Last month, we talked about the innovator teacher's dilemma, and I would like to share my innovative experience with you.  I’m sure you have already heard of: Cross over teaching,  Teaching through smart boards, Flipped classrooms Collaborative Teaching Using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)  Technology and innovative methods of teaching And more Are you using all or some of them in your daily lessons? It’s widely known that the use of technology in the classroom helps to engage the students with different kinds of stimuli and, of course,...

“É melhor fazer aula com um falante nativo?” -- pergunta o leigo. E hoje é com ele que vou falar. Você com certeza já deve ter visto cursos de inglês que anunciam aulas com professores nativos. Será esse de fato um diferencial? Vamos pensar aqui: se fosse o contrário e você fosse dar aula de português para estrangeiros...

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”...

Muito se tem discutido sobre decolonialidade na educação na atualidade, mas o que é isso mesmo? A decolonialidade tem como objetivo romper paradigmas cristalizados nas relações socioculturais, político-econômicas, étnico-raciais e de gênero/sexualidade impostas pelos processos da colonialidade do poder. Por sua vez, o conceito de colonialidade do poder (QUIJANO, 2000) esclarece que as relações de colonialidade nas esferas econômica e política não findaram com a destruição do colonialismo. A colonialidade, de acordo com Maldonado-Torres (2007), se reproduz  em uma tripla dimensão: a do poder, do saber e do ser. Mas...

An increased interest in online teaching has emerged in recent years. Such interest has become even more prominent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine, during which teachers worldwide had to take up online teaching overnight. Many of us had been teaching adults – or taken online lessons and courses ourselves – for a while, but teaching a group of teenagers through a screen was unimaginable. Given my considerable experience with online teaching, I was very confident about welcoming my teenage students to a video call. Little did...

I’ve always felt that in order to be a good teacher for my students I had to be at the top of my game all the time. This means having to let go of all worries and problems from the outside-of-the-classroom world while teaching, and I managed to make that happen for over a decade. Little did I know that there would come a day that my heart would ache so much that achieving such self-control would be almost impossible...

Who was prepared for a pandemic that would close schools for up to two months or even more? No one, for sure. We were all caught by surprise in a situation that we would never have predicted even in January or February of 2020. However, when we look at it more closely, maybe some educational institutions were better equipped than others – not for this pandemic, specifically, but for unpredictable situations in general, or, perhaps, for dealing with something that is intrinsically messy and complex: education in this...

As I was relaxing after a long productive day working from home for the 5th day in a row, for the 1st time in my life, I came across a Simon Sinek’s short video where he explained why ‘These Are Not Unprecedented Times’. Most of us are feeling as if we were living in a parallel dimension, as if life as we used to live was put on hold and we are somehow experiencing a different setting – perhaps to find out what we are made of… Anyways, he...

What exactly does it mean to have an Entrepreneurial Mindset? According to Arash Asli (2018), “The entrepreneurial mindset is about a certain way of thinking -- it is about the way in which you approach challenges and mistakes. It is about an inherent need to improve your skillset and to try and try again.” I would dare to add that the entrepreneurial mindset is also about taking responsibility for your choices – it is about the way in which you choose to face life and its events. But how does...

Sunny afternoon in the capital of Brazil, a group of teachers awaits for the presentation of the new coursebooks. Curious eyes on the presenters, colorful boxes on the shelves and the expectation to end the day with grids and tables filled with content that would translate into a year’s worth of teaching. To their surprise, instead of handing them a book, the presenters, Pedagogical Coaches, as they are now called, give them Ipads and passwords to an LMS platform where they would have access to interactive books, planning guides...

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...

In 2019 we had the opportunity to work together on different projects. Such projects involved writing for the Richmond blog, going live on different social media websites and delivering an online course for teachers. We’d like to start by commenting on the online course experience. Needless to say how this course enriched us. While organizing the contents we decided to include in the course, we studied a lot more about so many relevant issues that are undoubtedly pertinent to our daily work. In this sense, the need to research...

As 2020 begins, teachers all around the world get ready to receive their students for a new term, and I am no different.. As I write, I am enjoying my last days of the summer break, and yet I am already mentally planning how I can make my school year the best one again. That means deciding which practices I would like to include in my professional routine, and which ones I should adapt or eliminate from my daily lesson planning. Then, at the beginning of January, I decided...

