accountability takes the hit if s/he doesn’t complete the task on schedule. When you refuse to be accountable, you’ll place the blame on someone else for the project’s failure.

Always aspire to be responsible and accountable?

Lest we forget: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL


The summer holidays are within us.


These could be very long, lazy holidays which are the stuff of idyllic childhood memories. While in the past those hot summers may have been taken up climbing trees, building dams and playing in the woods, or travelling, these days children on school holidays are more likely to spend their time glued to an electronic device, be it a mobile phone or an iPad or watching television.

Experts have warned that children’s physical fitness significantly drops over the course of the school holidays. In a recent study by scientists at the UK Active health charity and the University of Essex reveals pupils return to lessons in September overweight and with significantly lower cardiorespiratory fitness.

All these could be avoided by talking and persuading Little Johnny or Miss Shona to do a little bit of exercising or engaging in activities that are productive and useful for their well-being. It could also be helpful through finding things to occupy the little ones by taking them out of their comfort zones and engaging them in other more challenging activities.

Dr Steven Mann, of UK Active and Coventry University, said:

‘There’s a growing class divide around fitness levels due to the summer holidays and the government must urgently address these Victorian-style health inequalities to give every child a fair chance of a healthy start in life.

Our research suggests deprived children are being plonked in front of screens for hours on end, while their more affluent peers are able to maintain their fitness levels through summer camps and other activities.’


  1. A family outing at the local or nearby museum. What about having a go at curating at a local gallery or offering to help. Many galleries offer teens the chance to curate or help put exhibitions together.
  2. Plan a family weekend trip somewhere far/near. Take a road trip to a nearby city. Spend the night if you can or just make it a day trip. If you have teenage children let them do the planning based on:
    • Where to go
    • How to get there
    • What to do
    • Where to stay
    • Where to eat.
  3. Record a song. This must be tuneful, lyrical and good.
  4. Find a new place to play. This may be clearing out the basement or garage or building a tree house.
  5. Read a chapter book aloud. Or even go on and read a whole series together.
  6. Listen to a classic as an audiobook. Or try any of the newer audiobooks.
  7. Teach the kids a game you haven’t played since you were a kid.
  8. Make play dough creations. Then rip them up and do it again.
  9. Make paper airplanes. See whose goes the farthest.
  10. Keep a sketch diary. Write in a journal. At the end of the summer share selections with each other about the highlights of the season.
  11. Go Fishing. Get hold of a fishing rod and head off to a local stream, river or lake for the day.
  12. Visit a local farmers market and feast on the fruits and veggies of the season. What about visiting a PYO (Pick Your Own) place near you?
  13.  Take a long walk. Walk somewhere with a group of friends for a day (bring a picnic and drinks), see how far you can go.
  14. Help on a nearby farm or stables. Get down and muck on the farm or at the stables and have a bit of fun.
  15. Use bikes as a mode of transit. Show the kids the way to the store or a friend’s. Take bike rides for fun. Either leave from your own house or cycle through biking trails.
  16. Have a garage sale. Kids can earn spending money by selling their old stuff.
  17. Provide art supplies: Art projects can be as simple as a collage made from old magazines or can involve complex crafts like sewing a new outfit.
  18. Encourage your teen to write songs, draw pictures, and create poetry.
  19. Encourage household activities: There are always things that can be done around the house. Let your teen clean out the garage. Challenge them to show you that they can be responsible.
  20. Clear out your room: Not only will you make your parents extremely happy but you will find all those lost cds/books/must have items that are buried under the heap.
  21. Redecorate your room: Try a new colour if parents will allow. If not, try a furniture rearrange and appropriate some small furnishings from elsewhere in the house.
  22. Learn to cook three new meals well.
  23. You can have a car boot sale/sale of work/garage sale to get rid of the non-essential non-teen stuff you no longer want and make yourself some cash at the same time.
  24. Go ice skating or roller skating: Skating is fun and you get to exercise at the same time without realising. If you’ve never skated before, go and learn how.
  25. Create/Put together a memory book. This could be about a special time during your life or about primary/junior school if you’re heading to high school.
  26. Make a summer playlist: create a playlist of the best ever summer songs.
  27. Create family challenges: Establish a weekly contest, such as who can build the highest card tower or the best sand castle.
  28. Enjoy some quiet time together: Go on a family picnic and spend an afternoon watching the clouds.
  29. Hold an old-fashioned family board game night at home, or play chess, trivial pursuit or monopoly.

