The Haunted Amusement Park

Writing Prompt

You and a friend reexplore an old, abandoned amusement park. Memories of what happened a few years ago resurface, and you witness firsthand the rumour that surround the theme park with a secret of your own.

The Haunted Amusement Park

You felt a frigid chill lick your skin as the sense of familiarity crawled from the depths of your unconscious. You hadn’t wanted to come back as the guilt from way back then manifested itself in the form of dreams and spontaneous thoughts in your mind.

“Please… don’t leave.”

The whisper from that dreadful night was lost amongst the howling of the wind, but it was as though she spoke through a loudspeaker as those words were forever ingrained in the depths of your soul.

“We shouldn’t be here,” you said to the friend a few feet ahead.

Your friend turned and met your nervous countenance with one of sadness and guilt and said reassuringly, “Nothing is going to happen this time. We’ll be extra careful.”

“No,” the word left your lips before you had a chance to stop it. You hadn’t meant to sound as harsh as you did, but you couldn’t hide the growing fear spreading like wildfire inside. You were simply concerned for the safety of your friend and yourself.

“We’ll be in and out. I promise.”

You watched your friend smile at you and disappear behind the iron gates of the eerily quiet amusement park. Rumours of this strange and abandoned carnival had been the talk of the town as sightings of deceased children and adults had been reported to be still wandering the premises and enjoying its festivities.

That alone had ignited a spark of curiosity in you and your friends at the time, and what started as a bit of teenage fun ended in horrific tragedy.

You slipped through the gates and called for your friend’s name, but there was no response. When you felt the familiar chill, you folded your arms and ran deeper into the carnival.

The murmurs and whispers you heard were all reminiscent of that night, but you trod on as the farther you entered the more you began to believe that facing your guilt and fears would provide some closure.

You saw your friend standing in front of a dark rollercoaster, its seats extremely tattered and safety bars in its upward position.

Your eyes closed for a brief moment, but it only took that moment for it to all come rushing back.

“Rock…”
“Paper…”
“SCISSORS!”

There was laughter, squeals, and low hoots as the winners nudged the losers closer and closer to the eerie roller coaster.

“You promised! Losers have to do it,” one said.

“Are you chickening out?” another one chimed in.

“I’m not,” a girl said annoyingly.

Her male counterpart had already begun approaching the ride. He hopped over the few obstacles in his way and stared for a few seconds at the ripped seats.

“Five seconds,” he said, then turned to his friends, “Right?”

“I don’t want to do it,” she said sternly.

“You’ll be fine,” you said. “It’s only five seconds.”

Your friend sighed softly then followed the boy. The two friends looked at each other and took a seat in separate compartments of the ride.
“Pull down the lap bar,” your friend encouraged.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” you said.

“The worst thing that’ll happen is that it’ll break,” another countered.

You heard the loud creak of the safety bars coming down which was followed by a similar sound. Your male friend sat comfortably in his seat, smiling widely at your friends. However, the other looked extremely uncomfortable as her eyes kept wandering and hands rubbing together constantly.

“Okay, five seconds is up,” you said loudly.

“You got the pictures, right?” you heard a friend asked.

“Yeah, I did. I’m posting it to Instagram right now!”

You were the first to sense that something was wrong. The boy had his lap bar up and was about to stand until an ear-splitting groan pierced the still, cold air. Your friends had stopped talking amongst themselves, their amused countenance instantly replaced with one of sheer terror as the wheels spun and spun and spun.

You didn’t know who screamed. Perhaps it was you, but that was the least of your concerns. The ride was eagerly following its designated course on its tracks and increasing in speed at an exponential rate. You felt your blood run cold as you saw the shadow of a falling figure once the rollercoaster followed the large, impending circle.

The ride showed no signs of stopping. A loud, sickening crack rang in your eardrums. You weren’t sure if your friends had heard it but whatever happened was confirmed once the ride came to a full stop in front of the terrified crowd. It was as if the ride hadn’t moved at all.

Her body was beyond repair. There were multiple areas with skin completely ripped from her being, exposing the raw meat that your friend now was. Parts of her bone was exposed with dry and fresh blood trailing its surface. Her eyes had been completely rolled inwards, and her mouth hung open as if she were a vegetable.

