As you will probably agree, inspiration comes from the most unusual places. Just now, I felt so moved by a Netflix documentary about the jazz genius Miles Davis that I had to come here and write about the lessons I believe his career may bring to our professional development as teachers.   “The Musings of Miles”: Don’t “blow” theory. Miles started his career as a trumpeter in his teens and went to Juilliard, one of the world’s most prestigious performance art schools. Despite criticizing it for being “too white”...

The musical hit series Glee aired between 2009 and 2015. I remember watching it and thinking to myself: “What a wonderful and necessary series!”. Like most of Ryan Murphy’s work, there’s a lot of representation in it. And the fact that it focuses on teenagers making through high school makes it even more special as this was the target audience of the show. Last vacation I had the chance to spend some days off with my family and had a lot of contact with my 14-year-old niece. When I...

It goes without saying that teachers of teenagers often worry about how fun and dynamic classes must be so as to keep students engaged and motivated. So pervasive is this concern among professionals who teach youngsters that we sometimes tend to disregard the importance of taking into account the quieter and shyer students in our classes. Before suggesting how teachers can deal with shy students in the classroom, we would like to talk a little bit about shyness. Heitz, D. (2019) explains that ‘shyness is a feeling of fear...

Most of us cannot watch a film or an episode of our favourite series without trying to identify scenes that could be used in our lessons, right? Even if we just want to Netflix and chill, it just seems to be hardwired in our brains. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of my favourite quotes from some of my favourite films and TV series, to check how they apply to the English teaching context. “You know nothing, Jon Snow” (Ygritte, Game of Thrones) No matter how much...

Last month I mentioned some important aspects to bear in mind when a teacher or a school welcomes a visually impaired student in the classroom. Two of them are fundamental for a successful learning environment, especially for the blind: Firstly we must understand their level of impairment and then most importantly, we shall never underestimate the students' ability to learn and cope with limitations. In an attempt to answer some of the questions I received in a survey conducted last year I will focus today on the blind student...

Brazil is a large country with a population of over two hundred million inhabitants. Within this group, six million people face some sort of visual impairment, ranging from thirty percent of visual acuity - which means that the subject needs to be at a distance 70% shorter to be able to see the desired object - to total blindness, which corresponds to the complete absence of light or form perception. Never in our country has the offer of language courses been so abundant as it is at this...

Earlier this month I mentioned to a dear colleague that I started my teaching career as a part-time job just to make ends meet. What is also true is that it did not take me long to quit everything I was doing at the moment and dedicate myself full-time to the profession. Little did I know that seven years later, two serendipitous encounters would show me that the inclusive classroom had chosen me even before I figured that out. The first one happened in 2016 when I received a...

Back in 2011 I was invited to write the general introduction to a series of books for PNLD (Programa Nacional do Livro Didático), a Brazilian government programme that, as most of you may know, distributes books for public schools. It was a detailed introduction, which had to thoroughly explain the concept behind the book and how the authors beliefs about foreign language learning were represented in the series. At that time, I was not aware that writing this introduction would change my views about language learning forever. In 2014...

Technology will not replace teachers, but teachers who can integrate technology effectively in their pedagogical practices will replace teachers who can't. The quote above has been repeated time and again (with different wording each time) in education conferences where the focus is technology in education - so much so that it's hard to find the correct attribution to the original quote. But let's face the facts, shall we? It's now 2017 and there are two very distinct realities in the world today - those who are connected to the world wide...

Much is discussed about students with special needs and how to deal with them. Very little is said about teachers who have some kind of special need. I am going to tell you all a quick story. My story. During most my school life, I was not a bad student, but I was not good either. I was, well, average.  I was excellent once, in elementary school to be precise. I have fond recollections of having after-school classes with undergrad students in the afternoon, twice or three times a...

