Every professional in the realm of education has the power to influence positive change, for instance, aligning theory to practice as extensively discussed. In this post, leadership will be brought to light for a discussion on how educational leaders may contribute to building the learning environment and causing a great impact on education. Firstly, we are assuming that the more senior you are, the more chances you have to affect the lives of learners somehow connected to you. That means a trainer may impact teachers, who will in turn...

When Ofelia Garcia in her book Bilingual Education in the 21st Century - a Global Perspective  states that "bilingual education is the only possible education in the 21st century", what does she mean by that? Is she saying that she envisages a future with only bilingual schools? Bilingual Education, for a lot of people, is still the kind of Education you have at bilingual or international schools. It is, therefore, a kind of Education that is only available to a few privileged people - the ones who can afford...

Williams and Burden (2010: 202) beautifully state that “Language classrooms in particular need to be places where learners are encouraged to use the new language to communicate, to try out new ways of expressing meanings, to negotiate, to make mistakes without fear, and to learn to learn from successes and failures. Emotionally, a suitable environment for language learning should be one that enhances the trust needed to communicate and which enhances confidence and self-esteem”.  In order to create such an environment, one possible approach would be to foster...

We have recently celebrated Women’s Day. As I walked to and from work this last week, I kept thinking about the female students that I have. Their names sometimes carry a lot of meaning: the victorious Vitoria. The brave Valentina. Lucia, full of light. This reminded me of Esperanza, a strong female character from a book I love, The House on Mango Street, by Mexican American writer Sandra Cisneros. Esperanza is a young girl who describes the world and the people around her. "In English my name means ‘hope’. In...

We often discuss this question both in the field of education and during informal conversations elsewhere. A similar debate is not that frequent among other professions, for instance we do not seem to ask whether doctors are born or need to study hard to develop. Many people advocate that teachers choose to work in the area out of passion or due to vocation. Contrasting it to other occupations and you will be glad to board a plane whose pilot is not simply someone who loves flying (Green, 2015)....

One important thing I learned from my baby is that laziness starts from a very early age. Having been talking to him only in English for more than 2 years now, I can notice his incredible understanding of my production in spoken English. He understands nearly everything I speak to him, reacts appropriately to commands, and answers to my questions – but the answers are only in Portuguese. I am investigating why he doesn't reply to me "in my language", and I am coming to the conclusion that...

Power To The Music              It is funny how people (students) may instantly think of CCR’s ‘Have you ever seen the rain?’ when you start off a conversation with the chunk ‘Have you ever Blahed?’. Have you ever (seen the rain? - lol) stopped and thought how powerful music can be in terms of learning opportunities? I bet you have, though. As I see it, music is what comes through my ears and touches my heart. In that sense here lies a powerful tool through which mankind has evolved with. Not only...

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. William Shakespeare "If I could have a second go at life, being back to school, but still knowing everything I know now, I'd make so many things differently." How many of you have already thought, said...

I have once read an article that stated that the word ‘motivation’ is linked to the word ‘emotion’ because both of them come from the Latin word ‘motere’ which means ‘to move towards emotion’. I distinctly remember this, because it has changed the way think about motivation. It is connected to emotion, as what drives a person (our students) are their interests. I have come across that question (title) so many times throughout the 14 years of experience I have undergone. Moreover, that has always brought other questions to...

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the lack of balance in the past BRAZ-TESOL conferences as far as gender was concerned. Just to refresh our memories, the results were the following[1]: As I stated at the time, it was (and is) not a matter of pointing fingers and finding culprits, but of trying to understand why the number of female speakers is so low in BRAZ-TESOL conferences which, I believe most of you would agree, is the most relevant conference for ELT professionals in Brazil. It was...

Making mistakes is often perceived with a negative connotation, possibly due to the educational background we come from. Errors and mistakes were to be corrected immediately, we were tested, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of the manner of correction, and encouraged to memorise the given information. That is how I was often taught at school. The way we approach mistakes changes how we perceive education, and some of us became teachers with an ideal to make a difference and a positive impact on learning. Not all our learners are...

EFL teachers that change into a bilingual education environment, often tend to forget that they are not teaching language as the primary goal anymore and that has dramatic implications. The acronym CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning - implies that there is much more to it than just language teaching. But what is there besides language? The first big addition is the fact that language is not the ultimate goal anymore: it now plays the role of a tool for students to learn content from other subject areas....

I gave much thought about what I should write at the end of the year. I asked teachers on my new Instagram account for help and, as usual, had many great contributions. Someone told me to write about something that was relevant to me right now and other people suggested writing about what I had done this year. This article will have a bit of both. It’s December and while I would like this to be a boost of energy for you, but I know it is not going...

We language educators often get asked what else we do apart from teaching English. Now, this takes the biscuits on the grounds that some people are hell-bent on this to mystify whether we take our profession seriously or not. It is generally known that an L2 teacher is supposed to be someone graduated, qualified or trained with required abilities to handle the teaching/learning process in a full variety of ways and environments. Unfortunately, many L2 teachers still face much criticism, discrimination and suffer mockery based on the fact that...

Photo from ELTPics by Branislav Kubecka  I’d like to thank all EFL/ESL teachers who agreed to participate and collaborate in my research of this important issue.   Burnout:  physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress (Oxford dictionary). Burnout is a theme which seems to have been frequently discussed among EFL teachers recently. I myself have reflected about it since I experienced a certain awful situation in 2012. I can assure you it is as if one steals the floor under your feet and the consequences are extreme and pure chaos. And  I tell you: either...

When I earned my degree in Linguistics from college many years back, the only thing I had in mind was continuing teaching English and preparing my own materials. At the time it seemed to be a sensible thing to do. So, I kept teaching one-on-one classes for many years and I enjoyed every bit of it. I was committed to helping my students, some of whom I taught for many years. Nonetheless, I felt that I was missing out on something. I took courses, I read books, I...

My whole formal educational background is academic, from my B.A. in Journalism, to my master's in Teaching English as a Second Language and my doctorate in Education. Everything I have published so far is academic, about learning and teaching. Most of my presentations in conferences are about academic topics, ranging from second language writing, assessment, and teacher development. Only recently have I started presenting on topics related to leadership and management. Thus, I can safely say that I am an academic in a leadership role. It's not that I...

Published on November 20th, the first part of this post tries to briefly describe the trends of ELT in Brazil from the early 90’s to the late 2000’s. In it, I also included the themes and topics of some of the plenary sessions in international conferences and the names of the speakers who delivered them.  In the second and last part of this article, I try to describe how the 2nd decade of the 2000’s addresses new trends and issues brought about by the demands of a society...

  "And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back." Robert Frost (1874-1963) It's the beginning of the semester and you are still getting to know your group of 10-year-olds. You have only just begun to set the ground rules for the group and you are still in doubt whether you should assign them homework or do the first homework assignments together in class so that they...

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain...

It is a fact that the crisis has arrived at schools in Brazil. There is usually a delay in the effect of the crisis on regular schools compared to other businesses, especially because parents resist to make any changes in their children's education, unless there is no other option after they have cut all other less important expenses. But the longer the crisis lingers, the more likely it is for the regular schools to start feeling its effects. This is happening now here. This year, one million students have...

A few days ago, the Rio de Janeiro Secretary of Education criticized the actress Tais Araujo for her TED Talk in which she shares some of the challenges she will soon encounter as a mother of black children. The Secretary described it as ‘racial stupidity’. Needless to say, I was shocked to hear that. It made me think a lot about my privileges and the industry we work at. I’ve been working in ELT for 15 years, the last 4 working independently. For 11 years, I was part of...

How did you get into English Language teaching, and why do you still do it? I come from a family of musicians and English first caught my interest when I came across Pink Floyd and The Ramones with their lyrics and fast singing. My English teacher at Secondary School (Neusa Lombardi) spotted this ‘talent for English’ and rewarded me with a scholarship to her school. Once there, I developed a liking for teaching, which lead me to read Languages at University. As a teacher, I felt the need to develop...

What an unforgettable day! November 11th, 2017. The launch of the BRAZ-TESOL Espírito Santo Chapter took place on November 11th, 2017. The amphitheater was packed with joyful and engaged people eager to share and learn, to give and take. There were even some birds flying and chattering from time to time inside the amphitheater. This was their unique way of saying they wanted to flock together. I opened the event by mentioning a TED Talk video named Empowering Yourself to Create your Best Performance by Karen Furneaux. She uses...

PART 1: from the early 90’s to the early 2010’s What you are about to read is by no means to be regarded as an accurate description of ELT practices in Brazil throughout the last 3 decades. Rather, what I attempt to describe below is simply my very own perception of how ELT has throughout the all these years positively added on, rethought, deconstructed and reconstructed itself to stay in tune with global changes and, more importantly, with the local societal changes that more than ever have been the...

I’m finally done with my research project. And with my writing, too. While it was an exhausting enterprise, it was also incredibly self-fulfilling. Most people tend to think that research is about collecting data and statistics. A lot of people look at research as if it was conducted by a team of experienced academic researchers committed to finding naked, plain truth. It’s not. Or rather, it shouldn’t be. In his article entitled “The Uselessness of Certainty,” Physicist Carlo Rovelli claims that “the very foundation of science is to...

A not-very-happy piece of news has been recently published about Brazil by Education First [1] on its worldwide English language test (https://www.ef.com.br/epi/): Brazil was ranked 41 in an 80-country list. This low-English-proficiency result has been the headline on many popular news websites, language institute social networks, and blogs since it came out a few days ago.  It is important to note that Brazil has scored better and better since the first edition of the English Proficiency Index in 2011, but there seems to be a rush for English proficiency...

I usually find myself looking for formulas or easy ways to solve these little problems we come across in life, such as a way to fix something on my smartphone that is not working properly or how to use a specific tool to make my job easier. In this regard, the internet has helped us a lot providing the kind of information we need and the solution for our problems in a few seconds. And that’s great! It saves a lot of time in our busy routines and...

For the past few years, I've been drawn into the world of cognitive sciences and what learning is, what it entails, and how the brain works. To my mind, all teachers should have sound knowledge on the way the brain functions as it is the brain the ultimate place we work on. How could you possibly know that the things you've chosen to do in class work or not, and how can you assess the situation and perchance change tactics and your approach if you cannot fathom the...

I was reading about an interesting initiative called The Empathy Museum that is coming to my hometown (you can find out more about it here) and caught myself thinking about the times I put my foot in my mouth. Then, new windows opened in my mind’s browser and I started wondering about the (probably many) times I might have failed to notice I had done that. I know this may sound a bit gloomy, but bear with me. This is essentially an optimistic post. You see, just like everyone...

Em várias conversas com professores na DeProfPraProf sobre a estrutura de uma boa entrevista inicial, levantamento de necessidades, apresentação de proposta, fechamento, etc, têm aparecido também algumas perguntas sobre como fazer o nivelamento dos alunos. Daí eu gosto sempre de perguntar qual a finalidade do nivelamento onde, como todo mundo pode imaginar, sempre tenho como resposta que ele existe para podermos já iniciar as aulas no “ponto certo” das habilidades linguísticas do aluno em questão. Nesses momentos eu me lembro dos testes de nivelamento que eu apliquei em cada uma...

Following the topic of previous months - assessing young learners - I will here discuss a bit some types we can use with this age groups. Effective language assessment provides chances for children to use their abilities to demonstrate what they can do at their appropriate level. It requires acknowledgement of the principles we have already discussed last month and also of the curriculum goals as well as children's cognitive developmental, emotional and psychological stages [as I have briefly discussed even before]. In order to suit young learners’ reality best,...

In 1985, Braj Kachru published a book called 'Standards, Codification and Sociolinguistic Realism: The English Language in the Outer Circle'. In it, he placed the world's Englishes into one of three concentric circles: the inner circle, which is composed of those countries where English is the first, or dominant, language; the outer circle, represented by those nations where English, although not the mother tongue, has played an important role for a significant period of time; and the expanding circle where English is used as a lingua franca, and is therefore widely studied as...

If you have spent some time online in the past months, particularly on Facebook, you may have come across a number of posts followed by hundreds of comments, basically related to gender equality, or lack of it, in ELT events. Gender equality in general is an issue that has been discussed for a long time, hence Women’s International Day (celebrated on March 8th) and Women’s Equality Day (celebrated on August 26th). Although the demand for gender equality is not new, in most professional areas the balance is far...

I have been asking myself to what extent the traditional way of teaching listening actually contributes to learners becoming better listeners… John Field changed my relationship with listening, and since I first read his book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’, I have been looking for answers whenever I teach a lesson that includes Skills Development Listening. I guess when we start teaching, most of us are really happy to be able to deliver a listening lesson with PRE-WHILE-POST stages that seem to be relevant, effective and coherent to learners....

Confession: for most of my adult, academic life I have always feared being discovered as a fraud. I even used to phrase it as this: I am afraid that one day people will find out that I am not as good as they think. I remember saying this many times, to close friends, to advisors, to myself. I did not know, at the time, that there were many people that felt like me. So many that there were studies related to this feeling. On one of my favorite episodes...

The English language proficiency ghost has still been hovering over novel and experienced non-native teachers. When a new teaching position or professional development opportunity pops up, despite the deep desire to fill in that open spot, there comes the BOOH of not being “good enough” in the language we are supposed to master and use just as well as our own. An immediate consequence of the “Is your English good enough?” question is the segregation between native and non-native English speakers in the job market. Many job ads require...