Promote Activities That Will Keep Your Teen Physically Active


Physical activity can get you going when you are immobilized. Get action in your life, and don’t just talk about it. Get into the arena! – John Davidson

With fewer sports activities, summer vacation can lead some teens to become sedentary, which isn’t good for their health. Here’s how to prevent your teen from becoming a couch potato.

29. Encourage your teen to get active every day: If your teen doesn’t participate in organized sports during the summer months, encourage him/her to find ways to stay active. Challenge him/her to ride her bike five miles per day or to swim at the town pool several times a week.

30. Plan family activities that involve exercise: Go hiking as a family on the weekends or go for a walk every evening after dinner. Look for new activities you can try as a family, too. Whether you experiment with frisbee, golf or you take surfing lessons together, it all makes fitness fun.

31. Start a garden: Growing a garden, starting your own vegetable garden, or building a flower garden can give your child something to do all summer. From healthier eating habits, to improved psychological well-being, gardening offers children some surprise benefits.


The causes of obesity are varied and complex, but the lack of daily physical activity is an important factor – Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Encourage Activities That Will Keep Your Teen Mentally Active

Summer brain drain can be a real problem, especially if your teen spends days playing video games. Encourage him to get involved in activities that will help him keep his mind sharp. Help him discover fun activities that encourage learning.

32. Think about the future: summer is a great time to encourage your teen to focus a little on the future. Visit a college together or help arrange for your teen to job shadow someone who works in a career that interests him.

33. Encourage your teen to read: take a weekly trip to the library and challenge your teen to read a new book each week. Encourage him to explore new genres or to start a book club with friends. Reading can help keep your teen’s brain active and it can turn him into a lifelong learner.

34. Use electronics in a healthy way: rather than staring at a screen, encourage your teen to build a website or learn graphic designing.

35. Do a summer course or camp: You might like to try out a course in something you might be interested in doing in college as a taster. There are lots of engineering / IT / animation / acting / language courses for teens at very reasonable price. Wowcher is a good starting point.

36. Do a First Aid Course: This is a good one if you’re planning to do some babysitting, to be able to tell prospective parents that you know first aid. St John’s Ambulance Brigade run first aid courses as well as Red Cross and there are lots of private organisations running them as well.

37. Read a classic: From old classics to new, all of them thought provoking and inspiring. You can also write your own super short story as a challenge.

38. Volunteer: Maybe you like animals. Or you are happy helping homeless people. You can do this through a local volunteer centre or at a local event or for a local charity, they always need people to help. (PS good for the resume/CV too!)

39. Write a play: Ever fancied yourself as a playwright? Summer holidays are the perfect time to get writing and create a cast of characters and have a bit of fun as well.

40. Create a cartoon or comic strip: There are lots of free online tools for helping you to create cartoons or comic strips.

41. Make a film: Decide on your film genre, broad story and characters and make a storyboard. You could film your neighbourhood, a day in your life or get friends to be characters in a fictional film.

42. Join/Create a summer reading club at your local library.

43. Learn to type – touch typing is a great skill to learn, not only will it stand you in good stead for your own computer skills but it also means you’ll get school projects done much quicker too.

44. Learn ten phrases of a new language: Pick a new language, such as Arabic or Mandarin (current on-trend languages to learn), and master ten phrases well.

Never Give Up

By encouraging children to get up and exercise isn’t as simple as it used to be. However, research is showing that parents have a duty to persuade children to be active during the summer holidays. There is a real need for children to get off their mobile phones and venture outside – and it’s not just to prevent obesity. Scientist claim that teenagers are more likely to suffer regular bone fractures and breaks if they don’t stay active.

A Canadian study found that those who avoided the recommended daily activity had much weaker bones than their peers. Leigh Gabel, of the University of British Columbia, said: ‘We found that teens who are less active had weaker bones, and bone strength is critical for preventing fractures”.

Even if you’re ill, physical activity at a lower level will help you beat it – Jim Loehr

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.