It took a moment for you to realize that your male friend was nowhere to be seen.

“W-w-we have to get out of here.”

“Oh my God,” you heard another whisper loudly.

You felt the strong, adamant pull on your arm, but your feet stayed rooted to the spot. The image of your deceased friend was forever burned in your memory as tears came like waterworks from your red eyes.

“Let’s go… WE NEED TO GO.”

Another was screaming for an ambulance.

Your feet had just begun to move alongside your friends but had stopped when you heard a calming whisper.

“Please… don’t leave.”

It had come from behind you, but there was no one behind. No one alive at least.

A familiar tune made your eyes snap open.

Laughter blended conversation and screams polluted your surroundings. You spun around in confusion as adults with children and snacks were walking in all directions. None were paying any attention to you. Your gaze landed on the active rollercoaster, it’s macabre decor exposed by the glowing lights from all directions.

“Please… don’t leave.”

You recognized the male voice.

“Stay…” a familiar female voice chimed in. “Stay… and play my game.”

Benefits Of Learning A Second Language

4 Cognitive Benefits Of Learning A Second Language

It’s no surprise that learning a second language reaps numerous benefits. While you can communicate with more people, it also boosts your cognitive process. The attributes are seen in people who regularly speak multiple languages. Bilingualism is best achieved in childhood. But, adults learning a second language can also achieve fluency and get the same mental benefits.

Besides job promotions and class credit, here are four cognitive benefits you may not have known.

Tip: The U-Dictionary App provides translations in 39 different languages.

You Develop The Ability To Listen

What does this mean? Sometimes we don’t think about what we say when speaking in our native tongue. But, when learning a new language, we put on our brakes and listen to what is being said. Our ears and minds work harder to not only understand what we’ve heard but also a response. This is called active listening, a skill highlighted in a blog post by Andrew Barr. Active listening is much more efficient in strengthening your language listening skills.

Tip: Start improving your listening skills with audio articles within our app. It’s updated daily with content to test if you can catch specific words.

Enhance Your Multitasking Ability

Studies have proven that learning a second language can strengthen your multitasking ability. How? When a bilingual person hears a word or sentence, the brain works between the two language systems to figure out what is being said, put it into context, and how to respond. This is called “executive thinking”, a process that governs multitasking.

Develop A Better Understanding Of Your Language

Learning a new language–especially one from a different culture–gives you a better understanding of your culture. For example, the communication pattern in Japanese is much more indirect than English. This gives you a comparison of the cultural differences between the east and west.

Tip: Our Writing Club and Selected Articles within our app will touch upon cultural differences.

Improve Your Creativity

Language improves your creativity by giving you more ways to describe situations. For example, in Japanese, describing fresh air translates to “the air is delicious” in English. In English, we say “the air is so fresh.” Depending on the language, different phrases will require you to think how to say them in a different way.

Endless Benefits To Language Learning

There are numerous benefits to learning a second language. While it can be difficult as you get older, the benefits outweigh the cost. Regardless of whether you’re learning for fun, to get a better job, or getting class credit, learning a second language will help you in all aspects of your life.

[Phrases] -Thanks! -…?

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When someone thanks you, how do you usually reply? You are welcome? I do.

But if you travel abroad, you would find that native speakers have other interesting and informal ways to express this. Let’s have a look and stop saying ‘you are welcome’ all the time!

1.no worries/no problem

People in the U.S and Australia use this reply a lot.

Point here:

‘Worry’ is in its plural form, while ‘problem’ is in its singular form.

2. no sweat/no big deal

Easy to understand, right? That’s no big deal for me and it wasn’t a demanding task at all.

Point here:

When you say ‘no sweat’, don’t pronounce it like ‘no sweet’. (Go and check the pronunciation if you are not so sure about the difference)

In oral English, you can also say ‘no biggie’.

3. don’t worry about it/don’t mention it

This is a little bit more formal than the ones above.

When people apologize to you, you can also reply ‘don’t worry about it’. A pretty useful one!

4.it’s my pleasure/happy to help

People also use these.

That’s all for today!

