Teaching adult beginner groups can be quite challenging, as most teachers (if not all)  who have such groups know. Each age group we teach has its specific challenges, and in my experience, when it comes to adult beginners the main challenges are time (they usually have little time to dedicate to English studying other than the time they spend in the classroom, since they have many other responsibilities and priorities. Many times they have trouble even coming to classes) and fear. Fear of making mistakes and making a...

                1. Une Tomate Rouge Less than a month ago I decided to take up French and I am already being faced with big challenges: I had assumed that languages close to your own in the language tree should not be too hard to learn, so I picked French since  both languages evolved from spoken Latin. However, less than a month into it and I have already changed my mind completely. Its phonological system is a nightmare; the /s/ at the end of words never made it into the spoken...

[caption id="attachment_2317" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Order in the classroom by Martin Bowling (CC.BY.20)[/caption] A couple of months ago, I wrote about how there seems to be very little order in how we learn a language.  Just because we 'learn' some aspect of a language one day doesn't mean we will be able to use it the next.  Also, we might use a language quite comfortably one day, only to be completly useless the next time. While this is true for each individual, whether they are learning their first or second language,...

I asked a student of mine recently whether he still believed in Father Christmas. He looked at me nonplussed before asking me who Father Christmas was. I replied that he was the big, fat man who delivered children presents at Christmas time. “Presents?”, he asked. “Gifts’, I said. To which he smiled and said, “Ah, you mean Santa Clause”. Does it matter? Well, maybe not for this 25 year old adult, who I presume no longer believes in Santa Clause (or Father Christmas), but it might matter to my...

It's a given that we live in an era in which students have the chance to be exposed to the target language much more frequently than people from past generations did. Smartphones are, at least in Brazil, becoming an essential item, and there are already people who would rather forget their wallet at home than their mobile. Cable TV has also become much cheaper, and widely-available Internet access allows people to quickly check whatever they want at the touch of a screen - literally. Add to that the...

[caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="300"] When I grow up, I want to be just like my dad. Pascal - CC-BY-2.0[/caption] It is a source of pride when a child takes after his or her parents.  The little boy who wants to be a teacher like his mother, or the little girl who develops a laugh just like her father. Of course, it can also work the other way as well, so the little boy can also pick up the colourful language of his mother or the girl can learn how to...

In this post, I’d like to report on some fascinating research I had the pleasure of seeing presented at the recent MEXTESOL conference in Puebla, Mexico.  What particularly interested me was the connection to the topic of meaningful learning that I have been talking about on this blog as well as the direct application of the research to the teaching of vocabulary both for classroom teachers, teacher trainers and materials writers.  I don’t know about you, but I love research that we can use in the classroom. The first...

"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...

The other day I was visiting a writer friend of mine and she said she wanted to write a children's story. A story in which the reader can extrapolate the meaning and come out better for it. My very eloquent friend started to tell me her story ideas based on interviews she had conducted in poor communities around Brazil. The stories she told me were heart wrenching. The way she transcribed them was engaging. I started thinking about what was appropriate subject matter. What realities do characters face in stories...

As a teenager, I read anything I could lay my hands on; that included all sorts of literature: good and bad. It didn't matter as long as it was an interesting story ( from a young girl's perspective, I might say). As a young English language learner, I was lucky to study at an English language school with a  library and I remember browsing through all those graded readers while I waited for  class. However, there was a difference between me, the avid reader and me, the English learner:...