The importance of being generous – a homage to Claudio Azevedo

 

 

June 11 was a very sad day for everyone at Casa Thomas Jefferson. It was the day our dear friend and colleague Claudio Azevedo passed away. He had been working with us for almost 32 years. In fact, we started together back in 1986, at the same branch. We worked hard together but had a lot of fun as well, when the Friday evening groups were full and we taught until 10 p.m. Of course, we always went out afterwards to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.  We were young then, and there weren’t classes on Saturdays at that time!

Throughout these years, we grew together in the institution and both moved to leadership positions. Besides, we went to a lot of BRAZ-TESOL and Tesol Conferences, and one Iatefl conference, together. Claudio was liked by everyone in the institution and was adored by his students. I don’t think there was ever a student who didn’t enjoy having classes with Claudio. He was also a wonderful actor. Not only was he the lead actor in many plays at school, but for many years he also taught a theater course. He lived and breathed Casa Thomas Jefferson and dedicated his whole career to the institution in many different roles – teacher, actor, materials developer, course supervisor, and branch manager.

However, Claudio’s reputation went way beyond Casa Thomas Jefferson. He was famous for his award-winning blog, Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals. Everywhere I went, when I mentioned that I worked for Casa Thomas Jefferson, people asked me if I knew Claudio. Everyone in ELT who follows blogs knew who Claudio was and was a big fan. Not only was he a creative and experienced materials developer, but he was also a fabulous presenter. His workshops in BRAZ-TESOL conferences were always packed, and people stayed in long lines way ahead of time to guarantee their spot.  He was invited to present about his blog in Argentina, Malta, Lithuania, and just recently, Cambodia. He also gave many interviews about his blog, one of them for Tesol France, among others. This year, he won the Best English Education Site of the Year award, and last year his blog was among the Top 100 ESL Blogs.

Very few people know how it all started, though. It was back in 2008 when we had some training on new technologies and one of the topics was blogs. Participants had to create a blog as part of the training, and Claudio decided to take advantage of his passion for and incredible knowledge about movies to create a blog with short movie segments targeting specific grammar points, with very practical worksheets. What started as just a course task became a real passion for Claudio, who posted a new activity every single week for ten years. This is not an easy accomplishment. It is challenging for someone who works full-time as Claudio did to keep up with this commitment for so long. Can you imagine how many movies he watched to create the hundreds of activities available, not to mention the extra attention he had to pay to identify the right segment for the right grammar point? He also started another very popular blog, Movie Segments for Warm-Ups and Follow-Ups, and through his blogs, Claudio made many ELT friends around the world, some of whom contributed with ideas and even wrote guest posts.

Claudio made ELT professionals’ lives so much easier by curating the movie segments and creating the activities. All the work is already done and the blogs are so rich and varied that we can always find something for every class, no prep time required. What is even more impressive is that his blog has always been free. He could have moved on to a paid blog – and there is nothing wrong with this because we need to value our work. However, he chose not to. He chose to be generous and make it possible for every teacher around the globe, regardless of their financial resources,  to use his creative activities in their classes. His blog is a true gift to all of us.

Claudio is not with us anymore, but his legacy is. I hope many more teachers take advantage of this rich resource for many, many years to come. Claudio was selfless, extremely generous, and I dedicate this post to him and his contribution to English Language Teaching.

P.S. The picture above was taken in our last Teachers’ Day party. That day, Claudio was determined to take a photo with all his friends. It was our last picture together.

Isabela Villas Boas

Isabela Villas Boas holds a Master's Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in Education from Universidade de Brasília. She has been at Casa Thomas Jefferson for 33 years, where she is currently the Corporate Academic Manager . Her main academic interests are second language writing, teacher development, ELT methodology, and assessment. She also supervises MA dissertations for the University of Birmingham. She has recently published the book “Teaching EFL Writing - A Practical Approach for Skills-Integrated Contexts.

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26 Comments
  • Jose Antonio da Silva
    Posted at 20:04h, 29 junho Responder

    You right Isabela. He was a very generous educator. I had the pleasure to work at two branches with h8m. He was always available to help. As you said, he was also a great presenter who always volunteered his time to talk about his passion for teaching. In TESOL Electronic Village Online, he presented in BaW once or twice and a couple of times in ICT4ELT. It was always inspiring to be in his webinars. We, in the ELT community owe a lot to him.

