See You at the End of Summer!

Dear Readers, I wish you all a relaxing summer vacation! I’ll be enjoying a restful break with decreased online activity in July and August. I’ll be back at the end of summer to blog again and share new tips and ideas for teaching our English language learners. My best wishes to you all! Jennifer  …

How and Why We Sugarcoat Our Speech

An advanced student and I recently explored ways Americans soften their spoken speech. In the world of ESL, there’s a good amount of material on hedging devices for academic writing, but it’s been an interesting challenge to see how much of it can apply to conversation. The goal in any exchange is not just to…

Why Teach Foreign Words in English?

In my latest vocabulary lesson on YouTube, I teach eight foreign words used in English. The lesson was partly inspired by a conversation I overhead at the hairdresser’s. One woman called out to the other as she was leaving, “Call me sometime next week. We’ll have a tête-à-tête.” It’s not the first time my ESL-attuned ear…

3 Tips for Teaching Basic Vocabulary

I had the pleasure of Skyping with a group of teachers in Costa Rica last month. Although the focus of our live session was on pronunciation and speaking skills, we had time for Q&A at the end. One teacher asked me for ideas to make learning basic vocabulary more fun. I gave some tips off…

Combinations with Gerunds: Reducing Confusion, Increasing Accuracy

It stands to reason that if a large number of words are creating confusion, part of the problem may be resolved by dealing with smaller amounts at one time. There are many grammar charts in print and online: verbs followed by gerunds, verbs followed by infinitives, nouns followed by infinitives, and so on. The lists…

‘If Need Be’ and Other More Formal Uses of Conditionals

Conditionals are a topic I’ve addressed multiple times on my YouTube channel, and I plan to return to them again soon. Just a few more lessons, and I think I’ll have covered conditionals quite thoroughly. Do you also feel that it takes several lessons and plenty of practice to do justice to this topic? I…

Making Student Presentations Sparkle

I’ve become very fond of student presentations as a means to develop language proficiency and overall confidence. When diligent preparation leads to successful delivery, it’s a particularly satisfying experience for the learner and for the teacher. I’m also learning how to guide this process efficiently. Have you discovered some best practices? Please feel free to…

Phrasal Verbs in Context

If there’s one piece of advice I have for students about phrasal verbs, it’s not to learn too many at once. If I work with a set of more than ten phrasal verbs, then I make sure that some of them are already familiar to the students. I think our job as teachers is to…

Teaching the Parts of Speech: What to Keep and What to Part With

I’ve taken on the challenge of teaching the parts of speech at the request of a YouTube viewer. The request brings up the old question of how much terminology is worth knowing. Obviously, knowledge of all the terms doesn’t equate with fluency. As I state in my three-part lesson, knowing how to use words is…

TESOL 2018 Highlights: My Take-Away from Different Presenters

I had to cut my TESOL experience short this year due to the overlap with the Easter holiday, but I’m happy that I still managed to pack some take-away thoughts with me. I always jot down lots of notes at sessions I attend, and then I reflect on them back at home when I’ve had…

TESOL 2018 Highlights: Creativity Through Collaboration

For the second year in a row, Mary Allegra of University of Carabobo in Venezuela enticed me into the Electronic Village with her session title. Last year she co-presented in the EV about Quizizz (read post). This year she teamed up with her colleague Monica Fernandez to demonstrate possibilities with Google Slides. Their session was…