Today’s competitive English Teaching market has demanded a new responsibility from teachers:  supporting their institution’s marketing strategies.   Although teacher education programs for EFL practitioners do not include marketing or promotion strategies, many language teachers are held accountable for students who choose to drop out, for those who choose to continue studying, and for supporting the reach out to prospective students. However, to what extent are teachers really responsible for enrollment numbers? First of all, students’ choice of enrolling in a program (and staying until graduation) is a consequence of...

After having taught at several different schools for a long long time, I’ve been teaching private classes for a while now. I’ve decided to do so so that I could have more flexibility and more time to study and work on different projects. Needless to say, teaching private classes has its own features. Sometimes I feel as if I were learning how to teach all over again and that’s been a real challenge. By a stroke of luck, I’ve come across a lot of interesting articles on it these past...

Well, first, apologies to Scott Thornbury for ‘borrowing’ and distorting his title. This is the closest I’ll ever get to his altitude, so forgive my mutant magpie-Icarus act. I present to you the first of the series An A-Z of Dysfunctional ELT – the art of getting things wrong, again and again. Each month, I’ll take a letter and explore some ideas about how we get things wrong.  And by ‘we’, I mean you, and you, and you. Oh, and me.  For example, C might stand for Communication (aw, don’t get...

My dear, If I could offer you any advice for your newly started career, I would tell you to be curious. More impressive and complex advice will be dispensed to you but I truly believe that curiosity embraces it all. First and foremost, be curious about your students. Get to know who they are, where they come from, why they need to study English and the reservations they might still cling to. Their beliefs are as powerful as yours. Ask them about their past, their present and their future;...

Last week I happened to read a post in a well-known Brazilian newspaper blog explaining that several students who have been granted scholarships in the program Science without Borders are at risk of an early and compulsory return to Brazil. The reason? They have not achieved the minimum proficiency in English to be able to attend the course they intended to. If you read the post (see link below), you’ll see that the journalist who wrote it oversimplified the problem by saying that Brazilian students cannot communicate in...

Following up on last month’s post, I’d like to dedicate this month’s installment to discussing the following question: What does it mean to know a language? Or, more to the point, what does it mean for a teacher of English to know the language? Without getting very technical and/or long-winded, it is my opinion that a teacher of English as a foreign or second language must be able to get their messages across –speaking or writing– with no (or very little) difficulty, being able to employ the most effective words,...

I found it interesting that Vinicius Nobre in his last post wrote about how  social media and professional image are being watched when considering a person for  a job.  Actually, as professionals, ALL of us are being watched ALL the time, no matter where we stand. As a CELTA tutor I find that besides preparing teachers in terms of knowledge, and helping them perfect their teaching skills, I am also responsible for giving them feedback on inappropriate behavior, and helping them see what they need to achieve to become...

Last week we followed a discussion about the university professor who posted a photograph on Facebook of a passenger at Rio de Janeiro airport with extremely prejudiced and harmful comments regarding his social class. The nature of the event was already particularly offensive but caused even greater discomfort because the authors work in education. Fortunately the reactions against the professor and her friends were so intense and immediate that a formal apology was published the following day. However, as the Academic Manager of a large institution, I believe...

The growing need for global communication brings the field of TEFL to a much higher level of professionalism. However, several other individuals are actively involved in the EFL teaching field, but they cannot be considered actual professionals. Ur (2002) defines a professional as a worker whose expertise involves not only skill and knowledge but also exercise of highly sophisticated judgment and whose accreditation necessitates extensive study, often university-based, as well as practical experience. According to this definition, one must perform a threefold task in order to be considered a...

“Learn English 50% faster with native teachers.” That TV ad got me thinking if that was still really appealing to learners in Brazil. In other words, do people actually believe in that? A quick search on Google helped clarify things for me. There are several ads like that. Not only do they claim students will  “Learn faster” (there was even an ad which said “Learn 4 times faster”!), but they suggest it has been “proven” that it is only possible to learn “real” English with a native teacher!...