How to distract your students into paying attention

Great post from Speakeasy at the Wall Street Journal:

“It’s the oldest trick in the book: If you have a boring task, make it seem like fun. Maybe others will pitch in. You might even start enjoying yourself. Remember Tom Sawyer living it up while whitewashing the picket fence? The best teachers I encountered while researching “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn” captivated their students’ attention by providing interactive and collaborative challenges with clear rewards. We can adapt some of their tactics.”

Go to How to Distract Your Kid Into Paying Attention


12 Reasons to like ESL Pod

ESL Pod can be found at: I recommend it for upper-intermediate level students. It is free. I do not use the extra paid features.

I like it for 12 reasons:


It introduces very useful new vocabulary. When I choose topics related to business it teaches some business words. But it also introduces some general advanced vocabulary like Continue reading “12 Reasons to like ESL Pod”

Teaching academic writing

Most writing books are pretty useless.


They are born out of a sort of academic incest, inbreeding. The authors look at what other authors got published and follow that. Publishers look at what other publishers sold and publish that. Jack Richards hints at this problem on his website. Shocking truth: Publishers are not in the business to help your students. Continue reading “Teaching academic writing”

Executive coaching

I have been teaching for many years the Chinese managers at an American company.  Some of these managers already have very good English skills and it became a challenge to keep their interest or provide something that they really needed.

From my research and experience, I found that managers with good English skills nonetheless felt they weren’t communicating well. They always feel that Continue reading “Executive coaching”

Creating the beginning of an online course

I believe I made some mistakes in my earlier attempts at online training by not starting off seductive enough.

In my face-to-face training, I usually begin in a friendly way and tell some funny stories about myself. I know that the students are often nervous about what the course is going to be like.

But in the past I was not very successful in considering how to start the course off, how to hook the students into the course. Through my research on the Internet, I haven’t found anyone address this subject about how to ease and attract students into an online course but I think it is something that can make or break a course.

Currently, there are five lessons per week in my course but for the very first week there are four things for the student to do, only two of them lessons:

1. Register at the website.
2. Write a short introduction of themselves and upload a photo and reply to two other students’ introductions.
3. Do an online lesson that we actually also did face-to-face in class. Because we have already done this lesson and I demonstrated online how to do it, they already know the answers, they just need to do it again by themselves online.
4. Do one lesson we have not already done together.

The idea is to ease the student into the online nature of the course, make it easy and pleasant, associate good feelings about this way of training.