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…

Grammar We’d Rather Avoid: Variations with ‘Would Rather’

In a recent YouTube video I decided to take upper level students through the different uses of the modal verb would. I know some people would rather spend thirty minutes in the dentist’s chair than endure a fifteen-minute grammar lesson, so to make the review more engaging, I used a countdown of my top ten…

5 Engaging Activities with Film Plots

In a recent YouTube lesson I decided to approach grammar through a list of my top 5 favorite disaster movies. I figured it would make the discussion of prepositions much more entertaining. I focused on confusing phrases like in the end, by the end, and at the end.  Some of the movies I included are…

Getting Reluctant Readers to Read

Not every student loves to read, but there are benefits missed by not including any reading in one’s studies. Of course, some degree of reading is unavoidable, for example, one has to read a homework assignment or a short email announcement. But extended reading? That has to be a conscious choice. Let’s see if we…

More Good Reads: 5 Short Stories

I shared a list of thought-provoking short stories in another post. (See February 2018 post.) If you work with advanced students who challenge you to find good reading material, you’ll go through that first list in good time and then be in need of new titles to choose from. Allow me to share five more….

Moving with the Times: A Cool Movie Clip-Based App

I’ve been recommending YouGlish as a listening and pronunciation tool for quite some time. It’s wonderful to hear different speech models and consider the various contexts a word or phrase is used in. However, the search results don’t include movies, TV shows, or music videos. What if there were a similar app that did include…

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…

What Does It Mean to Be Polite?

This month on YouTube I continue to explore topics that boost conversational skills, such as expressing surprise and giving compliments, and I find myself asking whether everyone has the same definition of polite. The concept of good manners can vary from culture to culture, and even from one social circle to another, people’s understanding of…

6 Tips for Teaching Conversational Expressions

I received a persistent request on YouTube for more lessons on conversation, so I decided to hold off on my plan to cover more modal verbs and offer a series of short videos in which I present and explain conversational expressions. Usually I offer such suggestions during my live lessons with private students because teachable…

Happy Holidays! See you in 2019!

Thank you for another year of sharing ideas in the wonderful world of ESL! I hope you’ll continue to follow my ELT blog in 2019. There’s still so much to explore together. Happy holidays to you! May the New Year bring you and your learners success and shared joy.     Photo credit: Snowflake, Ornament by jill111….

Teaching Modals: What Can and Can’t Be Done

Is it possible to teach modals separately, one by one? Of course, you could, but why? Their uses and meanings tend to overlap, so it makes sense to teach modals together in small sets, for example, may and might for possibilities. However, it’s very likely that at least one student will ask a question such…