It might ‘cost you dear’! That is what we generally hear when people talk about investing time and money in learning a foreign language. By the same token, professional teachers are usually judged by how qualified they are in the teaching community and investing time and money on CPD seminars seems pretty much the way to go. On 18th March, I had the opportunity to meet up with brilliantly committed teaching professionals at Braz-Tesol Belo Horizonte Chapter on Teacher’s Development. BTW, well done you on your organisation. I delivered...

Hoje eu só tenho a agradecer e encorajar. Estou escrevendo este texto no meu notebook no banco de trás do carro de uma carona que consegui por um aplicativo online para ir até Belo Horizonte participar do evento organizado pela Braz-Tesol BH Chapter em união com o Teacher Development Special Interest Group da Braz-Tesol. O evento aconteceu ontem, sábado 18/03 e foi de um valor incalculável. Os professores que ofecerem as talks dos eventos o fazem voluntariamente, não sendo remunerados por isso. Também por isso estou na carona do carro ao...

We want to be called teachers. Although the word educator fits perfectly, I still prefer teacher.  It is the title that is written before my name in my college diploma.  When I graduated from college, it became my identity.  It defines what I do and who I am. Teachers receive an education that is different from other professionals in the field of education. In the Portuguese language, teacher is a title, too, and I intend to keep it. For a long time, though, I tried to make my students...

Two things have happened recently that served as inspiration for this post. One of them is the (erroneous) belief that one can only learn a language if his/her teacher is a native speaker. Who would figure this is still a debate in 2017. The other is the #accentpride that aims at fighting the prejudice that only a native-speaker accent (which one?) is the correct way to speak English. With those two things in mind, I have decided to share the story of how I learned to speak English and how I...

The word feminism is not new, though the understanding of the concept seems to have changed. We shifted from the image of women burning bras in the 60’s to the powerful image of the most recent Women’s March in the United States and in other countries demanding equal rights. I emphasise the word equal and quote the Brazilian philosopher Mario Sergio Cortella in a video snippet that went viral some time ago. In this snippet[1] he briefly and eloquently explains why feminism is not the opposite of machismo....

We have all been there: first day at work, first day in a new job, first day with new coursebook, new group, many 'new' situations throughout our careers. There will always be a first in our path and from my experience, the most successful moments have been those when I had the support from peers or leaders that believed I could go through the initial phase and fly higher and that offered help. Inspired by those fantastic professionals that crossed my path, I decided to write this first post on...

If you are reading this post, you are likely to be a connected educator committed to life-long learning. As such, you are probably someone who, just like me, works many hours a day in your demanding English-teaching, coordinating, or managing job and, in your free time, engages in all or some of these activities: Read professional materials, such as books, articles, and blogs. Interact online with other professionals. Write academic materials such as books, articles, and blog posts. Serve in a professional association such as TESOL, IATEFL, and...

“A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” ― Ruth Beechick, An Easy Start in Arithmetic, Grades K-3 In my last post, I talked about writing. The reason why I wrote about it is because I write, and writing is my journey into the core of the English language. The more I write, the more I learn about collocations, spelling, and how words are combined to form sentences. I also learn how words can impact one’s understanding and how they can persuade, motivate, inspire, and...

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...

  “Language doesn’t only represent or refer to social reality (…) it constructs social reality" Claire Kramsch, in "From Practice to Theory and Back Again."                                                                                            Now  I look around and I realize how things have changed. I find myself speaking Portuguese in a teachers' room with...

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we can develop as professionals by being involved in the teaching community. Not surprisingly, the most important lessons I’ve had on teaching came from people, not books, but it wasn’t an easy process and I’d like to share some of lessons I’ve learnt from learning with others. Be humble Anyone can teach you something, no matter how experienced, qualified or renowned you are. The moment you adopt a know-it-all attitude is the moment you stop learning, and teaching is ultimately a learning...

I have recently been asked whether I believed technology could replace the teachers in the future. This text is an attempt to summarise my reply and my thoughts on the matter. Teaching (in general) is an activity that dates back a long while ago. Books haven't replaced us, neither will technology. At least not unless we stop growing and keeping ourselves essential. Technology has changed the world, the way people connect, the way people learn...

