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...