As you will probably agree, inspiration comes from the most unusual places. Just now, I felt so moved by a Netflix documentary about the jazz genius Miles Davis that I had to come here and write about the lessons I believe his career may bring to our professional development as teachers.   “The Musings of Miles”: Don’t “blow” theory. Miles started his career as a trumpeter in his teens and went to Juilliard, one of the world’s most prestigious performance art schools. Despite criticizing it for being “too white”...

The use of this current communicative approach is very common in the English lesson field. We always tend to use a task as the topic of the lesson and ask students to perform this task at the end of this lesson. As the name states TBLT, also known as TBI (task-based instruction) focuses on the use of authentic language relying on meaningful tasks as the main item of planning, target language, and instruction in language teaching. For instance, conducting or participating in a job interview, visiting a doctor’s office,...

Coronavirus day 3.648: It feels like that, right? At least, it does for me.  Since this has all begun and we started teaching remotely, I have been re-reading all my academic books, trying to find various other approaches and/or methods for dealing with “emergency remote teaching” in a way that lessons will be meaningful, not only to students but also (and mostly) parents. As you well know by now, we are now teaching a second language to a larger scale. We are reaching families, which means we have to focus...

When did you decide to become a teacher? Did it start because life happened or did it start because you planned it? Did you take into consideration all the effort you would have to put into it? Or all the hours you would have to spend trying to make your lesson better for that particular student who claims he/she does not like the language?  As you know, I have recently changed the focus of my work. I taught English at a renowned Institution and I was an academic coordinator...

In 2019 we had the opportunity to work together on different projects. Such projects involved writing for the Richmond blog, going live on different social media websites and delivering an online course for teachers. We’d like to start by commenting on the online course experience. Needless to say how this course enriched us. While organizing the contents we decided to include in the course, we studied a lot more about so many relevant issues that are undoubtedly pertinent to our daily work. In this sense, the need to research...

Have you ever heard of the SWOT analysis? It comes from the Administration and Management of a business. This technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led this research project at Stanford University in the 60s, using data from many top companies. His goals failed at the time, but the SWOT analysis had yet a lot to give. I have been reading a lot of management strategy and company and personal administration books, and I came across Eduardo Ferraz (2018), who has more than thirty years of experience with...

It’s the beginning of a new term. You’re chosen to teach an upper-intermediate/advanced group. You’re excited to meet your new students, you plan a welcome activity so as to start off with the right foot. You enter the room, start the class and ask your new students to introduce themselves. And suddenly one particular student starts speaking. Their pronunciation is nearly flawless, they use a wide range of vocabulary and demonstrate control of simple and complex grammatical forms. And one inevitable thought crosses your mind: “This student speaks...

Year: 1999. Group: Basic 1. Place: Uberaba, MG – Brasil. Seventeen-year-old Ana Carolina stepped into a classroom for the first time. Young, restless, feeling entitled by her recently acquired C2 diploma and, most importantly: raw. Fluent, for sure. After one year of isolation from all Portuguese speakers in a cultural exchange program before cell phones or the Internet were even available, the mountaneer dialect flowed as if it were her own. Scared, she left the students in class in order to catch a breath and drink some water,...

If you work in a language Institution or in a (high) school as a teacher, a coordinator or if you are a school principal or owner, you are aware that cultural events are a substantial part of the breakdown.  Any school events or activities that entail cultural and social fronts are providing the students an opportunity to grow, learn, socialise, perfect existing skills, develop new skills and enhance formative development. It all sounds great, but what about the everyday processes?  Who is/are the ones involved in events like these? There...

Monday, 6 p.m., the sun peeking through the blinds in the brick and mortar language school building in Brazil. The teacher enters the room carrying a bag of props, flashcards, and her tape recorder. The recorder being to her as precious as a map to a Geography teacher: “Hi, John Peter! How are you today?” asked the teacher in a high-pitched voice. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” replied the monotoned student. The automatic, “I’m fine, too,” followed. “So… Let’s begin! Open your books to page 50,” she continued while rewinding and...

“If you want to master something, teach it. A great way to learn is to teach.” Richard Feynman - theoretical physicist This was Edutopia’s 24th of June Facebook post which was shared as a “tip” on my Instagram stories on the same day! I wrote: This is my motto, and it is, it has been like that since I can remember. When I first started teaching, back in 2004, I remember I had a major problem with inversions. Yes, me, the now called ‘inversion lover’. When I started teaching advanced...

