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Lessons with no materials
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:48 am    Post subject: Lessons with no materials Reply with quote

Hello again folks,

So, let me know your opinions on this...I was asked to do a pronounciation class a couple of days ago with the promise of a materials and lesson plan to be delivered.
All I have received are the tasks for the students and no supporting materials for the teacher - basically, I have to plan and design the course myself with no materials.

Forgetting money, which is poor anyway, I have written to the 'school' that an unprepared teacher cannot teach; a teacher must have all relevant materials at hand to even start planning a lesson. Without them teachers are at the mercy of ad hoc material searching on the internet.

I also wrote designing and implementing courses are different skill sets and require certain time frames to do and one usually proceeds the other.

Needless to say, I have the materials and I can compile a class within a couple of hours if necessary, but this should be compensated in some way: my materials and my time and knowledge.

This is a specialised course focusing on the one skill of pronounciation and as I have no (focused) support material of my own it is a lot of work to put a 90 minute class together.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well indeed. But then - such is the nature of EFL in Asia and increasingly elsewhere. Some of the _ _ _ _ they try to pull on us really beggars belief.

I was once working part time and temporary at an FE college in the UK. The French (her nationality) woman in charge of EFL [among other for profit subject areas] wanted me to suggest materials and syllabus for a proposed EFL course program without any suggestion that I would be employed to teach on it or compensated. Just bare faced cheek. I refused and thankfully got a better contract elsewhere soon after.

I don't expect you'll get very far with your complaints but kudos for making them. The more we accept the status quo without protest the more it becomes legitimate.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
Well indeed. But then - such is the nature of EFL in Asia and increasingly elsewhere. Some of the _ _ _ _ they try to pull on us really beggars belief.

I was once working part time and temporary at an FE college in the UK. The French (her nationality) woman in charge of EFL [among other for profit subject areas] wanted me to suggest materials and syllabus for a proposed EFL course program without any suggestion that I would be employed to teach on it or compensated. Just bare faced cheek. I refused and thankfully got a better contract elsewhere soon after.

I don't expect you'll get very far with your complaints but kudos for making them. The more we accept the status quo without protest the more it becomes legitimate.


I just told them, no, I won't do it.

I guess I have grown, because I would run around doing anything and everything for these guys (in Vietnam) believing I was 'doing good' and developing - Foolish I know.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A problem is that some wide eyed newbie (just like I once was) will happily step up and do as they ask.

Makes me a little sad. The real losers in the end are the students who pay through the nose for a constantly deteriorating service.
___________________________________________

Not directly relevant but _ _ _ _ happens even in the best places.

I am reminded of my once upon a time phone interview with the British Council in Seoul. The 'kid' on the other end asked me how I'd teach the present perfect with no materials.....

I bit my tongue and didn't reply, "WTF - you're the BC and you don't have materials for a basic topic like that?!"

Sorta wish I had now. I terminated this interview after about 20 minutes because their questions just got more and more surreal and the pay and conditions were WAY below the norm for Korea at that time. I even got a feedback email a few days later explaining why I didn't get the job. How obtuse can you get?


Last edited by skarper on Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:56 am; edited 2 times in total
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
A problem is that some wide eyed newbie (just like I once was) will happily step up and do as they ask.

Makes me a little sad. The real losers in the end are the students who pay through the nose for a constantly deteriorating service.


Well, at least we still have good intentions, to have developed a sense of the importance of the both content AND the delivery is something at least.

Sadly though, it is like you say; not going to make the slightest of difference. Still, there is hope.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I don't think there is any hope but like Churchill in 1940 sometimes it is better to fight on than submit.
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8balldeluxe



Joined: 03 Jun 2009
Posts: 64
Location: vietnam

PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
All I have received are the tasks for the students and no supporting materials for the teacher - basically, I have to plan and design the course myself with no materials.


I have seen this kind of problem so many times, yet this is one of the few times anyone has posted about it. I think it is easy to say the problem is about money, or the employers not wanting to do it. Actually, the sad truth is they do not know what, or if there might be materials. You said they gave you "tasks" . What is this? You know that is probably the materials in your school's way of thinking.
You are teaching pronunciation, and I think they have accepted the fact that we do something but they either are not sure what it is, or don't try to know. Pronunciation is not one of those difficult areas- that's easy enough to understand- you obviously are supposed to stand at the front and read the words and correct the student's repeating after you. Seriously folks. That's it. You are being contracted to do that.
What are those "tasks" may I ask? I bet those are goals, and here , often the goals are the syllabus and they are the teaching method.

