BY DONNA FIELDS We’re looking forward to sharing with you the most innovative practices - methods you can use immediately in your online or your face-to-face lessons. Unfortunately, most Ministers of Education today, are so concerned with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and having test scores, that they forget that, at the end of the day, if we don't have people with good character, people who do the right thing, intellect itself will destroy the world, it will not save it.  Dr. Howard Gardner Research Professor of Cognition and Education Harvard University Autumn, 2020 Student...

By Russell Stannard Flipping your online lessons:  a global view of your online lessons Over the last five months, I have done a whole array of consultancy jobs supporting schools to deliver online language courses. These have been private language schools right up to language departments in universities. It has been a very tough time for teachers and one thing that they are continually complaining about is just how much work is involved in preparing and delivering online lessons. It has been a theme I have addressed at several online...

By Donna Fields What is scaffolding? Why should we care? What are they exactly, and where do we upload scaffolding activities on the Richmond Platform? Let’s start with theory. Take a deep breath because this won’t be painful at all. There are as many definitions of scaffolding as there are scaffolding techniques. The term, as an educational concept, was presented in the early 1900s by LevVygotsky, the Russian psychologist who dedicated himself to the study of adolescent development. He explained that scaffolding is a way of encouraging students to move out of...

Last month, we talked about the innovator teacher's dilemma, and I would like to share my innovative experience with you.  I’m sure you have already heard of: Cross over teaching,  Teaching through smart boards, Flipped classrooms Collaborative Teaching Using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)  Technology and innovative methods of teaching And more Are you using all or some of them in your daily lessons? It’s widely known that the use of technology in the classroom helps to engage the students with different kinds of stimuli and, of course,...

Are you tired of listening or reading about how innovative teachers must be in the classroom? Especially now, during and after the covid-19 (years 2020 - 2021) when we were forced to reinvent ourselves and our classroom? Why are you tired of it? Maybe because it is tiring to be always looking for different ways of calling student's attention or to, at least, make them be more participative and acquire something out of it? Is this really the point? Or is it the experience? The learning? Well, we are teachers. We...

An increased interest in online teaching has emerged in recent years. Such interest has become even more prominent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine, during which teachers worldwide had to take up online teaching overnight. Many of us had been teaching adults – or taken online lessons and courses ourselves – for a while, but teaching a group of teenagers through a screen was unimaginable. Given my considerable experience with online teaching, I was very confident about welcoming my teenage students to a video call. Little did...

The use of this current communicative approach is very common in the English lesson field. We always tend to use a task as the topic of the lesson and ask students to perform this task at the end of this lesson. As the name states TBLT, also known as TBI (task-based instruction) focuses on the use of authentic language relying on meaningful tasks as the main item of planning, target language, and instruction in language teaching. For instance, conducting or participating in a job interview, visiting a doctor’s office,...

I’ve always felt that in order to be a good teacher for my students I had to be at the top of my game all the time. This means having to let go of all worries and problems from the outside-of-the-classroom world while teaching, and I managed to make that happen for over a decade. Little did I know that there would come a day that my heart would ache so much that achieving such self-control would be almost impossible...

Coronavirus day 3.648: It feels like that, right? At least, it does for me.  Since this has all begun and we started teaching remotely, I have been re-reading all my academic books, trying to find various other approaches and/or methods for dealing with “emergency remote teaching” in a way that lessons will be meaningful, not only to students but also (and mostly) parents. As you well know by now, we are now teaching a second language to a larger scale. We are reaching families, which means we have to focus...

First of all, I’d like to send a warm hug to everyone who is reading this post. We have been living under stressful moments due to an emergency lockdown caused by the COVID-19. As you know, and based on your own needs, families require your full attention, exceptionally now. You are no longer “only” teaching a subject or a content, you are giving them as much of your attention as possible. In my opinion, this is what ‘emergency remote teaching’ is all about. Nurturing, not only our students but...

March is here! It’s time to start thinking about how to bring St. Patrick’s Day into our schools and classes. Needless to mention how important this date is when we talk about cultural aspects of the English language. After all, many English-speaking countries celebrate it. Therefore, many schools and teachers in Brazil – and in other parts of the world - try to immerse their students in a St. Paddy’s experience. Well, at least they should… I told a fellow teacher I had been writing this post and she...

