There is almost no other news. In this time of planet-wide pandemic, fearful anxiety, shut-downs, (self-)imposed isolation, economic loss, and reasonable + irrational reactivity, there’s a constant flow of constantly updated advice through the airwaves and digital media. And for less urgent messages, there’s whatever streams through our (electronic/digital) devices—our smart and non-so-intelligent cell phones, our hand-held screens, and any informational, mechanical, automated, visual, auditory, tactile, or other applicable output that people can see, hear, feel, perceive, sense, or otherwise take into their (sub)consciousness.
What do these non-human (re)sources have in common? Assuming that their aim is to instruct, influence, and/or benefit their listeners/viewers/readers, what are they generally advising? And how can you react/respond in ways or with means that compensate?
1. Social Distancing & Hygiene
Nearly all authorities recommend or require that human beings keep at least 6 feet of distance between/among themselves. We’ve been told to “come together by staying apart.” And with the profusion of social media & virtual work from home, physical spacing of people should be easily accomplished.
So should sanitation: it’s easy to wipe clean our touch-screens, work surfaces, and tools with disinfectant. As for quarantine & isolation, deadly infections aren’t spread over telephones, airwaves, or computer networks—unless they’re latently loaded with contagious deception, falsification, or hype.
So what does “hygienic social distancing” mean for us mortals on earth?
Most likely, we won’t be doing so much face-to-face business or having so much close-in fun with others for a while. But maybe distancing also implies that we can use our electronic or digital devices to expand knowledge, help, and hope remotely. Perhaps we can advance humanity by fulfilling our lofty goals in virtual rather than bodily ways.
Instead of hanging out in crowds on beaches or in bars, individuals might give/get what they want through live streaming, video conferencing on mobiles or landlines, chat rooms, texting, and the link. Instead of a novel virus, we could spread some novel ideas. And while we're at it, we won't have to separtae our thoughts by 6 feet or even 6 insches of space onscreen or online. We can draw them--and their human receivers--all together nearer than ever.
2. Restrictions & Directives
Community members are supposed to understand, accept, and even go beyond restrictions & directives from reliable (local) sources about what to do in a crisis. Whether these limits and actions are temporary or long-lasting, they’re designed for human safety and preservation. Many have called the current virus an “invisible enemy” that we have to combat as if we were “in the midst of battle.” We have to “win the war” to protect not only humankind on earth but the economies of the societies we’ve/they’ve built.
Residents are to stay away from crowds and gatherings of over 10 people, not only at public events but also at restaurants, stores, clubs, and customary meeting places. Presumably, we’re to self-isolate (stay sequestered) in our own homes. Non-essential businesses and services involving physical contact are to shut down for the time being. Why all these unusual, seemingly severe, measures? Their purpose is to “flatten the curve” to slow the rate of infection. That way, fewer patients will need medical treatment at any one time, our facilities and resources won’t be overwhelmed, and there will be fewer deaths resulting from the outbreak.
So how might we use common sense in following current advisories while averting loneliness and/or financial disaster?
Probably not by trying to go viral (collect huge numbers of clicks/views/shares on social media). It’s natural to want to attract attention, express our views, get sales—maybe even “win” by “getting the most” or “finishing first.” Some of us may even be addicted to outputting. But in this extraordinary time, with interacting, giving, and receiving carries on remotely when possible, we can do what makes the most sense from an electronic or a digital distance. Armed with technology, we can use the “psychological weapons” of soothing calm, lucid logic, rational thought, and efficient connection to contribute to the well-being of the communal whole.
We Want to Do Our Part to Contribute to the Whole
How can we at Authors & Editors/WorkLife English get closer to you (colleagues, writers, teachers/learners of English and other languages) while keeping physical distance? Most likely, by offering what we have (for free) without bodily hassle.
We have plenty of tangible products to offer: complete series with or without printed/aural ancillaries, entire textbooks, card decks & (board) games with accompanying Activity & Idea Books, and subject matter—as well as the many hundreds of Parts & Pieces consisting of lessons, chapters, game components, how-to instructions, teaching resources, and excerpts from any or all of the above. These we can get to you through the mail, even the U.S. Postal Service, but even faster, more conveniently, more fully, and much better remotely through computerized networks and other connecting systems & structures.
What we want to do first is to help you get it right now. Most efficient is to simply download what you need or want, use it onscreen on your device(s), and/or print it out on paper to complete, check, learn from, change, enjoy, react to, and share. Then to keep the contact going, call, text, or write us and everyone else onscreen or online.
And in the spirit of providing vital or helpful services for free, all the donations described below can be delivered to you immediately after just a few clicks on your handheld devices or computer.
We want these offerings to appeal to language learners/teachers at all levels of development and with various interests. So for each of the alphabetical Puzzle Pieces A-C, we’ve chosen two substantial Parts & Pieces of particular value because they’re notably typical, engaging, comprehensive, and/or enlightening. They’re among those that provide the greatest amount of “content material” through things to do most compactly. Because we don’t need to follow the rules of physical distancing in our pages, we can fill our spaces with constructive clutter, packing in as much fun and pedagogical value in the most coherent spatial arrangements possible. So here they are:
A. Know the Alphabet
In 36 small-format pages, Get a Summary of Alphabet Teaching & Learning Ideas & Instructions called “Alphabet Actions" (A-09.05). This “Starter Book” not only highlights some of the 26 comprehensive Ideas A-Z from the full-sized 80-page How-to-Resource, Alphabet Answers. It also references the many related Parts & Pieces you can get by going to the WorkLife English Website, A. Know The Alphabet Collection such as (excerpts from) Alphabet Letters AaAa to ZzZz; Alphabet-Letter Bingo/Lotto, and Alphabet-Letter Paired Grids.
The last two of these products are available in two versions: one for the 26 letters of the English-Roman Alphabet; the other for five other World Writing Systems: Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Cyrillic, Korean.
And if you’re a native speaker or teacher of English who might like to use your social-distancing time to experience another world system, here are materials to enable you to Play Alphabet Bingo & Lotto with Greek Letters (A-03.09).
B. Do Phonics & Spelling
Here’s a new idea for an old procedure. Instead of going to all the trouble to inspect, re-order, and wait for printed textbooks to be delivered, simply download pages, lessons, chapters, whole books, and/or game materials right now. There’s no preparation, no fuss, and no delay.
As for our “special-for-now comfort-food-for-thought” offering,” here’s the entire, classic 103-page Basic Phonics & Spelling Everyday Spelling Workbook (formerly All Spelled Out), used for decades as an adult primer in the correlations in the over 40 American-English sounds with the 26 letters of the alphabet. Organized by groupings of vowel & consonant sounds/spellings, it contains pedagogy with typical examples; aural/written exercises that move from word level to summarizing contrasts in sentences; practice activities; phonetic-vocabulary puzzles; and Progress Tests.
For this unique time in history, you can get it all for free, simply by downloading and perhaps printing it out. Then you can skim/scan the text, study it thoroughly, and/or use it for your own learning or teaching. Also available from Worklifeenglish.com, Puzzle Piece B: Use Phonics & Spelling is the sequel to P & S BESW, Practical Everyday Spelling Workbook. There’s also audio (on CDs or for download) as well as Instructor’s Guides with Tapescripts & Answer Keys for both texts.
And since phonics & spelling is such a major area of adult English-language instruction, here’s yet another popular reference. Imbedded in the 60-page Activity & Idea Book for Intermediate-Level Phonics & Spelling Bingo is a complete teacher– or self-training course in beyond-the-basics principles & patterns of American-English sounds and letters. It also contains procedures & rules for Phonics & Spelling Bingo Games 17-24 with suggestions for multi-layered variations + learning activities that require no materials. There are eight reduced-sized Game-Boards A with teaching/learning notes; phonetically referenced Word Lists; and Phonics/Spelling Worksheets & Mastery Checks with Answer Keys.
