Posts under ‘Language’

Use of 3rd-person plural pronoun as 3rd-person gender-neutral pronoun: The reflexive

Here is an excellent discussion on the use of the reflexive 3rd-person plural when used as 3rd-person gender-neutral pronoun: Themself or Themselves? (Disponible en anglais seulement) Introduction As discussed in a previous article in Legistics, the plural pronoun “”they”” can be used to represent a singular antecedent that is gender-neutral and indefinite, for example, “”someone””, […]

I didn’t know swordfish had Internet access

Can you see what is wrong with this statement? New oil spill total is bad news for BP, wildlife – Yahoo! News GRAND ISLE, La. – The astonishing news that the oil leak at the bottom of the sea may be twice as big as previously thought could have major repercussions for both the environment […]

China Post is looking for a proofreader

Attention: Proofreader urgently needed at China Post!

More likely to die?

I get a kick out of these articles that talk of "risk of death". Isn’t the risk of death always 100% for all of us? How can an activity possibly increase our risk of death? It’s absurd language, and yet it appears daily in our media. Experts: Sitting too much could be deadly – Yahoo! […]

Ready-to-go role plays

Yahoo sure puts a lot of banal flotsam on its site, and the following ‘article’ is just that. But, it does provide the material for some light-hearted yet useful role play in the ESL classroom. Below are six situations with some relevant dialogue. Students could fill in the blanks with their own material. For example, […]

Yet another reason not to use textbooks in the L2 classroom

Take a look at and see if something doesn’t strike you as just a little odd.

More puzzles

What I’ve been posting as riddles (the JAR postings) would be more accurately described as puzzles or word games. I had students write their own puzzles today and they did extremely well. Here are two examples of what they created. After posting the puzzles, each group then invited the other students to ask yes/no questions […]


Here’s a nice resource for those of you looking for authentic L2 input: SACODEYL Corpus Search The corpora are based on structured video interviews with pupils between 13 and 18 years of age. The interviews have been annotated and enriched for language learning purposes. Feel free to explore them on your own! Access to the […]

JAR: Just another riddle

Thanks to Shawn for his answer to an earlier riddle. His answer led to this more related, yet more complex riddle: There are two sets of words. Each set has two words, for a total of four words. The words in each set rhyme. That is, the words in the first set rhyme with each […]

Adjective order

If explicitly teaching grammar and syntax is largely ineffective, then explicitly teaching English adjective order must be nearly at the top of the list of ineffectual classroom activities. It just feels like one of those things that simply, but not easily, needs to be "picked up". Still, I’m asked a couple times a year about […]