Mistakes in a second language – cool! Mostly

I've recently moved areas from East to West Germany, and amazed at how much more comfortable everyone here is with using English. In Leipzig, very few people could speak any English, and it was always a (good!) surprise when a shopkeeper asked me a question or wished me a good day in English. In and around Villingen and Wiesbaden, this seems to … [Read more...]

Cheat sheets for English conversation classes

Someone has asked to see examples of my grammar cheat sheets from when I taught larger EFL conversation classes. That's why I'm posting a few and hoping that they will help conversation class teachers everywhere. It's been a while since I have taught any large classes. I've been focusing more on my private students, as well as a few freelance … [Read more...]

Why you must prepare to teach a conversation class

I've been teaching English conversation classes for nearly 7 years now. My students have been a varied bunch. From teenagers to seniors over 90 years old. Students, job seekers, employees and retirees. Travelers, immigrants, artists, doctors and engineers. Even a handful of language teachers (no pressure!) At first I thought I could wing … [Read more...]

Conversation prompts about moving overseas

Having moved overseas myself, now twice, I get asked a lot of questions, mostly about why I decided to move and how I organized the move. Some people ask me what I miss about my homeland, and they always enjoy hearing what I love about their city and country. I wish we had had such a class when I was studying basic German - there were so many … [Read more...]

Memorable moments

This is a great exercise to get students talking. They walk around the room, switching partners regularly and spend a good amount of time talking about one or two of the questions with each person. These questions practice superlative adjectives - happiest, strangest, most disgusting - and two tenses, past and present perfect. This is a good … [Read more...]

Switching from Evernote to OneNote

I take a lot of notes all the time, as I find I remember things much better when I write them down. There are notes on language learning, teaching, the books I read, webinars and courses I attend, recipes, gardening and crochet advice, and much more. Several years ago, I invested in Evernote premium - it allowed me to attach slides and course … [Read more...]

Read to write

Many decades ago, there was a young girl who would stay up late at night, reading with a torch under the blankets. If a light was seen under the door, she'd feel her mother's wrath. She'd speed through piles of library books, win prizes in MS readathon competitions, and go on fortnightly restocking trips to trash and treasure markets, where … [Read more...]

Writing isn’t just for writers

We've heard over and over again that successful people, happy people, entrepreneurs and creatives write every day. Daily writing: reduces depression reduces stress and anxiety increases coping skills increases productivity increases happiness and even improves your problem solving skills and creativity. You could build a morning … [Read more...]

Daily language learning hacks

If you are like me, your language learning motivation waxes and wanes, with the weather, with a changing daily workload and social appointments, and with tiredness and stress. Recently, my workload has increased, and I'm running around like a headless chicken chasing appointments, sometimes every single day of the week. It hasn't left me with … [Read more...]

Simplified language is not stupid

When I was doing my honors project in Computer Science, I was regularly criticized for making my papers and literature reviews too readable, too understandable. As if being understood is a bad thing! I was told that I could 'get away with it' when in honors, but it would absolutely be forbidden for me to write that way if I had continued into … [Read more...]