As promised, I am here. If anyone doubted me, doubt no longer. And I am here to talk about listening, just as I promised in my last blog piece. And, just like last week, we are going to have a story. Who doesn't like a good story? Everyone loves a story, from your baby nephew to your great granny. It's one of the things that defines as humans. Let me tell you a story. I can't promise that it will be a good story, but it is a true...

Before you say anything, I am sorry. Yes, I know I've said it before, but this time I mean it. I know I have been silent for a few months, and that the last time I was this quiet I apologised and swore it would never happen again. Only it did happen again and here I am, saying sorry and promising not to forget about writing this blog for months on end, again. I have a good excuse. But then I always have a good excuse. But this time, it really...

At the start of my career as a freelance teacher, the hardest part of the whole thing was agreeing a price. First of all, I had no idea how much I should be charging. And once I had an idea, how on earth could I persuade somebody to actually agree to give me that amount of money? Because you’re worth it If you look online at any discussion forum for freelance teachers, one conversation that keeps cropping up again and again is how much to charge. There is no simple...

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...