The Fate of Fairy Tale Heroes: The Future With ‘Will’

I have a some old favorites when it comes to presenting and practicing verb tenses and verb forms. Like many other teachers, I’ve talked with students about the distant future so that we can form sentences with will. Far away times, like 2029 or even 2049, usually spark the imagination. Will cars fly? Will people…

Ambivalence About Ambitransitive Verbs

Having addressed ergative verbs for advanced learners, I feel it’s logical to follow-up with a discussion of verbs in general that have both transitive and intransitive meanings.  Life would be simpler if all sources used the same terminology and agreed on the definitions, but sadly that’s not the case. However, with a clear definition of…

Two Good Reasons to Know About Ergative Verbs

When I first heard the term ergative verbs, I thought to myself, What?! I worried that perhaps I didn’t know something every other ESL/EFL teacher knew. Well, although I wasn’t a new teacher by the time I discovered ergative verbs, it turns out that I wasn’t alone in my lack of familiarity. Since then, I’ve met other ESL professionals…

3 Simple, Fun Activities to Practice WHY & BECAUSE

Why would I create a whole lesson devoted to why and because? Because answers to why vary. ‘Cause pronunciation varies. Cos informal variations in spelling are used as well. I created a whole lesson devoted to this topic because two of my students needed to build confidence asking and answering questions with why.  This lesson on why and because was shared on…

3 Fun and Easy Warm-Ups

My basic level students, Andreia and Flavia, are gaining comfort with me and with the whole experience of filming for YouTube. (See my Basic English playlist.) They start each lesson with smiles and willingness, but it certainly helps to warm up, and so I’ve had a fun time doing simple speaking tasks to get us…

TESOL 2019 Highlights: The Grammar(s) We Should Teach

Attending a session in Atlanta made me reflect on how my understanding of grammar has evolved. In the beginning, I was like a kid with a Lego set who followed the instructions and gained satisfaction from seeing my final construction perfectly match what I saw in the manual. I didn’t realize how much there was…

Grammar We’d Rather Avoid: Variations with ‘Would Rather’

In a recent YouTube video I decided to take upper level students through the different uses of the modal verb would. I know some people would rather spend thirty minutes in the dentist’s chair than endure a fifteen-minute grammar lesson, so to make the review more engaging, I used a countdown of my top ten…

5 Engaging Activities with Film Plots

In a recent YouTube lesson I decided to approach grammar through a list of my top 5 favorite disaster movies. I figured it would make the discussion of prepositions much more entertaining. I focused on confusing phrases like in the end, by the end, and at the end.  Some of the movies I included are…

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…

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…