The Benefits of Talking about Art

  You may be teaching working professionals in the business world or even a group of teens with more interest in this summer’s blockbusters than what’s on exhibit at a local art gallery. You might be teaching undergrads, but there isn’t a single art major among them. So why talk about art in the ESL…

Greetings and Closings: When simple phrases seem rather complex

A YouTube viewer asked me about the choice of closings in email. Indeed, if words are heartfelt, you’d think they’d be appropriate for a loved one, but if your significant other signed a message with “Heartfelt regards,” wouldn’t you be taken aback by the formality? In my video series on email, I’ve taken the time to…

Student Stumper 44: How can an adjective follow THAN in “later than usual”?

QUESTION: I read a sentence with the phrase “later than usual.” I thought only nouns could follow the preposition than, and usual is an adjective. Is “later than usual” grammatically correct? ANSWER: Dictionaries list than as a preposition and a conjunction. To be honest, I sometimes find it tricky to make the distinction, especially with comparisons. I see it as a…

Too Passive about the Passive Voice?

So I know I need to be concise when I write, and they say it’s better to use dynamic language. Does that mean I should avoid the passive?  What about in spoken English? Students’ questions about the passive voice reveal common confusion over when to use it. The easy way out is not to use it….

The Truth behind Students’ Questions

Not all questions are easy to answer, are they? You know why? To answer a question you have to understand what the person is asking, but the words you hear may not accurately communicate the speaker’s needs. Pretty much seven days a week I answer questions from students. I’ve learned to categorize questions as soon as I…

Email Templates: A good or bad tool?

Writing email is a wonderful skill to master in today’s digital world. After I posted my first video tutorial on this topic, a viewer commented that the good old days of business letters are gone. There may be less communication arriving in white paper envelopes, but templates are still in use. In fact, you can find apps now…

How to Master Email

I’ve finally decided to move forward with a series of lessons on how to write email. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to address for some time. I’ll start posting my video tutorials next week on YouTube. Even a great set of video lessons won’t be enough for a student to master the art of emailing. The…

TESOL Highlights 2016: Part 6

It’s time to post my final set of highlights from the TESOL convention held earlier this month. In Baltimore I felt there was a strong focus on the use of technology in and out of the classroom to support many skills. A number of presenters even outside the Electronic Village addressed the use of e-portfolios. Jeannie Slayton and Cynthia DeRoma…

TESOL 2016 Highlights: Part 5

TESOL academic sessions sponsored by the Interest Sections can be a test of stamina, since they last one hour and forty-five minutes, but with only three days for the whole convention it’s necessary to make the most of our time. I try to attend a couple of these sessions each year because I value the…

TESOL 2016 Highlights: Part 4 (Tech Buffet)

TESOL is a bit like an all-you-can-eat buffet. You attend as many sessions as you can, you speak with numerous TESOLers, and your head is full of ideas on the plane ride home. It takes a while to digest everything. But that’s the beauty, isn’t it? The TESOL experience continues upon our return to our desks…

TESOL Highlights 2016: Part 3

When I first started attending the annual TESOL convention, I was so overwhelmed by the number of attendees and the number of sessions. I missed some wonderful keynote addresses because I simply didn’t plan my day well! In the past few years, I’ve done better, and my attendance at these special morning events has meant…

TESOL 2016 Highlights: Part 2

At TESOL 2015, I learned about digital tools for providing audio feedback on students’ written assignments. (Click to read that post.) Audio feedback remains a hot topic — the 2016 program book lists a number of sessions that explored this concept. I chose to attend Effectiveness of Audio Feedback for EFL Students in Online Courses….