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...

Friday, 6p.m., the deafening bell rang. Surely there had been meetings in which “the bell issue” had come to light, but there was never enough time to actually do something about it. The empty halls were taken by running bodies who dragged half-open backpacks and screamed as if they had been held captive for way longer than their eager little bodies could withstand. As they reached door, a trail of paper notes, candy wrappers and assorted colorful things was left behind. She grabbed her bag and closed the...

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,...

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...

March is here! It’s time to start thinking about how to bring St. Patrick’s Day into our schools and classes. Needless to mention how important this date is when we talk about cultural aspects of the English language. After all, many English-speaking countries celebrate it. Therefore, many schools and teachers in Brazil – and in other parts of the world - try to immerse their students in a St. Paddy’s experience. Well, at least they should… I told a fellow teacher I had been writing this post and she...

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...

As 2020 begins, teachers all around the world get ready to receive their students for a new term, and I am no different.. As I write, I am enjoying my last days of the summer break, and yet I am already mentally planning how I can make my school year the best one again. That means deciding which practices I would like to include in my professional routine, and which ones I should adapt or eliminate from my daily lesson planning. Then, at the beginning of January, I decided...

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...

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...

My third piece of advice is to cultivate a sense of empathy - to put yourself in other people's shoes - to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world. Barack Obama Empathy is 'the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions'. (Krznaric, 2014) Because of the many online groups we are part of, it's much easier to find ourselves in situations where our empathy is...

Students’ real-world contact with English plays hands down a more realistic role in the development of their skills, rather than the few hours they spend in the classroom. Taking this into account, it is high time teachers worked as mediators between learners and their (desirable) daily exposure to the language. But is it enough to just tell students to do something at home, such as “listen to songs in English more often” or “watch films and series with original audio and English subtitles”? We don’t think it is. So,...

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...

Taking the DELTA has changed me as a teacher in many ways, but I believe that it has most influenced the way I perceive and teach listening. I first came across the term ‘decoding’ when my dear tutor Melissa Lamb from IH London introduced me to John Field’s book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’. Later on, I came across Richard Cauldwell’s brilliant book ‘A Syllabus for Listening – Decoding’. This is the second post inspired by these brilliant minds which have also shaped me as a teacher and...

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...

What is your passion when it comes to teaching EFL? Is it one of the four skills [listening, speaking, reading or writing]? One of the four systems [pronunciation, lexis, grammar or discourse]? Teaching YLs or teens? Methodology, perhaps? Teacher training? - Hard to pick one, right? Well, I'll do it anyways! I'll start with Listening - why is it one of my many passions? Because of the challenge it presents teachers with: we cannot enter our learners' ears to check what they are actually understanding. For this reason, I'm starting a...

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,...

I’d like to start this post with Maya Angelou’s beautiful statement: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a subscriber to MET (Modern English Teacher), I received the October 2018 issue at home this month. Their articles cover a wide range of topics as you can see from its cover: [caption id="attachment_8235" align="alignnone" width="539"] MET magazine October 2018[/caption] One article, in particular, drew my attention: Promoting gratitude among learners by Jeffrey Dawala...

As many teachers get ready to start a new professional year, I believe we tend to let anxiety take the best of us. According to the site “How Stuff Works”, teaching is the fourth most stressful job, since we “have to be well-prepared every day”, we take a lot of work home, and have to deal with both students and sometimes parents. It is a lot of work indeed, which may leave us questioning our career choice, or our hopes and dreams for the future. Since I truly believe...

“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...

Earlier this month I mentioned to a dear colleague that I started my teaching career as a part-time job just to make ends meet. What is also true is that it did not take me long to quit everything I was doing at the moment and dedicate myself full-time to the profession. Little did I know that seven years later, two serendipitous encounters would show me that the inclusive classroom had chosen me even before I figured that out. The first one happened in 2016 when I received a...