  Today’s post is going to be a bit different. One of my greatest frustrations in life is that I don’t get to work with children anymore. That’s why I’m going to tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a teacher called Mary. She had a very good job at one of the most prestigious schools in town, but something was missing. Yes, money was missing and Mary found another school to work for. Who said working at one school was enough to make ends meet? Mary polished...

I am now on a plane on my way to Natal-RN, where I’ll participate tomorrow in BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte’s symposium, and I took this time to write this… ‘comeback post’, after a pretty long hiatus. Many months ago, I wrote a post on lesson observation here, and have owed the blog readers a follow-up post on peer observation ever since. Well… sorry. This post will not be about peer observation, but next month’s will, I promise. What I want to talk to you about this month, if...

The past is never where you think you left it.” ---- Katherine Anne Porter Having lived a year in the US, I was convinced that I had become an American. I spoke American English, my clothes were mostly American, and I did not like black beans anymore. I could not help pronouncing the word Coke without a strong American English accent I had slowly developed, and which I was proud of. I knew the American Presidents by heart and I had visited more American states than I had ever done...

Olá a todos! Recentemente, trouxe à baila em uma das minhas aulas na universidade no curso de graduação em Letras, o seguinte assunto: existe vida após a faculdade? Aparentemente, algumas pessoas estão muito preocupadas em terminar o curso, ir para a formatura, comemorar na festa e já arrumar um (ou mais) emprego(s) dando aula. Algum problema nisso? Lógico que não. Afinal de contas, as pessoas precisam de dinheiro para coisas básicas, como comprar comida, pagar a luz, água etc. Enfim, percebo que muitos alunos ficam ansiosos pelo fim de...

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...

In July I had the chance to attend the 15th Braz-Tesol international conference. As I chose which workshops and talks to attend, I realized how much my profile had changed since I first started attending these kinds of events. My first international conference was in 2008 when I had the chance to go to the ABCI (Associação Brasileira de Culturas Inglesas) international conference in São Paulo. At that time I had been teaching for 4 years, but had never done any teacher training courses. I clearly remember I was looking...

If you have been teaching for a while you may have come across a difficult decision teachers are faced with: how to continue growing professionally without leaving the classroom. In my experience, the path to getting recognition or a higher salary often make teachers transition into academic or managerial positions. I tried those things, but they didn't fulfill me. I chose to become a teacher in order to work with people, to share my experiences, listen to other people's experiences, learn and teach. I eventually found out that I...

  Preparing for the 15th BTIC? Getting ready to make the most of it with Isabela Villas Boas's tips on presentations and the programme and Elaine Hodgson's ideas on networking? Conferences are usually a great opportunity to reassure us all, ELT professionals, that we are a strong professional team, seeking for development, growth and better quality in our teaching. It is a wonderful learning experience, with lots being shared and discussed. For me, it is a moment for a healthy productive discussion about our perspectives and the future of ELT....

Already thinking about the upcoming Braz-TESOL conference, last month I wrote some tips for successful conference presentations, and my dear colleague and friend Elaine Hodgson wrote about networking at conferences as a key strategy for success. This time around, I would like to focus on tips for successful conference participation, with a view to helping our interlocutors get the best out of all the talks, workshops, plenaries and panels they attend. Going to conferences can be overwhelming. We go from one room to the next, frantically seeking presentations that match...

The year was 2011. I was moving to my new apartment. My first apartment ever, the first time on my own without roommates. The first place to ever call mine, and I wanted to furnish the place all at once. I had about 12 groups and countless private students. I was living in Laranjeiras and working in Laranjeiras and Barra da Tijuca. If you are not familiar with the geography of Rio de Janeiro, Google will give you a pretty good idea of what my life was like. I...

In July, I'll have been teaching English for exactly 13 years. One maxim among language teachers is that sometimes you can get to this point by having one year of experience repeated 13 times. I like to think of myself as someone who has taken this time to become a better teacher and a better speaker of English. As a bilingual teacher, I think it's important to invest time (and often money) in my own development. This post is dedicated to my teacher development guidelines. 1. Sit for exams or...

