Assessment has always been an area of great debate among ELT professionals, given its apparent intangibility in connection to the real use of the language. Many of us have been faced with learners watching TV in English and getting back to class saying they understood nothing the actors said, thus questioning the evaluation system that has always told them they are doing well. In that case, most of us have had the chance to show learners they are doing well in certain task and contexts (e.g. predictable familiar...

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...

As the title may reveal, the language is in constant change, no one owns it and everybody does. Therefore, we can all play with it as we wish. Can we? While some of us stand as the grammar police to correct tests, written tasks, posts on Facebook or so many other things people say and write around the world, many of us (also) fight to help learners better communicate in a world where English is frequently used as a lingua franca. Today I propose a discussion on priorities...

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...

The educational field has been suffering attacks from all parts of society, in Brazil and around the world - differences do apply. This post is a reflection about the courage needed to make significant changes to the current scenario - that of turmoil where teachers, parents, students, the society seem to be taking to each other, but running around in multiple directions, either following trends and assumptions or neglecting to look at the big picture from each other's perspectives. The first point I would like to make is that...

One of the current buzz words in education is collaboration. From kindergarten to doctorate learners, many teachers claim to develop collaboration with their groups. I have recently discussed the matter with a group of teachers working in different contexts (language institutes, primary school, undergraduate courses) and the understanding of the concept of collaboration seems blurred at times, especially when taken as a synonym to work together. In our classrooms, many of us are used to asking learners to work in pairs, in groups, to compare answers, to solve a puzzle....

Many of us made great friends in the staff room, bonding with peers on a regular basis, sharing a variety of moments when we spend most of the day in the school. The environment is usually where teachers keep their materials, books and where many of us have our snacks and coffee. An informal professional room where teachers are free to choose what to focus on and talk about. In this post I propose we discuss ideas of how the time in the staff room can be used...

On many different occasions I have discussed the belief that teaching seems to be about asking questions, not always providing answers. In this post we will focus on teaching situations where questions can be effective in helping learners achieve success in language learning and some ideas on how to take advantage of questions. Using images: Most of our modern materials - including international exams - involve images to provoke ideas, discussions or illustrate a text. Asking yes/ no questions may help teachers guide learners towards the pre-defined ideas...

In this post I propose a discussion on how much emphasis we sometimes put on the teacher, trainers, book writers, speakers without discussing the impact on learners. For some reason we often rejoice in our achievements, which is great and definitely necessary to motivate us to reach higher. However, I still wonder when we will be able to collaborate towards quality education and real changes in the 21st century. Education for all learners in the various contexts we work in, development to the teachers that seek support and...

There are many English language teaching professionals working under this umbrella term in specific areas such as English as a foreign language or English in the public sector. The diversity of smaller groups may be  a great opportunity for professionals aiming at increasing their repertoire of experiences as they have the chance to discuss the different contexts in online groups, courses or large events, such as the BRAZ-TESOL International Conference. One of the common complaints among teachers in our field is the fact that we are not often respected...

I have recently discussed with another teacher that we should never lose track of the lessons we learn from inspirational teachers. We learn a lot throughout our professional teaching lives, but also from our long-lasting lives as learners. We take courses, study, research, observe. In this post I would like to write about those teachers who inspire learners to act, think, be curious, be brave and so much more. Those are the teachers that I believe make a difference in the world. I remember one of the greatest teachers...

Innovations in various fields and changes in society behaviour and interaction have been giving us teachers a plethora of opportunities to grow and maximise language learning. Research has also shown that the skills learners need to develop require action from the very beginning of our students' academic life. In this 'framework for 21st century learning' one of the core skills is collaboration. In some contexts we have already progressed quite a lot with learners, encouraging group work, pair work, peer correction, for instance. Perhaps assessment is still an issue...

I hope this post is an introduction to future projects and discussions that have been on my mind lately. The topic of career choices has raised lots of questions lately, not only during BrELT chats, where some people were in doubt as to which path to follow - e.g. the Cambridge courses or an MA -, but also a recent talk to a great friend of mine who asked me what he should do next in his professional life. I cannot tell anyone to do what I do, I...

  Every professional in the realm of education has the power to influence positive change, for instance, aligning theory to practice as extensively discussed. In this post, leadership will be brought to light for a discussion on how educational leaders may contribute to building the learning environment and causing a great impact on education. Firstly, we are assuming that the more senior you are, the more chances you have to affect the lives of learners somehow connected to you. That means a trainer may impact teachers, who will in turn...

