I was recently asked to give a workshop on interaction patterns  It seemed that the teachers at the school were not using a sufficient variety of them, and that this was affecting the effectiveness of the lessons. This is not an uncommon criticism. I have lost count of the number of times in feedback that I have had to ask why the teacher did not take the opportunity to change the interaction patterns. A common reply to my query more often than not is, 'I forgot'. It appears that in a large...

Hi Everyone! In this first posting of 2016, I want address group work. Ellis (2005) refers to Jacobs (1998), who compares the characteristics of group work with those of teacher-centered instruction.   Ten potential advantages of group activities in language instruction Advantages   Comment 1. The quantity of learner speech can increase In teacher-fronted classrooms, teachers typically speak 80% of the time; in group work more students talk for more of the time. 2. The variety of speech acts can increase In teacher-fronted classrooms, students are cast in a responsive role, but in group work they perform different...

“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.”                  ...

Esta semana, surfando na internet, me deparei com um meme bastante bem humorado que me chamou a atenção, arrancando aquele sorriso típico de quem admite para si mesmo: ‘genial!’ Eis aqui o dito cujo: Não obstante o riso quase que inevitável, por de trás do bom humor (através de um símile que faz alusão ao estereótipo da fala de um caipira texano para dar a dimensão da dificuldade da vida), o meme também nos coloca diante de alguns questionamentos bem relevantes, especialmente para quem ensina línguas em um contexto de EFL/ELF,...

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...

“And 5… 5, 6, 7, 8!” More than 15 years after I had my first lessons, I decided to take up ballroom dancing again. My Better Half dutifully tagged along, but the difference was he was a true beginner. Three months later, we quit, feeling like complete and utter failures. We still want to learn how to dance, but probably not with those teachers. “Why did you quit?,” I hear you ask. Well, maybe it’s true that we teachers are the most difficult learners. Or maybe it’s just me....

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...

How come you can’t get your students to concentrate? That seems to be a rhetorical yet plausible question until it happens to you. I am not sure about you but I have certainly tasted this sensation in my teaching environment, and for the record, that is not a pleasant one. I have been around for a while and seen students losing track of my lessons due to various issues. The most common one is because of other ‘funny’ students’ attitudes in class, which may lead teachers to lose control. There...

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...

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,...