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…

Exposing Students to Different Varieties of English

I genuinely appreciate opportunities to collaborate professionally. Working with a peer always becomes a learning experience for me. I’m sure many of you feel the same way about collaborative projects. In recent weeks, an online project with my colleague, Vicki Hollett of the UK, has focused my attention on differences between American and British English. I’ve also…

Mailman or Mail Carrier: Gender in the English Language

A YouTube viewer asked about my use of she to refer to one of my dolls. Confusion arose over the fact that I was referring to an inanimate object. Why didn’t I use it? The learner wanted to understand my word choice. This is a fun point to discuss with students. Point of view can…

3 Strategies for Making Homework Doable

The other day I had a Skype call with another teacher who works in a traditional classroom. Part of our discussion touched upon the challenge of getting adult learners to do their homework. I’ve personally worked with a couple stay-at-home mothers in the past, and those experiences led to some ideas for students with children. I’ve…

Working through a Webcam: Tips for Teaching Online

I’ve been asked more than once to compare online teaching to traditional classroom teaching. More recently, I was asked in an interview to identify common challenges. I thought it might be useful to go more in depth for those considering some form of online teaching in the future.  – Presentation skills. No matter the medium,…

Listen, Laugh, and Learn: 6 Ideas for Video-based Activities (Part 2)

Are you interested in exploring more video-based activities? Here are the other three I promised. 4. Catching a liar. Honesty is a great topic to discuss with students because it can be placed within so many different contexts depending on the kind of learners you are working with. You can discuss the need for honesty…