Flashforward: Flashcards in 2018

  Some digital tools are really fun to explore. I was delighted with the discovery of Google Slides as a student resource when I attended an Electronic Village session at TESOL 2018 in Chicago. Since then I’ve had two of my own students collaborate using Google slides: they’ve done joint a presentation and they’ve co-created…

Learning to Write Clearly and Concisely: An activity for advanced students

I’ve been working with small numbers of advanced students on speaking and writing skills. We focus on common topics like travel and health. The students have obviously talked about such issues before, so I ask questions that provoke deeper reflection and stimulate comparisons or arguments. The oral discussions are engaging, and the writing extends students’ opportunity to express…

Back to the Basics (2)

Recent questions from students have prompted me to consider additional opportunities for review. Basic level students have asked me about the verb form after people and the reason for using helping verbs in questions. From subject-verb agreement to question formation, students need more practice with grammar. Comments and email sent to me reveal further doubts over…

Is Fluency Achieved in or out of the Classroom?

I was recently invited along with 33 other English language teachers to offer an opinion on how fluency is achieved. Jason R. Levine, a.k.a. FluencyMC, compiled 34 tips on becoming fluent in English. Seeing the range of ideas as well as the striking overlap of viewpoints is exciting. In my opinion, the compilation is a starting point for…

Secrets to Learning Vocabulary

Different students have complained to me that they can’t seem to remember the words they need when they talk in English. I’m not sure there are really secrets to learning vocabulary, but I do think that each learner needs to discover what study practices work best for him or her. Perhaps the key is to…

Teaching Adverb Phrases with More Support

Previous posts on reducing adverb clauses to phrases assume that study and focused practice have been done to some extent already. One of my activities involves text manipulation and pushes students toward creative writing. A second activity also uses storytelling and offers practice with more types of adverb clauses. In connection with that second post, I discussed the variation…

From Day to Day: Learning Prepositions of Time

As I slowly build my playlist of videos on prepositions, I continue to reflect on use and meaning. What points cause confusion? Very often simple grammar structures turn out to be not so simple because the nature of language always allows for variations and exceptions. From…to… is a good example. It’s such a simple structure…

Teaching the ABCs of English…Literally

A fellow teacher has requested ideas for new ways to teach the alphabet. Will you help me out? I’ll get the ball rolling with some initial thoughts and suggestions. Print or cursive? For letter recognition, I recommend using printed letters only. Reading cursive handwriting can come later. Keep things simple for beginners. That includes writing….

Helping Students Understand Levels of Formality

What’s been catching my eye lately in students’ writing is the mix of formal and informal words. I actually like that students have to submit assignments to me via email because it gives them additional writing practice. Corrections to their messages are opportunities for me to point out levels of formality. One of the hardest…

Leveraging Online Tools for Student Engagement and Follow-Up

Many of us use warm-up activities at the start of a lesson. They can be simple or clever in design, and the nature of a warm-up might remain light and fun or become a bit more thought-provoking. The first goal, of course, is to get students thinking in English. We want them to use the language actively,…

Thinking Outside the Box: Exploring Different Ways to Interact with a Text

I believe there are different ways we can read a text with students. There can also be different objectives. Do we want students to read for general comprehension, for example, or to find details? Reading skills also overlap with pronunciation skills. I’m a big believer in oral reading. It shouldn’t be the default format, but I think…