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I’m so thankful for…

Everyday, we express our gratitude to various people in a multitude of everyday situations, sometimes sincerely, other times less so. As Canadian Thanksgiving is today (note the food items sprinkled throughout this post just to make you hungry), I wanted to thank those that affect my profession positively.  But first, when thinking of just the past week, I can name a number of situations where I gave thanks to someone:

  • I left my credit card in the debit machine at the coffee shop today. After realising it several hours later, I went back to the store and asked if they had it. They did and gave it back to me. I said “thank you so much for keeping it.”
  • My students had an in-class writing assignment that each handed to me once finished. I said “thank you” to each as I received them.
  • When I left my friend’s house after she hosted a fun dinner party, I said “thank you for such a great party” with a hug just before leaving for the night.
  • Around said dinner, we spoke in turn for the occasion. I said “I‘m thankful that I work with a dedicated group of colleagues!”
  • At the recent 0nline TeachMeet International, I believe I began my presentation with “I‘d like to thank everyone for coming” before proceeding with my 3-minute talk.
Mmm. Turkey!

Every night even, I list different things I’m thankful for to remind myself that I have it pretty good.  And with Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, there’s never a time where more thanks is given by an overwhelming number of people around me. I like this time. Of course, from a teachable perspective, what’s interesting to note are the many ways we use language to express our thanks in different situations. Just going by my own uses this past week, we have:

thank you (so much) for + gerund ~ expression of sincere gratitude, with slightly extended thank and slightly falling intonation on you
Thank you. / Thanks. ~ term of courtesy, but not particularly sincere here, with a sharper rising intonation on you
thank you for (such) + noun ~ expression of respect in this common social situation
be thankful that + clause ~ usually preceded by being asked what you are thankful for?
would like to thank (people) for + gerund ~ used in more formal situations, preceding a talk, for example.

It gave me pause and I had to look up frequency.  So I checked Just the Word (which uses the BNC), for the collocations with the word “thank” to find the following most frequent words:


thank…for… (2238x)
thanks…to… (1944x)
thank…very… (1231x)
thank…much (1015x – this confused me considering very just above. Can you think of what other than much might follow very?)
thanks…for… (616x)
thank God. (602x)
no thank (you)/no thanks (522x)
thank goodness (210x)
well, thank you… (204x)
thank (the) chairman (168x – obviously used in many formal speeches)

Then I thought about the other thankful words we use, like “grateful” and found there are far fewer commonly used collocates:

grateful for… (599x)
grateful to… (562x)
very grateful… (204x)

This led me to take a look at what I thought might be even less collocated, “gratitude“, which resulted in far fewer instances:


..of gratitude (197x)
gratitude to… (100x)
gratitude for… (93x)
gratitude (77x)

Beyond just the lexical frequency, the context in which they are used is important for students. Since this approach, especially combined with a situation that is hard to build a unit in a coursebook out of (e.g. giving thanks, etc.), rarely has much available material, I often take note of how I use these phrases when they happen (e.g.  at the top of this post) to use in one-off lessons (e.g. a Thanksgiving lesson?) or when the use of the language emerges organically (e.g. students mention a situation like the ones above but are using unnatural phrases instead, etc.) and I back it up with frequency.  But I digress…

With all this teaching talk, it’s time to go back to how this post started out, and that is giving professional thanks:

  • Pumpkin pie!
    Pumpkin pie!

    I thank my lucky stars for the opportunities my job at University of Toronto has afforded me: travel to conferences, EAP teaching contexts, collaboration with truly invested educators, a swell office, money that affords me a comfortable living, respect for decisions I make, etc.

  • A big thanks must go to students who year after year provide me with a job I love.
  • I appreciate the fact that a bunch of us gather together every other Monday for #EAPchat – a dialogue that was missing online for a long time. [update 2015: This now lives in #tleap.]
  • I am so thankful that I live in a time where my technology dreams have come true: we can attend and share at online conferences; we can connect with like-minded teachers in Brazil, Turkey, Russia, the UK, Switzerland, Greece, Korea and many other places; we can use so many cool webtools to facilitate learning.
  • I am grateful and proud to be on the TESL Toronto executive board, which affords me opportunities to meet local teachers I wouldn’t normally and have input into the types of offline PD that are available in Toronto.
  • I’m grateful for the dedicated colleagues both offline and online whom I get to interact and collaborate with daily.