As the academic year comes to an end, I want to spare a thought to our senior year students reflecting and mapping the way ahead.

Time To Grow UpTo My SENIOR YEAR Students,

I’m truly thankful for all your smiles and hugs. I’m also grateful for all we have shared this academic year. Thanks for opening your hearts and letting me be part of your lives, but I’d especially like to thank you for helping me become a better educator. THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME FEEL THAT MY JOB IS NOT A JOB, BUT A PASSION.

Thanks to you, I love being a teacher more and more every day. Each of you has made a difference for me and I will never forget you.

This academic year, 2018-19:

*YOU have learned to use your voices to make positive changes as well as being leaders in your own unique way. I know this because you organized and took part in the debates and discussions as well as travelling far afield on your own.

* YOU have learned to care about justice and equality and I know this because you were inspired by the injustice and inequality you saw in our literature lessons: A Man For All Seasons, Of Mice And Men; Poetry; The Yellow Wallpaper and The Lemon Orchard.

* YOU have learned that there is more to this world than what exists inside of our school. I know this because of the way you have connected with other people and participating in many events around the school; as well as asking questions with an incredibly genuine interest to learn more about other parts of the world.

* YOU have learned to speak respectfully to people in power and still ask for things to change and I know this because you have written letters and sent them to the Administration – the people in charge of your education.

* YOU have learned to love books and I know this because I heard you excitedly whispering about them. We empathized with Sir Thomas More and genuinely felt sorry for Lennie. Oh dear George – was it worth the effort to shoot your best mate?

* YOU have learned to see purpose and meaning in your writing and I know this because you asked me what we were going to do with every piece of writing for your exams. I replied to HUNDREDS of requests on different topics or needs.

* YOU have learned to be kind and I know this because you took such good care of each other. When someone was hurt, you made sure they are okay. When someone was sad, you went out of your way to make them smile. When someone was feeling excluded, you did whatever you could to let them know that they were welcome to join you.

* YOU have learned to be independent and I know this because you truly do not need me anymore.  You have so much strength, power, courage and brilliance inside of you and I know that you are more than ready to go out and change this world.

Love SignSo, while I am not nearly ready to let you go, I know that it is TIME.  I thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for a most incredible year. I believe that I have learned more from all of you than you ever could have learned from me.

THANK YOU, CLASS OF 2019, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU, FOR BEING MY TEACHERS THIS YEAR.  You all have earned a very special place in my heart.

Please keep reading with deep thinking.  Please keep writing with passion.  And please keep living your lives with the kindness, compassion and brilliance that you have displayed throughout this entire year.

I will always consider myself to be your teacher. I hope you will stay in touch through the coming years to let me share in your success.

With fond memories of each one of you, I remain,

Gift Chimbizi

PS: Life is an adventure . . . enjoy the ride. I wish you much happiness as you travel down life’s highway and hope you have few bumps along the way, but, perhaps, some interesting detours.


red heart on a old opened book

Did you know that if you read 15 minutes a day, you will read over one million words per year?


High School scholars are exposed to a plethora of vocabulary through:

  • Using vocabulary in speaking
  • Using vocabulary words in sentences
  • Using vocabulary in context
  • Using vocabulary knowledge for effective reading
  • Using vocabulary knowledge for effective writing purposes

For those of our students taking SATs or AP English or IGCSE/GCSE exams – whatever question, a candidate chooses – vocabulary will need to be appropriate. Through using language imaginatively, so that it seems original, a student can be rewarded with high marks.

As an experienced GCSE and IGCSE Examiner at English Literature and English Language respectively, I am permitted to give full marks to written essays that meet the highest grade descriptors of the mark scheme.

Certainly, correct use of vocabulary is essential in any High School class. Whether an English Teacher uses a traditional vocabulary programme through visual techniques – flash cards, wall charts, realia, visual techniques, using illustrative situations like synonyms; or modern methods which highlight a student-centred approach focusing on individual students, group work or paired work, vocabulary remains a cog in High School English lessons. Why?

What is Research Saying About Vocabulary Acquisition?

Of particular concern to educators is the development of academic language. Although we learn oral language that enables us to speak to one another fairly easily, learning academic language is more complex because it involves abstract literacy tasks and language not customarily used in oral speech. Academic language is a second language, because all literate people must learn it to enable them to access academic content.

