Happy Holidays! See you in 2019!

Thank you for another year of sharing ideas in the wonderful world of ESL! I hope you’ll continue to follow my ELT blog in 2019. There’s still so much to explore together. Happy holidays to you! May the New Year bring you and your learners success and shared joy.     Photo credit: Snowflake, Ornament by jill111….

Teaching Modals: What Can and Can’t Be Done

Is it possible to teach modals separately, one by one? Of course, you could, but why? Their uses and meanings tend to overlap, so it makes sense to teach modals together in small sets, for example, may and might for possibilities. However, it’s very likely that at least one student will ask a question such…

The Need to Learn by Doing

A student recently asked about the differences between need to, have to, and must. Sometimes an explanation clarifies such doubts, but often one learns much better through practice with some feedback. If you’d like short sets of tasks to study differences in structure and meaning, check out my Need to.Have to.Must_handout. Key points include: – Need to expresses what…

The First One to Figure Out This Tricky Grammar Wins!

No, this isn’t a contest, but if you can shed additional light on some tricky grammar topics, you’ll have my gratitude! #1. Infinitives as Complements A grammar question recently came from a new Instagram follower. Yes, there’s one more place you can follow me and/or send students to. All my video clips (all six of…

Happy Thanksgiving!

I send warm holiday greetings to those observing Thanksgiving this week! To all of you I’d like to say THANK YOU for visiting my blog and allowing me to share my thoughts and ideas with you. My next post will be after the Thanksgiving holiday. Click to view a classroom activity related to expressing thanks.  …

3 Voice Typing Activities on Google Docs

A private student reminded me about the Voice Typing feature on Google Docs, and since then I’ve been considering effective ways to use it as a learning tool. Do you know how to find it? Open up Google Docs and create a new file. Go under Tools and select Voice Typing. Then click to turn…

Using LEA to Build a Bridge to Self-Expression

The Language Experience Approach intrigued me the first time I read about it. I’ve always liked the idea of using student-generated content as the basis of language practice. The LEA was developed to build literacy in L1, but ESL teachers have successfully brought it into L2 classrooms. I suggested a spin on the original approach…

Personality Changes in SLA

When you think about the role personality plays in second language acquisition, you may be inclined to consider personality as a predictor of success. But there’s another aspect I’ve been pondering lately: possible changes in a learner’s personality in the course of language acquisition. I’m no specialist in this area. I simply want to share…

Using ‘OF MINE’ in Conversation

In my previous post, I explored differences between of mine and my. Making the choice to use (noun) + of mine constructions will become more comfortable if students are given the chance to hear the grammar in context. One suggestion I have is to take some of the collocations I noted earlier and do a search…

A Dream of Mine or My Dream?

I’ve been asked more than once about my friend vs. a friend of mine. I took my first stab at explaining the difference in a 2009 post. This question has appeared on different blogs and discussion boards over the years. Most teachers agree on the implied meaning of one vs. many: “Bridget is my friend”…

Can We Agree on Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement is among the pesky points that trouble upper level students. It’s easy enough to choose a singular or plural verb when the subject is clearly singular or plural. No one will argue, for example, that “a teacher” is plural and “many teachers” is singular. But advanced students are a capable of expressing complex…