1 Trip, 3 Tips (aka Lessons from Holland)

No, I haven’t been in Holland ever since my last post almost three months ago–the longest break, by far, in the youngish life of this blog. But my return from a week in the Netherlands gives me a good way to halt the hiatus. (If you’re curious about actual reasons why this blog has been so […]

Riding the White Elephant toward Proficiency Palace

In December 2005 I came the closest I’ve ever come to owning a jewel-encrusted dagger. This happened during a game of White Elephant, convincing me forever of that game’s potential for good. More recently, I’ve become convinced of the game’s power for a specific type of good: the acquisition of a language. I like it all the more […]

What I Learned from My Worst Evaluation Ever

I was sitting at the Detroit Tigers’ second August home game and had just taken this picture when I did something I’m learning not to do in the evening or at baseball games: I checked my email. In it I found the anonymous evaluations from a recent set of presentations. Among these was a first for me: a […]

Summer 2016 Preview

What I enjoy most in the summer is lolling lakeside with my family. But learning with friends old and new at the many summer programs for language teachers or learners is up there. While some have already happened–last week’s ACL Institute was one for the ages–I thought I’d share here some things I’m excited to be part […]

LOW PREP lessons, all in one place

I love lessons and activities that yield high payoff with little or no preparation. I like them even better if they are easily scaled or repeated. As the school year draws to a close, I’ve been seeing lots of requests for such activities, which are, of course, useful not just at year’s end, but all the […]

Go Ahead, Indulge in Next Year

Cyberspace is flooded with tweets and posts by teachers longing for the school year to end or by others encouraging these teachers to finish strong. A theme I’ve seen in teachers’ posts is the attempt not to think too much yet about next year, because doing so would distract from this one or would be plain procrastination. Sure, […]

No subtitles, TL subtitles, L1 subtitles…?

Both teachers and learners recognize the potential of target-language film and TV for boosting proficiency–witness this vast collection of teacher resources for El Internado or lists of Spanish language dramas recommended for learners. But many wonder what role, if any, subtitles should play. Rather than declare one option golden, I want to share some possible reasons for and […]

How to Create Twisted Embedded Readings

In 9 Ways to Happify Your Class, I claim that every activity has a “funner version.” Well, every Embedded Reading has a “twisted version,” or at least a version with a twist. Here are some simple ways to add a delicious twist, even if you’re not Agatha Christie, O. Henry, or those deviants who dreamed up El Internado. […]

I’m gonna watch TV anyway

I have a lot of stuff to do today. I’m gonna watch TV anyway. My to-do list includes creating two conference presentation proposals, making the final edits on an article, tutoring a doctoral student in our final session before she takes her comprehensive reading exams tomorrow, preparing for tonight’s session of a course I teach about language teaching, […]

Good Idea / Bad Idea (Activity + Add-On)

Here’s something you can use as a freestanding activity or as an add-on to almost anything you do in a language classroom. It doesn’t get much simpler: Good Idea / Bad Idea (freestanding version) All you do is a say a sentence in the target language. All students do is say whether it represents a good […]