“OK Class, get into groups of 4.”
                              “Listen!  This is what we are going to do. . .”

WRONG!   The moment you tell your students to get into groups of 4, the noise begins.  Students begin to pull chairs, stand up, and
start talking.  Do you really think you can give instructions while all this noise is going on?  Not so.  Since they don’t know what they
are going to do, it is certain that they will begin speaking Spanish.  “¿Oye, qué vas a hacer hoy en la tarde?”


First and foremost, begin the “group work” with an INDIVIDUAL TASK.  For example, take a close look at  this lesson plan:  
Objective:  by the end of the class,
6 groups of four will have designed a brochure for vacationing in a resort in Mexico—Acapulco, Guerrero.

STEP NO. 1   First you tell your students to take out a sheet of paper and make a list of fun activities at the resort.  At this point your
students do not know that it will be a group assignment.  They work individually.  Give them 5 minutes to prepare the list.  

STEP NO. 2  Once they have the list, tell them that they are going to compare their list with someone else´s  and make one list from
the two lists.  At this point they get into pairs. If they forgot to write down something, they can do so at this time.  

STEP NO. 3  Then you tell them that two pairs will compare their lists.  Tell them to get into groups of two pairs which has turned
into a group of  four.  Now we have groups of four.  You got them into a group little by little.  You gave the instructions a step at a
time.  No one knew that it was going to be pair or group work.

The important thing here  is that when the students get into pairs and then into two pairs, they already know that they have
something to do.  They do not just make a little group and either stare at each other or begin chatting about personal stuff.

Another good thing about this procedure is that you can stop at any time.  If you run out of time, you can stop with the two students
in a pair and have them design the brochure.   On the other hand, if time permits, then you can organize the groups of two pairs
which is four and each group turns out a brochure. You could even stop at the individual stage if necessary.

They work together, some decorate brochure,  others will color the brochure, and others will do the business side, prices and
specials.   Then one of the members chosen by the each group will show it to the class.

If you like to have competitions, the groups can vote for the best brochure but each group cannot vote for their own group.  
                     SEVEN COMMON MISTAKES
                      ENGLISH TEACHERS MAKE
                     AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

1.    Teachers translate for their students.  If you translate for your students, they will not have to make
any effort to understand and speak English.  You are doing everything for them.  We spoon feed them.  
Speak only English.  Take into account that classroom dialogs are repeated every single day.  Ss will
understand you.

2.   Teachers spell words out loud during a lesson.  Unless you are preparing students for spelling
match, you do not spell words out loud.  First model the correct pronunciation and have your students
repeat the words using them within context, in situations that make sense.  Then, later during the
lesson or during the week, you can proceed to write the words on the board.  

3.   Teachers go directly to the board.  There are lessons in which the board is totally unnecessary and
its use even interferes with trying to model correct pronunciation.  If you show your students the word
"would" before you have modelled it and  before you had them repeat it several times and used it
within meaningful context he/she will always and forever pronounce the letter "L".  Ss see it on the
board and of course will pronounce the "l" as in Spanish.  Many teachers believe that if they do not
write on the board, people will think that they do not know and that  is the reason they must write on the
board.    Writing is one of the four linguistic skills and should be taught for full mastery of the language:
however, you cannot teach writing before teaching reading.  You cannot teach reading before teaching
speaking, and you cannot teach speaking before you teach listening.  

4.   Teachers do not use recorded material.  Recorded material is an essential tool when doing
listening exercises.  Teachers should not think that they should use recorded material because their
own pronunciation is not good.  Using recorded material has nothing to do with the teacher´s own
pronunciation.  It has to do with making your students listen to someone else without looking at that
someone--without looking at the articulation and facial expressions which facilitate comprehension.  
The purpose of a listening exercise is to have the Ss make an effort to try to understand what they are
hearing.  This is one reason why students have a very hard time understanding someone at the other
end of the telephone and on the listening part of proficiency examinations such as the Toefl.

5.   Teachers lose control of the class.  Ss can ask may questions that have nothing to do with the
lesson at hand.  It is the teacher´s responsibility to keep things on track.  Some teachers think that if
they do not address the student´s question right then and there, the Ss are going to think that she does
not know--that she may not even be a teacher.  That she might have gone off to summer camp in the
States and came back claiming to be a teacher. Forget about all that.  Do not let ego get in the way.  
You do not stop and explain at that very moment.  You schedule a special lesson or a part of a future
lesson to respond.

6.  Our students have had many teachers and they can tell whether the teacher planned something
ahead of time or where he/she is improvising.  This discovery on their part is one of the main reasons
for losing the teacher`s respect.   "I´ll just take something to entertain them today-- a song or a puzzle.  
Prepare your lesson.  If everyone can have fun while learning, that is wonderful: but keep in mind that
your main objective is to teach and your Ss main objective is to learn.  

