Language Instruction: Like Candy or Like Medicine?

Back in 1964, Mary Poppins sang on screen, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” I’ve sometimes thought about this balance between the sweet and the bitter in language learning. Not every step in the process is a snap, nor do birds chirp merrily on the windowsill…

The Art of Tailoring Material

If you have the opportunity to teach one-on-one, you’ll enjoy both the freedom of drawing from existing resources and the creative challenge of tailoring it for your student’s needs. Even in a group class setting, you may have the option to bring in supplemental materials to meet a specific purpose. What exactly can you do…

Setting and Reaching Goals

I recently shared some best practices that I learned from students over the years. (Watch video.) These aren’t specific study habits, but rather approaches and attitudes one can develop in order to have a more successful language learning experience. In the past, I’ve proposed a learner’s pledge for students to consider and (hopefully) adopt. Click…

12 Best Practices for Writing Quizzes and Exercises

If you weren’t using online quiz makers before, you likely started using some soon after the outbreak of  COVID-19 when everyone went into lockdown. Even prior to the big migration to online learning, many teachers were already experimenting with quiz tools in and out of the classroom. At the 2013 TESOL convention, Susan Gaer demonstrated…

Painting a New Picture as Online Teachers

Our lives are changing quickly, and at different moments over the past week I’m sure we’ve all been more grateful than ever for the Internet, our computers, and our mobile devices. In trying times, it’s important to stay connected and find sources of support. As many of you move completely online for ESL/EFL instruction, you’re…

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…