And finally, I’d like to thank those of you who have read and interacted with me on this blog over the couple years.  Being part of the online community through this blog, your blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages/groups has infinitely widened my eyes and ears to the global community that exists, one I’m very happy to be a part of.  Can’t wait to see many of your in Kamloops and even more in Paris!

What in your professional life are you thankful for?

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Thank you for your inspiring and educational post (with pictures that do indeed make me hungry). I spent a while thinking about things that can follow “very” other than “much” and the only things I can come up with (which aren’t really grammatical, but do occur) are “sincerely” and “kindly”. Perhaps other people have heard other constructions.

I have a lot to be thankful for in my professional life that I would love to share in response to your question.
*I am thankful for the constant support of my colleagues.
*I am very grateful for my online community through Twitter and Facebook that enriches my learning and aids my teaching.
*I am thankful that my school is interested in meeting the needs of the teachers as well as the students and in creating a balance between that and the parents’ demands.

Once again thanks for your post and for a good idea for a Thanksgiving lesson for my HS group next month. 😀
Sarah Moon


Hi Tyson,

I am grateful to my profession for making me want to develop along with my students, and learn new things incessantly, and stay young in my way of thinking, and love life like a kid…. and I am grateful to Twitter which is my second university, I’ll repeat this again and again!
Thanks for being part of my virtual community 🙂


In addition to some of your points of gratitude that I share, I `d like to thank
my young learners for their love, hugs, smiles….. and I`m grateful to (For?:)) their grateful parents for respect, words of encouragement and trust.

Hyeyoung Lee

I have a lot to be thankful in my life. I’m preparing to be an English teacher. So I’m studying in Canada. I’m very thankful for having this opportunity. I know it’s a very precious time and everyone wants to get this opportunity. So I’m lucky and I thank for my parents who has given me this chance.
It’s the first time I’ve been separated from my family for a long time. I’ve never missed them and realized their value since I came here. However, now I’m very grateful to them because I feel they’re always with me even though we aren’t in the same place.
My parents have always believed and supported me. I thank them for their belief and patience as well. Whenever I get frustrated, their belief and support encourage me to start over.


Thank you Tyson very much for this great opportunity to express my gratitude. I’m so thankful to my Spanish and French teachers who inspired me to become a second language teacher. I’m so thankful to my profession that in fact brought me to Canada. I’m very much thankful that I do what I do because I can’t imagine my life without learning and teaching. I’m grateful to the methodologists, authors (a special thank you to Jim Scrivener) and publishers who continue delighting me with the precious books I love reading. A special thank you to LearnIT2teach which introduced me to Twitter. Thank you toTwitter for providing me and my students with the best opportunities to learn and enjoy learning. I’d like to thank my loving husband and my beloved daughter who inspire and support me in my career. Thank you very much!!!


There are a couple of people I am grateful to.
I really thank my university professor for advising me on getting a certification abroad which has enriched my studying and my motivating abroad.
I’m grateful for and proud of my EMA teacher Lana who taught and gave me a lot of opportunities to think about teaching English, a lot of methods and a lot of materials on the internet. Her teaching makes me confident.
I’m very thankful that my friends who I met in Toronto made me happy and gave me a lot of opportunities to think about what’s going on in the world.

Hear Hear! There is always room for thanks! Thanks for having the Internet connection and the tech to read your posts!

Shirley Arthur

This is such a nice blog Ty. You are “deep” and I like to think you acquired that talent from me as my friends are always saying that I am deep. I love you and am so very proud of you. You are a very special man.


I’m grateful for waking up on Thanksgiving day to read your inspiring flashback post! In my professional life, I’m thankful for being able to teach in a country like Canada, for having the freedom to teach creatively, and for having wide access to so many resources! Thank you Tyson for another inspiring read.

Tyson Seburn

Happy Thanksgiving, Rita. Always glad to have your support. Watching your growth this past year has been inspiring, too.

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