Ben Slavik recently observed a teacher in Denver who kept her students active and engaged for an entire hour without any use of English (her students’ native language) or any blurting by students. He was impressed and wrote an article about it. One of his suggestions was that we make “No English” a rule for our students.
Younger teachers often tell me they envy my “experience.” Yet, what does the word really mean? Does it just mean that I’m getting old? What is experience? It has to be more than a mere accumulation of years. It seems to imply a certain wisdom that I have no claim to.
I recently saw a comment on Twitter by someone who wanted to know why they had heard “communicative” used as a derogatory term by TPRS teachers. I remember when I first came across a book of communicative activities and I thought it was wonderful.
Some of my students have reached excellence in their spoken English. They are basically autonomous, able to read novels in English, able to follow dialog in a movie, able to carry on a conversation and express their ideas coherently. Yet they feel frustrated about their ability and insist that they still make mistakes.
As we start in on the new school year, the moretprs forum and Ben Slavic’s blog are discussing the issue that never fails to come up at this time of the year (and in November when students and teachers start getting weary, and in March when it seems like spring will never come): the issue of classroom management.
Students who are learning English make many mistakes, of course. But one of the most difficult things for them to master is the difference between countable and uncountable nouns and when to use much or many. Even advanced students have problems choosing the right words.
Basically, one thing that I have learned from horse riding is that it’s much more effective to teach a horse how to do something right than to spend time teaching it not to do something wrong. Pointing out mistakes is teaching students not to do something wrong. Giving them correct models is teaching them to do it right.