Every student has a history with language learning. A mistake I've seen teachers (and institutions) make  is "ignore" that history while conducting needs analysis interviews. Not deliberately, of course. When a school or teacher interviews a prospective student (PS) to solely assess their language level and talk about administrative aspects, I'm sure they don't mean to bypass their entire language learning experience. I understand the need to work smarter and more efficiently, but we must remember that your needs analysis is your postcard. A first interview may actually be the...

A couple of years ago, I started a contract with a student, M, who was looking for English lessons for professional purposes. On her needs analysis interview, she told me that reaching out for help was quite a struggle as her former teacher had unceremoniously stopped replying to her messages halfway through a course that aimed to prepare her for an institutional language test - one of the most important steps she’d been taking in her career so far. To her words, they hadn’t had any kind of...

BY DONNA FIELDS We’re looking forward to sharing with you the most innovative practices - methods you can use immediately in your online or your face-to-face lessons. Unfortunately, most Ministers of Education today, are so concerned with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and having test scores, that they forget that, at the end of the day, if we don't have people with good character, people who do the right thing, intellect itself will destroy the world, it will not save it.  Dr. Howard Gardner Research Professor of Cognition and Education Harvard University Autumn, 2020 Student...

By Russell Stannard Flipping your online lessons:  a global view of your online lessons Over the last five months, I have done a whole array of consultancy jobs supporting schools to deliver online language courses. These have been private language schools right up to language departments in universities. It has been a very tough time for teachers and one thing that they are continually complaining about is just how much work is involved in preparing and delivering online lessons. It has been a theme I have addressed at several online...

By Donna Fields What is scaffolding? Why should we care? What are they exactly, and where do we upload scaffolding activities on the Richmond Platform? Let’s start with theory. Take a deep breath because this won’t be painful at all. There are as many definitions of scaffolding as there are scaffolding techniques. The term, as an educational concept, was presented in the early 1900s by LevVygotsky, the Russian psychologist who dedicated himself to the study of adolescent development. He explained that scaffolding is a way of encouraging students to move out of...

As you will probably agree, inspiration comes from the most unusual places. Just now, I felt so moved by a Netflix documentary about the jazz genius Miles Davis that I had to come here and write about the lessons I believe his career may bring to our professional development as teachers.   “The Musings of Miles”: Don’t “blow” theory. Miles started his career as a trumpeter in his teens and went to Juilliard, one of the world’s most prestigious performance art schools. Despite criticizing it for being “too white”...

You may have been flooded by positive messages on social media talking about how this pandemic is an opportunity to develop new projects, learn a new language, exercise more and drink two liters of water. This kind of toxic positivity is certainly not what teachers need. If you are looking for a flower power kind of vibe, this article is probably not for you. I think the pandemic sucks. I am truly sorry for my lack of reassuring demeanor in a time of need. The thing is, I am...

As I was relaxing after a long productive day working from home for the 5th day in a row, for the 1st time in my life, I came across a Simon Sinek’s short video where he explained why ‘These Are Not Unprecedented Times’. Most of us are feeling as if we were living in a parallel dimension, as if life as we used to live was put on hold and we are somehow experiencing a different setting – perhaps to find out what we are made of… Anyways, he...

In 2019 we had the opportunity to work together on different projects. Such projects involved writing for the Richmond blog, going live on different social media websites and delivering an online course for teachers. We’d like to start by commenting on the online course experience. Needless to say how this course enriched us. While organizing the contents we decided to include in the course, we studied a lot more about so many relevant issues that are undoubtedly pertinent to our daily work. In this sense, the need to research...

As 2020 begins, teachers all around the world get ready to receive their students for a new term, and I am no different.. As I write, I am enjoying my last days of the summer break, and yet I am already mentally planning how I can make my school year the best one again. That means deciding which practices I would like to include in my professional routine, and which ones I should adapt or eliminate from my daily lesson planning. Then, at the beginning of January, I decided...

As a teenager, I had a teacher who ‘translated’ our names into English. João would become John, Mariana would be Mary and other questionable, less obvious, choices also took place. Mind you, this was a substitute teacher, so we perhaps had two or three lessons with her. As much as I’ve never truly embraced my name, being called James felt very uncomfortable. Years later as a teacher, I had unconsciously vowed never to change my students’ names, unless that was something they asked me to. Joãos would be Joãos...