This post is going to be very personal. I believe that it will depict exactly what I have been feeling for the past few months - the lack of companionship and the empty competition there is in our field. Competition in a field or at a workplace might be profitable in the sense that it can motivate employees, make them put in some extra effort or go for the extra mile, achieve either personal or professional results faster and sometimes more enjoyably. It is an inescapable part of most...

We hear about CPD, the acronym for Continuous Professional Development, all the time. Although CPD is not only about taking courses, they are certainly a prototypical concept and the number of courses aimed at teachers has been increasing steadily, or at least this is the impression I have. When it comes to courses, one of the most common questions we hear is “Is this or that course worth it?” or “Should I do this course or not?” The answers, however, are definitely not as simple as the questions....

“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

It has been quite a while since I last wrote here, but it doesn`t mean that I haven`t been doing any thinking about current issues involving teachers, especially what is going on in the private ESL market. Therefore, in this month’s post, I briefly discuss how private organizations may impact our beliefs about what we do and how these ideas may be deconstructed. As I write these lines, many schools and English language institutes in Brazil are being taken over and are being ‘reformatted’ by other companies, a.k.a. holdings,...

Scene 1: Big conference in Brazil. The speaker, a Brazilian, goes onto the stage to begin her plenary session. While she speaks, you notice she makes some mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, grammar mistakes, but the content of her presentation is relevant and she manages to get her message across. At the end of her talk, you hear teachers, the vast majority of them Brazilians, commenting on the mistakes and criticising the presenter. Scene 2: Same big conference. The presenter on the stage is not a native speaker of English, and...

Criticism hurts. Hence, it can be stressful, tense and sometimes traumatic. Still, it is such a natural part of life, including professional life, that knowing how to make the best out of it is an important skill for us to keep emotionally healthy. Below I list a few aspects to consider and that can prove useful in our field. Criticism or feedback? We are faced with criticism on a regular basis and no matter where it comes from, we have to learn if it is meant to be...

An unsuccessful lesson observation. A promotion you didn’t get. An opportunity you were not offered. I believe everyone I know has been through a tough professional moment at some point in their career. And I also believe I don’t know anyone who rejoices facing problems and always sees them as fantastic opportunities to grow and develop when they are going through those issues. Having said that, the attitude one takes regarding such situations is what will shape the professional they will become. Let’s discuss some of these situations,...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. William Shakespeare "If I could have a second go at life, being back to school, but still knowing everything I know now, I'd make so many things differently." How many of you have already thought, said...

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the lack of balance in the past BRAZ-TESOL conferences as far as gender was concerned. Just to refresh our memories, the results were the following[1]: As I stated at the time, it was (and is) not a matter of pointing fingers and finding culprits, but of trying to understand why the number of female speakers is so low in BRAZ-TESOL conferences which, I believe most of you would agree, is the most relevant conference for ELT professionals in Brazil. It was...

Published on November 20th, the first part of this post tries to briefly describe the trends of ELT in Brazil from the early 90’s to the late 2000’s. In it, I also included the themes and topics of some of the plenary sessions in international conferences and the names of the speakers who delivered them.  In the second and last part of this article, I try to describe how the 2nd decade of the 2000’s addresses new trends and issues brought about by the demands of a society...

End of year, spring cleaning, and I ended up finding many old pictures and documents which were a trip down memory lane. I wondered what I would say to that young Natalia, who was about to start her career as an English teacher, or to anyone who is starting in the career for that matter. Stepping out of the classroom and back in again: my last day of secondary school, 6 months before my first day as a teacher. Keep an organized record of everything you do career-wise. This first...

If you have spent some time online in the past months, particularly on Facebook, you may have come across a number of posts followed by hundreds of comments, basically related to gender equality, or lack of it, in ELT events. Gender equality in general is an issue that has been discussed for a long time, hence Women’s International Day (celebrated on March 8th) and Women’s Equality Day (celebrated on August 26th). Although the demand for gender equality is not new, in most professional areas the balance is far...

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending an event at the Braz-Tesol BH Chapter, “The 5 Cs in the 21st Century”. Flawlessly organized by Bia Hedegaard and her amazing team, this was the first event I went to after being involved in the organization of “BrELT on The Road”. One of the plenaries featured the Assessment Diva, Natália Guerreiro. She talked about what’s holding us back in terms of teacher development, and it resonated a lot with experiences I have had lately. Among other things, Natália mentioned how attending...

After much reflection on my professional career, I must admit that everything I do I don’t do alone. I am who I am thanks to the collaboration of an endless number of people that have crossed paths with me and shared some of their wisdom, kindness, support, different takes on ELT and constructive criticism. I am grateful for all of them having this immense impact in my professional life and I'm adamant that networking is key for professional and personal growth. Hugh Grant in the first minutes of the...

