Thanksgiving Activities for ESL students

Thanksgiving Activities for ESL students are always a fun way to teach American culture. But Thanksgiving lessons also raise timeless themes such as gratitude, types of food, and how we celebrate holidays in general. Plus, it’s nice to pop in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sometimes and have some fun! So here’s some links to some of my most popular Thanksgiving activities and lesson plans. Activities for ESL students about Thanksgiving  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving lesson plan is my best-selling lesson plan and my go-to thanksgiving activity for ESL students in my own classes. I’ve tried to include everything you can get […]

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Guess What’s in the Teacher’s Brain

This post comes from a chapter in a book by Penny Ur or Tessa Woodward about asking questions in the classroom. It’s been a while since I read it, but the essence was that too often when teachers pose a question, they are asking students to read their minds. That is, we ask a closed question to students and we already know the answer that we want to hear. We will refuse to accept any answer besides the one in our head. When we are asking students about a grammar point or a vocabulary word, a question that has only one […]

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Halloween Activities for English Class

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. And it’s a great holiday to share with students. Some say it’s too scary or macabre to do Halloween activities in English class but you can always find an aspect of the holiday that isn’t too gruesome. You can talk about trick-or-treating, costumes, or creepy animals such as spiders, bats, or owls. You can tell or write silly ghost stories, instead of scary ones. Of course, you can also go for the scary (I miss my 6th and 7th graders who were all about the gore!). So here are some of our […]

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My Favorite Scary Stories for English Students

I love Halloween as a teacher and also in general! So I’m really excited to share some of my go-to scary stories for English students. I love scary stories and students love them too! They’re especially fun to share around Halloween as a way to build atmosphere. I find the best scary stories for the English classroom need to be short and written fairly simply. But they should keep some of the Halloween-specific words, too. They also can’t be too gory or terrifying. The scary part should really come from the suspense. So they need to have a twist. […]

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Support Our Teacher Colleagues

We get so much from our colleagues! Sometimes we need to support our teacher colleagues and tell them what they admire in them. Here’s my list of what I’ve learned from fellow teachers over the years. How about you?

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My Teacher Manifesto

Why am I sharing my teacher manifesto? I discovered some old blogposts from my now-defunct personal blog recently on professional development that I think stand up and are worth reposting. The best ones were inspired by the 30 Goals Challenge by Shelly Terrell. This was a brilliant professional development idea that had teaches around the world sharing ideas, activities, lesson plans, support, and art! So I’ll be reprinting them here from time to time, with light editing. I’ve included links to Shelly’s website and book in case you want to try out some challenges of your own. Tag me […]

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Prosody over Accent

I hear it from students all the time. “I need to get rid of my accent” or “I need a real English accent.” There’s even a whole cottage industry of people “teaching” real accents. The argument for a “real native English accent” is easy to refute. Start with the fact that a lot of those “real native accent” videos are taught by people who aren’t technically native speakers. So which is it? Do you want a “real native accent” or not? I was just watching a video series by a Nigerian gentleman with so many comments about how he […]

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Writing Outside the Box: Building Students’ Creativity

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had students tell me that they don’t know how to be creative. They think creativity is a talent that you are born with or not. While it’s true that some people seem to be better at creativity than others, I really think being creative is more of a skill that can be practiced and honed. And not all our students need to be super creative all the time. However, creative thinking is a great life skill that helps with problem-solving. And in writing, even academic or professional writing, being able to […]

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Elements of Effective Instruction and the Art of Mario Brothers

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing with my son lately. I love to draw and I always have, but I don’t think I’m incredibly good at it. A lot of my art in high school was pretty bad. But I think I’ve come a long way in the past couple of years. And so has my son. We love to draw freely, but sometimes we try to copy Pokémon characters from his books or Mario Kart Drivers from the Internet. And sometimes we do a guided video to learn to draw something new. We particularly like Art for […]

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Those Students: Deictic Expressions and Real-World Communication Skills

I’ve been doing a lot of presentations on pragmatics recently and thinking about how to teach students real-world communication skills in English. The problem is that in the classroom we often communicate at a very literal and direct level. Outside the classroom, we don’t! We leave things unsaid, assume knowledge on the part of the listener, even exaggerate or outright lie! We also use idiomatic language, fixed expressions, and deictic expressions, language that take their meaning from context. And maybe the hardest group of deictic expression is “insider expressions” when we talk to people. These are expressions that people […]

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