Just a minute, let me think![1]   The first decision I had to make regarding this post was if I wanted to write in Portuguese or in English. That was because it is based on a three-question survey I conducted with my last year high school students (3o ano do Ensino Médio) where I work and where the lessons are taught in Portuguese. I decided to write it in English in the end as this was one the suggestions made by part of the students: having lessons in English.   In this...

If you were present at the last BRAZ-TESOL National Convention in João Pessoa, you may, just like me, keep going down memory lane and think about the highlights of the conference. For me, one of these highlights, was when the brilliant plenary speaker J. J. Wilson said “Great teachers have to be treasured, not measured.” To be perfectly honest, I can’t remember what exactly he was referring to, but I do remember the audience reaction really well. There was a furore and teachers cheered and applauded him. This...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

I must have mentioned before on this blog that I teach adolescents in their last year of High School. Needless to say, this is a period of great anxiety as most of them intend to go to university and now have to choose a career. It is the time when most of them realise that their days of “automatic pilot” - in which they simply progress from one grade to another - are over and that making a decision based on the question What do I want to...

By the time this post is published, I will have spent two days in the lovely city of João Pessoa where, as most of you know, the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference is being held. This will be my 7th BRAZ-TESOL Conference. While I was packing I began asking myself: What motivated me to go? Why do I want to leave my kids behind? (If you have done the same you will know the feeling…) Why do I feel like spending the holiday attending talks and workshops instead of...

Very soon, I will celebrate my 25th teaching anniversary. This got me thinking about the beginning of my career, what was different then, what is still rather similar and especially how differently (or similarly) I used to teach. How have all these years influenced and shaped the way I teach today? To answer these questions I can rely on my memory and perceptions, as well as those of my students and of those who observed me. It’d be great, and probably enlightening, if I could compare the past...

Last week I happened to read a post in a well-known Brazilian newspaper blog explaining that several students who have been granted scholarships in the program Science without Borders are at risk of an early and compulsory return to Brazil. The reason? They have not achieved the minimum proficiency in English to be able to attend the course they intended to. If you read the post (see link below), you’ll see that the journalist who wrote it oversimplified the problem by saying that Brazilian students cannot communicate in...

“Learn English 50% faster with native teachers.” That TV ad got me thinking if that was still really appealing to learners in Brazil. In other words, do people actually believe in that? A quick search on Google helped clarify things for me. There are several ads like that. Not only do they claim students will  “Learn faster” (there was even an ad which said “Learn 4 times faster”!), but they suggest it has been “proven” that it is only possible to learn “real” English with a native teacher!...