Once in Paris, I had a friend teaching me the following phrase in case I needed to ask for information: Bonjour! Je suis désolé! Où je trouve les toilettes, s’il vous plaît? Apparently, my question was well asked as I was ‘gunnned down’ by the fastest French speech I have ever heard. It is obvious that questioning is a basic skill one must bear in mind when learning a language. My short yet eventful experience in Paris dawned on me that so is answering. I have come to notice...

Assessment has always been an area of great debate among ELT professionals, given its apparent intangibility in connection to the real use of the language. Many of us have been faced with learners watching TV in English and getting back to class saying they understood nothing the actors said, thus questioning the evaluation system that has always told them they are doing well. In that case, most of us have had the chance to show learners they are doing well in certain task and contexts (e.g. predictable familiar...

“An average of 137 women across the world are killed by a partner or family member every day, according to new data released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime” (BBC News, November 25, 2019). It is not surprising that we need a campaign such as the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence   one, running from November 25 through December 10. But what does this have to do with gender bias in the classroom? Well, gender violence stems from men’s belief that women are inferior and...

It’s expected that experienced teachers’ classes will be more peaceful and freer of problems than novices’. But let’s be honest: no matter how long you’ve been working in ELT (English Language Teaching), there will always be difficulties, since we are dealing with people. That alone already means facing the unexpected on a daily basis, not to mention the extra unpredictability commonly seen among groups of teenagers. So yes, there are issues which will always be there. Above all: indiscipline. At times we have our classes observed, and we panic...

This might sound a bit too harsh, but we do sometimes hinder learning. The title of this text was borrowed from a famous saying in football, made popular by the controversial former player Romario, now a politician. He was a very successful and undoubtedly talented player and worked with a large number of coaches throughout his career. He was always very critical to his coaches and peers and did not use to keep his mouth shut when he did not agree with them. According to this idea, the...

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...

Chaos. That's what the world is all about. We spend our whole lives trying to organize what cannot be organized. We want to predict the unpredictable. We believe we can have control over our lives but there is no control. We have been doing the same with Education for centuries. We try to put knowledge in boxes. We try to purify access to information. We want to control the amount of input and organize it in order of difficulty. Worse than that, we have been trying to standardize the...

It’s the beginning of a new term. You’re chosen to teach an upper-intermediate/advanced group. You’re excited to meet your new students, you plan a welcome activity so as to start off with the right foot. You enter the room, start the class and ask your new students to introduce themselves. And suddenly one particular student starts speaking. Their pronunciation is nearly flawless, they use a wide range of vocabulary and demonstrate control of simple and complex grammatical forms. And one inevitable thought crosses your mind: “This student speaks...

Year: 1999. Group: Basic 1. Place: Uberaba, MG – Brasil. Seventeen-year-old Ana Carolina stepped into a classroom for the first time. Young, restless, feeling entitled by her recently acquired C2 diploma and, most importantly: raw. Fluent, for sure. After one year of isolation from all Portuguese speakers in a cultural exchange program before cell phones or the Internet were even available, the mountaneer dialect flowed as if it were her own. Scared, she left the students in class in order to catch a breath and drink some water,...

Lately, we seem to have been facing the social need to shout out opinions and to pick sides. The political scenario may have contributed to generalised polarised behaviour even in education. For me, and I believe for so many of my friends and peers, there is very little chance that one can work in the realm of education without critically analysing and considering politics and the future of our country. We read, we think, and our most important goal is to help other souls develop into becoming agents...

You are a student in a classroom full of them. You are all seated in a circle and the teacher is standing in front of you. The teacher asks a question. Silence. Ok, thinking time is beneficial, you think. One minute later, silence remains, until the teacher says ‘I won’t say a word before you say it”, followed by another full minute of silence. Finally he says “if you haven’t read the text, there won’t be a lesson today. You can go home.” I do not know if...

One of the biggest concerns among teachers who work with teenagers is that they seem to be demotivated most of the time. It’s often said that teenage students don’t participate in classes so enthusiastically or don’t show interest in the activities. While that may be true, it will rarely happen to the whole group. Even so, we worry a lot with those who are not interacting so much; or at least not the way we expected them to. The first and foremost aspect to be considered is the fun...

