Looking for the Truth About Language Levels

As teachers, we recognize a difference between Zero and False Beginners. I wonder if we could have a discussion about students whose different language skills are at both the intermediate and advanced levels. Let me clarify. I’m not referring to high intermediate students, whose language skills are all more or less progressing at the same rate towards advanced…

So They Said: An activity to practice verb + preposition combinations

Phrasal verbs alone pose their own challenges. However, another group of verbs that deserves attention in the course of students’ studies is the common combinations of verbs and prepositions. For example, suffer from is not a phrasal verb, but it’s a standard combination. How can students learn such combinations? Multiple encounters certainly help, but active practice clarifies doubts….

Here We Come A-Caroling: Language lessons through holiday songs

Looking for some holiday ideas? Past ideas for bringing the December holidays into the classroom included letters to Santa and holiday tongue twisters.  The list of suggestions doesn’t seem complete without addressing the use of Christmas carols.  Here are some possibilities: Santa Claus is Coming to Town. With the very first line a lesson begins on…

Party Poll: A speaking activity

Step 1 – Copy enough survey sheets so that each student receives one. (See below for printable copies.) For groups larger than then, you may make doubles or create additional surveys on other topics. Note: These questions (especially the first five sets) were written for adult learners. Step 2 – Give each student one survey…

Partners’ Pastimes: An activity with Wh- questions

You may choose to use this activity in the context of a grammar or writing lesson for basic or low intermediate students. Step 1 – Explain the meaning of pastime. Do the students know of any other word with a similar meaning (i.e., hobby)? List a few of your favorite pastimes on the board, and…

Questionable Qualities: An activity with embedded questions

Here’s a quick form of practice to reinforce the use of embedded questions as objects, subjects, and complements. Step 1 – Tell students they’ll be creating descriptions about fictitious people based on a dominant quality in their character. Give students the Embedded Questions Activity_handout. Look the photos in Set A. The first two fictitious people…

Particular Places: An Activity for Adjective Clauses

A reader brought up a tricky grammar point in the comment section of Student Stumper 10. Her students were confused about the choice between which and where as a relative pronoun. Perhaps you have a clear and simple explanation you could offer. I suggested breaking down a sentence with an adjective clause to show the…

The Color of Money: An activity with finance idioms

Later this week I plan to publish a video about Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the U.S.  The very name of this day along with its significance in the retail world makes me think this is a good time to share money-related idioms with students. I’ve selected five that not only relate to finance,…

Who Makes the World Go Round? An activity for quantifiers

Identifying types of people and their tendencies is an interesting way to practice quantifiers. Consider the activity below. Step 1 – Write this proverb on the board: It takes all kinds to make the world go round. As a class, discuss its meaning. Step 2 – Explain that students will be writing statements about different…

Surprise Gift: An activity to practice giving and receiving gifts

Last year as Thanksgiving Day approached I became reflective, and in one post I recalled what I was thankful for as a teacher. This year I am just as grateful, but I’ll try to offer something more pratical. Whether you choose to use the following activity in connection to Thanksgiving or simply include it as a warm-up one day,…

4 Things Teacher Training Doesn’t Cover

If you view teaching as an art, then you acknowledge that there is a limit to the preparation received before teachers enter the field. Much is learned and perfected as you go. Certain information such as grammar terminology and some skills like creating a lesson plan are presented and practiced during teacher training, but no one certification program…