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“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...

Most adult students complain they don't have time to study English at home and because of that, they can't improve as much as they would like to. With a little bit of effort and focus, it's possible to change this mindset and reach more satisfying results. In the book The Miracle Morning, author Hal Elrod defends the idea that there is no such a thing as a 'morning person' and anyone can be productive at the break of day, if 1) they really want to and believe they can...

We need to be different to succeed – or to keep being successful after some time. That’s a rather upsetting idea, but it seems to be the norm when it comes to the ever-crescent and competitive market of bilingual schools. So what does ‘being different’ imply? Sometimes, it is about being bold when it comes to how two languages are taught or used in the classroom, but more often than not it is about how education is understood at a deeper level, one that is more concerned with...

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...

Recently, a colleague from work introduced me to a discussion happening on the internet about whether could really prove a method works or not, or works better than another one. This discussion was very well presented in Luiz Otavio Barros’ blog. At this point, we have to turn to empirical analysis - how it is done and the data it produces. Data collection is too hard work to be ignored. We usually trust empirical data with much more decisive matters - even our lives when we take medicine...

What do gunpowder, tobacco, and high-performance schools have in common? If we have the Great Wars of the 20th century as our backdrop, quite a lot. At the end of World War I, Germany was trying to cope with grave social problems. The owner of a cigarette company decided to fund a new school for his workers’ kids. Roughly thirty years later, the citizens of Italy found themselves dealing with the consequences of being in the losing side of World War II. Some families in the village of...

Have you ever changed your lesson plan (or part of it) halfway through due to students’ lack of engagement? And have you ever regretted changing it because students asked you to do something different in class? If you answered yes for both questions, you face the same dilemma that we do; which is how much of the lesson plan it is fine to adapt in order to please our students’ imminent needs. Let’s face it: English isn’t generally taken so seriously by students (and their parents) as much as other...

Before I start this post, I must warn you: this was NOT written by someone who has great expertise on this area. It was elaborated by someone who, like many other teachers, have an inquisitive mind and a wish to make students’ language-learning path a bit less of a bumpy ride. I am also not a specialist, and if you came here looking for universal answers, I’m afraid you’ll end up with even more questions. I am a big nerd, that’s what I am. But enough of me. I was...

Is it really possible to motivate students to learn English? The answer is YES! Some students have strong intrinsic motivation, they know what they want and work hard to reach it. However, most students learn English because they have to, they are learning English because of an external need and not because they want to. Although it is harder to keep motivated when the goal is not a personal choice, there are a few strategies we can use to help them feel more engaged and eventually the goal...

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...