Today, I would like to share with you a bit of the book “Reader, Come Home”, by Maryanne Wolf. This book has triggered a lot of reflection, being a techie myself on how I have been taking the habit of reading lately. According to her, we might be losing the ability to read a favorite book in an era of screen immersion. Neuroscience explains that the ability to read did not evolve naturally in humans, different from sight and vision. Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains acrobatically rewired in such...

“What do you think of Glenn Greenwald’s Portuguese?” That question came out of the blue to me, but there I was, chatting to an air traffic controller before we started his English proficiency interview about a third person’s Portuguese language proficiency. I thought of a video I saw after the first Vaza Jato news: “Well, I find his pronunciation a little difficult to follow.” “Yes, it’s heavy.” “Especially because we’re not used to listening to a foreign accent in Portuguese, I think.” “That’s true. But you can understand him, right?” he shot at...

Lately I have encountered more and more people talking about the benefits of L1 in ELT. At same time that I love it, I wonder: are we going the right way? I will not deny that I love the fact that we have started considering and enhancing the use of L1 in ELT, not only due to my personal experience as a teacher and as a learner (I have recently taken Korean and Spanish lessons for that matter), but also due to data my colleagues from Duque de...

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. These are the words I live by, in many aspects of my life. Obviously, I seek peace of mind and happiness and believe me, I know how to cherish these moments, and get the best of them. So what do I mean by this old saying which steers most of my decisions in life? Let me try to explain by briefly telling a story. If you know me, you are aware of my complete lack of abilities to read maps. I am...

Most adult students complain they don't have time to study English at home and because of that, they can't improve as much as they would like to. With a little bit of effort and focus, it's possible to change this mindset and reach more satisfying results. In the book The Miracle Morning, author Hal Elrod defends the idea that there is no such a thing as a 'morning person' and anyone can be productive at the break of day, if 1) they really want to and believe they can...

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...

Recently, a colleague from work introduced me to a discussion happening on the internet about whether could really prove a method works or not, or works better than another one. This discussion was very well presented in Luiz Otavio Barros’ blog. At this point, we have to turn to empirical analysis - how it is done and the data it produces. Data collection is too hard work to be ignored. We usually trust empirical data with much more decisive matters - even our lives when we take medicine...

Have you ever changed your lesson plan (or part of it) halfway through due to students’ lack of engagement? And have you ever regretted changing it because students asked you to do something different in class? If you answered yes for both questions, you face the same dilemma that we do; which is how much of the lesson plan it is fine to adapt in order to please our students’ imminent needs. Let’s face it: English isn’t generally taken so seriously by students (and their parents) as much as other...

Before I start this post, I must warn you: this was NOT written by someone who has great expertise on this area. It was elaborated by someone who, like many other teachers, have an inquisitive mind and a wish to make students’ language-learning path a bit less of a bumpy ride. I am also not a specialist, and if you came here looking for universal answers, I’m afraid you’ll end up with even more questions. I am a big nerd, that’s what I am. But enough of me. I was...

Taking the DELTA has changed me as a teacher in many ways, but I believe that it has most influenced the way I perceive and teach listening. I first came across the term ‘decoding’ when my dear tutor Melissa Lamb from IH London introduced me to John Field’s book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’. Later on, I came across Richard Cauldwell’s brilliant book ‘A Syllabus for Listening – Decoding’. This is the second post inspired by these brilliant minds which have also shaped me as a teacher and...

Exactly twenty years ago, doing research on the use of technology in language learning for my first MA, one of the questions I was often asked was the one on the title. Teachers, publishers, learners seemed to have various theories on how, when, why technology would or not replace teachers. The concern seems to be as current as ever among professionals and stakeholders. Science fiction, often represented by the cinema masterpiece Blade Runner, highlights the possibilities of what experts can bring to life. In this post I will discuss some...

You probably have heard of the term Glocalization, which translates the idea of thinking globally and acting locally. It seems obvious, and it doesn't seem something difficult to do. But yet we continue to find excuses not to do it. Especially here in Brazil, our culture is one where we expect changes to come from someone above us. We don't take responsibility for the things we can do to change the reality around us. We think that God is going to help us, that the new president is going to make...

I remember my first days as a teacher when I was afraid of every listening activity because I thought that spoken texts were too difficult for my students. But then a celestial voice told me “any listening text is possible depending on the task you assign.” That blew my mind. I also remember when I came across a more recent finding that indicated that, in many cases, students have a better performance speaking L2 if grammar clarification is supported by their L1. After both discoveries, I immediately went on...

