Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Teacher Students

by AJ

A recent English 360 post got me thinking about the importance of being a student. Every teacher should be a student. The 1950s idea of teacher as windbag expert and students as passive drones is long long gone.

Here's a harsh reality: If you are a language teacher who does not speak a foreign language nor is actively studying one... you are full of shit. How can you possibly know anything about learning a language? How can you lecture to students on this topic if you've never gone through this process yourself. If you do pontificate in such a situation, you are merely playing a role game: "Ive got this piece of paper that says Im a language teacher... so that means Im an expert". But you are not. Memorizing the rules of basketball doesnt make you Michael Jordan or Phil Jackson...

This may sound harsh- but its a criticism I level first and foremost at myself. While I lecture to my students about language acquisition research, study methods, etc... I cant quiet the voice in my head that says, "You arrogant twit... these students (being advanced English learners) know more about language learning than you do". And its true. I know more about "the research". I know more about teaching methodology. I know more about language acquisition theory... but I dont know squat about actually doing it.

But Im learning. No more excuses. Ive commited to learning Thai and Spanish my way... following the methodologies and research I believe to be best. Whether they work in reality (as opposed to theory) is something I will discover through direct experience.

There is too little of this in education... too little direct experience and much too much talking and theorizing and pontificating. In the end, respect comes from what you do and accomplish.. not from what you say.

Most TESOL teachers would benefit more from actively learning another language than they would from getting a CELTA certificate or Masters degree.

Whatever your "teaching philosophy". Whatever your "expertise". I challenge you to put it to the test directly... by using those methods to learn a foreign language.

Its a challenge I myself accept.

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