The musical hit series Glee aired between 2009 and 2015. I remember watching it and thinking to myself: “What a wonderful and necessary series!”. Like most of Ryan Murphy’s work, there’s a lot of representation in it. And the fact that it focuses on teenagers making through high school makes it even more special as this was the target audience of the show. Last vacation I had the chance to spend some days off with my family and had a lot of contact with my 14-year-old niece. When I...

As 2020 begins, teachers all around the world get ready to receive their students for a new term, and I am no different.. As I write, I am enjoying my last days of the summer break, and yet I am already mentally planning how I can make my school year the best one again. That means deciding which practices I would like to include in my professional routine, and which ones I should adapt or eliminate from my daily lesson planning. Then, at the beginning of January, I decided...

It’s expected that experienced teachers’ classes will be more peaceful and freer of problems than novices’. But let’s be honest: no matter how long you’ve been working in ELT (English Language Teaching), there will always be difficulties, since we are dealing with people. That alone already means facing the unexpected on a daily basis, not to mention the extra unpredictability commonly seen among groups of teenagers. So yes, there are issues which will always be there. Above all: indiscipline. At times we have our classes observed, and we panic...

It goes without saying that teachers of teenagers often worry about how fun and dynamic classes must be so as to keep students engaged and motivated. So pervasive is this concern among professionals who teach youngsters that we sometimes tend to disregard the importance of taking into account the quieter and shyer students in our classes. Before suggesting how teachers can deal with shy students in the classroom, we would like to talk a little bit about shyness. Heitz, D. (2019) explains that ‘shyness is a feeling of fear...

It’s the beginning of a new term. You’re chosen to teach an upper-intermediate/advanced group. You’re excited to meet your new students, you plan a welcome activity so as to start off with the right foot. You enter the room, start the class and ask your new students to introduce themselves. And suddenly one particular student starts speaking. Their pronunciation is nearly flawless, they use a wide range of vocabulary and demonstrate control of simple and complex grammatical forms. And one inevitable thought crosses your mind: “This student speaks...

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,...

One of the biggest concerns among teachers who work with teenagers is that they seem to be demotivated most of the time. It’s often said that teenage students don’t participate in classes so enthusiastically or don’t show interest in the activities. While that may be true, it will rarely happen to the whole group. Even so, we worry a lot with those who are not interacting so much; or at least not the way we expected them to. The first and foremost aspect to be considered is the fun...

Monday, 6 p.m., the sun peeking through the blinds in the brick and mortar language school building in Brazil. The teacher enters the room carrying a bag of props, flashcards, and her tape recorder. The recorder being to her as precious as a map to a Geography teacher: “Hi, John Peter! How are you today?” asked the teacher in a high-pitched voice. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” replied the monotoned student. The automatic, “I’m fine, too,” followed. “So… Let’s begin! Open your books to page 50,” she continued while rewinding and...

Students’ real-world contact with English plays hands down a more realistic role in the development of their skills, rather than the few hours they spend in the classroom. Taking this into account, it is high time teachers worked as mediators between learners and their (desirable) daily exposure to the language. But is it enough to just tell students to do something at home, such as “listen to songs in English more often” or “watch films and series with original audio and English subtitles”? We don’t think it is. So,...

Have you ever changed your lesson plan (or part of it) halfway through due to students’ lack of engagement? And have you ever regretted changing it because students asked you to do something different in class? If you answered yes for both questions, you face the same dilemma that we do; which is how much of the lesson plan it is fine to adapt in order to please our students’ imminent needs. Let’s face it: English isn’t generally taken so seriously by students (and their parents) as much as other...

Before I start this post, I must warn you: this was NOT written by someone who has great expertise on this area. It was elaborated by someone who, like many other teachers, have an inquisitive mind and a wish to make students’ language-learning path a bit less of a bumpy ride. I am also not a specialist, and if you came here looking for universal answers, I’m afraid you’ll end up with even more questions. I am a big nerd, that’s what I am. But enough of me. I was...

