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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...

Very soon, I will celebrate my 25th teaching anniversary. This got me thinking about the beginning of my career, what was different then, what is still rather similar and especially how differently (or similarly) I used to teach. How have all these years influenced and shaped the way I teach today? To answer these questions I can rely on my memory and perceptions, as well as those of my students and of those who observed me. It’d be great, and probably enlightening, if I could compare the past...

After having taught at several different schools for a long long time, I’ve been teaching private classes for a while now. I’ve decided to do so so that I could have more flexibility and more time to study and work on different projects. Needless to say, teaching private classes has its own features. Sometimes I feel as if I were learning how to teach all over again and that’s been a real challenge. By a stroke of luck, I’ve come across a lot of interesting articles on it these past...

This month I’ll be continuing the theme of technology in education and thinking about the impact of technology on young people – our learners and future learners! In 2010 there was an article in the New York Times Magazine called Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction.  The title of the article gives you a clue as to the content – in it the writer contends (with the help of a teacher called Ms Blondel and a young student called Vishal) that “… computers and cellphones, and the constant stream...

Well, first, apologies to Scott Thornbury for ‘borrowing’ and distorting his title. This is the closest I’ll ever get to his altitude, so forgive my mutant magpie-Icarus act. I present to you the first of the series An A-Z of Dysfunctional ELT – the art of getting things wrong, again and again. Each month, I’ll take a letter and explore some ideas about how we get things wrong.  And by ‘we’, I mean you, and you, and you. Oh, and me.  For example, C might stand for Communication (aw, don’t get...

Hi everyone! Today I address a common teachers’ concern – indiscipline. Research[1] shows that students’ indifference is related to unchallenging teaching practices, to which students negatively react, starting conflicts, such as indiscipline. As a consequence, indiscipline impairs the development of the group because teachers decide refrain from implementing communicative activities not to lose control of the discipline. The experiences below represent the worst conflicts three experienced teachers   (professionals for more than 10 years) had to deal with in public, private schools and language institutes. Luiza: It happened when I was pregnant...

O termo collocation já faz parte do cenário de ensino de língua inglesa há um bom tempo. Há na história relatos sobre collocations desde o ano de 1933. Harold Palmer, linguista inglês, é tido como o primeiro a citar tal termo. Na introdução de um de seus livros, ele escreveu: "When a word forms an important element of a 'collocation' [a succession of two or more words that may be best learnt as if it were a single word] the collocations is shown in bold type." Outros autores passaram a...

Continuing this series of exercises based on the concept of less is more, this month we turn to the movie trailer as a resource for the language classroom Trailers have become omnipresent in digital media and gain more views on YouTube than almost any other genre, except the music video. They are fascinating to analyse partly because they have undergone radical changes in terms of objectives and content over the years. As concentration spans have diminished, the trailer has become shorter and more dramatic and evolved into the ‘teaser’. One...

It is widely known that some approaches to teaching in the past consciously placed vocabulary as a secondary feature of language. In other words, one was made to think of grammar as the bones of the language whilst vocabulary as the flesh to be added. However, Harmer (1997) has a point when he states that not only does vocabulary provide the flesh but it also provides the vital organs without which nothing can be conveyed. Since one cannot communicate effectively without the appropriate choice of words, it is...

In a plenary delivered at a symposium in Turkey in December 2012, Lindsay Clandfield talked about education and how things have changed (especially because of technology, globalization and the how both have changed social and work relations and demands.) He talked about how experts, academics and everybody else connected to education said there had to be big changes in education, in the way people teach (because learning has changed, the demands and needs of learners have changed) and that we are on the brink of major changes.  Up...