7.  Teachers speak English ONLY IN CLASS.  Speak English with and to your Ss every time you meet
them whether it is during recess, before and after class.  After all, these are great opportunities to
practice and practicing is a very important part of  acquiring a language.  Some teachers say,
"Pablito, te quiero ver después de la clase.  Te me quedas allí sentado, eh?" The underlying message
is "I am telling you in Spanish because I know in my heart that you will not understand me.  What a
message!  Talk to your Ss in English everywhere and all the time.

                       STOP!    NO TRANSLATION!  JUST SPEAK ENGLISH!

It has been a long and difficult journey for me try to understand why Mexico is not a bilingual country or at least
why it cannot speak English as a foreign language.

I have come to learn about historical, political, economic, cultural, idiosyncratic reasons that are far beyond my
full understanding or acceptance.

Throughout my career I have witnessed how kindergarten and primary teachers practically give their classes in
Spanish.  Their rationalization or justification is always  the same.  "I speak Spanish to my students because they
do not understand me in English." Teachers do not realize that the reason their students do not understand them
in English is because they do not speak to them in English.  Our parents taught us one language.  There was no
other language to translate to or from. . . yet we learned the  language.

I have met school directors who do not speak English and hence must depend on the judgement of their
coordinator as to who to hire or who not to hire.  I have seen their coordinators hire teachers who are lacking
in both teaching skills and credentials and who are lacking mastery of the English language--jealously guarding
their position as coordinators--afraid of hiring well-qualified teachers whom they might lose their job to, and
the cycle continues.  Coordinators would rather hire a teacher with no credentials at all than a teacher with
full credentials.

Only in very few schools do teachers speak English amongst themselves.  Students notice this.  Then, they
might ask themselves, what is the new language for if not to communicate?  Teachers themselves do not use
the language.  Teachers are teaching me a language that they themselves do not use.

I have also met teachers who say they learned the "correct" English, being this the British English; but at the
end of the day, they cannot speak either British English or American English.  The "correct" language is the one
you need to be able to communicate with most of the people you come across.  For example, the Spanish we
speak in Mexico is the one that serves its purpose.  No, the Spanish from Spain or Colombia is not the "correct"
one for Mexico.  It is the correct language for Spaniards and for Colombians, but not for Mexico.

I touch upon this issue because I feel that this fixation with British English has not particularly helped Mexico
master American English, which ultimately is the one language it most needs. Why Mexico prefers British
English is a topic, however,  that deserves to be explored in another article.

In addition,  English, as part of the curricular program, has not been taken seriously.  Proof of this is that
English does not even appear on the report/score card.  So it really does not matter.  Just this past Saturday, a
teacher who came to take her final exam complained about one of her kid's teachers who marks homework
with good check marks although all the homework is full of errors.

Only until recently, after decades of underestimating the importance of mastering the English language, it is
now being added, and only in some cases,  somehow (outsourced--after school private classes) to the curricular
program of official schools. With the arrival of the internet, social networks, and globalization, Mexico is
beginning to acknowledge that English
is essential to communicate with every one else around the planet, not
only with its neighbor to the north.

What can we as English teachers, coordinators, and administrators do to close the gap created from all that has
been mentioned in this article?  Quite simple.  Speak English. Only English.  All the time, not only in class.
During recess, in the halls, in the office, in the parking lot, everywhere.  Do not translate for your students.  
Instead of helping them, you are hindering their learning experience.  Make yourself understood through
mimicry, pantomime, drawings, pictures from magazines, bring real stuff to class, show them by moving about
physically, etc.

In conclusion, there are things we
cannot change, but there are some that we can. Let's focus our efforts on
those that we can change and this can  be done as easily as this:
                                         MEETING OBJECTIVES

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line—not a zig zag nor a curved line.  How can we apply this
premise to our English lessons?  Let´s take Toefl Preparation classes as an example.  For the duration of a 48-
hour preparation course you need to teach a number of skills.  

One day you begin class with a great song from the 90´s.  You begin a discussion about how popular the song was
and the fact that it earned several music awards.  Your students enjoy the conversation and you even brought the
lyrics.  They all sing and have a great time.

What´s wrong with bringing song and lyrics to class?  Nothing wrong if the class were a conversation class or a
regular English level class.  The problem is that this particular class is a Toefl Preparation Class and the only way to
reach the goal of preparing the students for the Toefl Exam is to work non stop on  the skills to be taught.

Improvisation has no place in a TOEFL Preparation Class nor in any kind of class for that matter.  And you know  
something? Students can tell when a teacher improvises.  We tend to forget that our students have experience
since  they  have had many, many English teachers before us.  They have learned a lot about good teachers and
not-so-good teachers.  They can tell when the teacher prepared the class and when she did not.

