There have been a lot of pendulum swings in our profession since the early 90s, but the teaching of writing seems to be a bit of an exception. Compared to, for example, the sibling rivalry between PPP vs. task-based learning, the half-hearted nod of approval translation’s finally starting to get or, say, the recent comeback of formulaic language, the principles underlying the teaching of writing have remained relatively unscathed from ELT’s constant quest for the latest craze. We owe this, to a certain extent at least, to Ron White’s and...

I was delivering this session on Developing Listening skills to a Pre-service course at CISJDR and got bewildered, not to mention shocked, at what one trainee brought up in a group discussion. She categorically affirmed that she is not allowed to work on listening skills in her school as it may disrupt the class and bring chaos to the institution. I really feel sorry for her as I see her as potential educator who wants to make some changes to the teaching of English in our public schools....

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...

Voz do Brasil, former Hora do Brasil, is the oldest radio programme in the country whose political content broadcast is mandatory to all radio stations. It is regularly aired at 19:00 sharp, Brasilia time. You may wonder what is with that and how it is connected to learning. In fact, this is closely related to people’s abilities since Voz do Brasil (aka Fala Sozinho) is said to be what everybody hears but not many people listen to. Now, how important is listening instruction in a foreign language? seems to...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

Is reading a skill in isolation? No language skill, either receptive or productive, should be dealt with in isolation in class. Reading texts hold an awful lot of language, information, and topics among other things that can lead to speaking and writing. Thereby, it would not be wise to engage students in a reading task and move along after it is finished without connecting it to anything in the lesson. On the contrary, I fully agree with Brown (1994:283) when he states that ‘reading ability will be best...

Communication between humans is an extremely complex and ever-changing phenomenon, but there are certain generalisations that we can make about the majority of communicative events and these will have particular relevance for the learning and teaching of languages. Learning to speak a foreign language is much more complex than knowing its grammatical and semantic rules. It involves both command of certain skills and several different types of knowledge. Richards (2005: p. 204) states that learners must acquire the knowledge of how native speakers use the language in a context...

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. Getting students to read in English both intensively and extensively is vitally important for a number of reasons. Firstly, we basically read a great deal...

For quite some time now, I have been trying to lower my adult students’ affective filters about their pronunciation difficulties. These affective filters (proposed by Stephen Krashen) “(…) acts to control the amount and quality of input learners receive.” (Thornbury, 2006 p.8). Affective filters can include motivation, self-confidence and anxiety. Anyone who has taught or teaches adults (especially in beginner levels) knows adults usually have higher affective filters than teens do. In my experience, these filters are usually high for adults because they were “conditioned” (by traditional teaching and...

I picked this title from Goodreads' weird book titles. By the way, the title above is from a book by English author and academic Malcom Bradbury (1932-2000), whom I have never read and whose book I am now curious about. The reason why I  picked a random title for my post was because I wanted to  illustrate it with a simple task that fosters collaborative creative writing. I like creative writing tasks because they follow a very important principle that allows language to emerge in a real communicative...