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…

College Tuition: A Hot Topic to Debate

Several topics are trending in U.S. news, somewhat due to the recent presidential debate. The views and proposals of different candidates are making people in the U.S. think more about certain issues, such as the cost of college tuition. ELLs should be welcome to weigh in with their own personal opinions without fear of language…

Storytelling: Your Go-To Activity

Storytelling can be any teacher’s go-to activity because stories can be short or long and make use of any target language. If you have any concern about your own lack of creativity, don’t worry about running dry; tap into your students’ wonderful minds. All they need is a prompt, like an interesting photo from the…

Tools for Generating Discussion About Generations

Something funny happens when the topic of generations comes up. People come together to discuss their similarities and differences. Those from the same generation bond over a common sense of identity. Those from different generations are interested in making comparisons. With the right atmosphere, such discussions can be positive and productive. The goal of my…

Homelessness: A tough topic, but a productive talk

As part of my video series on current issues, I’ve decided to address homelessness. My upcoming video will focus on the present crisis in the U.S. However, homelessness is a problem in many countries around the world, which makes the topic familiar to many English language learners. Anytime we allow learners to tap into their…

4 Variations on a Speaking Task

Do you struggle to increase student production during a speaking task? Sometimes it can be a matter of choosing the format that students feel most comfortable with. With lower level students, you also need to be sure they have enough language support to complete the task. I sometimes use templates to facilitate speaking. The templates…

Setting Students Up for Successful Conversations

Don’t you love that feeling right after you finish a productive conversation with students? I’m excited and proud when I know students stepped up and managed to engage in a conversation on a new topic. I’m even happier to know that they’re aware of their solid performance and they took pleasure in the experience. Is…

Tackling Divisive Issues With Sensitivity

In the past, I met requests for videos on conversation skills with lessons teaching speech acts, such as complimenting and expressing agreement. The request for current issues was and still is much easier to meet in the context of a private or group lesson. However, this fall I’m testing the waters with edgier discussions on…

Figuring Out Figurative Language

The worrisome aspect about publishing a video is that you’re really putting yourself out there. You’re sharing your content with a potentially large audience that will evaluate and react to your work. If I let the fear of making a mistake or receiving criticism stop me, then I wouldn’t have a single video online. In…