On the last September 7th, a group of teachers got to meet at the incredible venue of Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brasilia. I know, in the middle of a holiday, getting on a plane and going on the search for professional development. It was another incredible edition of the conference called BrElt on the Road, brilliantly organized by Barbara Furtado, Priscila Bordon, Bruno Andrade, and Eduardo de Freitas. Filled with talks, workshops, and plenaries, this conference was certainly memorable. But I’m here today to talk about one plenary in...

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,...

Monday, 6 p.m., the sun peeking through the blinds in the brick and mortar language school building in Brazil. The teacher enters the room carrying a bag of props, flashcards, and her tape recorder. The recorder being to her as precious as a map to a Geography teacher: “Hi, John Peter! How are you today?” asked the teacher in a high-pitched voice. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” replied the monotoned student. The automatic, “I’m fine, too,” followed. “So… Let’s begin! Open your books to page 50,” she continued while rewinding and...

My third piece of advice is to cultivate a sense of empathy - to put yourself in other people's shoes - to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world. Barack Obama Empathy is 'the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions'. (Krznaric, 2014) Because of the many online groups we are part of, it's much easier to find ourselves in situations where our empathy is...

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. These are the words I live by, in many aspects of my life. Obviously, I seek peace of mind and happiness and believe me, I know how to cherish these moments, and get the best of them. So what do I mean by this old saying which steers most of my decisions in life? Let me try to explain by briefly telling a story. If you know me, you are aware of my complete lack of abilities to read maps. I am...

As the title may reveal, the language is in constant change, no one owns it and everybody does. Therefore, we can all play with it as we wish. Can we? While some of us stand as the grammar police to correct tests, written tasks, posts on Facebook or so many other things people say and write around the world, many of us (also) fight to help learners better communicate in a world where English is frequently used as a lingua franca. Today I propose a discussion on priorities...

Curiously, I have posted a variation of this article on a blog I used to update, almost 10 years ago. Unfortunately the question is still up to date. In recent years, one of the main discussions in the educational business has been about finding the proper ways to face the growing need to move from print materials, and traditional pure face-to-face learning to a situation with more digital online content and self-instruction, self-paced learning, flipped classroom, etc. We currently live in a world where students have instant access to content...

[caption id="attachment_8629" align="alignright" width="227"] Teacher development and cleaning products -- the way my mind works![/caption] Teaching a language, especially when you’re a novice, can be really daunting. In fact, the word “daunting” immediately brings to mind a Duck commercial that was constantly on when I studied in Australia. The voice-over would go, “Cleaning your bathroom can seem like a daunting task”, and the small bathroom would grow huge with the woman (why is it always a woman, by the way?) tripping over herself. That nerve-racking image of an evergrowing...

Taking the DELTA has changed me as a teacher in many ways, but I believe that it has most influenced the way I perceive and teach listening. I first came across the term ‘decoding’ when my dear tutor Melissa Lamb from IH London introduced me to John Field’s book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’. Later on, I came across Richard Cauldwell’s brilliant book ‘A Syllabus for Listening – Decoding’. This is the second post inspired by these brilliant minds which have also shaped me as a teacher and...

It’s not the first time that I decide to write about conference presentations. A few years ago, I wrote some tips for conference presenters, based on my 20+ years of experience attending academic events. This time around, I’ll relate how I believe talks should be structured to how classes should be planned and delivered. It is simpler than a novice presenter may think.   Have a clear objective and make it explicit Just as you should have a clear objective for your classes and should also make this objective clear...

I remember my first days as a teacher when I was afraid of every listening activity because I thought that spoken texts were too difficult for my students. But then a celestial voice told me “any listening text is possible depending on the task you assign.” That blew my mind. I also remember when I came across a more recent finding that indicated that, in many cases, students have a better performance speaking L2 if grammar clarification is supported by their L1. After both discoveries, I immediately went on...

Exactly one year ago, I had my first go at presenting in conferences. Back then, I was just someone trying to show the results of a small-scale research I had carried out on a topic that happened to be of major importance in my teaching career, inclusive education. However excited, I had never felt completely prepared for it nor even capable of doing so on a regular basis. What actually made me confident enough to apply for it was the limitless support I had always had from my dear...

This month I had the opportunity to interview Professor John Hattie on the topic of Visible Learning. Although I wasn’t in front of the screen, I was responsible for most of the academic articulation behind it, and then I had to revisit some of my notes I had taken from the previous readings about this topic. This whole event has taken me down memory lane to a time, not so long ago, when the excellent Andreia Zakime (from What’s ELT?) was my mentor here at Cultura Inglesa. In...

“You should write as often as possible” – that’s what I keep telling my students. Currently, 99% of my students are intrepid English teachers either preparing for the Cambridge English: Advanced or the Cambridge English: Proficiency, which means that their writing skills will be assessed via two writing tasks. Needless to say, it is my duty to encourage them to write as much as they can and provide detailed feedback on their writing assignments. A confession The great Morpheus said: “(...

Have you ever considered the good side of waiting in line, being stuck in a traffic jam, waiting at the doctor's office?  Well, you might feel mad, impatient, or even cranky. But wait? Is there a way to change all these negative feelings into the opposite spectrum, like feeling energized, inspired and wanting to change the world?! A loud YES to it. It might seem crazy at first, but this is exactly what happened to me after I discovered Podcasts in my life, not only as a means for...

It often strikes me when there is a very emotional talk about bilingual education here in Brazil and we tend to criticise what we have been doing here compared to what is being done elsewhere in the world. My opinion is clear: adopting an international bilingual education model "as is" here in Brazil is not scalable and also not effective. That being said, it is obvious that international schools and bilingual schools that adopt some sort of international curriculum can and are very succesful most of the times...

Are Good Teachers Born or Made? (https://www.richmondshare.com.br/are-good-teachers-born-or-made/) is probably one of my favourite articles by Marcela Cintra here on the RichmondShare Blog. I sometimes revisit it when looking for some inspiration. When the going gets tough, teachers turn to other teachers for support. In this enlightening article she argues, among other things, that teaching is not for anyone who is simply passionate about the language or enjoys being in the classroom. It is for those willing to go the extra mile and work hard to sharpen their skills. I...

We all know too well, at least we should, that teaching does not come easy. However, people, other than teachers, tend to consider what we do as something ‘doable’. In other words, they think it is just a job in which you get into a class and start doing the talk. Little do they know that such days are gone. I come from a language-centre background teaching environment. As a ‘new-to-the-system’ state school teacher, I have encountered several situations that required a lot more than teaching skills. Scary to...

Have you ever heard of a continuous improvement cycle called the PDCA cycle? I am sure most of you who have already studied a little bit of business management have certainly come across this acronym before. But for those of you who haven’t studied any business theories, PDCA is an acronym that stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act. These are the four stages of this continuous improvement cycle that can be applied in business and in our personal lives as well. But what does this cycle have to do with teaching? Well,...

Apart from my social and family life, which I totally cherish, I’ve dedicated the last thirty years of my life to professional and intellectual development. I have the highest degree that one can formally obtain – a doctorate degree. I have published blog posts, book chapters and articles. I have written two books - maybe not as many as I would have liked to but enough to make me proud, due to my busy professional life. I have presented in countless professional events, volunteered in teaching associations, etc.,...

Dear educator, You may think that your institution owe you something, like offering you proper professional development opportunities, but this is rarely the case. In fact, educational institutions have so much in their plates that they can barely scratch the surface of designing consistent, powerful PD development programs for their Academic and Admin staff. Considering this scenario and the fact that you are in charge of your own learning, don't outsource PD to anybody. Take hold of it, grab it, really, and invest your time, money and energy to get...

We hear about CPD, the acronym for Continuous Professional Development, all the time. Although CPD is not only about taking courses, they are certainly a prototypical concept and the number of courses aimed at teachers has been increasing steadily, or at least this is the impression I have. When it comes to courses, one of the most common questions we hear is “Is this or that course worth it?” or “Should I do this course or not?” The answers, however, are definitely not as simple as the questions....

For the past few months, I have been proudly sharing a bit of my reflections as a teacher, and this has been bringing me great joy. I never thought I would be able to write long texts, since my younger self has met a number of cruel teachers who consistently said I lacked creativity, and my writing was mediocre. Well, here I am. Today, however, I bring a slightly different topic, just because I have met a number of brilliant teachers since last July, when I had the opportunity...

Many of us made great friends in the staff room, bonding with peers on a regular basis, sharing a variety of moments when we spend most of the day in the school. The environment is usually where teachers keep their materials, books and where many of us have our snacks and coffee. An informal professional room where teachers are free to choose what to focus on and talk about. In this post I propose we discuss ideas of how the time in the staff room can be used...

The academic year is just around the corner and every now and then we tend to start the New Year facing some challenges and the kind. Being an educator is not an easy task, dealing with stressful situations such as routine, and, to add insult to injury, many of us will have to perform a juggling act, e.g. work in different schools, in order to make ends meet. Looking for perfection should be the main aim, right? It is important, however, to bear in mind that there is no...

