Tackling Divisive Issues With Sensitivity

In the past, I met requests for videos on conversation skills with lessons teaching speech acts, such as complimenting and expressing agreement. The request for current issues was and still is much easier to meet in the context of a private or group lesson. However, this fall I’m testing the waters with edgier discussions on…

Creative Writing: Building Stories, Skills, and Pride

Hello, dear readers! Welcome back. Let’s start talking and sharing ideas again. How was your summer? I relaxed more, read more, played the piano more, slept better, and fit in some quality time with my children. I worked just a little bit less, but it’s hard to stop completely. There’s too much I want to…

Summer Vacation Has Started

It’s time to rest my mind a bit more and enjoy the summer sun. I’m not completely on vacation, as I’m keeping up with some private lessons and a creative writing course. However, I’ve reduced my social media output for the summer months. It’s time to recharge the batteries and return in the fall with…

3 Activities to Practice the Simple Past

What communicative activities have you used to help students gain accuracy and comfort with the simple past? My two basic level students (see YT playlist) have been practicing the future with will and be going to. After this, I plan to shift to the simple past. Since we’ve already practiced was and were, I’m actually…

Figuring Out Figurative Language

The worrisome aspect about publishing a video is that you’re really putting yourself out there. You’re sharing your content with a potentially large audience that will evaluate and react to your work. If I let the fear of making a mistake or receiving criticism stop me, then I wouldn’t have a single video online. In…

The Fate of Fairy Tale Heroes: The Future With ‘Will’

I have a some old favorites when it comes to presenting and practicing verb tenses and verb forms. Like many other teachers, I’ve talked with students about the distant future so that we can form sentences with will. Far away times, like 2029 or even 2049, usually spark the imagination. Will cars fly? Will people…

Learning to Control My Fire and Avoiding Burnout

One of the major challenges in online teaching is finding a balance in all that I do. I juggle the different formats available to me, including private lessons, paid courses, and social media; I do my best to have a presence on multiple social media platforms; I search for the right topics that engage and…

Ambivalence About Ambitransitive Verbs

Having addressed ergative verbs for advanced learners, I feel it’s logical to follow-up with a discussion of verbs in general that have both transitive and intransitive meanings.  Life would be simpler if all sources used the same terminology and agreed on the definitions, but sadly that’s not the case. However, with a clear definition of…

Two Good Reasons to Know About Ergative Verbs

When I first heard the term ergative verbs, I thought to myself, What?! I worried that perhaps I didn’t know something every other ESL/EFL teacher knew. Well, although I wasn’t a new teacher by the time I discovered ergative verbs, it turns out that I wasn’t alone in my lack of familiarity. Since then, I’ve met other ESL professionals…

3 Simple, Fun Activities to Practice WHY & BECAUSE

Why would I create a whole lesson devoted to why and because? Because answers to why vary. ‘Cause pronunciation varies. Cos informal variations in spelling are used as well. I created a whole lesson devoted to this topic because two of my students needed to build confidence asking and answering questions with why.  This lesson on why and because was shared on…

3 Fun and Easy Warm-Ups

My basic level students, Andreia and Flavia, are gaining comfort with me and with the whole experience of filming for YouTube. (See my Basic English playlist.) They start each lesson with smiles and willingness, but it certainly helps to warm up, and so I’ve had a fun time doing simple speaking tasks to get us…

Teaching Basic English: A Second Chance

It’s been seven years since I last decided to create a series of online lessons for beginners, and I clearly remember the challenges I faced the first time. (See 2012 post.) Apart from the physical challenge of trying to find a place with a board to write on, I had to decide how to teach…