Do you like today’s everyday English? Tell me in the comment!

C U!

 

[Listening] Why You Should Never, Ever Call Your Kid ‘Smart’

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Hey guys, today’s Monday and we are gonna listen to an audio to sharpen our ears today!

Answer for last time:

suddenly and reluctant

All of us know that kids need praise to grow confident and to build their own character. But today I am going to tell you not to do that. Why? Let’s get started.


Nothing succeeds like success, as every parent of a straight-A student knows, but trying to reinforce academic ???(one word missing) by telling your child, “You’re so smart,” may be counterproductive. Here’s why: According to the findings of a 2017 study, children who think their intelligence is fixed are less likely to pay attention and bounce back from mistakes than children who think intelligence can grow and change. Telling kids they’re smart reinforces the idea that intelligence is a genetic gift rather than a skill that can be honed. (Studies also say handwriting can make children smarter.)

In the study, researchers at Michigan State University looked at 123 children who were about 7, as kids this age face the challenge of transitioning to school. The team assessed the children to determine whether they had a “growth mindset” (believing that you can work harder to get smarter), or a “???(two words missing)” (believing that your intelligence is unable to change). They then asked the children to complete a fast-paced computer accuracy task while their brain activity was recorded.


What happened in the project?

Stay tuned and share what your heard with me in the comment!

[Talk] What Are Other Duties?

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Andrew is considering applying for a job…


女底色 Are you applying for a job as a stock clerk?

男底色 That’s right. I understand there’s some ordering involved. What are the other duties?

女底色 You’ll be taking inventory and also doing some billing.

男底色 About how much billing work is there?

女底色 About two hours a day. Sounds interesting?

男底色 Yes, it does. What is the work schedule?

女底色 Monday through Friday, from 4:00 pm to midnight.

男底色 Is there any overtime work?

女底色 Yes, there is. About once or twice a month.

男底色 A little overtime is no problem for me. Could you tell me something about the fringe benefit?

女底色  Employees get one sick day a month and ten vacation days a year.

男底色  I’m really interested. May I have an application form?


Sounds great! Among all the fringe benefit, which one do you believe is the most important?

Share with me in the comment!

[Talk] Sacramento Is Much Hotter Than San Francisco

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John went to Sacramento for business last week…


男底色 Last week, I went to Sacramento on business.

女底色 I figured you were out of town. I tried to call you a few times. I left a message on your machine.

男底色  I talked to a man named Charles Cooper. I had an appointment with him.

女底色 What did you discuss with him?

男底色 I was interested in possibly buying his grocery store.

女底色 That’s interesting.

男底色 Mr. Cooper made me a pretty good offer, but I turned it down.

女底色 What was your reason for turning it down? Doesn’t he have a good business?

男底色 The price was too high. The location wasn’t the best.

女底色 What bothered you about the location?

男底色 His store is ten blocks from the State Capitol Building.

女底色 That doesn’t sound like a bad location at all.

男底色 No. It’s a good location for Sacramento. The trouble is, it’s Sacramento. I’d rather open a business here.

女底色 But you have to admit, it’s a lot more expensive in San Francisco.

男底色 I prefer the weather here to the weather in Sacramento.

女底色  Oh, so you prefer cool weather to hot weather.

男底色 You got it. Sacramento is a lot hotter than San Francisco.


Does the climate matter in your decision on your career? Why?

Share with me in the comment!

[Listening] Pull On A Pair Of Skates And Twirl Around

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Did you get the answer from yesterday’s audio?

Here’s the answer:

Saturday afternoons, funny coincidence

Today’s listening is a little challenging, but I believe that you guys can nail it! Shall we?


The following week, after yoga, it made sense to walk together to the subway to get into the city for the mentoring. She sighed a tiny bit as we waited for the F train, and I sensed the sigh was not directed solely at the tiresome weekend subway schedule. The train arrived, and we found seats side by side. I confessed to her that my heels have never touched the ground in a downward dog. Harmless little opener, I felt. She took her phone out as a defense as fast as you could say, “So what?” She reflexively asked where I was from. I told her. She seemed despondent, but soldiered on. “When did you move here?” “A couple of years ago.” ???(one word missing) exhausted, she said, “Remind me to ask you about your story when I’m less, like, crazy busy.”

