Groundhog Day Activities

Groundhog Day is just around the corner. If time allows, I will meet one YouTube viewer’s request and publish an English Mini Lesson about this fun, folksy holiday before or on February 2. In any case, there are already a number of ways you can share this holiday with your own students. Choose what suits their level and…

Little Steps, Useful Lessons: Braving the learning curve of a new online resource

It’s Week 1 of the Electronic Village Online 2011, an annual online even sponsored by the CALL-Interest Section of TESOL, Inc. Latecomers are often allowed to join, so I wouldn’t hesitate to request membership in a group if a particular session catches your interest. I signed up for VILLAGE: Language Learning and Community Building in Second Life. I…

Playful Props

Do you keep a bag of props in your classroom? I’ve known teachers who used various props in their grammar and vocabulary presentations, from hand puppets to bouncing balls.  Props can also come in handy for making stories. We all know about chain stories, but consider the variations listed below. All you need is a large…

ESL/ EFL Site Forecast for 2011

I’m curious to see if anyone reading this will suggest a website we should all keep our eyes on in the future. Do you anticipate the growth of any particular resource or contributions of an individual content creator? Let me share a few sources that I predict will develop some good materials for ESL/ EFL teachers…

Celebrating New Year’s Eve: A whole language activity

Are you planning ahead for your last lesson of the month? Perhaps you’d like to use an activity with a New Year’s Eve theme. Here’s one for adult learners at the lower levels.  Enjoy! Step 1 – Present the following vocabulary: at midnight                         champagne                        make a toast celebrate                             dress up                               New Year’s Eve tradition…

More Play with Poetry

I can’t resist offering another idea that makes use of holiday poetry. There’s a wealth of material online, and as soon as I see a few verses, the wheels in my head start turning. So many poems, especially those written for children, lend themselves to ESL/ EFL instruction. Just look, for example, at the poems…

Here We Come A-Caroling: Language lessons through holiday songs

Looking for some holiday ideas? Past ideas for bringing the December holidays into the classroom included letters to Santa and holiday tongue twisters.  The list of suggestions doesn’t seem complete without addressing the use of Christmas carols.  Here are some possibilities: Santa Claus is Coming to Town. With the very first line a lesson begins on…

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Last minute ideas for the classroom

Those especially teaching in EFL settings might like to have a bigger choice of materials to finish off this week. Here in the U.S. the school week is ending today so that we may prepare for Thanksgiving Day. If you would like to include one more activity to deepen students’ understanding of this holiday, please…

Clever Use of Cartoons

Your favorite magazine or newspaper might provide a political cartoon that lends itself well to language instruction.  Another alternative is to use an online site devoted to such material.  Daryl Cagle’s Political Cartoon Index is a site I’ve recently explored. The convenience of using an index is that you can perform searches that will locate…

Getting Savvy with Surveys

Surveys have much potential in the language classroom because they can provide conversation, reading, and writing practice. You have three basic options: (1) you can create your own survey, (2) you can have students create a survey, (3) you can use a ready-made survey. 1.  A teacher-created survey can targe specific grammar points or target words….

conTENT with online CONtent: Useful Materials on Heteronyms

Some useful links for us teachers to consider: The Heteronym Homepage provides a list of words with identical spelling but different meanings when pronounced differently. The list shows pronunciation and definitions.   The Heteronym Page provides a more substantial list, but perhaps what is more of interest are the twenty sentences that contextualize the more…

Tips on Tips: Using Online Advice Columns

One readily available source of authentic material for the classroom is Dear Abby or any other advice column you can find online or off. Dear Abby has been a longtime favorite among Americans because the situations featured are either familiar or at least believable and understandable. The advice given is based on common sense and…