Friday, March 27, 2015

English Made Fun's new website

Sorry for the long absence.  I've been busy helping refugees integrate into the culture here and fighting Pegida with everything I have.  What do I have to show for it? A lot of smiling, thankful people and a new, updated website.  So come look and enjoy the new layout.  You can leave any feedback you have for me here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Starting in the New Year

Hi teachers! Starting in the New Year can be tough, with students who aren't ready to come back and the excitement of the holidays over.  So one way to get them into the swing of things again is to use ice-breakers and games to talk about the things that happened over the holiday season and set some goals for the new year.

Boggle's World ESL has a great selection of worksheets on New Year's resolutions that are divided into levels for beginners, intermediate and advanced students.

If you're a subscriber to ESL-Library, there are lesson plans there for beginner and intermediate students.

Have a great start in the New Year!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Teaching Argumentation in the ESL Classroom

There are many reasons why teaching ESL students how to argue is important.  First, it's important for them to think critically in the workforce and make decisions based on facts and reasons instead of simply using their own emotions.  Secondly, being able to articulate clearly a fact and learning how to support that fact with data is an important part of being able to function in a work environment.

Here's a link to a Dartmouth University's writing lab with lots of information about argumentation. has a great resource for teachers to help students distinguish between persuasive writing and fact-based argumentation.

Another good resource that addresses the specific needs of ELL students is here.

If you are looking for a resource for topics to argue, here's a great resource that has current events that are easily argued.

Here's another site that has the pros and cons of 52 controversial issues.

This site gives a long list of teaching resources concerning argumentation.

If you are interested, there are a lot of MOOCS that address this issue.

Have fun and good luck!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vocabulary Acquisition

There are a number of reasons why students find it hard to learn vocabulary.  Older students sometimes have a bigger challenge than younger ones do, but in general, if students don't use the vocabulary they learn on a continual basis they will forget it.  It's therefore important for them to use and repeat new vocabulary often.

There are several fun ways for students to practice vocabulary.  Here's a link to a site that lists some fun ways for students to practice newly acquired vocabulary and use it in a meaningful way.

Remember repetition is the key to learning and retaining new vocabulary.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Idioms in English

There are so many idioms in the English language that we don't even think about.  Some are funny and some not so much, but they make our language very colorful.

There's a list of commonly used idioms and their explanations here: 

Here's a cool activity where students can make their own books full of funny idioms. 

You can also print out these funny illustrated idioms from Kaplan International.  I've printed them and scanned them into a format that is printer friendly.  It's also possible to have them blown up into posters.

There's also a site that has an alphabetical list of idioms in English and their meanings.  If you want a list that's catagorized then look here I really like that they are separated out by theme.  So if you want you could do a whole month's worth of lessons on idioms separated into topics.

Another idea is to have students go online, read the idiom used in a sentence and then guess the meaning.  You could also make up sentences and have them put in the right idiom as a class.  If you used a PowerPoint or projector it would go a lot faster.  But an alternative idea is to have students make up their own sentences.  Here's the link

I've had a lot of fun getting students to act out the idiom on the card that they chose and having the other students guess what it is.  The student acting can say one word, but it can't be part of the idiom. Try this in your classes and see what happens.

For those of you who teach in a German speaking country, here's a list of English idioms and their German translations.

Friday, May 16, 2014

ESL Writing Business Letters

In most countries the basic format for a business letter is just like the format needed to write a business letter in an English speaking country.  Most of the time, the questions come  up with vocabulary and word choice in the body of the letter, or greetings and salutations.  I found a website that can help you answer these questions in a format that is also easy to understand.  (I've also copy and pasted the information into a word document that you can print out )

Here's a great video to watch online about how to write a business letter which also contains advice about what NOT to write in a letter. 

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ESL Confusing Words Materials

There are a lot of words in the English language which can be easily confused with other words.  Of course as students of English it's really difficult to learn which word is the right one in many cases.  The only real solution is to simply learn them.  Okay, so with that being said, let's look at a few of the very confusing words.  I've taken lessons from and modified them into printable form.  So  you can print them out read them through and do the exercises on paper.  If you choose, you can also go on their website and do them online.  (Although, there are a few punctuation mistakes that might make that an interesting task.)

Here's the link to all of the files that I modified into Word documents.

The list currently includes:

And/In addition

ESL Library also has short explanations for some of the commonly confused words.

I also found a really funny chart with pictures to help students learn the difference in a few homophones: