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...