As promised, I am here. If anyone doubted me, doubt no longer. And I am here to talk about listening, just as I promised in my last blog piece. And, just like last week, we are going to have a story. Who doesn't like a good story? Everyone loves a story, from your baby nephew to your great granny. It's one of the things that defines as humans. Let me tell you a story. I can't promise that it will be a good story, but it is a true...

Before you say anything, I am sorry. Yes, I know I've said it before, but this time I mean it. I know I have been silent for a few months, and that the last time I was this quiet I apologised and swore it would never happen again. Only it did happen again and here I am, saying sorry and promising not to forget about writing this blog for months on end, again. I have a good excuse. But then I always have a good excuse. But this time, it really...

At the start of my career as a freelance teacher, the hardest part of the whole thing was agreeing a price. First of all, I had no idea how much I should be charging. And once I had an idea, how on earth could I persuade somebody to actually agree to give me that amount of money? Because you’re worth it If you look online at any discussion forum for freelance teachers, one conversation that keeps cropping up again and again is how much to charge. There is no simple...

First of all, an apology. A few months ago I started to write about working as a self-employed teacher. I had the intention of writing a whole series, but only managed the first one before life got in the way. Here I am, though, back and ready to get the series going again. I have been a freelance* teacher first in Rio de Janeiro and now Curitiba for over 10 years.  I thoroughly enjoy it, so much so that I shudder at the possibility of ever having to go...

In December last year, there was a particularly popular chat on Facebook hosted by the wonderful people at Brazil ELT (BRELT) on being a private teacher.  The end of the academic year is always a time for change, and so lots of teachers might be thinking about striking out on their own. It’s almost exactly 8 years since I decided to give up teaching for schools and concentrate only on myself.  I had always had the odd private student to add to my meagre income, but going it alone...

Dear Diary, I haven’t written much on here for the last few months.  The two main reasons for this are a lack of time and  inspiration. The lack of time is never going to change, and I suspect this is the same for most people no matter what job they do, how big or small their family is or what hobbies they have.  There just aren’t enough ours in the day to everything we would like to. The lack of inspiration, though, is something that we can work at.  Inspiration can...

How are your plans for professional development going for this year?  Do you remember what you promised yourself you would do at the beginning of the year to keep improving as a teacher?  Were you going to observe classes?  Go to a conference?  Lead workshops?  I hope you have been able to keep some of your promises to yourself, if you even made them in the first place. (Un)fortunately, I have been teaching English for over 20 years now.  This means that it can be difficult to find new...

Part one in an occasional series that describes some of the students I have had the pleasure (or misfortune) of working with and how I learnt to deal with them. The Student There is an episode of The Simpsons called ‘Bart Gets an F’ which should be compulsory viewing for all teachers.  Bart is in trouble for constantly failing exams and is under threat of having to repeat the year.  The episode looks at different learning processes, the way traditional education fails many students, the damaging effect educational systems have on teachers,...

I once had the great pleasure to see the funniest comedian ever doing his stand-up routine live at my university.  I was only a few weeks into my first term when I saw the flyers going around advertising Bill Hicks in the student union.  I persuaded a couple of new-found friends to go with me and we sat on the floor of the sports hall and just laughed for two hours.  Pure comedy gold. One of the many routines that he did last night and that I often find...

What burning questions have you got about EFL?  You know the ones that are burning away in the back of your mind but you felt too foolish to ask, or those ones that you have asked but never got a decent answer, or even the ones you just never found the time to ask. Well, now there is a way to quickly and easily get them answered. A new project called EFL Talks has been asking teachers from all around the world for questions they would like answered and have...

One of the best parts of my job is working with other teachers.  This can be anything from a one-off 60-minute workshop, to a whole year of regular sessions with everything in between.  There are many ways of approaching this work with a variety of names that all suggest a slight difference in focus: teacher training, teacher development, teacher education, professional development are just some of the different terms you can easily find bandied about.  For some ideas on the differences between these approaches try reading Jack C...

It's something I've heard from other teachers.  It's something a lot of my non-teaching friends seem to believe.  It's something I've even said myself as I am trying to convince myself I am in the right profession: Teaching English is recession proof.  In the good times people need English and have the money to spend on teachers.  In the bad times, people are desperate for English to get or keep a job, so even if they don't have the money, they'll find it. As the hard times seem to be...

It is something of a cliché that the best teachers always learn from their students.  It has become a cliché, though, because it is true, or at least it should be true.  For example, some of the things I have learned this week include why there isn't one standard voltage for all of Brazil from a retired electrical engineer, how to do a cool magic trick from an amateur magician I realised that I like fantasy books, but hate fantasy films, while I love whodunits on the screen,...

My name is Stephen Greene.  I am a teacher.  I live in Curitiba.* I am not a public sector teacher.  Compared to them, I have a pretty cushy life.  I teach private students and so keep all of the income for myself.  I teach in people's houses, at their place of work, at my house or online.  I also do teacher training, and give workshops to teachers.  I provide cultural and communication workshops that have very little to do with English.  I write materials for publishers and a blog...

