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PhD-level thinking?
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A Token of My Extreme



Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffytwo wrote:
I doubt Dr Barker's students ever get on to any idioms regarding pens or indeed swords as he's always too busy beating them over the head with a rickety old clapped-out shinai.


All things considered, and at the end of it all, it is theoretically possible that a whacked out critique could end you up whacked.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing "whacked out" about critiquing silly practice and suggesting more functional alternatives. As for the rest of your post ATOME, a bit too cryptic for me I'm afraid.
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A Token of My Extreme



Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffytwo wrote:
Nothing "whacked out" about critiquing silly practice and suggesting more functional alternatives. As for the rest of your post ATOME, a bit too cryptic for me I'm afraid.


Don’t fear the reaper — the rhythm of your writing is a real killer.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, and there I was, thinking that the real killer for any discussion was vague accusations of bad style!

But you know what, you're absolutely right. The most important thing in all this is my killer rhythm. Thanks for pointing that out, I'm sure it will be of great interest and help to any aspiring communicative teacher reading this, and your writing is of course a model of absolute clarity and elegance in comparison.
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A Token of My Extreme



Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It must be killer rhythm or style; students don’t seem to learn much in the way of grammar or pronunciation with CLT. Your post failed to clearly inform teachers of a disadvantage that has been highlighted, red flagged if you will, for over a decade — students in CLT classrooms make little if any progress with pronunciation and grammar.

Moreover, you seem to take issue with Dr Barker – who appears to be using a method that may improve pronunciation and grammar – and in a not so vague or eloquent backstabbing style; characterize his teaching as some sort of bludgeoning. Is this style of critique not whacked?
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Er, I'm not responsible (nor is my writing here ultimately LOL) for whatever failings of or in CLT. (I like to imagine that I help some improve their practice though, in fact I know I do, as I've had at least a few appreciative replies over the years).

I am however responsible for developing certainly my own students' grasp of how the language operates, and until you or your apparent hero Dr Barker care to explain how "Where's the pen?" makes more general and immediate sense than say "Where's the remote control?", or how "What's your name?" "Tim" "How do you spell that?" "...?!" is a sensible conversation and no-nonsense practice rather than true pseudo-communication, I think I'll continue to trust my judgement and teaching over yours and his anytime.

Seriously, arguments from (so-called) authority are no substitute for widening too "selective" focuses and improving functional fidelity, and do little to increase the overall coherency and cohesion of one's teaching. Some original (and if need be, dissenting) thought may at times be needed (think overarching, approach- versus mere method-level thinking - and that after all is what CLT originally was, an approach rather than a simplistic piecemeal methodology). Anything less is just empty assertion, and there's far too much of that around in ELT already (IMHO), hence this and the other, "Showdwinger's pen" thread.
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A Token of My Extreme



Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretentious rhetoric: so dull – not a single extreme metaphor.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, just an apt metaphor (Showdwinger's pen), and some pretty straightforward questions (see second paragraph of my previous post) that you seem unable or unwilling to answer.

Should be beyond obvious by now which is the better teaching then, and believe it or not, readers do notice such avoidance.

Anyway, good luck with your teaching (you'll probably need it if you continue to follow guff like Dr Barker's advice too religiously).

You can have the last word if you feel that's really necessary, but I'll rest my case right here > .
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A Token of My Extreme



Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main reason My Extreme hasn't answered your questions is, aside from being rhetorical, they beg the question, “Why are you teaching beginners with CLT?” They also beg the question, “Why is CLT more appropriate than the other methods you mention?”

Instead of addressing the above questions you go on about choosing and organizing content for beginners and it’s this or that and not that, maybe whatever as long as we keep “authentic” and “real world functional” in mind.

Your question as to whether “Where’s the pen?” should be taught before “Where’s the remote?” also begs the question, “Why are you not pointing out grammar or syntactical structures?”

Students have to start somewhere and it is about getting them started and keeping them going. If CLT helps to accomplish this, use it; if it does not, then it seems sensible to give something else a shot.

My Extreme really doesn’t need to answer questions about (or for) Dr Barker because it is neither a proponent nor a critic of his method: But who knows — perhaps someday My Extreme will give some extreme aspect of it a whack.

My Extreme too must be moving on. Good Luck with your teaching.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I've stated several times by now, I don't think there is really that much difference between the practice that Barker describes "versus" what happens in many a supposedly communicative classroom. Plus how many ways are there to teach stuff as basic as 'Where is...?'. It IS beginner (or certainly very elementary) level, and I think we can assume that the students will (or should) have been given a basic grounding in English phonemes prior, and that mime, possibly even translation or glosses (in Japan LOL) etc will be involved to help establish the meaning of the chosen example and context. You might as well ask how Dr Barker would actually teach those beginners.

But wait, he sort of explained how, didn't he. Yes, that's right, with a load of panto that assumes that a preposition is so very hard to grasp but that the definite article can be as pushy-sounding as you like and needs nor begs no alternative, nor more complex expanding upon, given the panto set-up. (Fine if you are only teaching a sealed-off, classroom version of English, and there are of course plenty of other 'Where's the [?a]...' situations that the students will encounter wherever, but that's no reason to not make example sentences as unproblematic as possible, is it, I mean, why bother coming to class if too much is left to the real world to sort out. And let's not forget that there's often a number of possible exponents to choose from rather than just one - for example, more polite, indirect phrasings). Shouldn't it be the teacher's job, and not just some but all of the time, to show how the language and its choices actually function? Is very direct or strange-sounding English ("harder to more generally contextualize beyond a possibly very confined or fabricated context, but sometimes not even then!") somehow appropriate even in a classroom? What weird, stilted and stunted social relations (interactions) we weave with students!

Tl:dr is that 'Where's the pen' is problematic and perhaps best reserved for a level at which the noun phrase can be sufficiently expanded to make it clear enough (and hopefully more politely) quite which pen is meant (and without all the non-linguistic "preparatory" panto), whereas simply changing one word (to 'remote' say) sounds much better (more immediately understandable) already. Or we could change the context to say asking for directions (Where's the post office?) while poring over maps (what with this being the classroom rather than an actual street). Personally and as I say I'd be inclined to add a few polite openers or more indirect phrasings too. I know all this because it's how I actually communicate in the real world, rather than some weird dumbed-down meddled-around cartoon version of it that does the student few long or even short-term favours. As for potential exchanges like '(My name's) Tim' 'How do you spell it(/that)?', again, they are so ridiculous I'm amazed anyone would want to risk appearing a fool by actually going through them.

But these are perhaps arguably minor, "too minor" points. The problem however is that this devil may care attitude will not stand the teacher in good stead when preparing to teach more complex language, and you don't need to look far to find confusion and untruths being peddled by supposedly expert teachers and writers at all levels (the Tynan RRCs and Gower et al Past Perfect presentation, both of which I mentioned in my posts to Dr Barker, are good examples of this). So one might as well start thinking in more sophisticated ways regardless of level, it's all good practice and the more and sooner the better.

Why can't you just admit then that teaching that makes as few "simplifying" assumptions as possible will likely be immediately the better for it, in that it will at least help processes of acquisition? Or do you believe that students only learn what the teacher explicitly tells them all the time (potential half-truths, untruths n all), and that the unspoken is an impossibly deep black box from which nothing is ever retrieved? If you believe the latter, then it is no wonder that your teaching becomes full of imposed dichotomies (explanation versus practice versus later real-world use/realizations etc etc etc). A lot of language teaching(~learning) is about (avoiding like the plague) what not to say (that is, what isn't usually said): the strange, inappropriate, or completely unnecessary.

There are a lot of things that teachers of apparently differing theoretical persuasions will do similarly to each other, but the one thing that I refuse to do is peddle bogus behaviours and patently invented examples, hence all the "going on" about 'choosing and organizing content for beginners and it’s this or that and not that, maybe whatever as long as we keep “authentic” and “real world functional” in mind'. You really should try it sometime as it will help you keep more than the one plate spinning (or rather, from hitting the floor) at once. Or do you like lots of broken crockery to clean up later.

Thanks anyway for giving me the chance to "go on" some "more" for the benefit of any genuinely perplexed or still unsure readers LOL. For example, all-too-impressionable newbies, who may wishfully think that a truly well-crafted and sensible lesson, indeed series of lessons, requires almost zero joined-up thinking, just so long as it's based on some so-called expert's opinions rather than what authentic language and experiences should be telling them and suggesting.

My teaching doesn't need good luck, or a wing and a prayer, because it is more well thought out than most. Thanks again all the same.
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A Token of My Extreme



Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to not having an intelligible rational for using CLT with elementary students, you have even less of a convincing pretense for using the same simplistic assumptions to select content for every lesson. Imposing such narrow-minded restrictions on the content you select is, in effect, boxing students’ minds into a black box.

Why don’t you admit that My Extreme is extremely correct in its outrageously bombastic, revolutionary claim that teachers should develop a wide repertoire of diverse approaches to suit them, their students and content they are teaching? Not only would your students be liberated from the intellectually stultifying confines of your boxed in assumptions—they may well become, ironically, much more fluent and functionally intelligent.
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fluffytwo



Joined: 24 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So simply learning the word 'under' and how to spell any old name for no clear reason (even names as easy as say Tim) despite apparently being against any unnecessary communication (vs more direct rote learning) is a better, more open, and more sophisticated use of class time than using unproblematic (non-panto-dependent) referents for questions or running through say initialisms (the BC, the BBC, ITV, the FBI, etc)? Right, right. Rolling Eyes Laughing Cool
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