For the past year I've been interested and have intensely studied, researched and explored the Maker Movement. First, just out of curiosity as I was being fed through my Twitter stream (remember I mentioned in other posts how Twitter is still my number one source of inspiration and daily doses of professional development?). The feeling that the Maker movement just made total sense to any classroom got even stronger after attending Giselle Santos's presentation on the topic at the BRAZTESOL International Conference in João Pessoa. Fate or destiny, the...

More than words (or at least more than a language!)   I like to think I am more than a language teacher. Those who know me also know that I don’t say this because I think being a language teacher is a lesser job. Quite the contrary, to tell you the truth. I am very proud of it. But when I think about what I do with my students I can see so much more than (just) a language being developed in the classroom. See, more than a teacher I dare...

I was recently asked about the most innovative educational resource I have found online. After giving it some thought, I could only think of one website, GOOGLE DRIVE. More and more, Google Drive has become part of my daily life; when I organize my thoughts, when I write alone or collaboratively, when I create activities for students, when I correct writings turned in by students, when I save documents and so forth. And again, I ask myself, how can a website change so many procedures in some people's lives and...

"Over the years, language teachers have alternated between favoring teaching approaches that focus primarily on language use and those that focus on language forms or analysis. The alternation has been due to a fundamental disagreement concerning whether one learns to communicate in a second language by communicating in that language (such as in an immersion experience) or whether one learns to communicate in a second language by learning the lexicogrammar - the words and grammatical structures - of the target language. In other words, the argument has been...

There seems to be a day to celebrate everything in Brazil.  March 14th is Bald Men’s Day and April 26th is Goalkeeper’s Day, followed by the  Flight Attendants Day on the 31st of May and Students’ Day on the 11t of August, just to mention a few . Since we have taught them all –the bald men, the flight attendants, the goalkeepers and of course the students, I think it’s just fair that we have our own Teachers’ Day. Even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is...

I got a message one of these days which said “No matter what’s happening. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. Don’t focus on what’s wrong. Find something positive in your life!” by Joel Osteen, and that made think about being a teacher and assessing students. We have just had our mid-term tests in the school and that’s the time we have formal tests, we correct them, we make a balance of their performance up to now in the semester, give feedback to students and concentrate our efforts on possible remedial work...

So what happens to thinking when you attach the word critical to it? Is this another newfangled label that promotes a novel pedagogy or method for purely commercial reasons or other ulterior motivations without substantially affecting learning? Is this label bringing into ELT something extraneous to communication skills, such as political causes and social concerns? We in the language teaching profession are rightly suspicious of anything that claims to be new, fashionable, or revolutionary nowadays. For example, “Critical thinking” is definitely one of the watchwords in today’s EFL...

As the end of the year approaches, several students, teachers, school managers and parents may be coming to the conclusion that what was done and learnt throughout the year, or the term, was not enough. In other words, some students will fail their courses. And so, what happens next? How to deal with failure? For obvious reasons, I’ll just deal with ELT here, but the “arguments” may well apply to other school subjects. First of all, I believe that depending on which hat you are wearing, you might see...

#7: E is for Environment The flames will burn for decades, and humankind will shelter, like moles, in underground complexes waiting for the planet to heal itself after centuries of abuse. None shall dare tread upon the surface of the parched, scorched earth. Humans will survive on fungus and recycled sweat, until conditions are finally right for us to return to a place under a friendly sun. When the historians of the future finally uncover the dusty servers and musty documents that show the root cause of the catastrophe, they...

E-learning courses are commonly called interactive courses. Many of these courses host presentations and articles online, assign weekly tasks to participants, organize webinars and chats,  but are they really interactive? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, I'd like to focus on the second definition "requiriring people to talk with each other or do things together". This definition might mean an interactive course would require the interaction of participants. Different authors (MOORE, 1989; HILLMAN, WILLIS & GUNAWARDENA, 1994, GARRISON, ANDERSON & ARCHER, 2000) state the importance of interaction in online and blended learning...

