Posts Tagged ‘ESL’

This video was very useful as an example of language that gives instructions. I used it today in my writing class, and it worked well as an introduction to several teaching points. The first time my class watched the video, pencils were down, and the students just watched for enjoyment and to get the general idea. The second viewing included a closer look and an analysis of the language used in the video. The video offers some good examples of features found in language that gives instruction.

Imperative Verbs

    • start
    • push
    • rest
    • cut
    • select
    • serve
    • enjoy
    • cajole
    • assure

Expressions That Are Useful When Giving Instructions

    • You will need _____
    • You will have to _____.
    • You need to_____.

A Reminder

    • Be(ing) careful not to _____.

The video also gave students exposure to interesting and slightly more complex introductions and conclusions than they have written so far this semester.



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A few months ago I started a nonlinear PowerPoint presentation on the parts of speech. After a lot of consideration, I decided to stick with the traditional eight parts of speech. I realize that this categorization is not without its disadvantages, but I felt that using the traditional eight would be most efficient for my students. This presentation, however, has turned into a bigger project than I had imagined, and as a result I have decided to post it in small bits. This first post is the one on the noun. It covers count nouns, noncount nouns, infinitives as nouns, and gerunds. The level targets the particular students that I teach. They are at the intermediate level. And here it is…


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Perhaps you are already aware of this, but there are some new tricks in Internet Explorer 8, and one of them in particular might be of assistance to language learners. I recently attended a workshop given by one of my colleagues, Nancy Woodard. She specializes in and teaches technology. One of the things she talked about was using Accelerators. Her explanation was very helpful and clear, and so I asked her if I could add her explanation to this blog. She very kindly said yes. Nancy explains Accelerators in Internet Explorer 8 as follows:

“Internet Explorer, or IE for short, is Microsoft’s browser. A new feature in IE8 is Accelerators. Highlight a word or phrase on a web page and the blue arrow accelerator icon will pop up. Click on the Accelerator to quickly do things without copy-paste, and without navigation to other sites. Need to map an address? Highlight the address and use a mapping accelerator. Want to define a word? Install your favorite dictionary as an accelerator. Would you like to forward a link? Accelerators can help you do this quickly. Need to translate a word? Easily translate with Bing translator or many other translators.”

This feature will enable students to highlight a word and quickly

  • access a definition in English
  • access translations into other languages
  • view images associated with the word by choosing an internet search and then selecting images

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This is a  little presentation that I use to quickly review how to change singular count nouns into plural nouns. It covers

        – spelling rules

       – nouns that are always plural

       – irregular plural nouns

You can start this part of the lesson by asking your class what singular and plural mean, what count nouns and noncount nouns are, and what vowels and consonants are. Then ask them, “How do you change a singular count noun into a plural (count) noun?” Cajole them into giving you a more complex answer than, “Add an s” and you’re off.

The fun thing about this particular presentation is that is demonstrates how you can turn an image into the background for a slide. To do this in PowerPoint, go to Design > Background Styles > Format Background > Picture or Text Fill > Insert from — File > (Browse to choose the file.) > Close.

The link to the presentation is Plural Count Nouns

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At the beginning of the semester when I ask my grammar class when to use the present simple tense, I always get a few students who answer “now.”  This is only partially correct. The present simple tense is really not so simple. When you are writing about something that is happening right now, you use the present continuous (progressive) tense.

Hopefully I can help  my grammar students understand when to use the present simple tense and when to use the present progressive tense. To this end, I have created a short  interactive PowerPoint presentation that reviews the uses of both tenses and then gives the students a chance to quiz themselves on what they remember. If you are interested, please link to the presentation below.

The Simple Present Tense in Contrast to the Present Continuous (Progressive Tense)

The photo at the top of this post comes from:


This site has some cool photos that make for interesting grammar questions.

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The discovery of this video is an example of the benefits of wandering. I am not sure why or how I found this fine piece of student work, but I am sure that it was the result of following curiosity and also some rather inefficient, but enjoyable, wandering. In any case, I wanted to share it with you.

It was made by young learners of English, and even though I teach college students, I use it at the beginning of a speech class I teach because it is so nicely organized.

My students are in a language program that develops their English language skills, so that they can take content courses in college. One of the skills that is vital when taking college courses is the ability to both recognize and use organization. Especially in college where students are processing large amounts of information, this understanding is useful for both comprehension and recall. In speech class, students are required to write an outline, give a speech plan or preview in their introduction, and use signal words so that their audience can clearly recognize the parts of the speech. This video is a useful and interesting introduction to organizing a speech. After viewing it, we discuss how it is organized and then, in pairs, students write a phrasal outline of it.

SchoolTube Video on Vietnamese Culture 






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Some languages have a rhythm that is quite similar to English, while other languages place stress on syllables that English would not.  A Japanese friend of mine named Tomoko was amused by the way her Canadian friends pronounced her name. In Japanese, none of the three syllables is stressed, but Tomoko’s Canadian friends (who were unfamiliar with Japanese) naturally applied the rules for stress found in English to her name and stressed the second syllable. When I asked Tomoko if she corrected her Canadian friends’ pronunciation, she said that she did not. She felt that their pronunciation of her name was very cute — a lovely example of  flexibility.  Flexibility is one of the many reasons that she so successfully interacts with people from a wide range of cultures.

The language teaching point that I would like to make is that speakers of some language groups have an easier time picking up the stress and rhythm of English than other groups do. When I lived and taught in Tokyo, Nanci Graves (a colleague) and I created an activity for a speech class that would give the English language students at our university a chance to practice the rhythm of English. We called the activity “Cats and Other Animals” and centered the lesson around four poems about animals. One poem came from T.S. Eliot’s Jellicle Cats and the other four are children’s poems written by Shel Silverstein. The drawings are also Shel Silverstein’s.

I have resurrected this activity and now use it in a speech class I teach from time to time. I use it as one of the lead up activities to a speech my students give that requires them to tell a folk tale from their first culture. One of the points that is assessed is their use of drama and the activity “Cats and Other Animals” is a fun way to give them some practice before they give their presentations.

Digital technology has enabled me to add this activity from several (two or three hundred?) years ago. I scanned it, and I am now adding it to my “TESOL File Drawer.” Take a look. Use it if you’d like, and have fun.

Cats and Other Animals

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