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.
At the end of the school year everybody sits formal high-pressure exams. They are a rigid but efficient a snapshot of how a person performs on a given day — the consequence being that you either pass or fail. As such, the purpose of this post is to show that really effective foreign language learning and certifcation calls for something more appropriate and constructive than such a simplistic and binary dichotomy.
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.
If you live in China you will be familiar with the sight of children in their white shirts and red neckerchiefs, wearily trudging into to school at 6.30 in the morning. It’s something that’s always puzzled me a bit. In China, children are really pushed hard by their parents.