July 25, 2014

What Makes A Good Story?

Everyone loves a good story. We all have our favorite movie, TV series and song. But do any of us recognize...

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Posted by mmorf at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2014

Is There Anything We Should Not Read?

There are great books and there are books that are not really worth your time.

The problem, however, is to figure out which books are worth reading and which aren't.

The only way to do this is to....

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Posted by mmorf at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2014

Learn Other Languages Quickly

Did you know that in English just 300 words make up 65% of all written material? This is almost certainly true in most other languages as well. If this is true...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2014

Is It Possible To Teach Writing?

Thinking about writing isn't writing, going to a class isn't writing, taking a workshop on writing isn't writing, only...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2014

Famous Writers On Writing

Whether you like - or hate - a particular writer, any writer that makes his or her way into the popular imagination certainly has something to tell us about the art, skill, and yes....

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March 09, 2014

What We Make Visible

A key premise of communications is that our tone, attitude and body language convey much more than our words. In fact...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2014

Best (And Worst) Ways To Teach And Learn Grammar

Grammar in any language can be tricky - and sometimes tedious - to learn. Vocabulary in the English language can be difficult enough, but when you...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell On Dyslexia

Malcolm Gladwell is not a linguist, but his books draw on, and explore what it means to be a person who successfully interacts with the world.

He has been controversial for a variety of reasons, but as a reader of a couple of his books, I'd have to say that...

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September 12, 2013

Should We Insist On English?

I love the English language.

Because of my deep familiarity and extended study, I can delve into the nuances and cultural (as well as historical) references.

I can express - and make associations - using words, phrases and metaphors.

In short...

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Posted by mmorf at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2013

Is College Really Worth It?

Is college really worth it?

Higher education can be expensive, but for centuries it has been a near-guarantee of personal success.

But is it still worth it? And in particular, what areas of study are worth – or not worth….

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Posted by mmorf at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2012

Ever Use Jokes And Funny Stories?

Everybody likes a good joke. But sometimes what is funny to one person is not at all funny...

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July 22, 2012

TESOL Conferences

As you probably know, TESOL has a major conference each year. The 2012 event has already happened...

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June 18, 2012

Some Words About Writing

I write and teach writing. The more I do both of these, the better I feel I understand the process of writing – or even getting a sense of what writing, at its best...

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Posted by mmorf at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

December 16, 2011

A Few More Final Traits Of A Master Teacher

I just attended an faculty inservice on using iPads in the classroom. I love technology, and it is easy to be dazzled by a device as transparent, intuitive and easy to use as the iPad, but, as cool as iPads are, and yes, I'd love to have one, there's just nothing like the...

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December 11, 2011

A Few More Traits Of A Master Teacher

There are many aspects of being a better than average teacher. I always like going to various teacher training events, but there's nothing like...

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Posted by mmorf at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2011

What Makes A Good Teacher?

What makes a good teacher?

It's hard to define, but those who hire teachers need to know what they are looking for - and I'm sure we all know or have experienced...

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Posted by mmorf at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2011

Swimming With The Ducks

You've probably heard of running with the bulls of Pamplona or swimming with the dolphins in warm seas. Sometimes, after the routine of working or studying too much, all we really need is...

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July 06, 2010

Voluntourism - Travel On A Budget - Do Good Work

Want to travel the world but find that you have more time than money? I have found the perfect venture for those who want to travel, do good work, meet interesting people, learn new things, and perhaps most importantly....

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July 18, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Those of us who study language have realized that there are two approaches to language; how it should be used correctly - and of course....

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July 12, 2009

Arabic, Pashto, French or Dari, Anyone?

Most TESOL instructors get their training and background in the civilian world, but when it comes to learning the less common languages like Arabic, Pashto, and Dari, you might be advised to look...

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July 07, 2009

Every Body Have Fun Right Now!

Learning a language is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument - you start out with the basics. With language it would be grammar and vocabulary, with music it would be the scales. It might not always be fun...

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May 25, 2009

Tell me a Story

Everybody like to hear stories - and when learning a language, there is nothing better than HEARING a story to learn how native speakers not only speak....

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May 19, 2009

Ixtapa - "Fostering Cultural Awareness and Learning Competencies in EFL & ESL"

Anyone up for a trip to Mexico the fall? How does this sound?

