{November 22, 2012}   On Language


{December 5, 2011}   Interactive Whiteboard Activities

It’s been some months since I’ve first tried the device, and I must admit I love it! Here are two excellent sites with tons of activities for you to work with on an interactive whiteboard:

TES Iboard


English is Cool

Teacher Led


ILearn Technology

Learning Today



Promethean Planet

{December 5, 2011}  

Sometime ago I shared this list of easily confused words and phrases in the forum, but I forgot to share it with you. All the credit goes to

Here’s a quick guide to alleviate (or is it ameliorate?) your suffering:

1. a while / awhile: “A while” is a noun phrase; awhile is an adverb.
2. all together / altogether: All together now — “We will refrain from using that two-word phrase to end sentences like this one altogether.”
3. amend / emend: To amend is to change; to emend is to correct.
4. amount / number: Amount refers to a mass (“The amount saved is considerable”); number refers to a quantity (“The number of dollars saved is considerable”).
5. between / among: The distinction is not whether you refer to two people or things or to three or more; it’s whether you refer to one thing and another or to a collective or undefined number — “Walk among the trees,” but “Walk between two trees.”
6. biannual / biennial: Biannual means twice a year; biennial means once every two years.
7. bring / take: If it’s coming toward you, it’s being brought. If it’s headed away from you, it’s being taken.
8. compare to / compare with: “Comparing to” implies similarity alone; “compare with” implies contrast as well.
9. compliment / complement: To compliment is to praise; to complement is to complete.
10. comprise, consist of / compose, constitute: Comprise means “include,” so test by replacement — “is included of” is nonsense, and so is “is comprised of.” The whole comprises the parts or consists of the parts, but the parts compose or constitute the whole.
11. connote / denote: To connote is to convey (“Air quotes connote skepticism or irony”); to denote is to specify (“A stop sign denotes the requirement to halt”).
12. continual / continuous: Continual events are frequently repeated, or intermittent. Continuous events are uninterrupted, or constant.
13. credible / credulous: To be credible is to be authoritative; to be credulous is to be gullible.
14. deserts / desserts: If you eat only cake, pie, ice cream, and the like, you eat just desserts. If you have it coming to you, you get your just deserts as well. (However, the connotation is negative, so hit the gym.)
15. different from / different than: The former phrase is preferred in formal writing; but “differently than” is always correct usage.
16. discreet / discrete: Discreet means “subtle”; discrete means “separate.” (“He discreetly reminded them of their discrete meanings.”)
17. each other / one another: “One another” is preferred in formal writing when more than two of something are being discussed.
18. economic / economical: Economic refers to the science of economics; economical suggests frugality.
19. elemental/elementary: What’s elemental is essential or integral to nature; what’s elementary is basic.
20. ensure / insure / assure: To ensure is to guarantee, to insure is to indemnify, and to assure is to comfort or convince.
21. epidemic / endemic / pandemic: An epidemic is the outbreak of disease in a limited place and time; an endemic disease is a recurring one peculiar to a place or population; a pandemic is pervasive over a wide geographical area.
22. forgo / forego: To forgo is to go without; to forego is to go before (and is generally used only in the forms foregoing and foregone, which are themselves rare).
23. gibe / jibe / jive: To gibe (soft g, as in gym) is to taunt or insult (though jibe is an alternate spelling), to jibe with is to coincide or fit, to jive is to deceive.
24. historic / historical: Something historic is remarkable for its impact on history; something historical is simply an event in history.
25. home in / hone in: To home in is to close in; to hone in is to confuse one word for another. (“Hone in” has no meaning.)
26. jealousy / envy: Jealousy is resentment; envy is covetousness.
27. lay / lie: Lay is transitive, associated with a direct object — “Lay that pencil down.” “Yesterday, I laid that pencil down.” “That pencil has been laid down.” Lie is intransitive, not so associated — “Lie down.” “Last night, I lay down.” “It was my plan to have lain down already.
28. leach / leech: To leach is to dissolve by percolation; to leech is to remove blood with a leech or to exhaust; as a noun, it means a parasitic worm or the human figurative equivalent, or the edge of a sail (also spelled leach).
29. libel / slander: Libel is written defamation; slander is the spoken equivalent.
30. may / might: May refers to factual or possible; might is appropriate for the hypothetical or counterfactual.
31. nauseous / nauseated: To be nauseous is to cause sickness. To be nauseated is to feel sick.
32. notable / noticeable / noteworthy: Something notable is worthy of note. Something noticeable is capable of being noticed. Noteworthy is a synonym of notable, though the former implies the unusual and the latter the commendable.
33. partly / partially: Partly means “in part”; partially means “incomplete” or, rarely, is an antonym for unfairly.
34. peak / pique: To peak is to reach the pinnacle; to pique is to arouse interest or to bother.
35. people / persons: People has assumed primacy; persons is reserved mostly as a synonym for bodies (“those belongings carried on their persons”).
36. persuade / convince: To persuade someone is to motivate them to do something; to convince someone is to lead them to understand or believe.
37. predominantly / predominately: Both forms are correct, but predominantly predominates.
38. purposely / purposefully: What’s done purposely is done on purpose; what’s done purposefully is done with a purpose.
39. regrettably / regretfully: Regrettably is a synonym for unfortunately; regretfully means just that — full of regret.
40. repetitive / repetitious: Both terms have acquired a negative connotation, but the former retains a more neutral meaning.
41. sensual / sensuous: Sensual has an erotic connotation; sensuous refers more neutrally to what is pleasurable to the senses.
42. since / because: Informally, these terms are interchangeable, but in formal writing, since should be used only to refer to time.
43. stationary / stationery: To be stationary is to stand still; stationery refers to letter-writing materials.
44. that / which: That is used restrictively (“The pencil that is sharp” — among more than one pencil, the one with that characteristic); which is employed nonrestrictively (“The pencil, which is sharp” — one pencil alone, possessing that characteristic). The distinction is rarely observed other than in American English.
45. tortuous / torturous: A tortuous experience is a winding one; a torturous one is painful.
46. transcript / transcription: A transcript is a thing; a transcription is the process of creating it.
47. verbal / oral: Verbal refers to both written and spoken communication, but oral is useful for distinguishing the latter from the former.
48. while / although / whereas: Informally, while is a synonym for the other two terms, but in formal writing it should be reserved for temporal connotations.
49. wreak / wreck: These terms do not share etymological origin; you wreck a party, but you do so by wreaking havoc.
50. whether / if: Both words are correct in expressing a choice, but the former is more appropriate in formal writing (“I can’t decide whether to go”), whereas the latter is better reserved for reference to possibility or probability (“I’ll go if you do”).

