At the beginning of a new semester, learners are usually excited to get started, enthusiastic about learning and with high hopes of finally achieving that much sought-after fluency. As the course unfolds, so does life: learners have to juggle work, school and their own personal lives, coping with everything at the same time. And as that happens, one of the most common comments I hear from my learners is that they wish they had (more) time to study English, do homework, listen to podcasts, watch the news, you...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

Williams and Burden (2010: 202) beautifully state that “Language classrooms in particular need to be places where learners are encouraged to use the new language to communicate, to try out new ways of expressing meanings, to negotiate, to make mistakes without fear, and to learn to learn from successes and failures. Emotionally, a suitable environment for language learning should be one that enhances the trust needed to communicate and which enhances confidence and self-esteem”.  In order to create such an environment, one possible approach would be to foster...

The English of the teacher It had been 8 years since I last visited London… and this last January I had the unforgettable experience of spending 2 weeks in London, studying at Bell School (Thank You, CISP!). During our stay, part of the programme was to read the paper on a regular basis and discuss current affairs so that we could better understand British culture. It became crystal clear to me how close newspaper headlines and cultural aspects were in the UK. Also, they are famous for being witty with...

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain...

I have been asking myself to what extent the traditional way of teaching listening actually contributes to learners becoming better listeners… John Field changed my relationship with listening, and since I first read his book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’, I have been looking for answers whenever I teach a lesson that includes Skills Development Listening. I guess when we start teaching, most of us are really happy to be able to deliver a listening lesson with PRE-WHILE-POST stages that seem to be relevant, effective and coherent to learners....

If so, how has it helped you to know your learners better? And furthermore, how has it benefitted your learners’ experience? Going back to the two perspectives explored on my last post (www.richmondshare.com.br/its-time-to-start-over/), here are some of the choices I have made so far: Leaving our comfort zone I have been working mainly with peer observation. It has proven to be a powerful tool not only to foster both cohesiveness and trust among teachers, but also to shed a light on aspects of our teaching that we cannot perceive on...

It is August, and most language teachers are likely to be here: back to the beginning of a brand new semester. For those of us who are teaching new groups (and why not old ones too), it is the perfect moment to reflect from two different perspectives: Leaving our comfort zone Every semester is a golden opportunity to become better at what we do. For this reason, I usually think of the areas I would like to work on and investigate more about in order to improve as a teacher....

How many of us have heard learners expressing the wish ‘I want to be fluent in English’? But then, what does it mean to be fluent? As the title suggests, I truly believe in walking through life with our ears wide open, and there is one belief that has permeated my teaching over the years: the importance of triggering learners’ curiosity towards language and its genuine use in various contexts. As a learner myself, I have always wondered how to become fluent in another language. Naturally, when I started teaching, I...