They say crisis equals opportunity, and the Brazilian website bicos.com.br has pointed out that teaching is its visitors’ number one choice out of their financial predicaments. [caption id="attachment_4592" align="alignnone" width="572"] Photo via facebook.com/apliesp/[/caption] You can imagine how that went viral (and quite virulent) among Brazilian teachers. According to Brazilian legislation, regular school teachers need to have a teaching license, which will take the candidate at least 3 years to get hold of, if not 4 or 5. Hence, those newcomers are looking for jobs in educational sectors which are not as formalized:...

Among the many terms related to finding work opportunities one hears nowadays, networking must be at the top of the list. Being able to network efficiently is considered a key strategy for both personal and professional success. Although the definition of professional networking will vary slightly, and the idea of personal and professional success will vary enormously, it is very unlikely that a person who is unable to establish connections will be able to find fruitful and stimulating opportunities. With the 15th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference approaching, a few suggestions...

In ELT we often say we joined the field to help others and we take pride in seeing our students achieve higher, being successful using English. Some of us stay true to this 'dream profession' full of challenge and growth for both learners and teachers. Others give up, others just do it for fun. It is, of course, desirable that we all cherish what we do and have pleasure while doing it. However, learning comes first. If we are having fun with the better half of the group...

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite TV series was Felicity. This show was about a young girl discovering college and herself. Though I was not in college at the time, I could relate to the main character on many levels. Perhaps that is the recipe for good shows: drama, laughter, questionable hairstyle choices and someone on a quest to find themselves. Growth is painful. Change is hard and there are days you wish it would just stop. Wouldn’t it be great to be sure? To feel...

Last month I was very fortunate to be able to attend the 50th IATEFL International Conference in Birmingham, the UK. As most it usually happens when it comes to conferences, it was possible to “catch” a few issues / topics that stood out in the conference – because of plenaries, sessions or just the talk between sessions and at the social events at the end of the each day. This year, at least for me, there were two big issues that stood out: gender / sexual bias and the...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about giving and receiving feedback. One of the reasons for that was a conversation with my friend Priscila Mateini on receiving negative feedback and dealing with failure. In addition, because of the nature of my job as a Celta tutor, I'm constantly giving feedback to teachers. Some of what I'm going to write about focuses on feedback after lesson observations, but a lot of it can be applied to other areas of teaching as well. A trainer once told me that one of...

I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. Now that's something to be proud of: not only did I survive (mostly unscathed) one of the world's most dangerous cities, but I also get beaming smiles and even hear some bossa nova tunes when I tell foreigners that's where I'm from. So being from Rio is a good thing. Or maybe it's neutral. Or so it should be. You see, I'm also an English language teacher. And here is where being from Rio starts to feel somewhat weird: my hometown screams *non-native...

I believe that settling for less than extraordinary is not for English language teachers. We will definitely have ordinary days and teach lessons that are not necessarily extraordinary; this is necessary for us to notice the special moments in our careers. However, by embracing teaching as a profession, questioning what we do routinely or even automatically and choosing to improve, challenge our practices and/ or constantly seek for development, we will be focusing on excellence. The groups we teach are diverse, resources available are varied and in constant...

"If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously!" Cate Blanchett   1 It was a group of six prospective students from a well-known multinational company in São Paulo. It was back in the day when VCRs were cutting-edge technology, so we had a brand new one at our school. We’d specially bought it to play movies and the videos that accompanied our business English materials. It was a Saturday morning class and I’d arrived one hour early to set up the materials and the VCR, and also to make...

A lot is said in the literature about students’ motivation and how important a role it plays in a healthy and effective classroom environment. With the beginning of the academic year in Brazil, I’d like to take this opportunity to look at how we can keep our own motivation levels high throughout the year. After all, motivated teachers are better teachers, right? Rather than going on and on about theories of motivation, I’ll try to stick to practical ideas that come not only from my own personal experience -...

The year has barely started and it’s been quite a busy one here: planning and delivering training sessions, submitting proposals to conferences and writing posts and articles, all with the main aim of focusing on CPD – Continuing Professional Development. The pursuit for professional development in teaching should not stop when obtaining the CPE or a teaching qualification such as the CELTA. CPD, as the name itself suggests, aims at ongoing development, at helping professionals become better day after day. Learning more about the English language is crucial for teachers...

