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Introducing Possession in English Grammar

There are several ways to show ownership or possession in English grammar.

The way we use mainly depends on whether the owner is animate (i.e. a person or an animal) or a thing. But as always, there are exceptions to this general rule.
Animate Owners
Apostrophe
To show possession we can add an apostrophe -s (sometimes called a Saxon genitive) to the owner.
This is Amelia. Amelia owns…

Prepositions of Place‏‎ in English Grammar

Prepositions of Place are used to describe where something or someone is…

Words like:
in, on, at, by, behind, over…
and so on.
Most Common Prepositions of Place
The 3 most commonly used prepositions of place are at, in and on.

For ESL students prepositions of place (in fact, all prepositions) can be awkward to learn because there are no definite patterns or rules telling…

Comparatives‏‎ in English

To compare the property or quality of two items we can use the comparative form of adjectives‏‎ and adverbs‏‎. The comparative form of most monosyllable (1 syllable‏‎) and disyllable (2 syllable) adjectives and adverbs is made by adding –er to the adjective. I am big, he is bigger. She works fast, he works faster. The comparative form of trisyllable (3 syllables) and polysyllable (more than 3 syllables) adjectives and adverbs…

Gender‏‎ in English Grammar

This is a very general guide to Gender in English. Unlike many other languages it is fairly straightforward in English which makes it relatively easy for language learners and explaining it in your TEFL classroom. To begin with and in practical terms, English grammatical gender applies only to nouns and pronouns‏‎ which are masculine, feminine or neuter. These groups are very simple to make and as a general guide…

Semantic Fields Game‏‎

This is a simple game you can play with semantic fields. Preparation Prepare a set of flashcards. On each one write the name of a semantic field. For example, kitchen itemsthings in my bedroomoffice equipmentfruit When you choose the semantic fields, make sure they are relevant to your class. If you teach Business English to a group of beginners who are all furniture sales staff, you could have cards with…

Objects in English Grammar

In an English sentence usually the subject of a sentence‏‎ does something to an object. The object is the thing or person which is affected by the subject and the verb‏‎.
Patricia ate the cake.
The subject of this sentence is Patricia. She is the ‘star actor’. The verb is ate and this tells us what she does. The object of the sentence is the cake and this is…

Teaching English in Thailand

TEFL/TESOL in Thailand There are many good jobs in Thailand for English teachers. While in the past almost anyone could get in and teach there, these days standards have risen and competition for jobs is greater so the more qualifications and experience you have, the better. Requirements In the past being a native speaker was enough to find work as a teacher in Thailand. However, these days to stand a…

Modals – Requests‏‎

To show degrees of requests, we can use various modal verbs. 1. Polite Requests Can I see you in your office, please? Could I see you in your office, please? May I see you in your office, please? could is more polite than can and may is quite formal. 2. Direct Requests We can use will to make requests, but it is more direct than can or could. Will you…

Statements in English Grammar

A statement is a simple sentence‎ which tells us some information (as oppose to asking a question, for example). It is a record of a situation or state, in other words.

The most basic statement is made up of a subject (what the sentence is about) and a predicate (what the subject does or is). This predicate can be as simple as a verb‏‎:
{subject} + {predicate}
{subject} +…

Action Mazes in TEFL

In an Action Maze students are put in a difficult situation and they need to decide what to do next. Often they’ll be given a few options to choose from.

As a result of their choice, the students are then faced with the next situation in the story and with other sets of options to choose from. Working through this branching tree is like negotiating a maze…

Participles as Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

A participle is a form of English verb. In English there are 2 participles: the present participle made by adding -ing to the verb, e.g. walk > walking the past participle made by adding -ed to the verb, e.g. walk > walked These two participles can be used as adjectives‏‎. Often these can cause problems for learners of English so it is worth examining them carefully and making sure you understand what…

Personal Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

Personal Pronouns are a subset of pronouns‏‎ which stand in for people, places, things and ideas. To begin with, here is a full table of all personal pronouns in English:   Subject Object Reflexive Possessive singular I me myself mine singular you you yourself yours singular masculine he him himself his singular feminine she her herself hers singular neutral it it itself its singular ngs* they them themself their singular…

Cover Letters for TEFL Job Applications

When you apply for a job teaching English, along with your TEFL/TESOL CV/Résumé you will also need to send a Cover Letter or email.

Remember that the cover letter is the first and best chance to make a good impression so it should be the best you can create. A potential employer will read this and then decide or not if it is worth opening the CV/Résumé…

Definite Article‏‎s in English Grammar

What is the Definite Article? We use the definite article – the – when we talk about a noun which refers to a particular member of a a group. In other words, we use the definite article to talk about a specific noun from a group. In this example the group is all men; we want to reference a particular man so we say: The man in the hat…

SVO‏‎ – Subject Verb Object

Sentences English important words is order of in the. or better: The order of words in English sentences is important. We need to get word order right in English. The arrangement makes all the difference. Get it wrong and it just ends up a mess which no one understands. But other languages are more flexible and you can find sentences with all the verbs piled up at the end (German…

Flashcards‏‎ and TEFL

Flashcards are a fantastic resource for teachers. They can not only be used with all ages and levels‏ of students but they are very flexible and highly adaptable. This means a set of flashcards you might prepare for a beginner class of teenagers can also be used with a class of advanced Business English‏‎ learners. The majority of learners are visual. That is, they respond better to visual stimuli than written stimuli. A…

Jargon in TEFL

Jargon is a specialized language used by people in a certain profession, job or activity. To an outsider it may seem unintelligible, but to a member of that group it is obvious and useful to explain sometimes esoteric points.

Like many other groups, English teachers have their own jargon: participle, false beginner, fce, chalkface, student-centered and so on. These resources are full of jargon and even the…

Do I Need To Know Grammar to teach English?

This question is often asked by new or potential TEFL teachers, especially since many schools in the UK and USA‏‎ do not teach grammar‏‎ as a matter of course and many high school graduates will not know a verb‏‎ from a noun.
Can you describe language?

It’s an important question. Grammar describes how a language works and, since you are teaching that language, you should be able…

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

This acronym‏‎ is commonly used in Europe and by European teachers – mainly British and Irish.

In most cases TEFL is synonymous with TESOL and TESL‏‎, however there are differences at a deeper level.

Essentially TEFL is teaching English to people who need the language for business or for pleasure or for an exam. In most cases…

Tips on Using Blackboards & Whiteboards

Here are a few quick tips for TEFL teachers on using your blackboard or whiteboard or interactive whiteboard in class.
Face the Class‏‎
Don’t stand with your back to the class!

Doing this is an opportunity for them to tune out and start talking.

While you are writing on the board, stand at an angle so that the class will see your face while you talk…

Modals – Permission

To show degrees of permission, we can use various modal verbs. 1. Permission You cannot leave yet. You are not allowed to leave yet. You may not leave yet. You mustn’t leave yet. You needn’t leave yet. can is more friendly than may which is quite formal. needn’t shows an action is optional – I can do it if I want to. mustn’t states an action is forbidden – I…

The Counting Game‏‎ for TEFL

The Counting Game is a simple but effective counting game ideal for young beginner level students in your TEFL classroom so they can practice numbers‏‎. It also helps keep a class quiet for a few minutes which is a nice side-effect! Running the Game Have the class stand in a circle. Tell them they must count out loud from 1 to 10 (or any other number you decide). However, there…

Prepositions of Time‏‎ in English Grammar

Prepositions of Time – we use these prepositions‏‎ to talk about time, either with a specific start and finish or general periods of time. We use them to explain when something happened. There is no real logic to which prepositions we use when talking about time so they just have to be learned by students of English. Specific Times on We use on to talk about days of the week…

Mind Mapping‏‎

Mind Mapping is a powerful technique that allows you to make the best use of your brain power by using a combination of words, pictures, icons or symbols, sounds, colors and any other imagery you see fit into structuring and organizing your ideas together. Mind maps can be used to help your students think and learn more quickly because they help organize information more efficiently. The first mind maps were…

All Tied Up

All Tied Up is a simple but fun activity to practice intense, careful listening.