Exactly one year ago, I had my first go at presenting in conferences. Back then, I was just someone trying to show the results of a small-scale research I had carried out on a topic that happened to be of major importance in my teaching career, inclusive education. However excited, I had never felt completely prepared for it nor even capable of doing so on a regular basis. What actually made me confident enough to apply for it was the limitless support I had always had from my dear...

When the subject is teaching teenagers, there is always a cloud hanging over teachers’ heads. This cloud has a name and it is quite a familiar one: behaviour. As a rule of thumb, when we have a couple of teenagers together in one room, there will eventually be distraction, standing up, talking (or yelling), paper airplanes flying around, among other “issues”. Having these things in mind, in this post I am willing to share five tips that have helped me a lot throughout my career as a teacher. Build...

Unit 3: Food. In the first exercise, the coursebook brings a set of pictures, each of them showing different food separated in groups. The image labeled with the letter “B” depicts bacon, a box of cereal, two doughnuts, a waffle, some pancakes, eggs, and a glass of orange juice. The instructions tell students to check the picture which contains breakfast food. Easy-peasy. However, they frown and take longer to do what is required from them than you had predicted in your lesson plan. In a short while, the...

In a coaching process, nothing is more effective and powerful than a coaching dialogue, profitable conversations prompted by the coach that can truly impact the coachee's results. These compelling chats are usually guided by questions based on a coaching model such as GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Will), for example: Goal: What is your goal? Why is it important to you? Reality: What is happening now? On a scale of 1-10, where are you regarding this goal? What have you done so far to achieve the goal? What resources do you have and which...

“You should write as often as possible” – that’s what I keep telling my students. Currently, 99% of my students are intrepid English teachers either preparing for the Cambridge English: Advanced or the Cambridge English: Proficiency, which means that their writing skills will be assessed via two writing tasks. Needless to say, it is my duty to encourage them to write as much as they can and provide detailed feedback on their writing assignments. A confession The great Morpheus said: “(...

The educational field has been suffering attacks from all parts of society, in Brazil and around the world - differences do apply. This post is a reflection about the courage needed to make significant changes to the current scenario - that of turmoil where teachers, parents, students, the society seem to be taking to each other, but running around in multiple directions, either following trends and assumptions or neglecting to look at the big picture from each other's perspectives. The first point I would like to make is that...

It often strikes me when there is a very emotional talk about bilingual education here in Brazil and we tend to criticise what we have been doing here compared to what is being done elsewhere in the world. My opinion is clear: adopting an international bilingual education model "as is" here in Brazil is not scalable and also not effective. That being said, it is obvious that international schools and bilingual schools that adopt some sort of international curriculum can and are very succesful most of the times...

The last month of March has been significantly special for me. The month of my birth, filled with excitement I was carrying with me, conducting a special project to celebrate International Women's Day. Me and other two partners invited ten women from the ELT community and we asked other 9 (my partners included) to write articles talking about their lives. Those posts were compiled and a magazine was born. The use of this magazine to engage my students is the topic of this post. Teaching teenagers in advanced levels brings some...

What is your passion when it comes to teaching EFL? Is it one of the four skills [listening, speaking, reading or writing]? One of the four systems [pronunciation, lexis, grammar or discourse]? Teaching YLs or teens? Methodology, perhaps? Teacher training? - Hard to pick one, right? Well, I'll do it anyways! I'll start with Listening - why is it one of my many passions? Because of the challenge it presents teachers with: we cannot enter our learners' ears to check what they are actually understanding. For this reason, I'm starting a...

Recently the school where I work has implemented Google Classroom for most of the groups, in order to promote a broader and more consistent interaction with learners, as well as make communications between students and teacher faster and more effective. As a tech enthusiast myself, I celebrated the achievement along with my peers at the branch, specially because we knew the impact this would have on the students’ tangibilization of progress. Mind you, I have the utmost respect for students who are able to keep their studies organized...

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...

Have you ever heard of a continuous improvement cycle called the PDCA cycle? I am sure most of you who have already studied a little bit of business management have certainly come across this acronym before. But for those of you who haven’t studied any business theories, PDCA is an acronym that stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act. These are the four stages of this continuous improvement cycle that can be applied in business and in our personal lives as well. But what does this cycle have to do with teaching? Well,...

