As the end of the year approaches, several students, teachers, school managers and parents may be coming to the conclusion that what was done and learnt throughout the year, or the term, was not enough. In other words, some students will fail their courses. And so, what happens next? How to deal with failure? For obvious reasons, I’ll just deal with ELT here, but the “arguments” may well apply to other school subjects. First of all, I believe that depending on which hat you are wearing, you might see...

We are constantly becoming more and more visual. Our social media communication includes sharing images. We share pictures, we comment on pictures, we like pictures. It's all very simple and immediate. Using picture books with small children is a way in which they can use simple language communication skills. They can simply like, share and or comment on the picture and infer meaning. That being said, we don't need to limit topics to simple children's books. We can use pictures from newspapers and magazines as well. Children can infer meaning,...

'To Sir, with Love' was perhaps the most watched and the most loved movie in my teenage years. The East London high school teacher who gave up on the school textbooks to teach his rowdy, disruptive students about life, was every teenage kid's hero. I've just come across  the website below, which  offers a glimpse of some of the best inspirational teacher movies. Obviously, 'To Sir, with Love' tops the list. https://movies.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/Inspirational-Teachers.htm However, life is not that obvious. Neither are people. Students come in all shapes and sizes; as much...

The 9th grade students at Colégio A. Liessin recently had a lesson to revise parts of the body. Students were familiar with most of the words as they start learning them in kindergarten through the famous song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. Our challenge was to find a way to make students practise vocabulary already known with new words presented in the lesson (calf, shin, heel and some others). As the Olympic Games are coming, we had the idea to ask students to create a sport using two or...

Just a minute, let me think![1]   The first decision I had to make regarding this post was if I wanted to write in Portuguese or in English. That was because it is based on a three-question survey I conducted with my last year high school students (3o ano do Ensino Médio) where I work and where the lessons are taught in Portuguese. I decided to write it in English in the end as this was one the suggestions made by part of the students: having lessons in English.   In this...

I´m a mother of teens. As a mother, it is almost unavoidable to ask too many questions, and to my despair getting monosyllabic answers. The story goes more or less like this, "So how was school today?" "OK". And sometimes the most I can get is, "boring as always". Well, being a teacher, this questioning mindset simply doubles! By observing classes for the past few years, I came to realize that we teachers have this question system ingrained in us. Many times we consider that a pre-listening activity and post-listening...

Hi everyone! This month I address a difficult topic – shame. Shame is a tabooed emotion. Yet, teachers and students commonly mention shame and shameful experiences. For teachers, the question is: do you contribute to the transmission of shame? Can we experience healthier teacher-student interaction: one marked by dignity rather than shame? Shame is painful and expressed in body language, as blushing, sweating or the lowering of the eyes or face. “A feeling of shrinking such as one could ‘sink through the shame’, a desperate desire to hide oneself” (Fuchs,...

Many times when hearing story, students will not understand every word being spoken. Many times students can deduce the meaning from the context of the story. They might ask about a word, or a phrase in order to understand the situation presented in the storyline. Sometimes it's necessary to adapt language in order to be understood by the audience. Another option is to explain the situation or happenstance in other words. Story telling is about real life using real language. I find it hard to tell a story using...

In these last years, while writing my M.A. thesis, I've come to recognize the power of learning through stories. As a narrative researcher, now I understand that by telling our stories we educate not only ourselves, but give others the chance to make meaning of their own stories through ours (Connely and Clandinin, 2000). The little story I wish to share here is the story of a teacher who enrolled for an online course wishing to learn more about educational design and at the same time, to observe how...

Picture the scene: There I was, a shy 13-year-old boy, dressed in an itchy, ill-fitting school uniform in the middle of a German language class. Our teacher, Mrs. Dawson, a strict woman who ruled the classroom with an iron fist, is going round the class calling out people to read chunks of a text out loud, in German. Nothing could be more embarrassing for a nervous teenager in the throes of adolescence than having to read out a short passage (badly) in another language to a room full...