My name is Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe and I am a teacher, international teacher educator, and ELT consultant based in Toronto, Canada. I am writing this blog to connect with interesting people around the world, share what I have learned in my career, and to discuss the fascinating process of affective language learning with young learners.
I have been teaching English affectively to children since 1994, when my sister Sosô and I founded our own language school for young learners. Children learn English through stories, games, puppeering, and play while educators help them to say what they would like in English. Our school is called Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo and it is located in São Paulo, Brazil.
I have a Bachelors degree in Pedagogy from the Catholic University in São Paulo (PUC-SP) and an MBA from Insper in São Paulo. I also hold a Masters in Education in Human Development and Applied Psychology from OISE at the University of Toronto.
During my Masters I was able to learn more about childhood themes that intrigued me such as self-esteem, motivation, student engagement, holism, democracy, and discipline. I naturally dedicated myself to discovering a lot of what has been published in the intersection of children, affect, learning, and foreign languages.
In my journey I have not only become a better person and educator, but also become a storyteller and a puppeteer.
I started my career at the age of eighteen when I was trained and hired as an English teacher at a language school called Seven in São Paulo, Brazil. At Seven, I taught children, teens, and adults and Seven's communicative methodology is certainly a cornerstone of what came to be the affective language acquisition methodology we developed at Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo.
My interest and curiosity about the integration of emotions and learning led me to attend the conferences and to become a member of SEAL (Society for Effective Affective Learning), where I met educators from all over the world concerned with how learning happened. These people I met took me to the International Self-esteem Conference that happened in San Francisco, where I was nominated one of the representatives of the International Council on Self-Esteem (ICSE) in Brazil. In Buenos Aires, in the following year I became certified as a self-esteem facilitator by the ICSE.
My friendship with Mario Rinvolucri led me to Pilgrims in Canterbury, where I attended Pilgrims' 25th anniversary, I returned to Pilgrims the following year as a guest in the teacher development sessions. I have written two articles for the Humanizing Language Teaching Magazine, which is Pilgrim's magazine.
At Pilgrims I met Bernard Dufeu, a French educator, who created and developed an intricate and revolutionary method for language learning called Linguistic Psychodrama. Linguistic Psychodrama that has a lot in common with the holistic language acquisition methodology that we developed at Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo. In 2009, I had the chance to meet Bernard again at his house in Germany, where he and his wife Marie kindly hosted me for three days to share more about their Linguistic Psychodrama (LPD).
After having accepted to teach students with dyslexia at school, I took the basic certificate in dyslexia at the Brazilian Dyslexia Association in order to understand better dyslexia and to develop the most appropriate pedagogy for children with dyslexia to learn English in an effective and affective way. I became a regular speaker sharing my experience in their certificate courses.
Since 2005 I have been mentored by Fátima Freire Dowbor, who supervises our pedagogic work at school and has guided us to deal with the pedagogical dilemmas we face while directing the school together with all the staff.
I consider Fátima to be one of the most brilliant educators in the area of affective learning, as she has developed her own transformative pedagogy, having continued and being inspired by the work of her parents Elza and Paulo Freire, two of the greatest Brazilian educators.
During the month of May in 2013 I took the CELTA training at EC Languages in Toronto and obtained a pass B Certificate. Taking the CELTA was a very intensive experience that allowed to revisit, refine, and reflect upon my learning beliefs, classroom management skills, and planning procedures. I am very happy that I was able to transfer/adapt a great number of concepts and techniques to my affective language learning methodology.
I took the CELTA extension for Young Learners in Istanbul during August of 2014 and had the experience of teaching children who didn't know any English and with whom I did not share a language. I intend to take the DELTA certificate.
The international teacher educator
I have been a teacher educator since the very beginning of my school when I first started employing teachers at my school in São Paulo, Brazil. I have selected, provided initial training, observed them, and then worked with the group in both individual and group meetings. I had this role for over 15 years until I prepared coordinators to assist and educate our language educators with everything they need to educate children affectively.
Spain is a country that I have had the chance to visit twice as a international teacher educator. I have given courses and full certificates in three language schools in the cities of Gijón, Granada, and Jerez. It is always very exciting to see how the Spanish culture blends with the humanistic techniques.
I will certainly return to Spain as there is a possibility that I might move to Madrid in the future.
In France I was a keynote speaker at the TESOL France Special day on Young Learners in 2014. It was very rewarding to have a room full of lively teachers during a Saturday morning dancing and comparing affective language learning to Pharrell Williams' "Happy" song.
Look forward to going back to France to give a full certificate in 2016.
More news to come very soon!
In Turkey I had the privilege to be with a lively group of Algerian teachers in the city of Konya where I taught the Certificate in Teaching Skills with SELT Academy. This course prepared these teachers to be with primary learners in the public school system in Turkey.
It was very rewarding to see the participants gain skills and confidence for their future work. I made good friends, had the chance to learn some Arabic, and now I look forward to being back with them in Algeria.
I was in Armenia twice sharing my passion for affective language learning. The first time I gave a full-week course at the Russian-Slavonic University to teachers and students as well as a workshop at the American University of Armenia. The second time I facilitated six affective learning workshops at PASS in Yerevan.
In both times it was beautiful to see how Armenian teachers were open to new concepts and how they are bringing change to the educational system.
In Iran I was with the motivated and well-prepared teachers at the Hermes Institute of Science and Technology in both Tehran and Shiraz. It was my first time with a big group of female teachers in a muslim country and I was surprised to see their energetic and enthusiastic participation.
I also had the amazing experience of living Iranian hospitality, travelling around the country, and making great friends. Look forward to going back!
In Japan I gave professional development workshops at the Gifu, Nagoya, and Nagano JALT regional chapters. During the workshops teachers explored and discussed the benefits and characteristics of affective language learning as well as practicing storytelling and puppeteering. Many teachers became puppeteachers after they created, built, and manipulated their very own puppets.
I am very happy when teachers share how their students have been more involved in learning after they started using many of the postures and practices they learned. I am a true fan of Japan!
The storyteller and puppeteer
In 2003, I flew to historic Jonesboro in Tennessee to take part in the traditional International Jonesboro Storytelling Festival, where I met amazing storytellers from all over the world, listened to their souls, and enhanced my storytelling repertoire. I enjoy telling stories, specially with the big books, and I have performed at schools, bookshops, public squares, among others.
In my trips to Japan in 2013 and 2014 I had the privilege of presenting my very own show to two very large groups of children aged 3 to 5 at the lovely Hanazono kindergarten in Gifu. these four shows were an unforgettable experience to see all those young children enjoying the show, answering my questions, and laughing out loud!
At the end these very young children sang a thank you song, danced for me, and gave me a medal they had drawn.
During June 2010 I was immersed in the rich world of puppeteeering as I took the two-week intensive course at the Toronto School of Puppetry with the Puppetmongers. Ann and David Powell shared the rich traditions of puppeteering around the world, the different types of puppets, the challenges in manipulating them, and the various processes of bringing them to life. After this inspiring course I went to the Puppets Up Festival to meet fellow puppeteers, watch their work, and discover their secrets.
If you have seen me at a conference or at an event, you certainly have noticed that Buddy the frog follows me everywhere around the world. He is a great companion, who has helped immensely with making friends, teaching English, and showing interesting places to children all over the world.
I continue researching about puppets in language learning, getting my book ready, and sketching a series of videos on affective language learning
I hope to meet you in a congress or in a course I am taking or giving around the world. Of course, we can always meet for a cup of tea.
Thank you for reading my long and wordy story!
I'd love to hear about you and your journey. Friend me on social media and let's talk!
Sending you a big hug,