In other words, we must focus.  Focus on the task at hand.  If we do not focus, we begin to go around in circles and
at the end of the day, we will not have met our objectives not only in our English lessons but in every aspect of our

A good way to avoid sidetracking is to remind your students and yourself as well.   “Class, we are looking at 5 skills
per day.  This way we will have seen all the 60 skills in twelve weeks.  Then we shall be ready to take a practice
test.” You, too, will be more committed.  It would be very difficult to show up with a seek-a-word exercise or a
crossword puzzle after reminding them that there´s a lot of work ahead and that test preparation is the ultimate
goal.  No curves, no zig zags.  If you focus, your students will focus too.  Mission accomplished!

It is often said that English Teachers in Mexico do not earn a lot money, that their earnings are very low, and that teaching
is mostly about having or not having the vocation to teach.  

Although having a vocation for teaching is an invaluable asset and
will make the journey a very pleasant one, there is
absolutely no reason why teachers should not earn lots and lots of money.  The key to earning lots of money as a teacher
of English as a Second Language in Mexico is specialization.  There are many different areas requiring that  teachers  

For example, take pronunciation and accent training.  The amount of money you can earn by knowing how to improve your
students´ pronunciation and how to polish their accents, is limitless.  You will never run out of students from beginners to
advanced students—any student who does not pronounce correctly, who does not use stress and intonation patterns
adequately,  needs more self confidence, needs you badly.  You can help.

Then there is the teaching of grammar.  Although current methodology does not encourage the teaching of grammar per
se, there
is a need for grammar experts when it comes to teaching TOEFL, GMAT, and other test preparations for college
entrance exams.  Students who learned through the grammar-translation methods also demand grammar explanations
from their teacher.  These students will also appreciate you dearly.

Needless to say, you can also specialize in preparing students for TOEFL or any other examinations.

Let us not forget teaching business English.  There is an overwhelming demand for teachers who know the vocabulary of
the business world, who know about weekly reports and meetings.

Of course, you might be thinking:  And exactly HOW am I supposed to specialize if I work all day and come home to check
assignments and exams?  

The first step is to  begin to see yourself as a life-long learner, a professional student.    Learn on your own, learn for the
sake of learning, learn for the sheer enjoyment of learning.   Practice self-evaluation and self-praise.  Visit bookstores with
your children, purchase a book on pronunciation, or on test preparation, or on business English and read one of them in
your spare time.  Read a page or two a day, summarize what you have read.  Put it in your own words.  Imagine that what
you have just read and learned you will be teaching someone else.  This makes it even more challenging and
consequently,  you will feel more responsible for fully understanding the material.

Little by little, page by page, you will be learning something new, something that in a given moment might come in very
handy, might be a life saver.  You never know.

A second step to reinforce life-long learning  is to apply your new knowledge, to have at least one student or a small group
of students once a week to practice with and to gain experience doing so.   

You really and truly  do not have to pay large tuition fees at any university to
LEARN.  Become a life-long learner and
SPECIALIZE.  Sow today, reap tomorrow.

                          “SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET!”

No one likes to take orders.  Adults do not like to take orders and neither do kids of all ages.

Students do not enjoy being told what to do.  Students resist anything that sounds like an order.  

Have you ever heard a teacher say things like:  

“Take your grammar book out.  
Put your bag away.
Throw that paper in the trash can.
Take out your workbook now.
Walk quietly.
Put your books away.
Stop talking.”

These are all orders and after a while of hearing so many orders, students (and husbands  as well)
shut down.  They do not hear anymore.  They stop listening.

There are other ways of telling your students what you want without actually giving them orders.  
The following are alternatives which you might find useful:


“Kids, you’re going to need the grammar book.
Let’s put the bags away.
The trash can’s over here.
Now, let’s go to the workbook.
The noise level is getting too high.
We don’t need the books anymore.
We need more silence in here.”

With older kids such as high school students, instead of saying:  

Open your books to page 69.


I’m on page 69 and ready to begin.  

You have not given out orders, but your students know what to do.  They will react
positively to your statement because it does not sound like an order because it is not an order.
Try out these phrases and see if they work for you and your students.  I wish you lots of happy
and productive  lessons in which your students do not feel they are being ordered around and
respond positively to your remarks.  


“I’m Francisco, but everybody calls me Gordo.”
OK, Gordo. . . What’s your last name?”

What´s wrong with the teacher’s response?  First of all, let’s find out if Francisco himself wants to be called
“Gordo.”  To find out it is as easy as asking him, “How would you like me to call you?  He might say “Gordo”, but
he might also say “Paco” or “Francisco.”

A person’s name is very important to him/her.  We like to be addressed by our first name.  “Hey you”  is not a
proper way to address anyone.  

