“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

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...

At the beginning of a new semester, learners are usually excited to get started, enthusiastic about learning and with high hopes of finally achieving that much sought-after fluency. As the course unfolds, so does life: learners have to juggle work, school and their own personal lives, coping with everything at the same time. And as that happens, one of the most common comments I hear from my learners is that they wish they had (more) time to study English, do homework, listen to podcasts, watch the news, you...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

One important thing I learned from my baby is that laziness starts from a very early age. Having been talking to him only in English for more than 2 years now, I can notice his incredible understanding of my production in spoken English. He understands nearly everything I speak to him, reacts appropriately to commands, and answers to my questions – but the answers are only in Portuguese. I am investigating why he doesn't reply to me "in my language", and I am coming to the conclusion that...

I have once read an article that stated that the word ‘motivation’ is linked to the word ‘emotion’ because both of them come from the Latin word ‘motere’ which means ‘to move towards emotion’. I distinctly remember this, because it has changed the way think about motivation. It is connected to emotion, as what drives a person (our students) are their interests. I have come across that question (title) so many times throughout the 14 years of experience I have undergone. Moreover, that has always brought other questions to...

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain...

Deciding to write about my journey with English has taken me on a trip down memory lane, and some other teachers said they had the same impression when they read part 1. This is extremely motivating since I think this kind of reflection helps us realize how far we have come and it might prompt us to make more progress. On that note, passing the first exam back in the day proved to be a catalyst for change in the sense that it enabled me to see that I...

How did passing a proficiency exam help me improve my teaching? Once you have passed the exam, where do you go from there? I plan to address these questions while I share my experience of preparing for the Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE) exam and what happened after passing. Far from being a guide for exam candidates, this series of posts will be a more personal account of the trials and tribulations of a teacher trying to become a better model for his students. I hope some teachers can relate...

I often wonder to what extent me being an educator has influenced what I am like as a mother - and vice-versa. It is easier to see how being a teacher shaped the mother I am. For instance, I have never done my kids’ work or projects. I have guided their research (making sure they learned to question the reliability of certain sources and that there was no copying and pasting!), helped them organise their ideas coherently before putting on paper, gave my opinion on their ideas. Countless times...