This is, in fact, my first experience at an IATEFL event. I have been to BRAZ-TESOL and BRELT events, however, the IATEFL is quite different. You see names from all over the world, talking about their teaching experiences in Japan, in Nigeria, Uganda, etc and the verdict is all the same: we need to improve the teachers’ training so the students' experience gets better. You get to socialise, take pictures, post them on Instagram. You get to write about the event for blogs. There are so many things to...

One of the current buzz words in education is collaboration. From kindergarten to doctorate learners, many teachers claim to develop collaboration with their groups. I have recently discussed the matter with a group of teachers working in different contexts (language institutes, primary school, undergraduate courses) and the understanding of the concept of collaboration seems blurred at times, especially when taken as a synonym to work together. In our classrooms, many of us are used to asking learners to work in pairs, in groups, to compare answers, to solve a puzzle....

A challenge teachers frequently face is reducing the amount of L1 used by their students in class. For obvious reasons, we all want our learners to take the most of our lessons. They also like to feel challenged and to leave the room (or wherever you teach them) feeling that they have spent an hour or so only speaking English. In addition, all of us teachers tend to believe that every minute of communication in the target language is worth the effort. These arguments make complete sense, but...

When I was teaching teenagers, I frequently discussed online safety.  Cyberbullying, phishing scams and the typical 419 Nigerian prince scam were among our class topics and we would laugh hard at the absurd grammar errors in the spam email letters. However, I have recently learned that the gross grammar errors and the far-fetched stories featured in the 419 letters are actually meant to attract the most vulnerable and gullible and to repel those who are less likely to fall for a scam. So, it seems that scammers are...

So, February and March have arrived, and with it groups have been assigned to many teachers around Language Schools. Let me tell you about my groups! I am so happy with what I have got, specially because I have been studying hard to deal with young teenagers, and this semester seems like the perfect opportunity to apply what I have been learning around. There’s this one group in particular which I am over the moon with, and they are the main topic of my post today! I believe what...

We hear about CPD, the acronym for Continuous Professional Development, all the time. Although CPD is not only about taking courses, they are certainly a prototypical concept and the number of courses aimed at teachers has been increasing steadily, or at least this is the impression I have. When it comes to courses, one of the most common questions we hear is “Is this or that course worth it?” or “Should I do this course or not?” The answers, however, are definitely not as simple as the questions....

The other day I was talking to an acquaintance who has a kid that goes to a language school to study English. As this acquaintance knows I am an English teacher, she started opening up to me about her feelings towards her child’s studies and she stated that she “did not feel like her daughter was actually learning English”. When I asked why, she said that she had the impression that her daughter would not be able to get by in case she had to speak English on a...

While deciding on the theme for my February post, I thought of the growing wave of intolerance, prejudice, hate crimes, etc., especially in Brazil, and I decided to write about Peace Education and ways in which we can implement peace education-focused instruction into the daily lives of regular schools in Brazil. Before giving you some practical ideas, let’s clear up two basic concepts or kinds or peace:  negative peace and positive peace. But what is the difference? The concept of negative peace is the generally spread concept of peace most...

In these times of fierce competition in the education market, if you work for an ELT institute or a school, it is not enough to be a great teacher and focus only on teaching a good class. In order to be a valued and valuable professional, there are many things you can do inside and outside the classroom to guarantee the perpetuity of your institution and, consequently, of your job. But what are these behaviors? What can you, teacher, do to help the institution you work for thrive?   Show...

The academic year is just around the corner and every now and then we tend to start the New Year facing some challenges and the kind. Being an educator is not an easy task, dealing with stressful situations such as routine, and, to add insult to injury, many of us will have to perform a juggling act, e.g. work in different schools, in order to make ends meet. Looking for perfection should be the main aim, right? It is important, however, to bear in mind that there is no...

When children wake up the first thing they want to do is to play. Every mum and dad can assure this, especially when their children are very young.  I believe that this ‘playing’ is essential for their learning and if we focus on the ‘playing’ and guide the ‘games’, the results are remarkable. Can we transfer this ‘playing’ into the classroom? Of course we can. In fact, I believe that with Drama in Education we do it naturally. I’m aware that the classroom has their ‘rules’ and we must...