You might come across a student who really and truly hates his name.  One day he/she may come to terms with
the strange name he was given, but in the meantime, we should call him the way he wants to be called.

Names should not be used to denote anger or resentment.  If you always call a child Betito and suddenly you call
him Roberto, he might get the idea that you are angry or upset.

When it comes to names and name calling, empathy is very important.  Other words may be insulting or
demeaning such as “Donkey”,  “Lazy Brat”, etc.

After many years a friend of mine told me in a very upsetting manner to please NOT call her Martita---that her
name was Martha.  After that incident, I really think about it when making this kind of assumption and ask before
calling someone Laurita, Irmita, Jorgito, etc.

In conclusion, call your students by their given name, but also find out how they themselves want to be called.  Do
not assume anything regarding the student´s name.   It is always better to ask.
                                      TIMING IS CRUCIAL
                             WHEN TO SAY CLASS IS OVER


Throughout my career in the teaching profession, I have had many opportunities of watching teachers give their class.  I have
learned plenty from analyzing hundreds of classes from start to finish.   One of the most popular complaints from teachers is
that students go wild at the end of the class;  that they do not pay attention any more.  They start getting up from their seats.  
They start speaking to each other.  Everything seems to be out of control.

Teachers, I am very sorry to say this, but often times you yourself are responsible for this behavior.  Why?  Because
teachers tell the students that the class is over; that the class has ended; that she has finished the day´s lesson.

And guess what?  That is not true. After saying that the class is over, she/he goes on giving the homework assignment, giving
other instructions about putting notebooks and textbooks away, etc.  Not easy to do this any more.

The "disciplinary problem" arises from the fact that the teacher says that the class is over, when it is NOT over.

When students hear the teacher say that class is over, they assume that it is really over.  They get up from their chairs, they
start speaking to each other, they laugh and start leaving the classroom.  Logical.

ALTERNATIVE:    If you still have important things to tell your students, DO NOT SAY THE CLASS IS OVER UNTIL IT IS

Do not even say, BEFORE WE GO. . . . because this is also a cue that the class is ending.  Give out the necessary instructions
and bid them farewell and of course, you can actually say, CLASS IS OVER. YOU MAY LEAVE! SEE YOU TOMORROW!

                                     CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

“Regina, who is the main character of the story?”
“Karen, what was the climax of the story?”

The teacher is talking to a group of students.  She gives out the name of the student and follows with a question.  What is
wrong with this procedure?

What happens when the rest of the group hears the name Regina? They shut out.  They stop listening.  They know that the
question is directed at Regina so there is no reason why they should think of the answer or try to respond.  The question is
not for them.  It’s for Regina.

The same thing happens when the class hears the name Eduardo or Karen.  Only Eduardo and Karen will be alert so as to
hear the question that follows.  The rest of the class will shut out.

Next time you find yourself in front of a group and ready to ask questions, try the following procedure:

OK, class. . . (look at everyone)  Who is the main character of the story?. . . (pause)  Regina. . . tell me. . . who is the main
character of the story?

By this time each member of the class will have thought about the answer.  If Eva does not respond correctly, then Eduardo or
Karen will.

The same goes for any other kind of instruction or statement.  Please close the door. . .  Laurita.  Thank you, Laurita.  


In other words, the moment you give a name, only that student will listen.  You want all the class to listen.  Ask first, pause,
and then give out the name of the student who is supposed to respond.

                                                   PROBLEM SOLVING

Student:                  “Miss, se me rompió el lápiz.”  
      “Miss, no tengo libro.”
      “Miss, no traje papel.”

Teacher:                   “Take this one.”
      “Here you are.”
      “A ver Rita, give Lalo some paper.”

A student has a problem and the teacher responds.  The teacher tries to solve the problem immediately.  She goes into her handbag
and retrieves a pencil.  She takes her own book and hands it to the student.  She takes a couple of sheets of paper and hands them
to the student.

What’s wrong, then?  Responding immediately is good.  How we respond is the problem.  By immediately resolving the situation, the
teacher takes full responsibility.  


The responsibility really belongs to the student, not the teacher.  How can we shift the responsibility to the student?

Student:   Se me rompió el lápiz.
Teacher:  Eduardo, tell me in English.  My pencil broke… repeat
Eduardo:  My pencil . . . .
Teacher:  My pencil broke. . . repeat
Eduardo:  My pencil broke.
Teacher:  OK, Eduardo.  Your pencil broke.  What are you going to do about it?
Eduardo:  Huh?
Teacher:  Your pencil broke.  What are you going to do about it? How can you get a pencil?
Eduardo:  Maybe I can. . . .  borrow one from . . . .Claudia.
Teacher:  Excellent.  Go ahead and borrow one from Claudia.

