Anna discovers a festival - the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. What does she learn there about Basque culture?
Learn to pronounce the new words for this lesson. You also learn about the words people use in English when they cannot remember a word, or they do not know a word.
Use this video to learn about three ways to pronounce the past tense ending of regular verbs.
Anna: Yesterday was the most amazing day. I want to tell my friend back home about it. So, I am writing her a letter!
Anna: Dear Penelope,
Life in Washington, D.C. is interesting. I see something new every day -- like yesterday. Yesterday started like a usual work day.
Anna: I said, "Yesterday started like a usual work day."
Anna's voice: I was at work. And I wanted a break. So, I walked and walked … and walked. Then, I saw something! It was a festival -- a big festival!
Anna: It is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Anna's voice: Yes. It was the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Every year the festival shows different cultures. This year one of the cultures was the Basque culture.
There was dancing and food and games!”
Anna: I am dancing a traditional Basque dance.
Anna's voice: At the festival, I danced a traditional Basque dance!
Anna: They are cooking traditional Basque food.
Anna's voice: They cooked a lot of traditional Basque food.
Anna: They are playing a game. It’s a kind of handball. What do they call it? They call it pilota!
Anna's voice: They played a game with their hands and a small ball. It’s a kind of handball. But this game is called pilota.
Anna: This is beautiful! This is traditional Basque art.
Anna: They are making a traditional Basque ship. This festival is a lot of fun!
Anna's voice: The whole day was a lot of fun!
Anna: Who said that? I want to write my friends and tell them about my day!
Anna: … So, I wanted to tell you about my day! Please, my friend, come visit Washington, D.C. soon. There is a lot to do! Until next time … Anna.
Tell about a party or festival in your town. Write to us by email or in the Comments section. Click on the image below to download the Activity Sheet and practice using the past tense with a friend.
Learning Strategies are the thoughts and actions that help make learning easier or more effective.
The learning strategy for this lesson is Substitute. When we are speaking a second language, we often do not know a word. That is the time we can substitute a phrase or another word, and continue speaking.
In the video, you can hear Anna telling about the game. She does not remember the name at first.
They are playing a game. It’s a kind of handball. What do they call it? They call it pilota!
Anna uses a phrase, "It's a kind of handball," to tell about the game. She is substituting that phrase for the Basque name. Then she remembers the name, pilota.
How about you? Do you sometimes substitute a word or phrase for an English word you do not know? Write to tell us how you use this strategy in an email or in the Comments section. Teachers, see the Lesson Plan for more on how to teach this strategy.
Listen to short videos and test your listening skills with this quiz. This week's quiz also tests your learning strategy knowledge.
was - v. past tense of the verb "be" in first or third person (I was; he/she/it was)
Basque Country _- n. region of Spain
culture - n. the beliefs, customs, or arts of a particular society
festival - n. an organized series of performances
handball - n. a game for two or four players who use their hands to hit a ball against a wall
interesting - adj. attracting your attention and making you want to learn more about something or to be involved in something
said - v. past tense of the verb "say"
traditional - adj. following the tradition of a certain group or culture
Past tense verbs
start - started
want - wanted
walk - walked
dance - danced
play - played
call - called
Download the VOA Learning English Word Book for a dictionary of the words we use on this website.
Each Let's Learn English lesson has an Activity Sheet for extra practice on your own or in the classroom. In this lesson, you can use it to practice the past tense.
See the Lesson Plan for this lesson for ideas and more teaching resources. Send us an email if you have comments on this course or questions.
Grammar focus: Regular past tense verbs
Topics: Festivals and cultural traditions
Learning Strategy: Substitute
Speaking & Pronunciation Focus: Voiced and voiceless past tense pronunciations; Substituting one word for another
Now it's your turn. Send us an email or write to us in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page to let us know what you think of this lesson.