“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...

You may have been flooded by positive messages on social media talking about how this pandemic is an opportunity to develop new projects, learn a new language, exercise more and drink two liters of water. This kind of toxic positivity is certainly not what teachers need. If you are looking for a flower power kind of vibe, this article is probably not for you. I think the pandemic sucks. I am truly sorry for my lack of reassuring demeanor in a time of need. The thing is, I am...

What exactly does it mean to have an Entrepreneurial Mindset? According to Arash Asli (2018), “The entrepreneurial mindset is about a certain way of thinking -- it is about the way in which you approach challenges and mistakes. It is about an inherent need to improve your skillset and to try and try again.” I would dare to add that the entrepreneurial mindset is also about taking responsibility for your choices – it is about the way in which you choose to face life and its events. But how does...

When did you decide to become a teacher? Did it start because life happened or did it start because you planned it? Did you take into consideration all the effort you would have to put into it? Or all the hours you would have to spend trying to make your lesson better for that particular student who claims he/she does not like the language?  As you know, I have recently changed the focus of my work. I taught English at a renowned Institution and I was an academic coordinator...

In 2019 we had the opportunity to work together on different projects. Such projects involved writing for the Richmond blog, going live on different social media websites and delivering an online course for teachers. We’d like to start by commenting on the online course experience. Needless to say how this course enriched us. While organizing the contents we decided to include in the course, we studied a lot more about so many relevant issues that are undoubtedly pertinent to our daily work. In this sense, the need to research...

As a teenager, I had a teacher who ‘translated’ our names into English. João would become John, Mariana would be Mary and other questionable, less obvious, choices also took place. Mind you, this was a substitute teacher, so we perhaps had two or three lessons with her. As much as I’ve never truly embraced my name, being called James felt very uncomfortable. Years later as a teacher, I had unconsciously vowed never to change my students’ names, unless that was something they asked me to. Joãos would be Joãos...

Have you ever heard of the SWOT analysis? It comes from the Administration and Management of a business. This technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led this research project at Stanford University in the 60s, using data from many top companies. His goals failed at the time, but the SWOT analysis had yet a lot to give. I have been reading a lot of management strategy and company and personal administration books, and I came across Eduardo Ferraz (2018), who has more than thirty years of experience with...

Year: 1999. Group: Basic 1. Place: Uberaba, MG – Brasil. Seventeen-year-old Ana Carolina stepped into a classroom for the first time. Young, restless, feeling entitled by her recently acquired C2 diploma and, most importantly: raw. Fluent, for sure. After one year of isolation from all Portuguese speakers in a cultural exchange program before cell phones or the Internet were even available, the mountaneer dialect flowed as if it were her own. Scared, she left the students in class in order to catch a breath and drink some water,...

“If you want to master something, teach it. A great way to learn is to teach.” Richard Feynman - theoretical physicist This was Edutopia’s 24th of June Facebook post which was shared as a “tip” on my Instagram stories on the same day! I wrote: This is my motto, and it is, it has been like that since I can remember. When I first started teaching, back in 2004, I remember I had a major problem with inversions. Yes, me, the now called ‘inversion lover’. When I started teaching advanced...

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. These are the words I live by, in many aspects of my life. Obviously, I seek peace of mind and happiness and believe me, I know how to cherish these moments, and get the best of them. So what do I mean by this old saying which steers most of my decisions in life? Let me try to explain by briefly telling a story. If you know me, you are aware of my complete lack of abilities to read maps. I am...

[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...

It’s not the first time that I decide to write about conference presentations. A few years ago, I wrote some tips for conference presenters, based on my 20+ years of experience attending academic events. This time around, I’ll relate how I believe talks should be structured to how classes should be planned and delivered. It is simpler than a novice presenter may think.   Have a clear objective and make it explicit Just as you should have a clear objective for your classes and should also make this objective clear...

Exactly one year ago, I had my first go at presenting in conferences. Back then, I was just someone trying to show the results of a small-scale research I had carried out on a topic that happened to be of major importance in my teaching career, inclusive education. However excited, I had never felt completely prepared for it nor even capable of doing so on a regular basis. What actually made me confident enough to apply for it was the limitless support I had always had from my dear...

