Teacher Training 5/21/16

Good morning teachers!

Intro task: please click on this link when prompted:


With a partner, decide on $150 worth of clothing to purchase.

  1. Please click on the following link when prompted:


2. With a partner, look at apartments available to rent on the first page (the first 100 listings).

3. Identify the meaning of the following words and phrases:


granite counters


ground level





4. Listen to this conversation about renting an apartment:


a. Practice the conversation

b. Practice again using information from the ads

5. Listen to this conversation and practice some more:






Teacher Training 5.19.16

Good morning teachers!

Today we will learn and teach more idioms, have a blended learning lesson through a TED Talk, and begin presenting our blended learning lessons to each other.

Warm up:

  1. With the idiom given to you by Chris, research what the word means, and prepare to teach it to your peers. Use may use the following sites to help guide your search:

2. Circulate and teach the meaning of your idiom to your peers.

3. Discuss LS Teachers Conference




Hello Teachers!


Today we will be observing some lesson plans from other teachers, planning our own blended learning lessons, and having a short lesson on the news and media (through TED Talks- another blended learning platform).


  • What kind of news do you think will remain important and be remembered in the future? For how long?
  • What kind of news does the mainstream media in your country focus on? Do you think this needs to change?
  • How do you think consumers affect mainstream news and media?

When instructed, watch the video found in the link below:

2. https://tedxesl.com/2014/03/16/alisa-miller-and-kirk-citron-does-the-way-we-think-about-news-and-media-need-to-change/

3.  When finished answer the comprehension questions that go along with the video:

  1. What types of news stories does Citron think will matter “in the long run?”
  2. Which news agencies does he mention in his statistics and examples?
  3. How many different areas of news does he mention? What are they?
  4. What is his pick for the news story of the year? Why do you think he considers it important?

4. Match the idiom to its definition


1. To be “drowning” in news. A. To continue to expand the borders of what is possible.
2. To matter “in the long run.” B. To quickly become unimportant and forgotten.
3. To “fall by the wayside.” C. To have so much news available that we can’t possibly process all of it.
4. To “push back the limits.” D. To be important for an extremely long time, or forever.


5. Watch the second video on the page: Alisa Miller’s TED talk

Comprehension Checking

1. According to Miller, what is one reason why world news coverage has declined?

2. What is the most common source that people turn to for their news in the United States?

3. What are the two main problems with news on the web that Miller talks about?

4. Does Miller think that people know less about the world simply because they are not interested?

5. Do more formally educated people generally know more?


Vocabulary- match the word to it’s definition

1. Foreign bureau     A. Two commonly utilized, independent news gathering organizations.

2. Coverage                B. For things to be connected to each other.

3. Associated Press & Reuters

C. A generic term for a news office operating somewhere outside its native country.

4. Interconnected          D: The total treatment of a particular issue, or of an area of news.

E. The sum of all news stories.


If there is time, work with a partner to go over the remaining idiom phrases and discussion questions.



Teacher Training 05/05/2016

Good morning Teachers!

Today we will continue to learn about creating a blended learning lesson, yet today we will do so through a lesson on idioms.

The lesson:

Overview | What do idioms and euphemisms tell us about our language and culture? What challenges do non-native English learners face as they try to master the English language? In this lesson, students consider the difficulties that English presents for the language learner. They then interview non-native English-language learners to learn about these struggles and to develop a deeper notion of their own linguistic challenges and how culture infuses language.

Materials | Computers with Internet connection, projector, slips of paper with idioms (see below), audio/video taping equipment (optional).

Warm-Up |

  1. Collect an idiom on a piece of paper from your teacher (Chris). Imagine you are teaching this idiom to your class and need to explain the meaning and common usage of it in an understandable way. (you might also include a drawing.)

Here is a list of many common idioms, some of which we will review today:

  • a fish out of water
  • a fresh pair of eyes
  • a piece of cake
  • a chip on your shoulder
  • all your eggs in one basket
  • the ball’s in your court
  • beat around the bush
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • air your dirty laundry
  • cut me some slack
  • dead as a doornail
  • fat chance
  • fight tooth and nail
  • hard of hearing
  • have your cake and eat it, too
  • heads will roll
  • jump the gun
  • just in time
  • make a killing
  • make a living
  • mean business
  • not all there
  • pay attention
  • pay your dues
  • shoot the breeze
  • shoot from the hip
  • take a stand
  • take it easy
  • under pressure
  • up for sale
  • virtual reality
  • wait for the other shoe to drop
  • watch your language
  • X marks the spot
  • you’re on
  • your turn

2. When you are finished writing your short explanation of your idiom, go around the room and share your expression and meaning with other classmates.

3. Quick discussion: Imagine that you were learning English for the first time. Would these expressions be challenging? Why? What do these expressions tell us about culture? Why might it be hard to comprehend these expressions for students from another culture?

4. After you have discussed the challenges, take a look at this slide show: “A Sampling of Chinglish.”

Then answer these questions:

-Why do you think these specific mistakes in translation were made?

-Have you ever made a mistake while studying or speaking a foreign language?


Reading | In the article “Shanghai Is Trying to Untangle the Mangled English of Chinglish,” the author Andrew Jacobs writes about the effort that Shanghai has made to eradicate public signage that misuses the English language:

For English speakers with subpar Chinese skills, daily life in China offers a confounding array of choices. At banks, there are machines for “cash withdrawing” and “cash recycling.” The menus of local restaurants might present such delectables as “fried enema,” “monolithic tree mushroom stem squid” and a mysterious thirst-quencher known as “The Jew’s Ear Juice.”

Those who have had a bit too much monolithic tree mushroom stem squid could find themselves requiring roomier attire: extra-large sizes sometimes come in “fatso” or “lard bucket” categories. These and other fashions can be had at the clothing chain known as Scat.

Go ahead and snicker, although by last Saturday’s opening of the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, drawing more than 70 million visitors over its six-month run, these and other uniquely Chinese maladaptations of the English language were supposed to have been largely excised.

Read the entire article and answer the questions below.

Questions | For discussion and reading comprehension:

  1. What has the Shanghai Commission for the Management of Language tried to accomplish for the last two years, and why?
  2. Why does Oliver Lutz Radtke, a “Chinglish” expert, defend mangled Chinese-English translations?
  3. What is the believed causes of “Chinglish” malapropisms?
  4. According to Jeffrey Yao, a translator and teacher, what’s the difference between desirable, lyrical mistranslations and maddening ones?
  5. In what other languages have you observed similar translation errors?

Activity | In this activity, you will work with idioms and expressions that have given you trouble, and you can interview native speakers or more advanced English-language learners.

You will be asking questions to learn about the process of learning English and to reflect on the relationship between language and culture.

Instructions: Revisit the idiom you translated during the warm-up. What does that idiom say about our culture? You might also consult a resource that provides the origins of such sayings, like Expressions & Sayings, Idioms & Axioms Currently Used in America or Phrases.org. (You might even look into the origin of “malapropism.”)

Once you have processed the connection, imagine if they came from a place where sports like tennis were either unpopular or not played at all. How would this expression have any meaning? Choose a few more to discuss, or work with a partner to pull out cultural meanings yourselves.

Next, generate interview questions that you could ask someone who has learned or is in the process of learning English as a second or foreign language. The questions should be about difficulties and challenges, as well as how language acquisition has been a window into a new culture.


  • Do you have any expressions in your language that a non-native speaker would have difficulty understanding due to a cultural difference?

When you are finished with your interview questions, you should conduct your interviews and tape or film them, if possible. Students should listen to or watch and transcribe the completed conversation, or edit it into a multimedia presentation.

Interviews should be shared in class, and students should compare the struggles and processes of the various people interviewed. To celebrate the connection made between the E.L.L. program or community language school, turn the sharing into a celebration where the groups can come together.

Going Further | Watch this slide show  “For Students Learning English, a World Apart.”

After the slide show, have a discussion about its relevance to your school. Is the E.L.L. program “a world apart”? Is there interaction between students in the E.L.L. program and in the rest of the school? If your school does not have an E.L.L. program, then tap into your community resources and find an organization where non-native English speakers are learning English and would be willing to do a community project with your classroom. See also our related lesson plan, Assimilate or Segregate?

Students might also create a “welcome kit” for the school E.L.L. program, including a list of anticipated linguistic difficulties as well as a list of common, school-specific phrases and words with simple explanations.

For more reading about the relationship between language and culture, assign students one of the following Times articles to read and reflect on:

“Guest-Teaching Chinese, and Learning America”

“Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages”

“Indian Tribes Go in Search of Their Lost Languages”

“I, Translator”

“Pardon My French”

“Room for Debate: Will Americans Really Learn Chinese?”

“Room for Debate: The Chinese Language, Ever Evolving”

After you have read the article, respond to the following questions: Why would a nation or a people want to preserve its language(s)? How is language connected to culture? How does language connect or divide people?

Teacher Training 4/28/16

Hello Teachers!

Today we will be focusing on creating a lesson with blended learning techniques.

Task: With a partner, design a blended learning lesson using online resources. You may use resources available, below, resources from previous posts, or new resources that you have discovered on your own.

You have 40 minutes to complete your lessons, and then 10 minutes per group to present your lessons to class. Good luck!

Grammar and Vocabulary

1. English Language Centre Study Zone – This site, from the University of Victoria, has clear, concise grammar lessons. Readings come with interactive comprehension questions and tasks.

