At the school I work for, we have a large teenage population. If you've taught this age level, you know the challenges they pose to us every day, but you also cherish the lively interactions with them once you've established rapport. It is true that in order to establish such rapport, we have to be acquainted with the topics they like to talk about, the songs they listen to, the TV shows they don't miss, the stars they worship, where they like to hang out, what they like...

How long does it take to learn English? That is probably the one-million question of our era. At a time of fast-food, instant messages, real-time distance interaction, and quick fixes to (almost) everything, learning a language becomes one more item on our “fast-track” bucket list. As a way to attract market and become more competitive, several English language institutes in Brazil tend to sell quick-fix programs in which students are promised to speak English in as fast as one year (maybe less?). But do such programs really offer...