As I'm writing this post I'm thinking about my English skills as a non-native speaker. I'm aware of the fact that my English is far from being perfect and I can't expect it to be flawless. Nonetheless, I consider myself a successful English learner-teacher as far as language is concerned for one simple reason: I see myself as a language scavenger. What does it take to be a scavenger? When people speak to me and when I'm exposed to language items, I collect whatever I think is useful or...

It is the end of the year and what better date to make resolutions and plan the next year? So here are some brief ideas for a brilliant 2016 in ELT: 1. Actively engage in ELT associations. Think about how you can contribute best in productive discussions, taking part in special interest groups. The best thing is being able to make teaching a more and more respected profession by working along with fellow teachers. 2. Develop a new skill in your career. Depending on the stage of your professional development,...

Hi everyone! This month I’ll share the highlights from SiLL – the First International Conference on the Self in Language Learning, in Adana, Turkey last September (17th -19th, 2015). Raquel Bambirra (CEFET-MG) and Climene Arruda (FUMEC) joined me in presenting a panel on experiential research as a way to elicit self-related data. The Organizing Committee invited psychology of language learning researchers  as plenary speakers – Hayo Reinders, (Unitec, New Zealand), Jean-Marc Dewaele (University of London, U.K.); Peter MacIntyre (Cape Breton University, Canada) and Sarah Mercer (University of Graz, Austria). Below is...

I have recently met a teacher going through a crisis in her professional path because colleagues and supervisors had been telling her that she was too good not to want to be more than a teacher – she questioned her ‘lack of ambition'. I am not sure what the rationale behind comments might have been, but I would say we need more of those great teachers with the courage to persevere and remain ‘just a teacher’.  I believe this is one of the greatest challenges facing teachers nowadays...

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...

Is teaching a lonely profession? Teaching, in all its forms, is an activity that requires social interaction, and this chance to interact with people while playing a role in their development is probably among the most common reasons that draw people to our profession. Nonetheless, many teachers with whom I talk to share the impression that they are all alone, making decisions and designing lessons, which makes teaching a (paradoxically) lonely profession. Does it have to be that way? Last month, I had the amazing opportunity of attending two events...

I will start this month’s post by apologizing, and for two different reasons. First, I haven’t posted on RichmondShare since January, and I am truly very sorry for that. I was finishing my first book (yay!) and saying I’ve been really snowed under lately is putting it mildly. But I’m back – thanks for waiting! – and I’ll be sharing much more about the book soon (but it’s probably coming out in October). Then, I also apologize for straying from my topic here today. I promised at the beginning of...

Hello there! First of all, I'm so sorry for being AWOL for so long. I launched my online English course and it was a pretty hectic time. I haven't been in the classroom for a while, around five years, and since then I've also started to study Internet marketing more seriously, since I was planning to launch an online course. By doing so I found out that, besides taking several online courses on specific tools and techniques, I also had to "make myself known" in the Internet marketing scene. So I...

In my daily job in education, I find the most talented and vibrant community of educators. Their very specific skills range from making, sometimes with hardcore engineering skills, to arts, with those amazing strokes of light and hope. Many, though, lack self-confidence. They perceive themselves as just one more in the crowd. Their talent is seen as ordinary, something that has been with them for so long that they don't even notice the distinguishing features of their own character and practice. I've seen many of them go unnoticed...

A few years ago I had to catch up with a lot of reading for the DELTA module 1, aka Reading for DELTA module. At first, the amount of reading I was supposed to do in such a short time was overwhelming. I wasn't sure if I was up for the task, but as those months went by, those books grabbed me and the more I read and learned, the more those books strengthened my interest. Having a background in linguistics and a keen interest in language learning and...

One of today’s major principles in ELT is the focus on learning and the learner. Books, articles, researchers and teachers all preach about the importance of humanizing pedagogical decisions, directing their attention to actually developing people – the language learners. Learning strategies, multiple intelligences, learning channels, scaffolding strategies, adequate assessment tools, and varied multi-modal resources are a few of the many elements considered to be important when designing an EFL class. However, the real classroom shows us that EFL instruction has actually been – to a certain extent...

