TESOL 2019 Highlights: Ideas and Questions to Consider

Many TESOL sessions deserve a full summary, but the sheer volume of take-away is too much to capture in the context of this blog. At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to knowledgeable presenters who made sure attendees walked away with at least one golden nugget to apply to their teaching. I thank…

Using More Colorful Vocabulary: 5 Tips

Have you ever caught yourself using the same word too often? I remember in grade school my classmates and I played a prank on a teacher that capitalized on her overuse of “okay.” We were fond of her, so our actions weren’t done in cruelty. Chalk it up to spring fever and youth. For one…

Is There a Place for Profanity in the Classroom?

  Last month I made the decision to offer a YouTube lesson on swearing in English. I managed to say quite a lot in a 15-minute lesson without saying any strong curse words. So what exactly did I teach? Alternatives. It’s more a lesson on how not to curse. There are quite a lot of online lessons that…

Flashforward: Flashcards in 2018

  Some digital tools are really fun to explore. I was delighted with the discovery of Google Slides as a student resource when I attended an Electronic Village session at TESOL 2018 in Chicago. Since then I’ve had two of my own students collaborate using Google slides: they’ve done joint a presentation and they’ve co-created…

Why Teach Foreign Words in English?

In my latest vocabulary lesson on YouTube, I teach eight foreign words used in English. The lesson was partly inspired by a conversation I overhead at the hairdresser’s. One woman called out to the other as she was leaving, “Call me sometime next week. We’ll have a tête-à-tête.” It’s not the first time my ESL-attuned ear…

3 Tips for Teaching Basic Vocabulary

I had the pleasure of Skyping with a group of teachers in Costa Rica last month. Although the focus of our live session was on pronunciation and speaking skills, we had time for Q&A at the end. One teacher asked me for ideas to make learning basic vocabulary more fun. I gave some tips off…

Phrasal Verbs in Context

If there’s one piece of advice I have for students about phrasal verbs, it’s not to learn too many at once. If I work with a set of more than ten phrasal verbs, then I make sure that some of them are already familiar to the students. I think our job as teachers is to…

TESOL 2018 Highlights: Online Tools for ELLs

Visiting the Electronic Village at the annual TESOL convention is a must for me. Even a single visit can result in the discovery of a few different resources. The title of one presentation this year immediately caught my attention: Three Powerful Online Tools for Skills Development. The presenter, Silvia Laborde of Alianza Cultural Uruguay-Estados Unidos…

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.”…

As Well and As Well As

I love discoveries that students make. Their questions make me see the language with fresh eyes and ears. Some topics only come up when students run into a stumbling block on their own. I recently had to explain the similarities and differences between as well and as well as. When it comes to similar-looking expressions, a one-time…

Holiday Music: Going Beyond the Songs

Everyone has their favorite holidays and their favorite traditions. Do you have a favorite way of bringing some holiday music into your December lessons? My use of songs and carols with private students depends on their interests and language goals. For someone currently working on a business report or academic paper, there may be no…

Words That Confuse Students (and Teachers!)

Let’s face it. English has some confusing words. To a degree, we can rely on our knowledge and our instincts. Thankfully, we’re not without resources. Which ones have you turned to? Some of mine include: Learner’s dictionaries. I have a few bookmarked and I compare findings. In the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online, I…