More than words (or at least more than a language!)   I like to think I am more than a language teacher. Those who know me also know that I don’t say this because I think being a language teacher is a lesser job. Quite the contrary, to tell you the truth. I am very proud of it. But when I think about what I do with my students I can see so much more than (just) a language being developed in the classroom. See, more than a teacher I dare...

"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...

E-learning courses are commonly called interactive courses. Many of these courses host presentations and articles online, assign weekly tasks to participants, organize webinars and chats,  but are they really interactive? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, I'd like to focus on the second definition "requiriring people to talk with each other or do things together". This definition might mean an interactive course would require the interaction of participants. Different authors (MOORE, 1989; HILLMAN, WILLIS & GUNAWARDENA, 1994, GARRISON, ANDERSON & ARCHER, 2000) state the importance of interaction in online and blended learning...

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...

In my experience as an English teacher, I have observed other teachers’ lessons and been observed countless times. It is probably safe to say that the majority of teachers are much more concerned about what to do than about how to do it. However, the ‘hows' can be as important as the ‘whats' and ‘whys', and we teachers very often fail to realize that clear, concise instructions can mean the difference between a successful lesson or activity or an absolute flop. My own impression is that giving instructions is...

Hello again! It's good to be back after a short absence - a lot has happened since I last posted and I'll be writing about one those things here. I had the great fortune in June to be at a fabulous conference in lovely Cancun, Mexico. While I was there I was talking about the use of previous knowledge and meaningful learning, and focused in on all the previous knowledge that learners have in English of songs and particularly certain lines of songs. Like a dream come true, the night...

Half of the year has gone but we still have some time for new ideas and projects till December comes. This month I´ll share with you a project developed with our 8th graders this year. One of the units in the coursebook we use deals with different kinds of schools and vocabulary related to learning and classroom language. Students, in general, find it interesting to contrast their own school and Brazilian school system to home schooling or boarding schools students in some other countries experience. Based on the topic of learning...

I must have mentioned before on this blog that I teach adolescents in their last year of High School. Needless to say, this is a period of great anxiety as most of them intend to go to university and now have to choose a career. It is the time when most of them realise that their days of “automatic pilot” - in which they simply progress from one grade to another - are over and that making a decision based on the question What do I want to...

Being a teacher for almost 30 years I have a clear idea of how demanding, time consuming and rewarding this profession is and how tough it can get sometimes. If you’ve been teaching for 2, 3 years, you probably have this idea already. Yes, I gave up my Psychologist career to become a teacher. Being in the market for a long time I’ve attended lots of seminars and webminars, conferences, delivered lots of presentations , published articles , wrote materials and became a teacher trainer after doing lots of...

Three private students of mine recently proclaimed that they believed they had become less fluent since the beginning of our lessons a little over two months ago. They were naturally preoccupied given that they were paying good money to improve their English. Needless to say, I had to put their minds at ease, and it got me thinking. Both of these learners are Brazilian, and I think that their nationality does play a role in what I am about to describe. They were both also very fluent when I...