This post is going to be very personal. I believe that it will depict exactly what I have been feeling for the past few months - the lack of companionship and the empty competition there is in our field. Competition in a field or at a workplace might be profitable in the sense that it can motivate employees, make them put in some extra effort or go for the extra mile, achieve either personal or professional results faster and sometimes more enjoyably. It is an inescapable part of most...

“You should write as often as possible” – that’s what I keep telling my students. Currently, 99% of my students are intrepid English teachers either preparing for the Cambridge English: Advanced or the Cambridge English: Proficiency, which means that their writing skills will be assessed via two writing tasks. Needless to say, it is my duty to encourage them to write as much as they can and provide detailed feedback on their writing assignments. A confession The great Morpheus said: “(...

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...

It often strikes me when there is a very emotional talk about bilingual education here in Brazil and we tend to criticise what we have been doing here compared to what is being done elsewhere in the world. My opinion is clear: adopting an international bilingual education model "as is" here in Brazil is not scalable and also not effective. That being said, it is obvious that international schools and bilingual schools that adopt some sort of international curriculum can and are very succesful most of the times...

Have you ever heard of a continuous improvement cycle called the PDCA cycle? I am sure most of you who have already studied a little bit of business management have certainly come across this acronym before. But for those of you who haven’t studied any business theories, PDCA is an acronym that stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act. These are the four stages of this continuous improvement cycle that can be applied in business and in our personal lives as well. But what does this cycle have to do with teaching? Well,...

Apart from my social and family life, which I totally cherish, I’ve dedicated the last thirty years of my life to professional and intellectual development. I have the highest degree that one can formally obtain – a doctorate degree. I have published blog posts, book chapters and articles. I have written two books - maybe not as many as I would have liked to but enough to make me proud, due to my busy professional life. I have presented in countless professional events, volunteered in teaching associations, etc.,...

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....

Dear educator, You may think that your institution owe you something, like offering you proper professional development opportunities, but this is rarely the case. In fact, educational institutions have so much in their plates that they can barely scratch the surface of designing consistent, powerful PD development programs for their Academic and Admin staff. Considering this scenario and the fact that you are in charge of your own learning, don't outsource PD to anybody. Take hold of it, grab it, really, and invest your time, money and energy to get...

We hear about CPD, the acronym for Continuous Professional Development, all the time. Although CPD is not only about taking courses, they are certainly a prototypical concept and the number of courses aimed at teachers has been increasing steadily, or at least this is the impression I have. When it comes to courses, one of the most common questions we hear is “Is this or that course worth it?” or “Should I do this course or not?” The answers, however, are definitely not as simple as the questions....

The academic year is just around the corner and every now and then we tend to start the New Year facing some challenges and the kind. Being an educator is not an easy task, dealing with stressful situations such as routine, and, to add insult to injury, many of us will have to perform a juggling act, e.g. work in different schools, in order to make ends meet. Looking for perfection should be the main aim, right? It is important, however, to bear in mind that there is no...

I have been dealing with so many projects that I haven’t written in ages, and exactly because I got involved with those projects, more and more were requested from me, including having to talk and write about me to people in other projects and countries. I got really stuck and that made me think why, after all, we are the ones who really know ourselves better, why that’s so difficult. I started to think about it and some issues came to me. It is obvious that as professionals we need...

In my early twenties I overcame shyness. It dawned on me that shyness didn’t necessarily happen only to humble people. In fact, this feature could have its origin in pride, avoidance of making mistakes and fear of judgment. In my case, I simply didn’t put in enough effort to connect with people. A few years ago, I initiated a journey towards overcoming social media stage fright. Social media stage fright is just like stage fright (glossophobia) but to a virtual audience. If you’ve seen this video , you might not believe...

This is a fairly broad topic with a myriad of issues, such as the observer and observee’s attitudes towards having his/her lessons assessed. There is also the matter of how many times a teacher should be observed in a term, and when (before/after tests, two weeks after the first lesson, etc), having in mind the assessment factor. Attitude The attitude changes according to the observation purposes: development, (quick) problem-solving, assessment, etc. When a teacher is being observed for developmental reasons, usually he or she tends to be more open...

Those who know me, even if they know me just a little, are aware of how passionate I am about inclusivity and students with special educational needs. However, that is not what I am here to talk about today. I want to share what I have found this year. Not even in my wildest dreams, I would have imagined a year such as 2018. The objectives I had established back at the end of 2017 were way too bold, pretentious I would say and everything I have accomplished...