First of all, an apology. A few months ago I started to write about working as a self-employed teacher. I had the intention of writing a whole series, but only managed the first one before life got in the way. Here I am, though, back and ready to get the series going again. I have been a freelance* teacher first in Rio de Janeiro and now Curitiba for over 10 years.  I thoroughly enjoy it, so much so that I shudder at the possibility of ever having to go...

Teaching Young Learners have always interested me and assessing them comes hand in hand with it, obviously, so, for sometime now, I have been researching this area and developed a work on speaking assessment which I would like to share with you. In order not to bore you all with an ginormous reading, I have broken the work into some parts so each month I am sharing a bit. I have already talked about YL characteristics and this month I am talking about types of speaking assessment and their...

By definition reading is the action of a person who looks at and understands the meaning of written or printed words or symbols. But there is much more to that than meet the eyes. Nuttall (1996:2) believes that not only does reading comprise decoding, deciphering and identifying words, but it is above all an opportunity for learners to draw meaning from the written text. Reading is a significant area of development in a language, either native or foreign, as we are surrounded by words daily. Unfortunately, some teachers are...

David Crystal once said that the biggest challenge for teachers is “without a doubt to keep pace with the language change”. And I could not agree more! Now, my question is. How to do it? How to keep pace with one of the most complex aspects of human behaviour? Taking into consideration that many countries, states, cities, towns, regions, areas, and tribes are alive and changing, developing, building language by the second, how are we supposed to keep track of it to then help our students? “Watch TV series online, you...

If you follow discussion threads on social media, you have probably noticed that from time to time teachers - either new to the profession or people who, like me, have been on the road for many years - have concerns about our professional life. It is not uncommon to read questions related to the real importance of having a certificate, of doing this or that course or sometimes questioning if being an EFL teacher is really (or maybe still) worth it. This kind of comment led me to...

Discussing creativity in English language teaching and learning has definitely contributed to many of the changes we have already observed in our field - both in the classroom and in teacher education. However, some teaching contexts are definitely dependent on more controlled approaches - sometimes because of teachers' beliefs, sometimes because of school programmes, parents' influence. In Brazil, we were lucky to have Freire debating the ideal conditions for education that promotes change in the world, rather than generates copies of our old selves. Yet, two decades after his...

Almost two years ago I decided to take on an endeavour that would confirm to me some of the most important theories about bilingualism and bilingual education. My baby boy, Murilo, was a little over one year old then, and I decided to grow him up bilingual. I read many articles about it, about the different techniques that were there, according to the context around the families involved, so I could choose the best one for my own. I also decided to challenge some of the theories related...

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending an event at the Braz-Tesol BH Chapter, “The 5 Cs in the 21st Century”. Flawlessly organized by Bia Hedegaard and her amazing team, this was the first event I went to after being involved in the organization of “BrELT on The Road”. One of the plenaries featured the Assessment Diva, Natália Guerreiro. She talked about what’s holding us back in terms of teacher development, and it resonated a lot with experiences I have had lately. Among other things, Natália mentioned how attending...

This is the 3rd and final part of my two previous posts entitled "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". In a nutshell, while Part I describes how I managed to establish and sustain rapport with a group of teenagers - whom I hadn't taught for years on end - Part II is an account of how insightful a somewhat complicated situation turned out in the end. If you haven't read my previous posts (there's really no need for it, if you're pressed for time), here are some important details...

Exploratory Practice: "It is an indefinitely sustainable way for classroom language teachers and learners, while getting on with their learning and teaching, to develop their own understandings of life in the language classroom. It is essentially a way for teachers and learners to work together to understand aspects of their classroom practice that puzzle them, through the use of normal pedagogic procedures (standard monitoring, teaching and learning activities) as investigative tools." https://www.letras.puc-rio.br/unidades&nucleos/epcentre/index.htm It was the first day of class after a two-week winter break and I wanted to do something other...

Creativity is one of the trendy words nowadays when we talk about education and work. It is usually related to innovation and it is considered one of the most important skills a person should have in the workplace in order to solve problems and come up with new ideas. “Think out of the box”, “Step out of your bubble”, “Take risks” are some of the advice business articles on creativity offer. It is so valued that it is frequently mentioned as an essential 21st century skill students should...

Intelligibility is what matters. I mean, anyone who wishes to learn a foreign language is looking for the possibility of being understood by those who speak that very same language. Otherwise, why would we learn it? But I do take issue with the overuse and narrowness with which this word has been used by an increasing number of teachers. I do see it as laziness from time to time, which is rather unfortunate. Maybe your students have not used the correct word, but you still managed to understand it,...

