"Novices become acquainted with activities not only from their own and others' attempts to define what transpires in an activity, but also from how those participating in the activity respond to them." Elinor Ochs, in "Becoming a Speaker of A Culture." (2002) I have just read Elinor Ochs’ article entitled ‘Becoming a Speaker of a Culture,’ a contribution to the book ‘Language Acquisition and Language Socialization --- Ecological Perspectives,’ edited by Claire Kramsh (Continuum, 2002).  In her chapter, Elinor Ochs offers some very interesting insight into Second Language Acquisition theory. Elinor Ochs is an...

          Or "When Pre-Teens First Meet the Dreaded Older Male Teacher" Based on a true story. When I thought about writing this post, thinking back to the time when I first started teaching was unavoidable. I was quite young, in my early 20's, when I was asked to teach some groups of children whose ages ranged from 8 to 12 years old. What an experience that was! I had enough energy to keep up with their franctic pace and made sure my lessons were filled with a...

This week I came across the photo below on different friends’ timelines:   Under the photo you read: ‘The perfect place for a cell phone while classes take place!’ Reactions to the photo varied. Some of these friends thought this was a good idea. Some, on the other hand, criticised it. Two of these comments caught my eye. In one, you read ‘What a sad scene’ and in another, responding to this comment, you had ‘They haven’t understood it yet.’ I was intrigued by the word ‘they’. I believe the person who...

"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 few days ago, a former classmate of mine sent me the saddest Facebook message, “They are turning off Helimar's life support.” Deep breath. Helimar was our Portuguese teacher. He taught my group at years 3, 5, and 8, if memory serves me right. Somehow he knew how to deal with us at any age, no matter whether we were doing well or struggling, and everybody seemed to love him. My strongest memory of him is a fight for the adoption of a book. I was 8 or 9, and I took...

Those of us who teach adults in groups know all too well anxious adult learners are and how easily they can give up and seek other language learning experiences. When the reasons for giving up are not personal, they are sometimes attributed to the methodology adopted or the heterogeneity of the group. A recent personal experience has gotten me thinking about adults’ anxiety and what motivates them to embark on a learning experience and, most importantly, stick to it. I like working out and going to the gym, and...

I have recently embarked on a little adventure of leaving my language-centre-teaching comfort zone and teaching regular schools in the State Public School System. Little did I know how much ground one still needs to cover when facing such challenge. Especially, when you hear the utterances that give this text its very title. I have been around as an EFL Teacher at Cultura Inglesa SJDR for a while and (over)heard that such public school environment is not the ideal one to develop communicative abilities and the kind. Plus, there...

Todo estudante de língua estrangeira sonha com o tempo em que estará falando “fluentemente” o idioma escolhido. Dentre os principais mitos citados no artigo 7 conceitos de fluência e o que você deveria saber a respeito dela, um dos mais frequentes é o de que ser fluente significa falar sem pausas. E não é pra menos. UM RÁPIDO TESTE Façamos o seguinte teste: se você fosse professor de idiomas e um aluno, ao final de uma aula, lhe perguntasse de repente “professor, o que posso fazer para melhorar a minha fluência...

“In the dyad ‘language and culture,’ language is not a bunch of arbitrary linguistic forms applied to a cultural reality that can be found outside of language, in the real world.” Without language and other symbolic systems, the habits, beliefs, institutions, and monuments that we call culture would be just observable realities, not cultural phenomena. To become culture, they have to have meaning. It’s the meaning that we give to foods, gardens and ways of life that constitute culture.”                  ...

I had to substitute for a teacher who was going to attend a two-day course and this whole event triggered my thoughts. Well, how odd is it for a teacher to teach new very young learners’ groups in the end of the year? There are many issues to consider. From the perspective of the substitute teacher, there is the fear of having the kids not accepting you as their teacher as they are used to the class teacher who is absent for those days. There is also the fact that...

“Do a loony-goony dance 'Cross the kitchen floor, Put something silly in the world That ain't been there before.” ― Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic When I was 15 I was sleepy most of the time. I could barely stay awake during my first period classes and I remember tottering straight to my bed after school. In the afternoon, I couldn't make up my mind whether to start doing my homework or watching the afternoon movie on TV. In short, I was a typical teenager; it was hard to focus on school when...

One of the most common topics that come up in conversation when teachers talk about areas of their practice that need improvement is timing. Taking into account the large number of  actions that we need to take in order for lessons to be  effective. That is perfectly understandable. The way I see it, however, timing per se isn’t really the cause, but the consequence of classroom contingencies and decisions by the teacher. Should we be addressing the symptom rather than the cause? Here are some of the common reasons...

It's amazing how things happen in life. Learning English has always been a passion for me and this is what I want to pass on to my students, but we never know if this is actually achievable… Well, other day I was taking part in a social event when a woman, accompanied by her husband, approached me and asked for a minute of my time… I had recognised her as the mother of a student and immediately thought it would be a problem of some sort - no one...

Today's post is about giving negative feedback during pre-service teacher training courses for novice teachers. I am quite sure that a very large number of this blog’s writers – if not all of us – have, at one point or another, been involved with the difficult and highly demanding job of training teachers. Not only because of the broad knowledge of methodologies and teaching techniques the work of a teacher trainer involves, but also, and perhaps equally (and at times more importantly), the extraordinary ability to reassure trainee...

Hi everyone!  Last month I discussed multilevel classrooms. This month I share some ideas to I have done in class.  Jigsaw Reading A very interesting and challenging way for students to deal with a reading passage! Preparation: Choose a reading passage. Pre-teach vocabulary and grammar. Cut the reading into 3-4 or more parts, depending on size. Make copies if you have more students than parts of text. In-Class: Distribute the parts of text among students. Each student reads their part silently to themselves. High-level students should receive the more challenging parts. Mid-level students should...

By no means is this post intended to teach techniques or activities to teachers working with older students on a one-on-one basis. As suggested in the title, I have written this article with the sole purpose of sharing some insights and reflections I have gathered from over eight years' experience teaching this target group of students. For reasons of brevity, I will not compare the well-known differences across the teaching of the language to children, adolescents, younger adults and older ones. Rather, I will limit myself to making...

If you look up the word ´mantra´ in a dictionary, you will probably come across one of two defintions. Firstly, it can be a sacred verbal formula used in Hinduism, which is repeated in prayer or meditation. Or secondly, it is a commonly repeated word or phrase, which often becomes a truism, regardless of its validity. Both definitions can be applied to language teaching. I recently helped run a CELTA course here in Brazil. In the final fourth week of the course, I decided to ask the trainees what...

Hi! As a teaching consultant in public and private schools, I often hear teachers complain about problems in multi-level classrooms. With 30-40 students in class, they dream of smaller and leveled classes – something difficult to implement given the spacing logistics of breaking a group in three and having three teachers instead of just one for a class hour… I remind them that math, geography, art and history teachers deal with the same problem. Yet, I’m not very convincing - these other teachers do not face the foreign language barrier…. This brings...

I was giving a lesson the other day to a group of students on the topic of pet hates. The students had to make a list of their pet hates and then compare with their partner in order to find out if they had anything in common. I then asked the learners what some of their pet hates were. Traffic, queuing, rain, and warm beer all came up. And then one student said, "people who don´t listen". People who don´t, or who are incapable of listening is also one...

I believe it’s fair to say that one of the most important elements that contribute to the success of a lesson is certainly the amount of challenge learners are posed with. And when we think about challenge in a broad sense, we should certainly take into account the sources of language learners will be exposed to, what the target language to be worked with is, how student-centered the lesson has been designed to be, what we expect learners to produce, and motivated and engaged they are in the...

