Allowing for Laid-Back Grammar

In a recent lesson on YouTube, I decided to teach and practice agreement with the informal responses “Me too” and “Me neither.” (Watch Basic English Lesson 106.) I had seen some online discussion about the correctness of such phrases (or the lack thereof), but I decided that if I hear it and I personally use…

Using Intensifiers and Downtoners in Spoken English

Intensifiers and downtoners are fun to cover because we use them in many different situations, so it’s fairly easy to create examples and practice tasks. But since I feel they’re used a lot more in conversation, I chose to limit my examples to spoken contexts in my latest YouTube lesson. Another decision I had to…

Turning Informal Into Formal: A writing activity for phrasal verbs

The purpose of this exercise is to reinforce students’ understanding of the differences between formal and informal English, highlighting the role phrasal verbs can play in changing the register. Students will begin with informal speech and edit it for a more formal context, using one-word equivalents for the selected phrasal verbs.   Level: High intermediate…

Should Idioms Get the Boot?

Few, if any, would argue against the need to focus on vocabulary skills in the ESL classroom. All the buzz about the Academic Word List and the General Service List attests to that. High frequency words are taught for general and academic purposes. But what about idioms? Can we argue the need to teach them?…

Whaddya gonna do about slang? Mix it or nix it?

We all know that our main objective is to facilitate our students’ ability to communicate in English. When they make an error, we offer correction. When they look to us for a speech model, we strive to provide clear, accurate English. But where does slang fit in? Does it have a place in our instruction?…