Guiding Students to Form and Use the Past Progressive

Thankfully, a bunch of previously recorded lessons will allow me to continue publishing new videos in my Basic English playlist on YouTube. I’m up to Lesson 103 on the past progressive. In the video, I chose to use personal photos to prompt use of this verb form, but just about any photo with people can…

Testing Our Ability to Explain CAN, COULD and BE ABLE TO

The fun thing about having a live weekly Q&A session with a large group of students is that you’re basically allowing them to test your knowledge and ability to explain just about anything related to the English language. I’ve been doing this for a few months, and I enjoy the challenge of seeing what I…

3 Fun Ways to Practice Future Time Clauses

A grammar lesson is certainly less scary, less aggravating, more meaningful, and more memorable if you inject some laughter into it. Basic level students often struggle with confidence, so gradually increasing their output rather than putting them on the spot to deliver big contributions at the start of a lesson would also help. That was…

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,…

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…

Modals for Beginners

Modals find their way into grammar lessons at all stages of learning English. At the lower levels, it’s wise to present modal verbs in small doses, allowing time for practice and feedback. With one of my beginners, Natasha, I decided to teach “Would you like…?” for polite requests and invitations. (See beginner video lesson.) That…

Practice with “That” Clauses

I know that… I think that… I’m happy that… We use such sentences all the time with and without “that.” Some of your basic level students already form sentences with that clauses, not knowing they’re using complex sentences. Well, there’s no need to bog them down with terminology. However, raising awareness of sentence patterns can…

4 Variations on a Speaking Task

Do you struggle to increase student production during a speaking task? Sometimes it can be a matter of choosing the format that students feel most comfortable with. With lower level students, you also need to be sure they have enough language support to complete the task. I sometimes use templates to facilitate speaking. The templates…

Simpler, Livelier Tasks With Comparative Adjectives

I recently shared a Basic English lesson on comparative adjectives that form with -er. As simple as this topic seems, plenty of practice is always called for. Inevitably, production requires accuracy with other grammar elements. I found my students still struggling with subject-verb agreement and singular vs. plural nouns. (Bananas are better than cherries. And…

Accidents Happen: 3 tasks to practice the past progressive

Here’s an easy, engaging way to springboard into a grammar lesson on the past tense. Write three sayings on the board. (See below.) Ask the students to vote for the one they like the best. If you wish, invite them to explain their votes. The winning statement can become a banner for a day. Simply…

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…

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…