The basic idea here is that you give instructions on how to tie a tie. The students must listen very carefully!

To run this activity all you need is a tie and a set of instructions; make sure you have plenty of ties to go round the class.
Pre-Teaching
First, demonstrate how to tie…

Comparatives and Superlatives in English

When we want to compare two or more nouns, adjectives‏‎ or adverbs‏‎ we use the comparative and superlative forms. Grammatically the main difference is between comparing 2 items or comparing more than 2 items.
Comparing 2 Items
To compare two items, we use the comparative:
I am big, he is bigger.
She works carefully, he works more carefully.
We often use this form in this pattern:
{comparative} + {than}
He…

TEFL Methodologies

TEFL Teaching Methodology looks at the general approaches or methods used to teach English‏‎ as a foreign language. Over time they have changed and borrowed from research, developed from each other and expanded on previous methodologies.

As you will see below, many of these methods overlap and often teachers will not use a single method but blend them and mix them according to their preference and the…

Present Perfect Simple or Continuous?

In general, the Present Perfect Simple‏‎ (PPS) is used to talk about an event which happened in the past but which has a very strong connection to the present: I have just finished laying the table so we can eat soon. The Present Perfect Continuous‏‎ (PPC) on the other hand is used to talk about an event which started in the past and it still going on now: I have been cooking…

Possessive Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

Possessive pronouns are pronouns used to show ownership. They tell us who owns what when we don’t want to or don’t need to repeat the name of what is owned.
As with all pronouns, possessive pronouns replace a noun (the word pronoun comes from Latin and means in place of a noun). In fact, pronouns are used to avoid repetition.
Is this Sheila’s bag? No, it’s mine.
The possessive pronoun mine…

Teaching English in Italy

Italy is one of the most popular destinations for TEFL teachers in Europe. It offers beautiful landscapes, clean and well presented cities plus almost unrivaled heritage and a wealth of cultural history. Thousands of foreign TEFL teachers work in Italy and this article explains what you need to do to join them.
Read More

Writing Prompts‏‎ – writing activity

Writing Prompts is a simple idea to help your TEFL students develop their writing‏‎ skills and stimulate ideas and discussions. It can work with almost any age or level of class and is very flexible. Pictures as Prompts There are many variations of the method, but a simple one is to use pictures as prompts. First collect together enough interesting photographs for the class – 1 per student (with a few…

The English Alphabet‏‎

The English Alphabet contains 26 letters. These can be divided into vowels and consonants‏‎.

The vowels are: a,e,i,o,u

The consonants are: b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s,t,v,w,x,y,z

Every word has at least one vowel sound. When we write them, however, some words do not have one of the vowels above, such as:
fly, hymn, why
Although these words have a vowel sound, they use the consonant letter y instead of a vowel…

Inversion‏‎ in English Grammar

In English Grammar‏‎ we talk about inversion when we change the normal order of the elements in a sentence. In most cases this means swapping the position of the subject and verb of the sentence. For example, this is a common sentence structure in English which follows the pattern: {subject} + {verb} + {…} Peter is French. You are happy. But if we turn it into a question, we invert…

Teaching English in Spain

Spain borders Portugal‏‎ and France‏‎ and lies on the West of Europe. It is a large, relatively sparsely populated country (pop about 45 million) and attracts many tourists throughout the year. It has a diverse climate and can be cold in Winter in the North to semi-arid to Mediterranean.

The capital and largest city is Madrid (pop 3.5 million) with cosmopolitan Barcelona being the next major city. Obviously these…

Teaching English in Jordan

Jordan is a country spanning the southern part of the Syrian Desert down to the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan shares borders with Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, the Gulf of Aqaba to the southwest, and Israeland the West Bank to the west. It shares control of the Dead Sea with Israel. Much of Jordan is covered by desert…

Imperatives‏‎ in English Grammar

The Imperative (sometimes called the Imperative Mood)is a form of verb‏‎ in English. It’s used mainly to tell people what to do so we can have different types of imperative sentences: Giving Orders: Stop! Shut the door! Giving instructions: Add a pinch of salt and boil for fifteen minutes. Go out the door and turn left. Making informal offers or invitations: Have a drink? Want a ride? Giving warnings: Don’t…

Busy People – past continuous‏‎ activity

This is a simple way of Teaching and Practicing the Past Continuous‏‎. I’ve used it several times with my (small) classes and it provides a method of practice where students can see the use of the past continuous‏‎. Preparation Prepare a large sheet of paper; in the middle draw (or photocopy/paste) a picture of a row of houses or an apartment block. Around the edge of the paper paste pictures…

Perfect Tenses in English Grammar

We use Perfect Tenses to talk about a finished action, often in relation to another action.

This action can occur at any time in the past, present or future.
3 Perfect Tenses
There are three perfect tenses in English:
Past Perfect
This is used to talk about a completed action in the past. It’s usually used alongside another past tense:
After we had finished the meeting we…

Negatives in English Grammar

In English there are a number of different ways to be Negative and these depend on the original positive sentence.

Generally speaking we make negatives in two ways. Either by adding not to an auxiliary verb or by using do/does/did + not:
I am going to answer that question. > I am not going to answer that question.
He answered the phone in time. > He did…

Present Perfect Simple or Past Simple?‏‎

It is sometimes the case that students will have problems understanding when to use the Present Perfect Simple‏‎ and when to use the Past Simple‏‎. In general, the Past Simple is used for an action completed in the past. (Note that we would use the Past Continuous‏‎ if that action was of long duration, for example.) It’s often, but not always, used with a time adverbial. Last year an earthquake struck Athens…

Past Perfect Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

The Past Perfect Continuous (PPC) is used to talk about a continuous event in the past which happened before another event to which it was closely related. In this diagram, the wiggly line is the PPC and the cross is a closely related second event which “stops” the continuous event. So to describe an ongoing action that started in the past and carried on until a certain point in time…

Coordinating Conjunctions‏‎ in English Grammar

Coordinating conjunctions are FANBOYS! Yes, FANBOYS is a mnemonic you can use to remember the seven coordinating conjunctions: for and nor but or yet so Coordinating conjunctions can connect words, phrases, and clauses. A coordinating conjunction joins two main (independent) clauses which are equally important and relevant. When you connect two main (independent) clauses with a coordinating conjunction, you should use a comma. N.B. Do not use a comma after…

Future Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

The Future Continuous verb form indicates an action or an event that will be in progress at sometime in the future. As you can see from the timeline here, the action begins in the future and continues past a specific time the speaker is talking about. For example, suppose we are talking about watching a film tonight. It will begin at 8 o’clock and finish at 10 o’clock. I can…

Future Perfect Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

Let’s suppose you are talking about 2 events in the future: My computer will make 1 million calculations per minute. You will return from your coffee break in 20 minutes. We can put these together and say: By the time you return from your coffee break, my computer will have made 20 million calculations. The Future Perfect Simple verb form then is often used to talk about an action in…

Teaching English in Iran

TEFL/TESOL in Iran‏‎
Slightly larger than Alaska, Iran is a Middle Eastern country with a strategic location on the Persian Gulf, which is a vital maritime pathway for crude oil transport.

Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979. Today’s population is 98% Muslim, divided between Shi’a (89%) and Sunni (9%).

Iran’s economy relies on the oil sector (which provides 85% of government revenues). However despite the great fortunes…

How to Find English Teaching Jobs Abroad

Once you have the qualifications and you know where you want to teach‏‎, it’s time to find a TEFL job. There are plenty of opportunities out there and this article explores the most common routes to getting work.

