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Language degradation in EFL
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 13859
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear smithrn1983,

"As a thought experiment, how much grammar do you think a student needs . . . ."

Well, if you're teaching only conversation, probably not too much. But some/many of us teach more that that. For example, I teach a "Transitions" class designed to prepare ESL students to take college credit courses. So, all the skill areas are important, writing and reading, especially.

How much grammar a student needs depends, I'd say, on what the needs of the student are and, based on those, the objectives of the course.

Regards,
John
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A thought too awful to seriously contemplate crossed my mind just now: what if this is how the guy unwinds after teaching all day? Surprised (Kind of reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wW6rENTfaU ). But then I realized (hoped!) no school would be insane enough to put up with a teacher who behaved like that (even if there are still some teachers who speak tooo slooowly aaand patronizinglyyyy), so this "Effortless English" may well be one of his main sources of income. Upon which I spotted the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq1szhEt1zw&feature=related .

Lucky customers will apparently be treated to such lesson themes as 'A Kiss', 'Drag Lessons', 'Intimacy Lessons', 'Secret Love Lessons', 'Lost Custody Lessons', 'MeddlingMotherInLaw Lessons', 'Nudist Lessons', 'Obsessive Behavior Lessons', 'Jack Kerouac Lessons', and 'Neo-Bedouins Lessons'. I kid you not. Edit: OMG his Welcome Guide alone is 32MB. And he must be living on Pluto given his very sluggish download speed. Natty Mac desktop though, I was waiting for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-style crime scene photos to pop up LOL. And What's With His Capitalize Every Letter Thing?

If that guy had to conduct genuine conversations, his method such as it is would likely evaporate quicker than water from a colander. I think he's been around the Yamanote line a few too many times.

Anyway, I only made it about halfway through the clip that Sasha posted, but still wasn't quite sure what the aim was. Practice of past forms? Past perfect in particular? Certain stressed phrases such as 'by the time I...'? Whatever it was, it seemed a bit of a torturous mess.

One actually needs a fair bit of language to conduct effortless conversations - certainly more than is found in a bare bones list of grammar structures and time phrases.


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:34 pm; edited 7 times in total
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smithrn1983



Joined: 23 Jul 2010
Posts: 320
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Johnslat

I'm not trying to make the argument that we should teach less grammar, but rather that students probably do not need a great deal of it to handle basic conversations. My idea is that students should be encouraged to start speaking and engaging in conversations early on despite their lack of grammatical knowledge (and I'm sure most of us do encourage this). This is no way means that we should forget about some of the less used aspects of English grammar. Almost all of my students need and demand more advanced topics, and I'm quite comfortable teaching them. However, I have also taught a fair number of students who knew everything about English grammar, and could use all sorts of complicated structures accurately but had trouble engaging in even the most basic conversations.
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know that I have anything really coherent or insightful to say about the video. My first thought was that he looks kind of funny, with white Ted Dansoneque hair, piercing blue eyes, and a poorly-maintained goatee. My second thought was that meeting him in America I'd assume he's gay. My third thought was that what he's doing is theoretically sound, but painful in the way it's executed. My fourth, and current, thought is that he doesn't speak like any native English speaker has ever spoken, and is clearly a shape-shifting lizard person here to conquer Earth for Quesling Zorgon XI.

As for teaching grammar, I think that in general it's a good idea, because there are cases where poor grammar can cause confusion or even the opposite of the intended meaning. I ought to start documenting them as I run across them, since I know I've seen some truly funny examples.

Personally though, if I were designing a course, I'd design it around being able to perform a specific task, with grammar and vocab introduced only as needed to support the undertaking of the aforementioned task. (Of course if I were designing a course, I'd also include words like "autodidact," "invidious," and "thespian" at the elementary level, just because they're fun to use.)

~Q
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1286

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Lucky customers will apparently be treated to such lesson themes as 'A Kiss', 'Drag Lessons', 'Intimacy Lessons', 'Secret Love Lessons', 'Lost Custody Lessons', 'MeddlingMotherInLaw Lessons', 'Nudist Lessons', 'Obsessive Behavior Lessons', 'Jack Kerouac Lessons', and 'Neo-Bedouins Lessons'. I kid you not.


10/10 for originality! It's really hard to come up with interesting ways to cover the same area, as I found when I was writing materials. I mean, just how many subject areas can you use for, say, modal verbs of obligation. School rules. Yawn. Rules at work. Eye roll. But "longterm affair" - now that takes it to a whole new level!

Anyway, I was fascinated by the emails in his inbox. Most of them are from Tony Robbins... (Plus stuff on how to invest.) I think this says a fair amount about where the guy is coming from. Might also explain the slight hypnotic thing he's got going on. How many of you lingered too long? Hah - thought so!
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing can compare to the Satanic Units for originality:
https://sites.google.com/site/englishdroid2/the-satanic-units

And talking of Englishdroid, I've spotted what A.J Hoge is using: the Diva Method!
https://sites.google.com/site/englishdroid2/teaching-tips/the-diva-method
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:12 am    Post subject: Double act Reply with quote

It's a truism of EFL that English teachers are the most mathematically challenged of all the human species. But still, look at these two unfortunates who seem to think that rule number three is really number one : ) How on earth do learners follow this type of nonsense, from directors no less?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKL17kmvnFg&feature=related







Why is everyone now a director in EFL? Where have all the teachers gone?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If anyone can struggle through the rest of the above clip,let's list all the points that are made which are just wrong or stupid. It's most of the clip admittedly, but here's a start:

1. No native speakers know the rules of their language.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Qaaolchoura wrote:
My third thought was that what he's doing is theoretically sound, but painful in the way it's executed.

~Q


...erm, what theory is this? Based on the Diva method mentioned by Fluffy, perhaps?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a doctor in the house?!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hieTxQ0oJPc&feature=watch-vrec


So many ways to poke fun here...
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More totally natural use of English here, both from the teacher and the fully participating learners! WOW!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlfdIipe73I&feature=related
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was also going to query what "theoretically sound" meant, but assumed it might be something as ultimately trite as 'Students need to listen, and be given something to listen to, in order to learn a language'. Razz

Wow indeed, Sasha - I didn't think there'd be any classroom clips, only endless lectures. I'm still not sure what this "Effortless English mini-story method" is, but it would appear to involve any number of very meandering tangents and examples completely off the top of the teacher's head (how's that for quality preparation Rolling Eyes). I think he must've seen Good Morning, Vietnam and fancied himself quite the Robin Williams character or something. Unfortunately the script he's ended up shooting is Goodbye, Mr Snake-oil Salesman <SLAM>.

Oh, and did you know he is a Dr too?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEF3-K4duvs&feature=related


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I saw that just today - hence my 'Is there a doctor in the house?' comment.

Wonder what his dissertation was on? 'Application of Ninjaology to lobotomised EFL students and its effects on language learning and the will to live'?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11530
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I watched fifteen seconds of that latest clip sans background underpants. How much does he pay those 'students' to pretend to attend his 'class?' Good heavens.
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smithrn1983



Joined: 23 Jul 2010
Posts: 320
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Double act Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
It's a truism of EFL that English teachers are the most mathematically challenged of all the human species. But still, look at these two unfortunates who seem to think that rule number three is really number one : ) How on earth do learners follow this type of nonsense, from directors no less?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKL17kmvnFg&feature=related







Why is everyone now a director in EFL? Where have all the teachers gone?


Just listen for six months and don't worry about speaking? If that actually worked, I'd speak flawless Russian by now. Alas, I don't. I must not be listening properly. Confused
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