I think that they assume you will hold so exhausting boring call and response sort of class for 90 minutes. They have some unclear notion of an active and fun class but do not know exactly how you should do that. It's one of the blank areas.
I feel sorry for anyone in one of these quandaries, the question is you need the money, should you go ahead and teach what will be a dull and excruciatingly unlively class? You will probably get bad feedback about your teaching and the school staff will never understand the reasons why.
There are games like Battleship, or the sound puzzles, but that takes forever to make and will require a huge investment of your time- and you will very likely be criticized for it. You can have them do minimal pairs worksheets from a pronunciation book, but again it will require massive photocopying. Print up all sorts of card with letters and sounds- cost overruns. What if their room is not suited to having them sit face to face at tables? What if there is no place to put down a board game? You can never convince a school staff about any of this sort of thing because that is their business and not your place to bring it up. You should not bring up materials,costs, or chairs, or any other kind of course detail, that's their job to think about.
This is why I don't like the trend toward giant classes. None of the existing materials or techniques work at large scale and the agents and managers never heard of any of it before. If you try to instruct them they might think you are being difficult. I am really curious what their teachers would do or what they base their notions about teaching on.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

8balldeluxe wrote:
Quote:
All I have received are the tasks for the students and no supporting materials for the teacher - basically, I have to plan and design the course myself with no materials.


I have seen this kind of problem so many times, yet this is one of the few times anyone has posted about it. I think it is easy to say the problem is about money, or the employers not wanting to do it. Actually, the sad truth is they do not know what, or if there might be materials. You said they gave you "tasks" . What is this? You know that is probably the materials in your school's way of thinking.
You are teaching pronunciation, and I think they have accepted the fact that we do something but they either are not sure what it is, or don't try to know. Pronunciation is not one of those difficult areas- that's easy enough to understand- you obviously are supposed to stand at the front and read the words and correct the student's repeating after you. Seriously folks. That's it. You are being contracted to do that.
What are those "tasks" may I ask? I bet those are goals, and here , often the goals are the syllabus and they are the teaching method.

I think that they assume you will hold so exhausting boring call and response sort of class for 90 minutes. They have some unclear notion of an active and fun class but do not know exactly how you should do that. It's one of the blank areas.
I feel sorry for anyone in one of these quandaries, the question is you need the money, should you go ahead and teach what will be a dull and excruciatingly unlively class? You will probably get bad feedback about your teaching and the school staff will never understand the reasons why.
There are games like Battleship, or the sound puzzles, but that takes forever to make and will require a huge investment of your time- and you will very likely be criticized for it. You can have them do minimal pairs worksheets from a pronunciation book, but again it will require massive photocopying. Print up all sorts of card with letters and sounds- cost overruns. What if their room is not suited to having them sit face to face at tables? What if there is no place to put down a board game? You can never convince a school staff about any of this sort of thing because that is their business and not your place to bring it up. You should not bring up materials,costs, or chairs, or any other kind of course detail, that's their job to think about.
This is why I don't like the trend toward giant classes. None of the existing materials or techniques work at large scale and the agents and managers never heard of any of it before. If you try to instruct them they might think you are being difficult. I am really curious what their teachers would do or what they base their notions about teaching on.


I've pretty much been doing this kind of nonsense for nearly three years (Vietnam) and haven't gained much in financial compensation but a lot in experience. I guess this is a question with many answers but I will give you mine.

Somehow, it was the last straw. The tasks were well written, too well written for them to have been from a local. Upon asking, the answers too were 'text like' in nature. This lead me to believe these instructions came form a student book and a teacher's resource book. Perhaps I am reading too much into things but I have started to notice the Vietnamese faculty staff and language centre owners to be particularly guarded when it comes to sharing materials.
My feeling is this: they know too well without these materials AND the instruction on how to implement them they would be lost. This is something they want me to feel too. This can't work because if a native speaker doesn't know, that person will endevour to work that problem out and then deliver it.
If they can watch a native speaker sweat and clown around it boosts self esteem and gives a sense of control - Maybe I have been here too long?
I used to believe the Vietnamese to be hopeless fools but that soon went away when I found all of my pockets empty and no one around to help. They are not fools and will take every advantage given to by any teacher. One must learn to stand one's ground. If not, accept that it is just for the money and have a certain exit plan. For me, I just couldn't do it year in, year out with the knowledge of selling myself out - I can and want to do better.
One thing I have noticed is when I have said no, even though I may never work at that place again I can see it in their eyes, they lost, they know it and they give that much respect back. But... this will always cost us, never them.

You know the funny thing? I planned the course, wrote it all down and then said F. off. I'm a nut. I enjoyed doing the research.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8608
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A course of 90 minute sessions of pronunciation? Heaven help us...
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SeldomSeen



Joined: 07 Feb 2013
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
A course of 90 minute sessions of pronunciation? Heaven help us...


I don't know about your experience of Vietnamese students but mine is that they need some dedicated pronunciation lessons. Many Vietnamese students have very poor pronunciation which causes a severe strain for the listener. Of course, meeting them regularly we get used to this and often know what they are saying but as native speakers sometimes the best thing we can do is to improve their pronunciation.

Where I work we have some well written pronunciation lesson plans aimed at all levels. They are around 90 minutes in length, they focus on pronunciation yet are well integrated in the target language taught that week. The students find them fun and they are a good "Friday afternoon" activity.

We only have these thanks to a previous member of staff who took the time to put together some plans based on excellent resources (there are several good books on pronunciation - you know what they are) but, moreover, to integrate those into the syllabus so it builds on what was taught that week (e.g the /s/ and /z/ sounds for plurals or the /t/ and /d/ sounds for past tenses).

Going back to the thread. These plans took a lot of time and effort and that was with some good resources, and that member of staff was paid for their time. To be expected to produce similar with no resources (and perhaps no pay) is absurd.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8608
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not doubting that Vietnamese learners need extra help with pronunciation, as with many other L1 groups in the region. Just surprised that lessons would focus on pron exclusively for 90 mins over a series of lessons. Surely boredom would become a factor halfway through, no? Kudos if not. Small regular doses is the norm that I know, even when teaching Chinese monolingual classes in anglophoneland.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9130
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.cambridge.org/ca/esl/catalog/subject/project/item405004/?site_locale=en_CA

I generally agree that pronunciation is usually best integrated into other lessons, but have to say that I have done some work with Canadian materials that in fact lend themselves nicely to occasional 90-minute lessons (link above). I'm not actually a personal fan of teaching pronunciation, and will never choose to specialize in this skill, but I admit to having gained some useful tools from using this materials set which I've used in other situations.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, trying to make a pronounciation lesson fun and engaging is not easy, I know I have just tried, but it can be done - Sasha, is just out-dated.

@SedomSeen - Yes, I've focused on those elements that our VN students struggle on. To name the one other, which I believe you mentioned as plurals, is the C and the difference between S and Sh sounds. Ok, one more; 'Ks' as in 6 - They love tongue twisters.

@Spiral - That looks like the sort of book that would go down well for many, thanks.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8608
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Outdated, perhaps. Do learners who take these classes display any significant improvement in their pronunciation, or in their ability to discriminate between problematic phonemes?
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mk87



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always found pronunciation a problem (I dont mean teaching it, but I mean teaching it as a seperate "thing"). Although dont get me wrong, i've never actually seen a pronunciation course in action.

The problem for me is that pronunciation is basically a word which doesnt really mean that much. I'm from a city in the north of England that has one accent and 30 miles down the road (and incidentally where all of the other members of my family live) they pronounce things totally differently. The idea of a fixed pronunciation just seems so aabstract to me.

Which leads me onto my metaphor for teaching pronunciation as an individual thing. Forgive my example (I try to stay away from using football examples when teaching...but I'm not teaching now I guess). When you learn to play football, you need to learn how to kick the ball. You can either learn that as a seperate skill, and become incredible at kicking stationary balls, or kicking with no pressure. The other way you can learn is "game time" actually try to recreate situations that appear in games and learn holistically that kciking the ball is as much about understanding space and timing of everything else going on.

Vietnamese adult learners are so hung up on pronunciation in my experience, but they dont actually know what it means. What they want is fluency... at times i'd say that those 2 things could almost be opposite, at least in the "pronunciation as a skill" way of teaching
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