1 Mistake I Still Make with Lesson Plans and 3 Ways I Fix It

Most lessons go well, thank goodness, and it’s a wonderful thing to have time fly and end a lesson knowing that something meaningful was accomplished. A good lesson leaves my heart happy and my mind already focused on planning the next steps forward. A stumble here and there fills me with determination to make things…

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…

Me vs. Them: Helping ELLs Step Out of the Classroom and into the Real World

Nothing aggravates me more as a language teacher than when other people fail to be receptive to non-native speech. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent encounters with impatient or judgmental listeners. We can foster a positive, supportive environment in our virtual and traditional classrooms, but the world at large is full of all kinds of personalities. I’ve…

Teaching Sensitivity to Cultural Differences at Christmastime

As I was leaving the post office the other day, I realized I had just responded automatically to the holiday wish the postal worker gave me: Merry Christmas! “Merry Christmas to you too!” I replied. Later that evening at my daughter’s winter concert held at the local public school, I found it interesting that those on…

Holiday Music: Going Beyond the Songs

Everyone has their favorite holidays and their favorite traditions. Do you have a favorite way of bringing some holiday music into your December lessons? My use of songs and carols with private students depends on their interests and language goals. For someone currently working on a business report or academic paper, there may be no…

When and How to Correct Students

  On October 26, over six hundred teachers gathered for Pearson’s live webinar Engaging A New Generation with Real World English, which was part of the ELT professional development series. I teamed up with my colleague and fellow grammar lover, Pamela Vittorio, in order to share ideas and tips for today’s grammar classroom. The most…

Street Talk vs. Standard English: What do we teach?

Most English language learners are studying English for academic or professional reasons. With their goals in mind, we teachers focus on the language structures and vocabulary that we know they’ll need. We create tasks to build necessary skills. We present graphic organizers for essays, we share model email messages, we turn to high frequency word…

3 Things I Learned from Students

Interacting with students is both rewarding and stimulating. I receive frequent reminders that there’s more for me to learn about the English language. Here’s what students have taught me over the years: 1. Their eyes and ears  work for me as well. Students are very observant, and they are likely to repeat the language they hear…

Is It Possible to Form Good Study Habits with an App?

My previous post prompted reflection on how good study habits are formed. I shared ideas on long-term change as described by B. J. Fogg in his TEDx talk “Forget Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit.” In theory, it certainly sounds plausible that a new habit can become automatic if it is closely tied to an…

How Good Study Habits Are Formed

Whether students are enrolled in a course or studying independently, language progress largely depends on how much they invest and how consistent they are with good study habits. However, before habits are established, a learner needs to develop awareness and add a dose of realism to their aspirations. What exactly are their language goals? I’ve…

Defining a Hybrid Learner Today

My favorite news magazine is The Week. I love it for the range of topics covered, and I appreciate its efforts to view issues from more than one perspective. Not all news sources do that. I realize there’s a digital version, too, but I stick to the printed version that comes in the mail and I…

The Truth behind Students’ Questions

Not all questions are easy to answer, are they? You know why? To answer a question you have to understand what the person is asking, but the words you hear may not accurately communicate the speaker’s needs. Pretty much seven days a week I answer questions from students. I’ve learned to categorize questions as soon as I…