{June 17, 2011}   Stories in a Bag!

Some weeks ago I attended a seminar at the Teacher’s Training College I attend, and I must say it was TERRIFIC Fabiana Parano showed teachers how to TELL stories in the classroom without resorting to a book, and using gestures and body language to help students understand the story.

Thinking on the effects stories have on children and adults, if you have the chance to attend any of her courses I highly recommend them!

More info

As some of you know, in one of the subjects I’m attending at the Teacher Training College this year we are working with a topic that many teachers are still afraid of: technology.

Our professor invited us to a talk Nicholas Burbules was giving at UNQ last Tuesday and I must say it was amazing to listen to all those trues. I hoped to listen to some tips as regards how to implement technology in the classroom for those teachers that are still reluctant to do so, but anyway, the overall impression after the talk was that of having heard a precise round up of what I was working with at College.

To begin with, Nicholas provided a very clear explanation of why teachers MUST include technology in their lessons. Basically, he believes that there is no longer a one to one relation between teacher and student but a triangular relation:

With the presence of this new connectivity element, the teacher acquires a new role in the classroom: that of mediator of information. The teacher becomes a designer or the learning environment, s/he will have to adapt the situations according to the interests of their learners. The children of today are not like us: they prefer multitasking rather than doing one thing at the time, and they seem to have been born glued to a computer. That’s why we have to include technology. Schools are now full of digital natives, who demand motivating activities from their teachers.