If so, how has it helped you to know your learners better? And furthermore, how has it benefitted your learners’ experience? Going back to the two perspectives explored on my last post (richmondshare.com.br/its-time-to-start-over/), here are some of the choices I have made so far: Leaving our comfort zone I have been working mainly with peer observation. It has proven to be a powerful tool not only to foster both cohesiveness and trust among teachers, but also to shed a light on aspects of our teaching that we cannot perceive on...

The new world we live in pushes us to unavoidable changes. The dynamism it brings to society forces us to rethink our concepts and how we position ourselves in light of the ever growing challenges we have to face. In this scenario, the school and, more specifically, the teacher is being redefined. But what should be the role of this new teacher? Knowledge is not a priviledge of a few anymore. The access to information is universal. You don't need to have an encyclopedia, or thousands of books, to...

Below is a follow-up to one my post entitled Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Part I",  which went online precisely on March 3, 2016. In it, I attempted to describe how terrified I was by the prospect of having to teach a group of kids exiting childhood and stepping into the much dreaded adolescence, at least in the eyes of a large number of teachers, parents, coordinators and educators of all sorts who are somewhat in charge of not letting things get out of hand. The account I am...

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...

I have always been fascinated by technology. And when I met Ana Maria Menezes[1], my mentor  in this area, I realised that I would never teach or train teachers the same way. So my beliefs about teaching and training have changed completely. Having been a member of the LT SIG[2] in the IATEFL [3]  and have recently joined the LT SIG subcommittee , I decided to reflect a little on how technology has impacted the way we teach and learn, taking into consideration what I have observed in the Brazilian...

It’s clear to us by now that the role of the teacher has been changing dramatically. Gone are the days when the teacher was the source of all knowledge! In an age where students are bombarded with and have free access to information, the image of the teacher as a knowledge-transmitter seems outdated and out of place. However, does that mean that professionals are now exempt from pursuing development of their own knowledge? That hardly seems to be the case! Then, what should teachers be looking to develop,...

I have been working on teaching young learners a lot in these past months, mostly due to a new project we are implementing in our school, so I really thought about sharing some of the views I have been studying which definitely impact the teaching of these students. Cognitive development According to McKay (2006:6-14) children are in constant gradual development, continuing to learn through concrete experience, what can be called ‘learn through doing’ . Their thinking develops in knowledge and intellectual skills, but not yet able to use meta-language, the...

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...

I often wonder to what extent me being an educator has influenced what I am like as a mother - and vice-versa. It is easier to see how being a teacher shaped the mother I am. For instance, I have never done my kids’ work or projects. I have guided their research (making sure they learned to question the reliability of certain sources and that there was no copying and pasting!), helped them organise their ideas coherently before putting on paper, gave my opinion on their ideas. Countless times...

It’s been a while since I last blogged, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been reflecting on my teaching practice. On the contrary, I’ve almost died from overthinking. This is what I’ve been doing lately: I’ve been thinking about missed opportunities, failures, achievements, goals and dreams. I’ve called on my memories to reflect on what kind of teacher I used to be and what kind of teacher I am now and what I have learned during these years rather than only think about the things that I’ve missed....

I have decided to write about these “types” of English as a lot is being discussed in terms of approaches in teaching due to lots of schools claiming to be “bilingual”. Well, in fact, let’s discuss those two things - what facet of English we deal with in our regular teaching reality and what bilingualism entails. Let’s start with the fact that we live in Brazil and in this country the official language is Portuguese and it is really difficult to function in this country in any other...

When you think of Finland, what comes to mind? Naked saunas? Ice fishing? Smoked fish? Nokia? What might also spring to mind is a highly successful education system. Successful in terms of academic attainment, the number of students leaving school and entering higher education, and levels of satisfaction amongst pupils, parents and teachers. What makes Finland so special? A number of factors have been identified. Amongst which are: • Teaching is a highly respected, well-paid profession • There are no school inspections or teacher evaluations • The school system is highly...

We have been discussing the importance of mindset and beliefs in education. The impact of the teachers' confidence that their learners can achieve higher, as well as their thoughts about their own teaching to influence learning outcomes. Focusing on teacher development, here are some tips of what teachers can do and how leaders - trainers or managers - can contribute to the teachers' growth mindset towards productive professional development that may benefit not only learners, but groups of teachers as well as the schools they work. From my point of view, even...

First we had industrialization. Then this was followed by electrification, which in turn preceded the age of digitalization. And now, apparently, we are accelerating at what seems like breakneck speed towards what the International Bar Association calls the 'Industrial Revolution 4.0'. This fourth industrial revolution is being, and will be, marked by dramatic changes in the way people live, socialize and work. The driving forces behind this massive shift are the rapid developments in robotics and 'deep thinking' software. As a result of these developments, a January 2017 report from the...

