Very soon, I will celebrate my 25th teaching anniversary. This got me thinking about the beginning of my career, what was different then, what is still rather similar and especially how differently (or similarly) I used to teach. How have all these years influenced and shaped the way I teach today? To answer these questions I can rely on my memory and perceptions, as well as those of my students and of those who observed me. It’d be great, and probably enlightening, if I could compare the past...

After having taught at several different schools for a long long time, I’ve been teaching private classes for a while now. I’ve decided to do so so that I could have more flexibility and more time to study and work on different projects. Needless to say, teaching private classes has its own features. Sometimes I feel as if I were learning how to teach all over again and that’s been a real challenge. By a stroke of luck, I’ve come across a lot of interesting articles on it these past...

Well, first, apologies to Scott Thornbury for ‘borrowing’ and distorting his title. This is the closest I’ll ever get to his altitude, so forgive my mutant magpie-Icarus act. I present to you the first of the series An A-Z of Dysfunctional ELT – the art of getting things wrong, again and again. Each month, I’ll take a letter and explore some ideas about how we get things wrong.  And by ‘we’, I mean you, and you, and you. Oh, and me.  For example, C might stand for Communication (aw, don’t get...

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.Blaise Pascal, 1669   He took some persuading. When the 17th Century Christian philosopher wrote that in 1669, it was as a part of a description of human intellect. But these are words which still hold true for many of us teachers who have had any level of basic training. We can all remember that one boring teacher at school or university who used to lecture us. Sometimes...

My dear, If I could offer you any advice for your newly started career, I would tell you to be curious. More impressive and complex advice will be dispensed to you but I truly believe that curiosity embraces it all. First and foremost, be curious about your students. Get to know who they are, where they come from, why they need to study English and the reservations they might still cling to. Their beliefs are as powerful as yours. Ask them about their past, their present and their future;...

I don’t think I have ever taught or observed an advanced lesson that went seriously wrong. I mean cringe-worthy wrong. Which shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, advanced students have been in the game long enough and know enough English to ensure that most of our lessons run - at worst - relatively smoothly. Except perhaps for those all-too-familiar “How do you say X?” questions (X = a word YOU don't know), which they seem to pluck out of nowhere, at the worst possible moments. Yes, the ones that...

The globalized world in the twenty-first-century has brought the English language to the status of lingua franca as countries worldwide use it as the main means of communication for social, economic, and educational purposes. For that reason, the learning of English as a foreign language (EFL) has become a growing issue and a variety of models have been developed to meet the needs of EFL teachers. Because language instruction is consequently delivered in all sorts of socio-cultural settings, EFL professionals are challenged to take an active role in...

They say that we get more conservative as we get older, that we lose our youthful idealism and replace it with mature resignation, that we become cynical, and that we are less willing to break the rules and become more prone to following a set of rigid routines. However, I don't think this is necessarily the case for those of us in the teaching profession. Nor should it be, in my opinion. In fact, in my experience, a large part of our teaching lives will be spent unlearning what...

Hello and welcome to March! In 2009 I read an article in Wired magazine that reported on the Stanford Study of Writing and I was very struck by this quote from the leader of the study, Dr Andrea Lunsford, who said, “I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization.” (Lunsford, 2009 in Thomson) This impressed me as a very strong statement, so I looked a little closer at the study. Basically, the team at Stanford followed 190 students for...

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] @rosaurochoa in Flickr[/caption]   So many times I´ve heard teachers saying that Twitter is not for them,  they don´t get it,  it is a waste of time. Before you make up your mind, just give it a try. Start using it in very simple ways. My first suggestion is searching for resources educators are already sharing in their timelines. In my case, for example, I´m interested in the use of mobile devices in the classroom, so I´ll look up "mlearning", using the Twitter search feature. Give it a try....