Curiously, I have posted a variation of this article on a blog I used to update, almost 10 years ago. Unfortunately the question is still up to date. In recent years, one of the main discussions in the educational business has been about finding the proper ways to face the growing need to move from print materials, and traditional pure face-to-face learning to a situation with more digital online content and self-instruction, self-paced learning, flipped classroom, etc. We currently live in a world where students have instant access to content...

Taking the DELTA has changed me as a teacher in many ways, but I believe that it has most influenced the way I perceive and teach listening. I first came across the term ‘decoding’ when my dear tutor Melissa Lamb from IH London introduced me to John Field’s book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’. Later on, I came across Richard Cauldwell’s brilliant book ‘A Syllabus for Listening – Decoding’. This is the second post inspired by these brilliant minds which have also shaped me as a teacher and...

When the subject is teaching teenagers, there is always a cloud hanging over teachers’ heads. This cloud has a name and it is quite a familiar one: behaviour. As a rule of thumb, when we have a couple of teenagers together in one room, there will eventually be distraction, standing up, talking (or yelling), paper airplanes flying around, among other “issues”. Having these things in mind, in this post I am willing to share five tips that have helped me a lot throughout my career as a teacher. Build...

In a coaching process, nothing is more effective and powerful than a coaching dialogue, profitable conversations prompted by the coach that can truly impact the coachee's results. These compelling chats are usually guided by questions based on a coaching model such as GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Will), for example: Goal: What is your goal? Why is it important to you? Reality: What is happening now? On a scale of 1-10, where are you regarding this goal? What have you done so far to achieve the goal? What resources do you have and which...

The last month of March has been significantly special for me. The month of my birth, filled with excitement I was carrying with me, conducting a special project to celebrate International Women's Day. Me and other two partners invited ten women from the ELT community and we asked other 9 (my partners included) to write articles talking about their lives. Those posts were compiled and a magazine was born. The use of this magazine to engage my students is the topic of this post. Teaching teenagers in advanced levels brings some...

Before we start, click on the player above and enjoy this song while you enjoy your reading! I guarantee it will make the experience a lot more fun! :) Some years ago, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg said he thought the superhero film genre would die out. Much has been said about the possible downfall of this movie genre. However, Captain Marvel is already a massive box office hit and all the hype revolving around the release of upcoming Avengers: Endgame has got people really eager to see what the...

What is your passion when it comes to teaching EFL? Is it one of the four skills [listening, speaking, reading or writing]? One of the four systems [pronunciation, lexis, grammar or discourse]? Teaching YLs or teens? Methodology, perhaps? Teacher training? - Hard to pick one, right? Well, I'll do it anyways! I'll start with Listening - why is it one of my many passions? Because of the challenge it presents teachers with: we cannot enter our learners' ears to check what they are actually understanding. For this reason, I'm starting a...

Recently the school where I work has implemented Google Classroom for most of the groups, in order to promote a broader and more consistent interaction with learners, as well as make communications between students and teacher faster and more effective. As a tech enthusiast myself, I celebrated the achievement along with my peers at the branch, specially because we knew the impact this would have on the students’ tangibilization of progress. Mind you, I have the utmost respect for students who are able to keep their studies organized...

Most of us cannot watch a film or an episode of our favourite series without trying to identify scenes that could be used in our lessons, right? Even if we just want to Netflix and chill, it just seems to be hardwired in our brains. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of my favourite quotes from some of my favourite films and TV series, to check how they apply to the English teaching context. “You know nothing, Jon Snow” (Ygritte, Game of Thrones) No matter how much...

When I was teaching teenagers, I frequently discussed online safety.  Cyberbullying, phishing scams and the typical 419 Nigerian prince scam were among our class topics and we would laugh hard at the absurd grammar errors in the spam email letters. However, I have recently learned that the gross grammar errors and the far-fetched stories featured in the 419 letters are actually meant to attract the most vulnerable and gullible and to repel those who are less likely to fall for a scam. So, it seems that scammers are...

