Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mobile Grammar Glossary

The Grammar Glossary is now updated so that it views smoothly on mobile devices.

The Grammar Glossary can be found at: www.roadtogrammar.com/glossary

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Wisdom of Kindergarten

I just wanted to share one of my old favourites: a poem about the wisdom of kindergarten!

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup ~ they all die. So do we.
And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all ~the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

If you like it, here's a nicely formatted version on the RoadToGrammar site: www.roadtogrammar.com/kindergarten

Please go ahead and share it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Grammar Glossary

Introducing a new feature on RoadToGrammar.com: The Grammar Glossary

The grammar glossary features over a hundred grammar terms defined for anyone interested in TEFL.

Check it out here:  www.roadtogrammar.com/glossary/


Friday, October 12, 2012

Saturday, September 01, 2012

New quiz: Household items

There's a new quiz on Road To Grammar.

This time, it is a vocabulary quiz to help beginners learn the names of household items. The quiz has 28 household items to learn, with accompanying pictures.

You can try the quiz at: www.roadtogrammar.com/householditems


Friday, August 31, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Non-English Speakers in the US

Ever wondered how many people don’t speak English at home in the US? I did, so I pulled some stats from www.census.gov and came up with my own infographic.

Big language communities

Languages spoken by over one million people at home in the US (2007):

Spanish:              34.5 million
Chinese:              2.46 million
French:                1.98 million                 (includes Patois, Cajun, Creole)
Tagalog:              1.48 million
Vietnamese:       1.2 million
German:              1.1 million
Korean:               1.06 million

Integration the into English-speaking world

Languages spoken by fewer people in the US in 2007, compared to 1980:


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Complete and Incomplete Sentences

There's a new activity up on RoadToGrammar Jr today.

"Understanding Complete Sentences" should be suitable for young learners, in the K-2 range or slightly older if they have English as their second language.

As with all activities on Road to Grammar, it is presented in a straightforward and clear manner. There are two different activities on the topic, answers are always available and there are six pages of notes.

It's formatted to work nicely on a smartboard in the class.

The direct URL is www.roadtogrammar.com/completesentences

Here is a preview:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Phone and Tablets Versions Ready

As of today, you can log on to www.roadtogrammar.com with your phone or tablet and you will be presented with a version of the site formatted for your device.

The phone version works with both iPhone and Android systems and the tablets version works with the iPad or any Android-powered tablet.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chopped! - a new word game

It's time for a brand new word game on Road To Grammar.

In Chopped, the player is given a set of eight letters and you need to cut the letters out in such a way that they form a word of three letters or more. You'll need to be fast to beat the timer, which goes faster every round. You get bonuses for longer words or for finding a word quickly.

Chopped should work really well as a class game on a smartboard. Try it now while it's still easy to get a high score!

URL:  www.roadtogrammar.com/chopped


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Practice your adjectives!

There is a great new activity on Road To Grammar for you to practice your adjectives with. The task is to pick out the adjectives in each sentence.

The activity is here: www.roadtogrammar.com/adjectives

The junior version (with kid-friendly example sentences) is here: www.roadtogrammar.com/junior/adjectives

Here are some screenshots:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

The Flipped Classroom is a great teaching concept: learning outside the classroom; homework and practice inside the classroom.

Can roadtogrammar.com help with this? You bet. The quizzes on roadtogrammar.com are great for going over in the classroom and look good on a projector or smartboard.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A story of two worms

I was discussing the homeless problem with a friend and whether people became homeless as a result of bad luck or bad choices and my friend told me a story. I just wanted to share the story with you, since it struck me that it would be an excellent short reading passage for ESL teachers to use:

The Story of Two Worms

Two worms were together on a leaf. A gust of wind blew them both off. One landed in a muddy puddle and the other on a dry sidewalk. The one in the muddy puddle had plenty to drink and all the nutrients it needed to grow strong. The other nearly shrivelled to death. Again the wind blew and the two worms ended up together again. The worm that came from the puddle said to the other, "I owe my success to intelligence, hard work and charm." 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Two Methods of Learning English

Looking through my students' writing in detail, I noticed that they seemed to be employing two different methods for learning English:

Method 1: Direct translation

Students using this method would first think of how they would say the sentence in their own language, and then they would do their best to translate this into English. The problem is that no two languages are the same. If you use this technique, your sentences may turn out to be totally incomprehensible! Over time, you will learn via the corrections to your mistakes, but you will definitely need to change your learning style at around intermediate level.

Method 2: "Copy and Paste"

As teachers, we often tell our students: "Don't copy and paste!" However, if you think about it, this is the basis of how we learn language as infants. We listen as adults say something, then we repeat it. Slowly, we are able to be more flexible, and adapt phrases and then sentences to mean what we want them to. Even as adults, we hear a funny turn of phrase, like it, and use it ourselves.

So this is certainly a more natural way to learn English. It's not without it's pitfalls, though. Learners hear something and fail to repeat it correctly, so "Give me a hand" becomes "Give me the hands" and so on. As teachers, we need to be patient with these kind of mistakes.

Clearly, to my mind, the second method is better. How can we encourage our students to "copy and paste"? Lots of reading and lots of listening. And always pick out phrases (not only words) from the listening and reading for the students to use. And praise them when you hear them use a phrase that they've picked up. Help them to be flexible with new phrases and adapt them, just like we did when we learned English as infants!

Monday, April 02, 2012

An educational technology blog

I've been going through this blog for the past hour or so:


I would highly recommend it for anyone casually interested in Educational Technology. The author places a strong emphasis on Google products and the Android platform, which I agree are two great areas for educators to explore.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Who invented English grammar rules?

If you've ever wondered why English has such odd grammar rules, here's an excerpt from the book 'English Grammar for Dummies':

The next time you try to decide whether you had run or had ran home, thank the Angles and the Saxons. Those old guys were members of Germanic tribes who invaded England about 1500 years ago. Their languages blended into Anglo-Saxon, which came to be called Englisc. Nowadays it's called "Old English."

Old English lasted about 400 years; this English would look and sound like a foreign language to English-speakers today. Although it's gone, Old English isn't forgotten. Remnants remain in modern speech. You can thank (or blame) the Anglo-Saxons for most of the irregular verbs, including the fact that you say ran instead of runned.

In the Middle English period (1100 to about 1450) England was speckled with local dialects, each with its own vocabulary and sentence structure. Nobody studied grammar in school, and nobody worried about what was correct or incorrect. (There were a few more important items on the agenda, including starvation and the bubonic plague.)

In the fifteenth century the printing press was invented and the era of Modern English began. At this time, folks were more interested in learning to read and also more interested in writing for publication. But writers faced a new problem. Sending one's words to a different part of the country might mean sending them off to someone whose vocabulary or sentence structure was different. Not to mention the fact that spelling was all over the place! 

Suddenly, rules seemed like a good idea. London was the center of government and economic life — and also the center of printing. So what the London printers decided was right soon became right. However, not until the eighteenth century did the rules realty become set Printers, in charge of turning handwriting into type, were guided by "printers' bibles," also known as the rules. 

Schoolmasters tried to whip the English language into shape by writing the rules down. But they grafted Latin concepts onto English, and it wasn't always a good fit. In fact, some of the loonier rules of English grammar come from this mismatch. In Latin, for example, you can't split an infinitive because an infinitive is a single word. In English, infinitives are formed with two words (to plus a verb, as in to dance, to dream). Nevertheless, the rule was handed down: no split infinitives.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Learn the types of fruit

Here is an activity to learn different types of fruit.

I've tried to put it together so it would appeal to both young learners and adult beginners.

Try it here:   www.roadtogrammar.com/fruit

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Create your own quiz and host it on RoadToGrammar

I've just added a new tool to Road To Grammar. Now you can create a multiple choice quiz, like the ones on Road To Grammar, and save it on Road To Grammar for your students (or whoever) to use.

The best thing is that there is no log-in necessary! But you can add a password if you like. When you finish creating and uploading the quiz, you will get a unique URL where the quiz will be located. Here is an example: http://www.roadtogrammar.com/myquizzes?11qh

Try it out, create your own quiz right here: http://www.roadtogrammar.com/myquizzes/qm.htm

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quiz on Embedded Questions

I've just added a new quiz to RoadToGrammar.com, on embedded questions.

You can go directly to the quiz by clicking here: 

Embedded questions was one of the very few topics missing from the list and now there's a 20-question quiz and notes. It's a good topic for learners at level B2 and up.

I combined the the two quizzes on Environmental issues into one quiz, to make space.

Also, I'm always happy to take suggestions for new quizzes or even games. Post them here in the comments if you like.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Null Comparative

I just learned something new. A comparative that doesn't actually state what it is comparing to is called a 'null comparative'.

They are most often used in advertising:

"XYZ coffee gives you more flavor!"                  (More flavor than what? Toilet water?)

See the wikipedia entry here:

Create Backwards Text

Here is a little tool I created just for fun. Enter text and it will reverse it. You can then copy and paste the reversed text:


Use it for whatever you like

New Quiz: YOUR and YOU'RE

There is another new quiz on Road to Grammar on the topic YOUR and YOU'RE - many learners - and even native speakers - mix up these two ...