If we jump back in time we might hear Sir Mick Jagger singing: ‘Time is on my side’. Mr. Keith Richards would promptly reply: ‘Yes, it is!’. The fact of the matter is that they are pushing 70ish and still keep rocking, which gives us the impression that time is really on their side. Had they chosen the teaching career, I am not that sure they would be singing that enigmatic phrase, let alone the ‘yes, it is’. It all sounds very easy when it comes to teachers managing...

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...

I think I must have seen this question a million times: “What does it take to be an English language teacher?” “Courage” springs to mind. At least that’s what I needed when I broke the news to my dear father that I wouldn’t be a lawyer like him (“Quem não faz Direito faz errado,” he must have replied). Joke aside, we can interpret that question in several ways. What I would like to explore here is perhaps the easiest of them: the minimum qualifications that will land you a...

I have already been to quite a few conferences and I have been going to  IATEFL conferences for the past three years and it's high time I wrote a post about my experiences both as a delegate and as a speaker. IATEFL stands for International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language and it aims at bringing teachers from all corners of the world together by providing professional development through publications, talks, conferences, and workshops. IATEFL also supports teachers worldwide by helping them set up local...

Working in recruiting and teacher training, I came to notice that Knowledge and Skills (which we dealt with last month) may get your CV noticed, but what determines your success in your career in the end, are the two As in Donald Freeman’s KASA framework: Attitude and Awareness. A long time ago, during one of those fiery staff meetings before lesson started, the other teachers and I were trying to standardise how we would deal with a recurrent situation when someone suggested we simply used common sense. I promptly...

Last week’s cover of The Economist was “Brazil’s Quagmire” in which our economy is believed to be in its worst mess since the early 1990s with far bigger problems than the government will admit or investors seem to register.  Our currency has fallen 30% against the dollar since 2013 and inflation is rising. So it is with Brazil’s economy: the harder you stare, the worse it looks. However, the impact of this scenario goes far beyond currency exchange rates or the cover of international magazines. It reaches the...

One may often hear how expensive it can be to invest time and money in learning a foreign language. However, it is widely known that an institution is usually judged by its teachers and how qualified they are in the teaching community. Consequently, a LOS (Lesson Observation Scheme) is instrumental in providing the academic department with important evidence on a teacher’s performance in class. Further down is an outline of what we usually use at Cultura Inglesa São João del Rei.   Why Lesson Observation Amongst various reasons, one advantage of...

I'm a teacher and a mentor,  which means I'm in charge of in-service training at  branch level at a large language institute with around seventy branches spread in my hometown and other capitals in Brazil. In practical terms, I welcome new teachers and conduct ongoing training with our teaching staff when I'm not busy teaching and grading students' work. Fitting all of these duties into our busy teaching schedule is not easy, so mentoring calls for a lot of creativity. My colleagues also teach at other schools and...

February is a great opportunity for us to finally get down to implementing our New Year resolutions, isn’t it? It is only natural that we take this time to revisit our professional life and make important decisions to develop professionally and avoid the tantalising stagnation of our comfort zone. Yet, many teachers I talk to tell me they don’t know exactly how to start. I find Donald Freeman’s KASA framework very useful, since we don’t necessarily depend on our employers (if we have them) to set our own targets...

Myths and stereotypes are inherent to a number of professions: the ignorant model, the cunning lawyer, the rude military officer, the sexy nurse, just to name a few. Intertwined with prejudice and/or limited, erroneous views, these myths and stereotypes very often cause discomfort and raise discussion. Teaching is no exception to that. Which stereotypes are usually associated with teachers? Very recently, a statement by the current Minister of Education has come back to the centre of debate. In 2011, during a strike in which teachers demanded a raise, and...

The performance of Brazilian students in national and international assessment tests has been consistently low, which has led researchers to look into the reasons for the inefficiency of our educational system. A study conducted by Fundação Carlos Chagas has found that the programs offered by most universities in the area of teacher education do not prepare teachers-to-be to face the routine of a real classroom. The emphasis of these programs has been on the sociological, political, structural and historical aspects of education, with very little space for the...