I have been dealing with so many projects that I haven’t written in ages, and exactly because I got involved with those projects, more and more were requested from me, including having to talk and write about me to people in other projects and countries. I got really stuck and that made me think why, after all, we are the ones who really know ourselves better, why that’s so difficult. I started to think about it and some issues came to me. It is obvious that as professionals we need...

I’d like to start this post with Maya Angelou’s beautiful statement: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a subscriber to MET (Modern English Teacher), I received the October 2018 issue at home this month. Their articles cover a wide range of topics as you can see from its cover: [caption id="attachment_8235" align="alignnone" width="539"] MET magazine October 2018[/caption] One article, in particular, drew my attention: Promoting gratitude among learners by Jeffrey Dawala...

This is a fairly broad topic with a myriad of issues, such as the observer and observee’s attitudes towards having his/her lessons assessed. There is also the matter of how many times a teacher should be observed in a term, and when (before/after tests, two weeks after the first lesson, etc), having in mind the assessment factor. Attitude The attitude changes according to the observation purposes: development, (quick) problem-solving, assessment, etc. When a teacher is being observed for developmental reasons, usually he or she tends to be more open...

Those who know me, even if they know me just a little, are aware of how passionate I am about inclusivity and students with special educational needs. However, that is not what I am here to talk about today. I want to share what I have found this year. Not even in my wildest dreams, I would have imagined a year such as 2018. The objectives I had established back at the end of 2017 were way too bold, pretentious I would say and everything I have accomplished...

This post is specially dedicated to Roberta Caiado, Dóris Arruda C. Cunha and Karl H. Efken, three of my professors who have enlightened me with their thoughts, ethics, perseverance and wisdom and have helped me change my personal and professional life for better. Before writing this post, I was revisiting another one I wrote  (a long time ago) about “Reflective Practice” which, for me has to do with a way of internally reflect and study your own experiences to improve the way you work. The act of reflection is...

“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

I was talking to some friends on Whatsapp and one of them mentioned this teacher he knew and the fact that they had been contemplating a career change. The teacher had a CPE and a CELTA and I said it would be a shame if they gave up on teaching. After all, such qualifications are not easy to get, both demand a considerable amount of time, effort and money. Then my friend said: 'but they don’t have our passion'. I must say his remark puzzled me. What is...

When teaching private classes, one may inevitably have to teach adults. The method in which adults learn, called andragogy, is a lot less talked about when compared to pedagogy, the way children learn. Not surprisingly, the word pedagogy rings many bells whilst andragogy is an unknown term by many. Teachers focused on adult learning would undoubtedly yield better results by appropriating teaching techniques in line with andragogy. In this article I share and explore 4 principles that strike a chord with my experience as an ELT  professional and are...

If learning is personalized and engaging, it is likely to stick. If your students have fun during your classes, that’s more likely to bring about emotions that should aid the process of learning. Also, learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it is built upon previous knowledge. We also know how powerful stories are when it comes to learning. All of the sentences above are true and are validated by current research. If we agree that this much is true, then we can proceed to some of the underlying...

Have you ever used Jing for anything in your language teaching experience? Have you ever heard of it? I am asking you these questions because I have been suggesting the use of this nice tool in my educational technology workshops for over 7 years now. But it's still interesting to notice that a lot of teachers all over the country have actually never heard of it, let alone use it. But don't worry, this is not an ad. Jing is actually a free tool by Techsmith, which makes it even nicer, isn't...

When we ask learners what they like most about school, their usual response is ‘Nothing’, ‘My friends’, ‘Going home’, and few of them come up with a teacher or a subject that they actually enjoy. One of the possible reasons why learners are disengaged from their schooling is because they see no real purpose in what they learn there in relation to their future lives or employability prospects. They usually go to school because they have to and they have to pass the ‘Vestibular’ or ‘ENEM’. Another intriguing aspect...

How often do you revisit and reexamine your beliefs about teaching and learning and about yourself as a teacher? It is easy to find fault in other people's beliefs or practices: “So and So still operate with the concept of X. Don't they know research shows no evidence it works?”; “How can anyone still use the Y methodology in the 21st century, when our students are so different from decades ago?”; or even “There goes So and So again on and on about the latest teaching fad with...