This post is specially dedicated to Roberta Caiado, Dóris Arruda C. Cunha and Karl H. Efken, three of my professors who have enlightened me with their thoughts, ethics, perseverance and wisdom and have helped me change my personal and professional life for better. Before writing this post, I was revisiting another one I wrote  (a long time ago) about “Reflective Practice” which, for me has to do with a way of internally reflect and study your own experiences to improve the way you work. The act of reflection is...

Have you ever heard of the Impostor Syndrome? Well, according to the site “Medical News Today”, “research from 2011 suggests that approximately 70% of people will experience at least one episode of Impostor Syndrome in their lives. It may be especially prevalent among women considered to be high-achievers”. The site Scientific American claims that people who suffer from this silent affliction have a “pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary”.   People from all walks of life have already stated they suffer...

Had you been asked to divide your life into sub-categories, how many (and what) would there have been? Exactly. This how a teacher’s mind is all the time. Especially when in a classroom, while teaching. During a lesson we are always concerned with our student’s mental processes  - if they are processing the information being given, if they are accepting it, if they are following the steps, if they are acquiring language or skills, if they are overwhelmed, if their affective filters are high or low, etc. At...

“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

I was talking to some friends on Whatsapp and one of them mentioned this teacher he knew and the fact that they had been contemplating a career change. The teacher had a CPE and a CELTA and I said it would be a shame if they gave up on teaching. After all, such qualifications are not easy to get, both demand a considerable amount of time, effort and money. Then my friend said: 'but they don’t have our passion'. I must say his remark puzzled me. What is...

There is a fine line between being friends and treating colleagues with professionalism. Especially when points of view differ. The ELT world is full of active communities and groups who meet at conferences or even for a ‘night out’ in order to share ideas in a more relaxed way. And one of the things I love the most is that surely when we are together, we are stronger. To begin with, we make our living by sharing our knowledge with our students and sometimes, we even share pieces...

It has been quite a while since I last wrote here, but it doesn`t mean that I haven`t been doing any thinking about current issues involving teachers, especially what is going on in the private ESL market. Therefore, in this month’s post, I briefly discuss how private organizations may impact our beliefs about what we do and how these ideas may be deconstructed. As I write these lines, many schools and English language institutes in Brazil are being taken over and are being ‘reformatted’ by other companies, a.k.a. holdings,...

It is generally known that learning your ropes is a key factor in developing your personal, academic and professional life. It is true that one always encounters a very competitive world, yet it is also true that facing this world with solid training is a way to allay their fears. According to FDR, ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’ – this saying is absolutely applicable to an educator’s career on the grounds that having the reading literature itself will not provide the real electro-cardiogram of teaching, in...

Two weeks ago, at the Independence Day holiday, I had the pleasure of moderating a BrELT Chat with one of the sweetest people you will ever meet at the BrELT on the Road 2018: Veruska Gallo. Our discussion was focused on bringing professional development to the school we work for. DISCLAIMER: this is not a summary of what happened, but an overview of my rushing thoughts during the session. We kicked off the discussion by asking what the CPD initiatives their school offered were. Silence. A disturbing and suffocating silence...

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...

As an EFL teacher, you must have already realised that the roles we play are as volatile as this ever-evolving world we live in. Let’s start by focusing on some of the changes our role has been through in the classroom: We are not the source of all wisdom and power anymore (if we have ever been), as students have their devices (smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, etc) right there and then to investigate if what was said is the absolute truth. However, we are still a source of guidance. We...

Scene 1: Big conference in Brazil. The speaker, a Brazilian, goes onto the stage to begin her plenary session. While she speaks, you notice she makes some mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, grammar mistakes, but the content of her presentation is relevant and she manages to get her message across. At the end of her talk, you hear teachers, the vast majority of them Brazilians, commenting on the mistakes and criticising the presenter. Scene 2: Same big conference. The presenter on the stage is not a native speaker of English, 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...

This year’s international conference, that took place in Caxias do Sul, was, as expected, amazing. I was not sure I would be able to participate until the last minute, therefore I didn’t submit any papers, however, I had the chance of “relaxing” and enjoying the 'backstage'. These types of conferences will surely provide you with a holistic view of the EFL area, and I say that firstly because you will able to meet teachers from various backgrounds: Teachers who love using technology in their classroom (with a learning purpose, of...

