I saw it would cost about R$ 4000. Do you think it’s a good price?
In Brazil, check with the Student Travel Bureau http://m.stb.com.br/home
May the Lord bless you and your plans and dreams.
I saw it would cost about R$ 4000. Do you think it’s a good price?
May the Lord bless you and your plans and dreams.
I have been a fan of the Headway series since 1991 when I started teaching private students in São Paulo, Brazil, and that was the book assigned me by the school I was working for at the time (where I would become a partner a few years later). It was the Headway Advanced first edition (Oxford University Press), I believe. I was amazed at how advanced the book really was. Even native speakers would encounter vocabulary challenges in it.
Since then I have used the New Headway series and the American Headway (which is mostly an adaptation of the UK edition with more of a north American vocabulary and audio, which is a great strategy used by the publishers while meeting a demand).
Usually US publishers do not invest much in textbooks for ESL/EFL learners while the UK is always introducing new titles. Considering the demand especially in Latin America and Asia for US-based language materials, nothing better than produce the same book with minor changes for all markets.
Also the new editions tend to add just minor changes – enough to justify the need for a new book by both teacher and students and also force the teacher to discard the older book as “obsolete”. This year I was planning on using the 3rd edition which I already owned, but unsurprisingly, it was not not to be found by the students at the bookstores. Only the “new and improved” 4th edition. Talk about marketing strategies. There goes the teacher having to purchase all the set – workbook, teacher’s book and student’s book plus the CDs and DVDs. Nice, ain’t it?
The latest edition I have in my hands is the New Headway Elementary 4th edition (2011) by Liz and John Soars (the authors of the original edition). When compared to the New Headway Elementary 3rd edition (2000) – the changes were not that significant – the audio has new recordings and the texts are also new.. . but the grammar syllabus and vocabulary for instance are quite similar, even considering the way the thematic content is distributed in the units.
A big change I’ve observed is that the 4th Edition is way too heavy on content – the books still have long units (around 8 pages each) – 12 units in the 4th edition compared with 14 units in the 3rd edition – against other trends for shorter units observed in other textbooks where each section consists of 2 pages (New English File, for example).
Let’s consider unit 7: Dates to remember – the syllabus includes
The load of content feels like crushing against the learner’s skull. Too much vocabulary and grammar to be absorbed in a few hours. Much better would be to have shorter units and introduce each point gradually, while revisiting points previously learned.
Would I still recommend Headway to other students and teachers? Yes, if the teacher can decode and adapt the textbook to the student’s needs.
As a coursebook it would be a really big challenge to have effective teaching in a classroom with 25 or 30 students.
By the way, I am impressed by the fact that the publishers haven’t still embraced the e-book format (fear of piracy? cost?). But it would make the life of teachers and students much easier. Imagine: For one elementary student I have to carry the teacher’s book, workbook and coursebook. On a day when I’m teaching different levels how many pounds/kilos of books am I supposed to be carrying? Hellooo.
But that’s a topic for another blog.
4. Develop a curriculum – how long will the classes take for the student to change to a higher level? six months? one year? what materials will be used?
Oh, before I forget, it’s super important to have a reasonable internet connection and sound quality.
There are those days when you feel a little bit unsure of what to do, where to go… . And I’m not even talking about going to the doctor and undergoing medical tests, things that I dread just based on the fear that some bad diagnosis will happen. Well, traditionally men don’t like going to the doctor because they feel they can’t get sick as they’re the breadwinners of the family, the strong sex, etc. in this day and age? Come on! Men don’t like going to the doctor, at least in my case, because we’re afraid they’ll find out something horrible and you start feeling all the symptoms before you even have the diagnosis. Talk about reasoning with your unreasonable mind. But I digress…
Uncertainty comes to teaching as well, more so when you’re self-employed. You know the drill: no student, no pay. And it’s not like when you’re working for a company / school and they will provide you with the students and if they’re generous enough they’ll give you some training and teaching material such as textbooks. They’re also required by law (at least in Brazil) to give you paid holidays and a 13th annual salary (a sort of Christmas bonus) in addition to contributions to your government’s social security pension fund.
My wife and friends quite often remind me of how lucky I am because I don’t have a boss, which is true (although in some ways my students ARE my bosses). But the solo teaching career requires some constant care such as:
1. Attention to trends in teaching, textbooks
2. Attendance to teachers’ conferences and seminars
3. Prospecting for new students while at the same time keeping the back door shut in order to keep your current students.
4. Self-motivation – you can’t slack off and stop preparing lessons, or stop showing up on time.
5. Billing is never the most pleasurable of activities but necessary. On the other hand, there are always a few smart asses who “always forget” to pay their teacher in the time agreed and you must kindly ask them if there was any problem with their payment because you couldn’t locate their deposit in your bank statement.
Hey, life is uncertain by nature, so what I must do is to continue doing what I enjoy and enjoy what I have to do.
Last week my wife and I met up with Paddy, an Irish lawyer who’s being transferred with his family – wife, a 3-year old boy and a five-month-old baby girl – to São Paulo, Brazil. Bear in mind they live on a farm in county Clare, Ireland with a population of maybe 18 (just kidding) and now they’re preparing to settle in one of the largest metropolises in the world. Liz is a stay-at-home mom but she thinks that it will be good for her 3-year-old to be exposed to some preschool education while in São Paulo.
So I started researching some of the international schools (with international certification) and bilingual schools (locally based). How could I do that in a more scientific manner? By asking my students where their children and grandchildren go to school.
Among the international schools, the leading one in name recognition among my students is St. Paul’s (www.stpauls.br) – no question it has highly qualified teachers and staff, but it carries a very elitist air with the “crème de la crème” of São Paulo’s well-to-do families vying for a place. Prospective students are submitted to an academic and psychological evaluation before being accepted despite the costly monthly and annual fees, driving especially the nouveau riche up the wall when they realize that money can’t buy everything, especially “tradition”.
I never had the opportunity to attend a bilingual school but I had a very dear friend, Deborah, who attended St. Paul’s. Her father was a Brazilian nuclear scientist who had spent some time in the UK and when he returned to São Paulo he wanted to give his children a bilingual education. Deborah’s English was perfect with a slight British standard accent and she could easily switch from L1 to L2. She became a psychologist but during her school years she earned money teaching English as a foreign language. But as it happens with any learned skills, after she stopped teaching and using English on a regular basis her vocabulary started to become more limited with tons of grammar and words stored up in a corner of her brain which would light up again and start shedding the spider webs when necessity arose. Deborah would say that the second best thing about studying at an international school was the network of friends and acquaintances she built along the year (which at times would be a curse as well- but that’s another story for a future blog).
Two other international schools (maybe lesser known just because they are newer institutions but which carry similar quality without the elitist bias) are St Francis College (www.stfrancis.com.br) and British College Brazil (www.britishcollegebrazil.org).
I’m not quite sure why they both chose the word College considering that they are schools and not colleges – faculdades.But it also relates to the Brazilian term “Colégio” – which refers to a primary and/or secondary education school. Or maybe those institutions are already keeping an eye on their future tertiary education.
As per bilingual education focused on preschoolers – children as young as 14 months to 6 years old, my students whose children or grandchildren attend bilingual schools would recommend the following:
Wings to Fly (www.wingstofly.com.br)
Global Me (www.globalme.com.br)
They vary in size and location, but from what I could observe they follow a carefully planned curriculum to immerse children in a second language (usually English) while not ignoring Portuguese (the children’s mother tongue).
One factor that grasped my attention is that while the international schools can resort to hiring staff abroad, the local schools can’t afford all those costs and their hardest challenge is to find qualified bilingual labor.
Over the past 10 years the number of bilingual schools has mushroomed in São Paulo and other capital cities trying to meet a need that desperate parents have: give their children an edge for their future.
In Most of the Western World – including developed and developing countries – the career of a teacher is considered worthy of respect, at least theoretically; because in practical terms, teachers are underpaid and overworked most of the time. If you work in the public or private school systems you are always the weakest link between the students and parents and the administrators.
If you are self-employed you must always be running after new clients and professional development. If you teach in companies then you must be subject to their rules and regulations and to the ebb and flow of the mood of human resources.
Mostly, I have been well treated at the companies where I have taught, but now an International Bank (let us call it ABC Bank for illustration purposes) with a new HR management at a new headquarters has declared war on all teachers providing services in their offices. Yes, you are just another service provider delivering the next lunch or package. Yes, the company is doing their employees “a favor” allowing them to have classes on the premises. Of course, you are not supposed to be circulating in the building among the different departments, so you should go just to the floor assigned to you and after meeting with your student to have access to a room. But that’s all understandable. What I can’t understand is the requirement that teachers shouldn’t use the toilet. And if absolutely necessary only when accompanied by the student, since the restrooms are locked away in areas to be accessed only by staff. Now… as a teacher to lack the permission to use the toilet when necessary feels like the last drop.
… here’s my “5 cents worth” of advice:
There! No matter what be proud of your chosen career. I ain’t no Whitney Houston but I’ll sing it with her: “they can’t take away my DIGNITY. Because the greatest love of all…” yeah, yeah, you got my gist.
So keep your head up high and shine on.
Many students focus their language learning on memorizing vocabulary. The most committed ones usually write down the noun, or verb, or idiom mentioned by the teacher in class as if that would be the solution to all their problems. Well, even if that were true, those words would be soon forgotten behind other lists and pages in the student’s notebook never to be seen again.
But there’s an approach that can be used in class and by students on their own. Fluency and vocabulary memory can be greatly improved by students using CHUNKING AND PAUSING – techniques for effective speaking:
Even intelligibility and clarity improves much more when students focus on volume, pace and chunking instead of only on pronunciation.
– heavy traffic /heavy rain
– the national soccer team
2. Idioms – to get cold feet
Against all odds /
3. Phrasal verbs
put up a great fight /
put up with your boss
4. a whole sentence / clause
Thousands took to the streets –
The Teacher must help students to:
recognize chunks and
practice their use
Pauses and chunks package information for the listener. Speakers divide speech into ‘chunks’, which may be single words or groups of words to communicate a thought or idea, or to focus on information the speaker thinks is important.
