It's a given that we live in an era in which students have the chance to be exposed to the target language much more frequently than people from past generations did. Smartphones are, at least in Brazil, becoming an essential item, and there are already people who would rather forget their wallet at home than their mobile. Cable TV has also become much cheaper, and widely-available Internet access allows people to quickly check whatever they want at the touch of a screen - literally. Add to that the...

[caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="300"] When I grow up, I want to be just like my dad. Pascal - CC-BY-2.0[/caption] It is a source of pride when a child takes after his or her parents.  The little boy who wants to be a teacher like his mother, or the little girl who develops a laugh just like her father. Of course, it can also work the other way as well, so the little boy can also pick up the colourful language of his mother or the girl can learn how to...

In this post, I’d like to report on some fascinating research I had the pleasure of seeing presented at the recent MEXTESOL conference in Puebla, Mexico.  What particularly interested me was the connection to the topic of meaningful learning that I have been talking about on this blog as well as the direct application of the research to the teaching of vocabulary both for classroom teachers, teacher trainers and materials writers.  I don’t know about you, but I love research that we can use in the classroom. The first...

"Over the years, language teachers have alternated between favoring teaching approaches that focus primarily on language use and those that focus on language forms or analysis. The alternation has been due to a fundamental disagreement concerning whether one learns to communicate in a second language by communicating in that language (such as in an immersion experience) or whether one learns to communicate in a second language by learning the lexicogrammar - the words and grammatical structures - of the target language. In other words, the argument has been...

The other day I was visiting a writer friend of mine and she said she wanted to write a children's story. A story in which the reader can extrapolate the meaning and come out better for it. My very eloquent friend started to tell me her story ideas based on interviews she had conducted in poor communities around Brazil. The stories she told me were heart wrenching. The way she transcribed them was engaging. I started thinking about what was appropriate subject matter. What realities do characters face in stories...

As a teenager, I read anything I could lay my hands on; that included all sorts of literature: good and bad. It didn't matter as long as it was an interesting story ( from a young girl's perspective, I might say). As a young English language learner, I was lucky to study at an English language school with a  library and I remember browsing through all those graded readers while I waited for  class. However, there was a difference between me, the avid reader and me, the English learner:...

As a Native English-Speaking Teacher (NEST) who didn't learn any English grammar at school, it wasn't until I started training as a teacher and then teaching that I really started to get to grips with the English grammatical - and later lexical - system. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a point where I've felt I understand the whole system. That's one of the great things about being a teacher - you keep learning. When I first started out as a language teacher in the mid-1990s, I...

Humans (like all intelligent hunters) seem innately disposed to notice things which move rather than things which stand still. Cook, 2000 Don't move a muscle. by Chris Isherwood CC-BY-2.0 It is often argued that the English language class should try to emulate the ‘real world’ as much as possible. Tasks and activities should reflect what people do in real life, in order to give learners the tools that they’ll need to use English outside the classroom. While this is no doubt good advice, I believe there is also a valid and useful...

The 9th grade students at Colégio A. Liessin recently had a lesson to revise parts of the body. Students were familiar with most of the words as they start learning them in kindergarten through the famous song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. Our challenge was to find a way to make students practise vocabulary already known with new words presented in the lesson (calf, shin, heel and some others). As the Olympic Games are coming, we had the idea to ask students to create a sport using two or...

Hello! In my previous post we looked at the concept of ‘meaningful learning’, the idea of taking what learners already know and using it to help them to learn more.  In this post, I want to start looking at how to do this in the classroom. Using learners’ knowledge of L1. This clearly cuts into a controversial issue in ELT for the past thirty years or so – the use of the mother tongue.  What I’d like to argue is that we can’t/shouldn’t ignore all this knowledge that learners have and...