Criticism hurts. Hence, it can be stressful, tense and sometimes traumatic. Still, it is such a natural part of life, including professional life, that knowing how to make the best out of it is an important skill for us to keep emotionally healthy. Below I list a few aspects to consider and that can prove useful in our field. Criticism or feedback? We are faced with criticism on a regular basis and no matter where it comes from, we have to learn if it is meant to be...

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...

    June 11 was a very sad day for everyone at Casa Thomas Jefferson. It was the day our dear friend and colleague Claudio Azevedo passed away. He had been working with us for almost 32 years. In fact, we started together back in 1986, at the same branch. We worked hard together but had a lot of fun as well, when the Friday evening groups were full and we taught until 10 p.m. Of course, we always went out afterwards to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.  We...

An unsuccessful lesson observation. A promotion you didn’t get. An opportunity you were not offered. I believe everyone I know has been through a tough professional moment at some point in their career. And I also believe I don’t know anyone who rejoices facing problems and always sees them as fantastic opportunities to grow and develop when they are going through those issues. Having said that, the attitude one takes regarding such situations is what will shape the professional they will become. Let’s discuss some of these situations,...

Vinicius Diamantino organized a much needed online panel* about how to deliver killer presentations at ELT and educational events. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate as planned, but what follows is what I had prepared: how to write effective abstracts and summaries that will get you accepted as a speaker in the first place. Do, though, watch the free webinar ( gMX55xT46244F6H ) with Claire Venables and Cecilia Lemos because they make the points much better! They also talk about the delivery of the presentation itself with invaluable tips...

I am genuinely grateful for being a teacher and for working with the ELT area. I first had the idea of becoming a teacher when I was only nine years old. I used to play with a blackboard and chalk and I used to teach my younger brother and his friends how to read and write. Only when I reached the age of fifteen, did I realise I wanted to teach the English language, its components, its history, its culture, its literature, its beauty. One of the things I...

It is said that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth. Apparently, this concept was conceived by the Nazi master of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Considering that Nazism was supported by so many, and for so long[1]- despite the horror of World War II - he was probably right. In ELT, saying that something is a lie is probably a bit excessive, but we do have our mantras and things that are repeated over and over again until they become unquestionable. That is, unless a subversive mind begins...

Writing is such a demanding and time-consuming task. Yes, it really is, so why bother? Due to the fact that English is likely to be your bread and butter, we can agree you must have an excellent command of the language, and that includes writing. Moreover, as a teacher, you should be able to help your students learn how to write and many of them may need to improve their writing skills so they can keep their job or get a promotion. Speaking of professional development, you may be interested...

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...

Imagine you are feeling a little feverish. What do you do? Bloodletting, of course! You Google the nearest barbershop and get an Uber there so the barber can slash a vein and cure you by removing foul humours from your body. If you’re lucky, they may even use leeches! This may sound absurd to you, but the role of professions changes over time. The teaching profession wouldn’t be any different. Beginning on a very personal example, I’ve been deeply affected by recent changes in mindset and communication. The abilities...

I have a confession to make. But first, some background: as a gander around most teacher rooms or ELT conference audiences will quickly show us, language teaching is eminently a female profession. The British Council reports that 81% of English language teachers in the Brazilian public school system are women, and the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) registers 82% of female teachers in regular education in general (including other subject-matters). Yet that proportion is not felt to be as large when it comes to higher ranks in our career, or...

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...

A couple of months ago, I had to make a very difficult decision. I was honored to be invited to be one of the plenary speakers at the BRAZ-TESOL Curitiba event, a special one celebrating their 20th anniversary. Of course, my first reaction was to say, “YES, YES, YES!”. But then I started thinking: I was already going to be one Saturday away from home for the BRAZ-TESOL Brasília - Goiânia joint event, then I was going to be away for two weekends on vacation, and, right after that,...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

  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...

Going to university to study languages was a transformative experience for me and was instrumental in making me the professional I am today. I have even written here on RichmondShare (click here) about the possible dilemma many are faced with when trying to decide whether to take a Letras course or a CELTA. One of the highlights of my Letras degree was studying phonology. I had the pleasure of being taught by Aurora Neiva, a very important professional in the field of Phonology. At the time, I had two jobs and,...