Once, when I needed to sign a document, I borrowed a pen from a person very dear to me. I immediately felt something was wrong. My handwriting wasn’t flowing naturally and I wondered what was up with the pen. That’s when I saw a 6-point white star on the top. The owner of the pen must have read some sort of criticism in my eyes, “I know cheap Biros will do the work just as well…” “Or better,” I interjected, glancing at what looked like a forged version...

I went for a meeting last week with a woman who was interested in having English lessons. She said she needed to improve her English as the company she worked for had just signed a lucrative contract with an American firm. In all respects, she was an uninhibited and confident person who held a high flying position within the company. She was used to dealing with people on a daily basis and speaking in public forums was part and parcel of her job. However, she said that when it...

We want to be called teachers. Although the word educator fits perfectly, I still prefer teacher.  It is the title that is written before my name in my college diploma.  When I graduated from college, it became my identity.  It defines what I do and who I am. Teachers receive an education that is different from other professionals in the field of education. In the Portuguese language, teacher is a title, too, and I intend to keep it. For a long time, though, I tried to make my students...

Há 3 anos participo da equipe de produção de eventos de Coaching na cidade de Uberlândia/MG e durante o mesmo período criei alguns eventos presenciais e vários virtuais de formação continuada para professores de idiomas, durante os quais pude observar que, por algum motivo, os professores tendem a não participar de eventos presenciais ou às vezes até mesmo de acessar um link gratuito para assistir à certas palavras num horário marcado. Se você tem o hábito de participar de eventos de formação continuada para profissionais de ELT com certeza...

Two things have happened recently that served as inspiration for this post. One of them is the (erroneous) belief that one can only learn a language if his/her teacher is a native speaker. Who would figure this is still a debate in 2017. The other is the #accentpride that aims at fighting the prejudice that only a native-speaker accent (which one?) is the correct way to speak English. With those two things in mind, I have decided to share the story of how I learned to speak English and how I...

“Relax,” many teachers tell students, “if you have communicated, it’s all right.” Indeed. What is it, however, that counts as effective communication? At what moment can we chill out knowing we have done a good job in communicating? For some teachers, communication is getting your message across. It doesn’t matter if the learner has made mistakes, if the listener has had to pay very close attention, if understanding the learner demanded many turns of negotiation. In sharp contrast, there are people who will maintain learners don’t need ‘to communicate’ only....

During the final grading meeting of a CELTA course I was assessing recently, one of the tutors asked me about the extent to which a trainee's language should be taken into account when deciding on a final grade. It is an issue which has come up again and again in recent years, especially since the internationalization of teacher training courses like the CELTA. It is an issue which goes to the very heart of how the language has been transformed by globalization, with some commentators now referring to 'globish'. It also raises the question...

The word feminism is not new, though the understanding of the concept seems to have changed. We shifted from the image of women burning bras in the 60’s to the powerful image of the most recent Women’s March in the United States and in other countries demanding equal rights. I emphasise the word equal and quote the Brazilian philosopher Mario Sergio Cortella in a video snippet that went viral some time ago. In this snippet[1] he briefly and eloquently explains why feminism is not the opposite of machismo....

We have all been there: first day at work, first day in a new job, first day with new coursebook, new group, many 'new' situations throughout our careers. There will always be a first in our path and from my experience, the most successful moments have been those when I had the support from peers or leaders that believed I could go through the initial phase and fly higher and that offered help. Inspired by those fantastic professionals that crossed my path, I decided to write this first post on...

“A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” ― Ruth Beechick, An Easy Start in Arithmetic, Grades K-3 In my last post, I talked about writing. The reason why I wrote about it is because I write, and writing is my journey into the core of the English language. The more I write, the more I learn about collocations, spelling, and how words are combined to form sentences. I also learn how words can impact one’s understanding and how they can persuade, motivate, inspire, and...

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in London, visiting family and friends. I also took the opportunity to assess a CELTA course over there. In one of the pre-intermediate lessons I was observing there were a good many Japanese and Brazilian learners. These students seemed to be playing their stereotypical roles to a tee. Whereas the Brazilians tended to be outspoken, extrovert, and more fluent at the expense of accuracy,  the Japanese learners were cautious, introverted, and less fluent but more accurate. Watching the classroom scene...

One of the most difficult things I have been facing over the years is how hard it is to eager adult students to learn (and to stay at the Institution), especially, after the pre-intermediate level, when “the business start to get more serious”. At this level, they start to lack confidence in their ability to learn and use a new language. Aside from having busy lives and lots of other commitments, this year, Brazil is facing a major economic crisis that has put “luxury items”, such as studying another...

