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...

"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...