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. William Shakespeare "If I could have a second go at life, being back to school, but still knowing everything I know now, I'd make so many things differently." How many of you have already thought, said...

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the lack of balance in the past BRAZ-TESOL conferences as far as gender was concerned. Just to refresh our memories, the results were the following[1]: As I stated at the time, it was (and is) not a matter of pointing fingers and finding culprits, but of trying to understand why the number of female speakers is so low in BRAZ-TESOL conferences which, I believe most of you would agree, is the most relevant conference for ELT professionals in Brazil. It was...

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...

I gave much thought about what I should write at the end of the year. I asked teachers on my new Instagram account for help and, as usual, had many great contributions. Someone told me to write about something that was relevant to me right now and other people suggested writing about what I had done this year. This article will have a bit of both. It’s December and while I would like this to be a boost of energy for you, but I know it is not going...

We language educators often get asked what else we do apart from teaching English. Now, this takes the biscuits on the grounds that some people are hell-bent on this to mystify whether we take our profession seriously or not. It is generally known that an L2 teacher is supposed to be someone graduated, qualified or trained with required abilities to handle the teaching/learning process in a full variety of ways and environments. Unfortunately, many L2 teachers still face much criticism, discrimination and suffer mockery based on the fact that...

On my last post, I asked you what your Christmas present was going to be. What was it that you have chosen to give to your future you? What is it that you have done that will make your future self thank your present self? Regardless of what you've chosen for yourself, I believe you've done a great choice! The question that I ask you now is: have you already unboxed your present? It's surprising to see how often we're given presents and forget to open them. IT might...

How to win the customers It is widely known that “advertising is the core of a business”, and it could not be truer. Gladly, nowadays, the means one may use to advertise their own work are innumerable. To begin with, we have the good old word of mouth. Should you do a great job, people will talk about you and students or clients, in which case, will end up recommending your work. This type of advertising always works like a charm. I have known this to be the...

My whole formal educational background is academic, from my B.A. in Journalism, to my master's in Teaching English as a Second Language and my doctorate in Education. Everything I have published so far is academic, about learning and teaching. Most of my presentations in conferences are about academic topics, ranging from second language writing, assessment, and teacher development. Only recently have I started presenting on topics related to leadership and management. Thus, I can safely say that I am an academic in a leadership role. It's not that I...

Technology is definitely changing our lives for the better. That's my opinion. I am not the nostalgic type of person who thinks the good old analogic times were much better. But, with the advancements of technology, especially with the improvement of voice recognition and simultaneous translation softwares and algorithms, one question is obvious for me: are language teachers going to become obsolete in the future? My answer is: it depends. Maybe amongst all teachers, the language teacher will be the one to suffer the side-effects of technology first. If...

Published on November 20th, the first part of this post tries to briefly describe the trends of ELT in Brazil from the early 90’s to the late 2000’s. In it, I also included the themes and topics of some of the plenary sessions in international conferences and the names of the speakers who delivered them.  In the second and last part of this article, I try to describe how the 2nd decade of the 2000’s addresses new trends and issues brought about by the demands of a society...

As the end of the year draws nearer, people all over the world feel that there's a new beginning ahead. We've gotten used to the 365-day cycle in life and celebrate the end of the year remembering all the good moments of the year that's just passed, and plan a bright future ahead of us. Or do we? If you're a teacher, you do know the importance of planning. You are well aware of the fact that planning is the preparation stage for all that is to happen in...

End of year, spring cleaning, and I ended up finding many old pictures and documents which were a trip down memory lane. I wondered what I would say to that young Natalia, who was about to start her career as an English teacher, or to anyone who is starting in the career for that matter. Stepping out of the classroom and back in again: my last day of secondary school, 6 months before my first day as a teacher. Keep an organized record of everything you do career-wise. This first...

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...

In Part 1, I mentioned I don’t see myself as someone who is constantly striving towards perfection, but I can’t deny the results I got after taking the more advanced exam left a bitter taste in my mouth. Frustration boiled over at first and its effects lingered for some time, so much so that it took me about six years to gain enough confidence to sit CPE, an exam dreaded by students and teachers alike. I used to tell myself life was getting in the way – novice...

