'Trousers' or 'pants'? 'Lift' or 'elevator'? 'Colour' or 'color'? 'Theatre' or 'theater'? Which lexical item do you use? Which form of spelling do you opt for? Do you teach 'American' or 'British' English? Or both? How do you decide what to teach? Does it matter? Well, according to some recent research, it does matter, and if current trends continue, it might matter even more in the future. The study, called The Fall of the Empire: The Americanization of English, analyzed over 15 million digitized books published between 1800 and 2010,...

A couple of years ago, Damian Williams wrote a post explaining why he doesn't like teaching idiomatic expressions. I wrote a response to that, as I strongly disagreed with him. However, a recent conversation with another teacher made me rethink that a bit. Here's the situation: I have two private students, both of whom work for multinational companies. One of them works for a German company, the other for a Dutch company. As you'd expect, English is the international language used for communication between workers but, and this is...

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...

  English teachers are often asked by learners how they can become more fluent in English. Developing oral and written fluency in English requires discipline and a certain study routine – it does not happen overnight as all teachers certainly know and have pointed out to their learners. Learning English nowadays is certainly more accessible than a few years ago. Internet is usually easily accessible and a number of materials and resources can be found there. The trick here, however, is how to turn all this information into knowledge,...

Olá a todos! Continuando minha última postagem sobre o uso da tradução na sala de aula (off topic - nesse meio tempo, entre um post e outro, acabei de traduzir um manual de RPG de 441 páginas… Ufa!), vamos a algumas dicas de possíveis utilizações com os alunos. Tradução requer, como praticamente tudo na sala de aula, planejamento e cuidado. Vamos a algumas dicas: Grupos traduzem partes diferentes de um texto em comum e precisam combiná-las, fazendo alterações na linguagem usada para que o produto final tenha coerência, coesão...

There was some interesting news last week. Scientists at Berkeley University in the United States have mapped out how the brain organises language. Their 'semantic atlas' shows how the meaning of  vocabulary is organised into different regions of the brain. In the past, it was believed that information about  words' meanings was represented in a region of the brain called the 'semantic system'. However, this recent study shows that this intricate network is spread right across the outer layer of the brain called the cerebral cortex, which plays a key...

Olá a todos e todas! Para este post de hoje, resolvi trazer um pouco à baila um assunto que tem a ver com uma das minhas atividades profissionais relacionadas à língua inglesa. Sou tradutor, atualmente trabalhando mais com livros de RPG (para saber um pouco mais sobre isso, leia meu post). Entretanto, sempre que posso, trago para as minhas aulas algumas referências e/ou atividades relacionadas à tradução. Antes que me apedrejem por estar usando Grammar Translation Method e não alguma técnica mais comunicativa, deixe-me explicar que não é isto...

Something a student of mine said recently got me thinking. She told me that her English teacher at school had told her, and the class, that you should never translate the names of monuments and landmarks into the target language. Therefore, according to the teacher, the Pao de Acucar must never be translated as Sugar Loaf and Cristo Redentor must never, under any cirmcumstances, be translated as Christ the Redeemer. Upon hearing this, a number of questions popped into my head. Why did the teacher limit his dictate...

As I'm writing this post I'm thinking about my English skills as a non-native speaker. I'm aware of the fact that my English is far from being perfect and I can't expect it to be flawless. Nonetheless, I consider myself a successful English learner-teacher as far as language is concerned for one simple reason: I see myself as a language scavenger. What does it take to be a scavenger? When people speak to me and when I'm exposed to language items, I collect whatever I think is useful or...

One of the beautiful things about language is that it is always changing, and therefore, as teachers of English, we need to ensure that we change with the times.  What would you say therefore to a student of yours who says that they do not want to be referred to by the pronouns 'she' or 'he'? Which has increasingly been the case in educational institutions in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and probably other countries as well. As 'transgender' people (a person whose gender is different from...