Category: on language

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Strange Stories of Language Learning Part 2

After writing about some strange stories I’d come across over the years regarding language learning, I remembered a few more ….. So in the interest of a comprehensive list, here are these additional stories – Strange but supposedly true.   1.  Sarah Cowell overnight starts speaking...

scott-thornbury 0

Controversial Quotes In ELT

I recently came across this  blog post about Six highly provocative quotes in ELT, from the 6 things blog.  So I thought I’d highlight these sparkling quotes again but also add my own to compliment. A challenge to my own linguistic soul. I love a...

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Angel vs Devil Debate

Debate is a great focus for the English language classroom. Students produce a lot of language but they also must internalize that language and “think” as they process the language. It really makes the English language they use, their own. My favorite “warmer” for debate...

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Gif photos illustrating body language

I really love those short, sweet, “video like” gif photos and I can attest that students do too! Show GIFs to illustrate a whole number of things and as an living image, they really can be effectively used by teachers to illustrate and teach a large...

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A Cowbird Lesson example

I’ve long been a member of Cowbird and it’s a sterling example of real, authentic listening/reading/watching for ELLs. Along with several other sites that are truly “authentic”, it is ranked at the top of my list.  Off the top of my head, for students, I’d...

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Language In Use

Here is a nice presentation of a lot of “functional” language. Expressions, vocabulary that students can use in certain contexts. They’ll need a teacher’s guidance to help them know the subtlties of using many of them but they are a handy reference available to members...

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Living The Languages

I highly recommend these series of videos. Not just as an anthropologist and a teacher interested in language but as a human being who understands the importance of preserving cultural/ethnic diversity, our cultural genome. I presently live in Guatemala and this episode makes a great...

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True False Cognates

I’m presently enjoying life deep in the highlands of Guatemala. It’s why I haven’t been posting regularly and fanatically. All things at their own time and pace but I’ll be back in the new year – loud, clear, full of posts! I’m taking Spanish and...

jana palacha 0

Stories From The Trenches 2

I had the luck to start teaching English at a school where I basically had free reign to teach as I saw fit.  It was just after the fall of communism in the Czech Republic (then still Czechoslovakia), a beautiful spa city, Karlovy Vary. I...

twilight zone 2

Strange stories about language learning

Over the years, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for great “thought experiments” for language. Real examples and events that are so extreme, they really force you to think differently about ones preconceived notions about language learning (and by default teaching it). Here are...

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Issues in ELT / Issues in SLA

I haven’t written much about language recently but I’m definitely always thinking about it. It is itself a jailer, something I can’t get away from and like the adage goes “I am language”. But been thinking about language as it relates to what we teachers...

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Linguistic Chauvinism

I just finished watching my daily hour of PBS news and I’m irate. Sometimes American insularity and small mindedness is cute and amusing (as De Tocqueville imagined) but sometimes it isn’t. Listening to a Republican senator ramble on about how “English First” is what true...

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Joking Matters

I’ve spent the weekend reading the Heidegger and a Hippo walk through those Pearly Gates, the sequel to the amazing Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar. Amazing books that combine commentary with jokes. As I’m reading, I was thinking of how jokes so...

swearing 2

Learning To Swear

“I am my language.” What a powerful phrase about how language is so wrapped up with identity. Both our own personal identity and our social identity in a larger group. A language learner aims to get to the moment where they “flow” with the language...

name the language 0

EFL 2.0 gems: Name The Language

This “game” is based upon my first successful game “Who Is Speaking” which used the speech accent archive. In it, you listen to the 1st Article of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man spoken in a foreign language. Then you guess and see...

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Yes, sir! No, sir. Sorry, sir.

Yesterday at the gym, in sharp succession, was called “Sir” by two young men (probably high school age). One replied, “Yes, sir” when I asked if I was going in the direction of the change rooms. The other banged the door into me and gave...

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Motherese

It is always a delight to read/hear one’s ideas confirmed/supported. It’s the source of so much joy and progress in this world and also the source of so much evil. Such is our nature. Today, over my Friday morning ritual of “the big breakfast” at...

choices 1

Free “Won’t”

I’ve been thinking a lot about “free will” and the nature of the choices we make – both in teaching and in life. Recent research, especially since the famous Libert experiment, suggests we make decisions before we even know we make decisions. Meaning, something, a...