Is It Possible to Form Good Study Habits with an App?

My previous post prompted reflection on how good study habits are formed. I shared ideas on long-term change as described by B. J. Fogg in his TEDx talk “Forget Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit.” In theory, it certainly sounds plausible that a new habit can become automatic if it is closely tied to an…

How Good Study Habits Are Formed

Whether students are enrolled in a course or studying independently, language progress largely depends on how much they invest and how consistent they are with good study habits. However, before habits are established, a learner needs to develop awareness and add a dose of realism to their aspirations. What exactly are their language goals? I’ve…

Teaching How Less Is More in Writing

Words allow us to build beautiful creations. Particularly in writing, which affords us more time for consideration, we put our thoughts together like a jeweler. The artist picks and chooses elements and strings them together. We do the same with words, hooking them together with grammatical structures. In the end, both the jeweler and the writer make a statement….

Defining a Hybrid Learner Today

My favorite news magazine is The Week. I love it for the range of topics covered, and I appreciate its efforts to view issues from more than one perspective. Not all news sources do that. I realize there’s a digital version, too, but I stick to the printed version that comes in the mail and I…

Too Much Terminology?

I love grammar, so I obviously fall into the camp of those teachers who take the time to give direct attention to grammar structures. I believe in a balanced approach: A certain amount of language can be picked up through regular exposure, but there are times when explicit instruction clarifies doubts. In other words, communication…

The Benefits of Talking about Art

  You may be teaching working professionals in the business world or even a group of teens with more interest in this summer’s blockbusters than what’s on exhibit at a local art gallery. You might be teaching undergrads, but there isn’t a single art major among them. So why talk about art in the ESL…

Greetings and Closings: When simple phrases seem rather complex

A YouTube viewer asked me about the choice of closings in email. Indeed, if words are heartfelt, you’d think they’d be appropriate for a loved one, but if your significant other signed a message with “Heartfelt regards,” wouldn’t you be taken aback by the formality? In my video series on email, I’ve taken the time to…

Student Stumper 44: How can an adjective follow THAN in “later than usual”?

QUESTION: I read a sentence with the phrase “later than usual.” I thought only nouns could follow the preposition than, and usual is an adjective. Is “later than usual” grammatically correct? ANSWER: Dictionaries list than as a preposition and a conjunction. To be honest, I sometimes find it tricky to make the distinction, especially with comparisons. I see it as a…

Too Passive about the Passive Voice?

So I know I need to be concise when I write, and they say it’s better to use dynamic language. Does that mean I should avoid the passive?  What about in spoken English? Students’ questions about the passive voice reveal common confusion over when to use it. The easy way out is not to use it….

The Truth behind Students’ Questions

Not all questions are easy to answer, are they? You know why? To answer a question you have to understand what the person is asking, but the words you hear may not accurately communicate the speaker’s needs. Pretty much seven days a week I answer questions from students. I’ve learned to categorize questions as soon as I…

Email Templates: A good or bad tool?

Writing email is a wonderful skill to master in today’s digital world. After I posted my first video tutorial on this topic, a viewer commented that the good old days of business letters are gone. There may be less communication arriving in white paper envelopes, but templates are still in use. In fact, you can find apps now…

How to Master Email

I’ve finally decided to move forward with a series of lessons on how to write email. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to address for some time. I’ll start posting my video tutorials next week on YouTube. Even a great set of video lessons won’t be enough for a student to master the art of emailing. The…