It’s not difficult and with the internet now it is far easier than it has ever been before not to mention quicker. So be prepared to start looking on Friday…

Future‏‎ Tense in English Grammar

The future tense is used to talk about events in the future. There are a number of different verb forms‏‎ we can use to talk about the future. Present Continuous This is very common. We use the present continuous to talk about plans for the future, often with an adverb of time. I am going tomorrow. She is coming next week. See the main article, Present Continuous‏‎. Future Simple The future…

Teaching English in Vietnam

Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful country with everything from bustling cities to serene mountains. It is well worth visiting if you get the chance.

The major cities are often clean and full of old colonial landmarks and buildings but wherever you are in Vietnam you’ll always find lots of interesting things to see and do all the time. Major centres are: Ho Chi Minh City (hot, exciting…

Verb Voice in English Grammar

Verbs‏‎ have a property known as Voice which allows you to show the relationship between the verb and the subject and object‏‎ in the sentence‏‎. If a verb is in the Active Voice then it shows the subject performing an action: the subject does something If, however, a verb is in the Passive Voice then it is the other way around and the subject receives the action: something happens to…

Mini Debates‏‎ for the TEFL/TESOL Classroom

Before engaging your students in a full blown classroom debate you may want to get them accustomed to discussing ideas and exchanging opinions and of course it’s great for listening‏‎ and speaking‏‎ practice. Here are a few ideas for mini debates. They are easy to hold and enjoyable for the class. Once the class is familiar with these kind of lightweight debates you have the option to move them onto…

Correcting Spoken English

Correcting Spoken English is the way in which student errors are corrected as they are speaking‏‎.

Before beginning though, remember that all students will make mistakes. It is part and parcel of learning a language (and bear in mind that children learning their first language will make mistakes also; it is a natural part of the process).
When to Correct
At one end of the spectrum are…

Continuous Verbs in English Grammar

We use the Continuous Verb Forms to talk about things which are happening over a period of time. With continuous forms we highlight the duration of an event.
Note that sometimes we use the word Progressive instead of Continuous.
Continuous forms usually talk about things which are happening for a while only – they will stop sometime.
I am living in London right now but I don’t know where I…

Participles‏‎ in English Grammar

A Participle is a form of a verb‎. In English‏‎ there are two participles: Present Participle‏‎ Past Participle‏‎ Usage We use the participles to help form different verb tenses‏‎. For example in this first example we use just the basic verb form known as the infinitive: I walk In these two examples we have used the two participles (highlighted) to form new verb tenses: I was walking. I have walked. The…

Verb plus Preposition‏‎ in English Grammar

When we use a preposition, we can follow it with the gerund: {verb phrase} + {preposition} + {gerund} He coughed before beginning to speak. They succeeded in breaking the door down. With most prepositions this is no problem. However, when we use the preposition to, students often confuse it with the to + infinitive structure. I object to work. I object to work at night. In the first example, work…

Possessive Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

We use possessive adjectives with nouns to show possession‏‎ or ownership. Like most adjectives‏‎ they come before the noun which they describe:
{possessive adjective} + {noun}
your + car
his + mother
its + food
There are seven possessive adjectives in English:

my (something belongs to me – I own it)
your (something belongs to you (singular) – you own it)
his (something belongs to him…

Teaching English in Colombia

You can find near-perfect weather, lush produce and tasty food, an easy-going lifestyle and sociable people if you’re working as an English teacher in Colombia.

But what about the crime rate, violence and drug problem? It’s probably just not what you think it is and that’s why there are so many foreign English teachers living and working in this amazing country.
Your Safety in Colombia

One…

When to Apply for Work‏‎ as an English Teacher Abroad

Whilst it is true that in many countries around the world English teaching positions can be found all year round, some months are better than others and whenever possible you should try and apply for a job when the demand is at its highest so to avoid frustration and missed opportunities.

Below is a list of countries‏‎ in alphabetical order with their best hiring season.
America
In…

Concept Checking Questions in TEFL

Concept Checking is a way to make sure your students have understood what you have been explaining. It’s about asking the right questions‏‎.

These two examples show why concept checking is necessary in your classroom:

Example 1

You asked your students to read a passage in a book. Afterwards you ask them, “Did you all understand that?” The chances are that one or two students will say…

Your Mother Tongue (MT)

Your Mother Tongue (or MT) is the language you learn and speak as a child.

It is sometimes known as First Language (FL), Native Language (NL) or Arterial Language. Note that it is NOT always the language spoken by your mother!

It is usually the language learned in the home thus a bilingual‏‎ child may well have two MTs.

A student’s MT is of interest to…

Questions‏‎ in English Grammar

Questions are used to get information we do not already have. There are a number of different ways of forming questions in English depending on the kind of information we want. Questions are basically the other side of the coin to statements‏‎ in that statements give us something and questions ask us for something. The Basics Questions begin with a capital letter‏‎ and end with a question mark. Two common…

Present Participle‏‎ in English Grammar

The Present Participle is a participle‏‎ that ends in -ing. We use it with the auxiliary verb‏ to be to form the continuous tenses‏‎: {be} + (verb -ing} I was walking home. She is running for the bus. Form The present participle is formed by adding -ing to the bare infinitive (that is, the most basic verb form). walk > walking eat > eating One issue which sometimes causes problems…

Grammatical Number in English

Grammatical Number is the term used to describe whether something is singular (just one) or plural (more than one). In English this applies to nouns, verbs and determiners and depending on the number the form of these may change. Nouns The usual way to change a noun from singular to plural is by adding -s or -es. One chair. Two hundred chairs.One box. Fifteen boxes. For a full look at…

Adverb Phrases in English Grammar

An Adverb Phrase (sometimes known as an Adverbial Phrase) is – as you might guess – simply a group of words which act in exactly the same way (grammatically speaking) as a single adverb.

For example, here’s a sentence with a single adverb:
The police arrived quickly.
We can expand on that adverb and turn it into an adverb phrase
The police arrived very quickly indeed.
The…

Varieties of English Grammar

This article looks at major grammatical differences between British English and American English. For a list of vocabulary differences between the two varieties of English, see Varieties of English Vocabulary.

 
Present Perfect vs Past Simple
BrE sometimes uses the present perfect whilst AmE uses the past simple.

BrE:
Have you eaten all those biscuits?

AmE:
Did you eat all those…

Open-Ended Questions‏‎ in TEFL

An Open-Ended Question is a question‏‎ which cannot be answered with a simple Yes or No answer and one which requires more thought.

It is the opposite of a Closed Question. And like a door, an open question could lead anywhere, a closed question stops everything.
Open-Ended vs Closed Questions
In teaching, an open-ended question will elicit a more complex and longer answer. For example, you…

Zero Article in English Grammar

The Zero Article does not exist. But it is very useful nonetheless.

Talking about the zero article is useful when we’re describing how to use articles‏‎. But essentially when we talk about the zero article we mean that we do not use any article in front of a noun. In other words, we do not use a/an or the.

This article (excuse the pun) talks about…

Grammatical Person‏‎ in English

In grammar person is used to show the relationship between the speaker and the listener or the writer and the reader. For example, if I talk about myself I use the pronoun I but if someone talks to me, they use the pronoun you. So depending on the person doing the talking and who they are talking about, pronouns and verb forms can change. Persons can also affect nouns and possessive…

Modals – Ability‏‎

To show degrees of ability, we can use modal verbs. These show: 1. ability or opportunity in the present She can play the piano. She is able to play the piano. 2. ability or opportunity in the past She could play the piano. She was able to play the piano. 3. ability in the future: He could easily do your job given the opportunity. I will never be able to…

A First English Lesson for Beginners

This article offers a simple First Lesson for Beginners. It assumes that all instruction will be done in English‏‎ and the class knows no English at all, i.e. the class are all complete beginners‏‎.
Background
It is generally accepted that using English only‏‎ in the classroom (known as full immersion‏‎) is one of the more effective ways of teaching, however some teachers find this difficult in a very first lesson…

Indefinite Pronouns in English Grammar

Indefinite Pronouns replace nouns or people or things that are not clearly specified.
Some like it hot.
Some who? Some what? Some people? Some animals? Some planets?
Someone knocked at the door.
We don’t know who it is. We just heard a knock and assume it is a person.
Something must have happened.
We know there is a problem but we haven’t found out yet what it is…

Irregular Verbs in English

Irregular Verbs are those verbs‏‎ which do not follow the normal rules of conjugation‏‎ in English‏‎.

