Last month, we talked about the innovator teacher's dilemma, and I would like to share my innovative experience with you.  I’m sure you have already heard of: Cross over teaching,  Teaching through smart boards, Flipped classrooms Collaborative Teaching Using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)  Technology and innovative methods of teaching And more Are you using all or some of them in your daily lessons? It’s widely known that the use of technology in the classroom helps to engage the students with different kinds of stimuli and, of course,...

Are you tired of listening or reading about how innovative teachers must be in the classroom? Especially now, during and after the covid-19 (years 2020 - 2021) when we were forced to reinvent ourselves and our classroom? Why are you tired of it? Maybe because it is tiring to be always looking for different ways of calling student's attention or to, at least, make them be more participative and acquire something out of it? Is this really the point? Or is it the experience? The learning? Well, we are teachers. We...

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”...

An increased interest in online teaching has emerged in recent years. Such interest has become even more prominent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine, during which teachers worldwide had to take up online teaching overnight. Many of us had been teaching adults – or taken online lessons and courses ourselves – for a while, but teaching a group of teenagers through a screen was unimaginable. Given my considerable experience with online teaching, I was very confident about welcoming my teenage students to a video call. Little did...

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,...

I’ve always felt that in order to be a good teacher for my students I had to be at the top of my game all the time. This means having to let go of all worries and problems from the outside-of-the-classroom world while teaching, and I managed to make that happen for over a decade. Little did I know that there would come a day that my heart would ache so much that achieving such self-control would be almost impossible...

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...

First of all, I’d like to send a warm hug to everyone who is reading this post. We have been living under stressful moments due to an emergency lockdown caused by the COVID-19. As you know, and based on your own needs, families require your full attention, exceptionally now. You are no longer “only” teaching a subject or a content, you are giving them as much of your attention as possible. In my opinion, this is what ‘emergency remote teaching’ is all about. Nurturing, not only our students but...

The musical hit series Glee aired between 2009 and 2015. I remember watching it and thinking to myself: “What a wonderful and necessary series!”. Like most of Ryan Murphy’s work, there’s a lot of representation in it. And the fact that it focuses on teenagers making through high school makes it even more special as this was the target audience of the show. Last vacation I had the chance to spend some days off with my family and had a lot of contact with my 14-year-old niece. When I...

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...

It’s expected that experienced teachers’ classes will be more peaceful and freer of problems than novices’. But let’s be honest: no matter how long you’ve been working in ELT (English Language Teaching), there will always be difficulties, since we are dealing with people. That alone already means facing the unexpected on a daily basis, not to mention the extra unpredictability commonly seen among groups of teenagers. So yes, there are issues which will always be there. Above all: indiscipline. At times we have our classes observed, and we panic...

It goes without saying that teachers of teenagers often worry about how fun and dynamic classes must be so as to keep students engaged and motivated. So pervasive is this concern among professionals who teach youngsters that we sometimes tend to disregard the importance of taking into account the quieter and shyer students in our classes. Before suggesting how teachers can deal with shy students in the classroom, we would like to talk a little bit about shyness. Heitz, D. (2019) explains that ‘shyness is a feeling of fear...

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...

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...

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...

When the subject is teaching teenagers, there is always a cloud hanging over teachers’ heads. This cloud has a name and it is quite a familiar one: behaviour. As a rule of thumb, when we have a couple of teenagers together in one room, there will eventually be distraction, standing up, talking (or yelling), paper airplanes flying around, among other “issues”. Having these things in mind, in this post I am willing to share five tips that have helped me a lot throughout my career as a teacher. Build...

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....

The other day I was talking to an acquaintance who has a kid that goes to a language school to study English. As this acquaintance knows I am an English teacher, she started opening up to me about her feelings towards her child’s studies and she stated that she “did not feel like her daughter was actually learning English”. When I asked why, she said that she had the impression that her daughter would not be able to get by in case she had to speak English on a...

The academic year is just around the corner and every now and then we tend to start the New Year facing some challenges and the kind. Being an educator is not an easy task, dealing with stressful situations such as routine, and, to add insult to injury, many of us will have to perform a juggling act, e.g. work in different schools, in order to make ends meet. Looking for perfection should be the main aim, right? It is important, however, to bear in mind that there is no...

