As a teacher, I have often resorted to different methodologies and activities to make students more interested in my class. However, lately I have been curious about the learning processes of a language and I have been eager to understand in depth how especially teenagers go through such processes. Consequently, the following question has popped up: what if we can boost students’ language acquisition by sparking something in their brains? Much has been studied and said about neuroscience and how the brain takes in a language, but I have...

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...

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...

Two things have happened recently that served as inspiration for this post. One of them is the (erroneous) belief that one can only learn a language if his/her teacher is a native speaker. Who would figure this is still a debate in 2017. The other is the #accentpride that aims at fighting the prejudice that only a native-speaker accent (which one?) is the correct way to speak English. With those two things in mind, I have decided to share the story of how I learned to speak English and how I...

Pensar é algo natural para todos nós.  Segundo a Wikipedia, é uma faculdade do nosso sistema mental através da qual modelamos o mundo para nele podermos transitar e agir segundo a nossa vontade. Pensar vem de fábrica, ou seja, é grátis. Por esse motivo, não se aprende a pensar. Se é assim, por quê então ainda vemos tanta gente por aí dizendo que você só será fluente em um idioma quando conseguir pensar nele? O SENSO COMUM Ainda outro dia, estava eu a observar uma professora em uma turma de...

1. Why is noticing even a buzzword, anyway? Noticing in language learning is perhaps ELT’s most user-friendly buzzword. To have a vague understanding of what it is, you don’t need to delve into the works of Rod Ellis, Peter Skehan or even Richard Schmidt, whose 1990 study essentially put the term on the map. Perhaps a simple dictionary definition will do: [caption id="attachment_4760" align="alignnone" width="597"] Taken from dictionary.com[/caption]   The noticing hypothesis is conceptually intuitive, too. To put it in the simplest of terms: Students learn the language items they pay attention to, as...

[caption id="attachment_2317" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Order in the classroom by Martin Bowling (CC.BY.20)[/caption] A couple of months ago, I wrote about how there seems to be very little order in how we learn a language.  Just because we 'learn' some aspect of a language one day doesn't mean we will be able to use it the next.  Also, we might use a language quite comfortably one day, only to be completly useless the next time. While this is true for each individual, whether they are learning their first or second language,...

[caption id="attachment_2173" align="aligncenter" width="300"] When I grow up, I want to be just like my dad. Pascal - CC-BY-2.0[/caption] It is a source of pride when a child takes after his or her parents.  The little boy who wants to be a teacher like his mother, or the little girl who develops a laugh just like her father. Of course, it can also work the other way as well, so the little boy can also pick up the colourful language of his mother or the girl can learn how to...

In this post, I’d like to report on some fascinating research I had the pleasure of seeing presented at the recent MEXTESOL conference in Puebla, Mexico.  What particularly interested me was the connection to the topic of meaningful learning that I have been talking about on this blog as well as the direct application of the research to the teaching of vocabulary both for classroom teachers, teacher trainers and materials writers.  I don’t know about you, but I love research that we can use in the classroom. The first...

[caption id="attachment_1672" align="alignleft" width="300"] Ups and Downs, Twists and Turns by Beyond Neon - CC BY 2.0[/caption] I am sure there is nobody reading this post who would say the following to a student: “We did the past simple last month and you used it properly, why are you having problems with it now?” The reason we wouldn’t say this is because we are all trained, professional educators who know that learning a language, or learning almost anything, does not progress in a nice straight line.  Just because we have covered...