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…

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…

Tools That Empower: Vocabulary Profilers

I’ve highlighted vocabulary profilers before. Many are familiar with the wonderfully user-friendly resource offered by the University of Hong Kong. More recent discoveries for me include VocabKitchen and EnglishProfile: The CEFR for English, both of which have advanced features worth checking out. Have you heard about Laurence Anthony’s AntWordProfiler? I learned about this freeware tool at TESOL 2017….

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…

Words That Even Teachers Mix Up

Catching a student’s error with sweet and sweat is simple enough because I don’t mix up those words. They don’t sound alike to me and their meanings are very different. However, I’ve caught myself saying further when I meant farther, and vice versa. Perhaps the closer words are in meaning, the harder it can be to differentiate…

Learning the Different Times of the Day

This week I decided to exploit more of my personal photos from a trip I took to Las Vegas. I was inspired to create materials to practice time words, specifically words we use to talk about time periods within a day. I created images similar to the one you see below. I never realized how…

6 Sets of Seemingly Similar Words

What kinds of questions test you as a language teacher? Grammar-related questions usually generate the most challenging Student Stumpers for me, but that doesn’t mean other queries don’t give me pause. Synonyms or words that appear to be very similar test my knowledge about register and collocations. I respond to the best of my ability…

Getting a Handle on a Common Verb

How many meanings does the verb get have? Hmm. Quite a lot, right? I had to consult a dictionary to make sure I wasn’t forgetting any. A student on Facebook asked me about the many uses of this verb. Actually, first he asked about the different meanings and then he asked about usage. If the verb…

Tricky eVocabulary

While correcting a student’s text yesterday, my attention was drawn to how vocabulary has developed around computers and the Internet. Words like cookies and sleep have new meanings. Also, today we need to be clear about our request for an address; we may need a street address, an email address, or a web address, depending on the…

Globetrotters: Practice with nationalities

Learning the names of nationalities in English is challenge…even for an ESL teacher. I just spent considerable time trying to learn what someone in Northern Ireland might be called! A while back, I offered some practice with geography and nationalities. (See post from 2013.) The topic is still in demand, and so I’m back with…

How to Have a Happy Leap Year

I’ve been reading about superstitions surrounding Leap Year, and it seems that some folks associate the day with bad luck. I think Friday the 13th has already claimed the title “the day of bad luck,” so why not treat February 29 as a day of fun and opportunity? Here are some suggestions for making leap year…

Word Jugglers: Learning the Uses of -er

A learner asked me why we add the suffix -er to existing prepositions to form words like insider and inner. What a wonderfully curious question! I love how this person’s mind works. Talk about a teachable moment. I responded with an explanation about the versatility of -er and called attention to the parts of speech we can build…