Hello! It’s good to be back after a couple of months (ok, maybe more ;-) ) away from the blog.  For the rest of this year, I’d like to consider the role of neuroscience in language learning and teaching. What is neuroscience and how is it interesting to language teachers? Are you interested in how the brain works?  If you said yes, you concur with the around 80% of teachers from around the world that a major study found are interested in brain science (Pickering and Howard-Jones, 2007).  It’s a fascinating...

Although attempts to define ‘fluency’ and ‘accuracy’ when speaking a foreign language abound in the specialized literature, there still does not seem to exist a consensus regarding a single, ultimate definition of either one of the terms. One of the reasons which could partly explain the lack of common ground among authors is the very subjective nature of the two words in the context of learning/mastering a foreign language. Any given language is a complex structural system whose components include, but are not limited to, rules, vocabulary and pronunciation....

Students taking a course in a foreign language very frequently bring with them a world of expectations and needs – in both personal and professional contexts – that they want to be met in the classroom. Those expectations and needs, however, can many times be beyond what can be achieved within a semester of studies. It is then many times up to the teacher to help learners align their expectations and help them become more aware of what they can achieve in the short and long run, and...

Photo by Higor Cavalcante | CC BY 2.0 No matter where you are in the world today, English is everywhere you look. It’s used in shop signs, products in the supermarket, the names of buildings, menus, graffiti, airports, public transport, shopping centres, notices, advertising posters and hoardings. In fact, here in Brazil there is even an English name for this type of advertising – ‘outdoor’ (as well as ‘busdoor’ for adverts on the back of buses, and ‘indoor’ for adverts in stations, shopping centres, etc.). I first became interested in Linguistic...

It’s not rare to find students who are not demonstrating a high level of achievement and yet think they are doing just fine. Or, conversely, who, despite producing the required level of language for a given stage believes it to be necessary to retake all lessons again to improve more.  I thought about this as I came across two cases recently. The first, a student who was doing great at a certain level and came to talk to me about going back a level or two. She was not feeling...

Did you happen to see the story about the leader of the Green Party in the UK? Well, she went to give a live interview on the radio last week to kick off her party's election campaign. About two minutes into the interview, she was asked a question about her party's housing policy. Upon which she was suddenly struck down by what has been commonly called 'mind blank'. George Dvorsky (2015), a neurologist, says "catecholamine hormones, like adrenaline or noradrenaline, prime the body for violent physical action. This includes...

Teaching pronunciation in the English classroom is of great importance – it helps learners communicate better, convey their messages more effectively and sound more natural. Yet, this tends to be a rather marginalized area in EFL classrooms around the globe. Helping learners to sound better, to recognize different accents and varieties of English, and also to read phonemic transcript may contribute to their independence – and it’s perfectly ok to introduce them to the symbols even when they are at early elementary levels. Making the teaching of pronunciation a...

I’ve just had a week off, so I went off on holidays. After a whole year of teacher, training, writing, talking to students, parents, helping those who needed the extra help or a supporting word (or hug!)… I tried to fool myself, thinking I would be able to completely tune out of work by simply not looking at emails from work. But one doesn’t stop being a teacher just because she is not teaching… It starts out quite subtly, really… a song you hear playing that you immediately identify...

  This month's post is about different ways of learning, or learning styles, as some authors put it. It's also about why I believe they exist even when we totally ignore their existence. It is a controversial issue for many teachers, who have mixed feelings about it. Do Learning Styles really exist?  Are they just a myth? Most authors would agree that there is very little evidence of their existence, but when it comes to teaching, authors firmly believe that there's no 'right' or 'wrong' and that there are...

Olá a todos! Depois de uma ausência de alguns meses, estou de volta! Mas minha ausência tem uma boa “desculpa”: em 31 de outubro, Eduardo, meu filhinho, nasceu! Com toda a alegria que trouxe, veio também desorganização e desajustes, até que finalmente conseguíssemos “entendê-lo” e acertar nossas rotinas com as necessidades dele! Coisas de marinheiros de primeira viagem! De qualquer forma, este pequeno intróito serve para anunciar a razão pela qual estou escrevendo este post: estamos criando nosso filho como uma criança bilíngue. Esta, na verdade, foi uma decisão...