2. English Grammar in Use – If you ask me, Raymond Murphy’s grammar texts for ESL learners are damn near perfect; they have clear explanations, lots of practice exercises, and are thorough. I’ve been hoarding his books for years, and I was thrilled to find one online, accessible for free.

3. John Fleming’s ESL Grammar Help – I wouldn’t send my ESL students to this page, but it’s a great refresher for native English speakers who are a bit rusty on their grammar rules and terminology. It includes the simple stuff (subjects, prepositions) all the way to the toughies (modal auxiliaries, adjective clauses).

4. ESL Blues – A thorough resource with interactive Q&As on tons of grammar-based topics. The flash animations are simple but pretty cute.

5. Label Me! – This resource of printable worksheets is great for teaching new vocabulary. It has images for students to label and, if they’re feeling creative, to expand on (“now draw a mirror on the bedroom wall… now draw a cat under the table.”) These handouts would suit a range of levels, and the site has a hefty selection of holiday-themed worksheets.

Speaking and Listening

6. Ello – This site is a great resource for audio clips, categorized by topic, level, and speakers’ accents. I dig this site for providing a great mix of accents. It’s not just native speakers chatting; you won’t find any cheesy dialogues like “Angus and Jeremy compare Scottish and American holidays!” Instead, the dialogues have accented English from a mix of native and non-native speakers. This is a smart practice in my books, as in many situations English functions as the lingua franca of the world.

7. TEFL Tunes – This is a bank of song-based lessons, with an easy browser where teachers can search by level, theme, artist or grammatical point. Using “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” to teach the first conditional? Cool. These activities are a great way to frame song-listening activities around lessons, as opposed to just playing music in class for the sake of it.

8. Musical English Lessons – This site is a bit jumbled format-wise, but it offers scores of free worksheets with ready-made lyric gapfills. There’s a long list of artists, and each lyric sheet has tips on how to use the song in class. I’m keen to try, “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” for reported speech or maybe even “Whenever, Wherever” to practice gerunds and infinitives.

9. English Club – English Club’s talking point worksheets are mini lessons with a huge range of subjects. There are topics like biofuel and kidnapping for your more serious lessons, and topics such as shopping for lighter discussions. Each lesson includes a bit of vocabulary and a dense list of discussion questions related to the topic.

10. Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab – This is the biggest bank of ESL listening activities that I’ve found so far; Randall’s is a great resource. The sound clips have pre and post-listening exercises, and comprehension questions too. Most of the content would suit low-to-high intermediate students, but there are some resources for beginners and advanced learners too.

11. Takako’s Great Adventure – This site hosts one of my favorite listening-based lessons: a 10-part story of a Japanese girl’s adventure in Canada when a man claiming to be her pen pal’s uncle meets her at the airport. Mysterious! Each installment has vocabulary and comprehension questions. You could plan a semester’s worth of tasks based on Takako’s story. The narrations are lengthy and best-suited for high-level learners.

Reading and Writing

12. Tall Tales – This bank of “did they really happen?” stories has a good selection of offbeat reads about topics like animal heroism and dumb burglars. The content reminds me of Reader’s Digest; it’s nothing groundbreaking, but the mass appeal is great for structuring classroom activities. Some stories have a good deal of supplementary exercises for students.

13. Academic English Cafe – This is a good source for creative writing prompts. As the name suggests, this material is better for high-school or older, as the topics get abstract. It’s high-level but good stuff.

14. Online Writing Lab (OWL) – Purdue’s writing lab has great resources for writing resumes and professional documents. This site is a very handy tool for university students and adults seeking work in an English-speaking country.

Lesson Plans

15. The Internet TESL Journal – The journal offers a hefty collection of lesson plans categorized by target skill (reading, culture, icebreakers). Plans are submitted by site users, so they vary a fair bit in terms of content and structure. Still, there are great materials here. The site hosts many abstract lesson topics (modern art, manners) that would suit secondary students and adults learners.

16. Waygook.org – Here, you’ll find lengthy message boards with lesson plans, PowerPoints, and dialogues about language and teaching. The site has a lively forum, focused on working in Korea; public school textbooks are heavily referenced. Still, there are good teaching resources for anyone. Free registration is required to gain access to links and files.

17. Using English – This site has a long list of pdf lesson plans for different levels. This is one of the few sites with test prep materials which are crucial for English language learners looking to study abroad. You’ll find IELTS prep lessons and reading exercises based on the Cambridge ESOL. Using English also has printable online quizzes on a mix of grammar-based and general topics.

18. ESL Galaxy – Here is a bank of (wait for it…) over two thousand printable worksheets, mostly for beginner and intermediate students. The materials include games and puzzles, holiday exercises and readings with comprehension activities. There are also free PowerPoint presentations that are mostly suited for young learners.

