Archive for March, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Modeling Student Talk

By Dorothy Zemach
ESL Materials Writer, Editor, Teacher Trainer
Eugene, Oregon
Email: zemach at comcast dot net

“How can I get students to talk more?” is a question I frequently get, especially in parts of the world known for quieter classrooms. Now, I don’t always want students to talk more. Sometimes, I want them to listen, or to summarize briefly, or to respond in writing. However, I do want them to make the most of their talking time; in essence, to talk better.

These days, many textbooks are set up to give students “communicative tasks,” where they speak English to exchange information. Often, there is some sort of deed to be done—A has the information that B needs, and B has the information that A needs, and they speak to exchange their information and fill in their charts or solve the puzzle or whatever end goal there is.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giving Advice: The Value of Detail and the Importance of Realism

By Ela Newman
Instructor in Developmental Writing and in ESL
University of Texas at Brownsville

newjgea@aol.com

Student A:  I have a headache.

Student B: You should go to the doctor.

Another Student A:  I don’t like my boss.

Another Student B: Why don’t you look for a new job?

Does any of this sound familiar?  Combinations of correct grammar and appropriate “suggestion” phrases, yet ultimately advice that seems extreme, even unnatural?  In my experience, the problem usually lies in the way the dilemma is expressed.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sneaked vs. Snuck: What Ngram Tells Us

By Betty Azar
Author, Azar Grammar Series
betty@azargrammar.com

I have just discovered an online tool that I think will be fun and useful for all of us who are fascinated by English language usage. It is Google Labs Ngram Viewer, released by Google in December, 2010.

The Ngram Viewer graphs usage frequency from 1800 to 2000, based on the corpus of millions of books that Google has thus far scanned.

The first word I looked up was snuck. Through my years of writing textbooks, I debated whether to include snuck in an advanced-level reference chart of irregular

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Questions! Questions! Questions! A New Twist on a Standard Exercise

By Richard Firsten
Retired ESOL Teacher, Teacher-Trainer, Columnist, Author

One of the toughest things about learning English grammar is mastering the question-making system, which is more complex in English than in many other languages. For that reason, teachers need to spend a good deal of time teaching the various ways to make questions in English as each different way comes up in their curriculum and then reinforcing those ways to give students enough opportunity to internalize this difficult part of the language.

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