I have worked in ELT for about a decade and, therefore, I have delivered hundreds of reading lessons. It is undeniable that many textbooks authors have been doing their best to come up with interesting and relevant topics that work wonders to introduce grammar and vocabulary. However, I often feel that part of our job as teachers is to always put ourselves in the students’ positions. For this reason, I frequently ask myself: “If I were a student, would I enjoy reading this text?” And truth be told,...

I’d like to start this post with Maya Angelou’s beautiful statement: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a subscriber to MET (Modern English Teacher), I received the October 2018 issue at home this month. Their articles cover a wide range of topics as you can see from its cover: [caption id="attachment_8235" align="alignnone" width="539"] MET magazine October 2018[/caption] One article, in particular, drew my attention: Promoting gratitude among learners by Jeffrey Dawala...

As many teachers get ready to start a new professional year, I believe we tend to let anxiety take the best of us. According to the site “How Stuff Works”, teaching is the fourth most stressful job, since we “have to be well-prepared every day”, we take a lot of work home, and have to deal with both students and sometimes parents. It is a lot of work indeed, which may leave us questioning our career choice, or our hopes and dreams for the future. Since I truly believe...

Those who know me, even if they know me just a little, are aware of how passionate I am about inclusivity and students with special educational needs. However, that is not what I am here to talk about today. I want to share what I have found this year. Not even in my wildest dreams, I would have imagined a year such as 2018. The objectives I had established back at the end of 2017 were way too bold, pretentious I would say and everything I have accomplished...

Have you ever heard of the Impostor Syndrome? Well, according to the site “Medical News Today”, “research from 2011 suggests that approximately 70% of people will experience at least one episode of Impostor Syndrome in their lives. It may be especially prevalent among women considered to be high-achievers”. The site Scientific American claims that people who suffer from this silent affliction have a “pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary”.   People from all walks of life have already stated they suffer...

When professionals I know and admire seem to have something against English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), I try to understand why. From their follow-up replies, I get the impression they see ELF as “narrowing the curriculum” and their own position as one of “demanding high” and “catering for students’ needs in the real world.” I think I get it. The problem is, however, I am too in favor of “catering for students’ needs in the real world” and to an extent even “demanding high”, but that’s precisely why...

“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

Murilo's journey to bilingualism has been an enormous learning opportunity for me, and an extraordinary field for me to put into practice many theories related to bilingualism and bilingual education in the 21st century. Murilo, now 4 years old, masters the comprehension of the English language typically spoken by me. There are some terms that I am introducing in his vocabulary that are new, but the majority of my comunication with him in English is understood by him. Now I've decided that it's time to translanguage less. In other words,...

Along the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to deliver trainings for fellow teachers who were about to take on teenage groups. The number of teachers who show some sort of insecurity and vulnerability in teaching learners aged 12 to 18 is high. And when asked to give reasons, the answers are frequently the same: “Well, teenagers are bad-tempered and misbehave”. “Oh, they’re lazy.” “They stress me out!” “Teens are obsessed with their smartphones.” “They tend to be too absent-minded.”   While it is true that depending...

If learning is personalized and engaging, it is likely to stick. If your students have fun during your classes, that’s more likely to bring about emotions that should aid the process of learning. Also, learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it is built upon previous knowledge. We also know how powerful stories are when it comes to learning. All of the sentences above are true and are validated by current research. If we agree that this much is true, then we can proceed to some of the underlying...

It has been quite a while since I last wrote here, but it doesn`t mean that I haven`t been doing any thinking about current issues involving teachers, especially what is going on in the private ESL market. Therefore, in this month’s post, I briefly discuss how private organizations may impact our beliefs about what we do and how these ideas may be deconstructed. As I write these lines, many schools and English language institutes in Brazil are being taken over and are being ‘reformatted’ by other companies, a.k.a. holdings,...

  Though the maker movement has been around for a long time now, and if we consider Dewey, Papert, among other educators, we'd say it's been around for decades! If we go event further and look at makerspace as those garages where kids used to work with their parents on projects, fix things and solve a problem, it's been really there for a long time.  However, the so-called maker movement in Brazil is really getting traction right now. Schools are making budgets, considering options to innovate, to change learning...

