Join Me in Chicago: TESOL 2018

Hello everyone! I hope to see some of you in a few days at the annual TESOL convention. I’ll be presenting at two different times this year: Teaching and Technology: How Many Different Hats Can Teachers Wear? Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 9:30 AM Location: N128 (McCormick Place, North Building) Interest Section: Video and Digital Media…

Me vs. Them: Helping ELLs Step Out of the Classroom and into the Real World

Nothing aggravates me more as a language teacher than when other people fail to be receptive to non-native speech. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent encounters with impatient or judgmental listeners. We can foster a positive, supportive environment in our virtual and traditional classrooms, but the world at large is full of all kinds of personalities. I’ve…

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.”…

Back Soon with a New Post!

My town lost power during the latest winter storm. The loss of electricity, heat, phone service, and the Internet was interesting in a way, but it certainly posed some challenges since the power outage lasted for more than one day. I’m fortunate to have it back now, but my next blog post will be delayed…

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.”…

7 Thought-provoking Short Stories

A truly enjoyable experience to share with students is the discovery of great literature. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading short stories with advanced students. They bravely take on the challenge of facing unfamiliar vocabulary and sometimes dated wording. They apply their keen minds to the task of understanding themes and symbolism,…

Easily Confused Conditionals

I plan to add a new lesson to my YouTube playlist on conditionals. Once students feel comfortable using if, I like to address doubts over additional forms, such as the easily confused words even if, only if, and unless. In another post, I targeted even if vs. even though. It’s true that structures sharing at least one word already look…

How to Make Sense of News Headlines

I note requests from viewers for future YouTube lessons, and I have a running list of topics I’d like to cover. In a recent poll on my Community Tab, “news headlines” didn’t receive the most votes, but some viewers commented that they’d very much like to understand the grammar used in the titles of online…

3 Key Challenges of Online Teaching

Successful teaching requires us to know what to teach and how to teach it. Each teaching job presents us with a unique set of conditions. It’s those variables that push us to grow and become stronger in our knowledge and more versatile in our performance. When I began working online, I had to figure out…

When and How to Reduce Adjective Clauses

I’ve finally addressed adjective phrases in my series on adjective clauses. This latest lesson is by far the longest one in the playlist. I felt strongly about teaching not simply how to reduce an adjective clause, but when it makes sense to. I packed in a good amount of illustration and and practice. The theme…

Using Quantifiers in Adjective Clauses

Moving forward in my series on adjective clauses, I’ve just presented patterns using quantifiers. (Click for the latest lesson.) Are your students ready to write these kinds of adjective clauses? Possible mistakes to watch out for: Mixing up countable and uncountable nouns; Forgetting which pronouns to use (for example, “some of them” rather than “some…

Learning about Choices with Adjective Clauses

As I build my video series on adjective clauses, I’ll present possible variations and comment on how one might serve us better than another. In my most recent lesson, I modeled how we can form adjective clauses with whom, whose, when, where, and why. I know I might cause a bit of an uproar by…