Happy 4th anniversary, BrELT!

Almost 4 years ago, on April 7th 2011, the first BrELT Chat took place. I must have wondered what that #breltchat at the end of tweets meant, but eventually I figured out that my Twitter friends were using that hashtag to talk about language teaching in Brazil. Later I joined a few of those debates and, even though I struggled with the tool or maybe with my internet connection, I just loved the fact that there were people in my country willing to talk about those topics after-hours.

About a year later, the organizers moved the chat to Facebook, creating the Facebook community BrELT. It is a place to share links and activities, discuss texts and webinars, exchange experiences and, of course, have the fortnightly BrELT Chats. The sheer number of professionals in the field I have been introduced to through BrELT is staggering. More important, though, is their quality. The people I have met are top-notch educators who really embrace the community’s unofficial motto “Sharing is caring” – which, incidentally, I guess started with Raquel Oliveira, but with her charisma, it just spread like wildfire. Through BrELT I also met my secret mentor (he’s shy, so I won’t name names), who took me under his generous wing and has helped me grow. And about a year ago, I had the honor to be invited to join the community moderation team and made four great friends in the process: Bruno Andrade, Priscila Mateini, Raquel Oliveira, and Rose Bard.

BrELT is like a teacher’s lounge, but with less judging, less competition, less I-know-something-you-don’t-know. If you don’t really know, people will explain it to you nicely and respectfully and link to whatever source you need to find out more should you want to. Better still, if you can’t or don’t believe you should delve into that, nobody is going to chastize you for it. There is no bandwagon, no sacred ground, no stone left unturned.

I remember a chat we had last year about the Communicative Approach. At first I had mixed feelings about taking part in that conversation. I expected a repeat of the mantras we often hear in teacher training courses or materials, those that seem to treat a particularly palatable version of the Communicative Approach as a panacea. Boy, was I wrong. The teachers that came to the chat were very critical in a good, reflexive way. And if I liked BrELT before, there and then I realized there was no turning back.

Congratulations, BrELTers, for 4 years of serious online and collaborative professional development. Here’s to many and much, much more!

Word cloud made from BrELT Chat transcripts

Word cloud made from BrELT Chat transcripts

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Natália Guerreiro

Natália Guerreiro has been a teacher since the year 2000 and currently works in Aviation English assessment and teaching for the Brazilian Air Force. She holds a CELTA, a B.A. in English & Portuguese from UFRJ, and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Melbourne. She's been elected BRAZ-TESOL's Second Vice President for the 2019-2020 term.

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