As a teacher, I have often resorted to different methodologies and activities to make students more interested in my class. However, lately I have been curious about the learning processes of a language and I have been eager to understand in depth how especially teenagers go through such processes. Consequently, the following question has popped up: what if we can boost students’ language acquisition by sparking something in their brains? Much has been studied and said about neuroscience and how the brain takes in a language, but I have...

So, February and March have arrived, and with it groups have been assigned to many teachers around Language Schools. Let me tell you about my groups! I am so happy with what I have got, specially because I have been studying hard to deal with young teenagers, and this semester seems like the perfect opportunity to apply what I have been learning around. There’s this one group in particular which I am over the moon with, and they are the main topic of my post today! I believe what...

Since we are at the beginning of a new term or school year, we like reading articles and posts that are going to be useful. As you know, gamification is the new in-thing, so I will provide 3 ways of using edutainment in your classroom. A paramount point to be taken into consideration, entertainment wise, is that, if it is misused (wrong or unclear purposes) it can trigger parents and/or supervisor’s complaints, or even worse, students might not see the point of the task or might even not learn anything...

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 worked in ELT for about a decade and, therefore, I have delivered hundreds of reading lessons. It is undeniable that many textbooks authors have been doing their best to come up with interesting and relevant topics that work wonders to introduce grammar and vocabulary. However, I often feel that part of our job as teachers is to always put ourselves in the students’ positions. For this reason, I frequently ask myself: “If I were a student, would I enjoy reading this text?” And truth be told,...

I’d like to start this post with Maya Angelou’s beautiful statement: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a subscriber to MET (Modern English Teacher), I received the October 2018 issue at home this month. Their articles cover a wide range of topics as you can see from its cover: [caption id="attachment_8235" align="alignnone" width="539"] MET magazine October 2018[/caption] One article, in particular, drew my attention: Promoting gratitude among learners by Jeffrey Dawala...

As many teachers get ready to start a new professional year, I believe we tend to let anxiety take the best of us. According to the site “How Stuff Works”, teaching is the fourth most stressful job, since we “have to be well-prepared every day”, we take a lot of work home, and have to deal with both students and sometimes parents. It is a lot of work indeed, which may leave us questioning our career choice, or our hopes and dreams for the future. Since I truly believe...

As a musician myself, I have always loved working with songs in my English classes. And a lot of teachers I know also love doing so. But we usually use the entire song and its lyrics, and this can be a problem in early levels, as we will rarely be able to find a song whose lyrics completely match the vocabulary and knowledge of early levels’ students. So, how can we use songs without the frustration of having to explain things that are far too advanced (or inappropriate) to...

If you have been teaching teens for the past years you have probably noticed how attached they are to their mobiles or tablets. To say that they love technology is an understatement. Playing video games, watching TV series and films or listening to music are some of the usual activities they perform in their free time and they all involve technology. But technology is not the only thing they are interested in. Take, for instance, teenagers who practise sports or even go to a dance school. Would it not...

“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...

When teaching private classes, one may inevitably have to teach adults. The method in which adults learn, called andragogy, is a lot less talked about when compared to pedagogy, the way children learn. Not surprisingly, the word pedagogy rings many bells whilst andragogy is an unknown term by many. Teachers focused on adult learning would undoubtedly yield better results by appropriating teaching techniques in line with andragogy. In this article I share and explore 4 principles that strike a chord with my experience as an ELT  professional and are...

Earlier this month I mentioned to a dear colleague that I started my teaching career as a part-time job just to make ends meet. What is also true is that it did not take me long to quit everything I was doing at the moment and dedicate myself full-time to the profession. Little did I know that seven years later, two serendipitous encounters would show me that the inclusive classroom had chosen me even before I figured that out. The first one happened in 2016 when I received a...

Along the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to deliver trainings for fellow teachers who were about to take on teenage groups. The number of teachers who show some sort of insecurity and vulnerability in teaching learners aged 12 to 18 is high. And when asked to give reasons, the answers are frequently the same: “Well, teenagers are bad-tempered and misbehave”. “Oh, they’re lazy.” “They stress me out!” “Teens are obsessed with their smartphones.” “They tend to be too absent-minded.”   While it is true that depending...

