‘If Need Be’ and Other More Formal Uses of Conditionals

Conditionals are a topic I’ve addressed multiple times on my YouTube channel, and I plan to return to them again soon. Just a few more lessons, and I think I’ll have covered conditionals quite thoroughly. Do you also feel that it takes several lessons and plenty of practice to do justice to this topic? I…

TESOL 2018 Highlights: Creativity Through Collaboration

For the second year in a row, Mary Allegra of University of Carabobo in Venezuela enticed me into the Electronic Village with her session title. Last year she co-presented in the EV about Quizizz (read post). This year she teamed up with her colleague Monica Fernandez to demonstrate possibilities with Google Slides. Their session was…

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…

Writing Tip: Teaching the Importance of Time Frame

When students write a narrative, one type of mistake I tend to see concerns verb tense. Students lose focus of what time frame they’re in and choose an inappropriate verb form. Have you observed these kinds of mistakes as well? Practice makes perfect, as they say, so calling students’ attention to time frame as they…

Helping Students Make Their Writing Fresh and Colorful

The community of online writers and educators makes the world a brighter place. Sharing ideas over the Internet has become so easy, and thankfully we can pass along good finds to our students with similar ease. Have you ever come across a useful infographic? The truly helpful ones take time and effort to create. I…

Two Important Guidelines for Choosing Writing Topics

  Students usually tell me their goal is to speak better English. I like to emphasize how skills can develop together, and if I have the chance to work with a student privately, then I encourage some form of writing. Even the student who wants to improve pronunciation can benefit from writing a short assignment…

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…

Comma Craze 2: More common mistakes with commas

Although one could argue there are more important writing skills to master, neglecting to teach the use of commas could result in very unclear writing. I’m not perfect with punctuation, but I champion the usefulness of standardized patterns. Clarity and effective communication go hand in hand. We might be more flexible in our texting, but…

4 Ways to Learn from Headlines

A learner asked me about the grammar in news headlines. Indeed, it can be confusing when words are omitted: Prison Escape Fails — Did it already happen? Why is the verb in the present tense? Mayor in Hot Water — Is this happening now? Where’s the verb? Local Team Gets New Coach — Can they write…

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…

Building Writing Skills

On a daily basis, I engage in more written correspondence than I do spoken exchanges. It’s the nature of my teaching. I provide more asynchronous instruction than synchronous. This is probably one reason why writing skills are a big focus in my work. Even the students I meet for live instruction usually submit written assignments between…