Direct vocabulary instruction is essential, but research indicates that students with well-developed vocabulary learn many more words indirectly through reading than from instruction (Cunningham & Stanovich, 2001). Two strategies that encourage children to read widely and deeply are to provide an array of reading materials that capitalize on their interests and to set aside time for reading during the school day and at home (Trelease, 2006). Conversations about their reading with adults and peers also strengthen students’ word learning (Biemiller & Boote, 2006).


HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS use vocabulary in a variety of ways: for writing purposes; in their everyday speech in both formal and informal situation. In all cases, students must learn to use vocabulary suited to purpose and audience. For instance, if you are writing a business letter, the language should be formal. On the other hand, a letter written to friends or relatives might be informal. In all cases, a student is never encouraged to use text language in all academic circles.

The typical 21st century high school student communicates via email and text message. Consequently, many of today’s high school students need to find ways to expand their vocabulary skills. High school students who want to learn how to improve vocabulary skills, can start by making the decision to read more. It’s best if students choose books and magazines that interest them. If the reading material interests them, they are more likely to maintain the reading habit.

blur book close up dataLANGUAGE REGISTER

It is the level and style of writing and should be appropriate for the situation one is in. The appropriate language register tends to depend mostly on the 4 W’s scenario:

  • The audience (Who?)
  • The topic (What?)
  • The purpose (Why?)
  • Location (Where?)

LANGUAGE REGISTER is the level of formality with which you speak. Different situations and people call for different registers. In short, the language register determines the vocabulary structure and some grammatical usage of any given writing task.

There are five language registers or styles we are all exposed to in our writing tasks:

  1. Formal Register: It is mainly appropriate for professional writing, as in speeches, e.g. sermons or announcements; letters to your boss or strangers.
  2. Informal Register: This is also called casual or intimate register used by peers or friends. It is conversational in nature, as in slang or colloquialisms and spoken by buddies, teammates, email chats and text messages, or letters to friends.
  3. Static Register: This type of register rarely or never changes. It is “frozen” in time and content. The common examples include the Lord’s Prayer, the laws passed by governments, bibliography/reference.
  4. Consultative Register: This is a standard form of communication where users engage in mutually formal and according to societal expectations. It uses professional discourse as in teacher and student situation; when strangers meet, or a lawyer and a client.
  5. Intimate Register: It is private in nature reserved for close family members or intimate people. The husband and wife, or parent and children conversations are good examples.


The core to earning a top grade mark involves the mastery of an array of skills, chief among which is using extensive vocabulary. This means students must never ever try to make their writing look more academic by using “clever” words for their own sake. Instead, always understand that there is a difference between a person’s passive vocabulary (the words s/he understands) and a person’s active vocabulary (the words s/he actually uses).

To overcome this dilemma, students must be encouraged to:

  • Avoid repetition and aim for variety. For example, replacing the word “serious” with “grave” or “important”. Something bad may be replaced by such words “terrible, awful, tragic, mind-numbing, shattering, and cataclysmic”.
  • Use words appropriate to the context. Unless it is necessary, using informal language like contractions (shortened words with missing letters from the original); slang words (casual word conversations); abbreviation (shortened forms of words or phrases); clichés (overused expressions or ideas); colloquialisms (words, phrases, ideas or expressions characteristics of ordinary or familiar conversations) should be avoided.
  • Being aware of commonly misused words. Some words are commonly misused thereby making the meaning the vague and ambiguous, eg: accept vs. except, affect vs. effect
  • Choose specific verbs. When analyzing or reporting information or ideas gathered from reading, it is important to use a variety of words that suit your purpose. Rather than using words such as “say”, “show” or “report” all the time, one can use more specific verbs in academic reporting, eg: denotes, alleges, challenges.
  • Increase your vocabulary by learning to use CONTEXT CLUES – hints that an author gives to help define a difficult or unusual word. The clue may appear within the same sentence as the word to which it refers, or it may follow in a preceding sentence – so that you can teach yourself new words every time you read.
  • Increase your vocabulary by learning to use WORD PARTS so that you can figure out word meaning by looking at their prefixes, siffixes and roots, eg:

Prefixes – When a group of letters having a special meaning appears at the beginning of a word, we call that group of letters a prefix. Following is a list of the most frequently used prefixes that account for 97% of prefixed words in printed English.

Prefix Meaning Example
dis- opposite defrost
in-, im-, il-, ir- not injustice, impossible
re- again return
un- not unfriendly

Roots – Word roots are the words from other languages that are the origin of many English words. About 60% of all English words have Latin or Greek origins. Roots give words their fixed meaning. Prefixes and suffixes can then be attached to the roots to form new words.

Root Meaning Example
bio life biology, biography
chron time chronology, sychronize
fer carry transfer, inference
geo earth geography, geode
nom name nominate, nomenclature
tele distant telegraph, telepathy

Suffixes – A group of letters with a special meaning appearing at the end of a word is called a suffix. Here is a list of 6 important suffixes. Following is a list of the 6 most frequently used suffixes that account for 97% of prefixed words in printed English.

Suffix Meaning Example
-ed past-tense verbs hopped
-ing verb form/present participle running
-ly characteristic of quickly
-s, -es more than one books, boxes
-able, -ible able to be manageable, defensible
-ful full of wishful
  • Choosing strong verbs. Academic writers prefer strong verbs to phrasal verbs (verb + preposition), e.g:
    • Establish instead of set up
    • Produce instead of churn out
    • Tolerate instead of put up with
    • Assemble instead of put together
  • Use appropriate transitions – Connectives or transitions are important in the development of an academic essay. They develop a sense of coherence and provide signposting for the reader to follow the writer’s thread of thought.          By using transitions to join paragraphs and ideas together, a writer can use    them to clarify ideas, eg:
    • To order ideas, e.g: Firstly, …, Finally . . . , To begin with . . .
    • To give reasons, e.g: Therefore, . . . , Consequently, . . . ; As a result . . .
    • To offer alternatives, e.g: On the other hand, . . . ,
    • To develop a train of thought, e.g: Yet, . . . , Nevertheless, . . . .
  • Avoid redundancy. Being concise is the key. To write an effective essay is never easy; it requires a lot of practice. So always aim to write precisely and concisely, using only as many words as are necessary to convey what you want to say, eg: e.g., Blatantly obvious: Things that are blatant are obvious. Close proximity: To be in proximity to something is to be close to it. Try close to or in proximity to instead.
  • Try using synonyms – a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase. You should aim to use these in your writing instead of relying on the same words all of the time, eg: Do — execute, enact, carry out, finish, conclude, effect, accomplish, achieve, attain; Decide — determine, settle, choose, resolve
  • Read widely, read a variety of things so that you will exposed to thousands of new words each month. Keep a vocabulary journal to record that interesting words you find, or make word cards so that you can see your vocabulary growing. Reading a variety of materials is a fundamental way for students to boost their vocabulary skills. For instance, reading books written in different time periods is one of the best ways to improve vocabulary. For the high school student who wants to improve vocabulary skills, he or she can begin to read the literary classics.
  • Look for word games and puzzles online, eg: Interactive Word Games: http://www.wordplays.com; http://www.pogo.com/
  • Test yourself and have fun at the same time, eg: SAT Vocabulary Tests on vocabtest.com offers the eager student ready to learn, free vocabulary tests, which are the best way to boost your verbal skills.
  • Reading works by unfamiliar authors – A great way to gaining exposure to new words, improving vocabulary and making it a point to look up any unfamiliar words you encounter.
  • Use your new words from time to time in conversations.
  • Learn vocabulary through a specific academic subject – For instance, when I want to improve my vocabulary in the subject of history I read biographies of famous historical figures. The vocabulary words in those works can be very helpful in understanding the material in a history course. Alternatively, I can improve my vocabulary in math by reading about famous mathematicians.
  • Use the library to find other resources for building your vocabulary. The bookstores have “Word for Today” calendars, crossword puzzles, and vocabulary word card boxes.
  • You can also use Online Flash Cards (Most are free) at http://www.flashcardexchange.com/; http://www.flashcardmachine.com/; http://quizlet.com/

The top tip is to practice where you feel short. That way you will see yourself getting better every day.

I wish you the best in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!