Two of the articles in issue 79 of ETp begin by pointing out the emphasis placed by most teacher training courses on lesson planning and clearly-defined teaching and learning objectives. Whilst acknowledging that it is important to know what we want to achieve in a lesson, both contributors then go on to stress the equal importance of allowing and encouraging an element of spontaneity – Alan Marsh with respect to setting up communicative speaking activities which don’t act merely as a form of language drill, and Lisette Allen in terms of being capable of improvising when our carefully-laid plans don’t turn out quite as we expected.

Richard Gallen finds the spontaneous teacher talk he hears in his own Spanish classes to be a valuable source of linguistic input. He recommends that we highlight the unplanned language that we use naturally in the classroom when chatting to our students, explaining things or giving instructions so that they can use it as a model and an additional resource.

Another subject that several contributors address is that of stress. Ana Lía Passarotto identifies some of the stress-inducing demands that are placed on teachers and acknowledges how difficult it is to achieve a sensible work–life balance. Rose Senior and Nick Fletcher both have advice for teachers suffering from anxiety on how to cope with the pressures they are under. Chris Roland’s ‘micro-mechanics’ technique – for breaking down problems (and tasks) into smaller increments to make the issues clearer and easier to deal with – is one way that teachers might improve their own lot as well as achieving the objectives they set for their classes.