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Losing interest in creating interest
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:33 pm    Post subject: Losing interest in creating interest Reply with quote

I just had two girls complain about my lesson; this is a reoccurring theme to which I get really antsy about. For one, this lesson was a free trial lesson - this wasn't right, that wasn't right etc..

I spend a little bit of effort in creating interesting lessons that go beyond the standard ESL language course books, to create a class that communicates with each other, thus encouraging the use of the language. This is met with, 'you didn't use the book teacher, you should use the book.'

Next lesson the book. 'Teacher, why do you teach us just grammar, we want to speak English?'

Buggered if you do, buggered if you don't.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Losing interest in creating interest Reply with quote

vabeckele wrote:
'you didn't use the book teacher, you should use the book.'


I had the same problem when I taught at a community college in Texas. Adults are the same as little kids. They think if they only finish that book, the will be able to move on to the next level and learn English.

What I did was use the book and then with some extra time midway through the class or towards the end of the class, I would have other activities which would focus on speaking. This way the book was used AND they were learning how to speak.

Apply the Differentiated Instruction to the class.
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inhanoi



Joined: 22 Oct 2011
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unbelievable.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:18 am    Post subject: Re: Losing interest in creating interest Reply with quote

EFLeducator wrote:


They think if they only finish that book, the will be able to move on to the next level and learn English.



Yes, that is another trait I have seen, a 14 year old will have already moved up through all the levels of a series of ESL courses up to advanced only to be able to mutter, 'I go take with friend go to football'.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:38 am    Post subject: Re: Losing interest in creating interest Reply with quote

vabeckele wrote:
EFLeducator wrote:


They think if they only finish that book, the will be able to move on to the next level and learn English.



Yes, that is another trait I have seen, a 14 year old will have already moved up through all the levels of a series of ESL courses up to advanced only to be able to mutter, 'I go take with friend go to football'.


Right! They need to book but they also need to practice.
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DNK



Joined: 22 Jan 2007
Posts: 236
Location: the South

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the list of things they need and need to do is quite long, and the time they have to do it is quite short since their parents are shuttling them from one class to the next 24/7 without much of a break or chance to actually study. I'm guessing the parents are just betting on quantity over quality since the latter's missing completely here.

But, yeah, in a group of 15 there's always going to be a few who will complain about anything - sometimes the same problematic few, sometimes different ones for each thing. You can't please 15 individuals all the time, so best to open it up for a class discussion and let the complainers argue with each other as you sit back. Good use of 10 mins if you're having one of "those" classes, and you'll get a feel for what's actually desired by most of the students so you can adjust properly.

At some point, they are the ones paying you, so you just have to do what they want if they want it badly enough. Is there a career out there where that isn't the case?
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Kimmy



Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, this seems to be quite common here. There will always be some kind of discontentment amongst some students in the classroom. Foreign teachers have a difficult task in presenting lessons to a culture that is, in most cases, used to passive learning. Being taught painstakingly difficult grammar by the local teachers has soiled natural speaking and listening potential of learners here. Learners think too much about grammar rules and therefore make many writing and speaking errors. The local teachers seldom speak English to their students. Grammar rules are explained in Vietnamese.

If you have a group of learners who are willing to LISTEN to the foreign teacher and participate in speaking activities then maybe some postive progress could be achieved. It is disheartening to know that dedicated teachers put in the effort to present a lesson to students who clearly just want the lesson done their way. It really should be about what these learners need....not want.

Many hardworking teachers have left Vietnam because of frustation and disappointment vowing never to return. What does a newborn do for the year of its life? Listen,,,,listen ,,,and listen..and then ......well we all know what the result is. We just have to convince our discontent learners to open their ears. CHEERS BIG EARS
Very Happy
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Oh My God



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 269

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Losing interest in creating interest Reply with quote

vabeckele wrote:
I just had two girls complain about my lesson; this is a reoccurring theme to which I get really antsy about. For one, this lesson was a free trial lesson - this wasn't right, that wasn't right etc..

I spend a little bit of effort in creating interesting lessons that go beyond the standard ESL language course books, to create a class that communicates with each other, thus encouraging the use of the language. This is met with, 'you didn't use the book teacher, you should use the book.'

Next lesson the book. 'Teacher, why do you teach us just grammar, we want to speak English?'

Buggered if you do, buggered if you don't.


Sounds like you could use some R&R. Might I suggest Mui Ne?

Getting burnt-out is all too common where "Edutainment is King" in almost all of VN. Almost all Teachers are serious people or they'd be crappy teachers, BUT being creative, happy, and positive allows yourself to explore different methodologies as well as making some up of your own.

