Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks, Sino-Canadian International College, Guangxi University, Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Semester 2 Reading Lessons...



Reading: Vocabulary and Adjectives:

A Suspense Story with a Twist!

Lesson Objectives: To identify Adjectives (Describing Words) and to practice using a dictionary to understand the vocabulary in a short story.

Use a dictionary whilst reading the story, read it in-depth finding out the meaning of each word. Then read it again to understand the story. Look at the way Adjectives are used in the story.

Adjectives / Descriptive Words:
They help the reader see what you are sharing with them. They are often related to our senses and emotions. Descriptive words fall under categories like: smell, sight, sound, taste, touch, space, and emotions like anger, depression, joy, and happiness.

"Almost Love"

by Elizabeth Dearl


Rod trotted into the kitchen as Janet was pouring syrup onto her stack of waffles.

He scowled. "You don't have to drown them, Jan. Matter of fact, why don't you try a little yogurt instead?"

"On my waffles? I don't think so." Defiantly, she stirred another teaspoon of sugar into her coffee and added a dollop of thick cream.

"No, hon, instead of waffles," her husband said in the gently chiding tone she had come to despise. He braced his lean frame in the doorway and began a series of stretches. "I just want you to be healthy, Jan."

 I'll bet, she thought. 'Healthy' meaning 'thin.' "Are you meeting Katherine again this morning?"

He shrugged, muscles rippling along his bare arms. "No definite plans."

"Uh, huh." Janet took a huge, soggy bite and felt syrup dripping down her chin. "You just happen to run into her at the park. Quite often. Every morning this week, so far, right?"

"She's a good jogging partner."

Janet wrinkled her nose as Rod pulled his sack of trail mix from the pantry. He mixed the disgusting mess himself and carried the large, zip-locked bag everywhere he went. It reminded Janet of the stuff their neighbor's kid scattered in the bottom of his hamster's cage. She couldn't even imagine eating it, but her husband consumed it like candy.

He crammed the bag into his back pack and paused to drop a kiss on the top of Janet's head. "You're welcome to join us, you know."

"Oh, sure." She had a sudden, vivid picture of herself, panting to keep pace, her close-cropped curls dripping with sweat, while Katherine's long, dark hair flowed behind her like a gossamer veil.

Janet cast a resentful look at Rod's retreating back, then shoved herself away from the table. The waffles gurgled their way through the garbage disposal, and she imagined five years of marriage disappearing down the drain in their wake.

She trudged up the stairs to their bedroom and, suddenly exhausted, flung herself across the bed. She'd always been-- well, plump. But so had Rod, until recently. He'd dropped forty pounds in the past year, his fitness kick oddly coinciding with the hiring of the lovely Katherine. Your secretary, Rod? How cliché.

Janet contemplated her favorite wedding picture, reposing in a silver frame on the bedside table. Bride and groom, both round-faced and happy, their future bright. Tears stung her eyes, and she wiped them hastily away. She was being ridiculous. Rod would never even contemplate an affair. Would he?

"Are you feeling okay?"

She sat up, startled to discover that she had dozed off. Rod, back from his jog, had already showered and was dressing for work.

"I'm fine," she lied. "Honey, can we talk?"

He scowled at his watch. "Can't, I'm late."

"You'll be home on time, won't you? I'm cooking your favorites for dinner-- fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy. Apple pie for dessert."

Rod donned his suit coat and folded a handkerchief just so. "How about broiling the chicken? Steamed vegetables would be healthier than mashed potatoes, especially with all the butter you add. And forget about the pie." He patted his non-existent stomach. "My weight's up half a pound this week."

Janet clenched her teeth. How could she compete with someone like Katherine? Answer: she couldn't. Perfect health club buddy, perfect jogging partner, perfect secretary. Perfect body.

Dressing quickly in a loose sweatsuit, she hurried to the car. The brunch she was catering today started at eleven and her assistant, Chloe, was less than reliable.

If Chloe excelled at anything, it was gossip. True to form, the woman chattered like a magpie, paying little attention to the icing she was drizzling over hot cinnamon rolls. "I saw that gorgeous husband of yours this morning."