Your students must learn to solve their own problems. As a teachers of English, you are also a teacher in many other aspects.  As
teachers, we also teach other skills such as social skills, self reliance, resourcefulness, etc.
                                                                          THE GREATEST  GIFT  

As language teachers we have many responsibilities; from preparing lessons to managing our classrooms, from administering
examinations to evaluating our students' progress periodically.

There is, however, one thing we can provide our students every single day in each and every single lesson.  It has nothing to do
with the actual teaching of grammar.  It is far more important than anything else you can do for your students.

We may  have obtained diplomas and certificates in teacher training, earned all sorts of degrees, masters, doctorates, but if we, as
teachers of English as a second or other language, do not do this one thing, then all our efforts will be useless at the end of the
day--and this one thing is the greatest gift, the greatest present we can give our students.

The greatest gift we can give our students is the love and  respect for the language we are teaching.   Mind you, first we have to
love and respect our own language and our own culture before we can value other languages and other cultures.  

How does our love and respect for the language and its culture reflect itself in the classroom?  First of all, if we love the language,
we should  know the language, we should  know how to speak the language (we  pronounce correctly and we use intonation
patterns correctly), we should know the grammar of the language.   

Whether we are a native or a non-native teacher of English, it is very important that we permanently try to understand the
language, its culture, its idiosyncrasies, etc.  Understanding that language is a reflection of the culture is a vital element in  
teaching languages.

We can view ourselves as models.  Every time we speak we model a manner of speaking.  Our students will copy  the way we speak
just as children imitate the way their parents speak.  When we speak we should model correct English keeping in mind that if we
have great pronunciation, our students will have great pronunciation.  If we have excellent grammar, our students will have
excellent grammar.   

Regardless of the language we are teaching,  whether it be French, German, or Italian, we must love the language, we must love
the culture.  This precious gift  will unmistakably have a profound effect on our students'  mastery of the English language as well
as on our own.

                                               WHY NOT?

Apostrophes are placed to denote possession or missing letters.  TEACHERS  is not possessive.  There are no letters missing either.
Teachers College is a college FOR teachers.  It is NOT a college that BELONGS to teachers: therefore, not possessive.

When we say Teachers College we are  describing the college, the type of college, to whom it is intended.  It is a college intended FOR
teachers.  The college does not  BELONG to the teachers.

Besides, the word TEACHERS, In this case, is NOT a noun.  It is an ADJECTIVE.
The adjective TEACHERS describes the College.  When a word is descriptive rather than possessive, it does not take/have an

The same rule applies to students book, teachers manual, Yankees pitcher, etc.

CAN write teacher´s desk (the desk belongs to the teacher) singular 's  
teachers´ reports (the reports that belong to more than one teacher--plural s'
                                                                                          LESSON PLANNING

Responsibility? Obligation?  Privilege? Right? All of the above.  If we view lesson planning as something that we have to do, it becomes a burden; it
becomes a chore.  However, if we view lesson planning as a great tool to help us get organized, to know exactly what we plan to teach in a given
period of time, how it connects to past lessons and how it connects to future lessons, lesson planning will be our best ally.

Lesson planning is also a right.    I believe that teachers, no matter what subject they teach have the right to prepare their lessons.  Yes, the right.  It
would be totally unfair to ask an English teacher to give an impromptu class let us say on a seldom used tense such as the unreal conditional right on
the spot.  

A teacher must have key information in order to teach a grammar lesson.  Situation;:  The coordinator who is interviewing you for a job has asked you
to go into the next room and prepare a lesson on a grammar tense or structure.  Wait a minute. . . .Not so fast. . . .You need to know who will take the
class (age level/proficiency level of the students or teachers), how long the class should last, whether you will have access to material such as large
pieces of paper or name cards for your students.

I firmly believe that you will gain more respect if you ask for the  information you need and for the amount of  time you require to plan  your class, to
choose the topic around the grammar tense or structure, to think carefully about the examples (verbs, vocabulary, etc.) you will use.  To take care of
not trying to teach too much in one lesson, to think of ways to get the students` attention from the beginning of the class.  (you must know their

All in all, lesson planning is the backbone to giving a great class.  Let`s use this tool not only as a responsibility and as an obligation, but also as a
great privilege we should guard jealously and as an inherent and  inalienable right.
You have earned it.

Dear Coordinators,

Here is a kind piece of unsolicited advice.  Please take note. Thank you.

Surround yourself by the best teachers available.  Interview many teachers, and hire the best teachers that you interview.  Do
not worry if they have great English, great pronunciation and fluency.  Worry if they don`t.   That`s what it`s all about.  They are
and will be your best asset but more than that, they will actually, really and truly, teach English.  They will model beautiful English.
Your great teachers will teach even without teaching.  Every time they say something, someone is listening and someone will be
reproducing their great way of speaking English.

