Category: rants and critiques

a question of trust

There is a basic relationship of trust that needs to be in place for a student to learn from a teacher, and for a teacher to teach a student. 

The student must trust that the teacher offers useful suggestions in good faith, and this trust is expressed in the student making an effort to do what the teacher suggests.  Teacher and student can then see what happens and move on from there. 

Questioning and debating what the teacher offers may be good and may be necessary, but the student needs to accept the offer and play with it for teaching and learning to proceed. 

This is because although trust is earned, it cannot start to accrue without an initial act of faith on the part of the student.

If the student rejects what the teacher offers before trying to do what the teacher suggests, they are free to do so, but then the teacher cannot teach that student and that student cannot learn from that teacher. 

If the student says yes to what the teacher offers, but then in practice does what they originally planned to do, they are free to do so, but that student cannot learn from that teacher and that teacher cannot teach that student. 

Only when the student says yes to what the teacher offers and then goes on at least to try to do this in practice to the best of their ability, can the teacher then teach the student and the student can then learn from the teacher. 

If the student does not trust the teacher to do their job of teaching, the teacher cannot trust the student to do their job of learning.

Or is this wrong?

A Critique of Hugh Dellar on Celta


I don’t like to get involved in arguments or debates online.  It just happens from time to time.

This is one of those times.

Hugh Dellar, former Celta tutor, teacher, teacher trainer, coursebook writer, and presenter, recently wrote an impassioned and typically strident critique of Celta and courses of its ilk in the aftermath of what many are seeing as a seminal plenary talk by Silvana Richardson at IATEFL 2016 on the topic of native speaker vs. non-native speaker bias in our profession.

Hugh basically puts forward a case against Celta, and calls for its replacement with something better.

I have nothing against the idea of establishing better qualifications and standards for our profession, but this will only succeed when the argumentation is sound, and so I feel compelled to respond to Hugh’s key arguments.

As I make my living working on short introductory training courses like Celta, it isn’t surprising that I may defend them against criticism.  Before you let such ad hominem thoughts discount the rest of what I have to say, let me assure you that I will be careful to present evidence and give ground as I go along.

I hope to show that while they are superficially persuasive, Hugh’s arguments in his latest post frequently lack either logic or evidence or both.

Despite this, I will end up agreeing with some of what he says and present an (arguably) more strident conclusion of my own.

If you haven’t read Hugh’s post yet, stop here and go and do that now.  It’s worth it.  I’ll wait for you.
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