From Teacher back to Learner

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 as a young English learner.

So,  this post is dedicated to all the IATEFL members who helped bring back fond memories of my learning and teaching experiences by posting photos of materials and links to websites featuring earlier editions of EFL course books. It felt like a thrilling scavenger hunt precisely because I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, and also because the findings were nothing short of amazing.

To make a long story short, I used the Strategies series in my teenage years at the same language school where I work now. Funnily enough, I don’t remember as much about my classes as I remember the materials used in our classes. I clearly remember the lessons, the characters’ names, and some of the texts from Developing Strategies and Building Strategies. I remember repeating and recreating the dialogues in my head while walking back home. I would create curious stories out of those dialogues, which were stretched into real life and whose characters turned into bone and flesh — my friends and family.

These things remind me of the 2010 ABCI conference in São Paulo, Brazil, in which Jeremy Harmer talked about fluency. We might think fluency happens when we talk to others, but according to Harmer, fluency is about our inner voice; and it happens when we are concentrating and listening. What enabled me to create those fantastic dialogues in my head was the fact that I’d paid enough attention, to the point of remembering all those  words and expressions, and subsequently I would use them in other contexts because I wanted to communicate — even if it was only in my own head.

Reflecting on our own experiences as learners helps us provide our students with successful strategies that can help them through their own learning journeys. Because we are successful learners, they might feel motivated to try the same strategies. As NNESTs, we can and should share our own experiences to enrich our students’ learning.

P.S. If you’re feeling a little nostalgic — or if you’d like to learn more about course books from the 80s and 90s, here are a few links kindly provided by  Mariel Amez and Martin Eayrs:

Run Run Shaw Libray website:

Solo Quince Minutos

Scott Thornbury’s A to Z blog post about the Strategies series:

And here are two links I came across during my scavenger hunt:

Materials writer Peter Viney’s article on the Streamline series and resources:

Peter Viney –

The Streamline series website:

Streamline Series –

Teresa Carvalho

Teresa holds a B.A. in Linguistics from USP and Delta Modules 1 and 2 Certificates. She has been teaching for over 25 years and has presented at webinars and at both local and international Conferences, including ABCI, IATEFL, and the Image Conference. She also holds a Specialization degree in English Language from PUC-Rio. She is interested in visual literacy and in language development for teachers of English as a foreign language. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Language Studies and is conducting research in the role of images in the construction of identity.

  • Mariel Amez
    Posted at 17:11h, 18 julho Responder

    Great post, Teresa! It sparks off many memories and reflections. And thanks for the mention, too.

    • Teresa Carvalho
      Teresa Carvalho
      Posted at 02:13h, 20 julho Responder

      Thank you Mariel! I wouldn’t have written this post without your help.

  • Gladys Garcia
    Posted at 22:23h, 18 julho Responder

    Teresa, your post was very interesting. Thanks for sharing your strategies as a learner. They reminded me of my own experiences. Your work has been truly inspiring, dear. Thank you!

    • Teresa Carvalho
      Teresa Carvalho
      Posted at 02:15h, 20 julho Responder

      Gladys, thank you for your words. It’s great to be able to connect with other teachers. We always learn from each other.

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