As a child, I was a tech enthusiast. Born in 1980, I am an active member of a lucky generation which could see the evolution of computers from gigantic monsters which could occupy an entire building so as to produce what we know today as a very limited amount of data, to micro technology,which enables us to store virtually anything in a “cloud” of information. When I started teaching, back in the last century (phew, I AM getting old), rooms were constituted of a blackboard, chalk, chairs and books,...

When we ask learners what they like most about school, their usual response is ‘Nothing’, ‘My friends’, ‘Going home’, and few of them come up with a teacher or a subject that they actually enjoy. One of the possible reasons why learners are disengaged from their schooling is because they see no real purpose in what they learn there in relation to their future lives or employability prospects. They usually go to school because they have to and they have to pass the ‘Vestibular’ or ‘ENEM’. Another intriguing aspect...

How often do you revisit and reexamine your beliefs about teaching and learning and about yourself as a teacher? It is easy to find fault in other people's beliefs or practices: “So and So still operate with the concept of X. Don't they know research shows no evidence it works?”; “How can anyone still use the Y methodology in the 21st century, when our students are so different from decades ago?”; or even “There goes So and So again on and on about the latest teaching fad with...

Back in 2011 I was invited to write the general introduction to a series of books for PNLD (Programa Nacional do Livro Didático), a Brazilian government programme that, as most of you may know, distributes books for public schools. It was a detailed introduction, which had to thoroughly explain the concept behind the book and how the authors beliefs about foreign language learning were represented in the series. At that time, I was not aware that writing this introduction would change my views about language learning forever. In 2014...

Translanguaging is a term that was first coined in 1994 as trawsieithu (translanguaging in Welsh) by Welsh researcher Cen Williams in order to refer to the processes in which English and Welsh were used for different reasons and purposes in the same class. For example, students would read or listen to content in English and talk about it in Welsh. Ofelia Garcia made the term more popular in her book Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective (2009) and later in Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education...

 Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore’s article Welcome to the Experience of Economy has on its opening page the following statement: “As goods and services become commoditized, the customer experiences that companies create will matter most.” (Pine and Gilmore, 199:97) and much in  the same way, it is a positive experience  that learners also seek in our classrooms. This ‘economy experience’ concept (Pine and Gilmore, 1998) is not limited to a specific area but it ranges from going to an amusement park at the weekend and having fun, to classes...

The most important single characteristic of the flipped classroom is the fact that classroom time is not used for content presentation, but rather for group discussions about students' findings and further investigation. So, going back to the two questions I’ve asked on my first post, on the 6th of June, I believe we already have an interesting answer to the first question. (What to do? Flip the classroom.) But we still need ideas on how to start the journey. A good way to start flipping your classes is to...

Last month I had a rather uncomfortable experience when one of my blog lessons was shared with a group of teachers. The vexation occurred when I got to know that the lesson was being shared without the credits. The topic of the lesson was about the trucker’s strike that took place in May here in Brazil. Thus, let me describe how the preparation took place: First of all, I decided that it was of paramount importance that my young adult students (advanced / 15-18) were more aware of what had...

As promised, I am here. If anyone doubted me, doubt no longer. And I am here to talk about listening, just as I promised in my last blog piece. And, just like last week, we are going to have a story. Who doesn't like a good story? Everyone loves a story, from your baby nephew to your great granny. It's one of the things that defines as humans. Let me tell you a story. I can't promise that it will be a good story, but it is a true...

Just like many readers of this blog, I was born and raised in the pre Google era. Actually, I am not sure there really is such a historical division, but I truly recommend one for those studying history. The world has dramatically changed after Google, and these changes have affected a lot of areas, including education. Back in the days before Google, for example, we would need an expensive encyclopedia (a set of 20, or more, large, thick volumes) to do our school researches and homework. So, yes, in...

It goes without saying that vocabulary is one aspect language acquisition that plays an important role when learning one mother’s tongue, let alone a foreign language. I have often had learners saying that they can fairly get by grammatical structures and the real factor holding them back is how to put words within this lexical construct. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula through which one can get by learning new lexis, being it from the word level to the sentence level; however, memory seems to be one key element...