Nicholas Burbules also demystified some teachers’ beliefs about technology in the classroom, concluding that edutainment IS posible and that we as teachers should concentrate on providing a “translation” of the information students come across.since there is nothing that can be understood exactly as the speaker says it – we have to negotiate  meaning in a meaningful context.

In his conclusion, he stated something that I want to quote as exact as I remember since I found it really important:

“Information is NOT knowledge.

The integration of learning and knowledge to create more complex structures is something that takes time.

Information comes quickly, but knowledge comes slowly

If you are interested in learning more about this conference and Nicholas Burbules, you can take a look at:

Interview (In Spanish)

Blog entry on Technology in the Classroom (In Spanish)

{March 25, 2011}   Accents – a compilation (!)

While doing my research for the previous post, I came across three very interesting videos where native English speakers show us some of the accents of the English language.

Here they are!


{March 25, 2011}   Accent Reduction

After watching this video, I thought it would be nice to look for some material on accent reduction to share with you.

Accent reduction, also known as elocution or accent modification, is a systematic approach used to learn or adopt a new accent. It is the process of learning the sound system (or phonology) of a language or dialect. The methodology involves several steps, which include identifying deviations in the person’s current speech from the desired accent (such as pronunciation, speech patterns, and speech habits), changing the way one uses the mouth, teeth, and tongue to form vowel and consonant sounds, modifying one’s intonation and stress patterns, and changing one’s rhythm. Using this method, individuals such as those mastering a second language may alter their speech to more closely resemble the accent of a certain group of people, and thus enhance the clarity of their communication with those people. (From Wikipedia)

Improving your pronunciation will take a lot of patience and commitment, and with a little help of the resources available you will get great results.

A lesson on word stress

Some tips for accent reduction

Tongue Twisters to practice your English accent!

There are A LOT of materials on accent reduction available on the internet, you just have to look for them, use them, and practice! But remember that accent reduction DOES NOT MEAN accent elimination! Sometimes, it is better to work on reducing areas of our pronunciation that affect comprehensibility, that is, areas of our accents that make it difficult for native speakers to understand us.

{February 3, 2011}   Taboo! Game for your students

Have you ever played Taboo!? It’s a very entertaining game to practice vocabulary with your students.

(picture taken by myself)

Imagine you got a card saying “teacher” Below, you got three words that could be really useful for a definition of “teacher”. What if you couldn’t use those words to explain your word?

Well, Taboo! game is, basically, what I described above. Here you can find some templates and here there are some ready to print games (and you can also download the rules) Oh! And here you can play Taboo! online.

{September 19, 2010}   The importance of pronunciation

I’ve been remembering a situation for a while, and I thought some of you would have also participated in a similar one, thus, the purpose of this post.

Once I was told by a partner that she used to teach final -ed pronunciation in a very particular way. She said her students did not need the “specifics” and that a very general rule would be enough.

And I disagreed.

I couldn’t believe her explanation (and the fact that she wanted me to work in that way!) and started looking for material on the topic for my students to work at home.

I came across a free English lesson on the pronunciation of -ed endings; A very nice theoretical explanation and some nice exercises together with simple explanations

More theory over here:
Teaching ESL to Adults

And some exercises right here:



How couldn’t I include it, people? There’s plenty of material out there in youtube!

{September 2, 2010}   Nice stuff

I’ve been doing my homework and I came across several interesting articles on the net.

Technology that we all cannot live without, by Johnny Hart

How regional dialects are spreading around the UK thanks to Facebook and Twitter, by Daily Mail Reporter

Phrases we will hear a lot…,  by Ron Dzwonkowski

I’m planning to use some excerpts to show my students some “real” pieces of news. Hope you like them too!

et cetera