It’s clear to us by now that the role of the teacher has been changing dramatically. Gone are the days when the teacher was the source of all knowledge! In an age where students are bombarded with and have free access to information, the image of the teacher as a knowledge-transmitter seems outdated and out of place. However, does that mean that professionals are now exempt from pursuing development of their own knowledge? That hardly seems to be the case! Then, what should teachers be looking to develop,...

A couple of months ago, talking to a dear friend and co-worker about future jobs prospects, I asked her one of those ‘why don’t you’ questions. Her reply was ‘I don’t have much time for promoting myself.’ Well, I know that is true when you have deadlines pressing on you. Then, on a different occasion, I asked somebody whose work is greatly admired and respected, in another ‘why don’t you’ style conversation and her reply was fairly similar: ‘I’m not good at promoting myself.’ Self-promoting has probably always...

"A man's mind stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimensions." This quote, attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, illustrates what happens with the learning mind: it will not be the same it had been before the new opportunities to grow. The new ideas may also refer to developing knowledge and/ or skills that are not necessarily directly connected to our area of expertise. As teachers, we aim at helping our learners to broaden their horizons, embrace diversity, experience the world. What better way to change the world than to start by experimenting with our own learning? Teaching a foreign language gives...

Vou confessar uma coisa: odeio ir ao dentista. Nada contra a pessoa do dentista, o profissionalismo ou o consultório. É meio que irracional, como um medo inexplicável, mas eu realmente detesto ir ao dentista. Por isso, evito ao máximo fazê-lo – erro clássico e crítico. Rápida historinha real: usei aparelho fixo por vários anos por volta dos meus 20 de idade e após retirá-lo, fiquei apenas com uma contençãozinha atrás dos dentes frontais inferiores. Por ocasião dessa contenção, eu deveria ir ao dentista 2 vezes ao ano para uma limpeza, coisa que não...

We have been discussing the importance of mindset and beliefs in education. The impact of the teachers' confidence that their learners can achieve higher, as well as their thoughts about their own teaching to influence learning outcomes. Focusing on teacher development, here are some tips of what teachers can do and how leaders - trainers or managers - can contribute to the teachers' growth mindset towards productive professional development that may benefit not only learners, but groups of teachers as well as the schools they work. From my point of view, even...

Desde até quando consigo me lembrar ouvi pessoas repetindo que para ganhar dinheiro é preciso trabalhar muito. Não só trabalhar muito, mas dar duro também. Todos os domingos vejo amigos se lamentando de que o fim de semana já está acabando DE NOVO(!) e que já terão que ir ao trabalho na segunda-feira mais uma vez. Já ouviu falar na “Síndrome do Fantástico”? E todas as segundas-feiras também escuto frases como “vamos pra guerra!”, “vamos ralar!” ou “lerê-lerê” (horrorosa alusão à época da escravidão). Esse modo de encarar a vida e...

In my experience as a CELTA tutor, many candidates arrive on the first day having read and researched about what to do in the course (if you don't know what the CELTA is, by the way, you can find more about it by watching this webinar or by checking out Cambridge's official website). There are plenty of blogs and videos out there telling you about what books to buy, what CCQs are, how to teach receptive and productive skills and all sorts of other things. This is all very helpful of...

In my last post, I wrote about professional attitudes when working in collaboration with other ELT professionals - either helping or asking for help in order to develop. Now we are going to focus on the willingness to change and develop as a professional. Leung (2009) states that engaging in reflection to assess our own teaching is key in what the author calls independent professionalism. It is not necessarily an individualist view of development, but rather the kind of development we may seek regardless of demands from regulatory bodies or...

Hoje eu só tenho a agradecer e encorajar. Estou escrevendo este texto no meu notebook no banco de trás do carro de uma carona que consegui por um aplicativo online para ir até Belo Horizonte participar do evento organizado pela Braz-Tesol BH Chapter em união com o Teacher Development Special Interest Group da Braz-Tesol. O evento aconteceu ontem, sábado 18/03 e foi de um valor incalculável. Os professores que ofecerem as talks dos eventos o fazem voluntariamente, não sendo remunerados por isso. Também por isso estou na carona do carro ao...

Two things have happened recently that served as inspiration for this post. One of them is the (erroneous) belief that one can only learn a language if his/her teacher is a native speaker. Who would figure this is still a debate in 2017. The other is the #accentpride that aims at fighting the prejudice that only a native-speaker accent (which one?) is the correct way to speak English. With those two things in mind, I have decided to share the story of how I learned to speak English and how I...