At the beginning of a new semester, learners are usually excited to get started, enthusiastic about learning and with high hopes of finally achieving that much sought-after fluency. As the course unfolds, so does life: learners have to juggle work, school and their own personal lives, coping with everything at the same time. And as that happens, one of the most common comments I hear from my learners is that they wish they had (more) time to study English, do homework, listen to podcasts, watch the news, you...

I plan all the lessons I teach, but I don’t teach all the lessons I plan. The initial idea for this one was not mine; I found it online. I was looking for different ways to review past modals of speculation for an FCE prep group. Having a group filled with teenagers, ages ranging from 13 to 16, I wanted something cool to use for a TTT (test-teach-test) approach that would eventually culminate in… past papers. Oh, woe. A fellow teacher had posted a suggestion online: why not use a...

This year, 2018, is a landmark. Schools across the globe, from kindergarten to high school, starting this year, have now only students from the Generation Z. That is, young people in school age were all born in the 21st Century. That brings us the need to understand this generation, the way they act, the way they behave, the way they see the world around them and think. There are some remarkable differences in the mindsets of these young people compared to the ones from other generations. I will only point out some that...

“Learners have storied selves that cannot be dissociated from their selves in the classroom, so they are encouraged to share their stories and experiences during ordinary pedagogic activities. Naturally, these interactions help us all --- myself included, connect with one another.” Teresa Carvalho (2017) Magical. This is what many teachers want their lessons to be. I have had some truly magical moments in my classes, but what do I mean by magical moments? Just picture your all your students --- and yourself included, sharing your stories and listening to...

Williams and Burden (2010: 202) beautifully state that “Language classrooms in particular need to be places where learners are encouraged to use the new language to communicate, to try out new ways of expressing meanings, to negotiate, to make mistakes without fear, and to learn to learn from successes and failures. Emotionally, a suitable environment for language learning should be one that enhances the trust needed to communicate and which enhances confidence and self-esteem”.  In order to create such an environment, one possible approach would be to foster...

That is it, I am talking about those instructional devices that can be used in the classroom to encourage teaching and learning. Charts, slips of paper, film strips, series, videos, images, maps, etc. Learning is not a simple process. It is said to be the change in behaviour, disposition and even personality brought by knowledge over the time. It is even more complex when we focus on different types of people, therefore different learning styles, and it can be acquired from different teaching styles, methods and approaches and the use...

A very controversial issue that I always come across in discussions related to English-language-teaching is whether pre-teaching is recommendable. Most discussions I’ve seen revolve around the pre-teaching of vocabulary before a reading or listening. On the one hand, pre-teaching of key vocabulary allows students to tackle the task more easily and reduces their anxiety. On the other hand, it is not a very natural activity, as in the real world we are not pre-taught the vocabulary in texts that we read or listen to We need to learn...

Power To The Music              It is funny how people (students) may instantly think of CCR’s ‘Have you ever seen the rain?’ when you start off a conversation with the chunk ‘Have you ever Blahed?’. Have you ever (seen the rain? - lol) stopped and thought how powerful music can be in terms of learning opportunities? I bet you have, though. As I see it, music is what comes through my ears and touches my heart. In that sense here lies a powerful tool through which mankind has evolved with. Not only...

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...

When I earned my degree in Linguistics from college many years back, the only thing I had in mind was continuing teaching English and preparing my own materials. At the time it seemed to be a sensible thing to do. So, I kept teaching one-on-one classes for many years and I enjoyed every bit of it. I was committed to helping my students, some of whom I taught for many years. Nonetheless, I felt that I was missing out on something. I took courses, I read books, I...

  "And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back." Robert Frost (1874-1963) It's the beginning of the semester and you are still getting to know your group of 10-year-olds. You have only just begun to set the ground rules for the group and you are still in doubt whether you should assign them homework or do the first homework assignments together in class so that they...

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain...

Well, I have been discussing assessment for sometime now, discussing from Young Learners characteristics, general assessment types to specific ones that cater for young learners. Now, it’s important to understand how all the information presented can be put together within the framework of children’s course. In my reality, young learners’ lessons are very dynamic and communicative, most of the times with teachers meeting the children at the reception area and still outside the class, checking the weather with them and then going into the class where they normally start by...

