“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

Back in 2011 I was invited to write the general introduction to a series of books for PNLD (Programa Nacional do Livro Didático), a Brazilian government programme that, as most of you may know, distributes books for public schools. It was a detailed introduction, which had to thoroughly explain the concept behind the book and how the authors beliefs about foreign language learning were represented in the series. At that time, I was not aware that writing this introduction would change my views about language learning forever. In 2014...

Scene 1: Big conference in Brazil. The speaker, a Brazilian, goes onto the stage to begin her plenary session. While she speaks, you notice she makes some mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, grammar mistakes, but the content of her presentation is relevant and she manages to get her message across. At the end of her talk, you hear teachers, the vast majority of them Brazilians, commenting on the mistakes and criticising the presenter. Scene 2: Same big conference. The presenter on the stage is not a native speaker of English, and...

Criticism hurts. Hence, it can be stressful, tense and sometimes traumatic. Still, it is such a natural part of life, including professional life, that knowing how to make the best out of it is an important skill for us to keep emotionally healthy. Below I list a few aspects to consider and that can prove useful in our field. Criticism or feedback? We are faced with criticism on a regular basis and no matter where it comes from, we have to learn if it is meant to be...

It is said that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth. Apparently, this concept was conceived by the Nazi master of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Considering that Nazism was supported by so many, and for so long[1]- despite the horror of World War II - he was probably right. In ELT, saying that something is a lie is probably a bit excessive, but we do have our mantras and things that are repeated over and over again until they become unquestionable. That is, unless a subversive mind begins...

Most teachers of English, I believe, will have heard of the intermediate plateau, when students who reach intermediate level feel that are somewhat stuck in the learning process and not making any progress. Likewise, many of us will have experienced a career plateau at some point in our professional life. Can this feeling be avoided? Does it have to be avoided? Should overcoming career plateau be one of our goals? From time to me I feel I need to do something new, to try something I had never done...

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the lack of balance in the past BRAZ-TESOL conferences as far as gender was concerned. Just to refresh our memories, the results were the following[1]: As I stated at the time, it was (and is) not a matter of pointing fingers and finding culprits, but of trying to understand why the number of female speakers is so low in BRAZ-TESOL conferences which, I believe most of you would agree, is the most relevant conference for ELT professionals in Brazil. It was...

If you have spent some time online in the past months, particularly on Facebook, you may have come across a number of posts followed by hundreds of comments, basically related to gender equality, or lack of it, in ELT events. Gender equality in general is an issue that has been discussed for a long time, hence Women’s International Day (celebrated on March 8th) and Women’s Equality Day (celebrated on August 26th). Although the demand for gender equality is not new, in most professional areas the balance is far...

If you follow discussion threads on social media, you have probably noticed that from time to time teachers - either new to the profession or people who, like me, have been on the road for many years - have concerns about our professional life. It is not uncommon to read questions related to the real importance of having a certificate, of doing this or that course or sometimes questioning if being an EFL teacher is really (or maybe still) worth it. This kind of comment led me to...

A couple of months ago, talking to a dear friend and co-worker about future jobs prospects, I asked her one of those ‘why don’t you’ questions. Her reply was ‘I don’t have much time for promoting myself.’ Well, I know that is true when you have deadlines pressing on you. Then, on a different occasion, I asked somebody whose work is greatly admired and respected, in another ‘why don’t you’ style conversation and her reply was fairly similar: ‘I’m not good at promoting myself.’ Self-promoting has probably always...