As anyone who knows me will attest, I have been pretty obsessed recently with mapping the urban linguistic landscape.  As often happens, when we find something we are interested in it colours all aspects of our lives.  When I first started teaching, many moons ago, I couldn't watch a film, hear a song or read a book without wondering if it could be used in my classes.  Nowadays, I can't teach a class without thinking about the urban linguistic landscape. One obvious way this has manifested itself is by...

[caption id="attachment_2888" align="alignleft" width="214"] Thre green-eyed monster is going to get you[/caption] Jealousy, it’s a terrible emotion but one we are all familiar with, and perhaps even a humanity defining one.  That the green-eyed monster often should rear its ugly head when we see the rich and famous gallivanting around in their Lear jets sporting their expensive Apple watches is one thing.  But it is worse, and perhaps far more intense, when it pops up because of something our friends, relatives and colleagues are doing. Unfortunately, at the moment, it...

We're half way through February (already!) and all of those New Year's resolutions you set yourself probably fell by the road side a long time ago.  If you're still following them, congratulations!  Maybe this is the year that you actually follow through on a promise to yourself. It wasn't exactly a New Year's Resolution for me, because I started in November last year, but I have become determined to get fit and lose some of the beer belly I have been building up for far too long.  As a...

[caption id="attachment_2317" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Order in the classroom by Martin Bowling (CC.BY.20)[/caption] A couple of months ago, I wrote about how there seems to be very little order in how we learn a language.  Just because we 'learn' some aspect of a language one day doesn't mean we will be able to use it the next.  Also, we might use a language quite comfortably one day, only to be completly useless the next time. While this is true for each individual, whether they are learning their first or second language,...

[caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="300"] When I grow up, I want to be just like my dad. Pascal - CC-BY-2.0[/caption] It is a source of pride when a child takes after his or her parents.  The little boy who wants to be a teacher like his mother, or the little girl who develops a laugh just like her father. Of course, it can also work the other way as well, so the little boy can also pick up the colourful language of his mother or the girl can learn how to...

[caption id="attachment_1672" align="alignleft" width="300"] Ups and Downs, Twists and Turns by Beyond Neon - CC BY 2.0[/caption] I am sure there is nobody reading this post who would say the following to a student: “We did the past simple last month and you used it properly, why are you having problems with it now?” The reason we wouldn’t say this is because we are all trained, professional educators who know that learning a language, or learning almost anything, does not progress in a nice straight line.  Just because we have covered...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="350"] Not pink (Wikipedia)[/caption] Picture the scene: A two-year-old boy with his dad having a conversation about a favourite teddy bear (not unlike the one in the photo). CHILD: Look daddy, this old teddy bear is pink. DAD: No, son, it's blue and white. For a two-year-old this level of language would be pretty amazing,yet the father has chosen to correct his son because it isn't a true, factual statement. This can be seen when the following day the dad and the son are again talking about the same teddy bear: CHILD:...

[caption id="attachment_1276" align="alignleft" width="300"] Keep Calm by Guilherme Bomfim Pacheco/MULL - CC BY 4.0[/caption] When my son was about 18 months old I took him to a local shopping centre here in Curitiba. I don’t normally do this because I hate shopping centres with a passion, but it was raining and we were both going stir crazy from being in the house for too long. At one point my son just stopped dead in his tracks, pointed at a travel agent’s and started shouting I the way that only the...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="320"] Yes, it's morning now, but you can still go back to sleep! (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)[/caption] My son is approaching 3 years of age and he is developing both his English and Portugese at an amazing rate.  His language, though, sounds very strange, some people call it cute, and this is partly because he is being exposed to two languages at the same time and partly because he is still only 2 and this is a natural part of first lanaguage(s) acquisition. One example that he constantly uses is...

[caption id="attachment_894" align="alignleft" width="300"] What can you learn about yourself from your Scrabble words? (garlandcannon - CC BY-SA-2.0)[/caption] Why do we use language?  This has to be one of the questions we ask ourselves as language teachers as it will probably inform our beliefs about how to both teach and learn languages. One of the main reasons we use language is in order to communicate needs and desires, to fill information gaps or to perform some sort of transaction.  It is through this struggle to meet our various needs that...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="242"] Stewie Griffin (Wikipedia)[/caption] There is a cartoon that I love to watch called Family Guy (Uma Familia da Pesada).  It isn’t to everyone’s taste because of the casual violence, bad language and somewhat offensive jokes.  Whether you like it or not it's clear that the writers know quite a bit about how young children behave. One of the main characters is called Stewie, a talking and very intelligent baby.  No matter how smart he might be, though, he is still a baby and so likes to...

This is my first blog for RichmondShare and I must say I am honoured, and a little bit in awe, to be sharing a platform with such great writers and professionals.  After reading some of the other posts already on this site the pressure is on to write something new, entertaining, interesting and relevant.  If I manage to achieve one of those I’ll be happy. [caption id="attachment_354" align="alignright" width="300"] It's so much easier at this age                     (Dept of Children...