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…

Using Grammar: Putting the Pieces Together

I’ve been stumped by some pretty good questions over the years. The inquiries in my Student Stumper category usually target some aspect of the language that I need to consider further before responding. But lately the questions I’ve been asked by learners aren’t specific. In fact, they’re extremely broad. These questions challenge me in a different way….

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…

Chances Are: Practice with “That” Clauses

I’m taking on the topic of noun clauses with a private student. I plan to cover embedded questions, but first I want to work with that clauses. Those are the first kind of noun clauses students likely understand and produce. Even high beginners can start making statements with “I think (that)….” By the time learners reach the…

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…

10 Reasons Why Students Say They Hate Grammar

(Continued) Here they are –  the top 5 reasons: 5.     They equate having good grammar with mastering terminology. Advice: Remind grammar lovers and grammar haters alike that knowing terminology isn’t the same as being able to use grammatical structures. Knowing terminology places more reference tools in the learner’s hands, but discourage memorization for the sake of…

10 Reasons Why Students Hate Grammar

If you observe a student experiencing frustration in your grammar class, you shouldn’t immediately conclude that your teaching is at fault. A number of reasons could explain the student’s feelings, not all of which are related to your approach and strategies for teaching grammar. Consider the following: 10.   They had a negative experience in the…

Teaching Modal Verbs: Function, Strength, and Formality

Have you developed an approach to teaching modal verbs? I’ve found it most effective to focus on these three aspects: Function. What purpose(s) do these modal verbs serve? What do they express? Students will learn and retain grammar if they understand how it functions in communication. I strongly recommend presenting these auxiliary verbs in groups according…

Activity for Learning Gerunds and Infinitives

In my last entry, I offered four tips for learning how to use gerunds and infinitives as direct objects. Here is an activity to help students apply those tips: Step 1: Use a grammar reference chart such as the one in Focus on Grammar (High Intermediate, Chart No. 3, A-2). Select either a column or…

Helping Students Learn Gerunds and Infinitives

I always hate to disappoint students by telling them that there’s no shortcut to learning which verbs are followed by gerunds and which ones are followed by infinitives. I try to offset that disappointment with a degree of optimism. When I ask them to give me examples using common verbs such as want, need, and…

Teaching Phrasal Verbs: Dos and Don’ts

Phrasal verbs are commonly used in English, making lessons on this topic not only helpful but essential. Our students will encounter phrasal verbs in academic, professional, and everyday settings. It’s our job to help them understand and appropriately use them. Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to teaching the seemingly endless list…