[caption id="attachment_4644" align="aligncenter" width="433"] Soldier vs Scout (illustrations shown by Galef, 2016)[/caption] Soldiers stand their ground with all they've got. The enemies and their subversive ideas must not be allowed in. Death to the infidels! Grrrrr! Scouts are also important in a war, but they play quite a different role: they have to survey the land, learn what it is like, its obstacles and possibilities, taking reality in as it is. That’s how Julia Galef described two mindsets earlier this year in her TEDx talk in Pennsylvania. She says it’s...

The other day I came across a box of notes written by my students at the end of term. During a while I used to systematically ask for feedback from my students and I had a lesson ready for that for all the levels and age groups that I taught, from young learners to adults. The very last activity was the feedback note, which my students wrote both in Portuguese and in English, whichever language they felt more comfortable with. They were free not to sign their notes...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about giving and receiving feedback. One of the reasons for that was a conversation with my friend Priscila Mateini on receiving negative feedback and dealing with failure. In addition, because of the nature of my job as a Celta tutor, I'm constantly giving feedback to teachers. Some of what I'm going to write about focuses on feedback after lesson observations, but a lot of it can be applied to other areas of teaching as well. A trainer once told me that one of...

Last weekend I took part in an online professional development event organized by EFL Talks, called 10 in 10 for YOU. The idea was to have questions asked by teachers answered in 10 minutes (each), using 10 slides (videos of all the 40 talks will be made available in the website if you want to check them out.) I was thrilled that the organizers invited me to answer one of the questions. And my question was just that: “Do teachers need better feedback?” It’s difficult to answer such question, because...

It is over four months today since I last posted an article on the blog. 2015 was not particularly what I'd call a smooth year due to a lot of reasons; however, since it is important to focus on the gains rather than the losses, despite the bumps along last year's path, it's time to roll up our sleeves again and get ready for a new year! I'm still enjoying some much deserved vacation, but reflecting on our beliefs and practices is (or at least should be) a non-stop force, that...

While technology has become a powerful tool to share information, talking to people face-to-face still remains unrivalled. Enjoying a meal together or connecting with others through a handshake --- or even a few words, creates a synergy that promotes feelings of trust and collaboration;  it helps us build stronger relationships and a feeling of belonging. Conferences are mostly about all this energy flow that creates a unique learning environment by bringing people closer together. Highlight #1: Pronunciation: A cool activity that you can do with your students is ask them...

It’s funny to think about how the relationship between teachers and students has changed. Some years ago, the teacher would simply tell a student off and then s/she would study harder or so, even parents would support the teacher. Nowadays things are different. Feedback has to be well thought about. Anyway, define what feedback is first. Hattie and Timplerley [2003] from the University of Auckland defined that feedback is the information provided by the teacher regarding aspects of students’s performance or understanding. They claim that a teacher can provide...

Students taking a course in a foreign language very frequently bring with them a world of expectations and needs – in both personal and professional contexts – that they want to be met in the classroom. Those expectations and needs, however, can many times be beyond what can be achieved within a semester of studies. It is then many times up to the teacher to help learners align their expectations and help them become more aware of what they can achieve in the short and long run, and...

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...

There have been a lot of pendulum swings in our profession since the early 90s, but the teaching of writing seems to be a bit of an exception. Compared to, for example, the sibling rivalry between PPP vs. task-based learning, the half-hearted nod of approval translation’s finally starting to get or, say, the recent comeback of formulaic language, the principles underlying the teaching of writing have remained relatively unscathed from ELT’s constant quest for the latest craze. We owe this, to a certain extent at least, to Ron White’s and...