'To Sir, with Love' was perhaps the most watched and the most loved movie in my teenage years. The East London high school teacher who gave up on the school textbooks to teach his rowdy, disruptive students about life, was every teenage kid's hero. I've just come across  the website below, which  offers a glimpse of some of the best inspirational teacher movies. Obviously, 'To Sir, with Love' tops the list. https://movies.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/Inspirational-Teachers.htm However, life is not that obvious. Neither are people. Students come in all shapes and sizes; as much...

Sharing experiences may be daunting but there is a whole developmental process in it. Maybe I am talking about the same idea, yet again, but I attended a conference this past week and much was discussed about the need of continuous development for people working in education. This job of ours require us to be always in our feet studying, catering for our students. Julie Tice, teacher trainer, BC, Lisbon, said that “reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and...

Just a minute, let me think![1]   The first decision I had to make regarding this post was if I wanted to write in Portuguese or in English. That was because it is based on a three-question survey I conducted with my last year high school students (3o ano do Ensino Médio) where I work and where the lessons are taught in Portuguese. I decided to write it in English in the end as this was one the suggestions made by part of the students: having lessons in English.   In this...

I've decided to address a very controversial issue in my blog post. Well, it seems it is not controversial at all for most of the people, but it is something that has puzzled me for a while. This is not going to be a very long post as I do not have any answers to the questions I would like to raise. We are all online all the time. Most of us have a Facebook profile, post pictures on Instagram, tweet, blog, have a Pinterest account, have a LinkedIn...

#6: D is for Desks This month we move from tables to desks. Here, though I refer to real desks not desks-as-simile. Real, solid, rectangular teacher’s desks. [caption id="attachment_1784" align="alignleft" width="384"] Evil incarnate[/caption] A desk is such an innocent thing, a flat top and four legs, sometimes a draw to forget things in. But I rage, rage against the using of the desk (sorry, Dylan). I want to find an axe and hack away until all that remains is a pile of splinters and sawdust gently settling in the air. What...

In these last years, while writing my M.A. thesis, I've come to recognize the power of learning through stories. As a narrative researcher, now I understand that by telling our stories we educate not only ourselves, but give others the chance to make meaning of their own stories through ours (Connely and Clandinin, 2000). The little story I wish to share here is the story of a teacher who enrolled for an online course wishing to learn more about educational design and at the same time, to observe how...

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...

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...

Should we adopt a BYOD model where students bring their own devices to class or a 1:1 program where the school provides each student with one tablet? Before making the investment in technology, I believe there are some important points to consider. I start our reflection with a quote by Chris Lehman (2010), where he says: "Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary and invisible." And what does he mean by that? We can't see oxygen, but it's everywhere. We breathe in and out and don't even notice it....

Hello everyone! I want to start this month’s post apologizing for my… silence last month. I’ve got only myself to blame – anyone writing about organization skills out there? – and can just promise it won’t happen again. Scout’s honor. So let me pick up from where we left off last time:  I ended by asking you whether you’d feel insulted if someone (a teacher trainer, a colleague, your coordinator) told you you had to work on your English. There weren’t many replies, I’m afraid, but the very few people...

We often discuss the challenges of giving feedback and how important it is to let people know how they are doing. As language teachers, we talk about feedback to students, addressing their performance inside and outside the class, covering features of language and behaviour. We believe that students can use this information to become more competent and proficient. As trainers, we discuss the effects and the importance of feedback to teachers and how it can influence one’s professional development. However, when it comes to being on the other...

In a plenary delivered at a symposium in Turkey in December 2012, Lindsay Clandfield talked about education and how things have changed (especially because of technology, globalization and the how both have changed social and work relations and demands.) He talked about how experts, academics and everybody else connected to education said there had to be big changes in education, in the way people teach (because learning has changed, the demands and needs of learners have changed) and that we are on the brink of major changes.  Up...