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Blimage - Amazement

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Innovating how we study English grammar - English verbs are (IN)tense

Two weeks ago, I seized the opportunity to do what Larsen-Freeman, Keuch and Haccius (2011) propose in their article "Helping students with English verb tenses". The authors defend the need to present the verb tenses as an integrated system, thus stressing their interdependency and interconnectedness. Once that is taken as a core principle, teaching these forms in isolation without inviting students to grasp the meaning they convey is like heading a horse to water but not teaching it how to drink. So I set out to do just that: by getting them to physically understand our unique capacity as humans to do what I like to call "time switching". It had never crossed my mind to physically and visually represent the verb system before that class and to tell the truth, you could see how much more engaged students were while they were doing the activities. And I got the feeling that similar activities will work even with elementary students (more of this to come in future po…

No? Not!

I came across a sign yesterday that read


This reminded of a common mixup students make regarding the two negative particles. Some say things "no the person" or "no have the time". Now the writing above was another example of ow students can fall into the trap of thinking they are used in the same way. Well's here to it with a short visual representation: 

No is always followed by a NOUN, countable or uncountable. In the case of countable, the noun comes in the plural

Listen to react

Traditionally, listening as a skill has been one of the foci of the English language classroom. Recorded audio or vídeo material is used to test students' capacity to understand natural spoken language in a variety of situations. But rarely are they asked to REACT to the message. That way they

What was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill True and False exercise became the trigger for my Conversation students to share how they felt about the results of a study that sought to correlate being good-natured to being wealthy. Letting them speak naturally about it allowed them to take their discussion in the way they saw fit rather than a pre-determined sequence of Q and As.  There are several advantages to that:
The interaction is truly student-driven
Comprehension is checked conversationally 
Unexpected language - in both the mother and target languages according to the level and linguistic repertoire of the students - emerges. 
Let real listening begin!

A boost to our learning

Language learning, and teaching, rely on the information given as a reaction to a product to a person's performance in the attempt of providing improvement. Our reactions can be spontaneous or calculated, and serve to inform our interlocutor on how well/badly they are doing and gives us hints as to what to do next in order to improve, or why not, make it better (because, yes, we can always deliver a little bit more and go beyond what is expected or required.
This played out marvelously recently with some students of mine - as they begin to come to that awareness of the need to take risks as an autonomous learner. Oh, and in case you haven't latched on to the word I am talking about yet is Feedback, and its related terms - debriefing, motivation, external stimulus, constant and multiple assessment - to name a few. While revising for their written text, look at what one of them wrote as a self evaluation:

Apologetic as she might have been, I made it a point to laud their efforts a…

Something about the teacher

Celebrating International Teacher's Day last October 5 and revving up for Teacher Appreciation Day on October 15, I pose the question below and get as many responses as possible.Can you help? 

#makesmefeel  #teachersday 

Perhaps I should rephrase the question:

A blind eye

I pride myself on being able to blend in to different groups; to quickly establish rapport with those who cross my path. This mutability, however, has numbed my senses to issues like the one in this post. Funny, I usually joke with my students about the fact that when people hear my full name, they imagine someone white skin and blue eyes, probably of European origin, only to meet a fellow who looks as Brazilian as one can get. A llight-hearted way to look at assumptions about racial equity and native speakerism. I confess I have never felt discriminated against for being a "non-white native speaker of English (or maybe I have been blind as a bat to it all along). Yet, the post got me thinking if I would have been given the same opportunities if I were a native Brazilian.

Always on rewind

If you are an English teacher, then you have had the chance of dealing with the Present Perfect, a tense that boggles the mind of 99.99% of English learners, and whose existence native speakers are usually unaware of. Getting students to understand why we use it instead of a Simple Past form in explanation that makes sense to us teachers/users of the language is the million-dollar challenge, especially in sentences like these:
I've known my best friend ever since we were in primary school. 
I haven't bought another car since I sold the last one four years ago. 
The run of the mill explanation is that we use the form "have + past participle" to indicate something started some time in the past and continues till the present moment. The fact is the adverbial phrases already reveal the connection with the past (we know that I met my friend when we were in primary school and that I sold my last car four years ago). The use of the verb tense seems to serve more of a nostalgic…