As the title may reveal, the language is in constant change, no one owns it and everybody does. Therefore, we can all play with it as we wish. Can we? While some of us stand as the grammar police to correct tests, written tasks, posts on Facebook or so many other things people say and write around the world, many of us (also) fight to help learners better communicate in a world where English is frequently used as a lingua franca. Today I propose a discussion on priorities...

“A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” ― Ruth Beechick, An Easy Start in Arithmetic, Grades K-3 In my last post, I talked about writing. The reason why I wrote about it is because I write, and writing is my journey into the core of the English language. The more I write, the more I learn about collocations, spelling, and how words are combined to form sentences. I also learn how words can impact one’s understanding and how they can persuade, motivate, inspire, and...

1. Why is noticing even a buzzword, anyway? Noticing in language learning is perhaps ELT’s most user-friendly buzzword. To have a vague understanding of what it is, you don’t need to delve into the works of Rod Ellis, Peter Skehan or even Richard Schmidt, whose 1990 study essentially put the term on the map. Perhaps a simple dictionary definition will do: [caption id="attachment_4760" align="alignnone" width="597"] Taken from dictionary.com[/caption]   The noticing hypothesis is conceptually intuitive, too. To put it in the simplest of terms: Students learn the language items they pay attention to, as...

As I'm writing this post I'm thinking about my English skills as a non-native speaker. I'm aware of the fact that my English is far from being perfect and I can't expect it to be flawless. Nonetheless, I consider myself a successful English learner-teacher as far as language is concerned for one simple reason: I see myself as a language scavenger. What does it take to be a scavenger? When people speak to me and when I'm exposed to language items, I collect whatever I think is useful or...

One of the pleasures of teaching private students is helping them negotiate the mindfield of school exams. I was doing so with one fourteen year old last week. Part of the language she had to revise were the first and second conditionals. Learners in my experience find these structures grammatically challenging, which they are, due to the amount of gramatical processing involved. However, in my opinion they shouldn't find the meaning as difficult to grasp as it is similar to Portuguese. But some do, and I put this down...

I am pretty sure that anyone who has either learnt English as a student or been a teacher even for a short period of time must have come across the English Grammar in Use series by Raymond Murphy. Apparently, they are one of the best selling grammar books of all time. Go into a staff room and you will more than likey see three or four copies on the shelves. When a student tells you that he has a grammar book, it is very likey that it will be...

O Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portugesa define metalinguagem como "linguagem (natural ou formalizada) que serve para descrever ou falar sobre uma outra linguagem, natural ou artificial". De modo simples, trata-se da linguagem que usamos para falar sobre a língua(gem). Em inglês, metalinguagem é chamada de metalanguage e, do ponto de vista linguístico, é recomendável referir-se a ela com a palavra "terminologia" (terminology). Abaixo, falarei resumidamente sobre o assunto e sobre o fato de ensinar isso aos estudantes de inglês ou não. Para que você compreenda melhor o que é...

It is often said that dealing with grammar instruction in class is rather dull, let alone, demanding on both learners and teachers. The first ones might consider it as something heavy-going to take on board. The latter ones might consider it demanding on the grounds that preparation is a key element when delivering a grammar-based lesson. Unfortunately, grammar treatment tends to be downgraded and, to make matters worse, regarded as not instrumental in enabling learners to use the language more accurately.  Much to the contrary, approaching grammar instruction should...

"Over the years, language teachers have alternated between favoring teaching approaches that focus primarily on language use and those that focus on language forms or analysis. The alternation has been due to a fundamental disagreement concerning whether one learns to communicate in a second language by communicating in that language (such as in an immersion experience) or whether one learns to communicate in a second language by learning the lexicogrammar - the words and grammatical structures - of the target language. In other words, the argument has been...

As a Native English-Speaking Teacher (NEST) who didn't learn any English grammar at school, it wasn't until I started training as a teacher and then teaching that I really started to get to grips with the English grammatical - and later lexical - system. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a point where I've felt I understand the whole system. That's one of the great things about being a teacher - you keep learning. When I first started out as a language teacher in the mid-1990s, I...

I've recently come across Deena Boraie's  2013 post on the TESOL webpage in which she lists the latest trends in EFL. Two of these trends immediately caught my eye: Change in the Goal of Teaching English: Our goals are no longer to transform our students into imitations of native speakers, but into "competent English-knowing bilinguals," since we assume our students are already proficient in their native languages; Changing view of an English teacher: The quality and effectiveness of English language teachers are no longer determined by their being native speakers,...

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...

Some teachers see warmers, ice-breakers and fillers as basically different ways to say the same thing. In fact, they are quite different. While ice-breakers are usually meant to help students get to know each other better, the objective of warmers is to get them ready for a certain topic or task.  Fillers, on the other hand, are activities that don´t require much time or preparation, and are designed to finish a topic or a class on a lighter note, or to review vocabulary before the next part of...

Olá, pessoal! Lá, no agora distante, primeiro post que fiz para este blog, prometi que iria falar de alguns aplicativos para dispositivos móveis, os famosos apps.  Pois bem, como sou bem pragmático, vamos direto ao assunto: seguem, abaixo, algumas dicas de programas que podem ser baixados, gratuitamente, para qualquer dispositivo que suporte iOS, o sistema operacional da Apple (iPod, iPad, iPhone). Peço desculpas aos usuários de Android: como não sou um usuário desse sistema, nem todas as dicas são para vocês. Mas prometo que vou trazer mais coisas para este...

For the past six months I've been teaching a close friend of mine once a week, on a one-to-one basis. He's what most people would refer to as an elementary learner, but in many important ways he's anything but your typical A2. And that's partly because he's highly intuitive. The more I teach him, the more I wonder whether all the syllabus-based grammar work that we do in class is of any use at all. Last week, for example, with a little help from me, he was able to say...

In the 70s and early 80s, when functional syllabuses and communicative language teaching gained prominence in ELT, our profession was a relatively gap-fill-free zone. For controlled and semi-controlled practice, students were usually asked to engage in A-B exchanges, role-plays or any other activity types that included some degree of choice, information / context gap, personalization and unpredictability. Even certain types of contextualized oral drills were considered more mainstream than "Fill in the blanks with...

Three private students of mine recently proclaimed that they believed they had become less fluent since the beginning of our lessons a little over two months ago. They were naturally preoccupied given that they were paying good money to improve their English. Needless to say, I had to put their minds at ease, and it got me thinking. Both of these learners are Brazilian, and I think that their nationality does play a role in what I am about to describe. They were both also very fluent when I...

As an ELT professional and author in Brazil, I am well known as a Lexical Approach evangelist. I know some of you out there do not take the Lexical Approach as an approach. You may think it is only a series of techniques for teaching vocabulary: collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms, fixed sentences, semi fixed sentences and so on. Whenever I run lectures and workshops about this approach for English language teachers in Brazil, there are three questions that always come up: "What about the grammar?" "Where’s grammar?" "How can we...

When I was about 13 my English teacher showed us a picture of some children playing in a park. All was going well – I could understand what she was saying, and felt very clever – when she suddenly said something that startled and puzzled me so much that I just stopped paying attention to everything else. She’d pointed to a boy in the picture and said: Johnny is sitting on the bench. “What?”, I thought. “Johnny is not sitting at all!” What happened was that in my...