Conditioned to Have a Limited View of Conditionals?

A student asked me how to change a true statement into an unreal conditional sentence, and the challenge stemmed from using the present perfect in the original statement: The man has been arrested. In the new if-clause, the student wanted to explain the alternative outcome if the crime had never been committed. The shift to…

The Ultimate List of Phrasal Verbs (and what do do with it!)

Phrasal verbs — is there any other topic that’s more in demand? Students understand the frequency with which phrasal verbs are used, and they constantly want to learn more. They feel pressed to do so because they encounter phrasal verbs in high volume. There are many resources out there: videos, textbooks, podcasts, and more. However,…

2020 Holiday Wishes

At the end of every year, I become full of hope. I become determined to reach new goals or more determined to reach old ones I fell short of. I try to be thankful for what I have, but there is a wish list I have in mind, and I begin to plan ways to…

Smooth Sailing with Vocabulary

Sometimes students will reveal an interesting combination of strengths and weaknesses, so it’s up to us to design lessons that meet their unique needs. I’ve mentioned that I have one advanced student with strong mastery of academic vocabulary, but less familiarity with general words and idiomatic expressions. In a previous post, I explained how I…

The Art of Tailoring Material

If you have the opportunity to teach one-on-one, you’ll enjoy both the freedom of drawing from existing resources and the creative challenge of tailoring it for your student’s needs. Even in a group class setting, you may have the option to bring in supplemental materials to meet a specific purpose. What exactly can you do…

Auxiliary Verbs for Emphasis and Clarification

Auxiliary verbs help us emphasize and clarify ideas. Students can tap into their knowledge of forming questions and negatives to gain confidence with the emphatic use of helping verbs. If you’d like to take intermediate students through the hows and whys, consider using my slides. – The first group of slides test students’ ability to…

Thanksgiving Wishes 2020

At my most recent live stream on Hallo, I learned that one of my faithful subscribers is now at a special COVID-19 center in his country in order to isolate himself. He lost his sense of smell, and soon after he tested positive. His family must also quarantine now. He actually hopped on camera to…

Teaching the Value of Passive Vocabulary

This morning I was scrolling through a news briefing, and I came across a word I didn’t know: excoriate. A senator excoriated President Trump for not conceding the election. I commented to my son about learning a new word. Then and there I looked it up in the dictionary to make sure my guess from…

Practical Practice with Complements

I’ve challenged myself to explain complements in three short videos. (See YT member playlist.) Being concise isn’t the tricky thing. The hard part is going beyond the most common examples, for example, naming nouns and adjectives as subject complements. I get into other possibilities, including gerunds, embedded questions, and prepositional phrases. Some learners enjoy the…

Transitioning from Pronunciation Drills to Meaningful Production

Both private students and students at live streams are eager to improve their pronunciation. Working one-on-one, I can tailor all the materials and exercises to that student. Group instruction can be more challenging in that respect. However, both settings prompt me to consider ways I can help students transition from successful drilling to meaningful production….

80 Debate Topics for ESL Students

Have you ever organized debates? Maybe you don’t wish to get into hard-core debates, especially on controversial issues such as the death penalty or gambling. Let me help ease the burden of finding classroom-appropriate topics for students who come from diverse backgrounds. Check out my list of 80 debate topics. I’ve also included suggestions for…

6 Pitfalls of Writing

When I see my writing from twenty years ago or more, I cringe because I realize how much I had yet to learn. Not too long ago, I saw a writing project I did back in high school and my face turned red. The truth is that good writing is a pursuit. We improve through…