On announcing my groups’ final testing dates, I can vividly remember one student coining the chunk, if I may say so, ‘TeStressing Times are coming.’ Well, in terms of pronunciation one might easily say she has aced the test.  Living and learning seems to be a fair motto, I say. We all know that the end of an academic year or, our academic semester, is packed with surprises that most learners love, not to say hate. Either fortunately or unfortunately testing is one them. One thing is for sure,...

If we jump back in time we might hear Sir Mick Jagger singing: ‘Time is on my side’. Mr. Keith Richards would promptly reply: ‘Yes, it is!’. The fact of the matter is that they are pushing 70ish and still keep rocking, which gives us the impression that time is really on their side. Had they chosen the teaching career, I am not that sure they would be singing that enigmatic phrase, let alone the ‘yes, it is’. It all sounds very easy when it comes to teachers managing...

One may often hear how expensive it can be to invest time and money in learning a foreign language. However, it is widely known that an institution is usually judged by its teachers and how qualified they are in the teaching community. Consequently, a LOS (Lesson Observation Scheme) is instrumental in providing the academic department with important evidence on a teacher’s performance in class. Further down is an outline of what we usually use at Cultura Inglesa São João del Rei.   Why Lesson Observation Amongst various reasons, one advantage of...

It is often said that dealing with grammar instruction in class is rather dull, let alone, demanding on both learners and teachers. The first ones might consider it as something heavy-going to take on board. The latter ones might consider it demanding on the grounds that preparation is a key element when delivering a grammar-based lesson. Unfortunately, grammar treatment tends to be downgraded and, to make matters worse, regarded as not instrumental in enabling learners to use the language more accurately.  Much to the contrary, approaching grammar instruction should...

I was delivering this session on Developing Listening skills to a Pre-service course at CISJDR and got bewildered, not to mention shocked, at what one trainee brought up in a group discussion. She categorically affirmed that she is not allowed to work on listening skills in her school as it may disrupt the class and bring chaos to the institution. I really feel sorry for her as I see her as potential educator who wants to make some changes to the teaching of English in our public schools....

Voz do Brasil, former Hora do Brasil, is the oldest radio programme in the country whose political content broadcast is mandatory to all radio stations. It is regularly aired at 19:00 sharp, Brasilia time. You may wonder what is with that and how it is connected to learning. In fact, this is closely related to people’s abilities since Voz do Brasil (aka Fala Sozinho) is said to be what everybody hears but not many people listen to. Now, how important is listening instruction in a foreign language? seems to...

Is reading a skill in isolation? No language skill, either receptive or productive, should be dealt with in isolation in class. Reading texts hold an awful lot of language, information, and topics among other things that can lead to speaking and writing. Thereby, it would not be wise to engage students in a reading task and move along after it is finished without connecting it to anything in the lesson. On the contrary, I fully agree with Brown (1994:283) when he states that ‘reading ability will be best...

By definition reading is the action of a person who looks at and understands the meaning of written or printed words or symbols. But there is much more to that than meet the eyes. Nuttall (1996:2) believes that not only does reading comprise decoding, deciphering and identifying words, but it is above all an opportunity for learners to draw meaning from the written text. Getting students to read in English both intensively and extensively is vitally important for a number of reasons. Firstly, we basically read a great deal...

Collocation Competence – fluency and accuracy hand in hand There is a number of reasons why a sound knowledge of collocations is desirable, especially for more advanced learners. Hill (2000) relies on collocations to explain that language consists largely of pre-fabricate chunks of lexis. Therefore, not only is the accurate and appropriate use of collocations one distinguishing mark of a native-like command of the language but it is also a reliable measure of the proficiency level of a non-native speaker. To begin with, the way words combine in collocations...

It is widely known that some approaches to teaching in the past consciously placed vocabulary as a secondary feature of language. In other words, one was made to think of grammar as the bones of the language whilst vocabulary as the flesh to be added. However, Harmer (1997) has a point when he states that not only does vocabulary provide the flesh but it also provides the vital organs without which nothing can be conveyed. Since one cannot communicate effectively without the appropriate choice of words, it is...