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ELT Publishers, Academia & Us - disparate worlds?
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Smartboards are pretty darned expensive ... as for iPads..., show me a large population of students who are willing to shell out the money for them


You're right but this is China! This is the 2nd private school in a row I've worked for now with eboards (Smartboard is a tradename),--they're arriving this week. Apple products went from virtually non-existent 2 yrs ago to ubiquitious. My 4 adult students all have iPhones and at least one has an iPad.

I absolutely agree about the practicalities.. It's why I left Longman Schools--they rely exclusively on the tech and their name to substantiate extremely high tuition. Longman does publish some reasonably good courseware but for some strange reason, it's not available for their eboards.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2731
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Denim-Maniac wrote:
I wish there was a similar publishing industry built around learning other lanuages, specifically Chinese, as I havent yet found any learning source for China that comes anywhere near matching the material I teach English with.

I'd be genuinely interested to know what sort of books you've learnt (or tried learning) Chinese from, DM. If the books that I'd used to learn Chinese were anything like as thin and needing-a-teacher as most ELT textbooks, I shudder to think of how much worse my Mandarin would be. (For what it's worth, I rate Scurfield's Teach Yourself Chinese/Complete Mandarin Chinese course, and even moreso T'ung & Pollard's Colloquial Chinese course, very highly, but would still supplement them with one of Yip & Rimmington's, or perhaps Ross's, grammar books, and a range of dictionaries starting with the Oxford Beginner's. FWIW, the postgrad dip in Mandarin that I took had the original Practical Chinese Reader I & II as its core textbook - perhaps the TCFL equivalent of our so-so TEFL textbooks - though it used to use some of DeFrancis' books until those became too expensive to justify buying. Personally I'd've been happier had they used the original CC or even TYC course to cover the spoken basics, but I assume the original CC one was sort of off-limits due to it having been developed at and by SOAS, a competing provider of postgrad Chinese provision, and luckily the inferior Kan Qian version of CC hadn't yet been published back then. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I think it always pays if the student invests in more than the bare minimum required by the school or teacher).

"Bonus" (just cos it made me laugh):
Quote:
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandarin made easy - er, 14 Aug 2008

By M. A. Kelly "Wild eyed loner on the edge of o... (Milton Keynes Centre of the Universe) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Collins Easy Learning Audio Course - Mandarin (Audio CD)


I ordered this as my daughter is adopted from China and we thought It would be fun to learn some mandarin.
It wasn't.
It was hard.
Very Hard.
However , thats not really the fault of this very easy to understand guide which was concise and informative and more the fault of a fat slow man coming late to the language and a small cute girl who'd rather be playing on her bike.
However I was quite good at German and French at school so maybe i'd give their other guides a go as for the money I really couldn't fault it.

( http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RF1KYPS51QZOD/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=000727176X&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode= )


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:38 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LongShiKong wrote:
Glenski wrote:
Smartboards are pretty darned expensive ... as for iPads..., show me a large population of students who are willing to shell out the money for them


You're right but this is China! This is the 2nd private school in a row I've worked for now with eboards (Smartboard is a tradename)
Private schools may be an exception to a degree. Keep that in mind.

As for iPhones, how are you planning to use them with your adult students, beyond giving them a podcast here and there?

iPads are thought to be godsends to some people here in Japan. Some think they are going to do away with chalkboards and such, especially in elementary school, but I say wait. Other than your rich schools, what school can afford 30-40 of them for each class? And, even though kiddies pick up things like that technology quickly, unless one has an actual plan and software that everyone uses consistently, they will just be a novelty that can break easily, IMO.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:

As for iPhones, how are you planning to use them with your adult students, beyond giving them a podcast here and there?

Good question! I don't have one but my students have copied our courseware audio CDs onto them and taught each other how to vary playback speed. I'm hoping to eventually have them record oral assignments with them. [/quote]

Quote:
Other than your rich schools, what school can afford 30-40 of them for each class? And, even though kiddies pick up things like that technology quickly, unless one has an actual plan and software that everyone uses consistently, they will just be a novelty that can break easily, IMO.


How about those in developing countries? India plans to distribute 100s of millions of the low-cost ($52) Cdn-designed Akash tablets to students there. And Africa's also placing orders. I think they too come with a hardened glass surface.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MOD EDIT

My learn Chinese library currently contains the Basic Grammar workbook by Yip and Rimmington. Far too dry for me. The structures contained in it are useful but have so many new lexical items that my failure to complete it is due to that rather than anything else.

I also have two of the Conversational Chinese books published by Beijing Language and Culture University Press, which are labelled as 'the most popular Chinese textbook for foreigners all over the world at present'.

My grammar book is 'An essential grammar' by Yip and Rimmington.

All of the above were/are trumped by the Open Universities course material for Beginners Chinese, which presented information in a far clearer way with more structured activities, simple grammar explanations etc...(although the CDs werent great) but Ive finished that and am struggling to move on to the next level.

I have a solid but small base of Chinese...but dont have enough of a base to naturally accrue language. My speaking is great, my listening is terrible.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MOD EDIT

How many of you feel ELT academia simply doesn't serve us? I'm the first to admit I don't read much of what they write--and yet I've learned a lot more indirectly from many of you--thanks Fluffy et al. Smile

But as I've pointed out, we're not the only ones. Publishers seem oblivious of ELT research and judging by what they publish, private schools, even more so--the local title I used at Longman School and the ones I'm using now completely exemplify this ignorance.

Even more distant from academia are 'methodists': Pimmsleur, Rosetta Stone, Berlitz, New Concept English--trapped in time or constrained by theory like some Mennonite community living in a perpetual past. I've even accused Japan of being rigidly retrogressive:
Is Japan still 'old-school' in TEFL methods?


But correct me if I'm wrong--hasn't academia come to embrace a mix rather than any one method? Anyway, I understand cognitive science is providing new insights into how, for example, listening skills can be (better) taught but overall, I feel applied linguistics is still largely an ivory tower affair.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree - and this (and the money of course) is the main reason I havent done an MA in TESOL or Applied Linguistics. From things I read, and from people I have spoken to, I dont really see how higher levels of academic study really relate to the majority of my teaching contexts. Quite often I found my 'English Grammar in Context' BA module was study for the sake of study and MA study (or higher) would be worse IMO.

When I think of the academic study...I just imagine whispy haired professors poring over 40,000 transcribed words on conversation, or spending hours looking at case studies of language acquisition in children of bi-lingual families who probably (possibly) have no clue on actually teaching a class of 15 German teenagers who have 10 days of English classes in summer camp.
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Mr. Kalgukshi
Mod Team
Mod Team


Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 6017
Location: Anxious? Stressed? Repeat the following 300 times daily: A wet robin never flies at night.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Future postings regarding Moderator actions will result in sanctions of the severe variety.

Es verdad.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based on a qualifications poll of forum participants, 2/3rds of us have at least what I have: a 100 hr TESOL but 4 of the 31 who participated claimed to have far more.

How many of us have encountered nervous newbies worried about being grilled over grammar by students? It's the training that does it. I once observed a young American-born Chinese (here in China) essentially reciting everything she could remember from her TEFL Cert course about grammar to her pre-teen class. Doubt if even the strongest students could even understand 1/2 of what she was telling them as they were there to learn oral English class.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and if even certified newbies dread being grilled for grammatical explanations, is it just their fault? Is it not true that good (grammar) books with translated explanations are still a rarity?

One thing I forgot--a point I made on the thread Phonics in Pre- and K EFL - a Pharce? Perhaps someone more credentialed or read up than I can enlighten us as to what academic research supports phonics instruction in a 3-5 yr old beginner EFL class. I appreciate the value of phonics but this is undeniably the age where acquisition ability is still at it's peak. Shouldn't stories, songs, games and passive exposure during unstructured play be the focus in order to make the most of this innate capacity to absorb language? Common sense suggests so but text-centric ELT publishers conveniently ignore their own publications on developmental psychology and the fact there's not much point in teaching text decoding strategies (phonics) when you don't have a vocabulary to begin with.

Furthermore, even here in China, children already learn the alphabet* at home to read Pinyin so there's no need to waste time on this other than a few differences in pronunciation and that can wait until they're ready to read .
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9589
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Agree - and this (and the money of course) is the main reason I havent done an MA in TESOL or Applied Linguistics. From things I read, and from people I have spoken to, I dont really see how higher levels of academic study really relate to the majority of my teaching contexts. Quite often I found my 'English Grammar in Context' BA module was study for the sake of study and MA study (or higher) would be worse IMO.


My MA projects included evaluation of a textbook (I chose one we were currently using in our programme but wanted to replace; my study formed the basis for ditching it in favour of a more useful book in the context).
I also studied teacher feedback in class, using colleagues for this study. The outcome of this project exonerated one of my colleagues who'd been criticised for over-use of the phrase 'OK?' in her classroom (she was genuinely performing a comprehension check, in fact).
In another MA project, I wrote and piloted a unit on teaching and practicing paraphrasing in academic writing.
I evaluated a teacher training programme and suggested changes to make it fit the context better - this was used by 'my' university as a basis for updating the course.
My dissertation was an evaluation of a 72-hour course I developed and piloted for Business English.