"Fostering Cultural Awareness and Learning Competencies in EFL & ESL" October 1-4, 2009

If you'd like to do a presentation, send your information here - http://anupi.org.mx/Ingles/CongCallform.php. The deadline is May 30th so you better hurry.

You can see the speakers and topics of previous conferences...

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May 10, 2009

Preparing Language Teachers for the 21st Century

"Designed for practitioners and researchers involved in the preparation and ongoing professional development of language teachers, LTE 2009 will address the education of teachers of all languages, at all instructional and institutional levels, and in many national and international contexts in which this takes place including: English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) instruction; foreign/modern/world language teaching; bilingual education; immersion education; indigenous and minority language education; and...

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April 22, 2009

Writing Well Doesn't Need to Be Scary - Stephen King - On Writing

We all learn and use language to communicate - and when you think about it - most of our communicating is telling stories. We tell stories to our children, to our friends and to our families. Every conversation, every friendship, every job interview is an exercise in story telling. Who better to learn from than someone who has made a name for himself purely as a story teller.

Stephen King....

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April 17, 2009

The Elements of Style turns Fifty

The Elements of Style, the definitive writing guide by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr., turned 50 on Thursday, April 16, 2009.

From the introduction - "The Elements of Style" was Will Strunk's parvum opus, his attempt to cut the vast tangle of English rhetoric down to size and write its rules and principles on the head of a pin. Will himself hung the title "little" on the book: he referred to it sardonically and with secret pride as "the little book," always giving the word "little" a special twist, as though he were putting a spin on a ball."

These are the rules of English summed up, distilled and...

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April 08, 2009

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

I love the English language. It is my native tongue and I find it rich in nuances and possibilities.

I also freely acknowledge that English as we know and use it can be incredibly confusing, contradictory and frustrating. I often tell my students, half-seriously, that....

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March 29, 2009

Who Is The Real Foreigner?

So who's the real foreigner?

Have you ever noticed that in just about any ESL context, someone is the foreigner?

Whether the teacher or the student, someone....

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October 26, 2008

Teacher Development - the new comparative trend

Hello readers,

As you know, English is a living language, which means that it changes with time. One of the recent changes is that of the decline in the comparative 'er' marker. I only became aware of this trend a few months ago, but since then, I've heard examples of the new trend on a daily basis. Instead of 'it's easier', I've heard 'it's more easy'. Instead of 'she's prettier', it's 'she's more pretty'. I've also heard people combining 'more' with 'er', e.g., 'more hungrier'. While my stomach sinks every time I hear such examples, ...

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October 04, 2008

Teacher Development - CLIL

Hello Readers,

You may have noticed four letters that have become increasingly more prevalent: CLIL. But what do these letters stand for and what does it mean?

CLIL, or Content Language Integrated Learning, is ...

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July 16, 2008

Teacher Development - Fillers

Hello Readers,

One of the best lessons I ever learned was that lessons should be taught according to the students' needs and not just to the lesson plan that was written. In other words, your lessons might run longer or shorter than planned. If it runs longer, it may just be a matter of assigning some of the work as homework, cutting some of the activities, or continuing them in the next class. If it runs short, however, then ...

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May 31, 2008

Teacher Development - BE and AE (grammatical differences)

Hello readers,

Most people are aware of some of the spelling differences between British English and American English. Adding a 'u' to color to make colour, replacing 'er' with 're' for theatre or centre, or spelling aluminum with an extra 'i' (aluminium) are some of the most common differences. As EL teachers, you've probably also become aware of some of the pronunciation differences between British English and American English. In British English, the 'a' in path is like the 'a' in father, r's at the end of words tend to be dropped off, and the 't' in words like water is pronounced as a 't' and not a 'd' sound.

But did you know that there are actually grammatical ...

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April 19, 2008

Teacher Development - Becoming a learner

Hello Readers,

To help develop as a teacher, it's a good idea to step back from the front of the classroom every once in a while and put yourself in your students' shoes to see what it's like to be a student going through the learning process. How do you feel when a teacher calls on you in a language class to talk about a topic? Do you feel comfortable working with everyone in a group? Do you prefer to choose your own partner or to have the teacher choose for you? How do you ...

