Is it December already?! I’ve just been reading a new book about beliefs in language teaching and learning and, as with any good book, it’s got me thinking.  As teachers, how often do we stop to think about what our beliefs are about how we teach and how students learn?  In my case, “not very often” is the answer and yet, our beliefs are right there in the activities we choose in class, how we talk to learners and how we respond to learners and their output and contributions. ...

Kitten! by Sergey Ivanov CC BY-SA 2.0 This month's post has nothing to do with kittens, but do we really need an excuse?  This month I'm straying from the topic of teaching slightly to look at what happens when we, as teachers, write about our profession. It's a topic that's quite close to my heart as it's what first got me interested in developing critical thinking skills in teachers. I think it's fair to say that as teachers we have all, at some point or another, read books, blogs, and articles...

Professional Development is an area which I really like talking and writing about. Yes, I’ve written about it before, but for me it’s never too much and I hope it’s not for you too. For years I have been working with other teachers’ PD and mainly I have tried to work hard on my own PD. However, I have noticed that some teachers, mainly the novice ones, are not aware of the importance of PD in their professional lives. I don’t blame them. In a country where teachers struggle...

"Over the years, language teachers have alternated between favoring teaching approaches that focus primarily on language use and those that focus on language forms or analysis. The alternation has been due to a fundamental disagreement concerning whether one learns to communicate in a second language by communicating in that language (such as in an immersion experience) or whether one learns to communicate in a second language by learning the lexicogrammar - the words and grammatical structures - of the target language. In other words, the argument has been...

My passion for reading books began since I was a child. I was encouraged to read mainly by my dad who used to buy collections of books and by my mom who used to be a primary teacher. At school we had that amazing library where I used to go and read those fantastic, beautiful and expensive books my parents couldn’t afford.  No surprise I became a teacher. I grew up reading a lot and when I met my husband I was even more encouraged to read as he’s...

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...

Hi Everyone!   Spring begins in September – nature’s renovation season – perfect to start projects and put new ideas forth.   I expect to stir debate in the 1o Fórum de Profissionalização Docente, at Universidade Estadual de Londrina (Sept. 29th-30th), after presenting an innovative approach to teacher development.   Formação continuada refers to formal education, resulting in certificate, master or doctoral degrees. Educação continuada is directed to public school teachers. PUC-SP offers Programa de Formação Continuada para Professores de Inglês (Celani e Collins, 2009[1]); UFMG is responsible for EDUCONLE (Dutra e Mello, 2013[2])...

Hello! In my previous post we looked at the concept of ‘meaningful learning’, the idea of taking what learners already know and using it to help them to learn more.  In this post, I want to start looking at how to do this in the classroom. Using learners’ knowledge of L1. This clearly cuts into a controversial issue in ELT for the past thirty years or so – the use of the mother tongue.  What I’d like to argue is that we can’t/shouldn’t ignore all this knowledge that learners have and...

Hello again! Many years ago I took a class in educational psychology and came across this quote from the cognitive psychologist, David Ausubel: "If I had to reduce all of cognitive psychology to one principle it would be this:  the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.  Ascertain this and teach him accordingly."  (1978:  flyleaf). I was very struck by this and was therefore even more interested to find out what cognitive psychology had to say about ‘meaningful learning’, something that we talk about vaguely in...

/riˈzilyəns/ noun: resilience; plural noun: resiliences 1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. 2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.   Some of you may be wondering why I am talking about resilience in a blog post for English teachers, but for some reason I think most will guess. And even though most (or all) I’m going to “say” here may be common knowledge, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20+ years as a teacher it’s that we need to see something...