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…

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…

Coming Back with a Bang: Learning Phrasal Verbs

A warm hello to you after a long summer vacation! I’ve missed sharing the ideas that brew in my mind and surface as as suggestions or activities. I had a light teaching schedule in July and August. I got ready to come back in September with a bang, and so here I am in the…

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…

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…