Hi! This month I want to finish sharing with you the remaining three teaching techniques I recently got to know as I searched the Internet for innovation. The idea is to create affordances in class so that students feel compelled to learn. Below I briefly refer to remaining three teaching techniques. The previous three were the topic of last month’s post. 4. Gamification: ‘Gamification’ is another way of saying learning through play - a class procedure effective at any age since it keeps students motivated. The use of games is usually considered appropriate...

Modeling language is, among a number of other teaching techniques, one of the first things the novice teacher needs to put a lot of effort and energy into in order to have a hand on, to say the least. In most pre-service teacher training courses I have taught several times at different institutions along many years, I have often been able to spot some aspects of the teaching of pronunciation that are frequently underplayed by teachers and need to be addressed, even with more experienced teachers and those...

Gone are the days when teachers were the sole source of knowledge. The Internet has revolutionised society by granting everyone access to the information, meaning that listening to a teacher talking on and on about a topic is not only unnecessary but actually rather boring. It is therefore inevitable that teachers reflect upon their role in the learning process, and one of the aspects that have to be considered is how much time is actually devoted to Teacher Talking Time (TTT) and Student Talking Time (STT). Last year, Dominic...

Hi! This month I want to share with you three teaching techniques I recently got to know as I searched the Internet for innovation. I wanted to provide more to my students. Although traditional teaching, with me in the lead role and students taking notes, is still important, I wanted to create affordances in class so that my students felt compelled to awaken their wish to learn. Below I briefly refer to three of the six teaching techniques I learned about. The other three will be the topic of next month’s post.   1. Flipped...

Hi Everyone! Have you ever wondered what you’d find out if you investigated your own classroom? Many English teachers may have never considered conducting research given the complexity of classroom events and the lack of accessible information on how to it. After all, research methods and results are usually only accessible to academics in university graduate courses or libraries. Knowing that access to research results not always reach teachers - the ones, in my opinion, most in need of understanding classroom phenomena, I invited former Master and Doctoral students, who had...

Although attempts to define ‘fluency’ and ‘accuracy’ when speaking a foreign language abound in the specialized literature, there still does not seem to exist a consensus regarding a single, ultimate definition of either one of the terms. One of the reasons which could partly explain the lack of common ground among authors is the very subjective nature of the two words in the context of learning/mastering a foreign language. Any given language is a complex structural system whose components include, but are not limited to, rules, vocabulary and pronunciation....

Recentemente, em minhas aulas na graduação e até com colegas na escola, discutíamos a estrutura escolar que muitas vezes precisamos enfrentar: turmas superlotadas, falta de infraestrutura mínima, salas de aulas precárias, falta de recursos (tecnológicos) etc. Na questão do ensino de língua inglesa, tivemos uma discussão bastante acalorada sobre dividir uma turma em níveis de conhecimento linguístico ou não. O assunto da discussão atual é delicado e tem dividido opiniões. Para tanto, vou expor minha opinião do porquê sou favorável à divisão de turmas por níveis. Até porque,...

ELT teachers are used to dealing with different students in the classroom. The literature on dealing with mixed-ability/mixed-level/mixed-age groups is not slim, with numerous articles on the matter having been published. Guaranteeing even participation of learners, however, is an constant challenge. Here are three ideas I try to bear in mind in the lessons I teach:   Make (more) room for pair work Especially after the Communicative Approach became ubiquitous, the image of students working in small groups has become more and more frequent in language lessons all over the...

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to observe around ten teachers each semester. These observations provide me with the chance to assess how effective our mentoring system and teacher induction sessions have been, as I typically observe teachers in their second semester at the institution. Methodologically speaking, most of the classes I observe are generally effective and there are only a few minor aspects to consider. However, if there’s one aspect that is recurrent in my observations and that some novice teachers have difficulty grasping, it’s the...

Dear all, From now on, I'll write about my journey to becoming an e-moderator in order to reflect upon it. I realized the way online courses have evolved and my online teaching experiences intertwine. Thus, you'll be able to accompany me in this journey to the past and to understanding what has been going on in this field for a while now. ...

