There have been a lot of pendulum swings in our profession since the early 90s, but the teaching of writing seems to be a bit of an exception. Compared to, for example, the sibling rivalry between PPP vs. task-based learning, the half-hearted nod of approval translation’s finally starting to get or, say, the recent comeback of formulaic language, the principles underlying the teaching of writing have remained relatively unscathed from ELT’s constant quest for the latest craze. We owe this, to a certain extent at least, to Ron White’s and...

'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...

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...

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...

“The role of the teacher is to create conditions in which learning can take place.” (Scrivener, 2006)             After a month break we are back to school again.  A mix of feelings involves us teachers who wanted to rest a little more, but at the same time, were missing teaching and the school environment.  I bet most of you teachers went back to your schools for your training week with a “bag full of new ideas”, willing to learn and share and anxious to know your new groups. And when...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

It’s now, the middle of a semester and we start having our minds set into finding different and new materials for our groups. In fact, sometimes it’s simply time to change. A friend normally says “the book is the slave, not the master”, but some teachers end up relying so much on the coursebook that choosing it is one of the most important features in “teaching”. Wether or not you are involved in the material selection project, there’s a lot to be thought when analysing materials to avoid judging the...

I don’t think I have ever taught or observed an advanced lesson that went seriously wrong. I mean cringe-worthy wrong. Which shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, advanced students have been in the game long enough and know enough English to ensure that most of our lessons run - at worst - relatively smoothly. Except perhaps for those all-too-familiar “How do you say X?” questions (X = a word YOU don't know), which they seem to pluck out of nowhere, at the worst possible moments. Yes, the ones that...

Error correction may be extremely strenuous for both learners and teachers if it is not dealt with caution. Some people tend to downgrade it whilst others find it a necessary condition for language acquisition on the grounds that grammatical and lexical competences can increase the rate at which learners develop. Corder (1967) found out that language learners produced errors that were both systematic and creative in nature. He mentions systematic errors (more evident in ESL/EFL learning) and nonsystematic errors (more evident in one’s native language). Attempts are caused by a genuine lack of knowledge. Learners...

We know that language teachers face a lot of difficulties in Brazilian regular schools. Based on my experience as a High School teacher, my intention here is to present some suggestions to overcome three common challenges teachers face in this context. 1) All levels in the same place Challenge: Classes in regular schools present a great difference in language level among students, so that the teacher is faced with the problem of challenging higher-level students without overwhelming lower-level students. How to deal with it: Instead of proposing exercises that can only...