It goes without saying that vocabulary is one aspect language acquisition that plays an important role when learning one mother’s tongue, let alone a foreign language. I have often had learners saying that they can fairly get by grammatical structures and the real factor holding them back is how to put words within this lexical construct. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula through which one can get by learning new lexis, being it from the word level to the sentence level; however, memory seems to be one key element...

The writing process involves, at least, four different steps: analysing the task question, brainstorming, drafting, proofreading and finally handing it to the teacher so that the work can be checked. This process is also known as a ”recursive” process because when you are proofreading it is almost certain that you might have to return to the brainstorming step to develop and/or expand your ideas. That is actually the beauty of it: playing with words, picking and choosing what fits best, changing your mind, rewording, paraphrasing, maybe in more sophisticated...

Power To The Music              It is funny how people (students) may instantly think of CCR’s ‘Have you ever seen the rain?’ when you start off a conversation with the chunk ‘Have you ever Blahed?’. Have you ever (seen the rain? - lol) stopped and thought how powerful music can be in terms of learning opportunities? I bet you have, though. As I see it, music is what comes through my ears and touches my heart. In that sense here lies a powerful tool through which mankind has evolved with. Not only...

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...

Last January 3rd, my husband and I were driving back home from the beautiful state of Minas Gerais. Days before, during our stay in the effervescent Belo Horizonte, the capital city, we had met a very interesting twenty-something Japanese young man in the hostel. His name is Goro and he’d been living in Brazil for 2 years. He was doing some backpacking since this is his last month in Brazil. As we were all going back to São Paulo, we offered him a ride. A pause to explain: Goro's...

So, it’s your first class with a group of beginner 12-ish year-olds. You just leaf through the course book and teacher’s guide because all the class is about is the verb to be and adjectives. You know the drill: a couple pages filled with yes-no questions and perhaps a list of cities and countries that might require some work on pronunciation. Oh, and there may be a tic-tac-toe or perhaps a suggestion of musical chairs towards the end of the lesson. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. Right?...

David Crystal once said that the biggest challenge for teachers is “without a doubt to keep pace with the language change”. And I could not agree more! Now, my question is. How to do it? How to keep pace with one of the most complex aspects of human behaviour? Taking into consideration that many countries, states, cities, towns, regions, areas, and tribes are alive and changing, developing, building language by the second, how are we supposed to keep track of it to then help our students? “Watch TV series online, you...

I want to talk about Spaced Repetition. What it is, how it applies to language learning and what we can do to cater for it in our teaching. First of all, let me tell you how I normally acquire new vocabulary in Portuguese. I come across an unfamiliar word in a conversation or in a text I am reading or listening to. If I am feeling suitably inclined, I might bother to clarify the meaning of the new word, using whatever resources are at my disposal. And then, more often...

After a year or more, I'm back to blogging.  This time I have decided to study and write a little about a subject that is not really comfortable for me to teach and I guess that for lots of my colleagues, it is not easy as well. Let's then talk about pronunciation  regarding the regular  -ED Endings, a particular area of difficulty for Brazilian students, and for students in general. Some years ago I was conducting a workshop for the state sector teachers in Recife, Brazil  (where I live) when...

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...