Happy Thanksgiving and Many Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating this coming Thursday!  I’ll be with my family over this long holiday weekend, but I’ll return next week with a regular post. I send my warm thanks to all my readers. Thank you for allowing me to share tips and ideas for teaching English. If you and your students would…

Writing Tip: Teaching the Importance of Time Frame

When students write a narrative, one type of mistake I tend to see concerns verb tense. Students lose focus of what time frame they’re in and choose an inappropriate verb form. Have you observed these kinds of mistakes as well? Practice makes perfect, as they say, so calling students’ attention to time frame as they…

Bad Habits, but Good Instincts: Grammar Tip

I have a student who has expressed frustration with the preposition “to.” She certainly isn’t alone. Other students have confused infinitives with combinations of the preposition “to” followed by gerunds. How many times have you corrected students when they write or say, “I look forward to meet you” or “I look forward to hear from…

When and How to Correct Students

  On October 26, over six hundred teachers gathered for Pearson’s live webinar Engaging A New Generation with Real World English, which was part of the ELT professional development series. I teamed up with my colleague and fellow grammar lover, Pamela Vittorio, in order to share ideas and tips for today’s grammar classroom. The most…

How to Get Things Done Right: Passive Constructions with ‘GET’

In my previous post, I shared practice tasks with GET TO + noun combinations as well as GET + a couple infinitives, namely get to know and get to do.  I wanted to help students distinguish between “to” as a preposition and “to” as part of an infinitive. Because the verb get is used so often…

When We Get to Thinking about ‘Get’

A private student asked me about the verb get. Most dictionaries have at least a dozen definitions listed, including start, arrive, and become. My student had heard the verb used in phrases like get a move on and get to know. As different as they are, the two expressions share a similar sense of beginning…

Words That Confuse Students (and Teachers!)

Let’s face it. English has some confusing words. To a degree, we can rely on our knowledge and our instincts. Thankfully, we’re not without resources. Which ones have you turned to? Some of mine include: Learner’s dictionaries. I have a few bookmarked and I compare findings. In the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online, I…

Would You Rather Use an App?

Have you ever voted on Wishbone? This app takes you into the world where there’s no middle ground. The only thing you do is choose between two options. Every question makes you compare two things and quickly indicate your preference with a single tap. It sounds limited and limiting, but I see people spend quite…

Helping Students Make Their Writing Fresh and Colorful

The community of online writers and educators makes the world a brighter place. Sharing ideas over the Internet has become so easy, and thankfully we can pass along good finds to our students with similar ease. Have you ever come across a useful infographic? The truly helpful ones take time and effort to create. I…

English Activities with an Autumn Theme

  1. Autumn in New York as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong will expose students to a good number of -ing sounds, including gleaming, shimmering, and inviting. (See lyrics.) The use of a hard /g/ in “mingled” is a nice contrast. The song is sung at a slow pace, which makes it even…

Street Talk vs. Standard English: What do we teach?

Most English language learners are studying English for academic or professional reasons. With their goals in mind, we teachers focus on the language structures and vocabulary that we know they’ll need. We create tasks to build necessary skills. We present graphic organizers for essays, we share model email messages, we turn to high frequency word…

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks with Musical.ly

In the digital world, you can’t get too comfortable with the same set of apps for too long because there will always be new ones to check out. If you don’t look around, you may miss out on a cool tool that packs instructional potential. I’ve known about musical.ly for a while (Android users click…