19. TEFL.net – My favorite tool here is the simple “worksheet generator” for ESL teachers who need to prep an exercise in a hurry. The site is also one of the biggest resources for lesson plans, ready-made worksheets, reading exercises and games. The site’s “English Planner” section has a fun selection of daily class warm-ups too, such as slang of the day and cartoon of the day. In addition, you’ll find a good library of articles on teaching tips and ESL methodology.


20. A Game a Day – If you have a computer in your classroom, this site has a calendar’s worth of small games for those last five minutes of class. Most of the upper level games are vocabulary-related. The general review section is a big big hit with my higher level students.

21. Super Simple Songs – I absolutely love these songs and their simple, bouncy videos. The lyrics seem basic, but they’re always a huge hit with younger learners. Play a video in class and your students will be mesmerized, gold for classes that tend to get unruly. “Uh-huh” is a student favourite that will get stuck in your head for weeks.

22. Comic Creator – If your students enjoy creative activites, the comic creator is a great way to structure and illustrate the stories they write. They can design each panel with backgrounds, characters, and speech bubbles. It’s very fun; you can try it with adult students too.

23. Armored Penguin – This site makes word searches, crossword puzzles, and word jumbles. It’s very easy to use and has ready-made puzzles that change daily. It’s also a source of classroom conversation starters, like optical illusions and funny quotes.

24. Lanternfish/Bogglesworld – Here you’ll find a collection of ready-to-print flashcards, worksheets and puzzles: a great resource for kids. A lot of material is centered around Western holidays, so come to this site first if you’re planning a Halloween lesson.

25. Puzzlemaker – The mother of all puzzle-makers, Puzzlemaker has the standard crosswords and word searches, plus cryptograms, letter phrases, and all sorts of puzzles I haven’t seen since leafing through my Nana’s Large-Print Super Stumpers. My students in South Korea can’t get enough of the puzzles.

Adult Learning Materials

26. BBC Learning English – This is one mega-resource. It hosts grammar, quizzes, lesson plans based on current events and a deliciously British animated series called “The Flatmates” for English learners. It’s a great site if you teach adult ESL classes, as it has sections for teahcing business English and lessons framed around practical life skills like renting an apartment and riding the subway.

27. Breaking News English – Here, you’ll find whole lesson plans with vocabulary, discussion questions and more on current event news articles. It’s all for intermediate/high-intermediate learners, but text can be edited and simplified for lower levels. Great material for adults/teens.

28. Business English Materials – These are quite literally English lessons about businesses. A partner site of Breaking News English, it has lesson plans about dozens of different successful companies from Apple to Zara. Lessons include readings, games, comprehension activities and quizzes.

29. Postscript – Linguarama’s Postscript magazine offers mini-lesssons and worksheets. Look under “Themes” for lessons categorized under very precise headings like management, banking, and marketing. It’s straightforward stuff, best for ESL classes that are intermediate and higher.

30. Adult Education ESL Teachers Guide – The lesson plans on this university-based site don’t have many bells and whistles; they’re straightforward lessons that would be perfect for newcomers to an English-speaking country. The best resource on the site is the section for teaching non-literate adults, a rare and invaluable resource.


Additional Online lesson resources:




video creation:


Online classroom:




Upcoming Webinar Info:

If you are teaching English to business students, this Massive Open Online Course would be a good resource for you. It is designed by experts at the University of Pennsylvania English Language Programs and will be offered on Coursera (http://www.coursera.com). The MOOC is designed for learners at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels who will be able to choose two different tracks to match their skill level. It begins May 15, but will stay open indefinitely after the first facilitated iteration. All materials in the MOOC are 100% open source and may be modified, re-used, and re-distributed for any purpose whatsoever (even commercial). We recommend that teachers use the MOOC content in their classes by either enrolling their students in the course or using the materials for their own lessons.


Please watch the following video to have a visual description of the free online course:http://bit.ly/1VjndMh


Here is a link to the course itself. It is now open for registration:



This is the first of five MOOCs for specific English learning purposes offered by the U.S. Department of State. The others, scheduled for release in 2016 and 2017 are English for:




Teacher Training 4/21/16

Hello there teachers!

Today we’re going to continue work with online training. Please begin by signing up for and taking the demo here:


Secondly, please take a look at the webinar below and register for it:

American English Webinar Series: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GKw7iFPpXKeuFdaAc9UyCqLJCFgfuojoQLj3s-G8pGs/viewform?c=0&w=1

Thirdly, we will spend the rest of today working with online teaching resources. With a partner, please use the following resources to plan a lesson using blended learning.

Resources for teachers:

Dave’s ESL Cafe: http://eslcafe.com/

Breaking News English: http://breakingnewsenglish.com/

TEDxESL: http://tedxesl.com/


Resources for students:

Lyrics Training: http://lyricstraining.com/

Online Tests and Quizzes:


Online Games:

Videos on blended learning to watch: