meaning of placenames

Language Quiz: The Meaning of Place Names

Click Here to Take the Test!

Ten Tricky Questions

My free trail with the quiz program is over so please leave your results in the comments.

Who can get 100%?

Leave your own tricky place name questions in the comments too!


LTL DISCUSSION: motivation – it’s tricky

LTL DISCUSSION: motivation – it’s tricky

Motivation means being able to organise yourself to do the things that you want to.

In language teaching and learning ‘motivation’ is often used to describe learner behaviour. Teachers sometimes complain that some students or even some groups of students are ‘unmotivated’, and this makes them difficult to teach. This is a problem, because learning to learn is a very important part of the language learning process, and sometimes teachers can forget this. If learning isn’t happening the way learners think it should (rightly or wrongly), then it is very easy to become discouraged – or ‘unmotivated’.

Motivation is usually defined in two ways: Continue reading

strategies for beginner learners

LTL DISCUSSION: five tips to help you get started in a new language

LTL DISCUSSION: Strategies for negotiating meaning when you don’t know all the words

Dealing with a small vocabulary

The most popular strategy among second language learners when faced with communication in the target language is to avoid any second language interactions at all. Obviously, this is a rubbish strategy, so let’s look at some other alternatives. Continue reading

reflective learning

LTL REFLECTION: heavy rain taught me how much I DO know

LTL REFLECTION: heavy rain taught me how much I DO know

Tai chi challenge: learn the 24-forms – in Chinese!

Last year I joined a local tai chi group in their twice-weekly practice in a nearby school hall. The challenge for me is to learn tai chi, but because the class is held in Mandarin I’m also getting a lot of exposure to Chinese.

To be honest, I ‘look and learn’ during instruction and I don’t pay much attention to the spoken instructions (not being able to speak Mandarin, and all). I often think how much easier it would be if I could understand the master, but I don’t. Continue reading

LTL DISCUSSION: let go of the need to understand everything

Focusing on what you DO know, rather than what you DON’T

Imagine you are reading a travel journal, and the article you are interested in has several sentences like this:

Line 1 of the subway now extends past Asan, and commuters traveling further south can easily switch to the mugunghwa, saemaul, nooriro and KTX services.

You are unlikely to have come across the words; Asan, mugunghwa, saemaul, nooriro or KTX. That’s 5 out of 25 words that you don’t understand, but despite not understanding 20% of the text you can figure out that capital A ‘Asan’ is probably a town or city and the other words are types of train service – so you just carry on reading – no big deal. In this case, 80% comprehension is enough when you are reading about specialist subjects in your own language, or a language you know very well.

But now imagine that you are reading a similar sentence in another language; one that you are not so familiar with. How do you feel now?

La bouffe anglaise est un cercle de l’Enfer à elle toute seuleContinue reading

language teaching and learning

LTL REFLECTION: making word cards work 4

Progress Report:: Where’s the ‘choo-choo’?

It’s good being on the right track, but there has to be some ‘choo-choo’, too.

Upside, because there’s always an upside; I’m really good at making word association links with my new vocabulary, and although I am inconsistent with my word card work, I’ve got most of my 88 new words nailed down (about 10 of them are still not yet firmly fixed in my memory) and I’ve got 25 new words to learn over the next week. So after four weeks I’ll have over a hundred words at my disposal.

What’s wrong with that? Continue reading

reading esl

READING ESL: dream come true

This is a story for young readers that I have written for an upcoming event at a Malaysian high school. The students are all second language English-speakers and they are all mid-range proficiency for their age. Our event is going to focus on the students’ aspirations and we will encourage them to think about their dreams, and the decisions they will need to make in order to achieve those dreams. We will do this by using the ‘make your own adventure‘ format of storytelling.

The printed version of this story uses the Microsoft Word comment function to provide a paragraph summary for each of the options. The summary is a very brief guide to the main points of the story. The stories are designed to be read either silently, or aloud in groups and re-enacted or re-vamped according to the ideas that come up.

My Dream

… is to ride a horse

Continue reading