A student of mine coined a new word in class today, he said I’m an Englishaholic. Why, of course, he’s right!
One thing which I really liked in a webinar I watched from Mike Boyle was considering which kind of text would generate more discussion in class, in a speaking activity or whatever. It is a truism of the English File and American English File coursebooks that they often bring real-life, surprising texts that engage you as a teacher or student exactly because of those qualities, and so students are moved to talk, to share their opinions.
Being very interested in many subjects, there are always some news items that catch my attention and, inevitably, I’ll have an opinion on them.
So, I’ve really been giving more thought to applying that in my teaching, and so has my girlfriend, and it’s really interesting and effective. People do open their mouths to talk on issues they care about.
This morning I saw the comments the Mayor of London, aspiring prime minister, has made, on IQs, elitism, and greed, and how we need financial inequality and I thought of writing this post.
I often tweet/tumblr/post political, social, activist, besides learning-related stuff because if the content is interesting, I’m bringing it to my students’ attention and it’s a suggestion of things they can read/study in English.
Not only do political, social, and important news, commentaries, essays, etc. generate topics for discussion, they also really give us teachers a chance to talk more about the culture we are teaching (yes, I teach culture) and to raise awareness on issues we care about, get people to think about them, and little by little provoke discussion, change, action, and much else besides.
Food for thought.
“Robert McLarty, Head of Professional Development at OUP, gives a brief introduction to the European Profiling Grid (EPG) project to help improve the quality and effectiveness of language training.
I play golf in the most average way possible. I have been at the same level of golf since I left school around forty years ago. If I were learning English, my teacher would already have placed me right in the middle of the intermediate plateau. Luckily, golf is only a hobby so I don’t have to justify my level to anyone but myself.
Language teachers, on the other hand, have always found it hard to assess themselves. For a long time we have had the debate about native speakers as opposed to non-native speakers. Then there have been disputes as to whether knowledge of the language or ability to illustrate that knowledge and pass it on is the more important skill.
There are a number of initial teaching qualifications for language teachers, others for more experienced ones, and then a wide range of post-graduate qualifications. But how much do they improve the quality of someone’s teaching? Experience seems valued until the teacher has been somewhere too long; inexperience is valued because it is usually added to with zest and vigour. But there is always a question mark over the rookie teacher, despite the fact that they innovate without meaning to and often bring genuine passion to the classroom.
Within teaching establishments there is usually a wide range of teacher profiles with a completely individual mix of talents and qualities, strengths and occasional weaknesses. That is what’s so engaging about language teaching – but it also brings its own risk. Other professions can increase the value and the price of their service simply by having a linear progression of qualifications. This will never work for education. There are too many other factors to take into consideration.
So, when a school claims that their teaching staff is qualified and experienced, what does this mean? Does it necessarily add value? Why are they better than the competition or better than the new school, which is lowering its prices but offering the same level of service?”
Three different videos of the same classic 1962 song.
And here are the lyrics…