When we ask learners what they like most about school, their usual response is ‘Nothing’, ‘My friends’, ‘Going home’, and few of them come up with a teacher or a subject that they actually enjoy. One of the possible reasons why learners are disengaged from their schooling is because they see no real purpose in what they learn there in relation to their future lives or employability prospects. They usually go to school because they have to and they have to pass the ‘Vestibular’ or ‘ENEM’. Another intriguing aspect...

How often do you revisit and reexamine your beliefs about teaching and learning and about yourself as a teacher? It is easy to find fault in other people's beliefs or practices: “So and So still operate with the concept of X. Don't they know research shows no evidence it works?”; “How can anyone still use the Y methodology in the 21st century, when our students are so different from decades ago?”; or even “There goes So and So again on and on about the latest teaching fad with...

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...

In this post I propose a discussion on how much emphasis we sometimes put on the teacher, trainers, book writers, speakers without discussing the impact on learners. For some reason we often rejoice in our achievements, which is great and definitely necessary to motivate us to reach higher. However, I still wonder when we will be able to collaborate towards quality education and real changes in the 21st century. Education for all learners in the various contexts we work in, development to the teachers that seek support and...

We all have our own peculiar little habits that are deeply ingrained in our routine, don’t we? Some of us always put on the socks before the trousers. Others check their phones as soon as they wake up. These aren’t conscious decisions, but rather things that we simply do without really thinking about it, usually because someone told us to do it a long time ago, or we saw someone doing it and assumed that was the “right” way. When we teach, we also have out little habits,...

Translanguaging is a term that was first coined in 1994 as trawsieithu (translanguaging in Welsh) by Welsh researcher Cen Williams in order to refer to the processes in which English and Welsh were used for different reasons and purposes in the same class. For example, students would read or listen to content in English and talk about it in Welsh. Ofelia Garcia made the term more popular in her book Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective (2009) and later in Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education...

Scene 1: Big conference in Brazil. The speaker, a Brazilian, goes onto the stage to begin her plenary session. While she speaks, you notice she makes some mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, grammar mistakes, but the content of her presentation is relevant and she manages to get her message across. At the end of her talk, you hear teachers, the vast majority of them Brazilians, commenting on the mistakes and criticising the presenter. Scene 2: Same big conference. The presenter on the stage is not a native speaker of English, and...

There are many English language teaching professionals working under this umbrella term in specific areas such as English as a foreign language or English in the public sector. The diversity of smaller groups may be  a great opportunity for professionals aiming at increasing their repertoire of experiences as they have the chance to discuss the different contexts in online groups, courses or large events, such as the BRAZ-TESOL International Conference. One of the common complaints among teachers in our field is the fact that we are not often respected...

It was two years ago today that I wrote a post for this same blog entitled Why don’t we talk about writing? The 15th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference had just ended and I discussed why there were so few talks on the subject of writing and why not many people chose to attend them, mine included. I was disappointed with the small turnout in my talk with my colleague Silvia Caldas, and also with the very little focus on this subject in conferences in general, and I conjectured why this...

One of the most intriguing new concepts around bilingual education in the 21st century is translanguaging. According to Ofelia Garcia in her book Bilingual Education in the 21st Century - A Global Perspective, translanguaging is "the act performed by bilinguals of accessing different linguistic features or various modes of what are described as autonomous languages, in order to maximize communicative potential" (Ofelia García, 2009: 140). But what is it in practical terms? Think back of the time when you only knew one language. You were limited to one linguistic code, to one...

The most important single characteristic of the flipped classroom is the fact that classroom time is not used for content presentation, but rather for group discussions about students' findings and further investigation. So, going back to the two questions I’ve asked on my first post, on the 6th of June, I believe we already have an interesting answer to the first question. (What to do? Flip the classroom.) But we still need ideas on how to start the journey. A good way to start flipping your classes is to...

There’s a woman with a standing microphone next to a wooden stool on a stage. She speaks for about an hour and the paying audience laughs every now and then. What is this? It’s a stand-up comedy. Or maybe it isn’t. Oftentimes, when we are working on skills in a language class, we treat genres as something simple to identify. You see the characteristics of the the text, you can tell the genre, or so we would like to think. Sometimes we can do that even before reading or listening...

Criticism hurts. Hence, it can be stressful, tense and sometimes traumatic. Still, it is such a natural part of life, including professional life, that knowing how to make the best out of it is an important skill for us to keep emotionally healthy. Below I list a few aspects to consider and that can prove useful in our field. Criticism or feedback? We are faced with criticism on a regular basis and no matter where it comes from, we have to learn if it is meant to be...

