I´m a mother of teens. As a mother, it is almost unavoidable to ask too many questions, and to my despair getting monosyllabic answers. The story goes more or less like this, "So how was school today?" "OK". And sometimes the most I can get is, "boring as always". Well, being a teacher, this questioning mindset simply doubles! By observing classes for the past few years, I came to realize that we teachers have this question system ingrained in us. Many times we consider that a pre-listening activity and post-listening...

This month I´d like to share with you a project we developed during the first semester with our 6th graders at Colégio A. Liessin Botafogo. For each grade we select two readers to read with students in class and we chose the reader Theseus and the Minotaur for the first term of the 6th grade. Students are acquainted with the story through the History lessons they have at school, so dealing with the plot was not difficult for them. We then decided to give students a challenge after reading the book. They...

Hello again! Many years ago I took a class in educational psychology and came across this quote from the cognitive psychologist, David Ausubel: "If I had to reduce all of cognitive psychology to one principle it would be this:  the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.  Ascertain this and teach him accordingly."  (1978:  flyleaf). I was very struck by this and was therefore even more interested to find out what cognitive psychology had to say about ‘meaningful learning’, something that we talk about vaguely in...

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...

Try this little experiment. You can do it with any search term, by the way.  Open up your Google browser and type in Brazil, hit search and see what you get. I just did it right now (July 15) and guess what the first ten images I saw were? Oh yes, you're so right! But I guess that by the time you're reading this it'll be different, and of course, thanks to our personalized algorithms it'll be slightly (or maybe even completely) different for everyone of us.   Now...

Hello there! Today we have the second part of the activities I used in a talk about teaching with music a couple of years ago: You Will Survive! Check out the first part by clicking here. 3. Translation. Level: A1+ Option 01 If you want to use more complicated songs with beginning students you can resort to translation. Here are some options: - Choose some words / expressions that you want to review and remove them from the song. - Write the translation of the words below the paragraph, like this: And so you're … (1)...

Olá, pessoal! Lá, no agora distante, primeiro post que fiz para este blog, prometi que iria falar de alguns aplicativos para dispositivos móveis, os famosos apps.  Pois bem, como sou bem pragmático, vamos direto ao assunto: seguem, abaixo, algumas dicas de programas que podem ser baixados, gratuitamente, para qualquer dispositivo que suporte iOS, o sistema operacional da Apple (iPod, iPad, iPhone). Peço desculpas aos usuários de Android: como não sou um usuário desse sistema, nem todas as dicas são para vocês. Mas prometo que vou trazer mais coisas para este...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

Hello again! It's good to be back after a short absence - a lot has happened since I last posted and I'll be writing about one those things here. I had the great fortune in June to be at a fabulous conference in lovely Cancun, Mexico. While I was there I was talking about the use of previous knowledge and meaningful learning, and focused in on all the previous knowledge that learners have in English of songs and particularly certain lines of songs. Like a dream come true, the night...

Music has always played a very important part of my life. My dad used to play in a forró band, my older brother is an accomplished guitar player and later in life I ended up becoming a professional singer. Songs were present in my classes a lot and in 2012 I decided to gather up some interesting activities I had tested in my own classes and set up a talk to give at Braz-TESOL Chapter one-day seminar in October about “fresh ways” to teach with songs. My session was called...