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5 Ideas for interactive language learning tasks in Zoom

5 Ideas for interactive language learning tasks in Zoom

Whether you’re teaching online by choice or because it’s no longer possible to meet your students face-to-face, you’ve probably been spending a lot of time thinking up ways to keep your lessons fun and interactive. While it’s true that online teaching comes with plenty of constraints, there are also opportunities for adaptation and experimentation. Some of the things you try will have disappointing results, but others will hit the mark and become staples of your lessons for months and years to come. 

The list that follows may be short right now, but I’m confident that it will continue to grow as I learn from others and continue experimenting with the new technology. Read More »

10 Best Animated Movies for Learning English

10 Best Animated Movies for Learning English

My son was less than two years old when our family moved to Japan. Now, there are many things to be concerned about with a child that age, but we were particularly eager that he learn to speak Japanese. After all, this wasn’t an extended holiday. We intended to settle down. 

Fast forward a year and we found ourselves worrying that our son might not be able to speak English, the language we’d assumed would be native to him. We did our best to talk and read to him in English, but we sometimes worried that we weren’t doing enough. We didn’t want to turn our home into a cram school, but thankfully we discovered an activity that could entertain us all and provide our son with some much needed English input, watching movies. 

I like documentaries and my wife is partial to romantic comedies, but we were pretty sure that neither of these would go down well with a three-year-old. Thankfully, the school where I was working at the time had a great selection of English animation movies. We probably watched 50 or more of these over the next few years. Some had a greater effect on my son’s language development than others.  Read More »

Flashcards: the language learner’s best friend

Flashcards: the language learner’s best friend

Flashcards are not new. They’ve been around for as long as any of us can remember. In their original form, they were nothing more than a stack of blank cards. Later they came with a hole in the corner and a handy ring to keep them together. My early experiences learning languages revolved around these cards, which I faithfully filled in at my parents’ kitchen table. Wherever I went, I took a set with me, bringing them out to look at when I had a few spare moments.

Although paper flashcards have a special place in my heart, I accept that they have now been superseded by a new generation of digital flashcards that can be accessed from anywhere via a smartphone app. The move to digital has had considerable benefits. Digital cards cannot be accidentally lost or destroyed (and there is little chance of spilling coffee on them). In many cases they can be enhanced with pictures and audio. They can even be turned into games or quizzes.  Read More »

Enhancing Structured Output Activities with Recording

Enhancing Structured Output Activities with Recording

As any good language teacher knows, learners cannot improve their speaking without abundant opportunities to practice. One-on-one, unrehearsed conversation is the best method for improving speaking across all levels of proficiency. However, most learners have limited opportunities for this. One-on-one instruction may take place once or twice a week (if at all), and so other methods are needed if learners are to improve fluency and accuracy in the new language. 

Structured output activities are designed to encourage learners to use newly acquired vocabulary and sentence patterns productively (i.e., through speaking or writing). For the purposes of this article, we will focus on speaking. Structured output activities have two distinguishing characteristics: Read More »

10 Fun Ideas for Using Recording in Your Lessons

10 Fun Ideas for Using Recording in Your Lessons

Recording is a great way to help language learners focus on their speaking, reading, and pronunciation skills. Listening to themselves speaking is a great reflective practice for students of all levels which helps create awareness of strengths and weaknesses in the new language. Here are 10 fun ideas using recording that you can incorporate into your lessons. Read More »

5 Strategies to Improve Pronunciation

5 Strategies to Improve Pronunciation

One of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language is mastering the pronunciation. Sometimes the new language contains sounds (phonemes) that don’t exist in the learner’s native tongue. Sometimes patterns of intonation are unfamiliar and difficult to imitate. Sometimes the learner transposes features of pronunciation from their first language to the new language. Whatever the challenge, these five strategies can help your learners to dramatically improve pronunciation. Read More »