First of all, an apology. A few months ago I started to write about working as a self-employed teacher. I had the intention of writing a whole series, but only managed the first one before life got in the way. Here I am, though, back and ready to get the series going again. I have been a freelance* teacher first in Rio de Janeiro and now Curitiba for over 10 years.  I thoroughly enjoy it, so much so that I shudder at the possibility of ever having to go...

In December last year, there was a particularly popular chat on Facebook hosted by the wonderful people at Brazil ELT (BRELT) on being a private teacher.  The end of the academic year is always a time for change, and so lots of teachers might be thinking about striking out on their own. It’s almost exactly 8 years since I decided to give up teaching for schools and concentrate only on myself.  I had always had the odd private student to add to my meagre income, but going it alone...

Dear Diary, I haven’t written much on here for the last few months.  The two main reasons for this are a lack of time and  inspiration. The lack of time is never going to change, and I suspect this is the same for most people no matter what job they do, how big or small their family is or what hobbies they have.  There just aren’t enough ours in the day to everything we would like to. The lack of inspiration, though, is something that we can work at.  Inspiration can...

How are your plans for professional development going for this year?  Do you remember what you promised yourself you would do at the beginning of the year to keep improving as a teacher?  Were you going to observe classes?  Go to a conference?  Lead workshops?  I hope you have been able to keep some of your promises to yourself, if you even made them in the first place. (Un)fortunately, I have been teaching English for over 20 years now.  This means that it can be difficult to find new...

Part one in an occasional series that describes some of the students I have had the pleasure (or misfortune) of working with and how I learnt to deal with them. The Student There is an episode of The Simpsons called ‘Bart Gets an F’ which should be compulsory viewing for all teachers.  Bart is in trouble for constantly failing exams and is under threat of having to repeat the year.  The episode looks at different learning processes, the way traditional education fails many students, the damaging effect educational systems have on teachers,...

I once had the great pleasure to see the funniest comedian ever doing his stand-up routine live at my university.  I was only a few weeks into my first term when I saw the flyers going around advertising Bill Hicks in the student union.  I persuaded a couple of new-found friends to go with me and we sat on the floor of the sports hall and just laughed for two hours.  Pure comedy gold. One of the many routines that he did last night and that I often find...

What burning questions have you got about EFL?  You know the ones that are burning away in the back of your mind but you felt too foolish to ask, or those ones that you have asked but never got a decent answer, or even the ones you just never found the time to ask. Well, now there is a way to quickly and easily get them answered. A new project called EFL Talks has been asking teachers from all around the world for questions they would like answered and have...

One of the best parts of my job is working with other teachers.  This can be anything from a one-off 60-minute workshop, to a whole year of regular sessions with everything in between.  There are many ways of approaching this work with a variety of names that all suggest a slight difference in focus: teacher training, teacher development, teacher education, professional development are just some of the different terms you can easily find bandied about.  For some ideas on the differences between these approaches try reading Jack C...