The word feminism is not new, though the understanding of the concept seems to have changed. We shifted from the image of women burning bras in the 60’s to the powerful image of the most recent Women’s March in the United States and in other countries demanding equal rights. I emphasise the word equal and quote the Brazilian philosopher Mario Sergio Cortella in a video snippet that went viral some time ago. In this snippet[1] he briefly and eloquently explains why feminism is not the opposite of machismo....

We have all been there: first day at work, first day in a new job, first day with new coursebook, new group, many 'new' situations throughout our careers. There will always be a first in our path and from my experience, the most successful moments have been those when I had the support from peers or leaders that believed I could go through the initial phase and fly higher and that offered help. Inspired by those fantastic professionals that crossed my path, I decided to write this first post on...

It's been almost two years now since I last had a 'carteira assinada'. If I'm being totally honest, I don't think I would have guessed this is where my career would have taken me. Back when I was in high school (and before I decided to become a teacher) I always saw myself working for a big multinational company. When I got my first job as a teacher, in my last semester at university, my goal was to end up in a job in a big language institute...

Many of us start in the career by incidentally deciding to 'temporarily' teach the language we know while we choose what to do about our professional lives. Many of us choose the career, embrace the challenges, seek for different opportunities. The reasons that brought us to teaching or the one that made us stay are followed by the ones that make us grow and become better and better - the choices we make and the motivation we grow throughout our career. Improving as a professional is not necessarily linked...

I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about this, but I’ve reached that age when I’ve turned into a kind of Agony Aunt to my younger colleagues and friends. The 20-somethings come to me with their career choices and, boy, do they ask difficult questions! Their fork in the road often goes along the lines of, “Should I do a CAE or a CELTA?”, “Should I go to college or work on my language?”, or “What do teachers need more (urgently): language or methodology?” You’ve probably seen these questions before,...

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we can develop as professionals by being involved in the teaching community. Not surprisingly, the most important lessons I’ve had on teaching came from people, not books, but it wasn’t an easy process and I’d like to share some of lessons I’ve learnt from learning with others. Be humble Anyone can teach you something, no matter how experienced, qualified or renowned you are. The moment you adopt a know-it-all attitude is the moment you stop learning, and teaching is ultimately a learning...

They say crisis equals opportunity, and the Brazilian website bicos.com.br has pointed out that teaching is its visitors’ number one choice out of their financial predicaments. [caption id="attachment_4592" align="alignnone" width="572"] Photo via facebook.com/apliesp/[/caption] You can imagine how that went viral (and quite virulent) among Brazilian teachers. According to Brazilian legislation, regular school teachers need to have a teaching license, which will take the candidate at least 3 years to get hold of, if not 4 or 5. Hence, those newcomers are looking for jobs in educational sectors which are not as formalized:...

A lot is said in the literature about students’ motivation and how important a role it plays in a healthy and effective classroom environment. With the beginning of the academic year in Brazil, I’d like to take this opportunity to look at how we can keep our own motivation levels high throughout the year. After all, motivated teachers are better teachers, right? Rather than going on and on about theories of motivation, I’ll try to stick to practical ideas that come not only from my own personal experience -...

Então, mais um ano se passou. Se você for como eu, vai olhar para as resoluções do ano anterior (aquelas que você escreveu ainda em 2014) e ver que não conseguiu cumprir boa parte delas. A tão sonhada forma física, o curso de desenho artístico e a viagem à Fernando de Noronha em 2015, por exemplo, serão transcritas diretamente para a agenda de 2016, ipsi literis. Infelizmente, ainda não foi desta vez. Mas como diz o poeta (neste caso, eu mesmo): a vida é como um fone de ouvido dentro da...

Is teaching a lonely profession? Teaching, in all its forms, is an activity that requires social interaction, and this chance to interact with people while playing a role in their development is probably among the most common reasons that draw people to our profession. Nonetheless, many teachers with whom I talk to share the impression that they are all alone, making decisions and designing lessons, which makes teaching a (paradoxically) lonely profession. Does it have to be that way? Last month, I had the amazing opportunity of attending two events...

Hello there! First of all, I'm so sorry for being AWOL for so long. I launched my online English course and it was a pretty hectic time. I haven't been in the classroom for a while, around five years, and since then I've also started to study Internet marketing more seriously, since I was planning to launch an online course. By doing so I found out that, besides taking several online courses on specific tools and techniques, I also had to "make myself known" in the Internet marketing scene. So I...

I think I must have seen this question a million times: “What does it take to be an English language teacher?” “Courage” springs to mind. At least that’s what I needed when I broke the news to my dear father that I wouldn’t be a lawyer like him (“Quem não faz Direito faz errado,” he must have replied). Joke aside, we can interpret that question in several ways. What I would like to explore here is perhaps the easiest of them: the minimum qualifications that will land you a...