We often discuss this question both in the field of education and during informal conversations elsewhere. A similar debate is not that frequent among other professions, for instance we do not seem to ask whether doctors are born or need to study hard to develop. Many people advocate that teachers choose to work in the area out of passion or due to vocation. Contrasting it to other occupations and you will be glad to board a plane whose pilot is not simply someone who loves flying (Green, 2015)....

Making mistakes is often perceived with a negative connotation, possibly due to the educational background we come from. Errors and mistakes were to be corrected immediately, we were tested, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of the manner of correction, and encouraged to memorise the given information. That is how I was often taught at school. The way we approach mistakes changes how we perceive education, and some of us became teachers with an ideal to make a difference and a positive impact on learning. Not all our learners are...

In the English language teaching field, many professionals join the area after becoming sufficiently fluent and confident to face learners. Some of us start a career believing the knowledge we have of the language will guarantee our success in teaching and we may resent feedback given about our use of the language. Although the language proficiency needed to teach depends on the context lessons will be happening (Rossner, 2017), learning more about the language we teach may improve our performance in the classroom. Considering that the learning goals as...

Discussing creativity in English language teaching and learning has definitely contributed to many of the changes we have already observed in our field - both in the classroom and in teacher education. However, some teaching contexts are definitely dependent on more controlled approaches - sometimes because of teachers' beliefs, sometimes because of school programmes, parents' influence. In Brazil, we were lucky to have Freire debating the ideal conditions for education that promotes change in the world, rather than generates copies of our old selves. Yet, two decades after his...

One of my favourite areas to research and study is feedback and the impact that the contribution of others have in teacher development. In this text I will focus on three different features feedback may take depending on tone, intention or professional relationship of those involved: affection, assertiveness and aggression. In general terms, Bill Gates helped us spread the idea that teachers need 'real feedback' to support them in growing and doing their jobs better, as opposed to having a vague comment on their work that will not contribute constructively, possibly causing...

"A man's mind stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimensions." This quote, attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, illustrates what happens with the learning mind: it will not be the same it had been before the new opportunities to grow. The new ideas may also refer to developing knowledge and/ or skills that are not necessarily directly connected to our area of expertise. As teachers, we aim at helping our learners to broaden their horizons, embrace diversity, experience the world. What better way to change the world than to start by experimenting with our own learning? Teaching a foreign language gives...

We have been discussing the importance of mindset and beliefs in education. The impact of the teachers' confidence that their learners can achieve higher, as well as their thoughts about their own teaching to influence learning outcomes. Focusing on teacher development, here are some tips of what teachers can do and how leaders - trainers or managers - can contribute to the teachers' growth mindset towards productive professional development that may benefit not only learners, but groups of teachers as well as the schools they work. From my point of view, even...

In my last post, I wrote about professional attitudes when working in collaboration with other ELT professionals - either helping or asking for help in order to develop. Now we are going to focus on the willingness to change and develop as a professional. Leung (2009) states that engaging in reflection to assess our own teaching is key in what the author calls independent professionalism. It is not necessarily an individualist view of development, but rather the kind of development we may seek regardless of demands from regulatory bodies or...

We have all been there: first day at work, first day in a new job, first day with new coursebook, new group, many 'new' situations throughout our careers. There will always be a first in our path and from my experience, the most successful moments have been those when I had the support from peers or leaders that believed I could go through the initial phase and fly higher and that offered help. Inspired by those fantastic professionals that crossed my path, I decided to write this first post on...

Many of us start in the career by incidentally deciding to 'temporarily' teach the language we know while we choose what to do about our professional lives. Many of us choose the career, embrace the challenges, seek for different opportunities. The reasons that brought us to teaching or the one that made us stay are followed by the ones that make us grow and become better and better - the choices we make and the motivation we grow throughout our career. Improving as a professional is not necessarily linked...

We all start teaching for different reasons and we keep teaching for even more diverse reasons sometimes. Besides, each of us will encounter a unique variety of professionals that will inspire us to be greater and others that may help us question our career choices. There seems to be no yellow brick road to follow, but perhaps a plethora of yellow brick roads to choose from, with no right or wrong answer, except that you need to enjoy the journey and aim at your own version of 'Oz'. The...

As the end of the year approaches, many of us are considering the end of term procedures and the handover of groups to the next teachers. That overall assessment of our learners is what I would like to discuss in this post, the first one I write about assessment. It is ideal that we look at our learners from the perspective of progress they made, their particular strengths and weaknesses, not only how well they perform in tests or formal tools of assessment. The results of tests or standardised tools...

