When I started teaching a long time ago, I didn’t have a mentor. I had colleagues and students, and occasionally I would seek help from a more experienced teacher. It was usually a question about the material or language that I couldn’t answer myself. Other than that, I relied pretty much on teachers’ guides even though I occasionally changed a thing here and there. When I started my present teaching job at a large language institute in Rio, I had a mentor, but I didn’t know she was my...

Robin MacClure starts her article “Unnecessary Parents” by saying that “the ultimate job of parents is to raise kids in a way so that they are not needed. In other words, parents should work themselves out of a job.” Well, I think that also applies to teachers, and especially to language teachers. Our goal should be to do our jobs so that, at some point, we are not needed. The point where, even before reaching full proficiency, students are able to learn on their own. In other words,...

Kitten! by Sergey Ivanov CC BY-SA 2.0 This month's post has nothing to do with kittens, but do we really need an excuse?  This month I'm straying from the topic of teaching slightly to look at what happens when we, as teachers, write about our profession. It's a topic that's quite close to my heart as it's what first got me interested in developing critical thinking skills in teachers. I think it's fair to say that as teachers we have all, at some point or another, read books, blogs, and articles...

Professional Development is an area which I really like talking and writing about. Yes, I’ve written about it before, but for me it’s never too much and I hope it’s not for you too. For years I have been working with other teachers’ PD and mainly I have tried to work hard on my own PD. However, I have noticed that some teachers, mainly the novice ones, are not aware of the importance of PD in their professional lives. I don’t blame them. In a country where teachers struggle...

Hi Everyone!   As expected, the 1o Fórum de Profissionalização Docente, at Universidade Estadual de Londrina was intense (see last month’s post).   Five round tables gathered Brazilian teachers and researchers to discuss: (1) “History: Language teaching, formal education, labouring conditions and representation”, (2) “Public Educational Policies: perspectives in different levels and contexts”, (3) “Education for Research: Tradition and (Des)continuities”, (4) “Linguistic Proficiency and teachers’ professionalization” and (5) Ethics: Principles for Research and Teaching”. Participants signed the Carta de Londrina, which I transcribe below, given its importance to Brazilian foreign language teachers.   CARTA...

"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...

Last year I saw a call for chapter proposals for a British Council book on innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers. Every day I receive briefings and newsletters from the associations I’m a member of and from publications, websites, and communities I follow. Many times I come across such calls for proposals, but most of them are not within my areas of expertise or related to my teaching context. Besides, I usually think, “This is not for me. I’m not a scholar or a...

As a Native English-Speaking Teacher (NEST) who didn't learn any English grammar at school, it wasn't until I started training as a teacher and then teaching that I really started to get to grips with the English grammatical - and later lexical - system. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a point where I've felt I understand the whole system. That's one of the great things about being a teacher - you keep learning. When I first started out as a language teacher in the mid-1990s, I...

My passion for reading books began since I was a child. I was encouraged to read mainly by my dad who used to buy collections of books and by my mom who used to be a primary teacher. At school we had that amazing library where I used to go and read those fantastic, beautiful and expensive books my parents couldn’t afford.  No surprise I became a teacher. I grew up reading a lot and when I met my husband I was even more encouraged to read as he’s...