This article places the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language in its cultural contexts: the culture of the native speaker of English on the one hand and that of the learner on the other. The tension which arises when the two cultures come into contact is examined in both the social and the classroom contexts. It is assumed that an ethno-centric response to the tension makes learning more difficult and that the native-speaker teacher would do well to recognize the international status of English and to work from local varieties of English. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in.
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He was for many years a teacher and teacher-trainer with the British Council. He also runs English literature courses for Spanish teachers. In comparison, sitting in a cozy library all day, smelling old books rather than fresh fish seemed like paradise. But it was not to be. My significant others decided I should be a lawyer probably because I was a theatrical type and liked to make dramatic speeches in front of an audience and I too quite liked the idea. I had no plan to teach English on graduating but intended to take up another career which I had always been in love with: the theatre.
So, as you can see teaching was not what I wanted to be when I grew up ELT in was blissfully simple. Chalk, talk and textbook. If today we have a variety of approaches, methods and techniques which clamour for attention, all based on variations of PPP Presentation, Practice, Production, in any order!
Most of the time was taken up asking lots of comprehension questions. The Direct Method and the Audio-lingual approach reigned supreme so the students did sometimes get the chance to do controlled practice in the form of drills. So there was sometimes PP: Presentation and Practice - of a limited kind. The third P - Production, during which learners get to use language more freely or even communicatively, was even more limited and often non-existent.
It was a thing of the future. One size fitted all. In the early days of my ELT career the native-speakers - even the backpacking variety — was a mythical awesome figure: he or she was looked upon as the fount of all wisdom and the ultimate arbiter of what was right or wrong in matters of the English language.
At one frontisterion at which I had applied for a teaching job I was turned down because my name was Greek. In the classroom, the role of the native speaker was usually to provide fluency or conversation practice native speakers were not trusted to explain grammar; they had little idea what it was; Greek teachers were the experts in that sphere. Naturally, things have changed since my antediluvian appearance on the ELT scene. There is huge variety in what we teach and how we teach. Many of us were taught foreign languages with various versions of grammar translation and the younger ones may have been exposed to aspects of the direct method and audio-lingual approach which I referred to above.
The way we were taught will always leave a trace in what we do in class, even subliminally, but the massive training and investment in foreign languages of the last 40 years, in our globalised, market-driven world has had an impact on all of us in the ELT profession. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. I would have liked to have adopted a more learner-centred approach, where students engaged in more creative tasks and projects.
My teaching was too textbook- and teacher- centred. I would have liked to see the students participating more and even performing more.
I would have liked the language school to be more of a proper school, in the educational sense. I agree absolutely that building good rapport in the classroom is fundamental to effective second language acquisition. The issue of meaningful relationships is inseparable from building self-esteem in our students. Training and constant teacher development can definitely have an impact on interpersonal skills in the classroom.
The process of creating and maintaining meaningful relationships with students requires that we first observe how successful teachers achieve this aim, analyse and break down the process into trainable chunks and then integrate these teacher behaviours into a coherent training and development programme. Videos, films and transcripts of actual teachers in action doing rapport well and badly are useful raw material in this respect. Of course. I think I feel embarrassed or insecure when I am unprepared in any way and so produce a bad lesson - the students feel it and I can see they are getting bored and their attention is wandering.
The other source of insecurity is when I fail to engage the interest of the learners. Routine has its advantages but certainly one danger is that when we repeat something which seems to work well or offers easy solutions we lose the will to experiment and to be engaging.
So if you normally stand at the front of the class, try standing at the back. If you begin with a listening task try beginning with a group speaking activity and so on. These boundaries will differ with different teacher-styles and the huge diversity of contexts we are faced with. Market forces will rule supreme, as they do not to some extent. For example, whenever I speak to a Chinese, Russian or Uzbek person we both just switch on our device and we speak in our own language and hear the foreign language of our interlocutor translated into our own language.
No chalk, talk and textbook. No flipped classrooms. Sans desks, sans teeth, sans exams, sans everything. The idea that testing holds a major role in language teaching and learning practices is nothing but knew. It can He spent over a decade at International House Milan.
Chris is based in Seville at ELI language academy. Did you always want to become a teacher? What was the situation in ELT when you started teaching? Has teaching changed or do we still teach the way we were taught? How difficult is it to change?
If you could go back what would you change in your teaching? The bedrock of more effective and efficient instruction is setting and maintaining meaningful relationships with students. Do teachers know how to do it? Have you ever felt embarrassed or insecure in the classroom? What are the appropriate teacher-student boundaries? How do you see ELT in say…10 years from now?
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