#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...

I've recently come across Deena Boraie's  2013 post on the TESOL webpage in which she lists the latest trends in EFL. Two of these trends immediately caught my eye: Change in the Goal of Teaching English: Our goals are no longer to transform our students into imitations of native speakers, but into "competent English-knowing bilinguals," since we assume our students are already proficient in their native languages; Changing view of an English teacher: The quality and effectiveness of English language teachers are no longer determined by their being native speakers,...

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...

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...

#5: N is for Natives [caption id="attachment_1594" align="alignright" width="448"] Some native speakers recently[/caption] I’m not going to revisit the old stuff about inherent linguistic knowledge vs explicit understanding, nor the career teacher vs the traveller, and certainly not local cultural knowledge versus target cultural knowledge. I’m going to ask a simple question. What’s the difference between a table and a native teacher of English? Not a lot really….. I see the native-ness as a layer of varnish on the surface of the table. It looks good, and it sells better than...

O que você pensa sobre o uso da língua portuguesa nas aulas de inglês? Você é daqueles ou daquelas que o simples fato de soltar uma palavra em português durante a aula é algo abominável? Neste artigo apresento os argumentos a favor do uso prudente do uso da língua materna no ensino de inglês dentro de nosso país, onde nossos alunos falam português. Para começar, você sabia que esse mito de que a língua materna (LM) mais atrapalha do que ajuda vem das teorias e princípios dos métodos oriundos...

/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...

At first I had set out to write about my professional journey as a NNEST in the 1980s, so I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the first course books I used in my first years as a teacher. That was when I decided to ask for some help from the IATEFL members on our Facebook page but the replies I got took me even further into the past, and that made me want to start my story from the very beginning: my life...

Some teachers see warmers, ice-breakers and fillers as basically different ways to say the same thing. In fact, they are quite different. While ice-breakers are usually meant to help students get to know each other better, the objective of warmers is to get them ready for a certain topic or task.  Fillers, on the other hand, are activities that don´t require much time or preparation, and are designed to finish a topic or a class on a lighter note, or to review vocabulary before the next part of...