You might ask yourself, “What if they have better English than I do?”
They might, but it`s not the end of the world, nor of your career nor of your position as the English coordinator.  First of all, keep
studying English, keep reviewing your textbooks, your manuals, keep going through the grammar book.  Read short stories,
long stories, novels, fiction, non-fiction.  The more you read, the more vocabulary you will acquire and the more grammar
structures you will be exposed to.  The more you read, the better writer you will become.

Do not be afraid of being surrounded by great teachers.  That is your job.  To interview, to hire, to lead, to organize their talents,
to see that they follow the program, that they prepare their lessons, etc.  You are the  team leader.  As long as you are a great
coordinator and leader, no one will take that away from you and you will be providing the students with great teachers of English.

Thank you for taking note.

                                                     Hello, Teachers. . .

It used to be that an individual who had worked for a company, let´s say a bank, for forty or fifty years, was highly respected.  We assumed
naturally that he/she was very disciplined, punctual, responsible, and distinguished with many other qualities.

Unless you are the owner of the bank, why on earth would you work for a company, a bank, or for that matter a school for half your lifetime.

Today, it is the entrepreneur, the innovator who is highly coveted and respected.

This means that you are allowed and encouraged to do things differently, to trust your intuition, to go for it, to experiment, to make mistakes
and to learn from them.

Listen to your mind and to your heart. Follow your dream, set up your own school, design your own English books, give original, fun, and
productive English classes.

Enjoy your profession.  Work in a way that makes you happy.

Your life is much more valuable than that which is written on a resume.

                                           CORRECTING OUR STUDENTS´ PRONUNCIATION

What happens when we do not correct our students?

Every time a student says touch (as in the words toe or tow)  instead of touch (as in the words such and much) , he
reinforces wrong pronunciation. No one corrects me, he thinks.  So I must be pronouncing correctly.  In time the wrong
pronunciation sounds good. Years later if someone dares correct him, he becomes upset and offended.

Why do teachers not correct their students' pronunciation?

One reason is that they themselves pronounce the word wrong. They were taught wrong; they learned wrong.  Another
reason is that they are not sure of the pronunciation.   A third reason is that  they do not want the student to feel bad.  
Finally, they do not know how to correct.

  • If you as a  teacher of English do not know how to pronounce a word, ask a native speaker, ask google or consult
    the dictionary.

  • If you do not know how to correct, choose the easiest, most natural way--MODEL the correct form.  Do not tell him
    how NOT to pronounce the word.  MODEL the correct form.  Just say it and encourage him to repeat. (prompt him)

  • A student who knows from the very beginning that you will correct him, not because that day you were upset, or for
    any other reason except that you are teaching him to speak English correctly, will not feel unduly targeted or  

Correcting our students´ pronunciation is part of the teaching and learning process--a step which we as teachers of
English should not give ourselves the luxury of skipping.
                                                                                 LOOKING FOR A JOB?

Find a school that will hire you, a school that will place you on the payroll, a school that will provide you with Social Security benefits. This is the way to go!

If, on the contrary, you are hired as a freelance, you must issue fiscal receipts to the school and you must ask an expert to do your accounting (or do it
yourself). Most of all, you will not receive any  benefits, neither Social Security nor any other benefits from your employer.

Why should you care about Social Security benefits?

One, you will have health, accident,  and disability insurance, not only for yourself but for your spouse and for your under age kids as well.  

Two, you will accumulate weeks toward a pension in the future.  You will need at least 1250 weeks, which represents 24 years of working for an employer
ON THE PAYROLL, to be elegible for a pension from the IMSS at age 60 or 65.

If you work 30 years as a freelance, that is wonderful, but it will not count towards a pension. You must be ON THE PAYROLL and be registered with the

Often times schools offer impressive hourly wages so that teachers choose these attractive wages over being placed on the payroll, but not all that glitters
is gold!

Some schools will tell you that you are a newcomer and that you will have to wait a year before being placed on the payroll, but who knows if you will be
around after the year is up.  Much ado about nothing. No deal!

Some schools will tell you that they only hire freelance teachers--not on the payroll.

Say thank you and keep looking. Find a school that listens to you; find a school that respects  your needs. Never settle for less!

If you are looking for a job as an English teacher, do not sell yourself short!   When you work for an employer you are not only investing  your time, you
are investing your life.
                                                                                             DEAR TRANSLATORS

A kind word to translators, especially when translating a movie.  I recently saw a translation for THANKS AS "COSAS"  
(THINGS).  Listen carefully to what is actually being said and understand the context in which it is being said.  if
someone is talking about GRATITUDE as in the movie,  it would be more logical to give THANKS than to give
THINGS. You are being grateful when you give thanks.  Again, not things.

Translating movies is a highly-paid job, but  it is very important that we
deliver.  We cannot have a SECOND movie going on in the subtitles.

