Teaching Students How to Argue a Point

In an earlier post, I shared my ideas for building a framework that students could use to explain a wide range of topics, including simple and complex processes. Over the past month, I’ve heard my own students explain how to give a neck massage and how to expand your professional network. I’ve also heard ideas…

80 Debate Topics for ESL Students

Have you ever organized debates? Maybe you don’t wish to get into hard-core debates, especially on controversial issues such as the death penalty or gambling. Let me help ease the burden of finding classroom-appropriate topics for students who come from diverse backgrounds. Check out my list of 80 debate topics. I’ve also included suggestions for…

33 Engaging Discussion Questions

I often have the need for new discussion questions. Do you? If you feel you’ve exhausted many possibilities and you’re looking for new topics, checkout my list of 33 engaging questions on a range of classroom appropriate subjects, including family and career. The questions are geared towards intermediate and advanced adult learners. Each question is…

Learning about the U.S. Government

It seems that election years prompt me to test my own knowledge of how things work within the U.S. government, and the result is a new YouTube video. About four years ago, I decided explain our political parties and the U.S. Presidential elections. Earlier this year I talked about Super Tuesday. More recently, I described…

Gaining Comfort with Levels of Formality

In a recent YouTube video, I challenged upper level students to find more formal or less formal variations of ten statements. Watch the lesson. Such tasks are open-ended because there isn’t one right answer. Ideally, the viewer should do my exercises with at least one other person. Two heads are better than one, and discoveries…

Understanding Other ELLs: An Overlooked Listening Skill

With so much attention on understanding fast speech in movies, TV shows, and other authentic sources, there’s an area of listening comprehension that may not receive the attention it deserves: the speech of language learners. Students tend to focus heavily on listening to native speakers and non-natives with advanced proficiency. As a result, they may…

Allowing for Laid-Back Grammar

In a recent lesson on YouTube, I decided to teach and practice agreement with the informal responses “Me too” and “Me neither.” (Watch Basic English Lesson 106.) I had seen some online discussion about the correctness of such phrases (or the lack thereof), but I decided that if I hear it and I personally use…

Group Storytelling: Format and Story Starters

The tools of any online platform will influence your choices of how to present information and how to conduct activities. I continue to lead large live streams of 200+ students a few times a week. I’m using the app Hallo as my platform, and it allows up to four students to hop on camera with me….

More Practice with Practical Exchanges

In a previous post, I shared handouts with useful expressions that students can refer to when ordering food, leaving voicemail, and performing other everyday speaking tasks. I know the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our sense of what’s normal, so it can be hard right now to imagine getting our hair cut at a salon or…

Practice with Practical Exchanges

Sometimes it’s the most common situations that create the most stress for a language learner. Speaking on the phone can raise one’s level of anxiety and drop the level of confidence. If one has little practice making calls, leaving voicemail, and answering the phone, it’s hard to build comfort with this skill. At a public…

6 Conversation Games for Online Learners

Many language learners right now are in lockdown conditions, just like many of us teachers. The good news is that we can all meet online, and language studies can continue. To date, I’ve had two large public live streams that have focused entirely on conversation games. All 200+ students seem eager to put aside worries…