When you get stuck

Spider caught a fly

I've been stuck a few times when learning Japanese and German. Mostly it's because I didn't want to leave my 'comfort zone'. I'm an extreme introvert, so meeting and talking with new people makes me terribly anxious, sometimes even sick to my … [Continue reading]

Written homework is important for conversation classes

Orangutan mother and child

You've reached a certain level of ability and confidence, and now want to join a conversation class. Great choice! One conversation class per week is recommended by the local language school. Enrolled! You are nervous at the beginning of the … [Continue reading]

How to be an independent learner

Yellow crested cockatoo

Have you ever sat through a class, been bored out of your mind, and not remembered anything that was covered? I have, many times! It can be a combination of a dry topic, how the topic is being taught, how the other students in the class are … [Continue reading]

Australian animals – word search

Australian owl

One of the first handouts I made for my Japanese classes in 2010 was a word find puzzle, with a large number of Australian animals. It was probably one of the most popular lessons, as the students raced to be first and receive Australian stickers … [Continue reading]

Motivation and language learning

Fallen statue in Fukushima, after the earthquake

It's common to hear "this year I'm going to learn ... Spanish, because I'm going to Spain for a holiday at the end of the year." Or, "I desperately want to learn Japanese. It would be cool to be able to watch anime without subtitles." Or, "I … [Continue reading]

30 Travel Idioms

Australian train travel stamp

Idioms are used regularly in every-day spoken language. Even beginners are faced with idioms if they travel to an English speaking country for a holiday. That's why it's important to include idioms in all levels of language courses. Plus … [Continue reading]

50 Travel conversation prompts

Cape Clairault - Western Australia

The most requested topics in a conversation class with my older students is travel. I usually schedule two classes per conversation course on this topic, focusing on different tenses or grammar. Making the second or third lesson in a course … [Continue reading]

Dealing with language learning burnout

Into the fire

Does working through that textbook seem like an awful drag? Or perhaps a conversation class fills you with dread? Do you prioritize cleaning the toilet or do other unappealing tasks above cracking open your flash cards and drilling? Do you … [Continue reading]

How to massively improve speaking confidence in conversation classes

Happy Jizo statue in Sendai

What's the one thing most students are afraid of? Making mistakes. Looking silly in front of the other students. Being corrected a lot by the teacher, or by the other students. This drains their speaking confidence and can ruin a … [Continue reading]

Choosing conversation topics

Cats snuggling

Conversation language courses are considered difficult to plan for - there is no textbook to follow, no grammar that must be covered, no vocabulary list that must be learned. Apart from the focus of each class to improve speaking and listening … [Continue reading]