October 8, 2012


Here are the slides I used in my workshop TEENching, about teaching teenagers.

May 29, 2012

My students' spoken comic strips

My students created captions for two cartoon strips about robots. After writing their captions, they took a photo of the cartoon strip, which was in their books, and recorded their lines using the educreations app for the ipad. BTW, they were supposed to include modal verbs/expressions of obligation, permission, and/or prohibition.

Thanks Dani Lyra for the great idea!

Check out the result and vote for your favorite: 

Leonardo, Gabriel and Alex:

Baby robot: Mom, I want to play soccer.
Mother robot: No, son. You have to do your homework.

Baby robot: But mom, my girlfriend is waiting for me.
Mother robot: Your what? You have a girlfriend?
Baby robot: Oh, God...

Julia and Safira:

Robot: I'm having emotional problems.
Psychologist: How? How come? You don't have a heart.
Robot: That is my problem. I really want a heart.
Psychologist: Sorry, you are in the wrong place. Go back to the robot factory.

Caio and Taciana:

Baby robot: Mom, I'm going out with my friends.
Mother robot: No, you will stay home. You must do your homework.

Larissa and Marcella:

Meanwhile, in a psychologist's office...
Psychologist: What's the matter?
Robot: Oh, Gosh, I may be rusty.

Ana and Letícia

Meanwhile, at Pink's house...
Baby robot: Bye, mom! I'm going to the best pool robot party in Metro Planet.
Mother robot: What? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You can't go. You are a robot, my little baby. Did you forget it?
Baby robot: C'mon, mom. All the coolest people will be there.
Mother robot: You mustn't go and that's it!
Baby robot: Uh, bye mom?

Izabella and Jordana:  

Meanwhile, in a psychologist's office...
Psychologist: What's the matter?
Robot: I think may have one missing screw.

Carol and Sérgio:   

Psychologist: Hello, man. What is your problem?
Robot: Well, doctor, I have some problems with my owner. I need to wash all his clothes, wash the dishes, clean his house and wash the dog. Also, he forgets that I can't get wet.
Psychologist: Yes, but you have to remember that he bought you to do this. Sorry, but I can't help you.

 Vote here:

November 10, 2011

12 Language Learning Tips

Learning a new language can be difficult, but not impossible. No matter how old you are, there are methods and techniques that can make it easier to absorb the nuances of another language. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re trying to learn a new language for fun, or as a necessity, all it takes is for you to apply yourself. Following are a few language learning tips.

Study Every Day

In order to learn a language efficiently, you need to study every day. If you throw yourself into learning a language, but tire of it quickly and only return to it sporadically, it will prove to be very difficult for you to become proficient in that language. Instead, you should set aside a 15 or 20 minute period in the morning and again in the evening to devote to foreign language study.


The fastest way to learn anything is when it becomes absolutely necessary to do so. If you throw someone into deep water, they’ll either sink or swim. Using that principle for learning a new language would mean immersing yourself in the language by limiting your communication to that language. If all you hear is French or Italian and you can’t talk to anyone except in that language, then you’ll probably learn how to communicate quickly.

Set Goals

How quickly you learn a new language depends a lot on your commitment to doing so. Like most things, meeting your goal of learning a new language can go smoother if you set intermediate goals that are more easily attainable. Instead of telling yourself that you need to learn Spanish by the end of the year, set your first goal a little lower--something along the lines of being able to ask for directions or being comfortable speaking Spanish exclusively during a meal by the end of the month. Smaller goals along the way will help you achieve the long-term goal more efficiently.

Teach Yourself

It is possible to teach yourself a second language with no outside help. There are computer programs designed to do just that. Audio tapes work the same way. Simply by hearing the same words and phrases over and over again you’ll begin to pick up the language.

Foreign Language Classes

If you don’t like studying alone, or feel you’ll be able to pick up the language quicker through formal education, then you should enroll in foreign language classes. Most community colleges offer classes in Spanish, French, Chinese, or any number of other languages. If you’re the type that learns better in a formal classroom environment than by listening to audio tapes or interactive computer programs, then doing so will increase your chances of learning the language quickly.

Find a Tutor

A method of learning another language that has proven to work well is to find a tutor. Having a one-on-one relationship with a teacher may help you learn more quickly. An intensive program in a closed environment, without any distractions, will speed the learning process along, especially if the tutor is a good teacher.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong

When you’re participating in a foreign language class or studying with a tutor, don’t be afraid to give a wrong response to a question. If you’re incorrect, you’ll simply be told the right way to speak the word or phrase and more than likely won’t make the same mistake again.

Practice Whenever You Can

In order to learn a language quickly, you should practice using that language whenever possible. At every opportunity use whatever sentences, phrases, or words that you know in a conversation with someone who speaks the language. In most cases they will be more than happy to point out errors in grammar or syntax and teach you the right pronunciation or application of that word or phrase.


One of the best ways of learning anything is to simply listen instead of talking. If you’re in an environment where the language you’ve chosen to learn is being spoken, take the time to listen to the people as they communicate with one another. After a while you’ll begin to pick up words and phrases and be able to follow the conversation.

Talk to Yourself

Although talking to yourself is often considered to be a bad thing, it may actually be helpful in learning a new language. In between your formal learning periods you can try repeating words and phrases until you fully understand the meaning of them, and are sure you’re pronouncing them correctly.

