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...

It's been almost two years now since I last had a 'carteira assinada'. If I'm being totally honest, I don't think I would have guessed this is where my career would have taken me. Back when I was in high school (and before I decided to become a teacher) I always saw myself working for a big multinational company. When I got my first job as a teacher, in my last semester at university, my goal was to end up in a job in a big language institute...

In Brazil the beginning of the year is hiring season for teachers. Unfortunately it’s unusual for ELT job ads in this country to list required and preferred KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities or attitudes). When they do, something that usually shows up is “living experience abroad” (“vivência no exterior”). To be me, in all honesty, that requirement simply boggles the mind. Here are a few issues I ponder over when I see that: 1. Why LIVING, not WORKING experience? How can “living” be a job requirement? Hey, I haven’t died, even...

Many of us start in the career by incidentally deciding to 'temporarily' teach the language we know while we choose what to do about our professional lives. Many of us choose the career, embrace the challenges, seek for different opportunities. The reasons that brought us to teaching or the one that made us stay are followed by the ones that make us grow and become better and better - the choices we make and the motivation we grow throughout our career. Improving as a professional is not necessarily linked...

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...

I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about this, but I’ve reached that age when I’ve turned into a kind of Agony Aunt to my younger colleagues and friends. The 20-somethings come to me with their career choices and, boy, do they ask difficult questions! Their fork in the road often goes along the lines of, “Should I do a CAE or a CELTA?”, “Should I go to college or work on my language?”, or “What do teachers need more (urgently): language or methodology?” You’ve probably seen these questions before,...

We all start teaching for different reasons and we keep teaching for even more diverse reasons sometimes. Besides, each of us will encounter a unique variety of professionals that will inspire us to be greater and others that may help us question our career choices. There seems to be no yellow brick road to follow, but perhaps a plethora of yellow brick roads to choose from, with no right or wrong answer, except that you need to enjoy the journey and aim at your own version of 'Oz'. The...

My passion for English began when I was a child and lived in the U.S. for three years while my parents went to graduate school. Upon coming back to Brazil, I was enrolled in a traditional language institute in Brasilia, Casa Thomas Jefferson (CTJ). There I went from the intermediate to the advanced level and then took several ESP courses until I was old enough to take the Teacher Training Course. It’s not that I wanted to be a teacher. I just wanted to keep up with my...

Today I was very inspired by a group of professionals attending my presentation during the 3rd BT TDSIG one-day seminar and I decided to post my contribution to the blog only after having talked to many of the committed teachers about development. Hall & Simeral (2010), in one of my favourite quotes about teaching, highlight that educators, much to the public surprise may be the ones that resent learning the most. That is a conundrum. If by providing our learners with a model and showing them how to do...

A fellow teacher told me about a well-known language institute that started selling a new, faster course. He asked me how I thought he could compete with them. I told them he shouldn’t, they are not his competition. What many teachers do not understand is that when they decide to work as freelance language teachers, they should be offering something different. Perhaps as an independent teacher you do not have access to many resources that schools do. What you have, however, is yourself and believe me, that is your greatest...