When we, English teachers, think of the internet, we often tend to think about what it has to offer: unlimited information at our fingertips, ready-made materials for download, songs with their lyrics, clipart and other graphic resources, teaching ideas, podcasts, videos, tutorials, educational online games and many other resources that were unavailable when most of us were students of English a few years (well, in my case decades) ago.  The World Wide Web has become some sort of an Oracle expected to provide answers to all our questions...

At least once a week, I have to go to the post office to mail books people order through my website. I usually go to the same agency, which is actually a privately-owned postal franchise, near my house. This month, however, I was on vacation away from home, so I had to go to a different, government owned, agency. I can’t say it was a very good experience, but it got me thinking about what we are teaching, and therefore what our students are learning, at school. Trouble started...

The performance of Brazilian students in national and international assessment tests has been consistently low, which has led researchers to look into the reasons for the inefficiency of our educational system. A study conducted by Fundação Carlos Chagas has found that the programs offered by most universities in the area of teacher education do not prepare teachers-to-be to face the routine of a real classroom. The emphasis of these programs has been on the sociological, political, structural and historical aspects of education, with very little space for the...

Last month, I wrote about the need for students to become autonomous learners, and the difficulty that most teachers face in developing such autonomy in them.  My students responded very well to the article, admitting that they hadn’t been investing as much time or effort as they should towards their goal of becoming proficient speakers of English someday.  I decided that the upcoming summer vacation could be a great opportunity for them to build an autonomous attitude, so I put together this detailed list of what they could...

Robin MacClure starts her article “Unnecessary Parents” by saying that “the ultimate job of parents is to raise kids in a way so that they are not needed. In other words, parents should work themselves out of a job.” Well, I think that also applies to teachers, and especially to language teachers. Our goal should be to do our jobs so that, at some point, we are not needed. The point where, even before reaching full proficiency, students are able to learn on their own. In other words,...

There seems to be a day to celebrate everything in Brazil.  March 14th is Bald Men’s Day and April 26th is Goalkeeper’s Day, followed by the  Flight Attendants Day on the 31st of May and Students’ Day on the 11t of August, just to mention a few . Since we have taught them all –the bald men, the flight attendants, the goalkeepers and of course the students, I think it’s just fair that we have our own Teachers’ Day. Even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is...

In my book Teacher Tools, I open the chapter “Movie Time” with an email I received from a teacher who said that not only him, but “thousands of workmates don’t have time to prepare materials or to follow the recipes that many authors of books and/or presenters of workshops give us.”  I go on to say that if the reader sympathizes 100% with Darcy, the teacher who wrote the message above, using movies in class may not be such a good idea after all:  selecting video material, designing...

Some teachers see warmers, ice-breakers and fillers as basically different ways to say the same thing. In fact, they are quite different. While ice-breakers are usually meant to help students get to know each other better, the objective of warmers is to get them ready for a certain topic or task.  Fillers, on the other hand, are activities that don´t require much time or preparation, and are designed to finish a topic or a class on a lighter note, or to review vocabulary before the next part of...

Good news for teachers (and even better news for students) of foreign languages: a new longitudinal research, whose results were recently published in a journal of the American Neurological Association, reveals that bilingualism has a positive effect on cognition and may delay the onset of dementia in older adults.  The participants, who live in the Indian city of Hyderabad, were given an intelligence test in 1947, when they were 11 years old, and retested sixty years later. Because Hyderabad is a cultural melting pot where much of the...

Trying to respond to a high demand for English instruction, English schools pop up  everywhere, without a proper control from the government in relation to  the educational background of the teachers  who will work in such schools.  Called  “cursos livres” by the Ministry of Education, they are not part of the regular school system, which means they don’t follow any specific regulations . Since there is no criterium regarding the teaching of English in preschools and day care centers, a theoretical background is many times substituted by the  teachers’...