The importance of being generous – a homage to Claudio Azevedo



June 11 was a very sad day for everyone at Casa Thomas Jefferson. It was the day our dear friend and colleague Claudio Azevedo passed away. He had been working with us for almost 32 years. In fact, we started together back in 1986, at the same branch. We worked hard together but had a lot of fun as well, when the Friday evening groups were full and we taught until 10 p.m. Of course, we always went out afterwards to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.  We were young then, and there weren’t classes on Saturdays at that time!

Throughout these years, we grew together in the institution and both moved to leadership positions. Besides, we went to a lot of BRAZ-TESOL and Tesol Conferences, and one Iatefl conference, together. Claudio was liked by everyone in the institution and was adored by his students. I don’t think there was ever a student who didn’t enjoy having classes with Claudio. He was also a wonderful actor. Not only was he the lead actor in many plays at school, but for many years he also taught a theater course. He lived and breathed Casa Thomas Jefferson and dedicated his whole career to the institution in many different roles – teacher, actor, materials developer, course supervisor, and branch manager.

However, Claudio’s reputation went way beyond Casa Thomas Jefferson. He was famous for his award-winning blog, Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals. Everywhere I went, when I mentioned that I worked for Casa Thomas Jefferson, people asked me if I knew Claudio. Everyone in ELT who follows blogs knew who Claudio was and was a big fan. Not only was he a creative and experienced materials developer, but he was also a fabulous presenter. His workshops in BRAZ-TESOL conferences were always packed, and people stayed in long lines way ahead of time to guarantee their spot.  He was invited to present about his blog in Argentina, Malta, Lithuania, and just recently, Cambodia. He also gave many interviews about his blog, one of them for Tesol France, among others. This year, he won the Best English Education Site of the Year award, and last year his blog was among the Top 100 ESL Blogs.

Very few people know how it all started, though. It was back in 2008 when we had some training on new technologies and one of the topics was blogs. Participants had to create a blog as part of the training, and Claudio decided to take advantage of his passion for and incredible knowledge about movies to create a blog with short movie segments targeting specific grammar points, with very practical worksheets. What started as just a course task became a real passion for Claudio, who posted a new activity every single week for ten years. This is not an easy accomplishment. It is challenging for someone who works full-time as Claudio did to keep up with this commitment for so long. Can you imagine how many movies he watched to create the hundreds of activities available, not to mention the extra attention he had to pay to identify the right segment for the right grammar point? He also started another very popular blog, Movie Segments for Warm-Ups and Follow-Ups, and through his blogs, Claudio made many ELT friends around the world, some of whom contributed with ideas and even wrote guest posts.

Claudio made ELT professionals’ lives so much easier by curating the movie segments and creating the activities. All the work is already done and the blogs are so rich and varied that we can always find something for every class, no prep time required. What is even more impressive is that his blog has always been free. He could have moved on to a paid blog – and there is nothing wrong with this because we need to value our work. However, he chose not to. He chose to be generous and make it possible for every teacher around the globe, regardless of their financial resources,  to use his creative activities in their classes. His blog is a true gift to all of us.

Claudio is not with us anymore, but his legacy is. I hope many more teachers take advantage of this rich resource for many, many years to come. Claudio was selfless, extremely generous, and I dedicate this post to him and his contribution to English Language Teaching.

P.S. The picture above was taken in our last Teachers’ Day party. That day, Claudio was determined to take a photo with all his friends. It was our last picture together.

Isabela Villas Boas

Isabela Villas Boas holds a Master's Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in Education from Universidade de Brasília. She has been at Casa Thomas Jefferson for 32 years, where she is currently the Academic Superintendent. Her main academic interests are second language writing, teacher development, ELT methodology, and assessment. She also supervises MA dissertations for the University of Birmingham. She has recently published the book “Teaching EFL Writing - A Practical Approach for Skills-Integrated Contexts.

  • Jose Antonio da Silva
    Posted at 20:04h, 29 junho Responder

    You right Isabela. He was a very generous educator. I had the pleasure to work at two branches with h8m. He was always available to help. As you said, he was also a great presenter who always volunteered his time to talk about his passion for teaching. In TESOL Electronic Village Online, he presented in BaW once or twice and a couple of times in ICT4ELT. It was always inspiring to be in his webinars. We, in the ELT community owe a lot to him.

  • Carlos Gontow
    Posted at 20:39h, 29 junho Responder

    He was a fabulous guy! He will be missed, but as you said, his legacy will live on.

