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...

Is reading a skill in isolation? No language skill, either receptive or productive, should be dealt with in isolation in class. Reading texts hold an awful lot of language, information, and topics among other things that can lead to speaking and writing. Thereby, it would not be wise to engage students in a reading task and move along after it is finished without connecting it to anything in the lesson. On the contrary, I fully agree with Brown (1994:283) when he states that ‘reading ability will be best...

Communication between humans is an extremely complex and ever-changing phenomenon, but there are certain generalisations that we can make about the majority of communicative events and these will have particular relevance for the learning and teaching of languages. Learning to speak a foreign language is much more complex than knowing its grammatical and semantic rules. It involves both command of certain skills and several different types of knowledge. Richards (2005: p. 204) states that learners must acquire the knowledge of how native speakers use the language in a context...

By definition reading is the action of a person who looks at and understands the meaning of written or printed words or symbols. But there is much more to that than meet the eyes. Nuttall (1996:2) believes that not only does reading comprise decoding, deciphering and identifying words, but it is above all an opportunity for learners to draw meaning from the written text. Getting students to read in English both intensively and extensively is vitally important for a number of reasons. Firstly, we basically read a great deal...

For quite some time now, I have been trying to lower my adult students’ affective filters about their pronunciation difficulties. These affective filters (proposed by Stephen Krashen) “(…) acts to control the amount and quality of input learners receive.” (Thornbury, 2006 p.8). Affective filters can include motivation, self-confidence and anxiety. Anyone who has taught or teaches adults (especially in beginner levels) knows adults usually have higher affective filters than teens do. In my experience, these filters are usually high for adults because they were “conditioned” (by traditional teaching and...

I picked this title from Goodreads' weird book titles. By the way, the title above is from a book by English author and academic Malcom Bradbury (1932-2000), whom I have never read and whose book I am now curious about. The reason why I  picked a random title for my post was because I wanted to  illustrate it with a simple task that fosters collaborative creative writing. I like creative writing tasks because they follow a very important principle that allows language to emerge in a real communicative...

“Listening is the Cinderella skill in second language learning”. (Nunan, 2005). For many years, listening skills were not prioritized in language teaching. Teaching methods emphasized productive skills, and the relationship between receptive and productive skills was poorly understood. Richards (2005) provides a clear description of how listening comprehension is achieved by native or non-native listeners. He refers to this listening process as bottom-up and top-down processing. Bottom-up processing refers to the use of incoming data as a source of information about the meaning of a message. From this perspective, the...

Three private students of mine recently proclaimed that they believed they had become less fluent since the beginning of our lessons a little over two months ago. They were naturally preoccupied given that they were paying good money to improve their English. Needless to say, I had to put their minds at ease, and it got me thinking. Both of these learners are Brazilian, and I think that their nationality does play a role in what I am about to describe. They were both also very fluent when I...

Listening is an essential area of development in both native and second languages. It’s a very challenging skill for students to develop, yet one of the most important.  Scarcella and Oxford (1992: p. 138) state that “listening is the process of receiving, attending to, and assigning meaning to an aural stimuli”. So listening is a complex problem-solving skill. It is more than a perception of sound. Listening requires comprehension of meaning. “Effective listening sharpens thinking and creates understanding”. Listening in L2 includes getting used to a variety of accents,...