Two weeks ago, at the Independence Day holiday, I had the pleasure of moderating a BrELT Chat with one of the sweetest people you will ever meet at the BrELT on the Road 2018: Veruska Gallo. Our discussion was focused on bringing professional development to the school we work for. DISCLAIMER: this is not a summary of what happened, but an overview of my rushing thoughts during the session. We kicked off the discussion by asking what the CPD initiatives their school offered were. Silence. A disturbing and suffocating silence...

When it comes to the topic of social media, most of us will readily agree that it has changed the way we communicate, work, enjoy ourselves and engage with the world around us. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of connectivity. While some are convinced that social media is far and away the greatest marketing and networking tool, others argue that it represents something closer to the downfall of our society as it is believed to increase the levels of narcissism and individualism. Every so...

It was two years ago today that I wrote a post for this same blog entitled Why don’t we talk about writing? The 15th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference had just ended and I discussed why there were so few talks on the subject of writing and why not many people chose to attend them, mine included. I was disappointed with the small turnout in my talk with my colleague Silvia Caldas, and also with the very little focus on this subject in conferences in general, and I conjectured why this...

One of the most intriguing new concepts around bilingual education in the 21st century is translanguaging. According to Ofelia Garcia in her book Bilingual Education in the 21st Century - A Global Perspective, translanguaging is "the act performed by bilinguals of accessing different linguistic features or various modes of what are described as autonomous languages, in order to maximize communicative potential" (Ofelia García, 2009: 140). But what is it in practical terms? Think back of the time when you only knew one language. You were limited to one linguistic code, to one...

Image Credits https://goo.gl/R2jQy3 In a week from now a lot of teachers of English from Brazil and abroad will be attending the 16th Braz TESOL International Conference. Bearing this in mind, it reminded me of two plenary sessions from the14th BTIC, four years ago in João Pessoa (PB- Brazil), when both Luíz Otávio Barros and JJ Wilson talked, among other things, about the importance of PD as an ongoing process. And you might be thinking:  Are you writing about PD again? And I say: Yes. Why not? I need it....

Last month I had a rather uncomfortable experience when one of my blog lessons was shared with a group of teachers. The vexation occurred when I got to know that the lesson was being shared without the credits. The topic of the lesson was about the trucker’s strike that took place in May here in Brazil. Thus, let me describe how the preparation took place: First of all, I decided that it was of paramount importance that my young adult students (advanced / 15-18) were more aware of what had...

Criticism hurts. Hence, it can be stressful, tense and sometimes traumatic. Still, it is such a natural part of life, including professional life, that knowing how to make the best out of it is an important skill for us to keep emotionally healthy. Below I list a few aspects to consider and that can prove useful in our field. Criticism or feedback? We are faced with criticism on a regular basis and no matter where it comes from, we have to learn if it is meant to be...

I have recently discussed with another teacher that we should never lose track of the lessons we learn from inspirational teachers. We learn a lot throughout our professional teaching lives, but also from our long-lasting lives as learners. We take courses, study, research, observe. In this post I would like to write about those teachers who inspire learners to act, think, be curious, be brave and so much more. Those are the teachers that I believe make a difference in the world. I remember one of the greatest teachers...

Images Credits: https://www.clipartmansion.com/clipart/optimism.html My previous post, Burnout in ELT  (https://richmondshare.com.br/burnout-in-elt/ )  made me think of the theme Coaching for teachers, since it could be of good help to prevent burnout or, perhaps,  it could be included in the treatment of it. I have recently attended the 52th IATEFL Conference in Brighton and, to my surprise,    the theme coaching was among the talks. Why was I surprised? Because in Brazil, where I live, coaching as it should be, seems not to be disseminated enough among English language teachers, or better saying,...

Tenho certeza que você conhece alguns professores que cobram muito menos que você, assim como também deve conhecer gente que cobra muito mais caro, pelas aulas particulares de inglês. Um dos posts que aparece com mais frequência nos grupos de professores é relacionado justamente a isso: como lidar com prof que cobra muito menos que eu? Aqui vai um exemplo extraído de um desses grupos há pouco tempo atrás: Às vezes os posts são somente dúvidas, como o exemplo acima, outras vezes o autor já está um pouco mais estressado, com...

Vinicius Diamantino organized a much needed online panel* about how to deliver killer presentations at ELT and educational events. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate as planned, but what follows is what I had prepared: how to write effective abstracts and summaries that will get you accepted as a speaker in the first place. Do, though, watch the free webinar ( gMX55xT46244F6H ) with Claire Venables and Cecilia Lemos because they make the points much better! They also talk about the delivery of the presentation itself with invaluable tips...