All of these projects were underpinned by a wide array of published work in the field (lots of entries in my references for the paper describing each project).

It all depends on the post-grad study and the choices one makes when pursuing it. They can in fact focus very strongly on theory as it informs practice.

Quote:
But correct me if I'm wrong--hasn't academia come to embrace a mix rather than any one method?


Yes, you're absolutely correct.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Am I stuck? is a thread started by an experienced teacher/DoS without a degree or certificate. The advice from those responded was to get a degree--any degree--a requirement for most positions and TEFL/TESL certificates--at least mine. What about D/CELTA?

My mention of fake qualifications led to discussion about the value of a degree these days which I think is a useful aside to this thread. Employers insist on it but does such a requirement simply mask their inability to assess an applicant's experience or potential in the classroom?

Let me put it this way. Who would you rather have teach you (assuming age, intelligence and attitude were the same) ... and why?

1a) An experienced teacher/DoS such as the author of 'Am I stuck?'
OR
b) A newby with a non-related degree and a 100 hr TEFL certificate?

If you had to choose between these who would you start off and how long would you wish to continue with them?
2a) A fluently bilingual high school grad.
OR
b) A unilingual masters degree/PhD holder (non-related field of study) with a DELTA.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you missed the point.

It is NOT what the employers want.
It is NOT what the clients want.
It is NOT what makes a "better teacher".

It IS what is mandated by law in more and more countries and soon will be all countries in Asia.

The ages old debate as to who makes a better teacher, one with or one without a degree, is now moot due to changes in the laws in the various countries. Get a degree and get legal or move on.

As to using a fake degree.... that does say something about the teacher who is willing to commit fraud and that IS what it is.

.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tttompatz wrote:
I think you missed the point.

It is NOT what the employers want.
It is NOT what the clients want.
It is NOT what makes a "better teacher".

It IS what is mandated by law in more and more countries and soon will be all countries in Asia.

If it's what gov'ts insist on and not necessarily what everyone else does then doesn't it suggest education serves itself more than society--the claim I made? 'Mandated by law' and 'enforced' are not the same. Jaywalking is illegal but not enforced. I can't speak for other Asian countries but:
Quote:
Regulations and guidelines governing foreign teachers in China are established by the State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs (SAFEA). In regard to education and experience requirements, the SAFEA states: “The foreign educational expert should hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree and more than two years of experience."

Two important points need to be stressed here: First, the SAFEA uses the character for the auxiliary verb “should,” as opposed to “must,” and that the SAFEA’s guidelines are just that: Provincial leaders are free to interpret and arbitrarily enforce each guideline as they see fit. Consequently, while one province may insist on a bachelor’s degree as a condition for issuing a work certificate and a foreign expert certificate (FEC), another may only require an EFL teaching credential, e.g., TEFL, TOESL, CELTA, etc., while others require none of the above. To further complicate matters, requirements within provinces and municipalities often change from time to time and typically without notice: What is true today in China may very likely not be true tomorrow.

The best answer to the question “Does one need a college degree to teach English in China” is “it all depends on the province and municipality in question and the sensibilities du jour of the local officials.” Aside from the legalities involved, there are far more practical and useful questions one could ask, such as “Do foreign teachers with advanced degrees receive better paying jobs and do they report higher levels of overall satisfaction with their teaching positions and lives in China than do their non-degreed counterparts?”

The Empirical Evidence

In a study of 432 foreign teachers in China, we found that about 51 percent held a three or four year bachelor’s degree, approximately 34 percent were teaching with advanced degrees (master’s or doctoral level), and just under 15 percent were teaching with either a high school diploma or some post-secondary degree (A.A. or A.S.) or vocational school diploma.


How many of you have been asked to submit transcripts or provide your college's registrar contact info... or that of your TEFL cert issuer? I agree, it would be nice but it aint about to happen anytime soon. Why? Because language teaching isn't considered a profession--not by the public nor by the industry.
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sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:15 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

It seems to be fashionable to criticize course books. I think there are some excellent books out there. You won't find them stuck out in China. Some of the ESP material around right now is outstanding. Business/General English books like 'Market Leader and 'Cutting Edge' aren't bad either. Of course you have to supplement but knowing when and how to comes with experience.
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