In English, most verbs follow this pattern and are regular:

infinitive
past form
past participle‏‎

walk
walked
walked

As you can see, they add an -ed to the end of the infinitive. Note that a verb like marry is also classed as regular even though…

Modals – Necessity‏‎

To express degrees of necessity we can use various modal verbs. 100% Necessity You must leave straight away. You have [got] to leave straight away. must is used when the necessity is dictated by the speaker’s authority. have [got] to is used when the necessity is dictated by an external force or event, which the speaker cannot control. (doctor to patient) You’ve got to stop smoking. (patient to themself) I…

Indirect/Reported Speech in English Grammar

We use Indirect Speech (sometimes called Reported Speech) to repeat and report what someone has said earlier. This is in comparison with Direct Speech‏‎ which is what the person actually says.
“Live long and prosper,” said Spock.
This is direct speech; these are the actual words spoken. Contrast this with indirect speech which is reporting what the person said at a later date:
Spock said we should live long…

Debates and Discussions in the TEFL Class

Debates and Discussions in the TEFL class are great techniques to improve student participation. They help to improve the students’ general communication skills and confidence. They encourage quick thinking and improve rebuttal skills. In a more general way, they are ideal for practising listening‏‎ and speaking‏‎. This article looks at how you can organize and implement them in your TEFL class. The Topic of Conversation The choice of topic is…

Present Perfect Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

We use the present perfect continuous in two ways: 1. to talk about an event which started in the past and is continuing now. We often use the words for and since with this tense. I have been learning English for six years. They have been living in Paris since July. 2. to talk about an event which lasted for some time and recently finished; the effects of this event…

Future Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

The future simple is used to express future time. I will be happy to help you anytime! I am going to go Spain tomorrow morning! Our staff will answer your calls between 8am and 5pm. The future simple is in itself a fairly straightforward tense to explain and form. Its usage however often creates problems to English language learners, who find it hard to know when to use will and…

CELTA

The Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults or CELTA is a teaching qualification issued by Cambridge Assessment‏‎. It used to be known as the RSA.

The CELTA is a high-end TEFL Certificate and although there is no recognised standard qualification for teaching English, the CELTA is often seen as the most intense and highest level TEFL certificate.

Since different schools around the world offer the CELTA costs…

Storytelling in your TEFL Class

Storytelling is an ancient art that developed alongside the development of language and it is one of the earliest forms of folkart.

The story can be of a real event or it can be made up. Storytelling has been used over the millennia not only as a means of entertainment but also of education.

Storytelling techniques can be used to get TEFL students to practice listening‏‎…

Determiners‏‎ in English Grammar

Determiners are words we put in front of a noun or noun phrase‏‎. They tell us about the number and type of items we are talking about and often restrict the use of the noun. They are also one of the main PoS categories, that is, one of the main categories in which English words‎ are grouped grammatically. For example: determiner noun …   cats sleep a lot a cat sleeps…

Phrases‏‎ in English Grammar

A Phrase is a group of two or more words‏‎ which work grammatically the same as a single word. As such a phrase can function as a verb‎, a noun, an adverb‏‎, a preposition or an adjective‏‎. For example these are all phrases: the old man standing on the beach was laughing The important thing to notice is that there is never a subject in a phrase alongside a verb…

The Warm Up Game‏‎

The Warm Up Game can be used to literally warm up the class and is ideal for teaching new vocabulary, especially to younger students. An added bonus is that it gets the children going first thing in the morning and wears them out a little! How to Play It’s a simple game and perfect for a few minutes at the start of each class. The game is based on TPR…

Concrete & Abstract Nouns‏‎ in English Grammar

Nouns are words used to name objects, concepts, ideas, things and so on. We can classify nouns in different ways including dividing them into Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns. Concrete Nouns include: house banana football school Abstract Nouns include: love humor fear bravery belief Taking a look at the picture on this page there are several nouns referenced, some of which are concrete and some of which are abstract: concrete…

Teaching English Vocabulary

When Teaching Vocabulary, many teachers still resort to long word lists which the students are expected to translate into their mother tongue, learn and remember.

This approach to teaching vocabulary‏‎ is rather dull and mechanical. It has limited impact and there is very little student involvement.

On the other hand there are better methods.
An Example
Here’s a short text for a intermediate level class. You might well…

Varieties of English‏‎

Varieties of English are the different kinds of English used around the world. Often these are geographically based. The varieties are more or less similar and while most English speakers can understand each other, there are occasional problems.

The four people in the picture (Whoopi Goldberg, Kylie Minogue, the Queen and Usain Bolt) all speak English as their mother tongue but very differently.
Background
English has been the…

Past Perfect Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

The past perfect simple is used to talk about events which happened in the past before another event also in the past. It is mainly used thus: I had walked for about twenty minutes before I realized I’d left my wallet behind. It’s usually followed by the past simple‏‎. In this way we use the past perfect simple to provide background the main event in the past. For example: The…

TEFL Syllabus

The Syllabus is the outline of language to be taught to a class over a particular course (term, semester, etc).

It can be seen as a step in the hierarchy of learning and teaching English‏‎. At best it will be designed by the school Director of Studies; at worst there won’t be a syllabus or if there is one it will be merely using a particular book…

What is Phonetics‏‎?

Phonetics is the branch of linguistics‏‎ which studies the sounds of speech and they way in which they are interpreted. Contrast this with phonology‏‎ which is the study of the sound system of a language. Phonetics looks at the way in which sounds are produced (the position of the tongue, the lips, etc) and the way in which sounds are perceived (i.e. the way in which the ear works) and…

TEFL Lesson Planning

A Lesson Plan is the outline of what will be taught in a single lesson. It is, if you like, a road map for the hour or 90 minutes or so you will spend with the class.

Creating a good lesson plan is vitally important for a successful lesson and good teachers invariably prepare good lesson plans. In fact, one of the easiest mistakes a new teacher…

Task Based Language Learning‏‎ in TEFL

Task Based Language Learning (TBLL) is basically geared towards the students performing a particular task. In the ELT classroom this might: ordering a meal asking directions discussing a film preparing a job application It’s all about getting the students focused and using authentic language. The students are doing meaningful, practical and useful tasks which they may well come across in the real world. Often those tasks have a clear purpose such…

Vocabulary‏‎ and TEFL

The Vocabulary is the collection of words‏‎ in a language. In English there are estimated to be roughly 1,000,000 words in the language; this is a huge increase on the 50,000 words available in Old English. These words are generally derived from one of several main sources: Germanic (including Old English and Old Norse, back through Proto-Indo-European) for common pronouns‏‎, basic family relationships, common animals‏‎ and verbs‏‎ Latin for more formal…

American English‏‎

American English – often abbreviated to AmE – is a variant of the English language, spoken mainly in the United States‎. About two-thirds of the world’s native speakers of English live in America and speak this variant.

English‏‎ was introduced to North America by British settlers during the colonization period (17th century). It was also influenced by the many different nationalities which settled in the US since then and, to…

Adjectives as Nouns‎ & Vice Versa

Adjectives‏‎ normally tell us more about nouns e.g.
{adjective} + {noun}
rich + people
poor + men

Adjectives as Nouns
However, we can also use an adjective as a noun by using this pattern:
the + {adjective}
We use this to talk about a group of people:
The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.
We can also use it to talk about an abstract idea…

First Conditional or Second Conditional‏‎

When using conditionals‏‎, it is sometimes difficult to know when to use the First Conditional and when to use the Second Conditional‏‎.

