It goes without saying that vocabulary is one aspect language acquisition that plays an important role when learning one mother’s tongue, let alone a foreign language. I have often had learners saying that they can fairly get by grammatical structures and the real factor holding them back is how to put words within this lexical construct. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula through which one can get by learning new lexis, being it from the word level to the sentence level; however, memory seems to be one key element...

Pensar é algo natural para todos nós.  Segundo a Wikipedia, é uma faculdade do nosso sistema mental através da qual modelamos o mundo para nele podermos transitar e agir segundo a nossa vontade. Pensar vem de fábrica, ou seja, é grátis. Por esse motivo, não se aprende a pensar. Se é assim, por quê então ainda vemos tanta gente por aí dizendo que você só será fluente em um idioma quando conseguir pensar nele? O SENSO COMUM Ainda outro dia, estava eu a observar uma professora em uma turma de...

Durante a cerimônia de encerramento dos Jogos Olímpicos do Rio de Janeiro, transmitida ao vivo para o mundo inteiro, o Brasil deu mais uma prova de que o nosso povo é capaz de realizar grandes feitos. O espetáculo estava uma lindeza só e tudo transcorria maravilhosamente bem: apresentações impecáveis dos nossos melhores artistas, espetáculos de luz e som, coreografias de encantar a vista...

I was recently asked to give a workshop on interaction patterns  It seemed that the teachers at the school were not using a sufficient variety of them, and that this was affecting the effectiveness of the lessons. This is not an uncommon criticism. I have lost count of the number of times in feedback that I have had to ask why the teacher did not take the opportunity to change the interaction patterns. A common reply to my query more often than not is, 'I forgot'. It appears that in a large...

What is complexity theory and how does it accommodate up to date beliefs about how languages are acquired, and new approaches to teaching like task based learning and dogme approaches? Until recently, theories about language acquisition have been dominated by the cognitivists, such as Krashen, Long and Chomsky. The basic premise was that input would be processed, and hypotheses made, which would then result in output where the hypotheses could be tested. This process was said to be innate, and relatively fixed. Coupled with this was the idea that...

Hello! It’s good to be back after a couple of months (ok, maybe more ;-) ) away from the blog.  For the rest of this year, I’d like to consider the role of neuroscience in language learning and teaching. What is neuroscience and how is it interesting to language teachers? Are you interested in how the brain works?  If you said yes, you concur with the around 80% of teachers from around the world that a major study found are interested in brain science (Pickering and Howard-Jones, 2007).  It’s a fascinating...

Teaching adult beginner groups can be quite challenging, as most teachers (if not all)  who have such groups know. Each age group we teach has its specific challenges, and in my experience, when it comes to adult beginners the main challenges are time (they usually have little time to dedicate to English studying other than the time they spend in the classroom, since they have many other responsibilities and priorities. Many times they have trouble even coming to classes) and fear. Fear of making mistakes and making a...

[caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="300"] When I grow up, I want to be just like my dad. Pascal - CC-BY-2.0[/caption] It is a source of pride when a child takes after his or her parents.  The little boy who wants to be a teacher like his mother, or the little girl who develops a laugh just like her father. Of course, it can also work the other way as well, so the little boy can also pick up the colourful language of his mother or the girl can learn how to...

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...

This lesson plan is one for any time, any where, any students…   1 Show the four images below.   Ask your students to choose one and think (not talk) about why that particular image appeals to them.  Allow them plenty of thinking time.   2 Tell them about the picture you choose, but don't say explicitly which one you've chosen. For example, "This makes me think of summer, and of home. It reminds me of the smell, and of sitting outside on a summer's day with my friends, maybe between classes at...