Year: 1999. Group: Basic 1. Place: Uberaba, MG – Brasil. Seventeen-year-old Ana Carolina stepped into a classroom for the first time. Young, restless, feeling entitled by her recently acquired C2 diploma and, most importantly: raw. Fluent, for sure. After one year of isolation from all Portuguese speakers in a cultural exchange program before cell phones or the Internet were even available, the mountaneer dialect flowed as if it were her own. Scared, she left the students in class in order to catch a breath and drink some water,...

Monday, 6 p.m., the sun peeking through the blinds in the brick and mortar language school building in Brazil. The teacher enters the room carrying a bag of props, flashcards, and her tape recorder. The recorder being to her as precious as a map to a Geography teacher: “Hi, John Peter! How are you today?” asked the teacher in a high-pitched voice. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” replied the monotoned student. The automatic, “I’m fine, too,” followed. “So… Let’s begin! Open your books to page 50,” she continued while rewinding and...

Taking the DELTA has changed me as a teacher in many ways, but I believe that it has most influenced the way I perceive and teach listening. I first came across the term ‘decoding’ when my dear tutor Melissa Lamb from IH London introduced me to John Field’s book ‘Listening in the Language Classroom’. Later on, I came across Richard Cauldwell’s brilliant book ‘A Syllabus for Listening – Decoding’. This is the second post inspired by these brilliant minds which have also shaped me as a teacher and...

In my last post I wrote about the recognition of an increasingly technological society that must be accompanied by the awareness of the need to include the skills and competences to deal with the new technologies in school curricula. In this second part, I will focus on the competences of the teacher for the 21st century, having technology not only as a support, but also as taking a very important role on teaching and learning. Technology and Information have become part of our daily lives in the last years and very...

In my experience as a CELTA tutor, many candidates arrive on the first day having read and researched about what to do in the course (if you don't know what the CELTA is, by the way, you can find more about it by watching this webinar or by checking out Cambridge's official website). There are plenty of blogs and videos out there telling you about what books to buy, what CCQs are, how to teach receptive and productive skills and all sorts of other things. This is all very helpful of...

If you have been teaching for a while you may have come across a difficult decision teachers are faced with: how to continue growing professionally without leaving the classroom. In my experience, the path to getting recognition or a higher salary often make teachers transition into academic or managerial positions. I tried those things, but they didn't fulfill me. I chose to become a teacher in order to work with people, to share my experiences, listen to other people's experiences, learn and teach. I eventually found out that I...

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...

Então, mais um ano se passou. Se você for como eu, vai olhar para as resoluções do ano anterior (aquelas que você escreveu ainda em 2014) e ver que não conseguiu cumprir boa parte delas. A tão sonhada forma física, o curso de desenho artístico e a viagem à Fernando de Noronha em 2015, por exemplo, serão transcritas diretamente para a agenda de 2016, ipsi literis. Infelizmente, ainda não foi desta vez. Mas como diz o poeta (neste caso, eu mesmo): a vida é como um fone de ouvido dentro da...

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...

The performance of Brazilian students in national and international assessment tests has been consistently low, which has led researchers to look into the reasons for the inefficiency of our educational system. A study conducted by Fundação Carlos Chagas has found that the programs offered by most universities in the area of teacher education do not prepare teachers-to-be to face the routine of a real classroom. The emphasis of these programs has been on the sociological, political, structural and historical aspects of education, with very little space for the...

Instructions are an important part of every teacher’s life. They can either make or break our lessons, getting students in the best mood imaginable or sending them into a downward spiral of discontentment (has anyone ever heard students react with sighs of “reading again?”). How can we guarantee that the second doesn’t happen?  Imagine a teacher who has an elementary group of adults and wants to help his learners develop listening skills. Now look at the instructions that our imaginary and well-intentioned teacher delivered in one lesson to that...

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...

I always say that one of the things I like the most about teaching is that I’m always learning. And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one… We teachers learn a lot not only from our students and from fellow teachers but also from what we read, from conferences we attend, and so on. And this all has got to do with teacher development. Bell and Gilbert (apud Evans, 2002) state that “teacher development can be viewed as teachers learning, rather than as others getting teachers to change....

I was doing a CELTA course assessment last month and observing the post-lesson feedback with the tutor and the trainees when an interesting issue arose. The tutor asked one of the trainees to comment on the amount of teacher talking time (TTT) which had occurred during her lesson. The trainee agreed that there had been quite a lot of TTT. Indeed, a whole 10 minute chunk of the initial part of the lesson had been devoted to the teacher telling a story to the group of elementary students...

They say that we get more conservative as we get older, that we lose our youthful idealism and replace it with mature resignation, that we become cynical, and that we are less willing to break the rules and become more prone to following a set of rigid routines. However, I don't think this is necessarily the case for those of us in the teaching profession. Nor should it be, in my opinion. In fact, in my experience, a large part of our teaching lives will be spent unlearning what...

The beginning of a new year usually gets us thinking about the plans that we want to make, improvements that we wish to promote and changes that we would like to witness in our personal lives. It is therefore the perfect opportunity to devise actions to ensure growth in the professional realm too. In this first post of mine, I would like to invite you to reflect upon your New Year’s resolutions with a special focus on professional development. As English teachers, we need to constantly look for ways...