Hi Everyone! Have you had an English teacher who inspired you or your learning? This is the question that Gabriela Cunha and I are posing to Brazilian students of English in public and private schools. The question, originally from the research by Martin Lamb and Martin Wedell (2015)[1] from the University of Leeds, is now to be answered by Brazilian students. I explain. Lamb and Wedell conducted a comparative research study on Indonesian and Chinese students’ perceptions about their English teachers to identify the inspiring aspects that had pushed them to...

Generally defined as the unnecessary use of a large number of words to express an idea - when fewer, more direct ones would do - circumlocution seems to bear a somewhat negative connotation. It is often frowned upon by literary critics who tend to attach greater value to a more pragmatic approach to writing. In the ELT world, however, this Latin-derived word, which means literally "around a speaking", holds a more privileged position: It is defined as a strategy learners make use of when they need words they...

My Portuguese grandfather was a globetrotter and, when he died, we inherited dozens of postcards from every city he had visited. I was the only one in the family who took some interest in the postcards and the beautiful places that I never thought I would have a chance to go to. However, I decided to turn those travels into my own experiences and I started writing on them to my imaginary English speaking readers. I reminisce about these things every time I come across old pictures and...

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...

The idea of writing this article first occurred to me after I read "Do instructions have to be that dull?", a great article by Rubens Heredia. The common ground between the lesson I describe below and his post might be that both deal with observing teachers teach. I believe we all agree that being either an observer or an observee is simply no easy task, especially when the lesson does not run as smoothly as one would have liked it to. By the way, this is just not...

February has come and we are all back to school again. So let’s talk about homework? For some years I have observed that a certain number of teachers have had difficulties setting and correcting homework for several reasons, from time management to lack of interest on the part of the SS. I have then started to think about the theme "homework" and made myself the following questions: What is the quality of the homework that is being assigned? Is the homework valuable and meaningful to students? Does the homework...

I was about to start this post, and had a totally different idea in mind. But then I couldn't miss sharing with you such interesting, simple and effective idea for the classroom with all resources already there, a click away. I've just come across this post "Interactive Learning Menus (Choice Boards) Using Google Docs" , which gives a practical idea of how to prepare a learning menu based on a Tic-Tac-Toe using Google Docs. The idea behind it, giving choice, control and autonomy to the learner is such a simple...

  This month's post is about different ways of learning, or learning styles, as some authors put it. It's also about why I believe they exist even when we totally ignore their existence. It is a controversial issue for many teachers, who have mixed feelings about it. Do Learning Styles really exist?  Are they just a myth? Most authors would agree that there is very little evidence of their existence, but when it comes to teaching, authors firmly believe that there's no 'right' or 'wrong' and that there are...

Instructions are an important part of every teacher’s life. They can either make or break our lessons, getting students in the best mood imaginable or sending them into a downward spiral of discontentment (has anyone ever heard students react with sighs of “reading again?”). How can we guarantee that the second doesn’t happen?  Imagine a teacher who has an elementary group of adults and wants to help his learners develop listening skills. Now look at the instructions that our imaginary and well-intentioned teacher delivered in one lesson to that...

Teaching adult beginner groups can be quite challenging, as most teachers (if not all)  who have such groups know. Each age group we teach has its specific challenges, and in my experience, when it comes to adult beginners the main challenges are time (they usually have little time to dedicate to English studying other than the time they spend in the classroom, since they have many other responsibilities and priorities. Many times they have trouble even coming to classes) and fear. Fear of making mistakes and making a...

                1. Une Tomate Rouge Less than a month ago I decided to take up French and I am already being faced with big challenges: I had assumed that languages close to your own in the language tree should not be too hard to learn, so I picked French since  both languages evolved from spoken Latin. However, less than a month into it and I have already changed my mind completely. Its phonological system is a nightmare; the /s/ at the end of words never made it into the spoken...