Keeping an edge is a constant battle BUT one well worth the effort.

GO CREATE!!!
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8balldeluxe



Joined: 03 Jun 2009
Posts: 64
Location: vietnam

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you should look at the situation like that. It is not an either or situation, where the book means teaching grammar and you as a person are teaching the class to communicate together. Look at what is really going on, the book is a non-stop attempt to set up communication whether the students like it or not. It tries with all sorts of exercises and lessons to have students 'communicate' to solve the lessons in the books. That is what 'student A go to page 135, which student B go to page 136 and ask each other what you will do on your holiday. " is . It does not work either. It is tedious , boring and students are not in a real conversation. It would be better to have a basic fill in the blank grammar book than some colorful book telling them how to talk.
Thats what pairwork , and surveys and role play and all that other boring stuff in the book is. It is a way to try and have "real-life" conversation. Learn by doin etc. But it does not work. so much so that you as a teacher think you are using communicative lessons by deviating from the book.
your real problem is students here do not want to talk with each other in English. They want to read, and listen and when they write answers in the book they don't want to write words in the blanks, just " a-1,,, b, 3, c. 2 d. 4 etc . the books are made from communicative methods and they do not work in all cultures. there is no way curriculum specialists can write a book on the other side of the world and use it properly here. Speaking is the last thing students should develop when learning a language. When they speak together in class all they are doing is hearing each other's mistakes. you cant learn from another student's mistakes.
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snollygoster



Joined: 04 Jun 2009
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:21 am    Post subject: The door Reply with quote

Thought long and hard about putting my bit in here- Lets wait for the criticisms.

Students who dont want to do what they are there for will complain, and usually school management protect their dollars over their teachers. So no matter what happens, its YOUR fault.

It has taken me years to come up with a strategy for this problem, and I have had some success, so take my advice if you will, and if you prefer to rubbish it-then all I can say is it works for me.

Point to the door and say
"Thats the door- you can leave anytime you wish- I am not forcing you to stay if you dont like the way I do my lessons. I will write here on the day's follow- on sheet that you have made a complaint. If you want to complain to the management, I will write my name clearly on this piece of paper so you can be sure to get it right when you complain. Please take this piece of paper to the manager and make your complaint. If you wait until the end of the class, I will go with you."

Since I have started using this method, (5 years ago) not one has gone through with their complaint.

Sorry, but I can not agree with some of the observations made by other posters in this thread, but that's my perception and it works for me.
"Speaking is the last thing students should develop when learning a language."
When we were children, we learnt our native language by 1. Listening, 2 speaking, 3 readinmg, 4 writing. So I disagree speaking is the last component. Speak before read and write.
"you cant learn from another student's mistakes"Yes you can if the class is cooperative, and teacher facilitates-If we dont make mistakes, we dont nmeed to be there-right?
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 770

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:01 am    Post subject: love that ATTITUDE! Reply with quote

I love that attitude:

Quote:
Thats the door- you can leave anytime you wish- I am not forcing you to stay if you dont like the way I do my lessons


I am assuming you don't use it flippantly, by the nature of your post, I think you are serious and plan what you do.

I also think that anyone who has the freedom to have this attitude must also have the freedom to turn that same logic directly on his employer. They gotta know you operate like this, and so they have to give you the freedom to run your class like your own little world, is this right? I think that is somewhat rare here, at least in the better schools, maybe more likely in the lower tier schools. What is your take on this?

As they are passive learners, I find them to be somewhat passive on complaining as well, especially to the foreign teacher. I guess it depends on the school and age and region, but don't they normally just sit there and hate it and then go complain in VN to the admin downstairs?

I do love your attitude, and would like to know more about how you operate generally. If I were to suggest to all new teachers how to operate, I would take a page from your book. Unfortunately, very few of us seem to have the freedom to work this way. Anyway, I will say, I have found it VERY empowering to have the financial freedom to leave a job behind. Yeah, I know times are tough, but I also know that the interest a better foreigner can get over here for work is exponentially higher than in the west. A skilled foreigner can send out 200 resumes in the states and get maybe 1 response (or that was the case at worst of the recession, maybe it is not quite so bad now). Here, he might get a 30% response rate or more. You can see the difference in our possibilities, if you are able to do good work, you can easily find a job. I think we should all approach it with this in mind. No, we do not need to constantly remind them that we can go across the street and start over, but we do need to let them know when it gets stupid that their stupid processes will be the deciding factor for us to leave or stay. They almost all seem to operate without thought for what is best for the long term outcomes of their students and their businesses, I guess we have to realize they have never learned those kinds of lessons themselves, and where would you, over here?

By the way, this kind of approach means you keep enough money in reserve to be able to live without work for a while, which should be a standard for all of us. Anyone who cannot survive without his next couple of paydays is courting disaster anyways. In those cases, it is obvious who is empowered, and it is not the teacher.
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inhanoi



Joined: 22 Oct 2011
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I've written several times in the past, people can create any persona they want on here. "I did this, I say, that, blah blah blah." It is disingenuous to make things up, or exaggerate, thereby causing others to think that they can emulate what they've read here. When in fact it's bs, and if they try to do it they'll get into trouble.
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DNK



Joined: 22 Jan 2007
Posts: 236
Location: the South

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can understand wanting to put off a focus on the speaking skill until more of an intermediate level for the sake of construction mistakes, however it's not the grammar so much that needs focusing on at beginner adult levels but rather the pronunciation and godawful intonation issues. Listening to native speakers and trying to emulate, with proper native oversight and correction, seems to be the best way to go about that (though, yes, they'll still end up emulating other students' mistakes as well, which is unavoidable in any classroom setting). There's little reason to delay that process, since then they just end up as moderately competent grammar/phrasing students with indecipherable speech at the intermediate level.

I have to deal with some of these students who have intermediate or upper intermediate vocabularies and grammar knowledge and fairly coherent writing yet whose speech is just miserable to listen to (though most seem to be somewhat competent in pronunciation). They want to do test prep, but despite moderately good sentence structure and lexical usage, I can't understand half their sentences due to accent and bizarre tonal/stress patterns (and I'm well practiced in listening to VNese sentences - imagine your average native speaker who's never heard this "English" before: Laughing to Shocked). And at the test prep phase, pronunciation gets dropped as a focus by teachers/programs in favor of improving grammar use, phrasing, and vocabulary, so what do they do then (listening and solo practice with a recorder, basically)? And how well can they do on any of the major tests in speaking when the examiners can't understand half of what they say - as grammatically coherent as it may or may not be?

In elementary level courses, teachers really need to focus on improving certain individual sounds (the 'th's, dj's, j's, long vowels, and complex consonant like kts or kst, etc) and ironing out the VNese intonation into something approaching "smooth" and "unobtrusive" for speaking. If the focus is on grammar and phrasing, then they're doing it wrong. That's a side issue that's -imo- better dealt with in writing exercises since the students need to have mistakes outlined and explained clearly and slowly, and that's hard to do in a speaking context with weaker students (read: all students not at an intermediate level at least).

Phrasing isn't the issue with early speakers - they just lack the exposure to REAL English to get it right, and much of our job there is correcting the public school system's systemic mistakes and getting them to create new habits (which of course can also be practiced in any controlled speaking activity). The main issue is pronunciation. For that, they don't need "real" conversations to improve. On the contrary, they need simple conversations where they can spend more time practicing pronunciation and intonation rather than worrying about crafting complicated grammar (again, writing is better for that at this level, imo). Practicing the structures simply and repetitively is about the only thing they CAN do at the elementary level with any success (ie, the book dialogs), and in the pre-intermediate level they can push for more complex conversations and independent presentations/monologues, but even then their weak phrasing and grammar is going to get in the way for all but the strongest students. And for that, well, they have test prep courses and independent study and exposure and all the rest of their English learning courses.

And let's also note that if they don't do the speaking activities and only write "A" or "2" in the blanks and rarely do homework outside of class, well, when are they going to practice anything they've learned exactly? A lot of general English students just can't be bothered to study it seems, despite whatever carrots or sticks you offer them (kids: no time; adults: no effort/energy). They NEED in-class speaking practice because otherwise they will retain ~nada.

I really welcome any critiques of this perspective, btw.
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snollygoster



Joined: 04 Jun 2009
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:32 am    Post subject: bs v Its a fact Reply with quote

"in fact it's bs, and if they try to do it they'll get into trouble".

You know that for a fact? You quote it as "fact". As I said- works for me-maybe wont work for those who don't know how to handle the situation or don't have the self confidence to take control. Maybe something about having the respect of the students and management too.

Anyway-it works for me, and I could care less if you think its "bs". Try it before you rubbish it.

"Real" schools want their students to progress and aren't bogged down with their tantrums over their own personal inadequacies-so they will be supportive if you are getting results.

If you'd like some lessons in class control and management- pm me.
Not free by the way.
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Kimmy



Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will keep it short and sweet because I don't want to a be a bore. What Snolly has written is a breath of fresh air. At the end of the day....Who is the teacher?

And for speaking sakes.........Teacher Facilitates. End of story. Cheers
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