  • Carlos Gontow
    Posted at 20:39h, 29 junho Responder

    He was a fabulous guy! He will be missed, but as you said, his legacy will live on.

  • Cinthia Nunes
    Posted at 20:49h, 29 junho Responder

    I teach at Cil Guará. I’ve met Cláudio when I took a placement test at Thomas Jefferson. At that time I was planning to take the translation course, but after my test Cláudio took a deep breath and told me that I couldn’t. I was supposed to take the advanced course first. He ‘s been careful to give me the bad news rs. Cláudio worked with love and dedication. I’ve been using his blog in my classes. Movie segments, what a great job!!! What a great professional!! Thanks Cláudio!!!

  • Ricardo Barros
    Ricardo Barros
    Posted at 20:51h, 29 junho Responder

    Claudio inspired my long before I had met him and will be sorely missed.

  • Magaly Lemos
    Posted at 21:13h, 29 junho Responder

    Very impressive work! I had the opportunity to attend one of his presentations, a long time ago, during a conference at CTJ and his work with movie segments was really inspiring! I can’t imagine how many teachers, all over the world, have benefited from his blog and all the great ideas he shared, so generously! May he rest in peace and may his work always be an ispiration to other teachers as it has been to me!

  • Ruth Maria Alencar Peixoto
    Posted at 22:38h, 29 junho Responder

    A great human being, unique soul. Met him 20 years ago in a Seminar at CTJ. He was as nice as a host can be with visitors, friendly and caring. I thought his groups of students were the happiest, watching some videos of his classes! I’ll always remember his smiling face…
    Claudio will certainly be forever in his students and peers hearts.

  • Vera Keller
    Posted at 00:55h, 30 junho Responder

    I never had the opportunity to work in the same branch as him, but he was an Intermediate level supervisor during my time at the Casa and I enjoyed talking to him during feedback sessions. I remember Claudio mostly by his smile, which would fill a room.

  • Alba Cobra
    Posted at 01:48h, 30 junho Responder

    I can’t even begin to tell you how I feel after reading your beautiful homage, but I think you know. He was in my sample class and that was just the beginning of how much he deeply touched my life. Claudio will never be forgotten.

  • Indra Barrios Lasso
    Posted at 08:38h, 30 junho Responder

    What a beautiful tribute. People like him leave marks in the life of others. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jacqueline de Sá
    Posted at 08:59h, 30 junho Responder

    My husband was one of his ex students and he loved his classes. And I felt as his student as I attended his Braztesol workshop and I learned a lot about working with video. He is sorely misssed by many, but I can’t imagine how much his students and coworkers are coping with the loss! At least the good moments can fill a little the gap

  • Marta Diniz de Rezende
    Posted at 09:23h, 30 junho Responder

    A touching text. Thanks, Isabela.

  • Dayse Muniz
    Posted at 10:19h, 30 junho Responder

    I am truly moved by your words. I feel sad for his passing and at the same time thankful for his generosity. I hope more and more people are able to learn from him, professionally and personally.

  • Conceição Couto
    Posted at 11:04h, 30 junho Responder

    There’s one thing I’ve learned from you and with you recently. Life is too short and you’ve made the best of it. Among your many contribtions, I’ll save and keep the one people know very little about. Our cooking lessons and your apple pie recipe: a means to show others how much we care about them. Thank you, Cláudio. RIP

  • Kátia Falcomer
    Posted at 12:57h, 30 junho Responder

    It was 1999 when Claudio observed one of my lessons for the first time. I was pregnant, my baby was due to the following month., My energy level was not at its peak, so I had to plan lessons which would meet my status at the moment. I felt really insecure because I didn’t know how the observer would see it. I took my sts to the parking lot to ‘explore’ my car and practice the target vocab -parts of the car. At that time, delivering a student-centered class and providing them with different experiences was new to me. Claudio was soooo supportive, making me feel I was on the right track.! He even gave me extra tips on how to make the most of sts’ production during such classes. For a novice teacher at CTJ, it meant a lot to me. He made me feel more confident to go beyond the book, leaving my comfort zone. I’ll never forget it. Thanks, my dear Supervisor, colleague, friend ❤️

  • Christiane Araújo
    Posted at 19:57h, 30 junho Responder

    It was a shock to know he passed away….I love his blog and have been using it for quite a while now. Not many people would be that generous….

