Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, April 06, 2006


by AJ

First day of the California TESOL conference. For a day, I was once again a "student"..... listening to presenters. This was a valuable experience... from which I learned a valuable lesson:


Cant underestimate this. Most of the conference... in fact, pretty much all of it.. is dedicated to the WHAT of EFL teaching-- what activities to do, what assessments to use, etc. Some of these are very useful and interesting. I loved the vocabulary workshop I attended today-- filled with good ideas.

But no one is talking about HOW. Yet, ten minutes into a workshop it is the HOW that hooks or loses me.

Im talking about delivery. About the speakers use of voice, gestures, movement, visuals. Im talking about the order they present the information and the manner in which they present it. Im talking about energy, dynamicism, enthusiasm. Im talking about pacing.

Why dont teachers talk about this? Why are teachers given a license to bore? How is it that business speakers recognize the power of good presentation. And artists too (who all know that a bad performance can ruin a brilliant play/movie/song). But teachers.... not a clue.

Lesson number one from this conference is this-- Ive got to pay A LOT more attention to my presentation skills. Ive got to tune my sense of pacing. Ive got to incorporate more compelling visuals (for gods sake, never use bullet points in a presentation). Ive got to develop a sense of drama.

And I need to train my voice... to vary its pitch and volume more.... learn to deliver a point with thunder.

The WAY in which we teach a lesson is as important (more?) than the content of the lesson itself. Delivery has a powerful effect on participants attention level, enjoyment, engagement,... and also on how they judge the speaker, and thus, what they are saying.

As a teacher you are a performer. Accept it. Embrace it. Excel at it.

San Francisco, CA