How and Why We Sugarcoat Our Speech

An advanced student and I recently explored ways Americans soften their spoken speech. In the world of ESL, there’s a good amount of material on hedging devices for academic writing, but it’s been an interesting challenge to see how much of it can apply to conversation. The goal in any exchange is not just to…

Making Student Presentations Sparkle

I’ve become very fond of student presentations as a means to develop language proficiency and overall confidence. When diligent preparation leads to successful delivery, it’s a particularly satisfying experience for the learner and for the teacher. I’m also learning how to guide this process efficiently. Have you discovered some best practices? Please feel free to…

TESOL 2018 Highlights: My Take-Away from Different Presenters

I had to cut my TESOL experience short this year due to the overlap with the Easter holiday, but I’m happy that I still managed to pack some take-away thoughts with me. I always jot down lots of notes at sessions I attend, and then I reflect on them back at home when I’ve had…

Resources and Tips for Small Group Debates

In an older post, I shared one resource with debate topics and and suggested some possible classroom formats. My recent private students have prompted me to search for more questions we could discuss either one-on-one or in small groups. ProCon.org lives up to its tagline: “The leading resource for pros and cons of controversial issues.”…

Teaching Sensitivity to Cultural Differences at Christmastime

As I was leaving the post office the other day, I realized I had just responded automatically to the holiday wish the postal worker gave me: Merry Christmas! “Merry Christmas to you too!” I replied. Later that evening at my daughter’s winter concert held at the local public school, I found it interesting that those on…

From pictures to words: How was your summer vacation?

My most recent YouTube lesson about summer vacation could be a springboard for different age groups at different levels of proficiency. Would you like your students to talk about their summer vacations? Do you want to share some common ways to ask how a vacation was spent? This could also include a review of question…

Getting Fired Up for the Fourth of July!

If you find yourself teaching in the month of July, you may wish to highlight the celebration of U.S. Independence Day. Here are some ideas to consider. 1. Write an acrostic poem about freedom. Templates like this one are available online. You can start with a model based on another word, or you can show…

Flashback and Flashforward: Using Sequence Words

My latest YT video presents sequence words and other useful phrases for describing a process. Intermediate students could either write down the steps for some of the processes shown (how to make hot chocolate, how to wrap a present, etc.) prior to watching or after watching the video. The former would be a matter of…

8 Election-related Activties

In the final weeks before the U.S. presidential elections, ELLs will likely find it hard to avoid hearing or reading about the candidates and their campaigns. Whether students are in the U.S. or not, having the opportunity to engage in election-related activities will bolster their understanding of current events and make them feel more connected to the…

Talking Politics in ESL

In my latest YT video I attempted to talk about politics without really talking politics. Hopefully, I succeeded. I gave a brief overview of the two major political parties. ELLs who have watched the lesson report that they picked up some vocabulary and gained a better understanding of U.S. political parties. But in addition to…

TESOL 2016 Highlights: Part 5

TESOL academic sessions sponsored by the Interest Sections can be a test of stamina, since they last one hour and forty-five minutes, but with only three days for the whole convention it’s necessary to make the most of our time. I try to attend a couple of these sessions each year because I value the…