Evening 34, Tuesday 2012-05-29
1. Literacy (75 mins)
As a warmer, we started talking about the number of languages that might be encountered in ELT classes. Apparently there are about 160 IIRC. That really needs qualifying, doesn’t it? I mean, you might ask if AmE and BrE count as one language! Well, it’s the same with speakers of “Urdu” and other languages. And there are other considerations too (like what is the definition of a language – how different does it have to be to be considered unique) but I suppose it gives a rough order of magnitude.
Then we were asked to list all the languages we knew. It must be me – I find this kind of thing intensely irritating. Especially as we have one trainee who talks about all the languages he knows all the time and especially as I could guess what would come next – whole class feedback! A chance to feel inferior about my lack of knowledge! And really, what’s the point? The important thing is surely to know there are a lot of languages (which I already knew), not what they are.
Then it came to scripts and the problems learners have with learning a new script. Now I loved calligraphy at school, I even did it as part of A-level art, so copying some Bengali script was not a huge issue. But again, I found this exercise a bit of a waste of time. A learner unfamiliar with latin script will, in all likelihood, struggle. I get that! But presumably they’d have the motivation of trying to learn a new language whereas I don’t. I looked around the class and I saw that I was the only one rejecting this task – I am that very obnoxious student we all encounter from time to time!
To be fair, this was really only the introduction to the lesson but it did put me in a bad mood. It eventually lifted but it’s something I’ll have to watch out for in my own students.
We later looked at the presentation of materials to learners – how written materials should be kept simple, unintimidating, well laid-out and appropriate. We also looked at techniques for learning spelling – all good stuff.
We were handed loads of copies of resources which I’ll probably only have a chance to look at after the course – they could well be very informative.
2. Planning for future Teaching Practice (~30 mins)
I’m teaching next Thurs so, as I had something that needed clarifying, this was a useful opportunity to chat with the tutor.
We also had to show that we had our learning records in order. I have always know this was a requirement, especially as auditing is done from time to time, and so have kept on top of this. A couple of us were completely up to date. A few had written nothing and so spent time scrabbling around, copying from others’ records.
3. Teaching in other contexts (~75mins)
We talked about business learners, advanced learners, beginners, one-to-one, private tuition, working for schools and so on. It was fascinating. I would like to have heard about the challenges of low-resource teaching – a particular interest for me, especially as I’m seriously considering teaching in very poor parts of the world, but we ran out of time. Anyway, I guess the reality for many other ELT teachers is that they’ll be in relatively well-supported schools, either at home or abroad, so a lack of resources would be less likely for them.