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February 27, 2008

Teacher Development - Writing Test Specifications

Hello readers,

If you've ever been asked to write a test for your students, you know what a daunting task this can be. No test is perfect - not even international tests like the IELTS or the TOEFL, but what can you do to ensure that you create a decent test?

First of all, you will ideally be given the test specifications. Unfortunately, ...

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January 09, 2008

Teacher Development- Cultural Awareness Training

Hello Readers,

If you've ever sat around a table with people who have taught in different places of the world, you know how interesting conversations can be ... until you hear the same stories again and again and again ... But seriously, English Language Teachers do have a wealth of information ...

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November 20, 2007

Teacher Development- Course Book Reviews

Hello Readers,

There are a few different ways to use a course book. You might use one course book from cover-to-cover, following the teacher's book word-for-word. Alternatively, you could supplement a course book with your own materials. Or, you might pick and choose the bits of the course book that you want to use, in the order you want to use them. The more you know about ...

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October 14, 2007

Teacher Development- IATEFL

Hello Readers,

The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true.
(John O'Donohue)

So how does O'Donohue's quote about belonging relate to you and...

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September 10, 2007

Teacher Development- Hot Potatoes

Hello Readers,

Are you looking for an effortless way to create interactive worksheets online? Do you want to create multiple choice, short-answer or jumbled-sentence exercises? How about crossword, matching/ordering or gap-fill exercises? If so, then...

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August 06, 2007

Teacher Development- Electronic Whiteboards

Hello Readers,

Remember back to the days when you were unfortunate enough to have eraser duty? Not only did that often require staying late after school, but it also left your clothes in a chalky mess. Or perhaps you were one of the lucky ones to have a whiteboard with markers that didn't need shaking out. Well, now teachers and students have it even better- with electronic whiteboards. For those of you who have never used one...

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July 01, 2007

Teacher Development- Grammar Knowledge

Hello Readers,

Let's face it: many ELT professionals don't choose their profession; rather, the profession chooses them. As a result, many teachers do not feel confident in their knowledge of grammar. In fact in some cases, teachers might find that their students have actually had more training in grammar than they ever had. If you can relate...

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May 25, 2007

Teacher Development- TBL

Hello Readers,

In addition to PPP, Task-based learning (TBL) is another attractive approach to teaching. While the definition of TBL has not been agreed upon, it can generally be said that TBL methdologies "share a common idea: giving learners to transact, rather than items to learn, provides and environment which best promotes the language learning process" (Foster, 1999).

The rationale behind this approach is that it fosters learning in a "natural" environment through discovery. It involves hypothesis making, interaction, and negotiation of meaning, which many linguists would say are important factors for learning a language.

First, it is important to understand what constitutes a task. In TBL, a task is...

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April 28, 2007

Teacher Development- PPP Lesson Plan Design

Hello readers,

One day last semester, one of my MA TESOL tutors was telling a story about three p's. A few of us in class were so engrossed in TESOL terminology and theory that we thought she was talking not about three pence, but about the three p's of a communicative lesson plan:...

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March 28, 2007

Teacher Development- Needs Analysis

Hello Readers,

In the last few months, a needs analysis has been mentioned a few times, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss it in a bit more detail.

A needs analysis is basically the first step that should be taken when working with individuals or group classes. Sometimes this is done for you by someone in admin, but if you don't get the results of the needs analysis, you might want to...

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February 23, 2007

Teacher Development- Business English

Hello Readers,

Are you looking for a way to make you become a more marketable teacher? If you've got a good grasp on teaching general English, then it might be time for you to spread your wings and ...

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January 22, 2007

Teacher Development- ESP

Hello Readers,

When you hear the acronym ESP, you might think of telepathy, clairvoyance, or precognition. However, in the ESL world, ESP does not refer to extra-sensory perception, but to English for Specific Purposes. ESP is often divided into two categories: EAP (English for Academic Purposes) and...

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December 18, 2006

Teacher Development- Choosing a Coursebook

Hello Readers,

Having the freedom to choose your own coursebook for class can be a blessing... but it doesn't come without its fair share of problems. With so many coursebooks on the market, how do you know which one to choose?

In Alan Cunningsworth's book, "Choosing Your Coursebook" (Macmillan Publishers, 1995)...

