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It’s the beginning of a new term. You’re chosen to teach an upper-intermediate/advanced group. You’re excited to meet your new students, you plan a welcome activity so as to start off with the right foot. You enter the room, start the class and ask your new students to introduce themselves. And suddenly one particular student starts speaking. Their pronunciation is nearly flawless, they use a wide range of vocabulary and demonstrate control of simple and complex grammatical forms. And one inevitable thought crosses your mind: “This student speaks...

Year: 1999. Group: Basic 1. Place: Uberaba, MG – Brasil. Seventeen-year-old Ana Carolina stepped into a classroom for the first time. Young, restless, feeling entitled by her recently acquired C2 diploma and, most importantly: raw. Fluent, for sure. After one year of isolation from all Portuguese speakers in a cultural exchange program before cell phones or the Internet were even available, the mountaneer dialect flowed as if it were her own. Scared, she left the students in class in order to catch a breath and drink some water,...

If you work in a language Institution or in a (high) school as a teacher, a coordinator or if you are a school principal or owner, you are aware that cultural events are a substantial part of the breakdown.  Any school events or activities that entail cultural and social fronts are providing the students an opportunity to grow, learn, socialise, perfect existing skills, develop new skills and enhance formative development. It all sounds great, but what about the everyday processes?  Who is/are the ones involved in events like these? There...

Lately, we seem to have been facing the social need to shout out opinions and to pick sides. The political scenario may have contributed to generalised polarised behaviour even in education. For me, and I believe for so many of my friends and peers, there is very little chance that one can work in the realm of education without critically analysing and considering politics and the future of our country. We read, we think, and our most important goal is to help other souls develop into becoming agents...

You are a student in a classroom full of them. You are all seated in a circle and the teacher is standing in front of you. The teacher asks a question. Silence. Ok, thinking time is beneficial, you think. One minute later, silence remains, until the teacher says ‘I won’t say a word before you say it”, followed by another full minute of silence. Finally he says “if you haven’t read the text, there won’t be a lesson today. You can go home.” I do not know if...

One of the biggest concerns among teachers who work with teenagers is that they seem to be demotivated most of the time. It’s often said that teenage students don’t participate in classes so enthusiastically or don’t show interest in the activities. While that may be true, it will rarely happen to the whole group. Even so, we worry a lot with those who are not interacting so much; or at least not the way we expected them to. The first and foremost aspect to be considered is the fun...

Monday, 6 p.m., the sun peeking through the blinds in the brick and mortar language school building in Brazil. The teacher enters the room carrying a bag of props, flashcards, and her tape recorder. The recorder being to her as precious as a map to a Geography teacher: “Hi, John Peter! How are you today?” asked the teacher in a high-pitched voice. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” replied the monotoned student. The automatic, “I’m fine, too,” followed. “So… Let’s begin! Open your books to page 50,” she continued while rewinding and...

Today, I would like to share with you a bit of the book “Reader, Come Home”, by Maryanne Wolf. This book has triggered a lot of reflection, being a techie myself on how I have been taking the habit of reading lately. According to her, we might be losing the ability to read a favorite book in an era of screen immersion. Neuroscience explains that the ability to read did not evolve naturally in humans, different from sight and vision. Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains acrobatically rewired in such...

My third piece of advice is to cultivate a sense of empathy - to put yourself in other people's shoes - to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world. Barack Obama Empathy is 'the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions'. (Krznaric, 2014) Because of the many online groups we are part of, it's much easier to find ourselves in situations where our empathy is...

“What do you think of Glenn Greenwald’s Portuguese?” That question came out of the blue to me, but there I was, chatting to an air traffic controller before we started his English proficiency interview about a third person’s Portuguese language proficiency. I thought of a video I saw after the first Vaza Jato news: “Well, I find his pronunciation a little difficult to follow.” “Yes, it’s heavy.” “Especially because we’re not used to listening to a foreign accent in Portuguese, I think.” “That’s true. But you can understand him, right?” he shot at...