Listen carefully, understand the context. . . . charge well, but deliver!
                                                   CORRECTION TECHNIQUE

There are many ways to correct our students.   Your student pronounces the word AVAILABLE wrong.  You say the word  
AVAILABLE correctly and that is all you do.  This is not a full correction.  The student will hear you say it correctly and he will be
able to recognize it later.  He now knows HOW it is pronounced, but you did not make him REPEAT the word correctly.  You must
make the student REPEAT the word AVAILABLE  WITHIN CONTEXT.  You must make him REPEAT the word within a phrase or a
statement, not only have him/her repeat the word by itself.  

Make him say I´M AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.  Make him say I´M
NOT AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.  By doing this you are
teaching the correct pronunciation of the word AVAILABLE and you are ALSO teaching CORRECT INTONATION.  Make your
student REPEAT. Make him SPEAK!

In addition, a student will remember something new if it is WITHIN CONTEXT (IF IT MAKES SENSE--IF IT HAS MEANING)

Try to go through these steps in order to teach listening, speaking,  pronunciation, intonation, and meaning- -all this in one

Many people in Mexico say that they UNDERSTAND ENGLISH quite well, but that they do not speak English.  We must make
                                                       THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD!

That language is the one your parents taught you--and they did a pretty good job of it.  You might not recall this but during the first year and a half or so you
only LISTENED, then around one or two you SPOKE.  It was until you reached school that you began to READ and then to WRITE. Not only did your parents
teach you Spanish, but they also taught you the language in the correct and logical order of the linguistic skills, PUSE, hijo/a.”  You repeated the correct
form. "Me PUSE los zapatos."

What about a
SECOND LANGUAGE in your life? If you want or need to learn a second language, follow these guidelines:
Learn the language that you need in order to communicate with the most number of natives that you will come across, that you will encounter, that you will do
business with and to be able to communicate at most places that you will be travelling to.

  • If you feel that you will be associating more with the British, study British English.
  • If you feel that you will be associating more with Americans, study American English.
  • If you feel that at your place of work, French is indispensable, learn French.
  • If you feel that you will be travelling extensively to Germany or that you would like to work for a German company, learn German.
  • If you feel that Chinese is a very important language to master, learn Chinese.

All 7000 languages around the world are beautiful, but

Yes, there are regional differences.  I have lived in cities from Quintana Roo to Chihuahua, and I have travelled all over Mexico from Mexicali to Veracruz.,
from Sinaloa to Acapulco. Yes, just as there are differences in pronunciation and intonation patterns in Mexico, the same thing occurs in the States as well.  
There are regional differences from California to New York, from Michigan to Florida, from Montana to Georgia and so on.

If Mexico is to become a bilingual country, it is very important that we leave behind misconceptions regarding the superiority of one language over the other.  
Language is a reflection of the culture of its people and just as there is no culture superior to another culture, there is no language superior to another

The language you
COMMUNICATE with in the society you live in, your native language--in this case, SPANISH, is the most beautiful--the one we should
love and cherish above all others, and we can, of course, choose to acquire other beautiful languages as well.  


We are living times of a decomposition of social values, both moral and ethical. Violence and aggression have permeated
even genres that just used to offer a good laugh or two. Soap operas which were once all romance are now stories about
criminals and how and why they became criminals,  and we are now seeing the world through their eyes from another
perspective. We may even surprise ourselves feeling empathy for the hacker, the drug lord, the con artist.

What is our role as teachers in this undeniable breakdown of social values?  As teachers, we not only teach subject areas
but we also teach through example. We are role models. In our students' yearning for guidance, they want to be like us.   If
we as teachers are aggressive and violent in any way, shape, or form in and outside the classroom, our students will
become aggressive and violent themselves. If we as teachers study the least possible only to get by and just enough to
secure employment, our students will also study as little as they can get away with if at all. If we are teachers who have an
excuse for every mistake and every failure, so will our students.  We are adults; our students are adults in the making. As
teachers we must ask ourselves every single day: what can I do to instill values in my students?  . . .Would I be proud of my
students if they became like me? Maybe I can be someone they would like to become. . .

                                                      LIFE-LONG LEARNING

It is understandable that you must obtain Teaching credentials in order to teach English in any public or private school in
Mexico.  So, you now have your Certification.  Now what?  

Keep studying!  It does not have to be at Teachers College.  Although we do offer other Certifications such as Spanish Teacher,
Translator, Preschool Teacher as well as Associate and Masters Degrees all distance-learning academic programs. Study  
wherever you wish. . .at the UNAM, at The Anglo, at International House, at Trinity College. . .  but keep studying.

To grow professionally, you must find out:    what is your next step? . . .what are your goals?  administrative?   coordination?  
entrepreneurial?  your own school?

Whatever your goals and objectives are, it is very important that you continue studying, reading, and keeping up to date on
methodologies, approaches, etc.

