TESOL 2019 Highlights: Ideas and Questions to Consider

Many TESOL sessions deserve a full summary, but the sheer volume of take-away is too much to capture in the context of this blog. At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to knowledgeable presenters who made sure attendees walked away with at least one golden nugget to apply to their teaching. I thank…

Combinations with Gerunds: Reducing Confusion, Increasing Accuracy

It stands to reason that if a large number of words are creating confusion, part of the problem may be resolved by dealing with smaller amounts at one time. There are many grammar charts in print and online: verbs followed by gerunds, verbs followed by infinitives, nouns followed by infinitives, and so on. The lists…

When We Get to Thinking about ‘Get’

A private student asked me about the verb get. Most dictionaries have at least a dozen definitions listed, including start, arrive, and become. My student had heard the verb used in phrases like get a move on and get to know. As different as they are, the two expressions share a similar sense of beginning…

6 Sets of Seemingly Similar Words

What kinds of questions test you as a language teacher? Grammar-related questions usually generate the most challenging Student Stumpers for me, but that doesn’t mean other queries don’t give me pause. Synonyms or words that appear to be very similar test my knowledge about register and collocations. I respond to the best of my ability…

The Answer to Everything: Practice with the Prepositions For, To, and With

Prepositions are problematic for many English language learners. Presenting some collocations to students can certainly help them understand what a particular preposition expresses and what kinds of nouns, verbs, or adjectives that preposition combines with. For example, talk with someone, argue with someone, and speak with someone all refer to communication involving two or more people. “With” expresses…

Dedicated to You: Practice with the Prepositions TO and AT

I’m finally turning my attention back to prepositions. My goal is to address some common points of confusion. In my next video lesson, I’ll explain some uses of TO and AT. Have you ever heard someone confuse throw a ball to someone versus throw a ball at someone? That’s one point I’d like to cover. The…

How to Learn Collocations: Independence from Teachers and Dependence on Resources

Another teacher recently asked about ways to teach collocations to upper level students. The inquiry reminded me of what I took away from a TESOL session in Portland this past March. A team from  Academy of Art University, San Francisco focused on building learner independence. They recommended showing students how to work with COCA and Vocabulary Profiler when reading academic…

Storyline: A different kind of vocabulary activity

Click here to listen to this post. I’ve been working with an advanced student for quite some time now. His vocabulary is quite impressive, but he sometimes fails to use the high-level words with the appropriate grammar. One activity I’ve started to use in our lessons makes use of a learner’s dictionary. I want to…

Using Less Common Collocations

Have you ever caught yourself saying something that immediately stopped you in your mental tracks? One second the words are out, and in the next second you question, “Did I just say that?” The slightly odd phrase gets highlighted by the Grammar Check and Vocabulary Check in your head (we teachers have these automatic functions, you know), and your self-analysis…

Collocation Links: a vocabulary activity

Please click to listen to my 4.26.11 blog intro. I’ve suggested different vocabulary activities with collocations in the past. I’d like to offer one more called Collocation Links. Students will be socializing with one another using individually assigned collocations. As they interact and form connections, they will work towards building a group. You might think of…

A New Year’s Resolution: Let’s get savvy with online tools!

It’s that time again. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? One promise I’ve made to myself is to learn more about online tools that can help me in teaching or materials writing. I’d like to discover at least three new tools and learn to apply them in 2011. I’m on my way to knocking that number down…