I am teaching a course for public school English teachers in Brasilia and one of the topics addressed is assessment. The aim of this part of the course is to improve teachers' assessment literacy, allowing them to provide informed feedback on the assessment system used in their institution and develop assessment systems and tools that are in keeping with the most current assessment practices. While going over the ELT assessment literature and discussing topics such as reliability, validity, washback, practicality, formative versus summative assessment, formal versus informal assessment, and...

My last post dealt with a tendency I have been noticing in my classroom observations regarding lead-ins being either used to pre-teach language that should actually be discovered by students or turned into loose conversation activities with no clear pedagogical purpose beyond “just talk”. I also commented that this long time spent on the lead-in resulted in teachers’ having to rush through their lessons, preventing them from dedicating more time to the actual communicative production as a result of the lesson of the day. This month, I’d like to...

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to observe around ten teachers each semester. These observations provide me with the chance to assess how effective our mentoring system and teacher induction sessions have been, as I typically observe teachers in their second semester at the institution. Methodologically speaking, most of the classes I observe are generally effective and there are only a few minor aspects to consider. However, if there’s one aspect that is recurrent in my observations and that some novice teachers have difficulty grasping, it’s the...

In my last post, I referred to Carol Dweck’s book Mindset – How you can Fulfill Your Potential to invite teachers to focus on a growth mindset in 2015 and stay away from ideas and practices that only help perpetuate a fixed mindset. My focus last month, thus, was on teachers themselves and how their mindset affects their professional growth. This month I’m going to focus on how students’ growth can be helped or hindered by teachers’ mindset, also drawing from ideas in Dweck’s inspiring book. There’s a certain...

It’s the beginning of the school year in the Southern Hemisphere and many teachers are starting their teaching career or re-starting in a new school or language institute. My experience as a leader in a large ELT institute that hires around thirty new teachers every semester has shown that there are certain attitudes, dispositions and behaviors that can help a teacher guarantee a smooth beginning in a new institution. Here are a few tips that might be useful:   Image courtesy of samarttiw  @ freedigitalphtos.net 1)      Know your institution’s approach to...

As we are beginning a new year and many of us are enjoying our well-deserved summer vacations in the southern hemisphere, in my post today I'm going to relate my vacation experience with what I'm currently reading and propose a new year challenge. On our summer vacations, my husband and I have always favored calmer places; spending our summers in a large city packed with tourists has never been our idea of the ideal vacation. When we see a huge crowd, we usually turn the other way. However, this time...

My last post addressed the main excuses given for not doing peer revision of writing in the EFL classroom, especially in contexts such as Brazil, where peer revision is unheard of in most L1 writing classrooms. Having hopefully convinced you that it is worth at least trying peer revision in your classroom, I will now focus on some helpful tips for effective peer revision activities. 1)      Start small One of the biggest mistakes teachers can make is to be too ambitious and want to have students revise their peers’ writing like...

My dear colleague Luiz Otávio Barros wrote a recent post providing ten tips to help teachers give feedback on writing. The ten tips are all very useful and are certainly in-keeping with contemporary ESL/EFL writing pedagogy. Just like Luiz Otávio, I  also consider White and Arndt’s 1991 book Process Writing a seminal work on how to teach process writing in the ESL/EFL classroom. Other books that have contributed to enhancing my knowledge on second language writing are Campbell’s 1998 book , Teaching Second-language Writing: Interaction with Text, the University...

Last year I saw a call for chapter proposals for a British Council book on innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers. Every day I receive briefings and newsletters from the associations I’m a member of and from publications, websites, and communities I follow. Many times I come across such calls for proposals, but most of them are not within my areas of expertise or related to my teaching context. Besides, I usually think, “This is not for me. I’m not a scholar or a...