1. English teacher: English learner forever
A case for teachers' language development
2. “…People who are going to work with the language at an
advanced level as teachers or researchers need the deeper
understanding provided by the study of grammatical
theory and related areas of linguistics.”
– Peter Roach
“Teachers need to know a lot about the subject they are
teaching (the English language). (…) Language teachers
need to know how the language works. (…) a knowledge
of the grammar system and understanding of the lexical
system. (…) They need to be aware of pronunciation
features such as sounds, stress and intonation."
– Jeremy Harmer
3. “Among the consequences of (…) a limited knowledge of
language are: a failure on the part of the teacher to
anticipate learners’ learning problems and a consequent
inability to plan lessons that are pitched at the right level;
(…) an inability to deal satisfactorily with errors, or to field
learners’ queries; and a general failure to earn the
confidence of the learners due to a lack of basic
terminology and ability to present new language clearly
– Scott Thornbury
4. The ‘unproblematized’ area of language learning for
“…the feeling is, perhaps, that non-native speaker
teachers should need no special treatment, and to offer it
might be seen as insulting."
– a famous ELT writer, in an email to me (April 30, 2013).
"I think the sad reality is though that for a very large
number of the world's teachers their English is barely
above A2! B1 to be generous."
– a famous course book writer, via Facebook (April 30, 2013).
5. The ‘unproblematized’ area of language learning for
"I know a few teachers who did the CAE test at the
beginning of their careers and now, 5 or 10 years
later, don’t have that level anymore and would possibly
not pass the CAE today. Some schools offer free courses
for teachers taught by more experienced, more proficient
teachers, but many don’t take those courses and keep on
teaching lower levels. (…) I don’t know any SIGs or
magazines that deal with that."
– school coordinator in Northeastern Brazil
6. The ‘unproblematized’ area of language learning for
- Nope. (…) Not a single book (in the area of language
development for teachers). They (schools) tend to lump
teachers and advanced students under the same generic
umbrella. But if an advanced student says “slangs” it’s not
the end of the world. If a teacher does, it’s another story I
– Brazilian ELT blogger
7. The ‘unproblematized’ area of language learning for
Should there be?
Why isn’t there?
Are teachers interested? Is there money in it?
Who needs to take charge?
8. Teachers make mistakes
Open your books on page 20.
OK! Time’s over!
Do you want me to explain you the rule again?
Pay attention in the example.
Ask question four to Raul, please.
Today we’re going to discuss about politics.
I gave you a homework last class, didn’t I?
Are you with your students’ book?
Does anyone have any doubts?
9. What teachers must know
• Grammar (how to use, describe and name it)
• Vocabulary (use, register, pronunciation, frequency)
• Phonology (individual sounds – phonemes –
, intonation, stress in words and sentences, connected
• Discourse (how language is used, appropriacy)
• Cultural aspects of the language
• ‘Methodology(ies) and techniques
• Grammar is partly the study of what forms (or structures)
are possible in a language; the study of the syntax –the
system of rules that cover the order of words in a
sentence– and morphology –the system of rules that
cover the formation of words. – Scott Thornbury
• Is it possible to use will in the if-clause of a conditional
sentence? E.g. If you will…, I will….
• Is using could or be able to for ability in the past
• What’s the difference between who and whom?
• Do we always put the verb one stage back when using
• I recommend she be promoted. Is this correct?
• What’s inversion? Non-finite clauses? When can you
omit the relative pronoun in a relative clause? etc.
• We use some in affirmative sentences and any in
negative and interrogative sentences.
• We use will for predictions which are not based on
evidence; we use going to when the prediction is based
• The modal verb could is the past of can.
• You double the final consonant (past, -ing etc.) when
the word ends in ‘CVC’.
“Pronunciation can be an overlooked area of language
teaching, partly because teachers themselves may feel
more uncertain about it than about grammar or lexis,
worried that they don’t have enough technical knowledge
to help students appropriately. However, when teachers
take the risk, they are often surprised to find that it makes
for very enjoyable and useful classroom work.”
– Jim Scrivener
• What are the sounds /θ/ and /ð/. How are they different?
• How do you pronounce the regular verbs in the past?
• How do you pronounce the ‘s’ in plural words, third
person singular and genitive case?
• How do you count syllables in English?
• Are there rules for word stress?
• What’s sentence stress? What’s unstress?
• How does intonation work in English?
• What’s collocation? Idiom? Phrasal verb?
I’ll give you a broad/wide summary of this talk now.
If you have any questions, please rise/raise your hand.
She was caught red/yellow-handed stealing the test key.
If she carries on/up like this, she’ll end/wind up in prison.
• Your proposal is bad.
• (appalling, dismal, ludicrous, absurd, pathetic)
• You saw the movie? I loved it!
• I think, éééééééé, that this movie is better than the
• Are phrasal verbs and idioms good for formal writing?
17. Studying language
• On your own:
Curiosity and interest
Vast and varied reading
Exposure to native(-like)/proficient English
Organization and focus
Vast and varied reading
18. Studying language
• On your own:
• Have a vocabulary notebook
• Read books, articles, news, blogs, recipes, graffiti…
• Watch series, movies, TV programs… Get hooked on
• Set a time to study every day/few days/week. Decide
what you want to study every time
(grammar, vocabulary, phonology etc.)
• Read varied genres; read a little EVERY day. Always.
19. Studying language
Advanced English courses (for teachers)
Exams preparation at C1/C2 level: CAE & CPE
Phonology courses (NOT "accent reduction!")
TKT preparation (especially ‘KAL’)
• ‘Letras’ course?
• Post-graduation in English?
20. Suggested Bibliography
Advanced Language Practice, Michael Vince
Grammar for English Language Teachers, Martin Parrott
Practical English Usage, Michael Swan
Cambridge Grammar of English, Ronald Carter
Advanced Grammar in Use, Martin Hewings
21. Suggested Bibliography
Advanced Vocabulary in Use, Martin Hewings
English Vocabulary in Use, F. O’Dell, M. McCarthy
English Idioms in Use, F. O’Dell, M. McCarthy
English Phrasal Verbs in Use, F. O’Dell, M. McCarthy
22. Suggested Bibliography
How to Teach Pronunciation, Gerald Kelly
Sound Foundations, Adrian Underhill
English Phonetics and Phonology, Peter Roach
English Pronunciation for Brazilians, S. Baccardo, M.
Marcellino and C. Gontow
About Language, Scott Thornbury (CUP)
How to Teach English, Jeremy Harmer (Pearson)
English Phonetics and Phonology, Peter Roach (CUP)
Discourse, Guy Cook (Oxford)
A-Z of ELT, Scott Thornbury (Macmillan)
English Vocabulary in Use, F. O’Dell and M. McCarthy (CUP)