It is said that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth. Apparently, this concept was conceived by the Nazi master of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Considering that Nazism was supported by so many, and for so long[1]- despite the horror of World War II - he was probably right. In ELT, saying that something is a lie is probably a bit excessive, but we do have our mantras and things that are repeated over and over again until they become unquestionable. That is, unless a subversive mind begins...

Writing is such a demanding and time-consuming task. Yes, it really is, so why bother? Due to the fact that English is likely to be your bread and butter, we can agree you must have an excellent command of the language, and that includes writing. Moreover, as a teacher, you should be able to help your students learn how to write and many of them may need to improve their writing skills so they can keep their job or get a promotion. Speaking of professional development, you may be interested...

Innovations in various fields and changes in society behaviour and interaction have been giving us teachers a plethora of opportunities to grow and maximise language learning. Research has also shown that the skills learners need to develop require action from the very beginning of our students' academic life. In this 'framework for 21st century learning' one of the core skills is collaboration. In some contexts we have already progressed quite a lot with learners, encouraging group work, pair work, peer correction, for instance. Perhaps assessment is still an issue...

Imagine you are feeling a little feverish. What do you do? Bloodletting, of course! You Google the nearest barbershop and get an Uber there so the barber can slash a vein and cure you by removing foul humours from your body. If you’re lucky, they may even use leeches! This may sound absurd to you, but the role of professions changes over time. The teaching profession wouldn’t be any different. Beginning on a very personal example, I’ve been deeply affected by recent changes in mindset and communication. The abilities...

I will begin this post with a confession: although I have been involved in EFL and digital education projects for quite some time, I am not a heavy user of technology; I don’t really own a myriad of smart devices and, most of the time, I tend to prefer taking notes on a good, old notepad. While not resistant to change, I believe I am fairly skeptical that one device or app, or digital service, will single-handedly change my classroom practice. This skepticism might come from my observation of...

I hope this post is an introduction to future projects and discussions that have been on my mind lately. The topic of career choices has raised lots of questions lately, not only during BrELT chats, where some people were in doubt as to which path to follow - e.g. the Cambridge courses or an MA -, but also a recent talk to a great friend of mine who asked me what he should do next in his professional life. I cannot tell anyone to do what I do, I...

A couple of months ago, I had to make a very difficult decision. I was honored to be invited to be one of the plenary speakers at the BRAZ-TESOL Curitiba event, a special one celebrating their 20th anniversary. Of course, my first reaction was to say, “YES, YES, YES!”. But then I started thinking: I was already going to be one Saturday away from home for the BRAZ-TESOL Brasília - Goiânia joint event, then I was going to be away for two weekends on vacation, and, right after that,...

This year, 2018, is a landmark. Schools across the globe, from kindergarten to high school, starting this year, have now only students from the Generation Z. That is, young people in school age were all born in the 21st Century. That brings us the need to understand this generation, the way they act, the way they behave, the way they see the world around them and think. There are some remarkable differences in the mindsets of these young people compared to the ones from other generations. I will only point out some that...

Just like telling a learner you don’t know the answer to their question at the start of your teaching career, talking about your professional failure is no easy game. I don’t aim to be blowing my own trumpet in the next lines; what I want to narrate instead, is how often times your backstage may be so well guarded that the audience may simply think you’re ‘gifted’. Let me tell you about two major ‘events’ in my life that may hit home to you, and hopefully be the...

A job in ELT is definitely not a cushy number. It will surely take a long time before you find yourself at the top of the ladder, and you are likely to hit several glass ceilings on your way up. Committed English language teachers are known to slog their guts out, but are seldom handsomely paid. Many of us, however, are still brimming with motivation to pursue professional development and participate in conferences throughout the year, take online courses, attend webinars and even muster up the courage to...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

BRAZ-TESOL, Brazil’s largest association of English language teaching professionals, needed a video that explained what it stands for, so I made one. My qualifications for making the video? None. Learning as I went, I ended up with something that has made me very proud.  Of course making a video when you’re not a professional is not a simple task, so it took me (what it felt like) forever to get it finished. I would get home from work and spend as many hours on it as I had...