As a child, I was a tech enthusiast. Born in 1980, I am an active member of a lucky generation which could see the evolution of computers from gigantic monsters which could occupy an entire building so as to produce what we know today as a very limited amount of data, to micro technology,which enables us to store virtually anything in a “cloud” of information. When I started teaching, back in the last century (phew, I AM getting old), rooms were constituted of a blackboard, chalk, chairs and books,...

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...

We all have our own peculiar little habits that are deeply ingrained in our routine, don’t we? Some of us always put on the socks before the trousers. Others check their phones as soon as they wake up. These aren’t conscious decisions, but rather things that we simply do without really thinking about it, usually because someone told us to do it a long time ago, or we saw someone doing it and assumed that was the “right” way. When we teach, we also have out little habits,...

Just like many readers of this blog, I was born and raised in the pre Google era. Actually, I am not sure there really is such a historical division, but I truly recommend one for those studying history. The world has dramatically changed after Google, and these changes have affected a lot of areas, including education. Back in the days before Google, for example, we would need an expensive encyclopedia (a set of 20, or more, large, thick volumes) to do our school researches and homework. So, yes, in...

It goes without saying that vocabulary is one aspect language acquisition that plays an important role when learning one mother’s tongue, let alone a foreign language. I have often had learners saying that they can fairly get by grammatical structures and the real factor holding them back is how to put words within this lexical construct. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula through which one can get by learning new lexis, being it from the word level to the sentence level; however, memory seems to be one key element...

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...

“Learners have storied selves that cannot be dissociated from their selves in the classroom, so they are encouraged to share their stories and experiences during ordinary pedagogic activities. Naturally, these interactions help us all --- myself included, connect with one another.” Teresa Carvalho (2017) Magical. This is what many teachers want their lessons to be. I have had some truly magical moments in my classes, but what do I mean by magical moments? Just picture your all your students --- and yourself included, sharing your stories and listening to...

PART 1: from the early 90’s to the early 2010’s What you are about to read is by no means to be regarded as an accurate description of ELT practices in Brazil throughout the last 3 decades. Rather, what I attempt to describe below is simply my very own perception of how ELT has throughout the all these years positively added on, rethought, deconstructed and reconstructed itself to stay in tune with global changes and, more importantly, with the local societal changes that more than ever have been the...

If you had been my student at around 2010 on of your complaints would have been that I never used songs in my lessons. Earlier in my career I used songs quite frequently, in that gap-fill let's-kill-some-time kind of way. However, as I became more experienced, I realised that this kind of activity is not very useful. As I had no idea how to actually use songs appropriately I decided to simply stop using them. Fast-forward to a few years later, when my colleagues and I had just come...

A couple of months ago a friend of mine reported on his page on Facebook a situation that had happened to his son at school. It was a Portuguese lesson and the focus was defining and non-defining relative clauses. To cut a long story short, my friend’s son defended that that the sentence My father who treats clients well is bankrupt was as correct as My father, who treats clients well, is bankrupt as, in the boy’s words, it was perfectly possible to have two fathers. After all,...

Just like in March, I’ll begin by reproducing a photo that was in newspapers and social media last month and that proved extremely controversial, raising heated discussions on the Internet. Well, I believe you have probably seen it and possibly read lots of arguments, both defending and criticising all sorts of aspects in the photo. Basically, there were two lines: one that saw the babysitter as a victim of social inequality and the other defending their employers who alleged it was her choice to work for them, that...

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...

Teenagers are and will always be a strong presence in the ELT classroom, be it in the school system or in language institutes. However, they end up being the middle children of the English teaching world. A lot has been written about teaching adults and children, but I find it really hard to find materials on those at ages ranging from 13 to 17. Not surprisingly, they can become one of the most challenging age groups to teach. Disruptive behaviour, lack of interest, faces that look constantly bored, the...

Hi! This month I want to finish sharing with you the remaining three teaching techniques I recently got to know as I searched the Internet for innovation. The idea is to create affordances in class so that students feel compelled to learn. Below I briefly refer to remaining three teaching techniques. The previous three were the topic of last month’s post. 4. Gamification: ‘Gamification’ is another way of saying learning through play - a class procedure effective at any age since it keeps students motivated. The use of games is usually considered appropriate...

