Training Doubts

During the final grading meeting of a CELTA course I was assessing recently, one of the tutors asked me about the extent to which a trainee’s language should be taken into account when deciding on a final grade. It is an issue which has come up again and again in recent years, especially since the internationalization of teacher training courses […]

Cultural Matters

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in London, visiting family and friends. I also took the opportunity to assess a CELTA course over there. In one of the pre-intermediate lessons I was observing there were a good many Japanese and Brazilian learners. These students seemed to be playing their stereotypical […]

Teaching older people new tricks

One phenomenon I have noticed over the past two years is the noticeable rise in the number of ‘elderly’ people wanting to have English lessons (by ‘elderly’ I am using the US Census bureau’s definition of anyone over the age of 65). A combination of factors have probably led to this increase in interest. These factors are […]

Gigging into the future

I was asked recently what I did for a living. I replied that I was a freelance teacher and teacher trainer, working for an assortment of organizations, companies and individuals.  However, what I am part of is the ‘gig economy’. A ‘gigger’, if you like. But what is it, and how will it affect English […]

Investing in the Future

I asked an investment fund manager recently what were the big investment opportunities in Brazil at the moment. He replied that without doubt he would invest in the health and educational sectors. He specifically mentioned online courses, whether or not they are blended, as showing great potential for growth in the future, although he added […]

Reading Allowed?

My son is learning to read. I sit with him as he tackles a short text. He approaches each word warily, vocalizes each individual letter, and then connects all the sounds together to pronounce the word. It’s a slow process. He stumbles over the words; his intonation is out of sync; and he sometimes gets […]

Changing Places

I was recently asked to give a workshop on interaction patterns  It seemed that the teachers at the school were not using a sufficient variety of them, and that this was affecting the effectiveness of the lessons. This is not an uncommon criticism. I have lost count of the number of times in feedback that I have had […]

Time for a rethink

I think that we can all agree that learning a language is a complex process, involving complex systems. By complex systems, I mean a process of complex behavior which emerges from a few simple rules. All complex systems are networks of many interdependent parts which interact according to those rules. It is a process which […]

Do you teach ‘global competence’?

You have probably heard of the PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) tests. They are standardised tests of reading, science and mathematics, which are designed to allow comparisons of  educational attainment around the world. Well, it appears that the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the organisation which runs the tests, is likely […]

A Word Atlas of the Mind

There was some interesting news last week. Scientists at Berkeley University in the United States have mapped out how the brain organises language. Their ‘semantic atlas’ shows how the meaning of  vocabulary is organised into different regions of the brain. In the past, it was believed that information about  words’ meanings was represented in a […]