This article looks at how to choose between the two types, and which is best to use.
First or Second?
Generally speaking, if you want to talk about something which is likely to happen, use the First Conditional; if the idea is unlikely (but still…

Demonstrative Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

We use Demonstrative Adjectives to talk about specific examples of a noun. These are a kind of determiner. The demonstrative adjectives are: this that these those Although these look exactly like the demonstrative pronouns, when placed in front of a noun they function as demonstrative adjectives. Usage We use them to talk about whether a noun is singular or plural, near or far.   singular plural near this these far…

Basic English Grammar (book)‏‎

Author: Betty Schrampfer Azar; Stacy A. Hagen Publisher: Pearson, Longman Details: paperback; 3rd Edition; pub. 2005 ISBN: 0131849379   This full student book with audio CD and answer key offers concise, accurate, level-appropriate grammar information with an abundance of exercises, contexts, and classroom activities. Ideal for non-native speakers of English at true beginner level. See Also Understanding and Using English Grammar Fundamentals of English Grammar   Basic English Grammar…

Teacher Talking Time in the TEFL Classroom

Teacher Talking Time (TTT) is the amount of time the teacher talks in the classroom. It pays to make this as little as possible.

Look at this typical TEFL classroom dialog:
Teacher: Jimal, what’s your favorite TV show?
Jimal: Er…
Teacher: Baywatch? American Idol? Top Gear?
Jimal: Baywatch.
Teacher: Great! [teacher writes up Baywatch on the board] Now, the rest of you, what are your favorite TV…

Teaching the /b/ or /p/ sounds

A Bilabial Plosive in English is either /b/ or /p/ sound used at the beginning of a word as in boy or toy. Or, indeed bilabial and plosive. Some more minimal pairs with b and p include: bat – patbail – palebar – parbig – pigbillow – pillowbelt – pelt These sounds can often cause pronunciation problems for learners of English as they are similar and difficult to differentiate between…

Auxiliary Verbs in English Grammar

Auxiliary Verbs (from the Latin auxilio = to help; they are also known as helping verbs) are verbs‏‎ used to change the tense, form‏‎ mood and voice of other verbs.

In other words, we add an auxiliary to a verb to turn it into a question, to put it into the past, to make it negative and so on.
The 3 English Auxiliaries Verbs
There are three auxiliary verbs: be…

Adjective Position‏‎ in English Grammar

This article looks at the Position of Adjectives in a phrase‏‎. In English‏‎, unlike many other languages, adjectives‏‎ generally come before the noun they describe: {adjective} + {noun} These are called attributive adjectives. brown wall young girl And so on. We can also put adjectives after a verb‏‎. These are called predicative adjectives: {verb} + {predicative adjective} The wall is brown. The girl is young. Most adjectives can be used…

Giving Instructions‏‎ when Teaching English

{youtube}xOEMd8uenVI{/youtube}There is a right way and a wrong way to give instructions in your classroom. If you give instructions the wrong way you’ll end up with a class who don’t know what’s going on. It’s not rocket science, but it can make the difference between a successful lesson and a disastrous lesson. Prepare Make sure you know what is going to happen before you step into the classroom. This is…

Phrasal Verbs‏‎ in English

A phrasal verb is a verb‏‎ and preposition which together mean something different from the individual parts.

For example:
The little boy was racing along the corridor when he ran into his teacher.
In this example the boy was running and he literally ran into his teacher and knocked him over. Here the phrase ran into is not a phrasal verb.

However, look at this example…

What is a Clause?

We all know what a sentence is. But it’s useful to break a sentence down and talk about Clauses as well when you’re teaching English.

These are, essentially, the building blocks of sentences and each sentence contains one or more clauses.
a sentence = one or more clauses
Think of them like a pontoon bridge. One piece can span a narrow river but that same piece can…

Conjunctions‏‎ In English Grammar

A conjunction (also known as connector or joiner) is a word used to join words‏‎, phrases‏‎, or clauses‏‎ together to show their relationship in a sentence. There are 3 main types of conjunctions in English. Coordinating Conjunctions Coordinating conjunctions always join similar parts of speech‏‎, e.g.: subject + subject verb phrase + verb phrase sentence + sentence and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet… You and I are both lucky…

Taboo Words and TEFL

Taboo Words (sometimes known as swearwords, curse words, or profanity) are those words and phrases which some people find shocking or offensive. They can often cause problems for TEFL‏‎ teachers and learners of English‏‎.

In general, the best advice is to avoid both using and teaching taboo words in the classroom. A number of teachers have lost their jobs through using and teaching taboo words and it is…

Karaoke in the TEFL Classroom

The word Karaoke means empty orchestra from the Japanese Kara = empty and Oke (short for Okesutora) = orchestra.

Karaoke tracks are without lead vocals. The lead vocals are provided by the performer singing the Karaoke song through a microphone.

The song is played in the background and the words displayed on a television screen.

Singing Karaoke songs is a stimulating and fun activity that can be…

Past Continuous in English Grammar

The Past Continuous (also called the Past Progressive) is used in several different ways:

interrupted actions in the past
parallel actions in the past

It is used to reference a continuous (long-term) action in the past:

They were kissing when we walked in.
He was working when we met him.

Usage
Interrupted Actions/Background
We use the past continuous to talk about an action…

Classroom Focus in TEFL

Classroom Focus is concerned with who is the main focus of teaching in the classroom. Essentially there are two possible foci:

the teacher – the class is Teacher Centered
the students – the class is Student Centered

Traditionally classes have been Teacher Centered however more recently classes have become more Student Centered. And this improves learning.
Teacher Centered
In a Teacher Centered class…

What If – third conditional activity

What If is an activity to practice the third conditional‏‎ looking at impossible outcomes.
Preparation
Firstly select a famous historical event and prepare a summary of it in about 200 words (you can often find good summaries online in Wikipedia for example).

Make sure the story is relevant to your students’ interests and age group, and the language you use in your summary matches their level‏‎. This…

Beware of TEFL Scams

As in all industries there are, unfortunately, TEFL scams, too which prey on English teachers wanting to go abroad and teach.

Whilst there are marvelously run English language schools, scrupulous recruitment agents‏‎ and genuine TEFL course providers, there are also, unfortunately, ones to avoid.

Most teachers won’t come across TEFL‏‎ scams through their entire career, but just in case you are thinking that something doesn’t sound quite right…

Regular Adverbs in English Grammar

An adverb modifies a word, phrase, or sentence. It tells us more about them and changes the meaning slightly. Often we say it tells us how something happens:
They are waiting for the metro.
They are waiting patiently for the metro.
In this example above, the adverb tell us how the people are waiting for the metro.
Regular & Irregular Adverbs in English
The difference between regular adverbs and irregular…

Adverbs of Degree‏‎ in English Grammar

Adverbs of degree (sometimes also referred to as adverbs of quantity) describe to what degree, level or extent something is done. In other words, how much. almost nearly quite just too enough hardly scarcely completely very extremely Like all adverbs‏‎, we can use them to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. In the majority of cases they come before the word/phrase they modify: I am almost done! She had…

Gerunds‏‎ in English Grammar

A Gerund is a special form of a verb. It’s also known as a Verbal Noun and more informally, the -ing form. We use it when we want to use an action verb as the subject or object of a sentence. So essentially, it’s a verb which acts like a noun (hence the name verbal noun). And simply put, we make it by adding -ing to the verb itself (hence…

Indefinite Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

As the word suggests (indefinite = unspecified, unknown, indeterminate, undefined) Indefinite Adjectives give general information about the noun they refer to. Some common indefinite adjectives are: All Any Each Every Few Many Some Though indefinite pronouns and indefinite adjectives look the same they are used differently in a sentence. Whilst an indefinite pronoun replaces a noun, an indefinite adjective is placed in front of a noun or pronoun to modify…

Body Language & Insulting your Students

As a teacher, possibly in a foreign country, you should be aware of the Body Language and Gestures of your host country so that you don’t inadvertently insult your students.

