Tension is a necessary factor in achievement. If something is too easy then people don’t try as hard and if something is too difficult then people give up. That’s why being a teacher involves challenging students with content and concepts that are only slightly beyond their grasp.
In the 1913 play, Pygmalion, a linguistics professor called Henry Higgins, and his friend Colonel Pickering, make a wager on the outcome of a social experiment involving a poor London flower girl called Eliza Doolittle. Higgins attempts to refine Eliza into a lady of polite society, mainly through accent reduction.
Dogme, or [dogmə] as it is pronounced, has become a well-worn term in certain circles of the ELT industry. It is the practice of conducting a class through what is supposed to be free-flowing conversation without the use of books or materials. The idea has gained a bit of momentum but in this post I’m going to pop the balloon of Dogme because underneath the hype, I see it as a vacuous, anti-educational, and bourgeois approach to language teaching.
If you have read some of my tweets and ideas on language teaching you may have noticed that I am very dismissive of learning styles and multiple intelligences theory. I see them as fabricated, overly-simplistic, non-falsifiable folly, not to mention being unfair on learners who really need to apply themselves to facets of their ability in which they are weakest, rather than be limited to playing within their strengths.
I was looking out of the window while they were doing some pair work and all I could hear behind me was Chinese being spoken. No English. So I stopped the class and decided to reason with them.
‘Personality’ is a word we use to describe famous people and this is partly because celebrities often have a repertoire of interesting stories to tell. They can hone this persona into a fine art because they get interviewed so much that they have heard almost every question that can be asked.
Authenticity is a philosophical concept that was central to the existentialist philosophers of the early 20th century and one with important ramifications in language teaching. The existentialists were a loose collection of nihilistic modernist writers, the leading light of whom was Jean Paul Sartre.
Cybernetics is the study of systems be they biological, computerised, or social. In 1956 the Scottish cyberneticist, Ross Ashby who was very much the father of the field, coined the Law of Requisite Variety which states that: only variety absorbs variety.