Some “Spicy” Principles for Language Teachers
Layers of the Onion

DougBrown_2013H. Douglas Brown

How is an onion like a language learner? Think about the makeup of onions, used globally in almost every cuisine. On the outside, an onion looks like a single entity. Its skin comes in attractive colors—red, brown, yellow, white, and even purple! On the inside, it can be everything from zesty to spicy to mild. And on all those insides is an intricate, finely woven, tightly meshed set of layered compartments. Get the picture?

Good, so perhaps you can see a vivid metaphor here. Learners have skins of many colors, and they have thick skins and thin skins, so to speak. They also have layers of personality and learning styles that are not always easy to discern from the outside. They have varieties of “smartness” that might not be immediately perceived. Continue reading

Better Mousetraps for English Language Teaching?*
A Look Back at 50 Years of English Language Teaching

DougBrown_2013H. Douglas Brown

Do you ever look at all the books, courses, methods, and techniques in our English teaching profession and get overwhelmed? Does it seem like every year there’s a new “invention” for teaching in the classroom, one that promises to work better than an existing one? Just when you get a confident grasp of the existing landscape?

Remember the old adage, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Build a better mousetrap, and the whole world will beat a path to your door.” Do we have better mousetraps in TESOL today than we did five decades ago? Let’s take a look back. Continue reading