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...

I’m finally done with my research project. And with my writing, too. While it was an exhausting enterprise, it was also incredibly self-fulfilling. Most people tend to think that research is about collecting data and statistics. A lot of people look at research as if it was conducted by a team of experienced academic researchers committed to finding naked, plain truth. It’s not. Or rather, it shouldn’t be. In his article entitled “The Uselessness of Certainty,” Physicist Carlo Rovelli claims that “the very foundation of science is to...

I was reading about an interesting initiative called The Empathy Museum that is coming to my hometown (you can find out more about it here) and caught myself thinking about the times I put my foot in my mouth. Then, new windows opened in my mind’s browser and I started wondering about the (probably many) times I might have failed to notice I had done that. I know this may sound a bit gloomy, but bear with me. This is essentially an optimistic post. You see, just like everyone...

So, it’s your first class with a group of beginner 12-ish year-olds. You just leaf through the course book and teacher’s guide because all the class is about is the verb to be and adjectives. You know the drill: a couple pages filled with yes-no questions and perhaps a list of cities and countries that might require some work on pronunciation. Oh, and there may be a tic-tac-toe or perhaps a suggestion of musical chairs towards the end of the lesson. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. Right?...

This is the 3rd and final part of my two previous posts entitled "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". In a nutshell, while Part I describes how I managed to establish and sustain rapport with a group of teenagers - whom I hadn't taught for years on end - Part II is an account of how insightful a somewhat complicated situation turned out in the end. If you haven't read my previous posts (there's really no need for it, if you're pressed for time), here are some important details...

Exploratory Practice: "It is an indefinitely sustainable way for classroom language teachers and learners, while getting on with their learning and teaching, to develop their own understandings of life in the language classroom. It is essentially a way for teachers and learners to work together to understand aspects of their classroom practice that puzzle them, through the use of normal pedagogic procedures (standard monitoring, teaching and learning activities) as investigative tools." https://www.letras.puc-rio.br/unidades&nucleos/epcentre/index.htm It was the first day of class after a two-week winter break and I wanted to do something other...

If so, how has it helped you to know your learners better? And furthermore, how has it benefitted your learners’ experience? Going back to the two perspectives explored on my last post (richmondshare.com.br/its-time-to-start-over/), here are some of the choices I have made so far: Leaving our comfort zone I have been working mainly with peer observation. It has proven to be a powerful tool not only to foster both cohesiveness and trust among teachers, but also to shed a light on aspects of our teaching that we cannot perceive on...

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...

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...

Scarcella and Oxford (1992) mention that ‘a learner will basically need to develop competences in order to become proficient in an L2 – grammatical competence, socialinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence.’ I bet that at the some point of your teaching career you have come across that student who wants to learn only to speak English. Little do they know that there is a lot more to it than meet the eyes. By the same token, some teachers might consider developing Speaking Skills a challenge, especially if they are...

Below is a follow-up to one my post entitled Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Part I",  which went online precisely on March 3, 2016. In it, I attempted to describe how terrified I was by the prospect of having to teach a group of kids exiting childhood and stepping into the much dreaded adolescence, at least in the eyes of a large number of teachers, parents, coordinators and educators of all sorts who are somewhat in charge of not letting things get out of hand. The account I am...

In my experience as a CELTA tutor, many candidates arrive on the first day having read and researched about what to do in the course (if you don't know what the CELTA is, by the way, you can find more about it by watching this webinar or by checking out Cambridge's official website). There are plenty of blogs and videos out there telling you about what books to buy, what CCQs are, how to teach receptive and productive skills and all sorts of other things. This is all very helpful of...

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...

A couple of years ago, Damian Williams wrote a post explaining why he doesn't like teaching idiomatic expressions. I wrote a response to that, as I strongly disagreed with him. However, a recent conversation with another teacher made me rethink that a bit. Here's the situation: I have two private students, both of whom work for multinational companies. One of them works for a German company, the other for a Dutch company. As you'd expect, English is the international language used for communication between workers but, and this is...

