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…

TESOL 2016 Highlights: Part 2

At TESOL 2015, I learned about digital tools for providing audio feedback on students’ written assignments. (Click to read that post.) Audio feedback remains a hot topic — the 2016 program book lists a number of sessions that explored this concept. I chose to attend Effectiveness of Audio Feedback for EFL Students in Online Courses….

Never Out of Time: How to Get the Most from Instructional Videos

Next week I’ll be traveling to Baltimore for the annual TESOL convention. My colleague Vicki Hollett and I will be presenting on videomaking. We’ll focus on the planning, filming, and production, but there is certainly more we could discuss with teachers. One thing I like to hear about is how other teachers make use of…

Is Fluency Achieved in or out of the Classroom?

I was recently invited along with 33 other English language teachers to offer an opinion on how fluency is achieved. Jason R. Levine, a.k.a. FluencyMC, compiled 34 tips on becoming fluent in English. Seeing the range of ideas as well as the striking overlap of viewpoints is exciting. In my opinion, the compilation is a starting point for…

Teaching the ABCs of English…Literally

A fellow teacher has requested ideas for new ways to teach the alphabet. Will you help me out? I’ll get the ball rolling with some initial thoughts and suggestions. Print or cursive? For letter recognition, I recommend using printed letters only. Reading cursive handwriting can come later. Keep things simple for beginners. That includes writing….

A Different Approach to Teaching Culture

I don’t often write about culture and how to teach it, but if you’ve read some of my older posts, then you know my basic belief. There’s always a cultural context in language instruction. Our examples, our choice of topics, our resources, and our teaching styles are all connected to culture. A well-timed lesson on a host…

TESOL 2015: Why Use a Gamification Platform?

When it comes to education, we all know that technology shouldn’t be used without intention. Sometimes technology can have a coolness factor, but we certainly shouldn’t bring in a device or software simply to make learners say, “Wow.” The technology we choose is supposed to aid us, support our instruction, and facilitate the learning process. There are times…