Firstly, BRAZ-TESOL is the largest ELT association in Brazil and its “SIGs” attempt to encourage professional development and the exchange of ideas within a specialist area of English Language Teaching. Secondly, I would like to invite you all to the 7th BRAZ-TESOL Teacher Development Seminar which will take place in April (more information below). Marcela Cintra and Sérgio Pantoja, the plenary speakers, will be talking about "Teacher's Continuous Professional Development: a conundrum?" & "The importance of language awareness in teachers' continuing professional development” respectively. My session will be carried out at 3...

Most teachers of English, I believe, will have heard of the intermediate plateau, when students who reach intermediate level feel that are somewhat stuck in the learning process and not making any progress. Likewise, many of us will have experienced a career plateau at some point in our professional life. Can this feeling be avoided? Does it have to be avoided? Should overcoming career plateau be one of our goals? From time to me I feel I need to do something new, to try something I had never done...

  Every professional in the realm of education has the power to influence positive change, for instance, aligning theory to practice as extensively discussed. In this post, leadership will be brought to light for a discussion on how educational leaders may contribute to building the learning environment and causing a great impact on education. Firstly, we are assuming that the more senior you are, the more chances you have to affect the lives of learners somehow connected to you. That means a trainer may impact teachers, who will in turn...

“Learners have storied selves that cannot be dissociated from their selves in the classroom, so they are encouraged to share their stories and experiences during ordinary pedagogic activities. Naturally, these interactions help us all --- myself included, connect with one another.” Teresa Carvalho (2017) Magical. This is what many teachers want their lessons to be. I have had some truly magical moments in my classes, but what do I mean by magical moments? Just picture your all your students --- and yourself included, sharing your stories and listening to...

Williams and Burden (2010: 202) beautifully state that “Language classrooms in particular need to be places where learners are encouraged to use the new language to communicate, to try out new ways of expressing meanings, to negotiate, to make mistakes without fear, and to learn to learn from successes and failures. Emotionally, a suitable environment for language learning should be one that enhances the trust needed to communicate and which enhances confidence and self-esteem”.  In order to create such an environment, one possible approach would be to foster...

A essa altura do campeonato você, como um(a) bom(a) professor(a) que se preocupa com seu próprio desenvolvimento profissional, já deve ter assistido várias palestras online ao vivo em forma de webinários e “lives” em mídias sociais, e gravadas, seja retransmissões ou aulas especificamente feitas de forma gravadas e que podem ou não compor cursos à distância. Não vou me alongar sobre o papel da tecnologia em aproximar/afastar as pessoas umas das outras, mas é inegável que as possibilidades de se estudar determinados temas com determinados profissionais que estão muito...

This is a post for all of you who are planning to attend the 16th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference (16th BTIC) in Caxias do Sul, RS, in July, but don’t know where to start. In case you haven’t heard of the event, BRAZ-TESOL is the largest ELT association in Brazil and its international conference brings together speakers and attendees of all over the country and the world in 4 days of professional development and relationship building. (Rumor has it that BTIC might just be the largest ELT conference in...

Going to university to study languages was a transformative experience for me and was instrumental in making me the professional I am today. I have even written here on RichmondShare (click here) about the possible dilemma many are faced with when trying to decide whether to take a Letras course or a CELTA. One of the highlights of my Letras degree was studying phonology. I had the pleasure of being taught by Aurora Neiva, a very important professional in the field of Phonology. At the time, I had two jobs and,...

A very controversial issue that I always come across in discussions related to English-language-teaching is whether pre-teaching is recommendable. Most discussions I’ve seen revolve around the pre-teaching of vocabulary before a reading or listening. On the one hand, pre-teaching of key vocabulary allows students to tackle the task more easily and reduces their anxiety. On the other hand, it is not a very natural activity, as in the real world we are not pre-taught the vocabulary in texts that we read or listen to We need to learn...

Power To The Music              It is funny how people (students) may instantly think of CCR’s ‘Have you ever seen the rain?’ when you start off a conversation with the chunk ‘Have you ever Blahed?’. Have you ever (seen the rain? - lol) stopped and thought how powerful music can be in terms of learning opportunities? I bet you have, though. As I see it, music is what comes through my ears and touches my heart. In that sense here lies a powerful tool through which mankind has evolved with. Not only...

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. William Shakespeare "If I could have a second go at life, being back to school, but still knowing everything I know now, I'd make so many things differently." How many of you have already thought, said...

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the lack of balance in the past BRAZ-TESOL conferences as far as gender was concerned. Just to refresh our memories, the results were the following[1]: As I stated at the time, it was (and is) not a matter of pointing fingers and finding culprits, but of trying to understand why the number of female speakers is so low in BRAZ-TESOL conferences which, I believe most of you would agree, is the most relevant conference for ELT professionals in Brazil. It was...

January is already over, and I hope you have managed to soldier on with your resolutions through this first month. In December, I set myself the goal of learning more about language development and shared the first part of an article summary on language awareness (LA) for teachers. In this post, I summarise more content from the article and briefly reflect on some of my personal experience tackling language awareness. A methodological framework for LA activities Based on the set of LA activities mentioned in the first part of this...

Making mistakes is often perceived with a negative connotation, possibly due to the educational background we come from. Errors and mistakes were to be corrected immediately, we were tested, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of the manner of correction, and encouraged to memorise the given information. That is how I was often taught at school. The way we approach mistakes changes how we perceive education, and some of us became teachers with an ideal to make a difference and a positive impact on learning. Not all our learners are...

EFL teachers that change into a bilingual education environment, often tend to forget that they are not teaching language as the primary goal anymore and that has dramatic implications. The acronym CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning - implies that there is much more to it than just language teaching. But what is there besides language? The first big addition is the fact that language is not the ultimate goal anymore: it now plays the role of a tool for students to learn content from other subject areas....

I gave much thought about what I should write at the end of the year. I asked teachers on my new Instagram account for help and, as usual, had many great contributions. Someone told me to write about something that was relevant to me right now and other people suggested writing about what I had done this year. This article will have a bit of both. It’s December and while I would like this to be a boost of energy for you, but I know it is not going...

We language educators often get asked what else we do apart from teaching English. Now, this takes the biscuits on the grounds that some people are hell-bent on this to mystify whether we take our profession seriously or not. It is generally known that an L2 teacher is supposed to be someone graduated, qualified or trained with required abilities to handle the teaching/learning process in a full variety of ways and environments. Unfortunately, many L2 teachers still face much criticism, discrimination and suffer mockery based on the fact that...

When I earned my degree in Linguistics from college many years back, the only thing I had in mind was continuing teaching English and preparing my own materials. At the time it seemed to be a sensible thing to do. So, I kept teaching one-on-one classes for many years and I enjoyed every bit of it. I was committed to helping my students, some of whom I taught for many years. Nonetheless, I felt that I was missing out on something. I took courses, I read books, I...

It’s the end of another extraordinary year and many people are making their New Year’s resolutions and hoping to stick to them at least until the end of January. I consider myself one of them, so I have decided to set the wheels in motion before 2017 comes to an end. Then I’ll be able to say I kept my resolutions for about two months – which is not half bad. All joking aside, I have taken upon myself to learn more about a topic I’m very passionate about:...

Published on November 20th, the first part of this post tries to briefly describe the trends of ELT in Brazil from the early 90’s to the late 2000’s. In it, I also included the themes and topics of some of the plenary sessions in international conferences and the names of the speakers who delivered them.  In the second and last part of this article, I try to describe how the 2nd decade of the 2000’s addresses new trends and issues brought about by the demands of a society...

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain...

As the end of the year draws nearer, people all over the world feel that there's a new beginning ahead. We've gotten used to the 365-day cycle in life and celebrate the end of the year remembering all the good moments of the year that's just passed, and plan a bright future ahead of us. Or do we? If you're a teacher, you do know the importance of planning. You are well aware of the fact that planning is the preparation stage for all that is to happen in...

In the English language teaching field, many professionals join the area after becoming sufficiently fluent and confident to face learners. Some of us start a career believing the knowledge we have of the language will guarantee our success in teaching and we may resent feedback given about our use of the language. Although the language proficiency needed to teach depends on the context lessons will be happening (Rossner, 2017), learning more about the language we teach may improve our performance in the classroom. Considering that the learning goals as...

In Part 1, I mentioned I don’t see myself as someone who is constantly striving towards perfection, but I can’t deny the results I got after taking the more advanced exam left a bitter taste in my mouth. Frustration boiled over at first and its effects lingered for some time, so much so that it took me about six years to gain enough confidence to sit CPE, an exam dreaded by students and teachers alike. I used to tell myself life was getting in the way – novice...

One of the best features of my job is that I get to observe teachers in their second semester in the language institute where I work.  In their first semester, they go through a mentoring process and are then observed by two other academic specialists. These observations usually go very well. The teachers are very professional in their attitude toward the whole process; they submit their lesson plans in advance and participate actively and reflectively in our pre and post-observation meetings. I find it a very rewarding experience in...