Last month, I wrote about the need for students to become autonomous learners, and the difficulty that most teachers face in developing such autonomy in them.  My students responded very well to the article, admitting that they hadn’t been investing as much time or effort as they should towards their goal of becoming proficient speakers of English someday.  I decided that the upcoming summer vacation could be a great opportunity for them to build an autonomous attitude, so I put together this detailed list of what they could...

Checking exercises is so deeply ingrained in our teaching practice that we seldom give it a thought. Asking students to report back after a small-group activity is also common practice ever since the boom of the communicative approach.  But are we making the best use of classroom time or could we just be doing it for the sake of habit? Just last week, I was talking to a teacher I know about a great lesson she had delivered when we caught ourselves discussing just that. It dawned on us...

As we come to the end of the year, our classes are also about to finish. Hence, the time for us teachers to start planning the end of the semester has come. We end up getting so busy organizing reviews, writing tests, testing and assessing students, writing reports and/or report cards, providing students with feedback on their work we sometimes forget to “give students opportunities to reflect on what they have learnt and experienced in the lesson/term/year” (Emma Gore-Lloyd, 2014). I first heard about the different phases of a...

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...

Robin MacClure starts her article “Unnecessary Parents” by saying that “the ultimate job of parents is to raise kids in a way so that they are not needed. In other words, parents should work themselves out of a job.” Well, I think that also applies to teachers, and especially to language teachers. Our goal should be to do our jobs so that, at some point, we are not needed. The point where, even before reaching full proficiency, students are able to learn on their own. In other words,...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="407"] Image via https://bit.ly/1xhLt5n[/caption] I stopped teaching English classes in 2009. I’d been teaching English for over 18 years and most of my students were elementary school kids (public and private). In that same year I started working online for an American company called Transparent Language, based in Nashua (New Hampshire). At first I wrote for their English, Spanish and Portuguese blogs (which I still do) – then an opportunity to teach online came up. I thought, “Well, it can’t be that bad. It’s fewer students, I...

Being a bit of a YouTube buff, myself, I’ve always been really keen on using videos with my students. So much interaction and such great ideas can come from just a couple of minutes (or even seconds) of audio-visual input! We often use movie snippets or interviews in order to bring the outside world into the classroom, but my favourite videos are the ones that became popular and accessible via video-sharing websites - those usually created by Internet users rather than the conventional media. These are the genres I particularly...

For the past year I've been interested and have intensely studied, researched and explored the Maker Movement. First, just out of curiosity as I was being fed through my Twitter stream (remember I mentioned in other posts how Twitter is still my number one source of inspiration and daily doses of professional development?). The feeling that the Maker movement just made total sense to any classroom got even stronger after attending Giselle Santos's presentation on the topic at the BRAZTESOL International Conference in João Pessoa. Fate or destiny, the...

More than words (or at least more than a language!)   I like to think I am more than a language teacher. Those who know me also know that I don’t say this because I think being a language teacher is a lesser job. Quite the contrary, to tell you the truth. I am very proud of it. But when I think about what I do with my students I can see so much more than (just) a language being developed in the classroom. See, more than a teacher I dare...

I was recently asked about the most innovative educational resource I have found online. After giving it some thought, I could only think of one website, GOOGLE DRIVE. More and more, Google Drive has become part of my daily life; when I organize my thoughts, when I write alone or collaboratively, when I create activities for students, when I correct writings turned in by students, when I save documents and so forth. And again, I ask myself, how can a website change so many procedures in some people's lives and...

As a teenager, I read anything I could lay my hands on; that included all sorts of literature: good and bad. It didn't matter as long as it was an interesting story ( from a young girl's perspective, I might say). As a young English language learner, I was lucky to study at an English language school with a  library and I remember browsing through all those graded readers while I waited for  class. However, there was a difference between me, the avid reader and me, the English learner:...