Because it was designed for a maximum number of potential (beginning to advanced) students/teachers, this Phonics & Spelling Bingo Activity & Idea Book is at an in-between level. For easier or more challenging versions of comparable materials, go to Phonics & Spelling Bingo/Lotto @ Worklifeenglish.com, Puzzle Piece B: Use Phonics & Spelling.
And we had an unprecedented (but not “novel”) brainstorm. As an add-on online gift, here’s the entire set of ten Bingo Boards A-J for Phonics & Spelling Bingo Game 17: Contrasts in Simple Vowel Sounds & Spellings & Game 18, Contrasts in Complex Vowels. On ten or twenty pieces of stiff paper, you can download and print out these 20 PDFed whole-page images two– or one-sided. If and when up to 20 players are “allowed” to gather in one space, you’ll have enough material to serve them simultaneously. Be the first to play this popular game in color—even remotely if you figure out how to do so!
C. Use Vocabulary
Vocabulary cuts across all areas of language learning/teaching. So anyone who wishes to can focus his/her time or energy on the items in articles like “Like Coronavirus: the Words You Need to Understand the News” at websites like this or this.
Of course, even seemingly pandemic-specific words or acronyms like “asymptomatic,” “CDC,” “community spread” or “coronavirus” can apply to other virtual or real-life situations. And for creative fun (which we may still have a little of), we can find more uses for alphabetized terms like “communicable,” “exponential,” “flatten the curve,” “furlough,” “immunocompromised,” “isolation,” “mitigation,” “quarantine,” “respirator,” “WHO,” “zoonotic,” and more.
But even if most words/phrases aren’t directly related to what’s filling our airwaves and brainwaves of late, they’re still valuable tools for everyday life (indoors) and preservation of what’s valuable/valued among humans. As for language learners/teachers, educators, linguists, writers, and thinkers, vocabulary at basic through advanced (fundamental through sophisticated) levels provides ample servings of “comfort food for thought.”
So here, one more unique free offering in an extraordinary time, is another time-honored treasure that has endured in old-fashioned black and white: the 50-page Picture This! A Vocabulary Puzzle Book. It’s original. If you, your elementary pupils, or your pre-literate students of English download and fill it out, you’ll infuse color into a proven, entertaining/motivating educational tool. An Answer Key is included. A sequel, Picture This, Too! is also available.
Of course, when in comes to engrossing, vocabulary-building word play, we also want to serve adults hungry for nourishing content or activity. Here are 71 pages of the first half of the proven classic, Ways with Words; Vocabulary Puzzles & Activities (P & P C-03.08). Its visuals are smaller than those in Picture This (Too)! but its words and phrases are longer. That’s because they relate to “adult-competency” areas of life, such as Things, Foods, Actions, Clothing/Body Parts, Places, Jobs & Professions, Describing People. The second half of this tried & true puzzle collection is available at Worklifeenglish.com, Puzzle Piece C: Use Vocabulary.
After the distraction of questing for puzzle solutions, perhaps it’s time for more scholarly vocabulary analysis & application. What’s the Word? Part Nine—Endings & Beginnings: (C-06.02: “Put Word Parts into a Classic Story”) invites advancing language lovers and readers to fill in elements of words in a gripping adventure story, Moby Dick or The Whale. What more appropriate literature to get involved with in these times of global struggle? As mortal beings are driven to “battle evil” in the form of an “invisible enemy,” continue to enjoy learning while staying safe, staying healthy, and staying home.
Stay tuned for "Go the Distance while Distancing, Episode II," which will connect to Puzzle Pieces D-F: Apply Grammar, Listen & Speak with Understanding, Read & Write Effectively.
Below are cover images that link to some of the sources mentioned in this blog post:
For monthly email newsletters with free tips, tools, and resources for English language teachers and learners, sign up here!