Teaching Basic English: A Second Chance

It’s been seven years since I last decided to create a series of online lessons for beginners, and I clearly remember the challenges I faced the first time. (See 2012 post.) Apart from the physical challenge of trying to find a place with a board to write on, I had to decide how to teach…

TESOL 2019 Highlights: Ideas and Questions to Consider

Many TESOL sessions deserve a full summary, but the sheer volume of take-away is too much to capture in the context of this blog. At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to knowledgeable presenters who made sure attendees walked away with at least one golden nugget to apply to their teaching. I thank…

TESOL 2019 Highlights: The Playful Side of Poetry

Did you know it’s National Poetry Month? I feel fortunate that I was among the attendees at one of the last sessions of the TESOL 2019 convention because the topic was…yes, poetry! Quite a number of us decided to attend The Uses of Poetry in the ESL Classroom at 5:00 p.m. on the final day….

TESOL 2019 Highlights: Bringing Art Into the Classroom

I attended two sessions on the use of artwork in the classroom. Both gave good take-away. Monica Maxwell-Paegle of Georgetown University presented the poster session Using Artworks in Building Language and Analytical Skills. First off, here’s a rich resource: the National Portrait Gallery. Monica noted that besides browsing through the many portraits, you can search…

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…

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…