Last month we looked at getting to know who your students are and the main purpose of having information about them is to focus on their needs when planning lessons, to adjust their expectations to the course goals. If you work in schools or language institutes, courses you teach usually have a core syllabus that all teachers must respect to guarantee overall course outcomes and institutional quality and standards. That does not necessarily mean all lessons will be the same and all teachers will do exactly the same in the classroom....

New term and new groups bring teachers the challenge and the opportunity to build new connections and experiment with their teaching repertoire in different contexts. Also, new students tend to bring different needs, a plethora of expectations and demand a variety of skills from the teachers. That means the classroom is our greatest lab for professional growth. In order to make the most of it, one of the things we need to do is to learn who the students are to plan what we will need/ want to develop during the term. Here are some...

Today is January 6th, which in Brazil is called 'Dia de Reis', a day in honor of the three Wise Men. Having grown up in Rio, I used to think January 6th was nothing but a day to take Christmas decorations down. Then one day, as an adult already, I happened to be in Piauí on this date. A whole festival called 'Folia de Reis' was going on, and I had never even heard of such a thing. I was blown over by the dances I could see...

To keep your students busy over the holidays and to practise some digital remix literacy, here's a little challenge. As you can see, it's based on the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and to introduce the challenge and get into the remixing mood, there's nowhere better to start than the song itself and some Youtube parodies.  For the original song there's a very kitsch karaoke version here.  Once your students have got the hang of the original song (if they don't know it already), then you can move...

Modeling language is, among a number of other teaching techniques, one of the first things the novice teacher needs to put a lot of effort and energy into in order to have a hand on, to say the least. In most pre-service teacher training courses I have taught several times at different institutions along many years, I have often been able to spot some aspects of the teaching of pronunciation that are frequently underplayed by teachers and need to be addressed, even with more experienced teachers and those...

Gone are the days when teachers were the sole source of knowledge. The Internet has revolutionised society by granting everyone access to the information, meaning that listening to a teacher talking on and on about a topic is not only unnecessary but actually rather boring. It is therefore inevitable that teachers reflect upon their role in the learning process, and one of the aspects that have to be considered is how much time is actually devoted to Teacher Talking Time (TTT) and Student Talking Time (STT). Last year, Dominic...

While technology has become a powerful tool to share information, talking to people face-to-face still remains unrivalled. Enjoying a meal together or connecting with others through a handshake --- or even a few words, creates a synergy that promotes feelings of trust and collaboration;  it helps us build stronger relationships and a feeling of belonging. Conferences are mostly about all this energy flow that creates a unique learning environment by bringing people closer together. Highlight #1: Pronunciation: A cool activity that you can do with your students is ask them...

My last post dealt with a tendency I have been noticing in my classroom observations regarding lead-ins being either used to pre-teach language that should actually be discovered by students or turned into loose conversation activities with no clear pedagogical purpose beyond “just talk”. I also commented that this long time spent on the lead-in resulted in teachers’ having to rush through their lessons, preventing them from dedicating more time to the actual communicative production as a result of the lesson of the day. This month, I’d like to...

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to observe around ten teachers each semester. These observations provide me with the chance to assess how effective our mentoring system and teacher induction sessions have been, as I typically observe teachers in their second semester at the institution. Methodologically speaking, most of the classes I observe are generally effective and there are only a few minor aspects to consider. However, if there’s one aspect that is recurrent in my observations and that some novice teachers have difficulty grasping, it’s the...

Instagram is part of my daily life, and I know it is also very popular among our teen students and some adults. Though the focus is social, the imagery and, depending on the user you follow,  Instagram can be a very powerful teaching/learning tool. You can explore with students from grammar aspects of the language to an in-depth take on cultural issues. The news is also there. Here, I've selected some of my favorite Insta IDs with some activities you might want to try in your next class: Natgeo Besides being...