  • Cinthia Nunes
    Posted at 20:49h, 29 junho Responder

    I teach at Cil Guará. I’ve met Cláudio when I took a placement test at Thomas Jefferson. At that time I was planning to take the translation course, but after my test Cláudio took a deep breath and told me that I couldn’t. I was supposed to take the advanced course first. He ‘s been careful to give me the bad news rs. Cláudio worked with love and dedication. I’ve been using his blog in my classes. Movie segments, what a great job!!! What a great professional!! Thanks Cláudio!!!

  • Ricardo Barros
    Ricardo Barros
    Posted at 20:51h, 29 junho Responder

    Claudio inspired my long before I had met him and will be sorely missed.

  • Magaly Lemos
    Posted at 21:13h, 29 junho Responder

    Very impressive work! I had the opportunity to attend one of his presentations, a long time ago, during a conference at CTJ and his work with movie segments was really inspiring! I can’t imagine how many teachers, all over the world, have benefited from his blog and all the great ideas he shared, so generously! May he rest in peace and may his work always be an ispiration to other teachers as it has been to me!

  • Ruth Maria Alencar Peixoto
    Posted at 22:38h, 29 junho Responder

    A great human being, unique soul. Met him 20 years ago in a Seminar at CTJ. He was as nice as a host can be with visitors, friendly and caring. I thought his groups of students were the happiest, watching some videos of his classes! I’ll always remember his smiling face…
    Claudio will certainly be forever in his students and peers hearts.

  • Vera Keller
    Posted at 00:55h, 30 junho Responder

    I never had the opportunity to work in the same branch as him, but he was an Intermediate level supervisor during my time at the Casa and I enjoyed talking to him during feedback sessions. I remember Claudio mostly by his smile, which would fill a room.

  • Alba Cobra
    Posted at 01:48h, 30 junho Responder

    I can’t even begin to tell you how I feel after reading your beautiful homage, but I think you know. He was in my sample class and that was just the beginning of how much he deeply touched my life. Claudio will never be forgotten.

  • Indra Barrios Lasso
    Posted at 08:38h, 30 junho Responder

    What a beautiful tribute. People like him leave marks in the life of others. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jacqueline de Sá
    Posted at 08:59h, 30 junho Responder

    My husband was one of his ex students and he loved his classes. And I felt as his student as I attended his Braztesol workshop and I learned a lot about working with video. He is sorely misssed by many, but I can’t imagine how much his students and coworkers are coping with the loss! At least the good moments can fill a little the gap

  • Marta Diniz de Rezende
    Posted at 09:23h, 30 junho Responder

    A touching text. Thanks, Isabela.

  • Dayse Muniz
    Posted at 10:19h, 30 junho Responder

    I am truly moved by your words. I feel sad for his passing and at the same time thankful for his generosity. I hope more and more people are able to learn from him, professionally and personally.

  • Conceição Couto
    Posted at 11:04h, 30 junho Responder

    There’s one thing I’ve learned from you and with you recently. Life is too short and you’ve made the best of it. Among your many contribtions, I’ll save and keep the one people know very little about. Our cooking lessons and your apple pie recipe: a means to show others how much we care about them. Thank you, Cláudio. RIP

  • Kátia Falcomer
    Posted at 12:57h, 30 junho Responder

    It was 1999 when Claudio observed one of my lessons for the first time. I was pregnant, my baby was due to the following month., My energy level was not at its peak, so I had to plan lessons which would meet my status at the moment. I felt really insecure because I didn’t know how the observer would see it. I took my sts to the parking lot to ‘explore’ my car and practice the target vocab -parts of the car. At that time, delivering a student-centered class and providing them with different experiences was new to me. Claudio was soooo supportive, making me feel I was on the right track.! He even gave me extra tips on how to make the most of sts’ production during such classes. For a novice teacher at CTJ, it meant a lot to me. He made me feel more confident to go beyond the book, leaving my comfort zone. I’ll never forget it. Thanks, my dear Supervisor, colleague, friend ❤️

  • Christiane Araújo
    Posted at 19:57h, 30 junho Responder

    It was a shock to know he passed away….I love his blog and have been using it for quite a while now. Not many people would be that generous….

  • Claudia Escobar
    Posted at 21:06h, 13 agosto Responder

    I have no words to express how sorry I am about the lost of such a great human being. Saddly his blogs are not available any more.

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