We all start teaching for different reasons and we keep teaching for even more diverse reasons sometimes. Besides, each of us will encounter a unique variety of professionals that will inspire us to be greater and others that may help us question our career choices. There seems to be no yellow brick road to follow, but perhaps a plethora of yellow brick roads to choose from, with no right or wrong answer, except that you need to enjoy the journey and aim at your own version of 'Oz'. The...

Much has been written and said about tests. A lot of teachers, students, and parents don’t see the point of tests, especially when all tests do is test discrete items of grammar and vocabulary , especially when it comes to summative tests, which assess what students have learned over a period of time. I myself don’t believe in the predictive value of tests, either. I don’t think effective test takers are  more likely to achieve success in their lives. Many other factors impact one’s professional life: Interpersonal skills and problem solving...

I’ve recently (more deeply) started to reflect on responsibility and language learning. Where it lies. Who is really responsible for it – the teacher or the learner? For quite a bit now, teachers ( and I am, mainly, focusing on language learning institutes, but I think much may apply to many other educational institutes around the world) have been focusing on getting learners to “learn without feeling they’re learning”. In part I blame it to the most common understanding of the communicative approach – and that’s understandable. Once we were told...

Pensar é algo natural para todos nós.  Segundo a Wikipedia, é uma faculdade do nosso sistema mental através da qual modelamos o mundo para nele podermos transitar e agir segundo a nossa vontade. Pensar vem de fábrica, ou seja, é grátis. Por esse motivo, não se aprende a pensar. Se é assim, por quê então ainda vemos tanta gente por aí dizendo que você só será fluente em um idioma quando conseguir pensar nele? O SENSO COMUM Ainda outro dia, estava eu a observar uma professora em uma turma de...

Faster! Faster! I have to be able to speak English faster! If I start classes with you now, when am I going to be fluent? – says almost every student we have ever had. We’ve been living in a so-called Information Era and that speeds everything up, so let’s take a look from a more holistic point of view, shall we? As anyone born and raised in Minas Gerais state, I grew up around many popular sayings and I remember one of them said “when you go to work,...

I was asked recently what I did for a living. I replied that I was a freelance teacher and teacher trainer, working for an assortment of organizations, companies and individuals.  However, what I am part of is the 'gig economy'. A 'gigger', if you like. But what is it, and how will it affect English language teaching in the future? Gig work originally referred to jazz club musicians in the 1920s, who would ply their trade working in different clubs, more often than not without any form of social...

Ufa! Se você está nesta última parte desta “trilogia” eu confio que você já tenha caminhado pelas partes 1 e 2 anteriormente e agora veio buscar neste fechamento um exemplo claro de um GAP bem estruturado, claro e SMART. Para isso lhe apresentarei um aplicativo bem famoso de celular e/ou browser-based com o qual tenho bastante afinidade e que constitui um excelente exemplo de passo-a-passo em direção ao objetivo: o Duolingo! Eu gosto muito do Duolingo já há um bom tempo tanto para ensinar como para aprender (treino meu espanhol...

A couple of months ago a friend of mine reported on his page on Facebook a situation that had happened to his son at school. It was a Portuguese lesson and the focus was defining and non-defining relative clauses. To cut a long story short, my friend’s son defended that that the sentence My father who treats clients well is bankrupt was as correct as My father, who treats clients well, is bankrupt as, in the boy’s words, it was perfectly possible to have two fathers. After all,...

As the end of the year approaches, many of us are considering the end of term procedures and the handover of groups to the next teachers. That overall assessment of our learners is what I would like to discuss in this post, the first one I write about assessment. It is ideal that we look at our learners from the perspective of progress they made, their particular strengths and weaknesses, not only how well they perform in tests or formal tools of assessment. The results of tests or standardised tools...

[caption id="attachment_5024" align="alignleft" width="640"] https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurgenappelo/5201275209[/caption] It´s been a while that educational communities talk about digital literacies. This has been a topic of my interest for a decade now. Still, what we see is a group of educators who follow exactly the curve of innovation in which we have the early adopters way ahead, investing in the development of their digital skills, but most who are still lagging behind. Reasons are many. Some feel overwhelmed, others don´t have any idea what is out there, most lack time to even plan...

Why do my students participate in my classes? This is the question I asked myself when I first met this group of twenty s teenagers age 15-16 years old. From day one, they took part in the activities and spoke English most of the time. I was puzzled. How come? We meet at the end of the afternoon twice a week.  I’ve been teaching at my language school for ten years now and I’ve had some very nice groups and students I’ll never forget. This group is one of...