Study general knowledge and culture. . .art, history, geography, music, etc. All of this knowledge will help you in your life and
in the classroom and give you even more self confidence.

Studying DOES NOT END when you earn your Teaching Certificate!

Let me tell you something incredible about your MOM!  She was your first language teacher!  Assuming that you spent much
more time with your Mom than with any other member of the household, it was she who spoke to you from the day you were born.

She spoke, you listened, and listened and listened for a couple of years.  You were acquiring listening
comprehension skills.  You understood everything but you still did not speak.

At around two or two and half you started talking. . .and voilá you uttered your first words. . .mamá. . .papá.  

It was until you entered school that you were taught to read and to write.

This is how native, maternal languages are learned.  Notice the order of the four linguistic skills. First the
student listens, then repeats (speaks), then reads, and finally writes.

To master a language a student must acquire all of these skills IN THIS ORDER!

If we want Mexico to speak English, we must teach the four linguistic skills IN THIS ORDER!
Never, ever write anything on the board that your students have not heard or repeated! If you do, they will read
it with their own language. . .Spanish.  That is why we get COOLED instead of COULD (RHYMES WITH WOOD).

We barely teach listening and speaking skills.  We only teach what will be on the exam. . .reading and writing.  We must include
a couple of listening/speaking exercises--YES, ON THE EXAMS; otherwise, our students will never ever speak.  They might get
good scores on their report card, their parents might be very happy, but THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND NOR SPEAK ENGLISH.

Use the CD´s provided with your teacher´s manual.  Listening exercises are just that.  Have your students LISTEN WITH BOOKS
CLOSED.  Do not READ a listening exercise.  The goal is to develop listening skills.  

Make them talk to you, to their classmates, but MAKE THEM TALK!

I truly believe that just as your Mom did, who taught you the four linguistics skills in a natural form,  as they actually happen in
real life, we will have a country that SPEAKS ENGLISH in no time!  Let´s do

Dear Teachers,

Never ever work for FREE!  Respect your time, your effort, your dedication, and your professionalism. When your private
student cancels at the last minute, you are left empty handed.  No class. . .no cash!  Wrong!  

The class that you have already prepared is worth the fees, the cash.  When you charge let´s say 300 pesos an hour for
an English class, this fee includes—or should include—the time you spent on preparation, research, copies, other
materials, lesson planning, etc.

In other words, your English classes must be PREPAID.  You must charge at least for two lessons at once, the one you are
giving at that moment and the next one.  The fees for the third class must be deposited or paid on the second class.
From experience I can tell you that prepaid classes are
NEVER cancelled because of heavy traffic, illness, car trouble, etc.
If we as teachers of English feel worthy of respect,  we must outline the policies from the onset--from the very beginning.  
Be clear and direct.  Tell your student, “This is the way I work. I truly hope that we can have a very successful business

My time, your time, everyone´s TIME is an invaluable and unrenewable resource!

Words are powerful!  Words help us communicate, but they also send hidden messages. When a
teacher says "We are going to do an exercise/activity. It's very short". Later she might say "We are
going to listen to a conversation between two people. It'll be very short."

The word short sends very powerful messages such as: "You will not be bothered much. I do not
want to take much of your time. I am sorry to have you go through this. I could not make it any
shorter. I am so sorry!"

Do not apologize! There is nothing to be sorry about. Acquiring a second language requires effort
and lots of practice. Your students will appreciate your making them develop language skills through
exercises and activities no matter how long or how short they may seem. Do not apologize!

I would be delighted to hear from you and your own teaching experiences.

                                                                                                                                      Academic Director

When you go to a car dealership and you pay for a car,
you get the car.  When you go to Superama, you pay for
some cheese, you get the cheese.  When you go to the
neighborhood "tiendita", you pay for potato chips, you get
the chips.

When you pay for  educational services such as English
classes, Teachers´ courses, or for an evaluation of your
English level, such as TOEFL or Cambridge examinations,
you do not automatically receive passing grades, nor
diplomas nor excellent results on your exams.  You do not
instantly receive anything.  You must study, you must pass
the exams, you must demonstrate your competency.  If you
are being taught English, you must have better
pronunciation, you must have better grammar,  you must
understand more easily, you must speak more fluently,
you must read more avidly, and you must write more

If you are taking a Teacher´s  Course, you must study, you
must answer the Study Guides which are the basis for your
Final Examination.  You must read all of the Final Project
instructions carefully and follow them to the letter.  When a
student pays for a Teacher´s Course, he/she is NOT
purchasing a diploma nor a set of books and manuals.  He
is purchasing the opportunity of having a group of
professional educators at a college CERTIFY that he has
become a competent English teacher who has great
pronunciation, excellent grammar, AND professional
teaching skills. . .Something to think about.