That is how it came to pass that, instead of some small talk leading to an easy quietness, Warrior One sat beside Warrior Two in tense silence as they both scrolled through their phones. My ???(one word missing) companion believed that conversation had to be all or nothing. She didn’t know she just had to pull on a pair of skates and twirl around for a while.


Got it? They didn’t become best friends, and the author believes this is because of lack of small talk.

Are you good at small talk? Share with me in the comment!

C U next week!

[Phrases] U Will Need These Slang Words!①

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Hey guys, today we are gonna learn some slang words that will help you blend in when you are abroad.

Here we go!

1. Let’s talk about success first. If something works like magic / works like a charm, it works perfectly and effectively.

This new detergent works like magic for getting stains out of white clothing.

2.When you have a lot of successes in a row, or a lot of positive momentum in your action, you are on a roll.

I’ve gotten the highest grade in the class on the past three tests. I’m really on a roll this semester!

3. When something fails, we can say it was a flop or a dud, or say that it bombed or it tanked. These expressions are usually used for sudden, obvious failures.

Here are two examples:

A lot of people lost their jobs when the economy tanked.

We tried to start a club, but it was a flop. We were hoping for at least fifteen people, but only two signed up.

4. You might make a last-ditch effort (a desperate, final effort) to fix the problem; your last option is called the last resort. But if it doesn’t work, then you’re really in a jam (in a difficult situation).

After spilling coffee all over my computer, I made a last-ditch effort to recover the data: I took it to a repair shop to see if they could at least salvage the hard drive.

That medication has a bunch of serious side effects; doctors only prescribe it as a last resort.

I know I can always count on my brother’s help whenever I’m in a jam.

So much for today!

Do you like this new section for slang words? Leave a comment and let me know!

How to Improve Your Spelling

How To Improve Your Spelling

Spelling mistakes can be hilarious or fatal. Autocorrect is an amusing way most people get a kick out of their friends or family members’ spelling mistakes. But, when mistakes appear on a CV, it’ll damage your credibility. With these spelling tips, you’ll become a better speller and learn to look out for common spelling mistakes.

Why are some words more misspelled than others? It’s because people spell words based on their sounds. For example, the most common misspelling of ‘basically’ is ‘basicly.’ And ‘appearance’ as ‘appearence.’

Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides daily spelling quizzes to improve your spelling.

Phonetic Spelling Strategy

The first spelling tip we have for you is the phonetic spelling strategy. It’s the most common method for beginner spellers. The strategy is to focus on each word and represent the sound with a letter or combination of letters.

For example, if you can identify the sounds for “hello,” you will be able to spell the word easily. Hundreds of English words can be spelt correctly using the phonetic spelling strategy.

By choosing between an American or British accent, you can familiarize yourself with how words are pronounced.

Knowing Spelling Rules

You may have heard the spelling rule ‘i before e except after c.’ It’s catchy and easy to remember. As a basic rule, it’s great. But, there are exceptions such as leisure and neighbour. Knowing spelling rules and their exceptions are tricks on how you can avoid their common misspellings.

Another spelling rule is the suffix “–ful.” Words ending in this suffix are always spelt with one “l”. Here are a few examples:

Grateful
Careful
Useful
Helpful

However, when we add “–ly” to words ending with the “–ful” suffix, it’s a double “l.” Here are a few examples.

Gratefully
Carefully
Usefully
Helpfully

There are lots of spelling rules in English. There are also exceptions to each rule. A trick is to come up with an easier way to remember them. Try making your own rules or jot down the ones you often forget.

Visual Spelling Strategy

The last of our spelling tips is the visual spelling strategy. As your spelling improves, you’ll subconsciously develop an eye for spelling mistakes. A helpful visual strategy is to look for patterns. For example, look at the following words: gate, bate, blate, date, and fate. They not only end in “ate”, but also sound extremely similar.

By looking for patterns, you’ll not only be helping your spelling skills but also your pronunciation. By seeing the common misspellings of English words in our spelling quiz, you’ll know what to watch out for.