CLIL has been the starting point for the majority of bilingual education programs and methodologies across the globe. Born in 1994 with the establishment of the European Community, CLIL was an attempt to standardize bilingual education approaches within the comunity, or at least to determine a range of  practices that, based on a common concept, could be considered efficient to lead to various levels of bilingualism. That's what David Marsh (the leader of the group that coined the term in the 90s) call "the many faces of CLIL". The...

An unsuccessful lesson observation. A promotion you didn’t get. An opportunity you were not offered. I believe everyone I know has been through a tough professional moment at some point in their career. And I also believe I don’t know anyone who rejoices facing problems and always sees them as fantastic opportunities to grow and develop when they are going through those issues. Having said that, the attitude one takes regarding such situations is what will shape the professional they will become. Let’s discuss some of these situations,...

Just like many readers of this blog, I was born and raised in the pre Google era. Actually, I am not sure there really is such a historical division, but I truly recommend one for those studying history. The world has dramatically changed after Google, and these changes have affected a lot of areas, including education. Back in the days before Google, for example, we would need an expensive encyclopedia (a set of 20, or more, large, thick volumes) to do our school researches and homework. So, yes, in...

It is said that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth. Apparently, this concept was conceived by the Nazi master of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Considering that Nazism was supported by so many, and for so long[1]- despite the horror of World War II - he was probably right. In ELT, saying that something is a lie is probably a bit excessive, but we do have our mantras and things that are repeated over and over again until they become unquestionable. That is, unless a subversive mind begins...

Innovations in various fields and changes in society behaviour and interaction have been giving us teachers a plethora of opportunities to grow and maximise language learning. Research has also shown that the skills learners need to develop require action from the very beginning of our students' academic life. In this 'framework for 21st century learning' one of the core skills is collaboration. In some contexts we have already progressed quite a lot with learners, encouraging group work, pair work, peer correction, for instance. Perhaps assessment is still an issue...

It goes without saying that vocabulary is one aspect language acquisition that plays an important role when learning one mother’s tongue, let alone a foreign language. I have often had learners saying that they can fairly get by grammatical structures and the real factor holding them back is how to put words within this lexical construct. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula through which one can get by learning new lexis, being it from the word level to the sentence level; however, memory seems to be one key element...

Before you read it, think quickly: Why do learners think native speakers make better teachers? Now let me share something with you: I have recently come across some works by sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists --- as well as social theorists, and I began to wonder why I had not related the latest developments of linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics to language learning and teaching.  As English teachers, we tend to pay more attention to what applied linguists are doing in our field rather than think about macro issues that lead...

I plan all the lessons I teach, but I don’t teach all the lessons I plan. The initial idea for this one was not mine; I found it online. I was looking for different ways to review past modals of speculation for an FCE prep group. Having a group filled with teenagers, ages ranging from 13 to 16, I wanted something cool to use for a TTT (test-teach-test) approach that would eventually culminate in… past papers. Oh, woe. A fellow teacher had posted a suggestion online: why not use a...

Imagine you are feeling a little feverish. What do you do? Bloodletting, of course! You Google the nearest barbershop and get an Uber there so the barber can slash a vein and cure you by removing foul humours from your body. If you’re lucky, they may even use leeches! This may sound absurd to you, but the role of professions changes over time. The teaching profession wouldn’t be any different. Beginning on a very personal example, I’ve been deeply affected by recent changes in mindset and communication. The abilities...

This year, 2018, is a landmark. Schools across the globe, from kindergarten to high school, starting this year, have now only students from the Generation Z. That is, young people in school age were all born in the 21st Century. That brings us the need to understand this generation, the way they act, the way they behave, the way they see the world around them and think. There are some remarkable differences in the mindsets of these young people compared to the ones from other generations. I will only point out some that...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

Using students’ L1 (their first language) has come under a lot of criticism for several years. According to Scrivener (2011), this ‘bad press’ is due to ‘an over-strong reaction to some traditional teaching styles in which teachers only used L1 in class’, which prevented learners from hearing or using any English. As a consequence, many teachers feel discouraged from using L1. Nevertheless, there is a growing number of ELT professionals who are trying to promote a paradigm shift and encourage teachers to embrace the use of the mother...