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...

Hello again! It's good to be back after a short absence - a lot has happened since I last posted and I'll be writing about one those things here. I had the great fortune in June to be at a fabulous conference in lovely Cancun, Mexico. While I was there I was talking about the use of previous knowledge and meaningful learning, and focused in on all the previous knowledge that learners have in English of songs and particularly certain lines of songs. Like a dream come true, the night...

Why do we make lists? Jillian Steinhauer  in a 2012 blog post  says "We are a society of listers." In other words, we could all be called "glazomaniacs" according to Dictionary.com which defines "glazomania" as a passion for list-making. We seem to enjoy lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, best-sellers lists, new year resolution lists and blog posts such as "10 BYOD apps for ELT". But why? Umberto Eco in a very interesting interview to Der Spiegel talks about the place of lists in society. He says: "The list is...

  The challenge of being a non-native English speaker in a native English speaking world I recently came across EFL teacher James Taylor's blog post about NNESTs' struggle to be respected as English teachers by students and employers. In his guest blog post, James lists a number of advantages of being a NNEST over a being a NEST. Wow! I'd never given much thought to the issue of NNESTs (non-native English speaking teachers opposed to NESTs -- native English speaking teachers), and yet I have belonged to this group most...

June has arrived and with it the end of the first academic semester of the year. This period comes with mixed feelings, feeling of duty fulfilled for a term well worked, but also a kind of uncertainty whether or not the groups will remain the same for the following term. In regular schools, enrolments are compulsory as well as taking the whole course, but in Private Language Schools [PLSs], as they are “free courses” as called in  Brazil, there is no obligation to attend the whole course. So, back...

I must have mentioned before on this blog that I teach adolescents in their last year of High School. Needless to say, this is a period of great anxiety as most of them intend to go to university and now have to choose a career. It is the time when most of them realise that their days of “automatic pilot” - in which they simply progress from one grade to another - are over and that making a decision based on the question What do I want to...

In a previous post, I discussed about the importance of technology invisibility in the classroom. According to Lehman (2010), technology should be : Ubiquitous = available all the time. Necessary = used when necessary. Invisible = a natural procedure. Another author who thinks likewise is Bax (2011). The author coined the term "normalisation" to address the issue of technology in language education. He states that technology should be normalised to serve its real purpose in education. But, what is normalisation? I'll give an example: have you ever heard technophobes saying "No,...

Trying to respond to a high demand for English instruction, English schools pop up  everywhere, without a proper control from the government in relation to  the educational background of the teachers  who will work in such schools.  Called  “cursos livres” by the Ministry of Education, they are not part of the regular school system, which means they don’t follow any specific regulations . Since there is no criterium regarding the teaching of English in preschools and day care centers, a theoretical background is many times substituted by the  teachers’...

I was supposed to have published this post on May the 01st. As I knew I was going to be in João Pessoa for the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference, I really wanted my post to be about teacher development – mainly about attending conferences. I had even read some articles and blog posts on it in order to find inspiration for my post (“Teacher Development belongs to Teachers” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Attending Conferences” by James Taylor, “7 things about reflecting on conference presentations” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Teachers...