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Often overlooked aspects of lesson obs in EFL. And hamsters
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hamsters are telling us how to teach ?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just one. The Fluffy one...see pp. 1-10.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I'm not telling anyone how to teach, merely pointing out that for me personally, CELTA-like methods have never constituted best practice in language teaching let alone language learning (though they are of course better than nothing in the short term for wannabe teachers short of prep time but somehow with a full schedule already).

Sasha, HLJHLJ has pretty much covered what I meant regarding IELTS. I can't say I've taught that many exam prep classes (thankfully), but I do recall situations like the following: "Fluffyhamster-sensei, this is Miss Tanakakaka Stuttering-Wallflower, who we've graded as level 1 on our 87-level learner scale, and her ambition is to attend Oxbridge for ultimately a PhD/become Chairwoman of IBM/be the first Japanese woman on the moon. We trust that with the very expensive one hour bi-monthly she is devoting to her private 1-to-1 studies at our school, she will be able to realize her ambitions and more! Good luck, and ganbatte ne!".

Sasha wrote:
So far, all we can ascertain is that you think learning should be only in classrooms with pairs, and done when learners have already managed to get over the hardest parts on their own. Not too convincing so far, if I may say so.

Has it occurred to you that you could be describing a typical CELTA class there? "Look, you sort of know this stuff already, so why don't you just get into pairs or small groups and practise the language points among yourselves while I try not to nod off?". I'm not actually much in favour of classrooms at all, as again I believe that a good bilingual book plus audio(-visual) covers pretty much all that (in fact, more than) the average classroom might, but only might, do. Frankly, I think that general English lessons are a bit of a rip-off, but I can see how they might for some provide a bit of nebulous motivation and "conversation partners", especially in countries where the language being studied isn't spoken widely enough (but then, why the rush to "converse"?).

Hmm, maybe I just got lucky when I bought my first ever Chinese course (as I mentioned before, Routledge's excellent original edition of Colloquial Chinese by T'ung & Pollard, not the far inferior subsequent edition by Kan Qian ("See the money"? LOL)), as I found it taught the spoken language rather well, but hey, one soon develops an eye for quality when one is shopping for oneself (which is what I'm ultimately doing even when it's ELT and linguistics stuff that I'm getting).
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
Sasha wrote:
So far, all we can ascertain is that you think learning should be only in classrooms with pairs, and done when learners have already managed to get over the hardest parts on their own. Not too convincing so far, if I may say so.

Has it occurred to you that you could be describing a typical CELTA class there? "Look, you sort of know this stuff already, so why don't you just get into pairs or small groups and practise the language points among yourselves while I try not to nod off?".

I hardly think that is a fair representation of what Celta trained teachers do or what a Ďtypicalí class is.

I admire people with the capacity to find the resources they need to go about learning a language on their own. It can be done; my father did it Ė not through an external need and not even through being highly motivated, but simply because languages were one of his true interests.

I donít know what percentage of English language learners are truly interested in learning English. Iíll hazard a guess and say itís not high given the almost compulsory nature of it. People enrol themselves or are enrolled in courses they may or may not particularly want to do. Itís really a means to an end for something else (studies/employment) in many cases, and so teachers have to deal with any resentment or lack of motivation that might come from that. Of course many learners have a great attitude and are a pleasure to teach.

Motivation and ability to keep on with learning so often comes from the interactions in a classroom. Iíve seen that from both sides Ė as a teacher and as a language learner myself. I think this is true of many different types of learning situations Ė not just languages. And very often people in classes actually enjoy meeting and getting to know each other. A lot of friendships are made that way and if itís a multi-lingual class, a lot of language learning continues on because of that.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, that's not a typical Celta class at all, as I understand it.

Anyway, yet again, while your disdain for and dismissal of Celta methodology is apparent enough, you are fairly obscure about what you think should replace it. Are you seriously saying that a teach-yourself book with some audio examples is all that learners really need or should want? It may have worked for you and some other linguistically talented people like Artemisia's dad, but it simply doesn't work for the vast majority of learners. They want and need a classroom environment, even if you don't believe in it yourself. (And holding that view as a teacher, frankly, could be construed as being every bit as much of a rip-off as Miss Tanakakaka's situation.)

As for her IELTS class, yes of course she has unrealistic expectations, probably made worse by slick school marketing, but the fact remains that if she wants to take the test and get some prep lessons beforehand, then there's nothing wrong with us teaching her something. The test is still open to her. Unless you have personally guaranteed that she'll achieve her unreachable target, I don't see the problem.
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Sashadroogie



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On second thoughts!!! Just found this clip - perhaps this could be adapted for an English lesson. A musical one. Or maybe not too musical : )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLIZnfaWQqo
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So that isn't a typical CELTA class, even though it at least half-describes the speed-dating clip. Right, right. Laughing Cool

@Artemisia: I'd say that ongoing motivation will mainly come from a feeling of progress, that one is understanding and cracking the nuts and bolts of how the foreign language construes the world and expresses fundamental meanings. How likely is this in classrooms where the often back-of-a-napkin and very tentative explanations ("Sorry, I've only just studied or refreshed on this stuff myself! 'I'll answer your questions in the next class' - gee, what sage advice from my trainers!") are muddied yet further by being delivered in the L2 only, and where the qualitative (genuinely authentic etc) let alone quantitative input (wide-ranging enough etc) may be lacking.


Sasha wrote:
Are you seriously saying that a teach-yourself book with some audio examples is all that learners really need or should want? It may have worked for you and some other linguistically talented people like Artemisia's dad, but it simply doesn't work for the vast majority of learners. They want and need a classroom environment, even if you don't believe in it yourself. (And holding that view as a teacher, frankly, could be construed as being every bit as much of a rip-off as Miss Tanakakaka's situation.)

No, but it will provide an excellent start (though exactly how much so depends obviously on the quality of the materials), and one doesn't need to be linguistically-talented: becoming a bit of a linguist (in the traditional polyglot sense - "a person skilled in languages rather than in linguistics per se") is the result of completing such courses, not a precondition (one has to start somewhere, after all!).

I'd also question what you mean by 'doesn't work' - as if classrooms work so well. I thought the opposite was true, or at least a truism - that in classrooms the drop-out rate is often high, that learners plateau and stagnate unless they do a lot more studying by themselves (=the teacher wanting it both ways eh - "You really need to attend my classes, but please do a lot of the harder work yourself, in your own time at home"), etc etc etc. And I can tell you that most truly advanced speakers I've encountered were usually well on their way to self-taught fluency, possible degree-level studies (i.e. becoming English teachers) etc, by the time lesser learners were considering (as going on adults now with a real choice, I mean) the slow bicycle with kiddy stabilizers/training wheels route (=burning money by enrolling in their local private language school).

There is no contradiction between saying classrooms don't work, and then working within what is physically a classroom setting, provided of course that one is doing all one can to make the lessons less automatically classroomy. It is neutral ground, and usually quiet and comfortable enough that one can get on with things.

Sasha wrote:
As for her IELTS class, yes of course she has unrealistic expectations, probably made worse by slick school marketing, but the fact remains that if she wants to take the test and get some prep lessons beforehand, then there's nothing wrong with us teaching her something. The test is still open to her. Unless you have personally guaranteed that she'll achieve her unreachable target, I don't see the problem.

Perhaps you haven't worked in schools where managers or owners promise the earth, and will hold the teacher responsible at least in part (likely the main part) for any failings. And it doesn't have to be failure to pass an external exam - it could be simply not improving as much in terms of "fluency" as was hoped. And protesting "But I taught her something: the workings of the English articles, the functions of present perfect, and even about reduced relative clauses! Plus a load of fashion vocabulary, if that all sounded like too much grammar!" just won't cut it LOL.
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artemisia



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So that isn't a typical CELTA class, even though it at least half-describes the speed-dating clip.

No, it doesnít. Re: expectations of students/staff of IELTS courses. Whatever the ins and outs of various conditions in language schools, the main points over the last few pages have concerned teacher training and attending language classes.

Teachers are exclusively self-taught
I think as a student Iíd like something a little more reliable than that. All new teachers have to begin somewhere. Even experienced teachers sometimes need to go away and revise or check an aspect of language at times.

Students teach themselves prior to any language class
Quote:
And I can tell you that most truly advanced speakers I've encountered were usually well on their way to self-taught fluency, possible degree-level studies (i.e. becoming English teachers) etc

As I say, IMO most English language students are not genuinely interested in English as and of itself. Itís a vehicle that will take them somewhere else. They need Ďenoughí to get through - and Ďenoughí varies.

A lot of people come to this site looking for information and advice on getting started in ELT and what kinds of certificate courses would be useful to do. I would hope this thread doesn't give anyone a false impression that well-known ones like Celta or Trinity, or even more involved courses such as a PGCE in EAL, are nothing but rubbish and the best way is that everyone teaches him/herself.

I canít see this thread going anywhere useful and Iím as tired of it as probably everyone else who bothers to read it. I haven't checked the lid yet, but I'm pretty sure it's long since gone past its 'use by' date.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please excuse me for disregarding your apparent tiredness with the thread by replying to your latest (last?) post, Artemisia. And you are of course under no obligation to keep responding to me! Cool

We'll have to agree to disagree then on the value of the clips that Sasha posted. I think they are nothing that exciting, just middling, average, "representative". (In a way that is good, sort of like a karate instructor demonstrating an achievable stretch for an OAP rather than a risky complete box split).

Quote:
Teachers are exclusively self-taught
I think as a student Iíd like something a little more reliable than that. All new teachers have to begin somewhere. Even experienced teachers sometimes need to go away and revise or check an aspect of language at times.

Not sure what you mean there with your italicized quasi-quote. If you want an actual quote, how about this: 'can be largely' rather than 'are exclusively'. (I mean, they'd be referring to much the same resources as you...or do e.g. CELTA centers have copies of stuff like The Necronomicon locked away in secret libraries?).

