2 Apps Generating Some Buzz about Assessment

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? So when there’s buzz, there’s likely something worth looking at. At TESOL 2017 one buzzword in the Electronic Village seemed to be formative assessment. Why is it valuable? How can we do it well? Three teachers from Universidad de Los Andes (Trujillo, Venezuela) reviewed the basics during their talk…

Shadow Puppet: A solution for shy speakers

The interesting thing about shadows is that you can’t have them without light. Too little light will leave a room in darkness. Too much light can be blinding. For some ELLs, classroom presentations are the equivalent of standing in the spotlight with no opportunity to retreat to the comforting shadows. But if these reserved students…

TESOL 2017 Highlights: Building Independent Readers

Each visit to the Electronic Village helps me fill my treasure box for teaching. Phil Rice of the University of Delaware put three gems in my box during his talk A Suite of Online Reading Tools to Enable Self-study. Let me share what I learned. Readlang is clever web-app that helps readers with any online text. On…

TESOL 2017 Highlights: Smart Ways to Use Smartphones

My mind is stirring in excitement from all that I learned at the 2017 TESOL Convention. I love learning from my colleagues, and this year there was no shortage of ideas in the Electronic Village. I plan to share a number of posts based on my frequent visits to EV workshops. At one EV Technology Fair,…

TESOL 2017 Highlights: The Take Away from the Top

As usual, the convention has been one exciting whirlwind. I attended some very useful talks and took plenty of notes, so it will take a number of posts to share my highlights with you. Let’s start at the top…meaning the keynote speakers. Dudley Reynolds, our 2016-2017 TESOL President, spoke on Professional English Language Teachers in…

TESOL 2017: Seattle Here I Come!

Are any of you heading to Seattle for the TESOL convention? It’s an exciting time of the year. I enjoy seeing old colleagues and meeting new ones. The annual convention is a chance to hear about current trends, learn new tips and tools, and discover what projects everyone is engaged in. I have two presentations…

Words That Even Teachers Mix Up

Catching a student’s error with sweet and sweat is simple enough because I don’t mix up those words. They don’t sound alike to me and their meanings are very different. However, I’ve caught myself saying further when I meant farther, and vice versa. Perhaps the closer words are in meaning, the harder it can be to differentiate…

4 Ways to Learn from Headlines

A learner asked me about the grammar in news headlines. Indeed, it can be confusing when words are omitted: Prison Escape Fails — Did it already happen? Why is the verb in the present tense? Mayor in Hot Water — Is this happening now? Where’s the verb? Local Team Gets New Coach — Can they write…

Even Though vs. Even If

She’s determined to search every inch of that machine (even if/even though) it’s dangerous. Which words complete the sentence? Both choices work, right? So then what’s the difference? I recently discovered just how tricky it can be to distinguish between even though and even if. I’ve always seen the even though as a way to express…

3 Things I Learned from Students

Interacting with students is both rewarding and stimulating. I receive frequent reminders that there’s more for me to learn about the English language. Here’s what students have taught me over the years: 1. Their eyes and ears  work for me as well. Students are very observant, and they are likely to repeat the language they hear…

A Getting-to-Know-You Activity to Practice Gerunds and Infinitives

Mastering combinations with gerunds and infinitives comes with practice. Here’s a straightforward activity for upper level students: gerunds-and-infinitives_handout.  A sorting task quickly moves into a production task that prompts writing and speaking. Students can learn more about one another by sharing their answers. Enjoy! Here are some related activities I shared in years past: Story…