Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Transforming Classes

by AJ

In a recent comment, Anna wrote:

"I would be quite interested in the process you apply in your classroom while trying to persuade your pupils to use this system with you. Is that even possible? I, as an English teacher myself, though not professionally or anything, have always had trouble slowing down my pupils and making them repeat the same texts again cause they think it's useless. Can you give me some tips?"

Ahh, very very good questions. Unfortunately, I don't have many good answers as I've been wrestling with these same issues lately.

It started as a result of my own efforts with Spanish. Suddenly it hit me, my private efforts were much more efficient (and enjoyable) than taking a class. I thought back to previous experiences (all failures) with language classes. Then I examined my own English classes with a critical eye.

I found both to be lacking. The truth is, my traditional English classes at my school are not amazing. I've tried to make them better than average. But the group/school system is tough to overcome. Large classes, I'm afraid, just aren't terribly effective compared to one on one tutoring coupled with self-study (or self-study alone, if you are motivated).

As I've gotten my own private students, I've realized how much more I enjoy them. I enjoy private coaching because it is so much more effective. The students understand that they must take responsibility for their learning, while I will act as their helper and coach. Working one on one, I can focus on their specific needs. I can help them develop an individual study plan that will work for them.

I have the time and ability to focus on their emotional needs too. I quickly realize if they are discouraged, or anxious, or frustrated and I can help them with these problems. I do a much better job of motivating my individual private students than I do of motivating my class.

Still, I haven't given up on my class. But I realize that just tweaking the traditional approach isn't enough. Somehow I've got to find a way to destroy the underlying assumptions of traditional school: that the teacher is responsible, that textbooks and formal lessons are the best way to learn, that talking ABOUT the language is better than direct immersion IN the language.

These are tough beliefs to crack! I'll certainly let you know if I find a way to transform my group classes, but right now, I am at a loss.

San Francisco, CA