I asked an investment fund manager recently what were the big investment opportunities in Brazil at the moment. He replied that without doubt he would invest in the health and educational sectors. He specifically mentioned online courses, whether or not they are blended, as showing great potential for growth in the future, although he added that this would be a longer term investment, rather than short term. When I told him that the experience I have had with online courses has been mixed in terms of success, he didn't...

No coaching profissional nós entendemos que se as ferramentas normalmente empregadas na administração de empresas costumam trazer resultados excelentes, elas deverão funcionar também em outras áreas da vida que não apenas nos negócios. Haja visto que nós coaches somos apaixonados por tarefas, metas, objetivos e propósitos (nesta ordem) é bem simples compreender a razão pela qual a maioria das ferramentas de coaching profissional são adaptações de já consagradas ferramentas administrativas, como gráficos, matrizes, SWOT, SMART, etc. Na parte 1 deste texto eu terminei falando sobre a criação e utilização do...

Not long ago I read a blog post in Edutopia  by Jason Deehan about whether venting about students should be banned. What motivated the author to write the post was the fact that he had come across a comment about a school that discouraged teachers from venting about their students because they felt that it was a matter of respect, of not talking about students behind their back. At first, he was shocked about the idea, for venting is a teacher staple just like drinking too much coffee....

  “Language doesn’t only represent or refer to social reality (…) it constructs social reality" Claire Kramsch, in "From Practice to Theory and Back Again."                                                                                            Now  I look around and I realize how things have changed. I find myself speaking Portuguese in a teachers' room with...

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we can develop as professionals by being involved in the teaching community. Not surprisingly, the most important lessons I’ve had on teaching came from people, not books, but it wasn’t an easy process and I’d like to share some of lessons I’ve learnt from learning with others. Be humble Anyone can teach you something, no matter how experienced, qualified or renowned you are. The moment you adopt a know-it-all attitude is the moment you stop learning, and teaching is ultimately a learning...

Dentre as inúmeras atividades outdoor que trabalham autoconhecimento e motivação, uma delas, a caminhada vendada, me chama particularmente a atenção. Essa atividade consiste em nada mais que caminhar até um determinado ponto (a poucos metros de distância) estando com os olhos vendados e conseguir parar no exato local proposto. Há dois níveis para a realização desta prova: - Médio: Faz-se o caminho uma vez com o auxílio de outra pessoa que atua como um guia e depois se caminha sozinho; - Desafiante: Dá-se várias voltas em torno de si mesmo e, depois...

My son is learning to read. I sit with him as he tackles a short text. He approaches each word warily, vocalizes each individual letter, and then connects all the sounds together to pronounce the word. It’s a slow process. He stumbles over the words; his intonation is out of sync; and he sometimes gets it wrong. He has particular problems with consonant clusters (tr, fl, sp, etc). It has again made me realize how difficult it is to pronounce a word from its written form, whilst trying...

I have recently been asked whether I believed technology could replace the teachers in the future. This text is an attempt to summarise my reply and my thoughts on the matter. Teaching (in general) is an activity that dates back a long while ago. Books haven't replaced us, neither will technology. At least not unless we stop growing and keeping ourselves essential. Technology has changed the world, the way people connect, the way people learn...

  Today’s post is going to be a bit different. One of my greatest frustrations in life is that I don’t get to work with children anymore. That’s why I’m going to tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a teacher called Mary. She had a very good job at one of the most prestigious schools in town, but something was missing. Yes, money was missing and Mary found another school to work for. Who said working at one school was enough to make ends meet? Mary polished...

Durante a cerimônia de encerramento dos Jogos Olímpicos do Rio de Janeiro, transmitida ao vivo para o mundo inteiro, o Brasil deu mais uma prova de que o nosso povo é capaz de realizar grandes feitos. O espetáculo estava uma lindeza só e tudo transcorria maravilhosamente bem: apresentações impecáveis dos nossos melhores artistas, espetáculos de luz e som, coreografias de encantar a vista...

I am now on a plane on my way to Natal-RN, where I’ll participate tomorrow in BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte’s symposium, and I took this time to write this… ‘comeback post’, after a pretty long hiatus. Many months ago, I wrote a post on lesson observation here, and have owed the blog readers a follow-up post on peer observation ever since. Well… sorry. This post will not be about peer observation, but next month’s will, I promise. What I want to talk to you about this month, if...

The past is never where you think you left it.” ---- Katherine Anne Porter Having lived a year in the US, I was convinced that I had become an American. I spoke American English, my clothes were mostly American, and I did not like black beans anymore. I could not help pronouncing the word Coke without a strong American English accent I had slowly developed, and which I was proud of. I knew the American Presidents by heart and I had visited more American states than I had ever done...