A few days ago, the Rio de Janeiro Secretary of Education criticized the actress Tais Araujo for her TED Talk in which she shares some of the challenges she will soon encounter as a mother of black children. The Secretary described it as ‘racial stupidity’. Needless to say, I was shocked to hear that. It made me think a lot about my privileges and the industry we work at. I’ve been working in ELT for 15 years, the last 4 working independently. For 11 years, I was part of...

PART 1: from the early 90’s to the early 2010’s What you are about to read is by no means to be regarded as an accurate description of ELT practices in Brazil throughout the last 3 decades. Rather, what I attempt to describe below is simply my very own perception of how ELT has throughout the all these years positively added on, rethought, deconstructed and reconstructed itself to stay in tune with global changes and, more importantly, with the local societal changes that more than ever have been the...

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...

If you have spent some time online in the past months, particularly on Facebook, you may have come across a number of posts followed by hundreds of comments, basically related to gender equality, or lack of it, in ELT events. Gender equality in general is an issue that has been discussed for a long time, hence Women’s International Day (celebrated on March 8th) and Women’s Equality Day (celebrated on August 26th). Although the demand for gender equality is not new, in most professional areas the balance is far...

A question that is posed time and time again is whether teachers should take a BA in languages, known here in Brazil as Letras, or take the CELTA. I wish there was a simple answer to this question, but truth is: it’s complicated. Some would say that taking a Letras course is the way to be or become a teacher. After all, you wouldn’t expect a doctor to take a four-month course and then hold a license, or for someone to take an intensive, one-month course and then be...

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending an event at the Braz-Tesol BH Chapter, “The 5 Cs in the 21st Century”. Flawlessly organized by Bia Hedegaard and her amazing team, this was the first event I went to after being involved in the organization of “BrELT on The Road”. One of the plenaries featured the Assessment Diva, Natália Guerreiro. She talked about what’s holding us back in terms of teacher development, and it resonated a lot with experiences I have had lately. Among other things, Natália mentioned how attending...

I have been an English teacher for almost 23 years. I also worked as a pedagogical coordinator at language schools for many years. After all this time, these experiences have helped me understand what students needed to get the most out of speaking activities and how teachers could help them take part in speaking activities successfully. When I started working as a teacher, I was fifteen and could not tell if the way I was teaching was actually helping my students achieve their goals and mine, as well. Some...

After much reflection on my professional career, I must admit that everything I do I don’t do alone. I am who I am thanks to the collaboration of an endless number of people that have crossed paths with me and shared some of their wisdom, kindness, support, different takes on ELT and constructive criticism. I am grateful for all of them having this immense impact in my professional life and I'm adamant that networking is key for professional and personal growth. Hugh Grant in the first minutes of the...

I have already written about ‘motivating adult students’ inside the classroom. However, I would like to go back to that. Before, I focused on more meaningful lessons and working on areas to which students would relate better due to their professional or study choices. Nevertheless, I would like to discuss further how to engage or motivate students behind the scenes. That is when students are not inside the classroom and/or participating in a lesson. In this post, I will be mentioning actions that can and should be taken "behind...

I had a haircut the other day and got to talking to the hairdresser, an energertic 31-year-old professional who I’ve been going to for a few years now. [Don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad(der) and won’t be rambling on about beauty on a teacher-oriented blog. The relevance of the chat will become evident soon, I promise.] **** Me: My friend’s mother, who’s a hairdresser too, is thinking of moving from Rio. What’s the market like here*? Is it small, saturated? What do you think? *(N.B.: Here is a city that is...

On the morning of July 19th, 1692, 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse was convicted and hanged in New Salem, Massachusetts. Her crime? Perhaps quarreling with a neighbor over some trespassing pigs a few years earlier was what triggered several accusations that followed. Being an active member of the community and being known for her good character didn’t save her from what would be known as one of the most senseless cases of hysteria among community members in history. And one might think that her trial and conviction were riddled with...

The new world we live in pushes us to unavoidable changes. The dynamism it brings to society forces us to rethink our concepts and how we position ourselves in light of the ever growing challenges we have to face. In this scenario, the school and, more specifically, the teacher is being redefined. But what should be the role of this new teacher? Knowledge is not a priviledge of a few anymore. The access to information is universal. You don't need to have an encyclopedia, or thousands of books, to...