I have worked in ELT for about a decade and, therefore, I have delivered hundreds of reading lessons. It is undeniable that many textbooks authors have been doing their best to come up with interesting and relevant topics that work wonders to introduce grammar and vocabulary. However, I often feel that part of our job as teachers is to always put ourselves in the students’ positions. For this reason, I frequently ask myself: “If I were a student, would I enjoy reading this text?” And truth be told,...

“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...

Back in 2011 I was invited to write the general introduction to a series of books for PNLD (Programa Nacional do Livro Didático), a Brazilian government programme that, as most of you may know, distributes books for public schools. It was a detailed introduction, which had to thoroughly explain the concept behind the book and how the authors beliefs about foreign language learning were represented in the series. At that time, I was not aware that writing this introduction would change my views about language learning forever. In 2014...

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...

At the beginning of a new semester, learners are usually excited to get started, enthusiastic about learning and with high hopes of finally achieving that much sought-after fluency. As the course unfolds, so does life: learners have to juggle work, school and their own personal lives, coping with everything at the same time. And as that happens, one of the most common comments I hear from my learners is that they wish they had (more) time to study English, do homework, listen to podcasts, watch the news, you...

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...

I was looking for an inspiring article about motivation when I came across Bruce Dixon’s entitled ‘The Value of a Cold Shower’. It starts by questioning the kind of expectations we have when we attend the opening keynote at a conference. Dixon asks us: ‘Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired or provoked, or maybe all of the above? Are you looking for your current thinking to be affirmed, challenged, or dismissed?’ He then goes further using the metaphors of ‘warm baths’ and ‘cold shower’ to explain...

How did you get into English Language teaching, and why do you still do it? I come from a family of musicians and English first caught my interest when I came across Pink Floyd and The Ramones with their lyrics and fast singing. My English teacher at Secondary School (Neusa Lombardi) spotted this ‘talent for English’ and rewarded me with a scholarship to her school. Once there, I developed a liking for teaching, which lead me to read Languages at University. As a teacher, I felt the need to develop...

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...

Deciding to write about my journey with English has taken me on a trip down memory lane, and some other teachers said they had the same impression when they read part 1. This is extremely motivating since I think this kind of reflection helps us realize how far we have come and it might prompt us to make more progress. On that note, passing the first exam back in the day proved to be a catalyst for change in the sense that it enabled me to see that I...

How did passing a proficiency exam help me improve my teaching? Once you have passed the exam, where do you go from there? I plan to address these questions while I share my experience of preparing for the Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE) exam and what happened after passing. Far from being a guide for exam candidates, this series of posts will be a more personal account of the trials and tribulations of a teacher trying to become a better model for his students. I hope some teachers can relate...

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...

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...

On announcing my groups’ final testing dates, I can vividly remember one student coining the chunk, if I may say so, ‘TeStressing Times are coming.’ Well, in terms of pronunciation one might easily say she has aced the test.  Living and learning seems to be a fair motto, I say. We all know that the end of an academic year or, our academic semester, is packed with surprises that most learners love, not to say hate. Either fortunately or unfortunately testing is one them. One thing is for sure,...

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...

Holidays are over, preparation has already taken place so now it’s time to get into teaching! When the year comes to an end we think back and realise our work was done and a rest is deserved. Soon we start longing for the new groups, the new materials, the planning… I believe students never realise the amount of work we face prior to the beginning of a new academic year. In good schools all must be planned beforehand in order to provide the best possible educational service. The learning process...

As we are beginning a new year and many of us are enjoying our well-deserved summer vacations in the southern hemisphere, in my post today I'm going to relate my vacation experience with what I'm currently reading and propose a new year challenge. On our summer vacations, my husband and I have always favored calmer places; spending our summers in a large city packed with tourists has never been our idea of the ideal vacation. When we see a huge crowd, we usually turn the other way. However, this time...

The other day I was visiting a writer friend of mine and she said she wanted to write a children's story. A story in which the reader can extrapolate the meaning and come out better for it. My very eloquent friend started to tell me her story ideas based on interviews she had conducted in poor communities around Brazil. The stories she told me were heart wrenching. The way she transcribed them was engaging. I started thinking about what was appropriate subject matter. What realities do characters face in stories...

We know that language teachers face a lot of difficulties in Brazilian regular schools. Based on my experience as a High School teacher, my intention here is to present some suggestions to overcome three common challenges teachers face in this context. 1) All levels in the same place Challenge: Classes in regular schools present a great difference in language level among students, so that the teacher is faced with the problem of challenging higher-level students without overwhelming lower-level students. How to deal with it: Instead of proposing exercises that can only...