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...

#5: N is for Natives [caption id="attachment_1594" align="alignright" width="448"] Some native speakers recently[/caption] I’m not going to revisit the old stuff about inherent linguistic knowledge vs explicit understanding, nor the career teacher vs the traveller, and certainly not local cultural knowledge versus target cultural knowledge. I’m going to ask a simple question. What’s the difference between a table and a native teacher of English? Not a lot really….. I see the native-ness as a layer of varnish on the surface of the table. It looks good, and it sells better than...

O que você pensa sobre o uso da língua portuguesa nas aulas de inglês? Você é daqueles ou daquelas que o simples fato de soltar uma palavra em português durante a aula é algo abominável? Neste artigo apresento os argumentos a favor do uso prudente do uso da língua materna no ensino de inglês dentro de nosso país, onde nossos alunos falam português. Para começar, você sabia que esse mito de que a língua materna (LM) mais atrapalha do que ajuda vem das teorias e princípios dos métodos oriundos...

/riˈzilyəns/ noun: resilience; plural noun: resiliences 1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. 2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.   Some of you may be wondering why I am talking about resilience in a blog post for English teachers, but for some reason I think most will guess. And even though most (or all) I’m going to “say” here may be common knowledge, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20+ years as a teacher it’s that we need to see something...

This post was inspired by a question sent to me by a friend, who is a very talented teacher and would like to start an online course. In her message, she mentions not being able to find a good video tutorial which could help her get started and asks my opinion about the best platform.  As I read my friend's message, I thought of a way to answer it. In my opinion, a video tutorial showing us how to create an online course in simple steps would be a...

At first I had set out to write about my professional journey as a NNEST in the 1980s, so I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the first course books I used in my first years as a teacher. That was when I decided to ask for some help from the IATEFL members on our Facebook page but the replies I got took me even further into the past, and that made me want to start my story from the very beginning: my life...

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...

Am I right in assuming that more and more people are now looking beyond traditional learning experiences in a school setting to a more individualized and needs focused learning normally provided through one-to-one and small , closed lesson formats? In my experience, and judging by what colleagues say, this certainly seems to be the case and the success of online learning courses such as EnglishTown also attest to this. And it is not only professionals looking for ESP lessons but also people who want general English as well,...

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...

#4: G is for Gaps No, not those kind of gaps; not a cloze, not a key word transformation, nor a gapped text, and certainly not an information gap. A gapped teacher – with a thinking gap. A gap in thinking which results in a disconnected application of teaching. A gap in thinking which leads to the application of disparate activities which leads to a series of gaps in the thinking of students, which leads to an addiction to the need for constant stimulus and ‘new’ ideas which leads...