Tagged: elt

A Different Kind Of Scaffolding in ELT

Acknowledgement: Photo by Kim Traynor (hosted at Wikipedia)
Thanks to Kim Traynor for this image

There was a trainee teacher on my last CELTA course who had come to us without any academic background to speak of but with a wealth of life experience; in the end, he turned out to be one of the most interesting trainees I’ve worked with. Continue reading

Security Theatre in ELT

A common feature of many initial teacher training programmes is a strong emphasis on detailed paper-based lesson planning. Whether this actually increases teacher preparedness to teach is questionable.

Prompted by a TED Talk on Security Theatre and risk assessment, I suggest that focusing on anticipating problems and trying to eliminate perceived lack of control in lessons may not be helping new teachers truly come to terms with the realities of the classroom.

You can watch the TED Talk by Bruce Schneier, “The Security Mirage”, here:http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bruce_schneier.html

Why ELT needs to cut like a knife

Thiers knife
Every boy should have a penknife…

A few weeks back I was working with a group of CEF B2 learners. I had recently returned from a holiday in France and had brought a souvenir back with me: a pocket knife made by hand in the traditional heart of French blade-making, Thiers.

The knife itself (as you can see in the picture) is not particularly attractive or interesting – there were many other shinier, more beautifully made display pieces in the dozens of specialist shops in the town.

But this was the one that had found its way from a mediaeval town in France into a language class in a Hanseatic town in Germany. Continue reading

Own Experience?

About a week ago, this comment appeared on my blog:

Hi Anthony, I had an interesting chat with some other TEFLers and 1 person was positive that pre-CELTA teaching really helped him on his CELTA. This would fit in with reflection but do you think it’s important to only accept people with some teaching exp or even to recommend they get some before starting?

Phil

I replied that I thought prior language teaching experience was less important to me than prior language learning experience, and this post started life as an explanation of that view.

However, it also got me thinking about the whole issue of experience and the problems related to working with it. Continue reading

TDSIG Unplugged Countdown: “One…”

The 4th principle of OST
The 4th Principle of OST

This mini-series sketches out some of the ideas that I would like to explore at the upcoming TDSIG Unplugged Conference in Barcelona on 21 May 2011.  If any of them chime with you and you would like to explore them as well – or if you would like to work on completely different issues, the conference is there to give you the open space to do just that.  It is never too late to join in, so if you haven’t already, visit www.tdsig.org/unplugged and register!

Counting down…1…

When will the voice of Dogme ELT fall silent? Continue reading

TDSIG Unplugged Countdown: “Two…”

Third Principle of OST
The Third Principle of OST

This mini-series sketches out some of the ideas that I would like to explore at the upcoming TDSIG Unplugged Conference in Barcelona on 21 May 2011.  If any of them chime with you and you would like to explore them as well – or if you would like to work on completely different issues, the conference is there to give you the open space to do just that.  It is never too late to join in, so if you haven’t already, visit www.tdsig.org/unplugged and register!

Counting down…2…

How can we spread the unplugged word?  Continue reading

TDSIG Unplugged Countdown: “Four…”

This mini-series sketches out some of the ideas that I would like to explore at the upcoming TDSIG Unplugged Conference in Barcelona on 21 May 2011.  If any of them chime with you and you would like to explore them as well – or if you would like to work on completely different issues, the conference is there to give you the open space to do just that.  It is never too late to join in, so if you haven’t already, visit www.tdsig.org/unplugged and register!

Counting down…4…

How can we share academic knowledge effectively to help the first Dr. Dogme emerge?”

Image: "If an untidy desk signifies an untidy mind, what does an empty desk signify?" - A. Einstein -
"If an untidy desk signifies an untidy mind, what does an empty desk signify?" - A. Einstein -

In an earlier “wish list” entry, I suggested that gathering some kind of formal evidence base was one way of building a case for teaching unplugged that would possibly help convince those who are – understandably – still somewhat skeptical of its superiority to all other approaches to teaching languages (ahem…)

And there does seem to be real interest in Dogme ELT as an area of serious academic study. Scott Thornbury (for one) has mentioned on occasion and other bloggers have also been throwing around the idea of exploring unplugged methodology and principles at MA level (though for the life of me I can’t find the references right now – and if you see my desk in the picture, you’ll understand why…) the search for the first Dr. Dogme, and frankly, after ten years, one could reasonably question why this person hasn’t already emerged.

One reason might be the ongoing perceived lack of academic definition as to what teaching unplugged actually is: is it an approach?  A method?  A critique?  Or, my favorite term, is it simply an attitude, a “way of thinking” about teaching and learning?

Fools rush in where …

This lack of definition – combined with some news that others wiser than I am have discarded the idea of writing on this – has persuaded me to request a shift in focus for my MA dissertation to address this question.

So my interest in exploring ways of enabling a Dr. Dogme to emerge are partly social, but to a great extent self-centred!  That said, I am prepared to put in spadework, and I am prepared to share, so this is what I would propose…

Setting up a form of spreadsheet or database (for example, in Google Docs) wherein can be catalogued all instances (OK, as many as we can find…) of articles or references to Dogme ELT/teaching unplugged.  These could be journal entries, articles, books, discussion forums (and their posts), twitter streams, blog posts/comments etc.

Google Docs can be embedded so we could hard-wire it into our blogs and thereby increase overall ease of access – like keeping a fridge full of communal beer at everyone’s house.

We, the People, Bequeath this unto the Nation…

The database would be open for everyone to make a contribution or to use for their own research purposes: a kind of Unplugged Public Library.

I know that there are archives or collections of Dogme-related stuff out there already, but from what I’ve seen they lack the academic organisation to make them easily useful as a research tool.  Of course, if you have access to an academic library and are good at boolean searches, you can find this all out yourself alone, but it all takes time and access.

With a little more APA organisation and a lot of crowdsourcing, our shared literature awareness as a community could become a very powerful resource.

Anyone else interested in helping future generations to stand on the shoulders of giants?  Maybe we can see a Dr. Dogme by the time this decade ticks over?  Won’t be me, though, if my desk is anything to go by…

Get in touch via this blog by adding a comment or visit the TDSIG discussion list, or form a working group in Barcelona on Saturday 21st 🙂

Throwing down the gauntlet

We are language teachers and teacher trainers working on initial teacher training courses in Hamburg, Germany.  During the course of our work we have constantly sought to refine our course design and delivery so that it provides the best training experience for the people who come to us as possible.  Over the years this has led to us looking closely at the syllabus requirements of the awarding body that we work with, Cambridge ESOL, as well as “best practice” as embodied in the course design of other centres that we are in contact with.

We were proud of the course that we had developed over time and this pride did not seem entirely unfounded: our graduates gave us consistently positive feedback; external assessors and moderators were almost always very happy with our work; colleagues familiar with our approach regularly asked to borrow our ideas.  Resting one our laurels would have seemed a reasonable position to take, on the face of it. Continue reading