My comments regarding advanced levels were meant to imply that one only reaches a really appreciable level by assuming responsibility for one's own learning. (This could apply to teachers just as much as to students). Those who are unconcerned about entrusting their progress to others can of course do so if they wish, especially if they are like you say only after the bare minimum ('enough' meanwhile implies more than the bare minimum, but never 'too much'...perhaps you meant to say 'just~barely enough'?).

Re. the value of certs: From what I've read, many people, especially nowadays, can't really afford to do courses like the CELTA, and it has never been a visa requirement in the countries I've worked in anyway (though I'm sure it may help one gain employment, all other things being equal between two job applicants). Its literal value (i.e. cost) is thus what will be questioned first and foremost, but those with money to burn will probably do it regardless and just out of interest. And I have no problem with that. They should however be under no illusion that a lot (likely the majority) of certainly the linguistic aspects of teaching knowledge will be up to and left for them to learn more or less by themselves. Then, seeing as many posters like to point out that "these certs are only a beginning" (as if that excuses any and all shortcomings), I see no reason why the methodology should remain too cast in stone. These aren't the 10 Commandments we're talking about!

Ultimately, I've never said that anything is total rubbish, merely that things can always be improved. Hard to disagree with that (just like it's hard to disagree with most of what you write, Artemisia! Wink ).
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artemisia



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, yo yo yo yo-ing back again! My sense of Ďobligationí, if you can call it that, has really been to people possibly reading this who are seeking advice about getting into ELT.
Quote:
Please excuse me as I disregard your apparent tiredness with the thread
Not sure if I can, but Iíll try Wink .
Quote:
They should however be under no illusion that a lot (likely the majority) of certainly the linguistic aspects of teaching knowledge will be up to and left for them to learn more or less by themselves.

Yes, thatís right. The Celta etc. is not a grammar course as well as a teaching one. You should have a certain level of the basics before being accepted onto one.
Quote:
We'll have to agree to disagree then on the value of the clips that Sasha posted. I think they are nothing that exciting, just middling, average, "representative". (In a way that is good, sort of like a karate instructor demonstrating an achievable stretch for an OAP rather than a risky complete box split).

Yes, I think thatís precisely their value. Iíd suggest people who havenít had much training or donít have much experience and are looking for some input into their own teaching practice need to start at this point. I think that was the stated intention, too, by Sasha. I also think it's generous of people with years of experience/qualifications behind them to share concrete information for others who have requested this kind of assistance (videos of teaching).

It's just my opinion, Fluffy, but I think what you have shared (recommended books) is probably for people further down the teaching track who are able to make more informed decisions about incorporating a greater range of methods/ materials. But I don't see a time when there'll be large scale self-learning in languages prior to teaching.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Artemisia wrote:
My sense of Ďobligationí, if you can call it that, has really been to people possibly reading this who are seeking advice about getting into ELT.

Surely this thread is more for those already in ELT (one will need to have been observed at least during training - though I don't think one can really argue against the observations in that particular context - to have any opinions about observation, observer expectations~demands, "recommended practice" etc). Those not yet in the field but considering it will be better served by other threads - ones asking about certs, the types of work available in specific regions, etc.

Quote:
It's just my opinion, Fluffy, but I think what you have shared (recommended books) is probably for people further down the teaching track who are able to make more informed decisions about incorporating a greater range of methods/ materials. But I don't see a time when there'll be large scale self-learning in languages prior to teaching.

Hmm, most of the books I recommend can be used with profit almost immediately (given that we agree that prospective trainees~newbie teachers are expected to bring themselves up to some sort of speed on grammar), though it is admittedly (yet unfortunately) not always common for even nominally qualified and experienced teachers to invest in many ("too many"? No, never enough, IMHO!) reference books.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Sash, your 'Language degradation' thread "inspired" me to check out the actual "Effortless English" website, where I stumbled across a clip entitled (among other things) 'English Teacher Secrets':
http://effortlessenglishclub.com/learn-english-with-stories

Starting with the question from his acolytes I mean students of 'AJ, why are English classes so boring?', the inimitable Mr Hoge goes on to explain the various reason why this should be so (Teachers do things for themselves, not the students, in order to make the job easier; Teachers are under a lot of pressure to follow a textbook and standardized method; etc).

It's actually one of his "better" clips (in that it's almost watchable, and makes at least a modicum of sense, even if he is unaware of the irony of a lot of what he says given his chosen method/delivery). But still not quite one for the "great teaching clips" pile.
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Sashadroogie



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ho ho! Yes, this is a classic. Missed it all this time until now. Full of the usual nonsense this poor fellow always spouts, but good point about the irony of a boring lecture about why English lessons are boring.

Sort of reminds my of this film - 'Invasion USA'.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZaMm5q_BA

A film about how the evil Reds are trying to take over America and force them into collectivisation. So the only way to counter them is to do what the US government says and sacrifice one's own needs for the sake of one's fellow citizen - brilliant! The irony!!

Not quite up to AJ Hoax levels, however...
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That certainly looks a lot more entertaining than Red Dawn. Smile
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's taken a while Sasha, but I firmly believe I've finally found a clip that accurately conveys standard practice and should thus be watched by every ELTer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw2bTpyHGCE
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