TESOL 2018 Highlights: Engaging Learners with the Latest News

My annual TESOL experience wouldn’t be complete without running into colleagues all over the convention center. Hugs and updates are exchanged, and I sometimes even pick up interesting tips in passing. Lucky for me, I ran into Eric Roth of University of Southern California. He had just visited the Exhibit Hall and told me about…

Celebrate Women’s History Month

We’re only at the halfway point in March, so with two weeks left to go it’s not too late to observe Women’s History Month if you haven’t already. Discuss an article, assign mini reports, or include any of the unofficial anthems for International Women’s Day. There are plenty of playlists online showcasing “songs empowering women.”…

7 Thought-provoking Short Stories

A truly enjoyable experience to share with students is the discovery of great literature. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading short stories with advanced students. They bravely take on the challenge of facing unfamiliar vocabulary and sometimes dated wording. They apply their keen minds to the task of understanding themes and symbolism,…

How to Make Sense of News Headlines

I note requests from viewers for future YouTube lessons, and I have a running list of topics I’d like to cover. In a recent poll on my Community Tab, “news headlines” didn’t receive the most votes, but some viewers commented that they’d very much like to understand the grammar used in the titles of online…

English Activities with an Autumn Theme

  1. Autumn in New York as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong will expose students to a good number of -ing sounds, including gleaming, shimmering, and inviting. (See lyrics.) The use of a hard /g/ in “mingled” is a nice contrast. The song is sung at a slow pace, which makes it even…

7 Poems That Build Proficiency

Every so often I work poetry into my instruction. Since poems are meant to be read aloud, they lend themselves to listening and pronunciation practice. They can help students grow accustomed to reduced sounds in the flow of speech, and they can help students improve linking and rhythm. Although we don’t speak like poets in everyday…

More Tech Tools for Building Vocabulary and Reading Skills

It’s often amazing how much information teachers are able to share within their short presentations at the Electronic Village at TESOL each year. Back in Seattle, I was fortunate to sit at the computer station with Bridget Green of Gonzaga University. Through her talk Focus on Vocab and Reading with Profilers, Sizers, and Rewordify I learned about several…

TESOL 2017 Highlights: Building Independent Readers

Each visit to the Electronic Village helps me fill my treasure box for teaching. Phil Rice of the University of Delaware put three gems in my box during his talk A Suite of Online Reading Tools to Enable Self-study. Let me share what I learned. Readlang is clever web-app that helps readers with any online text. On…

4 Ways to Learn from Headlines

A learner asked me about the grammar in news headlines. Indeed, it can be confusing when words are omitted: Prison Escape Fails — Did it already happen? Why is the verb in the present tense? Mayor in Hot Water — Is this happening now? Where’s the verb? Local Team Gets New Coach — Can they write…

World Storytelling Day 2016: Got a story to tell?

Join in the fun of celebrating World Storytelling Day. In my last post I offered suggestions for working with fables. What else could you do? 1. Create a story chain. Perhaps my YouTube colleagues and I can inspire your students. This week we released a collaborative playlist for World Storytelling Day 2016. We each told…

Beneficial Ways of Working with Fables

When I learned a month or so ago that someone had actually organized a World Storytelling Day, I grew excited. The official date is March 20, but storytellers are welcome to celebrate the art anytime. Even before my discovery, I had been thinking about making more use of stories in my online lessons. Short stories have helped me contextualize target…

Thinking Outside the Box: Exploring Different Ways to Interact with a Text

I believe there are different ways we can read a text with students. There can also be different objectives. Do we want students to read for general comprehension, for example, or to find details? Reading skills also overlap with pronunciation skills. I’m a big believer in oral reading. It shouldn’t be the default format, but I think…