Fighting Fossilization

By the time most students begin to study with me either privately or in group sessions, they’ve achieved a level of proficiency that allows them to handle nearly any situation. The key reason for formal language training is a desire for confidence and greater accuracy. Students may be able to read and respond to any…

The Art (and Necessity) of Shifting Gears in Teaching

It’s been years since I’ve driven stick shift, but I’m fairly confident that I would remember how if I had to. I must admit I’ve grown very comfortable driving an automatic SUV. Like most experienced drivers, I don’t even think much about the mechanics of what I do anymore, though I try to remain attentive…

Advanced Practice with Verb Tenses

Controlled practice coupled with discussion questions to practice verb tenses and aspect in a meaningful context. PDF and JPEGs included.

Writing with Variety

Members in my Patreon program voted to focus on sentence structure and sentence variety. We first reviewed sentences according to their purpose. I explained how much of their writing will be made up of declarative sentences. However, the strategic use of interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative sentences can spice up a text. Seeing models hit this…

Hello? Is this the helpline for articles?

Imagine if there were a helpline for articles. Anytime learners had a doubt over choosing a, an, the, or the zero article, they could dial the number to get an immediate answer. Well, that kind of handy service isn’t available, so we need to strengthen students’ accuracy and confidence through exposure and practice with feedback….

Learning to Make Smooth Transitions and Connections

Having edited countless student submissions, I see that once learners have a grasp on organization and transitions, they gain confidence writing on nearly any topic. Gaining enough familiarity with conjunctive adverbs as well as sequence markers is like filling up their glue bottle for the next art project. Many high intermediate writers already know how…

Email Isn’t Just for Business English

Who doesn’t write email? In today’s world, sending and receiving email is as common as having your morning cup of coffee. (I admit I’m a tea drinker, though!) If our goal as ESL teachers is to prepare our students to handle spoken and written communication in a wide range of contexts, then email must absolutely…

Studying Syntax: A review of the basics

A number of my students have the desire to study syntax in order to increase their confidence and accuracy when they write. I continue to believe that reading regularly indirectly helps by exposing students to standard patterns and word order. I’ve also seen how exercises like sentence unscrambles and error correction can give students practice…

Teaching Students How to Argue a Point

In an earlier post, I shared my ideas for building a framework that students could use to explain a wide range of topics, including simple and complex processes. Over the past month, I’ve heard my own students explain how to give a neck massage and how to expand your professional network. I’ve also heard ideas…