To take an example, in America and the UK giving a thumbs up sign means approval or “well done”. In Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Sardinia though it is an obscene gesture and making it in the classroom…

Needs Analysis for TEFL Teachers

The Needs Analysis is a simple concept and an extremely important one at the same time. It is the cornerstone of teaching English and its importance cannot be underestimated.

Essentially it is the process of assessing the needs of your students (or student if you are doing this for a 1-to-1‏‎ lesson). In other words, what they know already, what they want to know, and finally what interests them…

Verb Forms in English Grammar

This article introduces at the 3 main verb forms a verb can take: the infinitive, the present participle and the past form.
The Infinitive
The Infinitive is the base form of a verb. These are infinitives:
love, eat, walk, be
In English, the infinitive is nearly always the same as the present tense. The only exception is the verb be:
I love, I eat, I walk, I am…

Pronouns in English Grammar

Pronouns are a closed group of words which can be used in place of nouns in a sentence‏‎. We replace nouns that are repeated with pronouns so instead of saying:
William took the ball and then William kicked the ball.
We say:
William took the ball and then he kicked it.
This makes the sentence less clumsy and more fluid.
Types of Pronouns
The type of pronoun we use depends…

Verb Patterns‏‎ in English Grammar

Often in English‏‎ we need to join two verbs‏‎ together in the same sentence.

When we do this, we can use different verb patterns depending on which verb comes first and here you’ll find some of the more common verb patterns.

In a TEFL class you probably wouldn’t spend a lesson teaching these patterns as such but you will come across them in class in which case it’s often…

Teaching English in Japan

Japan has one of the lowest scores on international English tests and has taken steps in recent years to improve English language teaching at schools with increased instruction and greater use of native English speaking teachers alongside Japanese teachers in the classroom.

Having said this, jobs are more scarce now than they used to be and in recent years it is becoming harder to find work in…

Parts of Speech in English Grammar

Parts of Speech (often abbreviated to PoS and sometimes known as Word Classes) are the different categories of words‎ in English. They refer to the way in which those words are used grammatically.
For example, if you look at the following sentences‏‎ you can see that although the words in bold are all different, they all work the same way in the sentence.
Have you seen…

English Grammar‏‎

Grammar is the way in which words come together to form sentences‏‎ (or utterances‏‎ in spoken language).

It is difficult to define this word accurately because people use it in different ways. Some definitions include:

the branch of linguistics‏‎ which deals with syntax‏‎ and morphology‏‎ and sometimes semantics
the study of parts of speech‏‎, their inflection‏‎ and relations in a sentence

Perhaps though…

Comics in the TEFL Classroom

Comics are an excellent way to introduce your TEFL students to current, everyday English, in a non academic format.

Comics are ideal because

they are simple to understand (because they’re accompanied by pictures which often help explain)
they are hugely popular in many countries
they cover a wide range of subjects so you can find comics suitable for all ages and levels and…

Present Continuous in English Grammar

We use the Present Continuous (also called Present Progressive) in three ways in English‏‎:

1. to talk about a situation that is happening right now as we speak.
What are you doing?
I am reading 50 Shades of Gray!
Why is he in bed?
He is not feeling well today.
Can you be quiet, please. I am trying to watch television.
2. to talk about things happening around now…

Past Participles in English Grammar

A Past Participle is a verb form which indicates a past or completed action or time.

If you see some, you’ll recognize them:
walked
frozen
done
watched
typed
cleaned
Quite often you’ll hear people talking about the past participle as the -ed Form. This is because with regular verbs that’s how it’s formed; however be careful with this as irregular verbs don’t make it by adding -ed to the…

Conditionals‏‎ in English Grammar

A Conditional is a kind of sentence‏‎ which uses a word such as if. It talks about situations which are not real and imagines what might happen.

There are 3 main types of conditional sentences each used in a slightly different situation.
First Conditional
We use the First Conditional to talk about possible situations in the future. These could easily happen and most likely will.
If…

IPA – International Phonetic Alphabet

The IPA or International Phonetic Alphabet is an alphabet‏‎ of sounds (not letters). It is used to show how to pronounce words‏‎.

Using the IPA in your class is a useful tool to give your students. It will help them understand the pronunciation of English words they find in the dictionary‏‎ and also enables you to explain pronunciation quickly and efficiently to them.

The IPA does not necessarily…

Present Perfect Simple in English Grammar

The Present Perfect Simple verb form‎ is used to talk about a past event which has very strong meaning and connection with the present.

As you might imagine, it is sometimes difficult to define well as there are many exceptions to its use; different people will use it in different ways.

As you can see in these examples, the event happened a very short time ago in…

Present Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

The Present Simple is usually one of the very first verb forms‏‎ to be taught in English‏‎. We use it mainly to talk about situations which are always the same or at least consistent for a long time. This includes habits, facts and so on. My name is Joe and I am from Ohio. The Earth goes round the Sun. I believe in Father Christmas. And so on. Form {youtube}mCDHh3lnbk0{/youtube}To…

Language Skills in TEFL

There are 4 basic Language Skills

listening
speaking
reading
writing

This article introduces each of these skills and explains what they are. There are also links to more in-depth articles on each of the skills.
Grouping Skills Together
These can be grouped in different ways.

We can talk about the oral skills (listening and speaking) or the written skills (reading and…

Teaching English in South Korea

There is a high demand for English teachers in South Korea and it is a popular destination for teachers from right around the world.
According to figures from 2011, almost 15,500 foreign English teachers were working in South Korea with about 10% of these being of Korean decent (mostly Korean-Americans).
Qualified English native speakers are required not only for EFL‏‎ classes but also to teach subjects like Maths, Science, English Literature…

Competency-Based Approach to TEFL

The Competency-Based training method was developed primarily for Industry. The training was based on what people were expected to do in the workplace. It emphasized what people could actually do as a result of their training rather than simply looking at the amount of training that the employees attended.

This method allowed trainers to match the training with required job competencies thereby making the training totally relevant…

Can You Teach English Abroad Without a Degree?

The idea of teaching English abroad without a degree comes up often. This article looks at different aspects of this and ways in which teachers without a degree can find work.

For most countries the basic qualifications to teach English are a degree and a TEFL Certificate.

The degree is usually required for visa purposes and in many countries you can only find teaching work if you have a visa…

Sentences‏‎ in English Grammar

A sentence is a group of words‏‎ beginning with a capital letter‏‎ and ending with a full stop/period, exclamation mark or question mark.

It is the written equivalent of an utterance‎.
My name is Conan.
We won!
Is July going to be hot here?

Sentence Types
There are a number of different sentence types in English‏‎ and we use them for different purposes.
Statements
To give information…

Prepositions‏‎ in English Grammar

Prepositions are a closed word class‏‎. This means there are only a few of them and no new ones are ever added to the group. This article introduces the main groups of prepositions in English. A preposition joins nouns, pronouns‏‎ and phrases‏‎ with other words in a sentence‏‎. Generally speaking, a preposition tells us: where something is or when something happened Different Types of Prepositions The word or phrase that…

Punctuation‏‎ in English

Punctuation is the use of different marks to show how a sentence‏‎ is constructed and should be read and understood. It is, if you like, the written equivalent of pauses and emphasis.

In English the following punctuation marks are used:

apostrophes
brackets or parentheses
colon
commas
dashes or hyphens
ellipsis‏‎
emoticons
exclamation mark
inverted commas or quotation…

Tongue Twisters in English

Tongue Twisters are useful ways to practice pronunciation with your class, especially if the sound you are practicing does not exist in the students’ mother tongue.

For example, the /ʃ/ sound does not exist in Greek‏‎ and is often pronounced /s/ by Greek students. This means students there will often say sip instead of ship.

So, students in Greece can often benefit from:

learning the…

Verbs in English Grammar

When we want to talk about what the subject of a sentence‏‎ does, we use a verb.

Verbs tell us about an action; they are sometimes called doing words or action words. Verbs describe what is happening.

