Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Monday, August 01, 2005

Are Teachers Necessary?

by AJ

As I contemplate the utter uselessness of midterm exams, I begin to question not only the tests.. but the entire class structure. At the level of my students (high intermediate)... are classes and teachers necessary at all?

The honest answer is a resounding NO! Lets face it, all these grades and class outlines and assignments are pure bullshit. The students know it, and if we were completely honest, we teachers would admit it too.

All that crap- the grades, the exams, the outlines, the textbooks- has nothing to do with effectively learning a language. Those things are social-authority tools- they are used to separate, rank, control, and label students... as well as to justify the "authority" of the school and its staff.

But actual learning of a language requires none of these things. In fact, those things interfere with real learning.

A student would learn English (or any language) far better by doing the following:

1. Read a lot for fun! This means always having an English book in your bag.. reading it everyday. Comic books, Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Romances,... anything. The key is not so much what you read but how much. More reading equals a lot more language acquisition.

2. Listen to books on tape. This does the same thing as reading... and also helps listening comprehension (and therefore speaking).

3. Watch movies without Thai subtitles. The important thing is to choose movies that are easy to understand. This might mean you start with children's TV shows such as Blues Clues.

There are many other good strategies... but just those three would be MUCH more effective than any English class available in any HS or university.

The honest truth is that (especially above the intermediate level) teachers and classes aren't necessary.

Therefore, the only honorable purpose I can claim is this:

My job is to help students break their dependence on teachers and school. My job is to help them learn how to learn English... on their own. My job is to help them become autonomous learners.

Secondarily, my job is to try to inject some of the natural fun and play and curiousity back into learning a language.

Message to students: You don't need teachers. Just read for fun, listen to books on tape, and watch TV shows/movies. Be sure you understand 90% of the language in these materials.... and read/listen/watch often. That's all you need to do!!