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November 17, 2006

Teacher Development- EAP

Hello Readers,

If you've ever thought about working in the ELT (English Language Teaching) field long-term, you might have looked at a few job vacancies in universities in an English-speaking country. Besides a PhD or MA in TESOL or Applied Linguistics, what other kind of experience might you need? One way to get your foot in the door would be to get some experience teaching EAP...

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October 12, 2006

Teacher Development- Reflection

Hello Readers,

I know one of my main concerns as an ESL teacher when I first started out was that though I was interested in teacher training, there wasn't anything available to me (aside from certificate programs). In my first teaching position, there weren't even teacher meetings to attend. In fact, there was only one other foreigner in the city, and the other Chinese teachers kept to themselves, so even if they did meet, they didn't see the need for me to be there.

So the question is, what can you do, alone or with other teachers, to help yourself improve as a teacher? The answer is quite simple...

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September 07, 2006

Teacher Development- IELTS Training

Hello Readers!

Teaching English has its benefits, but sometimes you might need to bring in a little extra cash. How can you do that and still work in the ESL field? No, you don't have to apply at your nearest McDonald's. Just look for the nearest British Council for job vacancies as an IELTS examiner. IELTS stands for...

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July 12, 2006

Teacher Development- Which TEFL certificate?

Hello Readers!

Google is a great search engine, but it can at times be utterly annoying with exactly how many results it can turn up for you. When I first went into ESL teaching, I knew absolutely nothing about the field. In fact, I didn't even realize that many people did it as a profession. Yes, I was so naive as to think that the field of ESL was limited to recent college graduates from English-speaking countries who wanted to experience life in another country for a year or two before heading back to the real world of loans, mortgages, and capitalist lifestyles. But after a year of teaching in China, I realized that ESL could actually be a profession and there were certificates and diplomas, masters degrees and even PhDs in the field. And that's when I went to google for help. I googled "TEFL certificate" and found...

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June 15, 2006

Teacher Develpment - Understanding Students by Understanding Ourselves

Hello readers,

ESL teachers, it seems, are constantly being urged to increase STT (Student Talking Time) and minimize TTT (Teacher Talking Time) in their language classes.

However, in doing so there are certain dangers which should be recognized at an early opportunity. For example, the fact that many people find this difficult and are uncomfortable with talking to a complete stranger . . .

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May 03, 2006

Teacher Development - How Languages Are Learned

Hello Everyone,

In every profession, we can all bet on one certainty: change. And the ESL teaching profession is no exception. Think of it as having three principle (sic) branches:

  • The teacher

  • The student

  • The language
  • New teaching techniques, a plethora of different types of students and the always evolving English language make change inevitable and professional development vital. With this entry, I’d like to focus on the branch you have the most control over: the teacher (yup, that’s right: YOU).

    Okay, so there are a . . .

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    March 27, 2006

    Teacher Development - World Teaching Organizations


    What does the following acronym stand for - JALT….Go ahead, think about if for a minute, see if you can figure it out.

    Ready? Ok…take a little more time..

    How about now? . . .

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    March 19, 2006

    Teacher Development - Projection From the ESL Couch


    This month we’ll continue our look at how counseling theories and skills can be applied in the ESL classroom with an examination of projection. And no, I don’t mean film projection…But rather psychological projection. Peter Gay writes that projection is "the operation of expelling feelings or wishes the individual finds wholly unacceptable—too shameful, too obscene, too dangerous—by attributing them to another." (Freud: A Life for Our Time, page 281) . . .

    Continue reading "Teacher Development - Projection From the ESL Couch"

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    March 05, 2006

    Teacher Development - When a Student Says,"YOU'RE Wrong"

    Welcome back!

    Ok, in my last entry I brought up the issue of how to turn "What? Where the heck did you get THAT answer?" into a gentler "Thanks for participating, anybody else?"

    Today I want to talk about reacting to students when they tell YOU, the teacher "No...I think you're wrong." . . .

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    March 02, 2006

    Teacher Development - When You Tell a Student, "You're Wrong"

    Hello folks,

    Ah...active participation...isn't it wonderful?

    If you're like me, you probably have your favorite students who you can always count on to raise their hands in class. But, what do you do when their answers are wrong?

    It's often difficult to correct a student especially when . . .

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