They say crisis equals opportunity, and the Brazilian website bicos.com.br has pointed out that teaching is its visitors’ number one choice out of their financial predicaments. [caption id="attachment_4592" align="alignnone" width="572"] Photo via facebook.com/apliesp/[/caption] You can imagine how that went viral (and quite virulent) among Brazilian teachers. According to Brazilian legislation, regular school teachers need to have a teaching license, which will take the candidate at least 3 years to get hold of, if not 4 or 5. Hence, those newcomers are looking for jobs in educational sectors which are not as formalized:...

I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. Now that's something to be proud of: not only did I survive (mostly unscathed) one of the world's most dangerous cities, but I also get beaming smiles and even hear some bossa nova tunes when I tell foreigners that's where I'm from. So being from Rio is a good thing. Or maybe it's neutral. Or so it should be. You see, I'm also an English language teacher. And here is where being from Rio starts to feel somewhat weird: my hometown screams *non-native...

A friend of mine, who is also an English teacher, was taking Pragmatics at uni and admitted she was struggling to see the point of all that theory. I wanted to reply in neon and all caps: “All the point in the world!” Ironically, I don’t think I did convince her. I say it was ironic because pragmatics is, among other things, the study of “how to do things with words”, as the seminal book title goes. While my intention was to persuade her to change her mind about pragmatics,...

A teacher who is worried about his or her language development has many avenues to pursue, pronunciation being only one of them. On that matter, though, here is a tip: don’t snub pronunciation dictionaries! I know what you are thinking, “Why on earth would people need pronunciation dictionaries if regular dictionaries (even those online!) have the audio and/or the phonetic transcription?” First, let me say why the audio is not good enough: our ears deceive us sometimes. I had been studying English for 15 years and teaching it for 8...

A few days ago, a former classmate of mine sent me the saddest Facebook message, “They are turning off Helimar's life support.” Deep breath. Helimar was our Portuguese teacher. He taught my group at years 3, 5, and 8, if memory serves me right. Somehow he knew how to deal with us at any age, no matter whether we were doing well or struggling, and everybody seemed to love him. My strongest memory of him is a fight for the adoption of a book. I was 8 or 9, and I took...

Today is January 6th, which in Brazil is called 'Dia de Reis', a day in honor of the three Wise Men. Having grown up in Rio, I used to think January 6th was nothing but a day to take Christmas decorations down. Then one day, as an adult already, I happened to be in Piauí on this date. A whole festival called 'Folia de Reis' was going on, and I had never even heard of such a thing. I was blown over by the dances I could see...

  In Part 1 of this text, I went over 2 tips about using dictionaries and 1 tip about corpora and Google NGram. In fact, nowadays, there is no question that Google is a teacher’s BFF… if and only if we know how to use it. So here are more tips for looking up vocabulary using our contemporary oracle. 4. Be a good language detective: don’t stop at the first sign that you’ve found something. Just the other day a friend of mine saw the expression “parted the cake” (instead...

Once upon a time, a colleague entered the teachers’ lounge with a vocabulary question. Nobody could think of the answer, myself included, so I took the Oxford Collocations Dictionary off the shelf. I knew it was a long shot, as hers was not a collocation-related question, but by looking up the mysterious word’s common collocates, I found the answer she was looking for. She sighed, “You know, I never know which dictionary to use.” Now before anybody jumps to unwarranted conclusions, this was a great professional: qualified, experienced, and...

“And 5… 5, 6, 7, 8!” More than 15 years after I had my first lessons, I decided to take up ballroom dancing again. My Better Half dutifully tagged along, but the difference was he was a true beginner. Three months later, we quit, feeling like complete and utter failures. We still want to learn how to dance, but probably not with those teachers. “Why did you quit?,” I hear you ask. Well, maybe it’s true that we teachers are the most difficult learners. Or maybe it’s just me....

Inspired by Higor Cavalcante’s webinar for BrELT "Hi, my name is Natalia, and I have a problem with prepositions* in English." “Hi, Natalia.” We all have our sore spots in terms of language proficiency. Hopefully, they change along our language learning history, as we study, practice the language, learn more, find other areas that need improvement, address those, and so on, so forth. However, to better work on our language difficulties, first we need to recognize they are there. It’s high time we came out of the less-than-perfect language closet. (Because hey,...