We all deserve rest, relaxation and some time off. Educators are working during class time, before and always in late hours, correcting, planning, preparing, researching. So, yes, school recess is certainly a time of a certain relief and a bit of goofing off. However, after reenergizing a bit, meeting friends and family, taking care of our more mundane daily lives, celebrating the end of the year, you might feel ready and eager to learn something new, to connect, network with other like-minded professionals. Numerous free professional development opportunities...

It is that time of the year again. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been the type of guy who devotes quite a lot of time to planning his new year’s resolutions and, at the end of the year – now! – has no idea what they were or whether he’s achieved them. I’m not at all proud of that, but there you have it. Life gets in the way, you know. Too many classes, too many students, too many projects. You start writing a book (again!), you...

I was wondering what to write about for this blog when that uncomfortable situation happened to me today. I felt completely demotivated, discouraged and willing not to be an educator at all.  (I could have been a doctor, like my dad or a party planner, as a very close friend always suggests me, or a travel planner. Perhaps I’d make more money and would have much fun.  But I decided to be a teacher, to be an educator, a giver).  For many reasons I decided not to share...

This is the time of the year when many teachers apply for a new job. This might be the result of moving to a new city, feeling demotivated about their current position, being dismissed from their last job, or just the desire to try new ways in the career. However, this might be an opportunity to rethink about their career and to take a step that will enable the beginning of a long-term plan of professional success instead of just a change in the resumé. In other words,...

Is it December already?! I’ve just been reading a new book about beliefs in language teaching and learning and, as with any good book, it’s got me thinking.  As teachers, how often do we stop to think about what our beliefs are about how we teach and how students learn?  In my case, “not very often” is the answer and yet, our beliefs are right there in the activities we choose in class, how we talk to learners and how we respond to learners and their output and contributions. ...

When I started teaching a long time ago, I didn’t have a mentor. I had colleagues and students, and occasionally I would seek help from a more experienced teacher. It was usually a question about the material or language that I couldn’t answer myself. Other than that, I relied pretty much on teachers’ guides even though I occasionally changed a thing here and there. When I started my present teaching job at a large language institute in Rio, I had a mentor, but I didn’t know she was my...

Kitten! by Sergey Ivanov CC BY-SA 2.0 This month's post has nothing to do with kittens, but do we really need an excuse?  This month I'm straying from the topic of teaching slightly to look at what happens when we, as teachers, write about our profession. It's a topic that's quite close to my heart as it's what first got me interested in developing critical thinking skills in teachers. I think it's fair to say that as teachers we have all, at some point or another, read books, blogs, and articles...

There seems to be a day to celebrate everything in Brazil.  March 14th is Bald Men’s Day and April 26th is Goalkeeper’s Day, followed by the  Flight Attendants Day on the 31st of May and Students’ Day on the 11t of August, just to mention a few . Since we have taught them all –the bald men, the flight attendants, the goalkeepers and of course the students, I think it’s just fair that we have our own Teachers’ Day. Even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is...

I've recently come across Deena Boraie's  2013 post on the TESOL webpage in which she lists the latest trends in EFL. Two of these trends immediately caught my eye: Change in the Goal of Teaching English: Our goals are no longer to transform our students into imitations of native speakers, but into "competent English-knowing bilinguals," since we assume our students are already proficient in their native languages; Changing view of an English teacher: The quality and effectiveness of English language teachers are no longer determined by their being native speakers,...

If you were present at the last BRAZ-TESOL National Convention in João Pessoa, you may, just like me, keep going down memory lane and think about the highlights of the conference. For me, one of these highlights, was when the brilliant plenary speaker J. J. Wilson said “Great teachers have to be treasured, not measured.” To be perfectly honest, I can’t remember what exactly he was referring to, but I do remember the audience reaction really well. There was a furore and teachers cheered and applauded him. This...

This post continues from where this one left off. How to read for language development I honestly believe that the sheer fact of being reading constantly and on a wide array of topics — books of different genres, newspaper articles, blogs, reports and so on — for information and/or pleasure is good enough and will be extremely beneficial linguistically. I will list below, however, some of the ideas I’ve tried out and which will hopefully help you as well. - Have a vocabulary notebook at the ready whenever you’re reading at...

