Materials to Make Us Merry and Bright

‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? Maybe not. Here in the U.S., stores really jump the gun and start putting up holiday decorations immediately after Halloween. The corresponding merchandise also hits the shelves well before we’ve even celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Sunday of November. Moreover, a quick check of the news headlines is…

My Thanksgiving Wishes 2021

Recalling what we all faced in 2020, this year seems to have been kinder to many. Regardless of our hardships, there are always blessings to count. Thank you for visiting my blog in 2021. I am thankful to have this platform, and I remain grateful for those willing to receive my thoughts, tips, and activities….

Teaching Advanced Rhythm and Intonation

Many of my private students list accent reduction among their language goals. Three current learners have made pronunciation their top priority as their work involves public speaking (e.g, classroom instruction, training sessions, and virtual meetings). While individual sounds and linking are still targeted as needed, a great deal of attention is being given to rhythm…

Reaping the Benefits from Role Play

In an earlier post, I described how I engaged in role play with an advanced learner to explore article usage. (See post.) I took on the role of a news anchor, and she played the reporter on the scene of an accident. Both before and after our short performance, we discussed the logic for either…

Using and Discussing Humor with ELLs

In an earlier post, I shared questions and vocabulary tasks for some of my favorite TED Talks. Another talk I liked enough to use in come of my lessons is “The Skill of Humor” by Andrew Tarvin (2017). His view of humor is encouraging for those who are shy or otherwise hesitant to crack a…

Tried and True Tasks for TED Talks

TEDS Talks have provided plenty of food for thought for a general audience and a wealth of material for the ESL classroom. Perhaps you have a list of your own favorites. If so, please share! Every so often I have a private student who has the proficiency, time, and interest to work some of these…

Off to the Races with the Headless Horseman

This week I adapted Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” for my YouTube audience. The one-hour livestream features a read-aloud session where I take the time to explain vocabulary. The original text, published in 1820, is available online thanks to the Project Gutenberg. However, that text is long, detailed, and not very accessible to…

Student Stumper 53: “Whether” vs. “Either”

QUESTION: Are “whether” and “either” interchangeable? ANSWER: No. That’s the simple answer, and I was quick to state that in response to this recent question, but what took me by surprise was the confusion itself. I’m aware that students will ask about “whether” vs. “if.” I also know that lack of parallel structure creeps into…

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…