Today I was very inspired by a group of professionals attending my presentation during the 3rd BT TDSIG one-day seminar and I decided to post my contribution to the blog only after having talked to many of the committed teachers about development. Hall & Simeral (2010), in one of my favourite quotes about teaching, highlight that educators, much to the public surprise may be the ones that resent learning the most. That is a conundrum. If by providing our learners with a model and showing them how to do...

I have recently been asked whether I believed technology could replace the teachers in the future. This text is an attempt to summarise my reply and my thoughts on the matter. Teaching (in general) is an activity that dates back a long while ago. Books haven't replaced us, neither will technology. At least not unless we stop growing and keeping ourselves essential. Technology has changed the world, the way people connect, the way people learn...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a developing teacher must be in want of feedback. Well, that is what leads many teacher educators to plan feedback sessions, invest on provoking reflection and action. It is also what moves many teachers to ask for feedback, willing to grow. I strongly believe constructive feedback has helped me become more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses. Also, all feedback moments I have had so far and the research I have been carrying out have been helping me improve both they way I receive and...

  Preparing for the 15th BTIC? Getting ready to make the most of it with Isabela Villas Boas's tips on presentations and the programme and Elaine Hodgson's ideas on networking? Conferences are usually a great opportunity to reassure us all, ELT professionals, that we are a strong professional team, seeking for development, growth and better quality in our teaching. It is a wonderful learning experience, with lots being shared and discussed. For me, it is a moment for a healthy productive discussion about our perspectives and the future of ELT....

In ELT we often say we joined the field to help others and we take pride in seeing our students achieve higher, being successful using English. Some of us stay true to this 'dream profession' full of challenge and growth for both learners and teachers. Others give up, others just do it for fun. It is, of course, desirable that we all cherish what we do and have pleasure while doing it. However, learning comes first. If we are having fun with the better half of the group...

Earlier this month I attended the 50th IATEFL conference in Birmingham and among many of the discussions and sessions there was a moment when Jim Scrivener suggested teachers used more of their intuition. He was defending a moment for simplifying teacher training and, although I agree with certain points (e.g. training is a starting point, perhaps we should cover fewer areas), I believe it is high time we discussed and developed professionalism from initial steps into teaching. I was particularly worried that a novice teacher encouraged to rely on...

I believe that settling for less than extraordinary is not for English language teachers. We will definitely have ordinary days and teach lessons that are not necessarily extraordinary; this is necessary for us to notice the special moments in our careers. However, by embracing teaching as a profession, questioning what we do routinely or even automatically and choosing to improve, challenge our practices and/ or constantly seek for development, we will be focusing on excellence. The groups we teach are diverse, resources available are varied and in constant...

Last month we looked at getting to know who your students are and the main purpose of having information about them is to focus on their needs when planning lessons, to adjust their expectations to the course goals. If you work in schools or language institutes, courses you teach usually have a core syllabus that all teachers must respect to guarantee overall course outcomes and institutional quality and standards. That does not necessarily mean all lessons will be the same and all teachers will do exactly the same in the classroom....

New term and new groups bring teachers the challenge and the opportunity to build new connections and experiment with their teaching repertoire in different contexts. Also, new students tend to bring different needs, a plethora of expectations and demand a variety of skills from the teachers. That means the classroom is our greatest lab for professional growth. In order to make the most of it, one of the things we need to do is to learn who the students are to plan what we will need/ want to develop during the term. Here are some...

It is the end of the year and what better date to make resolutions and plan the next year? So here are some brief ideas for a brilliant 2016 in ELT: 1. Actively engage in ELT associations. Think about how you can contribute best in productive discussions, taking part in special interest groups. The best thing is being able to make teaching a more and more respected profession by working along with fellow teachers. 2. Develop a new skill in your career. Depending on the stage of your professional development,...

I’m very fond of anecdotes, so here’s one of my favourite teaching moments: fifteen years ago, a young student told me that there were men, women, children and teachers in the world, setting us apart from the other members of society. Little did I know then what she meant. We are all humans, but if we are to make a difference and provoke changes in society, we need to understand we are more accountable for the impact of our words and attitudes than we give us credit for. In...

I have recently met a teacher going through a crisis in her professional path because colleagues and supervisors had been telling her that she was too good not to want to be more than a teacher – she questioned her ‘lack of ambition'. I am not sure what the rationale behind comments might have been, but I would say we need more of those great teachers with the courage to persevere and remain ‘just a teacher’.  I believe this is one of the greatest challenges facing teachers nowadays...