Category Archives: English Lessons

ESL Lesson: The Rabbit and the Turtle: Activity Four: Writing a Story and Using Correction Marks

… Introduction: If we want students to write well, it’s good to emphasize correction marks. When students use them, it helps them to focus on the writing and to think about punctuation and syntax. All correction marks are pretty similar. I’ve borrowed some of mine […]

ESL Lesson: The Rabbit and the Turtle: Activity Three: Practicing Syntax: Agreeing and Disagreeing (either, neither, and, but, so, and too)

… Introduction: The first four activities in this lesson are pre-reading ones, designed to get students used to working together writing, talking and thinking about language and syntax. In this activity, the teacher talk is about main verbs and helping verbs in compound sentences. The […]

ESL Lesson: The Rabbit and the Turtle: Activity Two: Writing Simple Sentences

… Objective: Students will understand the simple structure of a sentence by writing four kinds of sentences using the completed Venn diagrams from Activity One as prompts: affirmative and negative sentences, and Yes/No and explanation questions. Students will write explanation questions of their own, ask […]

ESL Lesson: The Rabbit and the Turtle: Activity One: Similarities and Differences

… Introduction: Because a fable like the Rabbit and the Turtle deals with essential human truths everyone understands, it’s a good place for ESL students to start to work together. This lesson is geared toward High Beginners/Low Intermediates, but it can be ratcheted up or […]

The Storm: Creation of a Poem

… In Wuhan, China, summer of 2008, one stormy evening after my poetry workshop, Richard, a young scientist majoring in Physics, offered to walk me back to the hotel sharing his umbrella in the pouring rain as we made it up the steps built into […]

Bernadette Mayer’s Tomorrow: writing in the future

… I admire a poem by Bernadette Mayer called Tomorrow. It’s from a book of hers called Scarlet Tanager. The poem is a good prompt to get my ESL students writing about the future and the conditional. In the poem Bernadette moves at an impossible […]

Forget: Beautiful thoughts simply expressed

… Beautiful thoughts aren’t always pretty and neither are beautiful words. At the poetry workshop this summer at Wuhan I’d show two short poems by Alice Notley that were simple to understand. Here is one of them. After Tsang Chih I was brought up in […]

My Brother by Yu

… A class of mine did great speeches. The speech I liked the best was given by a young man named Yu who is so nervous that when he speaks his right hand is clenched in a fist and his left hand has all five […]

Poets in my Homeroom: Wuhan 2010

Some of my homeroom students also attended my poetry workshop. As I’ve mentioned before they aren’t English majors or poets. They are scientists and mathematicians. Li Feng works with electric information, Lily is a chemist, Celeste and Kelvin are studying statistics. “Mathematics is the language […]

A Mirror by Muhammad Izchi

… This short poem was written summer of 2010 by Muhammad, a Muslim student of mine from western China. He is the first student at Wuhan I’ve ever had who wasn’t Hun Chinese. There are more foreign students on campus, particularly from Africa, that I […]

Dusk by Ruiqi Liu

… When I first met Rich, the summer of 2008, I thought she was very shy, but I also knew she was confident enough to give me a poem she had written for a class assignment. Like most of my poets, she’s a scientist, pharmaceutical […]

You Are Beautiful by Di Wu

… Every country has its radicals, thank goodness, most within a stone’s throw, and if you look, you will find them, like the truth. Even radicals can be in love, and feel its pangs, and write about it. You are beautiful like the blooming flowers. […]