On Native Speakerism

I’ve learned English as a foreign language. I only travelled abroad to put my English to the test after I’d been teaching it – also as a foreign language – for quite a few years. The large majority of my English teachers were also ‘non-native speakers’ (and I use the inverted commas for the same…

Accountability: the teacher and the learner

On my last post, I suggested that the best way to focus on students’ learning is by focusing on teaching. The rationale behind this is that we can’t control someone else’s actions or thoughts, but we can control our own. This means that if we pay attention to what we can actually do in order…

Do conversation-driven lessons make any sense? (Part 2)

Language is quite a complex system – one which we try to organise according rules and norms. One of the common ways for us to think about such organisation is prescriptively, the way many of us were taught a second or a foreign language. If we look at what David Crystal says about prescriptivism, we…

Do conversation-driven lessons make any sense?

The short answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’, and I could base my answer on experience – mine and also the one’s from lots of colleagues. However, we should all be wary of such things as “it’s worked with all my groups,” or the converse “it didn’t work with any of my groups.”…

Translating machines and (Language) Teaching

On January 5, 2013, the magazine The Economist published an article on simultaneous translation by computers and one of the first questions it asks readers is How long, then, before automatic simultaneous translation becomes the norm, and all those tedious language lessons at school are declared redundant? The very first thing that sprung to mind…

Purposeful communication

Language teachers are constantly on the lookout for mistakes that may or may not impede communication. Nowadays, it’s common for us to read and hear that what matters most is communication, and that learners of a foreign language should not strive for perfection or flawless language production. What, however, is communication? And does this work…

L1: to use or not to use?

On my previous post, I wrote about the use of L1 regarding the proficiency level of the learners, and I did say there would be another post on the matter. I’ve been thinking about the situations in which I believe L1 can be used effectively when it comes to learning, and so far this is…

L1 vs Proficiency Level

I admit that when I started teaching English I had more willingness to learn how to do it than actual knowledge of how to actually do it. Most of what I did in classes were things that I had to do in the classroom as a student, and I tried my best to remember what…

Headed for a Catch-22 situation?

It’s a commonly held belief (at least where I live) that in order to fully be able to speak a foreign language, one has to live abroad. It is only through immersion that you’ll finally be able to understand the subtleties of the language you want to learn. This is also widely spread on TV…

Some thoughts on my blog as a word cloud

Coming back to the blogosphere after a rough beginning of year has been, well, tough! To be honest, ever since I joined the cause I knew it would be pretty much impossible for me to read every single post with all the care and attention they truly deserve, and despite all the learning that the…

Teaching writing

If you haven’t had the chance to participate in this Wednesday’s #ELTChat, you may not know that we discussed writing and how to teach writing in our classes. One of the best things about these discussions is all the ideas it generates afterwards and the discussions that arise from it. In one of my tweets,…

Journal entry – HMUN and some thoughts on pronunciation

It is customary for Brazilians to say that the year only truly starts in Brazil after our world famous Carnaval. This is a tongue in cheek remark, obviously, but I may just be getting the feeling that my 2011 is still about to begin. I’ve just returned from the US with a group of students…