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 […]

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 […]

Whiteboard Doublestack

It’s been a while since I shared a low prep/no prep activity, but I was recently reminded of the fun and the mileage of this one, so it’s time to share. Whiteboard Doublestack is a nice consolidation game or middle-of-unit (if you have those) activity, including both input and output, that I saw Nancy Llewellyn do in 2008 and […]

A new, gentle intro to “non-targeted CI”

Responding to requests from Stephen Krashen and others, I wrote a report last fall on my students’ and my experiences with what he calls “non-targeted comprehensible input,” which I sometimes call “interest-targeting input.” The article, “Non-Targeted Comprehensible Input: How it Works for My Students and Me,” appeared in the latest issue of The International Journal of […]

“The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”

My father likes to give people self-improvement books, and he’s discerning enough that they tend to be worth reading. The latest is Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s about not just simplifying and de-cluttering, but developing both the skill and the constant habit of identifying and pursuing what is important, which, McKeown says, […]

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 […]