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…

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…

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…

3 Tips for Teaching Basic Vocabulary

I had the pleasure of Skyping with a group of teachers in Costa Rica last month. Although the focus of our live session was on pronunciation and speaking skills, we had time for Q&A at the end. One teacher asked me for ideas to make learning basic vocabulary more fun. I gave some tips off…

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…

‘If Need Be’ and Other More Formal Uses of Conditionals

Conditionals are a topic I’ve addressed multiple times on my YouTube channel, and I plan to return to them again soon. Just a few more lessons, and I think I’ll have covered conditionals quite thoroughly. Do you also feel that it takes several lessons and plenty of practice to do justice to this topic? I…

Making Student Presentations Sparkle

I’ve become very fond of student presentations as a means to develop language proficiency and overall confidence. When diligent preparation leads to successful delivery, it’s a particularly satisfying experience for the learner and for the teacher. I’m also learning how to guide this process efficiently. Have you discovered some best practices? Please feel free to…

Phrasal Verbs in Context

If there’s one piece of advice I have for students about phrasal verbs, it’s not to learn too many at once. If I work with a set of more than ten phrasal verbs, then I make sure that some of them are already familiar to the students. I think our job as teachers is to…