Technology will not replace teachers, but teachers who can integrate technology effectively in their pedagogical practices will replace teachers who can't. The quote above has been repeated time and again (with different wording each time) in education conferences where the focus is technology in education - so much so that it's hard to find the correct attribution to the original quote. But let's face the facts, shall we? It's now 2017 and there are two very distinct realities in the world today - those who are connected to the world wide...

It’s clear to us by now that the role of the teacher has been changing dramatically. Gone are the days when the teacher was the source of all knowledge! In an age where students are bombarded with and have free access to information, the image of the teacher as a knowledge-transmitter seems outdated and out of place. However, does that mean that professionals are now exempt from pursuing development of their own knowledge? That hardly seems to be the case! Then, what should teachers be looking to develop,...

Sabe aquela insegurança horrível de não sentir firmeza no chão antes de dar qualquer próximo passo? Bom, eu passo por isso e entendo perfeitamente quem também está na mesma situação. Para tentar contornar essa insegurança eu passei a gostar da minha característica perfeccionista, porque isso me dava a ilusão de segurança necessária pra dar o próximo passo em qualquer coisa que eu fizesse. Mas...

Earlier this week Elaine Hodgson posted about the pros and cons of self-promotion, raising many important points. I was going to comment on the post, but realized my text got longer than the rules of politeness would allow, so here is my take on self-promotion in ELT, which, I must admit, echoes much of what Elaine has said. Teacher promotion is definitely something we need to discuss. I hear you, sis. This business of self- and peer-promotion in ELT has been bothering me a lot as of late, so...

A couple of months ago, talking to a dear friend and co-worker about future jobs prospects, I asked her one of those ‘why don’t you’ questions. Her reply was ‘I don’t have much time for promoting myself.’ Well, I know that is true when you have deadlines pressing on you. Then, on a different occasion, I asked somebody whose work is greatly admired and respected, in another ‘why don’t you’ style conversation and her reply was fairly similar: ‘I’m not good at promoting myself.’ Self-promoting has probably always...

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...

Much is discussed about students with special needs and how to deal with them. Very little is said about teachers who have some kind of special need. I am going to tell you all a quick story. My story. During most my school life, I was not a bad student, but I was not good either. I was, well, average.  I was excellent once, in elementary school to be precise. I have fond recollections of having after-school classes with undergrad students in the afternoon, twice or three times a...

"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...

It’s May. May I, then, talk about the elephant in the room? “Which one?” I hear you ask. Right you are, because for a profession that deals with communication and education, we seem to sweep quite a few things under the rug. This topic in particular is such a big lump on that rug that we could almost go rock climbing on it: teacher working conditions. Even if you narrow the topic down to teacher working conditions in language schools, the list of problems seems endless. All around Brazil you see...

Vou confessar uma coisa: odeio ir ao dentista. Nada contra a pessoa do dentista, o profissionalismo ou o consultório. É meio que irracional, como um medo inexplicável, mas eu realmente detesto ir ao dentista. Por isso, evito ao máximo fazê-lo – erro clássico e crítico. Rápida historinha real: usei aparelho fixo por vários anos por volta dos meus 20 de idade e após retirá-lo, fiquei apenas com uma contençãozinha atrás dos dentes frontais inferiores. Por ocasião dessa contenção, eu deveria ir ao dentista 2 vezes ao ano para uma limpeza, coisa que não...

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...

Desde até quando consigo me lembrar ouvi pessoas repetindo que para ganhar dinheiro é preciso trabalhar muito. Não só trabalhar muito, mas dar duro também. Todos os domingos vejo amigos se lamentando de que o fim de semana já está acabando DE NOVO(!) e que já terão que ir ao trabalho na segunda-feira mais uma vez. Já ouviu falar na “Síndrome do Fantástico”? E todas as segundas-feiras também escuto frases como “vamos pra guerra!”, “vamos ralar!” ou “lerê-lerê” (horrorosa alusão à época da escravidão). Esse modo de encarar a vida e...

I have been to a ‘one-day event Braz-Tesol SIG’ talk at Cultura Inglesa Butantã - SP, that entailed the very up-to-date and important topic – How professionalised is/should our area be? Not only did it inspire me but it also marked a very important “era” in my career development.  I remember very well that, after that talk, I had to stand up and share how motivated I was right there and then. Of course, the speaker was the brilliant and outstanding Vinicius Nobre. On that day, he mentioned...

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...