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Blog criado por Bruno Coriolano de Almeida Costa, professor de Língua Inglesa desde 2002. Esse espaço surgiu em 2007 com o objetivo de unir alguns estudiosos e professores desse idioma. Abordamos, de forma rápida e simples, vários aspectos da Língua Inglesa e suas culturas. Agradeço a sua visita.

"Se tivesse perguntado ao cliente o que ele queria, ele teria dito: 'Um cavalo mais rápido!"

quinta-feira, 23 de junho de 2011

Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language.

Everybody knows that there are some ways to be a good English teacher. However, most people do not know that there are many ways to be a bad one as well.

As an English teacher, I am always worried about my “teaching attitudes”. In fact, every week, I try to stop for a while and rethink my lesson plans and improve the way I teach as good as I can. I really do this by talking to some peers or by reading the literature.

As anybody else, I am a human being and as one, I can make mistakes. Searching for some help on the internet, I have found some tips for teachers that have a little or no experience in this hard field.

I prefer to start by showing the “don’ts” first and one day I will share the “dos”. These are the basic principles that make a TEFL class flop or fly. They’re easy to forget, so refresh your memory (and your teaching!) by coming back to them now and again. Feel free to send any suggestion or to criticize my texts by sending me an email

ORKUT: Bruno Coriolano de Almeida Costa.
YouTube: brunocoriolano

As you can see, it is not that difficult to find me on the internet. I hope you guys like this. See you soon, Bruno Coriolano, English teacher.

Top 10 Don’ts

1. Don’t talk all the time (teacher talking time - TTT)

We mentioned language learning is a skill that students need to practice. Well, the more time you talk, the less time your students get to practice (imagine a driving lesson where you just listen to an instructor talk about driving). Teachers talk a lot with the best possible intentions: usually to explain things, or to give students listening practice. Unfortunately it’s generally counterproductive. Lengthy explanations are confusing, and listening to one person for a long time is boring.

2. Don’t use foreigner talk

Foreigner talk is a linguistic term meaning the weird language we use with language learners: YOU SIT, PAIRS, NOW, OKAY? Students can sense it. Even if they don’t feel patronized, they’ll have the (accurate) impression that classroom English is far removed from real-world English. Having said that, it’s good to be careful with the language you use. Reflect on how you’ll say something before you say it, and choose words you know your students will understand.

3. Don’t echo

Echoing means repeating what a student says.

Teacher: What’s your favorite food?
Student: Italian.
Teacher: Oh, Italian! Great.

We do it all the time. Our aim is to encourage students, but in fact it stops them talking (in the example The student only got to say one word, as opposed to the teacher’s seven!). Ask for more information instead.

Teacher: What’s your favorite food?
Student: Italian.
Teacher: Tell us more.
Student: Well, I like pizza and I often go …

4. Don’t teach a non-standard variety of English

This doesn’t mean ‘put on a British accent’. It means develop an awareness of what is accepted as standard, international English around the world. It applies equally whether you’re British or American or Australian or a non-native speaker. Avoid teaching vocabulary or pronunciation that is distinctly local and might be unintelligible to most speakers (unless your students need to know how people speak in a certain place, and you make it clear how it differs from Standard English).

5. Don’t under challenge your students

Teachers generally don’t want to overburden their students. That’s a good thing. But we often go too far down the ‘gentle’ path. Our students want their English to improve, so they want to be challenged. They want to feel they’re getting their money’s worth coming to class. Judge what they can realistically cope with and push them to achieve their goals. And, incidentally, give students plenty to do in practice activities so they’re not twiddling their thumbs.

6. Don’t ‘over urge’ your students

Teachers, for the best intentions, often stand over students and urge them to speak. ‘What do you think Alex? Go on, tell us. What do you think? What’s your opinion about the Olympics?’ Sadly, it has the opposite effect – it makes students feel under pressure and stops them talking. When you ask a question, don’t stare. Look away slightly, and give your student time to think and respond. Encourage students to ask each other questions. Then, while students are talking to each other, sit down discretely nearby so you can hear. In other words, give people space.

7. Don’t be unprofessional

Being professional doesn’t mean being boring – rather, it means taking your job and your students’ needs seriously. Follow the obvious protocols wherever you’re working. If you’re not sure, ask (the way a teacher dresses, for example, is incredibly important in some cultures).

8. Don’t criticize your students’ country and culture

It seems obvious. But out of frustration, or tiredness, or culture shock, teachers sometimes let their guard down. You might hear locals criticizing the power blackouts or bad traffic, but stay out of it. It can seriously damage your relationship with your students. Tell students what you like about their country instead. Be careful with jokes – make sure they can’t be misinterpreted as making fun of your students’ culture.

9. Don’t preach

We’re teaching language, not politics or religion. Try to avoid using the opportunity of a captive audience to preach. Your proselytizing might annoy students (who may not have the linguistic resources to argue back) or even get you into serious trouble. Besides, every minute you’re telling your students about the world, it’s one less minute when they can practice. Ask them to tell you what they think instead!

10. Don’t have favorite students

It’s very important to students how they get on with their teacher. Try to build an equally warm and positive relationship with all the students. Learn everyone’s names (so you’re not always asking the same three students whose names you remember!). Never compare students. You’ll create a great learning environment!

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