ELT teachers are used to dealing with different students in the classroom. The literature on dealing with mixed-ability/mixed-level/mixed-age groups is not slim, with numerous articles on the matter having been published. Guaranteeing even participation of learners, however, is an constant challenge. Here are three ideas I try to bear in mind in the lessons I teach:   Make (more) room for pair work Especially after the Communicative Approach became ubiquitous, the image of students working in small groups has become more and more frequent in language lessons all over the...

Instructions are an important part of every teacher’s life. They can either make or break our lessons, getting students in the best mood imaginable or sending them into a downward spiral of discontentment (has anyone ever heard students react with sighs of “reading again?”). How can we guarantee that the second doesn’t happen?  Imagine a teacher who has an elementary group of adults and wants to help his learners develop listening skills. Now look at the instructions that our imaginary and well-intentioned teacher delivered in one lesson to that...

Checking exercises is so deeply ingrained in our teaching practice that we seldom give it a thought. Asking students to report back after a small-group activity is also common practice ever since the boom of the communicative approach.  But are we making the best use of classroom time or could we just be doing it for the sake of habit? Just last week, I was talking to a teacher I know about a great lesson she had delivered when we caught ourselves discussing just that. It dawned on us...

As we come to the end of the year, our classes are also about to finish. Hence, the time for us teachers to start planning the end of the semester has come. We end up getting so busy organizing reviews, writing tests, testing and assessing students, writing reports and/or report cards, providing students with feedback on their work we sometimes forget to “give students opportunities to reflect on what they have learnt and experienced in the lesson/term/year” (Emma Gore-Lloyd, 2014). I first heard about the different phases of a...

Being a bit of a YouTube buff, myself, I’ve always been really keen on using videos with my students. So much interaction and such great ideas can come from just a couple of minutes (or even seconds) of audio-visual input! We often use movie snippets or interviews in order to bring the outside world into the classroom, but my favourite videos are the ones that became popular and accessible via video-sharing websites - those usually created by Internet users rather than the conventional media. These are the genres I particularly...

Last month, we looked at personalisation, guided discovery and raising awareness of sub-skills and strategies as ways to promote learner engagement (click here to check it out). Today, I’d like to share some more ideas on this topic, which I consider one of the most important, albeit challenging, in both lesson preparation and delivery. Reacting to content as well as language As teachers, we are so concerned with the learners’ linguistic development that we may easily fall into the trap of devoting exclusive attention to the words students use rather...

As the end of the year approaches, several students, teachers, school managers and parents may be coming to the conclusion that what was done and learnt throughout the year, or the term, was not enough. In other words, some students will fail their courses. And so, what happens next? How to deal with failure? For obvious reasons, I’ll just deal with ELT here, but the “arguments” may well apply to other school subjects. First of all, I believe that depending on which hat you are wearing, you might see...

Sharing experiences may be daunting but there is a whole developmental process in it. Maybe I am talking about the same idea, yet again, but I attended a conference this past week and much was discussed about the need of continuous development for people working in education. This job of ours require us to be always in our feet studying, catering for our students. Julie Tice, teacher trainer, BC, Lisbon, said that “reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

Hi everyone! I was wondering about what I would share with you this month and, as I was rereading an old article, it came to me: group work. Some teachers, used to teacher-fronted classes, resist promoting group work afraid of losing control and of students learning something “wrong”. If you are one of them, remember that learning is not an overnight phenomenon. On the contrary, it is developmental and it takes long. The fact is that group work has been extensively investigated[1] and its advantages greatly outnumber the eventual exposure...

Hi everyone! Have you ever wondered about classroom experiences? About how can they bring an expanded understanding of the teaching and learning process? Starting today, I`ll be contributing with posts on classroom language learning experiences because they can provide a lot of information about what goes on between teachers and students as well as a holistic perspective of the process of teaching, learning and evaluating – the three most common reasons for bringing people to a language class. Every month, I’ll post excerpts of students’ or teachers’ narratives. Selections will...