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What do gunpowder, tobacco, and high-performance schools have in common? If we have the Great Wars of the 20th century as our backdrop, quite a lot. At the end of World War I, Germany was trying to cope with grave social problems. The owner of a cigarette company decided to fund a new school for his workers’ kids. Roughly thirty years later, the citizens of Italy found themselves dealing with the consequences of being in the losing side of World War II. Some families in the village of...

Have you ever changed your lesson plan (or part of it) halfway through due to students’ lack of engagement? And have you ever regretted changing it because students asked you to do something different in class? If you answered yes for both questions, you face the same dilemma that we do; which is how much of the lesson plan it is fine to adapt in order to please our students’ imminent needs. Let’s face it: English isn’t generally taken so seriously by students (and their parents) as much as other...

Before I start this post, I must warn you: this was NOT written by someone who has great expertise on this area. It was elaborated by someone who, like many other teachers, have an inquisitive mind and a wish to make students’ language-learning path a bit less of a bumpy ride. I am also not a specialist, and if you came here looking for universal answers, I’m afraid you’ll end up with even more questions. I am a big nerd, that’s what I am. But enough of me. I was...

Is it really possible to motivate students to learn English? The answer is YES! Some students have strong intrinsic motivation, they know what they want and work hard to reach it. However, most students learn English because they have to, they are learning English because of an external need and not because they want to. Although it is harder to keep motivated when the goal is not a personal choice, there are a few strategies we can use to help them feel more engaged and eventually the goal...

Curiously, I have posted a variation of this article on a blog I used to update, almost 10 years ago. Unfortunately the question is still up to date. In recent years, one of the main discussions in the educational business has been about finding the proper ways to face the growing need to move from print materials, and traditional pure face-to-face learning to a situation with more digital online content and self-instruction, self-paced learning, flipped classroom, etc. We currently live in a world where students have instant access to content...

[caption id="attachment_8629" align="alignright" width="227"] Teacher development and cleaning products -- the way my mind works![/caption] Teaching a language, especially when you’re a novice, can be really daunting. In fact, the word “daunting” immediately brings to mind a Duck commercial that was constantly on when I studied in Australia. The voice-over would go, “Cleaning your bathroom can seem like a daunting task”, and the small bathroom would grow huge with the woman (why is it always a woman, by the way?) tripping over herself. That nerve-racking image of an evergrowing...

Taking the DELTA has changed me as a teacher in many ways, but I believe that it has most influenced the way I perceive and teach listening. I first came across the term ‘decoding’ when my dear tutor Melissa Lamb from IH London introduced me to John Field’s book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’. Later on, I came across Richard Cauldwell’s brilliant book ‘A Syllabus for Listening – Decoding’. This is the second post inspired by these brilliant minds which have also shaped me as a teacher and...

Exactly twenty years ago, doing research on the use of technology in language learning for my first MA, one of the questions I was often asked was the one on the title. Teachers, publishers, learners seemed to have various theories on how, when, why technology would or not replace teachers. The concern seems to be as current as ever among professionals and stakeholders. Science fiction, often represented by the cinema masterpiece Blade Runner, highlights the possibilities of what experts can bring to life. In this post I will discuss some...

It’s not the first time that I decide to write about conference presentations. A few years ago, I wrote some tips for conference presenters, based on my 20+ years of experience attending academic events. This time around, I’ll relate how I believe talks should be structured to how classes should be planned and delivered. It is simpler than a novice presenter may think.   Have a clear objective and make it explicit Just as you should have a clear objective for your classes and should also make this objective clear...

You probably have heard of the term Glocalization, which translates the idea of thinking globally and acting locally. It seems obvious, and it doesn't seem something difficult to do. But yet we continue to find excuses not to do it. Especially here in Brazil, our culture is one where we expect changes to come from someone above us. We don't take responsibility for the things we can do to change the reality around us. We think that God is going to help us, that the new president is going to make...