“É melhor fazer aula com um falante nativo?” -- pergunta o leigo. E hoje é com ele que vou falar. Você com certeza já deve ter visto cursos de inglês que anunciam aulas com professores nativos. Será esse de fato um diferencial? Vamos pensar aqui: se fosse o contrário e você fosse dar aula de português para estrangeiros...

As you will probably agree, inspiration comes from the most unusual places. Just now, I felt so moved by a Netflix documentary about the jazz genius Miles Davis that I had to come here and write about the lessons I believe his career may bring to our professional development as teachers.   “The Musings of Miles”: Don’t “blow” theory. Miles started his career as a trumpeter in his teens and went to Juilliard, one of the world’s most prestigious performance art schools. Despite criticizing it for being “too white”...

“What do you think of Glenn Greenwald’s Portuguese?” That question came out of the blue to me, but there I was, chatting to an air traffic controller before we started his English proficiency interview about a third person’s Portuguese language proficiency. I thought of a video I saw after the first Vaza Jato news: “Well, I find his pronunciation a little difficult to follow.” “Yes, it’s heavy.” “Especially because we’re not used to listening to a foreign accent in Portuguese, I think.” “That’s true. But you can understand him, right?” he shot at...

[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...

When professionals I know and admire seem to have something against English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), I try to understand why. From their follow-up replies, I get the impression they see ELF as “narrowing the curriculum” and their own position as one of “demanding high” and “catering for students’ needs in the real world.” I think I get it. The problem is, however, I am too in favor of “catering for students’ needs in the real world” and to an extent even “demanding high”, but that’s precisely why...

"Your English is so beautiful.” – I sometimes hear, and I promise you I have a point in writing this, which is not that I’m a Leo (although I am). In fact, I’ve always been a bit reticent about those compliments about my English language proficiency, especially when they come from laypeople. I mean, we language teachers/researchers study language proficiency to vertiginous depths and still struggle to design a proficiency test and validate it, how can anyone assess another person’s language proficiency, as they often do, at hello? A...

How often do you revisit and reexamine your beliefs about teaching and learning and about yourself as a teacher? It is easy to find fault in other people's beliefs or practices: “So and So still operate with the concept of X. Don't they know research shows no evidence it works?”; “How can anyone still use the Y methodology in the 21st century, when our students are so different from decades ago?”; or even “There goes So and So again on and on about the latest teaching fad with...

Many teachers are becoming their own bosses nowadays, to the point that the word “teacherpreneur” has become a thing (hopefully a fad, as I can’t pronounce that word for the life of me). That of course adds fuel to the debate on whether teachers should dab at Sales & Marketing – or rather how. I’m largely a bystander in the debate, since I work for the government, but something happened last week that made me think about how we teachers sell our services and I just wanted to...

There’s a woman with a standing microphone next to a wooden stool on a stage. She speaks for about an hour and the paying audience laughs every now and then. What is this? It’s a stand-up comedy. Or maybe it isn’t. Oftentimes, when we are working on skills in a language class, we treat genres as something simple to identify. You see the characteristics of the the text, you can tell the genre, or so we would like to think. Sometimes we can do that even before reading or listening...