I am sure every one of us teachers have, at least once in your lives, come across this question: “Teacher am I fluent? Because my boss said, I have to be fluent in order to get that promotion, or to participate in that conference, or to present that meeting, or to travel to the headquarters of the company I work for, etc.”. What do you answer, then? I often find myself trying to explain the difference between accuracy and fluency and however hard I try, my students oftentimes have...

How many of us have heard learners expressing the wish ‘I want to be fluent in English’? But then, what does it mean to be fluent? As the title suggests, I truly believe in walking through life with our ears wide open, and there is one belief that has permeated my teaching over the years: the importance of triggering learners’ curiosity towards language and its genuine use in various contexts. As a learner myself, I have always wondered how to become fluent in another language. Naturally, when I started teaching, I...

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...

Our humanity is expressed through our stories. More than ever before educators are in the look for different ways to engage their students by telling their own pieces of stories each class they meet their students, but they are also aiming to help their learners to tell their own stories. By doing that, a transformative type of teaching tend to come on the scene.  A deeper connection among everyone in the classroom starts to emerge with learning in the intersection of emotions, people, content and context. Magic happens then. Just this week, I came...

“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...

If you had been my student at around 2010 on of your complaints would have been that I never used songs in my lessons. Earlier in my career I used songs quite frequently, in that gap-fill let's-kill-some-time kind of way. However, as I became more experienced, I realised that this kind of activity is not very useful. As I had no idea how to actually use songs appropriately I decided to simply stop using them. Fast-forward to a few years later, when my colleagues and I had just come...

Much has been written and said about tests. A lot of teachers, students, and parents don’t see the point of tests, especially when all tests do is test discrete items of grammar and vocabulary , especially when it comes to summative tests, which assess what students have learned over a period of time. I myself don’t believe in the predictive value of tests, either. I don’t think effective test takers are  more likely to achieve success in their lives. Many other factors impact one’s professional life: Interpersonal skills and problem solving...

Pensar é algo natural para todos nós.  Segundo a Wikipedia, é uma faculdade do nosso sistema mental através da qual modelamos o mundo para nele podermos transitar e agir segundo a nossa vontade. Pensar vem de fábrica, ou seja, é grátis. Por esse motivo, não se aprende a pensar. Se é assim, por quê então ainda vemos tanta gente por aí dizendo que você só será fluente em um idioma quando conseguir pensar nele? O SENSO COMUM Ainda outro dia, estava eu a observar uma professora em uma turma de...

Faster! Faster! I have to be able to speak English faster! If I start classes with you now, when am I going to be fluent? – says almost every student we have ever had. We’ve been living in a so-called Information Era and that speeds everything up, so let’s take a look from a more holistic point of view, shall we? As anyone born and raised in Minas Gerais state, I grew up around many popular sayings and I remember one of them said “when you go to work,...

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...

Why do my students participate in my classes? This is the question I asked myself when I first met this group of twenty s teenagers age 15-16 years old. From day one, they took part in the activities and spoke English most of the time. I was puzzled. How come? We meet at the end of the afternoon twice a week.  I’ve been teaching at my language school for ten years now and I’ve had some very nice groups and students I’ll never forget. This group is one of...

Not long ago I read a blog post in Edutopia  by Jason Deehan about whether venting about students should be banned. What motivated the author to write the post was the fact that he had come across a comment about a school that discouraged teachers from venting about their students because they felt that it was a matter of respect, of not talking about students behind their back. At first, he was shocked about the idea, for venting is a teacher staple just like drinking too much coffee....

  “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...

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...

It goes without saying that we live in a world which is bombarded by information. I am not saying that is all bad, however, for some this may be too much, too soon and too frightening. This fast-moving evolution of information technology has brought about a new sort of ‘society’ which seeks for a full range of perspectives and interests. That is exactly when RLE (Real Learning Environment) and VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) collide. Unfortunately, the so-called ‘cloud’ does not seem to be 9 for everyone, especially if...

The other day I came across a box of notes written by my students at the end of term. During a while I used to systematically ask for feedback from my students and I had a lesson ready for that for all the levels and age groups that I taught, from young learners to adults. The very last activity was the feedback note, which my students wrote both in Portuguese and in English, whichever language they felt more comfortable with. They were free not to sign their notes...