At first I had set out to write about my professional journey as a NNEST in the 1980s, so I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the first course books I used in my first years as a teacher. That was when I decided to ask for some help from the IATEFL members on our Facebook page but the replies I got took me even further into the past, and that made me want to start my story from the very beginning: my life...

I have recently read an internet article that suggested some essential attitudes in order to become indispensable at work. The author lists some rather interesting recommendations that could make anyone more important in their workplace. In this post, I would like to use this text as inspiration to express what I consider important features for EFL professionals stand out. Hold the mindset that change provides opportunity. – some teachers seem to have a tendency to cling to old habits and insist on doing what “has always worked”. Rarely...

  The challenge of being a non-native English speaker in a native English speaking world I recently came across EFL teacher James Taylor's blog post about NNESTs' struggle to be respected as English teachers by students and employers. In his guest blog post, James lists a number of advantages of being a NNEST over a being a NEST. Wow! I'd never given much thought to the issue of NNESTs (non-native English speaking teachers opposed to NESTs -- native English speaking teachers), and yet I have belonged to this group most...

We often wish for a helping hand in our careers; that generous supervisor, coordinator or colleague who will set goals for our development, introduce us to the right people, invite us to embark on different waters and acknowledge our strengths and talents. We hope that this one mentor will spot our gifts, give us an extra push and award us with their recognition; recognition that will help us blossom professionally. Many professionals go on for years and years waiting for that help to arise in the hope of getting...

I must have mentioned before on this blog that I teach adolescents in their last year of High School. Needless to say, this is a period of great anxiety as most of them intend to go to university and now have to choose a career. It is the time when most of them realise that their days of “automatic pilot” - in which they simply progress from one grade to another - are over and that making a decision based on the question What do I want to...

I always say that one of the things I like the most about teaching is that I’m always learning. And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one… We teachers learn a lot not only from our students and from fellow teachers but also from what we read, from conferences we attend, and so on. And this all has got to do with teacher development. Bell and Gilbert (apud Evans, 2002) state that “teacher development can be viewed as teachers learning, rather than as others getting teachers to change....

Trying to respond to a high demand for English instruction, English schools pop up  everywhere, without a proper control from the government in relation to  the educational background of the teachers  who will work in such schools.  Called  “cursos livres” by the Ministry of Education, they are not part of the regular school system, which means they don’t follow any specific regulations . Since there is no criterium regarding the teaching of English in preschools and day care centers, a theoretical background is many times substituted by the  teachers’...

I was supposed to have published this post on May the 01st. As I knew I was going to be in João Pessoa for the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference, I really wanted my post to be about teacher development – mainly about attending conferences. I had even read some articles and blog posts on it in order to find inspiration for my post (“Teacher Development belongs to Teachers” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Attending Conferences” by James Taylor, “7 things about reflecting on conference presentations” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Teachers...

By the time this post is published, I will have spent two days in the lovely city of João Pessoa where, as most of you know, the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference is being held. This will be my 7th BRAZ-TESOL Conference. While I was packing I began asking myself: What motivated me to go? Why do I want to leave my kids behind? (If you have done the same you will know the feeling…) Why do I feel like spending the holiday attending talks and workshops instead of...

Hello everyone! I want to start this month’s post apologizing for my… silence last month. I’ve got only myself to blame – anyone writing about organization skills out there? – and can just promise it won’t happen again. Scout’s honor. So let me pick up from where we left off last time:  I ended by asking you whether you’d feel insulted if someone (a teacher trainer, a colleague, your coordinator) told you you had to work on your English. There weren’t many replies, I’m afraid, but the very few people...

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!...

The other day I was at a friend’s birthday and my friend mentioned she had seen my photos in Liverpool and asked me what I had thought of the city. I said I hadn’t seen much of the city, because I had gone there for a conference (last year’s IATEFL Annual Conference) and it didn’t leave me much time for sightseeing. One of her friends, a new acquaintance to me, became interested and started talking to me. She: “A conference? What do you do?” Me: “I’m an English teacher.” She: “What...