Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Website Review:

In short: At last count, a list of 148 blogs on all things ESL. Some are cool. Some are bad. Some are new. Some are old. Some update daily. Some haven’t updated in years.

All in all, it’s a nice resource if you’re new to the ESL blog world and are looking to find some cool stuff.

For students: Here’s one site we found through this site that you might enjoy:

For teachers: And here’s one for all you teachers:

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review:

In short: It’s not worth the money, but there are more than 400 lesson plans on this pay site. You can also access their flash card library with an impressive number of well organized pictures. It’d be shocking if the lesson plans were better than the stuff you can find here, here, and (oh by the way) here. The stuff you can do with the flash cards looks good…but you could just use free clip art pages or Google image search and to get the pictures you need for free.

For students: This site is just for teachers.

For teachers: If you do have access to this site and could pass along some of the lesson plans, we’d be interested in using them to make this review better.

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , | 1 Comment

Website Review:

In short: One of the five best ESL sites on the internet. They have everything. They’ve been putting out great material for 15 years and let’s hope they never stop. Their own menu bar says it all: Articles, Lessons, Techniques, Questions, Games, Jokes, Things for Teachers, Links, and Activities for Students.

The site is organized perfectly. There’s no distracting advertising. If you have a slow connection, this site will still load quickly. What more could you want?

For students: The “Activities for Students” button will take you to this site, There, you’ll find many fun things you can do to improve your English.

For teachers: You can learn from the articles and use the lessons, techniques, etc. Why not contribute as well? See if you can get an article published. You’ll learn a lot while preparing it and give a little back to the community of teachers and students around the world.

August 30, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review:

In short: Lots of explanations and examples of English language things. Everything is organized very well. They start with vowels and consonants and keep going to synecdoche and limericks.

The explanations are OK at best and at times incomplete. Any ESL grammar book has better explanations. For example, they don’t explain how a semicolon can be used to separate items in a list and don’t mention ‘its’ as an example of a possessive noun.

The best parts of the site are the example lists of words like verbs, adjectives, etc. More examples of everything would make the site a lot stronger.

For students: Check out this list of adjectives. Then, learn and use new ones. English is great because you have so many choices. Enjoy them.

For teachers: The site is a great reference tool for learning about literary terms like metaphor and eponym.

P.S. You might also take a look at their companion site:

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review: (

In short: Five minute videos that are funny and fun to watch. They make learning English enjoyable.

Each video contains a single grammar point and a theme (Cooking, Interviews, etc.). A narrator reviews the grammar and theme, and then introduces a short video where two people talk about the theme and use the grammar. Then, the narrator reviews the video and some practice exercises.

For students: If you enjoy these videos, you might want to use EF for online lessons. You can learn more here.

For teachers: If you look through the videos, you’ll probably be able to find the grammar point or theme you’re doing in class. You could assign it as homework or use it as part of your lesson.

August 19, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review:

In short: A large amount of pretty good teaching and studying strategies. Click on the tabs at the top to access materials for beginner students, intermediate/advanced students, and teachers. You’ll then see all the categories. Ken (the author) has written a huge amount over the years. The material isn’t incredible, but it is good—like a professional athlete that’s good enough to play for 15 years, but never becomes a star. The site suffers from too much distracting advertising.

For students: Sign up for one of the free English E-Mail Courses. Reminders to study in your inbox are very helpful.

For teachers: In addition to all the teaching strategies, make sure to check out the recommended books and classroom materials.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review: (

In short: Some good videos. The material for lower-level students covers things like prepositions, address vocabulary, etc. Joan, the site’s author, does a wonderful job of going slowly and including nice images in her videos. It’s nice to find videos that really low-level students can use. Intermediate and advanced students will find nice stuff too, but will probably prefer a site that goes a little faster.

Also, for just $10 a month you gain access to a lot more videos, quizzes, etc. She also offers private lessons at the incredibly low price of just $30 per hour.

For students: Check out this mystery. You can ask her questions or read the comments to learn more.

For teachers: Send your beginner students to watch these videos as review for what you’ve covered in class.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review:

In short: Lots of links for teachers (and some in-house material). You’ll find handouts and lesson ideas that you’ll surely be able to use. Some of the links are really awesome, others are just OK or may not work in an ESL classroom (e.g. the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s site). But, that might be being too picky. It’s really great that they link to stuff that wasn’t just intended for the ESL classroom, and what one teacher can’t see the use for another might turn into a golden lesson. Some of the links are broken and a lot of the stuff is old, but the broken links aren’t distracting and the old are still good.

For students: This is really a site for teachers, but you might enjoy printing off some worksheets for extra practice on many topics.

For teachers: The organization of the site is quite good (if just a little messy at times). Follow the categories or use the search function to find just about anything you’re looking for.

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homework Compromise


A compromise solution for giving homework

Teachers, have you checked out the Student Stuff section of the blog? In it, you’ll find a lot of good ideas—particularly for homework.

A lot of ESL teachers don’t give homework for two big reasons.

“Students don’t do it, and then the next lesson plan is useless.”

Fair enough, but homework is essential to learning. Unless you’re with the students twenty hours a week, you really don’t have time to do all the review and repetition that they need. Moreover, when you give up on giving homework, the students give up on doing it. You hurt your best students—the ones who would have done it.

So, why not give the homework and just have them hand it in?

“When students hand it in, then there is too much stuff to mark.”

Well, that kind of negates the first point, but what’s still needed is a way to give homework that the next lesson doesn’t depend on and doesn’t require so many hours for teachers to correct.

Try this As homework, direct the students to an ESL website and give them a simple task. At the beginning of the next class, give them a quiz that they can’t fail if they visited the site.

Call this the fishhook method. Once you get the students to the sites, you’re hoping they’ll be hooked. Even if they only need to stay for a couple of minutes to be able to pass the quiz, many will stay for much longer.

Here are seven sites and possible homework/quiz ideas. Write down the name of three games. Describe one of the stories from the site in three sentences or less. Practice the present perfect. Write three present perfect sentences. Choose a sound and practice. Which sound did you practice? Choose one interesting thing on the site and describe it. Watch a video and write a three sentence description. (send them to a specific article) What were three words in the crossword puzzle?

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , | 2 Comments

Website Review:

In short: A lot of pretty good stuff. Nice dialogues present idioms and expressions. The TOEFL vocab quizzes are good. Proverbs are well-defined. The readings will help intermediate to upper-intermediate students and they come with excellent comprehension questions.

Unfortunately, a lot of things also seem incomplete. For instance, the conversations from movies are nice, but readers can’t understand them because you don’t know what happened before you start reading. And there are no comprehension questions to go with them.

In general, the whole site is organized/labled poorly. After clicking around for over an hour, it was pretty easy to find everything, but it shouldn’t take that long.

For students: You might enjoy visiting this site every morning and clicking on “Conversations” to learn a new expression. Then, you can try to use it later in the day.

For teachers: If you’re preparing your students for a test like the TOEFL, but the TOEFL readings are too difficult, these readings are excellent preparation while the students work to raise their levels a bit more.

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment