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”...

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...

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...

Sunny afternoon in the capital of Brazil, a group of teachers awaits for the presentation of the new coursebooks. Curious eyes on the presenters, colorful boxes on the shelves and the expectation to end the day with grids and tables filled with content that would translate into a year’s worth of teaching. To their surprise, instead of handing them a book, the presenters, Pedagogical Coaches, as they are now called, give them Ipads and passwords to an LMS platform where they would have access to interactive books, planning guides...

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...

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 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...

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...

Exactly one year ago, I had my first go at presenting in conferences. Back then, I was just someone trying to show the results of a small-scale research I had carried out on a topic that happened to be of major importance in my teaching career, inclusive education. However excited, I had never felt completely prepared for it nor even capable of doing so on a regular basis. What actually made me confident enough to apply for it was the limitless support I had always had from my dear...

In a coaching process, nothing is more effective and powerful than a coaching dialogue, profitable conversations prompted by the coach that can truly impact the coachee's results. These compelling chats are usually guided by questions based on a coaching model such as GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Will), for example: Goal: What is your goal? Why is it important to you? Reality: What is happening now? On a scale of 1-10, where are you regarding this goal? What have you done so far to achieve the goal? What resources do you have and which...

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...

“You should write as often as possible” – that’s what I keep telling my students. Currently, 99% of my students are intrepid English teachers either preparing for the Cambridge English: Advanced or the Cambridge English: Proficiency, which means that their writing skills will be assessed via two writing tasks. Needless to say, it is my duty to encourage them to write as much as they can and provide detailed feedback on their writing assignments. A confession The great Morpheus said: “(...

Recently the school where I work has implemented Google Classroom for most of the groups, in order to promote a broader and more consistent interaction with learners, as well as make communications between students and teacher faster and more effective. As a tech enthusiast myself, I celebrated the achievement along with my peers at the branch, specially because we knew the impact this would have on the students’ tangibilization of progress. Mind you, I have the utmost respect for students who are able to keep their studies organized...

Most of us cannot watch a film or an episode of our favourite series without trying to identify scenes that could be used in our lessons, right? Even if we just want to Netflix and chill, it just seems to be hardwired in our brains. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of my favourite quotes from some of my favourite films and TV series, to check how they apply to the English teaching context. “You know nothing, Jon Snow” (Ygritte, Game of Thrones) No matter how much...

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...

“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...

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...

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...

We have recently celebrated Women’s Day. As I walked to and from work this last week, I kept thinking about the female students that I have. Their names sometimes carry a lot of meaning: the victorious Vitoria. The brave Valentina. Lucia, full of light. This reminded me of Esperanza, a strong female character from a book I love, The House on Mango Street, by Mexican American writer Sandra Cisneros. Esperanza is a young girl who describes the world and the people around her. "In English my name means ‘hope’. In...

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...

We language educators often get asked what else we do apart from teaching English. Now, this takes the biscuits on the grounds that some people are hell-bent on this to mystify whether we take our profession seriously or not. It is generally known that an L2 teacher is supposed to be someone graduated, qualified or trained with required abilities to handle the teaching/learning process in a full variety of ways and environments. Unfortunately, many L2 teachers still face much criticism, discrimination and suffer mockery based on the fact that...

I was reading about an interesting initiative called The Empathy Museum that is coming to my hometown (you can find out more about it here) and caught myself thinking about the times I put my foot in my mouth. Then, new windows opened in my mind’s browser and I started wondering about the (probably many) times I might have failed to notice I had done that. I know this may sound a bit gloomy, but bear with me. This is essentially an optimistic post. You see, just like everyone...

I have always been fascinated by technology. And when I met Ana Maria Menezes[1], my mentor  in this area, I realised that I would never teach or train teachers the same way. So my beliefs about teaching and training have changed completely. Having been a member of the LT SIG[2] in the IATEFL [3]  and have recently joined the LT SIG subcommittee , I decided to reflect a little on how technology has impacted the way we teach and learn, taking into consideration what I have observed in the Brazilian...

Much has been written and said about tests. A lot of teachers, students, and parents don’t see the point of tests, especially when all tests do is test discrete items of grammar and vocabulary , especially when it comes to summative tests, which assess what students have learned over a period of time. I myself don’t believe in the predictive value of tests, either. I don’t think effective test takers are  more likely to achieve success in their lives. Many other factors impact one’s professional life: Interpersonal skills and problem solving...

In a recent PD afternoon I attended, before the closing of the event the main speaker had a Q&A session with the audience, answering questions about teaching English in general. One of the questions stuck to my mind: “How can we motivate our learners?” The question is not new to any teacher. It has been the topic of countless articles, chapters in books, discussions in the staff room, workshops and presentations at conferences. I am not here to dispute the importance of motivation in language learning (or in any kind...

Today's post is about giving negative feedback during pre-service teacher training courses for novice teachers. I am quite sure that a very large number of this blog’s writers – if not all of us – have, at one point or another, been involved with the difficult and highly demanding job of training teachers. Not only because of the broad knowledge of methodologies and teaching techniques the work of a teacher trainer involves, but also, and perhaps equally (and at times more importantly), the extraordinary ability to reassure trainee...

Education has become a trending topic. Actually, it's always been an interest - even if it's just a vested interest - for pretty much everyone I know. Deep down, we know that it defines a lot of who we are and we hold education accountable for our accomplishments in life. It is what increases our chances of success and also what gives us the necessary confidence to take up a new challenge. This is probably why it is so difficult to have a conversation about education and educational...

The globalized world in the twenty-first-century has brought the English language to the status of lingua franca as countries worldwide use it as the main means of communication for social, economic, and educational purposes. For that reason, the learning of English as a foreign language (EFL) has become a growing issue and a variety of models have been developed to meet the needs of EFL teachers. Because language instruction is consequently delivered in all sorts of socio-cultural settings, EFL professionals are challenged to take an active role in...