Here then are some simple verbs:
drink, eat, rest, dunk
As with many languages, verbs in English are an incredibly important part of speech‏‎ and your TEFL students need to become familiar…

Language Functions and TEFL

When we talk about Language Functions, we are talking about the reason we use a language. This can be contrasted with grammar which is how the language works.

Functions are why we use language: to greet people, to order a meal, to ask the time and so on. Grammar, on the other hand, is how words fit together so we can understand each other.
Communication
At its…

Timelines, Verbs and TEFL

Timelines are a teaching aid we use to help explain how different verb tenses‏‎ are used. They are a visual representation of the passage of time.

This is an empty timeline:

Here, the timeline shows an event in the past (last night) and can be used to explain the past simple‏‎:
Last night we ate curry.

For explaining continuous tenses‏‎, we tend to use…

Active Voice in English Grammar

When the subject performs the action described by the verbs we talk about sentences in the Active Voice.

By voice grammarians mean a grammatical category that shows whether the subject of a sentence is an actor or a recipient. In the active voice the subject is an actor. If the subject of a sentence is the recipient of the action described by the verb then we talk…

Articles‏‎ in English Grammar

There are three types of Articles in English‏‎. Put simply, we use articles to let people know what kind of noun we’re talking about.

Take the word, fly, for example. If I just use the word on its own I’m speaking very generally.
These flies are annoying me.
If I put an Indefinite Article before it, I’m talking about a single fly but I’m not bothered about…

Adjectival Phrases‏‎ in English

Adjectival phrases are phrases that function as adjectives. They consist of the adjective(s) that modifies a noun and any adverb(s) or other elements that modify that adjective.

Adjectival phrases always occur inside noun phrases.
They always have a house full of friends during the summer.
She prepared a wonderfully light meal.
Adjectival phrases can also complete the verb, acting as complement.
She is really boring.
Today the weather was…

Adverbial Clauses‏‎ in English Grammar

An adverbial clause is a subordinate clause‏‎ that act as the adverb in a sentence. It normally answers the questions: how, when, where, how much. We can join two clauses using a simple conjunction. She heard the door open while she was watching television. The second clause can be turned into an adverbial clause by using the present participle. She heard the door open while watching television. We can use…

Adjective Order‏‎ in English Grammar

Adjective order concerns the order in which adjectives‏‎ are used in a phrase. They usually follow this order:

age
color
origin
material
purpose

a
new
red
Swiss
plastic
army
knife

We can have other types of adjectives which we put before the age. These are general adjectives about the size, the shape and our opinion of the noun. Often we can…

The Passive Voice in English Grammar

English sentence‏‎s are mostly built using a simple pattern known as SVO‏‎ which stands for Subject + Verb‏ + Object‏‎:‎
{subject} + {verb} + {object}
Madeleine + broke + the wine glass.
The most important information in a sentence‏‎ usually comes at the beginning and in the examples above we’re interested in who broke the wine glass. This sentence is in the active voice‏‎.

However, sometimes we…

Nouns in English Grammar

A Noun is one of the major parts of speech‏‎. A good, general, definition of a noun is that it is something which is used to name an object or thing.
car, door, elephant…
There are literally thousands upon thousands of nouns in English‏‎ and we regularly add new nouns to the list. In the past few years these new nouns have come into English:
internet, social networking, muggle…

Object Clauses‏‎ in English Grammar

In general when we look at an English sentence to see who is doing what to whom (grammatically speaking), we can say that the subject does something to the object:
{subject} + does something to + {object}
Jesse Owens + won + 4 gold medals.
I + believe + your sister.
The objects in these two examples above are two noun phrases‏‎: 4 gold medals and your sister…

Your TEFL CV/Resume

A TEFL Résumé or CV (Curriculum Vitae) is critical in helping you find work.

It is likely to be the first contact between you and a potential employer and thus is it extremely important that it looks good and is laid out properly.

There are 2 main ways to write a TEFL CV/Résumé: chronologically or thematically. The more traditional way is chronologically and since most of the…

Verb Tenses‏‎ & Forms in English Grammar

Note: descriptions of verb forms and tenses vary. Here we present a simple overview of the tenses and forms of English which is useful for the classroom.

In grammar a tense (from the Latin tempus) is a form of a verb‎ used to indicate roughly the time when the action described by the verb takes place.

In English there are 3 basic tenses: Past, Present and Future. (However, often…

Learner Levels in TEFL

TEFL/TESOL teachers talk about students being Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced and so on. But what does that really mean?

There is no single method used to describe the learner level of an English‏‎ speaker, however this article will provide a rough idea of how to classify a student and how they are generally classified in TEFL.

Note that no single system is definitive and there are overlaps and…

Seating Arrangements‏‎ in your English Classroom

There are many different seating arrangements available to you, the teacher, and lessons can be enhanced by paying attention to them. Unfortunately many teachers keep the same seating arrangement for the entire lesson, and throughout the academic year and then throughout their career.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different seating arrangements, even within a single lesson. A quick seating change can increase motivation and make activities…

Modal Verbs in English

Modal verbs are used to express ideas such as ability, necessity, permission, and possibility.

There are not many modal verbs: can, could, dare*, need*, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would. There are also modal constructions: be able to, ought to, be allowed to.

Modals always come first in a verb‎ formation, before other auxiliaries and the main verb:
{modal} + [auxiliary] + {main verb}
N.B…

Adverbs in English Grammar

Adverbs are known as a kind of ‘catch-all’ class of words‏‎ in English‏‎ and there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. To begin with, however, we can say that adverbs give us more information about other words and clarify usage.

Adverbs can give us more information about an adjective:
The only red bike.
Or a verb:
She swam beautifully.
Or a sentence as a whole:
Unfortunately…

Irregular Adverbs in English Grammar

An adverb modifies a word, phrase, or sentence. It tells us more about them and changes the meaning slightly. Often we say it tells us how something happens:
He paints.
He paints wildly.
In this example wildly is an adverb which tells us how he paints.
Regular Adverbs
In most cases, adverbs‏‎ are formed by adding -ly to an adjective‎:
{adjective} + ly = {adverb}
nice > nicely
expensive > expensively
They are known as…

Cloze or Gap Fill Tests

A cloze test (or gap fill exercise) is a simple exercise where a text has certain words removed and students must suggest suitable alternatives to go in the gap. Cloze tests are a common activity teachers use to get students to focus on a particular language item. They can be used to check new vocabulary‏‎ or to test verb tenses for example. Construction First a text is chosen. This can…

Guessing Game – passive voice activity

This is a simple activity to help students practice the passive voice‏‎ in the present simple‏‎. You should use it once you have gone through the basics of the passive voice and your students are familiar with the rules of formation for the passive present simple tense.

The activity can be used with any student level or age group and it can easily be played with very…

ESL Bingo‏‎

This activity is to practice expressing likes and dislikes. The principle can be adapted, however, to practice almost any language item. The game is best suited to medium to large groups of students. The objective is for each student to fill in a row of their bingo card with the signatures of classmates who have the same likes or dislikes as the pictures on the card. Once a student successfully…

An Introduction to Teaching English Around the World (TEFL)

This article is a very user-friendly introduction to Teaching English Around the World.

That is, heading off for a year or so to a foreign country and teaching English to people there. Or even staying at home in your own country and teaching English to students who come over to learn the language.

There are many thousands of English teachers right around the world (one estimate puts the…

Causative Form‏‎ in English Grammar

The causative form is a special form of passive voice‏‎ we use when we speak about a professional service which someone does for us. He’s having a tooth repaired. She is having her nails painted. As you can see, it’s used to talk about someone doing something for us, usually a professional or technical job which we can’t do ourselves. I am having cable installed. He’s having his tonsils removed…

Adjectives in English Grammar

Adjectives are words we use to describe a noun. They usually come before it:
{1 or more adjectives} + {noun}
big, red, boring book
The noun in this phrase‏‎ is book and the adjectives tell us what size it is (big), what color it is (red) and what we think of it (boring). Note that adjectives don’t always give a value or physical description of a noun (as above). Sometimes they…

False Friends in TEFL

False Friends are pairs of words‏‎ or phrases‏‎ in two different languages which look and/or sound similar but which have very different meanings. False Friends are sometimes known as False Cognates.

