Picture the scene: There I was, a shy 13-year-old boy, dressed in an itchy, ill-fitting school uniform in the middle of a German language class. Our teacher, Mrs. Dawson, a strict woman who ruled the classroom with an iron fist, is going round the class calling out people to read chunks of a text out loud, in German. Nothing could be more embarrassing for a nervous teenager in the throes of adolescence than having to read out a short passage (badly) in another language to a room full...

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure” said Bill Cosby when inquired about his successful career as a comedian, actor, author, television producer and musician. From weight loss programs to competitive jobs in multinational corporations, the desire for success is a predominant characteristic of human behavior. This strong desire is commonly referred to as simply “motivation”. As we walk in the field of English language teaching, scholars have been equally interested in investigating the relation between motivation and success...

Hello again! Many years ago I took a class in educational psychology and came across this quote from the cognitive psychologist, David Ausubel: "If I had to reduce all of cognitive psychology to one principle it would be this:  the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.  Ascertain this and teach him accordingly."  (1978:  flyleaf). I was very struck by this and was therefore even more interested to find out what cognitive psychology had to say about ‘meaningful learning’, something that we talk about vaguely in...

/riˈzilyəns/ noun: resilience; plural noun: resiliences 1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. 2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.   Some of you may be wondering why I am talking about resilience in a blog post for English teachers, but for some reason I think most will guess. And even though most (or all) I’m going to “say” here may be common knowledge, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20+ years as a teacher it’s that we need to see something...

This post was inspired by a question sent to me by a friend, who is a very talented teacher and would like to start an online course. In her message, she mentions not being able to find a good video tutorial which could help her get started and asks my opinion about the best platform.  As I read my friend's message, I thought of a way to answer it. In my opinion, a video tutorial showing us how to create an online course in simple steps would be a...

The first time I saw these images, and others like them, my immediate reaction was to laugh and think: How can people be so stupid? Why didn’t they ask someone who can actually speak English to tell them what the correct language was? Also, when on board most flights of Brazilian airlines, and listening to the ‘delightful’ aircrew English coming through the speakers, I often tsk-tsked, sniggered a little, scorned a little and complained a little: Will these people ever learn to speak proper English? More recently I have stopped laughing. Actually...

Traditionally, tests and examinations evaluate how students perform in terms of learning outcome. However in a learner-centred education system, it is more important to monitor students' learning processes and to give them direct feedback. Such feedback can help students learn more efficiently; and if used correctly, feedback can function as a very powerful tool to motivate students to learn. Consequently, monitoring students' learning processes demands the teacher's 'awareness and control' (or metacognition) of his/her own teaching. According to Professor Yuen Kwong ( 2001)  “Monitoring students' thinking processes, giving them feedback...

I have been reading a lot in order to prepare some kids courses for the second semester and I have come across a very interesting discussion, again, in young learners’ field on how support and challenge in their lessons. Learners in general, but I believe children more specifically, need a lot of support when learning, being it language or any other subject. This support can be emotional, enabling the bond and involvement needed between teachers, learners and the subject. If there is a rejection or any feeling of uneasiness...

How long does it take to learn English? That is probably the one-million question of our era. At a time of fast-food, instant messages, real-time distance interaction, and quick fixes to (almost) everything, learning a language becomes one more item on our “fast-track” bucket list. As a way to attract market and become more competitive, several English language institutes in Brazil tend to sell quick-fix programs in which students are promised to speak English in as fast as one year (maybe less?). But do such programs really offer...

We all love reading in my family - my husband and I are real bookworms. I myself also love books - I buy so many, I wonder if I’ll ever have the time to read all of them in this lifetime. I started buying books for my baby daughter long before she was born. Even before she was able to hold things up, we gave her books so that she could play with them. And she had her own library in her room – of course, she was not...