Read and Write

Whenever possible take the time to read newspapers and magazines in the language you’re studying. You should also practice writing words and sentences in that language. As your knowledge increases, you will learn even faster.

Be Patient

Don’t expect to pick up all the nuances of any language in a short time. In order to become fluent in another language, you will need to be patient, study hard, and devote yourself to learning at a pace that will help you retain what you’ve learned. If you try and learn too quickly, you could become disenchanted with the process and give up.

Guest post from Pat Singer. Pat writes for AccreditedOnlineColleges.com.

How to Prepare for the TOEFL

If your first language isn’t English, but you want to attend college in an English speaking country, you will probably need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as part of the admissions process. Some organizations, such as government agencies, scholarship programs, select businesses, and licensing bodies may also require that the test be taken before you can become an employee or be considered for their programs. In short, if you hope to live, study, or work in an English speaking country, you should familiarize yourself with the test. Following are a few tips on how prepare for the TOEFL.

What the TOEFL Tests

If you’re not fairly fluent in English, the test may be difficult for you. It’s designed that way. The purpose of the test is to ensure that students are able to understand and communicate in English well enough to get along in an English speaking country. More specifically, it tests a student’s aptitude in the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Unless you speak and understand the language fairly well, the exam could be hard for you.

Test Content

The Test of English as a Foreign Language lasts approximately 4.5 hours. There are various sections, each timed individually. You will need a passing grade in each section before you can be accepted in most colleges in English speaking countries. There are 6,000 plus schools in more than 100 countries that include TOEFL scores when considering an applicant whose first language is something other than English. The test consists of sections on speaking, which takes 20 minutes to complete; reading comprehension, which takes from 60 to 100 minutes to complete, the listening section, which takes from 60 to 90 minutes; and a section on writing, which takes 50 minutes to complete. The TOEFL is taken in a controlled environment, and you must use a computer. Due to the fact that there is more than one version of the test, it is recommended that you prepare by taking practice tests.

Initial Preparation

Because the test is extremely important for some people’s futures, a number of Internet websites have been developed to help them pass the test by supplying preparation test material. One of the most prominent is www.ets.org/toefl, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students pass the TOEFL. Another Internet website, www.4englishexams.com, also helps students prepare for the test. There are many other websites that contain information that could be useful to you. If you enter TOEFL, or TOEFL Preparation, into your search engine and follow some of the links that come up, you can learn more about how to prepare for the test. You can also get a free copy of a sample test by visiting the Internet website, www.testden.com.

TOEFL Prep Resources

To prepare for the TOEFL, you should study material that is similar to what will be included in the test by reviewing the format and sample questions. By doing so, you will be able to determine exactly what is expected of you when you take the test. In order to prepare properly for the test, you should do as much research into the TOEFL as you can, and determine what is required of you while you’re taking the test. A public library or an online support group can help you get ready. Some materials are free online, including sample tests, questions, and skill-building exercises. You may also want to join a study group. Such groups can found by posting inquiries on social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter. If you need more help you can hire a tutor. Each section of the test is scored equally, so don’t overemphasize any particular section when you study. If you have trouble understanding any of the sections, you should spend a little more time on that area, but don’t neglect the other three.

Taking the TOEFL

When the time comes to actually take the test, you should do well, providing you took the time to prepare for it, and studied hard. Make sure you arrive at the test site a little early so you won’t be rushed at the last minute. You should also be sure and get a good night’s sleep so you are well rested. Don’t take a cell phone or computer into the test room--all the materials that are needed for the test will be supplied for you. Take your time during the exam, but don’t linger over any particular question. Try and remain calm, and pace yourself.

Guest post from Taylor Harris. Taylor writes about online schools for BestOnlineColleges.com.

September 3, 2011

m-learning - 1 simple idea

Here is a very simple idea on how to use your students' mobile devices for language learning:

I was teaching a group of advanced-level teenagers in Brazil, in a regular school classroom, with no internet connection, no computer, no projector, no interactive boards, etc. I was about to start the new grammar topic, the different uses of WISH and HOPE, when it dawned upon me that I didn't need any technology because students had a lot of technology right in their pockets.

I asked students if they had either an ipod (or any other mp3 player with a "search" function) or a smartphone with internet connection, and it turned out that all of them had one or the other - and if a few hadn't, they could have worked in pairs or trios. I drew a line in the middle of our chalkboard and wrote WISH on one side and HOPE on the other side, and I asked students to do the following

"If you have a smartphone with internet connection, search for song titles that contain the word WISH or the word HOPE. As you find song titles, come and write them on the chalkboard."

"If you have an ipod, search for the songs that you have on your device with the words WISH or HOPE, and them on the board."

The result was a chalk board filled with many song titles, all of them written by students, based on the songs they carry on their mp3 players or on their internet search. Even better was the fact that everything I needed to exaplain about WISH and HOPE was illustrated on the board, such as using WISH and HOPE as a verb and as a noun, the unreal/regretting aspect of WISH and the probabilistic aspect of HOPE, the fact that we usually use simple past or past perfect after WISH and present or future after HOPE, etc.

Instead of lecturing about this grammar topic, we worked with elicitation based on student-centered song titles. Besides, students were excited about being allowed to use their electronic devices in class!

The following video is an ironic and sarcastic criticism to the dependency teenagers have on mobile devices and on being connected to friends on various social networking platforms all the time, but it is also a picture of our current reality, especially when teaching teenagers, so it's about time we took advantage of it, right?