Learners will often assume the corresponding word or phrase in the target language will have the same meaning as the word or phrase in their mother tongue‏‎. This often leads to mistakes.
Examples of False Friends…

Count and Non-Count Nouns in English Grammar

There are different ways of classifying nouns and one of the most important, grammatically speaking, is to classify a noun as Count or Non-Count. (Also known as Countable and Non-Countable; count nouns are sometimes also known as Mass Nouns.)

Most nouns are countable; this means we can literally count the objects (or concepts) they refer to. We can, for example, stand in a field and count:
4…

Vowels in English

The word vowel comes from the Latin word vowis meaning voice. In English we should make the distinction between spoken vowels and written vowels.

In spoken English there are approximately 12 basic vowel sounds (see below); in written English, however, there are just 5 vowels. This means, obviously, that the written vowels can be pronounced in different ways.

Every written word has at least one vowel: a…

Accuracy vs Fluency in TEFL

English‏‎ is an international language which people from all over the world learn in order to communicate with each other. Accuracy and Fluency are two factors which can determine the success of English language students in the future.

Essentially accuracy is the ability to produce correct sentences using correct grammar‏‎ and vocabulary‏‎. On the other hand, fluency is the ability to produce‏‎ language easily and smoothly.
Accuracy…

Teaching English in Latvia‏‎

Generally speaking, the demand for native speakers – with or without qualifications – is increasing in Latvia and the other Baltic States. However, the economic hardship that still prevails here means that relatively few paid opportunities exist for expatriate teachers. Although ordinary people are very keen to learn English, they cannot afford to pay for a course of English lessons. These countries are desperate to develop economic links with the…

Essential Qualifications to Teach English

Are you looking for the right kinds of Qualifications to teach English as a Second or Foreign language?

If so, this article is for you. It is the essential guide to TEFL teaching qualifications so you can land a job.
What Do I Need?
That’s the key question. The answer is, however, that there is no single answer.

Some schools ask for one set of qualifications…

Subjects in English Grammar

Look at these sentences‏‎:
James Bond drives an Aston Martin.
Bond is chasing the killer!
007 kissed the beautiful Russian agent.
In each one the subject has been highlighted. The subject is the main theme of the sentence; it is what the sentence is all about. It is, if you like, the star actor of the sentence.

In English‏‎ sentences it normally comes first with the rest of…

Predicates in English Grammar

Most sentences‏‎ have a subject; the Predicate is the rest of the sentence which tells us about that subject.

In these examples, the subject of the sentence is Plato and the predicate is highlighted bold.
Plato thought.
Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher.
Plato is the name of my dog.
As you can see, predicates can be a single word‏‎ or a phrase‏‎. In most cases the predicate follows…

Course Registration/Enrollment

You can easily and quickly register for any of our online TEFL courses here. Register now to begin your course…
Option 1: Pay securely by Debit or Credit Card
You will find there are 4 courses to choose from. Choose the course you wish to take and select the currency you wish to pay in. Press the ‘Buy Course’ button for your choice of online course and continue to our…

Terms & Conditions

The following are the full terms and conditions for taking an ICAL TEFL course. If you have any questions about these then do please feel free to contact us for clarification.

To register for an ICAL TEFL course you must:

have a good standard of English; this means that you must be able to read and write English at a high level

Aside from…

ICAL TEFL Privacy Policy

Your privacy is always carefully managed and protected by ICAL TEFL. This page explains what happens when you write to us and how your details and information is dealt with. This applies whether you are a registered student or a general enquirer. This page outlines the ICAL TEFL privacy policy. The full details are below but in general any information you send us is kept strictly confidential and never passed…

Korean vs English

Korean is spoken as a first language by over 70 million people. This article looks at the kind of issues Korean native speakers have when they learn English. Overview Korean is the official language of North Korea‏‎ and South Korea as well as the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China. It is the first language of approximately 72 million people. English education is big business in South Korea and many…

Recasting & Uptake in TEFL Teaching

Recasting is a form of error correction‏‎ from a teacher to a student; uptake is how the student reacts to this.

Basically, recasting is when the teacher repeats what the student says but in correct English. Uptake is when the student hears the correction and repeats the phrase.

This is an example of recasting in action:
Student: Yesterday I go at the park.
Teacher: Ah, you went…

Teaching English in China

China is one of the major countries where English teachers are in demand. It attracts teachers from many English speaking countries and teaching English‏‎ there is big business.

The country’s English language teaching industry is estimated to be worth over 2 billion USD with more than 300 million Chinese studying English. It has only really emerged in the past 10 years or so and is still in the…

Payment Options for ICAL TEFL Courses

The cost of an ICAL course is shown clearly on the courses page. There are no hidden extras and the course fee includes:

all tuition fees
your personal tutor throughout the course
all materials
full access to the ICAL Student Center during and after the course
unlimited correspondence with ICAL admin and your personal tutor during the course
the certificate, marksheet and reference…

Accreditation & Recognition for TEFL Courses

Despite what some providers claim, there is NO independent international accrediting body for TEFL Certificates.

Likewise, there is NO independent international accrediting body for schools which offer courses online.

This means that, on paper at least, every school or certificate is the same. And if a school claims its course is internationally accredited by an independent body then this isn’t true because there is no international accreditation body…

ICAL Students Training to Teach English

ICAL students come from all walks of life. There’s no “typical” ICAL student.

The majority of our students are new to teaching. But we also have many teachers wanting to learn more and earn an extra qualification.

Aside from a good knowledge of English, we don’t discriminate on any grounds at all which means we have students of all ages and backgrounds, nationalities and so on.

We…

Verb Phrases in English Grammar

A Verb Phrase is a group of words which work together in the same way as a single verb does.

For example, the verbs in the sentences below are highlighted bold.
She slept soundly.
The dog barked all night.
In the following examples instead of a single word acting as a verb, we are using verb phrases.
She was sleeping soundly.
The dog was barking all night…

Suicide & the Hangman Game

There's a report in a Japanese paper about how a TEFL teacher in Yachiyo has come in for criticism after continually playing Hangman‏‎ with students even after a student at the school committed suicide by hanging. Now I think pretty well every teacher on the planet has used hangman at one time or another, not least because it's a popular game in
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Travel makes you Creative!

How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity - that's the title of a research paper published earlier this year. It says, essentially, that if you have more experiences traveling and living abroad then you'll be more creative in your everyday life. However, I'd also suggest that the kind of people who are going to live and travel abroad are going to be more creative anyway. It takes a lot of gumption to leave your
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Macmillan Bribery in TEFL

It’s just come out that Macmillan Publishers has been banned by the World Bank over bribes it paid to the Sudanese government to secure lucrative education contracts in the Sudan‏‎.
This came as quite a surprise to me (and I guess a lot of other people, too) for a couple of reasons.

Firstly while we can expect bribes from oil companies, arms manufacturers, giant multi-nationals and so on, you don’t really expect…

Teaching in [put country here] frustrations!

Trust me. If you want to find out what it’s like teaching in a particular country be prepared to wade through loads of advertising rubbish if you decide to use Google!
We had an inquiry from one of our students who was interested in teaching in Croatia‏‎ and asked us to look into finding him work there. In the TEFL Resource Library here we’ve got loads of information about teaching…

Back behind a Desk – learning a new language

Well I'm on business/holiday right now but in Portugal‏‎ - a country I've never visited before. I always think it's a fascinating experience to be in a place where you know nothing at all of the language. It immediately reminds you what it is like to be a complete beginner. And that's something every teacher needs once in a while I think! There's the slight fear of saying anything in case it's
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