The Need to Learn by Doing

A student recently asked about the differences between need to, have to, and must. Sometimes an explanation clarifies such doubts, but often one learns much better through practice with some feedback. If you’d like short sets of tasks to study differences in structure and meaning, check out my Need to.Have to.Must_handout. Key points include: – Need to expresses what…

The First One to Figure Out This Tricky Grammar Wins!

No, this isn’t a contest, but if you can shed additional light on some tricky grammar topics, you’ll have my gratitude! #1. Infinitives as Complements A grammar question recently came from a new Instagram follower. Yes, there’s one more place you can follow me and/or send students to. All my video clips (all six of…

3 Voice Typing Activities on Google Docs

A private student reminded me about the Voice Typing feature on Google Docs, and since then I’ve been considering effective ways to use it as a learning tool. Do you know how to find it? Open up Google Docs and create a new file. Go under Tools and select Voice Typing. Then click to turn…

Using LEA to Build a Bridge to Self-Expression

The Language Experience Approach intrigued me the first time I read about it. I’ve always liked the idea of using student-generated content as the basis of language practice. The LEA was developed to build literacy in L1, but ESL teachers have successfully brought it into L2 classrooms. I suggested a spin on the original approach…

Personality Changes in SLA

When you think about the role personality plays in second language acquisition, you may be inclined to consider personality as a predictor of success. But there’s another aspect I’ve been pondering lately: possible changes in a learner’s personality in the course of language acquisition. I’m no specialist in this area. I simply want to share…

A Dream of Mine or My Dream?

I’ve been asked more than once about my friend vs. a friend of mine. I took my first stab at explaining the difference in a 2009 post. This question has appeared on different blogs and discussion boards over the years. Most teachers agree on the implied meaning of one vs. many: “Bridget is my friend”…

Can We Agree on Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement is among the pesky points that trouble upper level students. It’s easy enough to choose a singular or plural verb when the subject is clearly singular or plural. No one will argue, for example, that “a teacher” is plural and “many teachers” is singular. But advanced students are a capable of expressing complex…

1 Mistake I Still Make with Lesson Plans and 3 Ways I Fix It

Most lessons go well, thank goodness, and it’s a wonderful thing to have time fly and end a lesson knowing that something meaningful was accomplished. A good lesson leaves my heart happy and my mind already focused on planning the next steps forward. A stumble here and there fills me with determination to make things…

Coming Back with a Bang: Learning Phrasal Verbs

A warm hello to you after a long summer vacation! I’ve missed sharing the ideas that brew in my mind and surface as as suggestions or activities. I had a light teaching schedule in July and August. I got ready to come back in September with a bang, and so here I am in the…

See You at the End of Summer!

Dear Readers, I wish you all a relaxing summer vacation! I’ll be enjoying a restful break with decreased online activity in July and August. I’ll be back at the end of summer to blog again and share new tips and ideas for teaching our English language learners. My best wishes to you all! Jennifer  …

How and Why We Sugarcoat Our Speech

An advanced student and I recently explored ways Americans soften their spoken speech. In the world of ESL, there’s a good amount of material on hedging devices for academic writing, but it’s been an interesting challenge to see how much of it can apply to conversation. The goal in any exchange is not just to…