ESL Journal
The Journal
Recent articles appear in their entirety; older articles are abbreviated with a link to the full text. We invite teachers and professional linguists to register and to submit topics and articles in this web log. Comments may be posted by any member while logged in, either in conjunction with articles or in personal profile updates.
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A Practical Approach to Teaching L2 Grammar
The communicative activity being introduced here has been designed for Japanese L2 intermediate level learners in mind. The emphasis is on the most frequently encountered grammatical problems that students face. The activity centers on a specific grammar point, which is clearly explained using examples and is included in the Teacher’s notes. The idea proposed is not new, but it is unique and will present grammar in a fun and interesting way. As stated by Ma Carmen Perez-Llantada (2007), if the goal of an instructor is to get students to use grammatical structures in a meaningful and constructive way, then we as teachers need to provide students with sufficient opportunities to use the grammatical structures in intriguing, thought provoking activities.

One of the most common mistakes teachers encounter with beginner level university students is with their inability to use the simple past tense correctly. This lesson addresses that issue and it also gets students to use WH-question words correctly. It is called Yumeijin (Famous person). It is best to provide and use information gap activities whenever possible because it brings students together to accomplish a specific task. In this activity, students are presented with information about the lives of two famous Japanese celebrities and in pairs they will work together to determine the missing information. The missing information will elicit responses using the simple past tense and the use of WH-question words. A more detailed description of this activity is listed in the Teacher’s Notes.


Download PDF version with aids, exercises...

New Article Formats Adopted
ESL Journal is moving with the trends of the times (unless they change again tomorrow morning, sigh). New professional articles will now appear in summary form in the Web Log, and the full contents will be available as downloadable PDFs linked from the summaries. This creates a more maintainable structure and reduces the preparation time needed for publication, so we can evaluate more articles. Hooray!
Respond, but be slow to react
(By Prof. V. Prakash) We cannot imagine a world without communication. At the same time, from time immemorial, communication has been the cause of worry to the civilized world. There can be no prescriptions if one decides to put across the subject matter in a clumsy manner; rather many suggestions come to the fore when a cultured way of speaking is the intended method of delivery. Innumerable strategies have surfaced depending on the needs of the changing world. The workplace atmosphere paves room for learning and handling newer ways of interaction to keep the game going.


Semantic and Lexical Issues in Writings by Korean Children
This paper discusses the results of a study which investigated the lexical difficulties faced by Korean children with regard to their writing in English. The study involved 10 children aged 12 – 13 who attended an English summer camp at a university in Seoul, in which they studied both English speaking and writing skills. In terms of writing output, the students produced a total of seven written assignments, both personal and academic in nature. Thus, 70 pieces of writing, ranging in length from a page to a page and a half, were analyzed as part of this study. In terms of the lexical problems faced by the students, I used a categorization system to help create a more systematic focus (--and word choices are categorized by clarity of meaning -Ed.).

Category one involves a word choice(s) which involves a rather unnatural style; using words which did not communicate as naturally as others might, though displaying semantic clarity nonetheless. This can be seen in using expressions such as ‘the living area’ when referring to animals’ place of residence, when ‘habitat’ would clearly be a more natural, hence better, choice.


Download the full article (PDF)

'Podcasting' - Sewing a New Kind of Seed
The rising worldwide popularity of MP3 sound files and the iPod makes it possible for sound files to be easily added to articles in an ESL Journal site. (Example)

A teacher can use MP3 files - which can be downloaded to a simple device called an "iPod Shuffle" - in two basic ways. UPDATE: Since the original publication of this article many additional small MP3 players have become available. Playback is not limited to a particular device. Most mobile phones are now (2013) capable of handling podcasts. It may be necessary to interpose another device such as a desktop computer as the interface between the source and the player. The most commonly used is iTunes (

First, the sound file can be recorded and stored on the web server as source material. The students then download the file to their own iPod Shuffle, listen to the message, and write articles about the message in their journals.

Second, a brief article in the teacher's journal can be read aloud by the student in the laboratory, captured to a sound file, and uploaded to a web server. A link to the file is then submitted to the teacher, who evaluates the student's verbal skills. Many variations are possible.


TESL for the World of Work
V. Prakash argues that ESL should address the real needs of students, who primarily need English as a career skill. He points out that ESL curricula and syllabi should not but often do reflect instead the more academic aspirations of administrators and school governance entities. He argues that syllabi should emerge from the felt needs of students and the need to perform productively in the world of work.

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Less, More, either, both? Toward practical outcomes
In her new article Less can be More, Gillian James of the University of Salford leads us toward contemporary speech and writing in frequently encountered media as a spur to encourage creative use of speech exercises promoting practical outcomes in everyday use of the new language. Clear examples are presented; any teacher should be able to expand on the theme in the context of their students' actual skills and needs.

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Registration Form Repaired
Our registration form is now working correctly after a temporary programming error. We invite your participation once again. Pre-existing registrations are unaffected.
English: Not for the faint of heart
You think English is easy? Try to explain these to a first-grader or your ESL class. Each sentence contains one word spelled the same with different pronunciation and meaning. Rules? What rules?

For example...

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce .

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse refuse.

(We have a million of 'em. Maybe not quite.)


'Higher' literature in the classroom
In a newly added article, Salma Ainy of Bangladesh Open University explores how in 'literature' has come to include advertising copy, graffiti and public notices which use literary devices like parallelism, rhyme, rhythm and metaphor. require careful interpretation and may be more relevant than the usual canonical texts which sometimes use esoteric or regionally biased language. As "literature" increasingly encompasses popular fiction, advertising and film, students need from teachers those capabilities that help them make sense of their worlds, determine their own interests, and see through the manipulations of all sorts of texts in all sorts of media, and to express their own views in some appropriate manner.

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Hints for Teaching English Pronunciation to Iranian Students
Prof. A. Majid Hayati of Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Iran, provides perspective on pronunciation issues facing Iranian students in achieving pronunciation suitable for the workplace or for very public arenas. This article includes an extensive bibilography.

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Poetry a Guide to Spoken Form
Salma Ainy of Bangladesh Open University assesses the potential of poetry in building speaking skill in a new commentary and literature review. The included bibliography is a resource you may wish to develop in your own courses.

Read it now!

Curricular Duality Can Be Managed
In a new article, V. Prakash of India points out that rural and urban students often take a very different view of the relative importance of second-language study. Paraphrasing, the inward looking rural students see the requirement; the urban students' outward world view lets them see the opportunity. Prakash argues that the teacher can build a curriculum that serves both perspectives and offers some structural factors. -Ed.

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Contribute to ESL Journal
We welcome articles by ESL professionals around the world. Submit articles as plain text (no boldface or special characters) using the Inquiries form. Your article may also have illustrations; if we can use your article, we will request them. Articles will be open to comments by registered users.

Ideas, tests, hypotheses, research results, and new technology are all valid topics. Unsure? Write to the editors.