"Did you?" Janet mumbled, beating eggs for a quiche.

"He and his secretary both. They were huddled over their coffee cups, whispering." She frowned. "I couldn't make out a single word."

Janet shot her assistant a sharp look. "What are you talking about?

"You know that little restaurant near the park? I had breakfast there with my sister, and we saw them." She moved closer to Janet and lowered her voice. "Tucked into a corner booth, real cozy."

"They jog together most mornings, Janet said calmly, though her hands shook as she poured the quiche mixture into a pie shell. "Probably just stopped in for a breather."

"Sure." Chloe sighed, wiping her hands on a towel. "Jan, c'mon, you're not stupid, you know what's going on. And I think it stinks. He's crazy to give up someone like you for that little piece of fluff."

Janet didn't know what to say. Luckily, the brunch crowd arrived, and Chloe went out to serve tea.

That night, she lay on her side, watching her husband sleep. He'd been late for dinner again, pleading an overload of work. Katherine, naturally, had stayed at the office with him, to help out. What a gem.

"I won't let you make a fool of me," she whispered fiercely. "I won't."

Before she could change her mind, Janet crept out of bed and down the stairs. In the kitchen, she opened Rod's bag of trail mix and grimaced at the unappealing concoction of raisins, coconut, granola, and other unidentifiable bits. The mixture was coated with a fine, white powder which looked like powdered sugar but was probably ground tofu, or something equally disgusting.

As she'd hoped, the rat poison she dusted over the trail mix blended in perfectly.

She couldn't sleep afterwards, listening to Rod's steady breathing and thinking how much she'd miss the sound keeping her company in the nights to come. Well before dawn, she sneaked back to the kitchen and prepared an elaborate breakfast. It would, after all, be his last meal.

Rod, of course, refused more than a piece of dry toast. He chatted with her as he did his stretches, and she nodded, a smile painted on her face.

Her heart hammered as she watched him take the bag of trail mix and stuff it into his pack. She almost called him back, almost snatched the deadly snack away from him. Almost.

Janet dressed carefully, rehearsing her reaction when the police showed up. Shock, sorrow, tears. The tears would be genuine. Would Katherine cry? Or would she just move on?

An hour passed. Two. She cleaned the house, baked cookies, leafed through her recipe files. What was going on? Surely someone had found his body by now.

Finally it came; the knock at the door. Janet took a deep breath, turned the knob.

Surprise!" People poured into the house, none of them wearing blue uniforms. "Happy birthday!"

Her birthday? Was it? It was. She'd had so much on her mind lately...

Rod hugged her. "Are you surprised, honey?" She gazed up into his clear blue eyes and admitted that she was. Surprised to see him still alive.

"Katherine helped me plan this," he went on. "She neglected her fiancé so much in the process that we invited him to the party. Jan, meet Frank."

Janet trembled as she shook hands with the handsome man, who kept one possessive arm around Katherine's tiny waist. What had she done? Almost done, she reminded herself gratefully. Almost.

"Cake!" someone cheered, and Janet belatedly noticed a three layer beauty, ablaze with candles, on the coffee table.

"Katherine baked it this morning," Rod explained. "We all gathered at her house, so we could arrive in a group."

"I doubt it's up to your standards, Mrs. Devlin," his secretary apologized. "I'm a pretty bad cook."

"It looks wonderful," Janet stammered.

"First piece belongs to the birthday girl," Rod insisted. "Go ahead, sweetheart. 

Janet blew out the candles, her wish a hurried plea for forgiveness. How could she have doubted Rod? His eyes were full of tenderness as he watched her. Maybe she'd go on a diet, maybe even start jogging with him every morning, but she knew now it didn't really matter. He loved her.

Cutting a slice of the cake, she slid it onto a plate, everyone watching expectantly as she took a bite. It was truly awful; a white cake loaded with raisins and coconut and... a funny aftertaste.

"I wanted to dress it up a little," Katherine said. "So I borrowed Rod's bag of trail mix and added some to the batter at the last minute. Is it okay? Mrs. Devlin?"

"Honey?" Rod asked anxiously as Janet's throat began to burn.

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