According to Mattar (2010), Prensky (2010) and Frei et al (2011), the use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) in different educational spaces has been helping the teaching of foreign languages since the 90s – when computers became more common in foreign language classes. In this regard, Paiva (2001) considers that ICTs bring advantages: variety of information, multimedia environment, the possibility of non-linear reading, diversity of material. When I conducted research that sought to verify the possibility of written fluency in the English language by the deaf, I came...

"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...

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ― Chinese Proverb This post is dedicated to all the caring and patient teachers out there who  help their students have meaningful experiences learning a second language regardless of any limitations they may have. This post is also dedicated to all the parents who have kindly shared their stories with me over these five years I’ve been involved with the Special Needs program in my language school. Parents-to-be often dream of well-behaved, talented, high-achieving children who say ‘please’ and make the...

Learning foreign languages is an exciting experience that not only develops students’ mind, skills and attitudes, but also offers possibilities of changing one’s entire life. In my career of teaching English at Elementary and Secondary Schools and language institutes in Brazil I would often encounter children with special needs among my class. I taught many children whose teachers had previously given up on them, who then became good learners, succeeding in class with understanding and excitement for learning. Students sense when their teacher loses confidence in them, especially if...

Teaching ADHD students can be a difficult task when teachers are not aware of some particularities.   ADHD children usually lack confidence. Therefore, they feel pleased when the teacher praises them. They also feel happy when their interests and abilities are acknowledged.   I read a paper in which Natalia Turketi mentioned that inattentive children would concentrate when she gave examples of some vocabulary related to the students while poiting at them.   The author also brought some suggestions to foster the language learning process of these students: Find a pattern. Make connections. Develop...

The word “dyslexia” comes from the Greek words “dys” (difficulty) and “lexia” (language), and is a language processing disorder that some people are born with.   Although learning a new language can be very difficult for people with dyslexia – especially in the written form – it does not mean they have to give up on it. In fact, it can be quite stressful for these learners to be introduced to new patterns, sounds and symbols when they have not had their difficulties sorted in their native language.   Gyorgi Gabor suggests that...

Last month, I brought the factors that are typical of many children with Down’s syndrome which facilitate and inhibit learing. In this context, it is important that we advance the discussion regarging second language learning. It is known by educators that children with Down's syndrome typically have a speech and language impairment. According to the Down's Syndrome Association and Down's Syndrome Scotland, it is the combination of a smaller mouth cavity and weaker mouth and tongue muscles that makes it harder for them to physically form words. The longer the...

According to the Scottish Down’s Syndrome Association, Down’s syndrome is the most common form of learning disability. It is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. Children with Down’s syndrome vary as widely in their development and progress as typically developing children. Regarding development, Vygotsky defined human beings as complex and multifaceted. In this context, we should not focus on whether a student has a disability or not. We all have different timings when it comes to developing. Although it is true that people with Down’s syndrome may take...

Last month I mentioned that the deaf are able to learn a foreign language provided that certain conditions are respected. I understand that there is an influence of L1 on L2, because taking off from the basis of the first language can help develop the second one through the inevitable comparison made by apprentices, which can also lead them to making mistakes that would not occur in the acquisition of the first language. In this context, the previous contact with other languages seems valid, especially if you are learning...

The task of teaching a foreign language (therefore, a third language) for the deaf seems to be a question that can be postponed. As we know, many difficulties have already been identified concerning the teaching of first and second languages. Nevertheless, the history of deaf education shows that in sixteenth-century Spain the monk Pedro Ponce de León taught four deaf noble children to speak Greek, Latin and Italian. Therefore, it's not difficult to imagine that this possibility may be repeated more often nowadays. We have more information, technologies and...

Good afternoon, readers! Starting today, I'll be posting about the inclusive teaching of English. I believe that, at first, an introduction to the topic is ‘conditio sine qua non’ for the progress of this column. The discussion around inclusion has been increasing in Brazilian society over the last decades, which demonstrates the controversy it causes if you look at the positions taken by different people.  But, what is inclusion? Before defining it, it is necessary to say that there has been a detachment, but not a detachment of the signifier...