Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, December 29, 2005


by AJ

Teachers could learn a lot from professional speakers and presenters. We (correctly) focus most of our energies on content, curriculum, communicative activities, comprehensible input, and the like. But in the process, many of us (certainly me) neglect DELIVERY.

Ive often shrugged this off... telling myself that Im concerned with SUBSTANCE, not STYLE.

But then I think about the few good teachers I had in the past.... and about the speakers who inspire me. All of them had great delivery as well as great substance. They knew how to project their voice powerfully.... and how to modulate it to create tension, interest, excitement. They knew how to use gesture and movement. They skillfully used visuals and other aids. In short, they were not only knowledgable, they were also great PERFORMERS.

As I reflect on my own teaching, I see a glaring weakness in this area. Reviewing a recent recording I made of my class... I was struck by how shrill my voice was... and how jumpy the pacing was. Reviewing body language... I was struck by how weak it looked.

All of this undercuts the effectiveness of what Im trying to do in class. Great PERFORMANCE matters and it matters a lot. This is a key element in creating a powerful experience for the student. To do so, we must deliver comprehensible input that is interesting (linguistic factors) but we must also reach the student emotionally (non linguistic factors). "Performance" is about that second part.... creating a powerful emotional experience for the student.

So my #1 teaching resolution for 2006 is to radically improve presentation skills. I will join Toastmasters, I will tape my classes frequently and review them, I will attempt to strengthen my voice, Ill work on nonverbal communication, and Ill work on more skillful use of visuals. Ill also pay more attention to how I dress.... to pacing and transitions... to classroom decor... and other emotional factors.

[English 360 has had some excellent posts and links on this topic in the past.... check out their blog]