Without the use of pausing and chunking, it is hard for listeners to follow your meaning and they may be overwhelmed with too much information.
Look at these examples. Try reading both of them out loud. Which one do you think a listener would understand better?
Does it really matter whether people speak with an accent as long as they can be easily understood many people now believe that in an increasingly globalized world we should accept variations in pronunciation that is accent. however there’s no point in speaking with an accent if people can’t understand you is there?
Does it really matter /
whether people speak with an accent /
as long as they can be easily understood?//
Many people now believe /
that in an increasingly globalized world /
we should accept variations in pronunciation /
that is / accent. //
there’s no point in speaking with an accent /
if people can’t understand you /
Speech chunks and pauses are marked with a slash / or // for a longer pause.
Source: University of Technology Sydney
But chunking is only one rung on the language learning ladder. All that vocabulary must be firmly grounded on basic but solid grammar structure.
Cheers and good speaking,
WHAT DO STUDENTS WANT?
Find below some of the answers my own students have given me in recent months:
“A tough teacher”
“A demanding teacher”
“A patient teacher”
“A kind teacher”
“A teacher who teaches me English”
“I don’t like English so I want a teacher who’ll make me like English”
“My worst grade in High School was 7. The subject? English, of course”
“Never needed it.”
“Read for gist and presto”
“I can understand what I hear or read by Deduction and logic”
“I want to speak and understand in one year”
“I want perfection in my writing and speech”
“I want to speak proper English not the ‘patois’ my father uses”
“I don’t know exactly”.
And the list could go on and on.
Students’ wants can be endless but their needs – as far as language learning applies are simple:
They need a teacher who loves the language
who knows what he’s teaching
Who can motivate and create opportunities for students to grow
As regards to perfection, no one can expect it in a language that has regular and irregular verbs and tons of exceptions to any rule. Beauty yes, perfection just a pie in the sky. So be realistic, optimistic or even pessimistic but leave perfectionist in the closet.
Earlier this year at the National Conference for Teachers of English in San Jose, Costa Rica, I could attend several workshops and plenary sessions regarding English learning in the 21st century.
The very first workshop was presented by Jair Felix with a hands-on approach:
The teachers’ challenge was to build the highest frame using uncooked spaghetti, string, tape and topping it with a marshmallow. Right from the start most teachers sat on the floor and started discussing ways and ideas on how to build the tallest structure. And the biggest challenge was resisting the urge to eat the marshmallow.
The marshmallow challenge was inspired by a TED talk by Peter Skillman. (You may watch the YouTube edition following this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p5sBzMtB3Q)
Teachers were then challenged on how they could help their students find inspiration.
What’s the problem? The marshmallow
What skills are important for this challenge?
Some of the conclusions:
Incentives + Skills = success ✔️
Incentives + Low skills # success ✖️
“Teaching is a contact sport because we’re always dealing with other people.”
How can you measure the level of communication skills a person has? Can they write? Can they read and interpret a text? Can they understand what they’re told to do? Can they express their thoughts in a clear and objective way? Well… that’s a tough task in your mother tongue. Imagine in a second or third language.
I’ve never been much of a supporter of language exams conveying the idea that Language is just one more school subject in which you must have high scores. And it feels like it’s just one more scheme for publishers to milk money off potential victims. You and I know that language is much more than 101 points on TOEFL (out of 120), for example. But the reality is that there is a need for more objective and fast assessment tools for specific purposes; and exams still are the tool du jour to do that.
TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Today the TOEFL iBT (internet-Based Test) is the most used tool to measure the student’s ability to use and understand English at the university level in North America. And it evaluates how well they combine their listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.
So… when a former student, Vitoria, contacted me and asked me for some classes to prepare for the TOEFL I was a little hesitant and tried to come up with excuses not to take her on. I said that I like to teach real-life communication not preparatory tips and schemes to reach a high score in a test; I didn’t have an open slot for a new student; I only teach from home; Etc. But how can a teacher say No to a student? Answer me that if you can.
I took the TOEFL back in 1987/88, not yesterday you could say, a time when no computers were used (yes, Dinosaurs also have feelings) – you would receive a booklet with the questions and an answer sheet and be interviewed by a real teacher. Maybe a little more nerve wrecking than just recording yourself.
As in all exams, the goal is to narrow as much as possible the scoring criteria, so even if you come up with a question such as “What’s the meaning of life” – the examiner will be looking for very specific content.
In Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, summarizing is a highly valued skill and connecting the dots in order to answer what has been asked.
A key point is: Make sure TO ANSWER THE QUESTION.
In the Writing Section the student will be judged based on their development, organization and language use.
In the Speaking Section, the students will be analyzed based on their:
Delivery – clear, fluid, pronunciation, intonation, pace
Language Use – grammar and vocabulary – apparently raters love some connecting words and phrases such as:
Topic Development – fully answered, clearly expressed, connected ideas.
What this means is…
So… my best piece of advice for my students is: practice, practice, practice. Make the language your constant companion. And shine on.