Last month, we looked at personalisation, guided discovery and raising awareness of sub-skills and strategies as ways to promote learner engagement (click here to check it out). Today, I’d like to share some more ideas on this topic, which I consider one of the most important, albeit challenging, in both lesson preparation and delivery. Reacting to content as well as language As teachers, we are so concerned with the learners’ linguistic development that we may easily fall into the trap of devoting exclusive attention to the words students use rather...

We all know how much students like sending instant messages and using Facebook and Whatsapp to interact with friends. So, why not use free social networking websites to practise language items? The idea sounds great but protecting our students' privacy is a priority at school. And that's absolutely right! Our aim was to have our 7th graders at Colégio A. Liessin Botafogo practise the use of linking words and the Present Perfect tense + vocabulary, such as physical appearance and expressions used when shopping for clothes, in a lively and fun...

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...

This post is a short account of two lessons I taught in 2002 which helped me to make sense of something I’d read about in the late 90s, but couldn’t get my head around. Not until then anyway. If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I’m a big believer in experiential learning (i.e., moving from concrete experience to abstract conceptualization rather than the other way around), so let me begin by describing the lessons first. That way you'll be better able to grasp the theory...

Hello everyone! This month, I’d like to share some of the results of a dissertation that investigated, through classroom observation and interviews, the oral narratives of four public and private-school teachers. Carolina Lima[1] wanted an answer to this difficult question: what underlies the decisions teachers’ make? In academia, making decisions or choosing a course of action is expressed with a fancy word – agency. In Applied Linguistics, its most recurrent definition is the socio-culturally mediated capacity to act, which means that our actions are modulated by the socio cultural environment...

O que você pensa sobre o uso da língua portuguesa nas aulas de inglês? Você é daqueles ou daquelas que o simples fato de soltar uma palavra em português durante a aula é algo abominável? Neste artigo apresento os argumentos a favor do uso prudente do uso da língua materna no ensino de inglês dentro de nosso país, onde nossos alunos falam português. Para começar, você sabia que esse mito de que a língua materna (LM) mais atrapalha do que ajuda vem das teorias e princípios dos métodos oriundos...

Something needs to happen to someone to make a story. How we tell that event is what makes or breaks the story. I love stories that begin " I remember ". That catch phrase for me, transports me to wherever the story teller is willing to take me. " I remember" validates a happenstance. " I remember" tells me it's true, or it was true, or it could somehow still be true. " I remember" could answer why questions, how questions, who questions, when questions...

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...

Hello again! It's good to be back after a short absence - a lot has happened since I last posted and I'll be writing about one those things here. I had the great fortune in June to be at a fabulous conference in lovely Cancun, Mexico. While I was there I was talking about the use of previous knowledge and meaningful learning, and focused in on all the previous knowledge that learners have in English of songs and particularly certain lines of songs. Like a dream come true, the night...

Hi everyone! Going to conferences is tiring but also refreshing. Tiring because submitting papers, filling out forms to leave the country and all the money to be invested can make you give up before you decide to go. But, when you face the paperwork and get there, it’s actually invigorating. Conferences provide the opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones, share what we’re doing, get to know what the big people are thinking and have an idea of the direction the field is taking. But my favorite pursuit...

I enjoy playing games in the classroom. And I know my students do too, especially the young learners and teenagers (even though teachers of adult students know that many times adults really enjoy playing games too.) I've recently bought a game called "Hit or Miss" to use with my students. The obvious main aim of the game is to review vocabulary, but I've thought of a couple of other pedagogical uses for it in the classroom. And I thought I'd share this game here, because I believe other teachers...

At the end of last year, the cup song was a total hit. Kids, boys and girls, were all doing the cup song and variations of such. There are videos on YouTube of individuals and groups doing the Cup Song. You can do it with one cup, many cups, one child or a group. There is rhythm, repetition and fun. Cup song was a phenomenon for the third grades up, however the younger kids have the classic clapping games. Patty cake and Little Bunny Foo Foo are classic examples. Finger...

