Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Shame

by AJ

A friend of mine is enrolled in an intensive TEOFL preparation course. The course focuses on teaching vocabulary... which is fine. But this is done through memorizing lists of English words and their Thai translations. The course also uses lots and lots of mini-test exercises.

My friend showed her book to me and I was apalled. It looked mind-numinbly boring. Truly horried. I found it obtuse, so I can only imagine its effect on a non-native speaker.

My friend then asked my advice... how could she do a better job of studying. I tried to relay information about Free Voluntary Reading. I told her to find fairly easy books and magazines in English and read for fun as much as possible. She seemed skeptical so I tried to tell her about research on Free Voluntary Reading... how students in FVR programs outperform students in TEOFL prep courses.

But I dont think she's going to change anything. As Krashen noted, one of the big obstacles to more effective language teaching are the conditioned beliefs of the students themselves. Most have been programmed with a skill-building mindset. Ask them, and they will tell you that they want to study grammar (my friend told me, "I think I need to study grammar first, before I read". I groaned and tried to explain that research showed otherwise,.. but it was a lost cause).

So responisble teachers have yet another role to play. Not only must we use techniques that are effective... we must re-educate our students. We must teach them about the processes of language acquisition. We must present the research... as simply as possible, yes.. but we must do it.