An uplifting, versatile, low prep review task

Lots of teachers are looking for review activities this time of year. Here is one I recently thought of that doubles as a mood enhancer and can also be used throughout the year to prompt conversation or writing. I rarely do explicit review of language as content, but I do look for interesting and efficient […]

Letter from Tim on ‘Something from Nothing’

The following is a letter I received from Tim, a teacher in Colorado, in response to my recent video and commentary on getting Something from Nothing in our classes. It was encouraging to me and I thought it might be encouraging for you to hear about the repeatability of the filmed interaction and about the […]

Brain Unbreaks (Express Fluency reflection 3)

This is the third in a series of reflections and elaborations on Express Fluency 2017. If you haven’t yet, check out installment 1, on the skills of slowness and silence, and installment 2, on making lemonade, i.e., capitalizing on would-be problems in class. I usually use brain breaks just to get the blood pumping if it’s been […]

Making Lemonade (Express Fluency reflection 2)

This is the second in a series of reflections and elaborations on Express Fluency 2017. If you haven’t yet, check out the first installment, which celebrates the skills of slowness and silence. Something which many observers of my classes at Express Fluency 2017 noted, and which I consider a core feature of my classes, is my […]

Slowness and Silence (Express Fluency reflection 1)

Last week I had the thrill of joining 70-some language teachers and another 30-odd community members of all ages in Brattleboro, Vermont, for the annual Express Fluency conference. I was honored that founder Elissa McLean had invited me, along with Annabelle Allen, Grant Boulanger, Tina Hargaden, and Dustin Williamson, to teach language classes for four mornings […]

Same Conversation (Notes from Italy, pt. 3)

Note: This is part 3 of a summer series with notes on learning and interacting in another language. The series is inspired by my Italian interactions, but can apply to any language! See part 1 for two stories illustrating the goodness that comes from interacting with people in their own language and part 2 for […]

Advanced Eavesdropping (Notes from Italy, pt. 2)

If you ask most people whether eavesdropping is something you should do, they’ll answer no. If you ask me, I’ll say yes–if you’re trying to learn a language. Note: This is part 2 of my summer series sharing notes on learning and interacting in another language. The series is inspired by my Italian interactions, but […]

The Human Factor (Notes from Italy, pt. 1)

I arrived in Italy yesterday for a six-week teaching gig, and, yes, I actually took the picture of that door, and, yes, it actually leads to our flat, and, yes, the bike was already parked there. Che bello! As with other times I’ve traveled recently (see here, here, and here), I want to share some language-learning […]