End of year, spring cleaning, and I ended up finding many old pictures and documents which were a trip down memory lane. I wondered what I would say to that young Natalia, who was about to start her career as an English teacher, or to anyone who is starting in the career for that matter. Stepping out of the classroom and back in again: my last day of secondary school, 6 months before my first day as a teacher. Keep an organized record of everything you do career-wise. This first...

If you are suffering from Novemberitis and need a comical interlude or just an idea for a lesson, here's an integrated-skills lesson plan for B2 learners. The topic is embarrassing stories  and students will read about it to get in the topic, listen to a celebrity telling her own stories and talk throughout. The main point here is to get them to speak a lot, of course, but also to learn and practice (both in listening and in speaking) the structure of a personal story. ****************************************** 1. Lead-in 3' (WG*):...

I had a haircut the other day and got to talking to the hairdresser, an energertic 31-year-old professional who I’ve been going to for a few years now. [Don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad(der) and won’t be rambling on about beauty on a teacher-oriented blog. The relevance of the chat will become evident soon, I promise.] **** Me: My friend’s mother, who’s a hairdresser too, is thinking of moving from Rio. What’s the market like here*? Is it small, saturated? What do you think? *(N.B.: Here is a city that is...

Earlier this week Elaine Hodgson posted about the pros and cons of self-promotion, raising many important points. I was going to comment on the post, but realized my text got longer than the rules of politeness would allow, so here is my take on self-promotion in ELT, which, I must admit, echoes much of what Elaine has said. Teacher promotion is definitely something we need to discuss. I hear you, sis. This business of self- and peer-promotion in ELT has been bothering me a lot as of late, so...

It’s May. May I, then, talk about the elephant in the room? “Which one?” I hear you ask. Right you are, because for a profession that deals with communication and education, we seem to sweep quite a few things under the rug. This topic in particular is such a big lump on that rug that we could almost go rock climbing on it: teacher working conditions. Even if you narrow the topic down to teacher working conditions in language schools, the list of problems seems endless. All around Brazil you see...

Late in February a BrELTer asked what she could do with songs in ELT lessons. My comment there was huge (sorry!) because I simply love using songs in language learning, both as a teacher and as a student. In fact, I have forgotten most of the French I've been taught except for the French in songs (and may I add, "Non, rien de rien, je ne regrette rien"). There's so much we can do with songs other than randomly choosing gaps for students to fill in. Here are a few...

Once, when I needed to sign a document, I borrowed a pen from a person very dear to me. I immediately felt something was wrong. My handwriting wasn’t flowing naturally and I wondered what was up with the pen. That’s when I saw a 6-point white star on the top. The owner of the pen must have read some sort of criticism in my eyes, “I know cheap Biros will do the work just as well…” “Or better,” I interjected, glancing at what looked like a forged version...

“Relax,” many teachers tell students, “if you have communicated, it’s all right.” Indeed. What is it, however, that counts as effective communication? At what moment can we chill out knowing we have done a good job in communicating? For some teachers, communication is getting your message across. It doesn’t matter if the learner has made mistakes, if the listener has had to pay very close attention, if understanding the learner demanded many turns of negotiation. In sharp contrast, there are people who will maintain learners don’t need ‘to communicate’ only....

In Brazil the beginning of the year is hiring season for teachers. Unfortunately it’s unusual for ELT job ads in this country to list required and preferred KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities or attitudes). When they do, something that usually shows up is “living experience abroad” (“vivência no exterior”). To be me, in all honesty, that requirement simply boggles the mind. Here are a few issues I ponder over when I see that: 1. Why LIVING, not WORKING experience? How can “living” be a job requirement? Hey, I haven’t died, even...