Dear all, this is my second post about my journey to becoming an e-moderator. This time, I'm going to tell you about the time I became an online student myself. Some of the courses I had to take at university were only offered online. I had never done anything like that before (as a student) and I thought it was going to be an amazing learning opportunity at that time as I would learn about a specific subject online as well as learn how to use a different virtual learning...

Dear all, From now on, I'll write about my journey to becoming an e-moderator in order to reflect upon it. I realized the way online courses have evolved and my online teaching experiences intertwine. Thus, you'll be able to accompany me in this journey to the past and to understanding what has been going on in this field for a while now. ...

Working in recruiting and teacher training, I came to notice that Knowledge and Skills (which we dealt with last month) may get your CV noticed, but what determines your success in your career in the end, are the two As in Donald Freeman’s KASA framework: Attitude and Awareness. A long time ago, during one of those fiery staff meetings before lesson started, the other teachers and I were trying to standardise how we would deal with a recurrent situation when someone suggested we simply used common sense. I promptly...

Myths and stereotypes are inherent to a number of professions: the ignorant model, the cunning lawyer, the rude military officer, the sexy nurse, just to name a few. Intertwined with prejudice and/or limited, erroneous views, these myths and stereotypes very often cause discomfort and raise discussion. Teaching is no exception to that. Which stereotypes are usually associated with teachers? Very recently, a statement by the current Minister of Education has come back to the centre of debate. In 2011, during a strike in which teachers demanded a raise, and...

/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...

  The challenge of being a non-native English speaker in a native English speaking world I recently came across EFL teacher James Taylor's blog post about NNESTs' struggle to be respected as English teachers by students and employers. In his guest blog post, James lists a number of advantages of being a NNEST over a being a NEST. Wow! I'd never given much thought to the issue of NNESTs (non-native English speaking teachers opposed to NESTs -- native English speaking teachers), and yet I have belonged to this group most...

I must have mentioned before on this blog that I teach adolescents in their last year of High School. Needless to say, this is a period of great anxiety as most of them intend to go to university and now have to choose a career. It is the time when most of them realise that their days of “automatic pilot” - in which they simply progress from one grade to another - are over and that making a decision based on the question What do I want to...

I always say that one of the things I like the most about teaching is that I’m always learning. And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one… We teachers learn a lot not only from our students and from fellow teachers but also from what we read, from conferences we attend, and so on. And this all has got to do with teacher development. Bell and Gilbert (apud Evans, 2002) state that “teacher development can be viewed as teachers learning, rather than as others getting teachers to change....

I was supposed to have published this post on May the 01st. As I knew I was going to be in João Pessoa for the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference, I really wanted my post to be about teacher development – mainly about attending conferences. I had even read some articles and blog posts on it in order to find inspiration for my post (“Teacher Development belongs to Teachers” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Attending Conferences” by James Taylor, “7 things about reflecting on conference presentations” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Teachers...

Being a teacher for almost 30 years I have a clear idea of how demanding, time consuming and rewarding this profession is and how tough it can get sometimes. If you’ve been teaching for 2, 3 years, you probably have this idea already. Yes, I gave up my Psychologist career to become a teacher. Being in the market for a long time I’ve attended lots of seminars and webminars, conferences, delivered lots of presentations , published articles , wrote materials and became a teacher trainer after doing lots of...

By the time this post is published, I will have spent two days in the lovely city of João Pessoa where, as most of you know, the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference is being held. This will be my 7th BRAZ-TESOL Conference. While I was packing I began asking myself: What motivated me to go? Why do I want to leave my kids behind? (If you have done the same you will know the feeling…) Why do I feel like spending the holiday attending talks and workshops instead of...

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...

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 was very happy to have been asked to write for the RichmondShare space and thought about getting started by discussing a statement some people make regarding our profession. Are teachers born ready or made? Some people claim that teachers are born ready, that this profession is guided solely by passion which I tend to agree just up to a point. Scrivener (2005:15) states that being it conscious or not, most of our attitude as teachers relies on the experience we had as students seeing our teachers back then, but choosing...

The beginning of a new year usually gets us thinking about the plans that we want to make, improvements that we wish to promote and changes that we would like to witness in our personal lives. It is therefore the perfect opportunity to devise actions to ensure growth in the professional realm too. In this first post of mine, I would like to invite you to reflect upon your New Year’s resolutions with a special focus on professional development. As English teachers, we need to constantly look for ways...