4 Listening Tasks for Accurate Pronunciation

Recognizing sounds is an important step toward achieving more accurate pronunciation. My pronunciation lessons often have a good balance between listening and speaking. If students can’t hear sounds accurately, how can we expect them to produce the sounds successfully? Words are combinations of sounds, and the most logical way to divide those sounds is by…

Top Tips for Accent Reduction

How can you help over two hundred learners with pronunciation in real time? This was the fun challenge I faced at my latest live stream. These public events are very large, and I can only invite a handful of students to join me on camera one at a time. Nevertheless, I get a sense from…

Should We Talk About Romance on Valentine’s Day?

One doesn’t have to talk about romance on Valentine’s Day. I find the topic makes some feel uncomfortable, so you have to consider how best to approach it if you’re going to approach it at all. I just hosted a live stream with a couple hundred learners, and I invited them to build a story…

Can Anyone Hear Me? — Erasing Confusion Over Indefinite Pronouns

I recently shared a handout to help basic English students with indefinite pronouns that refer to people. See my earlier post. It turns out that more practice is needed, or so I discovered after I met with less success than expected during a recent lesson. Some of your students may also have some lingering doubts,…

The Perfect Aspect: Replacing confusion with comfort

Do we need the perfect aspect in communication? It seems like we have quite a number of ways to avoid it. I’ve discussed the challenges in understanding aspect in an earlier post. (Click to view 2017 post.) One thing that confuses students is the frequent use of the simple past instead of the present perfect…

Someone, Anyone, and Other Indefinite Pronouns

  My basic English students, Flavia and Andreia, have made good progress over the past several months. The most recent lessons posted on YouTube were recorded back in June 2019, so they are noticeably farther along the path to proficiency now in January 2020. There are still a number of topics I’d like to cover…

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…

Student Stumper 50: “Last” vs. “Past”

QUESTION: What’s the difference between “last” and “past”?  Can I say “the last year” and “the past year”? Do they mean the same thing? ANSWER: We can use both of those phrases, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Anytime there are similarities, we must figure out where exactly there’s overlap. Structurally, the phrases…

Creating an Inclusive Celebration of Christmas

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are officially listed on U.S. calendars. With many schools and businesses closed on theses days and with special holiday events scheduled in abundance at this time of year, it’s pretty hard to ignore the importance of Christmas in American culture. Whether you’re in the U.S. or not and whether you…

10 Ways to Explore and Expand the Topic of Personality Types

In a recent video lesson, I presented vocabulary for talking about the range of personalities a person can have. It leans towards pop psychology, and that’s the fun of it. Few of us have any credible background in psychology (the handful of courses I took in college do not equal a degree!), but we’ve all…