  • Claudia Escobar
    Posted at 21:06h, 13 agosto Responder

    I have no words to express how sorry I am about the lost of such a great human being. Saddly his blogs are not available any more.

  • Leticia Yoshinaga
    Posted at 07:50h, 08 outubro Responder

    Beautiful homage!
    I am deeply sad about this! And I could only find out about it this late because I had noticed his blog isn’t online anymore.
    God bless this generous and such caring educator!
    I don’t know him in person and he has helped me with so many (sooo many) extremely interesting lessons for my students.
    Let’s continue his legacy.
    All the best for Casa Thomas Jefferson, which I hope to visit one day!

  • Lisa
    Posted at 22:14h, 08 outubro Responder

    I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. I came here accidentally because I had discovered his blog years ago and was reminded of it as I attended a workshop that encouraged us to use movies more in our classes. Sadly, though, both his blogs Movie Segments to assess grammar goals as well as the blog for follow ups are no longer accessible, it leads you to a widget server. I never did get the chance to meet him, but I do remember emailing him a while back and he responded so kindly. His generous spirit and dedication is truly hard to come by and admired by all.

  • Chiara B.
    Posted at 16:46h, 17 outubro Responder

    I have used Claudio’s blogs for many years and I am deeply saddened to hear about his loss. His blogs were a big help, available to everybody, even to a broke teacher like me who was starting to work in ESL schools in Italy and wanted to make her lessons more fun and entertaining.
    Sadly the blogs are no longer available, I hope his work will be recovered somehow.
    Anyway, I am really grateful for his work and his efforts, he clearly was a great human.

  • Macarena
    Posted at 07:32h, 23 outubro Responder

    Hello ,
    My name is Macarena Recasens. I’m a teacher of English language at the University of Barcelona, Spain.
    I have just known of the death of Mr. Azevedo. All my condolences for his family, friends and colleagues.
    I have been using his wonderful blog for years, and have always thanked him for such an altruistic and marvellous contribution to the field of learning English as a foreign language.
    Ever since we started the course in September, I have tried to open his blog in vain, as this widgetserver page opens up just after a few seconds, and thus, it is impossible to use his blog.
    Has anyone had the same problem? I know it is not a virus attached to my computer, since I have tried to open it from different computers, tablets and laptops.
    I would be very grateful for any guidance.
    Thank you very much.

    • Isabela Villas Boas
      Isabela Villas Boas
      Posted at 17:01h, 10 dezembro Responder

      Hi, Macarena. We are trying to fix the problem and I hope the blog is back in the air soon!

      • Ann
        Posted at 09:52h, 07 abril Responder

        I’m very sorry about the loss.I was a regular user of the blog too and I’m sad that it is no longer availiable. If you could fix it, you see that we are loads of teachers who appreciate the work of this exclellent man. Thank you

  • Julia H. Socas
    Posted at 14:30h, 06 março Responder

    Having that widgetserver problem too I read the news of Mr Azevedo’s passing. I live in Argentina and never met him, but he must have been a great teacher. The activities he published were always fun and very helpful. My condolences to his family and friends. My thanks to him.

  • alenka
    Posted at 06:33h, 08 março Responder

    Dear Isabella.

    I was trying to find Claudio Azevedo’s email address to tell him how much I appreciated his work. I came across this website and only now learned he is sadly not amongst us any more. He seemed to be a truly great man. I’d been using his website for many years. with great pleasure.. Honestly, I also wanted to tell him that I was utterly frustrated with the wicked widget website that redirected the page every time I tried to access it. The problem is not fixed yet and I’m sad.
    Is there anyone who is working on his blog and trying to solve this problem?

    Thank you

    Alenka

  • Elizabeth G
    Posted at 00:51h, 23 abril Responder

    To the family and friends of Claudio Azevedo: I am an ESL instructor in the USA, and have been using Mr. Azevedo’s outstanding online materials for years. My deepest sympathies regarding his passing.

  • Arlene Portugal
    Posted at 19:08h, 23 abril Responder

    Hi!
    I am an English teacher from Mexico. I am deeply saddened by the news of Claudio´s passing. His blog opened many doors towards the new. pathway English Language Teaching was taking towards technology.. I am a fan of his creation and my students loved the approach of the activities we had with movies. They always asked for their “movie” class. I think the impact of Claudio´s idea is far from done and will continue to be seen throughout the many generations of ESL students to come.
    A. Portugal

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