“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, […]

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 […]

The Focused Filler, a Simple Language Learning Habit

This is a simple refinement of my Tricks and Triggers for Opportunistic Language Learning. Those are great, but even they call for some advance planning to be of optimal use. As the academic year has begun and projects have been rolling in, I’ve needed to make my opportunistic language learning even simpler and more automatic. […]

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 […]

Greek Resources for Indwelling

Recently I’ve received several requests, both in person and through the Contact page, for my recommendations for learners of Ancient Greek who want to take advantage of the brain’s ability to process meaningful spoken and written language and who want to employ some of the habits celebrated on this site. This post highlights several resources–books, recordings, and […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

Tricks and Triggers for Opportunistic Language Learning

If you’ve seen the Savvy Language Learner infographic or read many posts on this site, you know that I find a system of routines and triggers indispensable for living in your target language when you’re not living in an immersion setting. In 2016, frequent travel and closely bunched projects have convinced me of the need for even more vigilance […]

Quirky Scripts: An Easy Way to Teach “Hard” Language

Quirky Scripts is a lesson requiring almost no prep that can be used repeatedly all year, at every level. It’s also a way for students to acquire “advanced” language really early on with minimal effort. Skim the how-to or scroll down for a dozen reasons these Quirky Scripts are so useful. Here are the steps: Step 1: Give […]