Sponge Chats – Teacher Training and Materials Writing with Cecilia Nobre

This blog post is part of the Sponge Chats video series.

In this Sponge Chat, I had the pleasure to sit down with trainer and materials writer Cecilia Nobre. Most of you have most likely encountered Cecilia online in one of her webinars, or some of her materials on her Freeed blog.

Cecilia was kind enough to share her journey from teaching to training and some of her challenges that she has faced along the way. We spent quite a bit a time looking at her experience as a non-native female teacher working in an industry that more often than not places more value on teachers being native, and how she has dealt with many of the negative consequences.

Cecilia also spoke about her experience on the OUP/Joh Hughes materials writing course as well as the iTDP Meaningful Action course with Scott Thornbury.

Cecilia’s book recommendations

Reflective Practice – Mann and Walsh

Meaningful Action – Arnold and Murphey

I hope that you find this Sponge Chat interesting and useful. I had a great time chatting with Cecilia and I look forward to the next time we get to sit down together. If you do like this Sponge Chat, please remember to give us a like on YouTube or Spotify – and don’t forget to subscribe!


  1. Hana Tichá says:

    Some really interesting stuff you discuss in the video. What spoke to me most was the part where you talk about the challenges of being a female/non-native in the ELT industry – the part where you share the story of a non-native teacher who changed her name in order to hide her true identity and where Cecilia adds that it’s a really cruel battle. This reminded me of an article I’ve recently read in which the author discusses similar ‘strategies’ that have been around for ages in all walks of life. She mentions the example of people only using initials as a substitute for the first and middle names in the hope of hiding/exposing their status or gender. So, it’s nothing new under the sun, unfortunately. Anyway, thanks for doing and sharing this interview.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Hana for both watching and your comments.

      It is a cruel battle and something we as an industry still need to do something about. Much is being done, but the standard rhetoric and disempowerment still holds true, unfortunately. There is no simply answer but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to seek one. Part of me hopes that talks such as these, and comments such as those from Cecilia, help raise teachers’ awareness of the issue and encourage not only NNESTs to take up the fight and stand up for themselves (even though they shouldn’t have to!) but also change the perspectives of those who feel that the native-non-native dichotomy is ‘fine’ and are happy to exploit it for economical gain (school owners) or to advance their careers (native teachers being chosen over non-native simply for their nativeness).

      Even using the terms NEST and NNEST is a little annoying for me – I much prefer the quadrant classification for teacher identity as laid out by Ali Fuad Selvi (2019). The emphasis in this model is on professional competence (i.e. knowledge to be an effective language teacher) and language proficiency. An interesting read if you have the time 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Cecilia Nobre says:

    Thanks for your comment, Hana. I’ve read different stories of NNESTs changing their names in order to find better job opportunities in ELT. I myself have a similar story, I got divorced and my ex-husband is English. One of the reasons I decided to keep his last name on my full name is the fact it sounds more welcoming in ELT than “Nobre” ( so you will find Cecilia Griffiths somewhere, that’s me). Even though I love my surname Nobre, which comes from my mother’s side, I decided to keep Griffiths for convenience. No one can blame me.

    Liked by 1 person

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