Bookmark This! #2

Here are a few more useful links for teachers. Get those bookmarking fingers ready.

  1. Triptico
    This site features a bunch of cool tools and games that work well in the classroom. A lot of them are ‘Premium’ now, which sucks, because many of them are great. Still, there are useful freebies. My personal favorite in the hourglass timer.
  2.  Teaching with Songs
    Songs are great; they liven up class and students really enjoy them. There’s a lot you can do with them, from vocabulary to grammar to a variety of skills. Thanks to the YouTube and lyrics sites, it’s easier than ever to use songs in your lessons. This site can help you find the right song and some exercises to go with them. And there are tons of recent pop songs.
  3. Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals
    This site is an excellent site. There are dozens of video from popular movies associated with different grammar topics. The activities aren’t always perfect, but they’re often a good place to start.
  4. TV Subtitles
    Songs aren’t the only way to make class more fun. TV shows can be another great resource of authentic language, and they’re inherently more interesting than the average coursebook. The trouble is, for ESL students whose listening skills aren’t developed enough, understanding the dialogue can be challenging. With this site, you can find subtitles for most recent TV shows.
  5. Padlet
    padletThis site is great. You create a new padlet page and share the url with your students. They can then add comments, questions, links, or the like and everyone will see them on the page. They can do it anonymously if they want. This can be a very useful way for students to ask questions or offer comments without having to raise their hands or speak in front of their classmates.

You Need to Study Your Grammar, Son

Quick. What’s the third conditional? Mixed conditional? Is there even something called zero conditional? What’s the difference between present perfect and present perfect progressive, and why can’t you use the progressive in this case but you can in the other one?

zoidberggrammarbadIf you’re a native speaker, you likely haven’t studied grammar from an academic point of view since 8th grade. And unless you majored in linguistics, you might not even know what nominative, dative, and subjunctive mean, let alone how they might relate to English language instruction.

Before I began teaching ESL, I thought of myself as a knowledgeable, highly-literate person. I had impeccable grammar and my the sophistication of vocabulary made men nod in respect and ladies swoon with desire. Yet, within the first week of teaching 1st and 2nd graders, I realized that my intuitive ability to use English well did not translate into a technical understanding of how English works. If we ever talked about the different conditionals in school, I have no memory of it.

I remember once, very early on, a Korean 3rd grader asked me when we should say “the” with a short ‘e’ sound and when was should say it with a long ‘e’. I was like, “LOL WUT?” I desperately needed to bone up on my technical knowledge, and quick.

Somewhat indirectly, I learned a great deal about the foundational components of language and important notions of grammar from the collected works of Stephen Pinker, the famed MIT linguist. His classic The Language Instinct is highly worth reading, as is his most recent tome, The Sense of Style, which bills itself as a writer’s guide, but it much more than that. Another great author in this context is Bill Bryson whose The Mother Tongue and Dictionary of Troublesome Words are fantastic and useful reads for English teachers. Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves is another fun, enlightening read.

Podcast’s were crucial in my late-game grammar education. Early on, I discovered Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl’s podcast. Her show’s range from simplistic questions like a student might have to more in-depth discussions of esoteric topics. Other great linguistic podcasts that I recommend are Lexicon Valley and the History of English.

There are, of course, a vast sea of websites for reviewing grammar. The ones I used years ago have mostly been lost to the fogs of time, and the ones you can google today are as good or better than what has come before. Purdue’s OWL, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is fantastic. Here are a few others to consider:

If you have any resources that you find particularly helpful, please share!

Bookmark This! #1

From time to time (i.e. when I’m too busy or lazy to write a longer post), I’ll share with you a few sites that are well worth your time and attention.


Some current Edutopia articles.

You know about this site, right? I feel like I was late to the party in discovering this wonderful, thoughtful collective. Frequently updated with insightful essays and reviews written by educators for educators, Edutopia is probably the education site I read more often than any other. Not everything applies to the ESL world, but even topics that aren’t so relevant almost always contain something interesting for any teacher.


What? The site where bored hipster women with way too much time on their hands show how much better they are at turning expensive junk into even better looking, more expensive junk? Yes! But it’s not just for hipster with cases of ModPodge and glue guns in quick-draw holsters anymore. Pinterest has neat stuff for educators coming out the elegantly ruffled, vintage doily-covered wazoo. I’ve found useful infographics for printing, great warmers and activities, and helpful app reviews every time I’ve visited the site. Just do a search for something like ‘Edtech’ or ‘apps for teachers’ or ‘ESL grammar’ and you’ll be swarmed with useful pins. You can even follow my teaching board if you are so inclined, though I don’t update it all that frequently.

Purdue OWL

owl_headerThis one is a bit more specific. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab is an academic resource of high caliber. You won’t find present continuous worksheets for your kindergarten ESL class here. What you will find are serious explanations of important writing and grammar topics that students in an EAP environment will greatly benefit from. And if you yourself are a little hazy on the finer points of essay writing, OWL could be just the ticket.

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