Half of the year has gone but we still have some time for new ideas and projects till December comes. This month I´ll share with you a project developed with our 8th graders this year. One of the units in the coursebook we use deals with different kinds of schools and vocabulary related to learning and classroom language. Students, in general, find it interesting to contrast their own school and Brazilian school system to home schooling or boarding schools students in some other countries experience. Based on the topic of learning...

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...

#3: C is for Coursebooks Sadly, there are coursebooks whose job seems to be to perpetuate or reinforce stereotypes, like the one below. Happily, that’s not the case in mainstream publishing. Instead we have generic pap - UHT coursebooks aimed at everyone and landing nowhere. [caption id="attachment_1186" align="alignleft" width="314"] https://hongwrong.com/hong-kong-textbook/ via Ken Wilson on Facebook[/caption] ELT publisher seem to be a bit like political parties - all fighting for the same centre ground, coming up with policies (or products, in this case) which are designed to be inoffensive and look good....

Hi everyone! I was wondering about what I would share with you this month and, as I was rereading an old article, it came to me: group work. Some teachers, used to teacher-fronted classes, resist promoting group work afraid of losing control and of students learning something “wrong”. If you are one of them, remember that learning is not an overnight phenomenon. On the contrary, it is developmental and it takes long. The fact is that group work has been extensively investigated[1] and its advantages greatly outnumber the eventual exposure...

When telling a story, common practice usually entails reading from the book and showing your audience the picture. This makes sense in that the picture informs the listener what, and who the story is about. Another visual supplement may be flash cards and/or story cards. Today, more than ever, we record what we've experienced by applying an image by easy accessibility to picture taking and picture sharing via social media. Its very easy to take many pictures. Its super easy to post pictures. The shared picture becomes an image...

Hi everyone! Today the focus is on a difficult experience for students – participating in role plays. Research[1]  shows that role-play experiences reveal an array of interpretations that may disclose important information for teachers. The data comes a question that asked how the task of preparing, performing and watching role-plays of classmates becomes a learning experience. Ana Esther: We were working on our role-play while classmates presented. So as I wanted to go up front, I didn’t pay much attention to my classmates’ presentations. Cristina: The first thing I observe is...

Hi everyone! Today I address a common teachers’ concern – indiscipline. Research[1] shows that students’ indifference is related to unchallenging teaching practices, to which students negatively react, starting conflicts, such as indiscipline. As a consequence, indiscipline impairs the development of the group because teachers decide refrain from implementing communicative activities not to lose control of the discipline. The experiences below represent the worst conflicts three experienced teachers   (professionals for more than 10 years) had to deal with in public, private schools and language institutes. Luiza: It happened when I was pregnant...

As English teachers, we never know when and how we impact people and generally we think this is limited to the classroom, but this is not always the case. There is this teacher who unknowingly encouraged me to reflect on a picture that I had posted to the Eltpics Facebook page.  For those of you who don’t know it, Eltpics is a collaborative project where ELT professionals share their own copyright free photos and images for non-commercial use in ELT contexts.   So, I would like to dedicate this...

The other day I was struggling to chose a topic to discuss about with the teachers in my school. It was somehow funny as things happened - two of the teachers came, on the very same day, asking about ideas and rationale for using music in class. Well, this extract is not exactly on how to work with songs and have students to fill in the gaps with missing words, or organising lines, etc… It is actually in the sense of Brain Gym® and how to have the help...

Hi everyone! Have you ever wondered about classroom experiences? About how can they bring an expanded understanding of the teaching and learning process? Starting today, I`ll be contributing with posts on classroom language learning experiences because they can provide a lot of information about what goes on between teachers and students as well as a holistic perspective of the process of teaching, learning and evaluating – the three most common reasons for bringing people to a language class. Every month, I’ll post excerpts of students’ or teachers’ narratives. Selections will...