Results tagged “student”
While I think that Jack Straw is wrong over his wishes for veiled Muslim women to remove their veils before speaking to him- it's his job to represent people as they are and not as he would like them to be- I am troubled by the latest issue with a woman being suspended for refusing to remove her veil in English language support classes in a primary school.
Two years ago, the British government dropped compulsory foreign language lessons for GCSE students, an act of philistinism that should have never have gone through. In a globalised society and as a member of the EU, this decision defied logic, so it is good to hear that the current minister is prepared to reconsider it.
I was reading a book about how people use the internet and it said that the average search length has gone from 1.1 to 2.8 words in the last few years. The numbers may not seem to represent such a huge change at first look, but the more I think about them, the more astonishing the change seems. I have also just finished teaching on a pre-sessional course in a university in the UK where I have taught for many years and there have been similar changes that display a very profound change as I see it.
There are plans in the UK to stop awarding GCSEs at grade C or above in English to students who cannot punctuate correctly. Naturally, some have criticised the idea for potentially preventing good students who make careless mistakes from passing.
The Research Discovery Network have just launched a tutorial for ESOL students on using the internet that can be accessed freely by anyone interested. It's meant to give an overview of what the net is, how they can access it, how it can benefit them, etc.
In an interview on ELTNews on a recent visit to Japan, Professor Henry Widdowson says that the most obvious example of a conceptually flawed theory in ESL teaching is "the current precept that English teachers must only use real or authentic English in their teaching that is to say the English that naturally occurs in the contexts of native speaker use. This directive comes from corpus linguistics and as such has no necessary pedagogic validity whatever."
English as an International Language (EIL) is being debated quite a lot at the moment. The idea sounds fine to me in many ways- most interactions in English nowadays are between non-native speakers, so we should focus on international communication rather than solely attempting to teach learners to strive towards native speaker competence. The idea of familiarising students with the Englishes used by people from other nations and cultures makes sense as that is what most will have to do when they use their English in their lives.
A student contacted me about the phrase 'quantum leap', which she had seen in a text she was reading at work. Her sense told her it meant a big step, but her dictionary only told her that quantum was the smallest discrete quantity of a physical property. She had run into a dreaded contranym.
Unable to sleep, I spent some time reading through British teachers' blogs last night and was reminded of just what dire straits some areas of education in the UK are in. Two in particular stood out, for different reasons. One, a blog dedicated to exposing the worse side of the ESL profession in the UK, gave details of the worst job it had seen advertised this year, while the other documented the travails of a highly dedicated teacher who has finally resigned and decided to quit the profession.
I came across a rather bizarre explanation of uncountable nouns on an ESL website specialising in grammatical explanations:
In English, Uncountable nouns only used in the singular tense.
I looked at a few other pages and saw a number of basic grammatical errors. In a page about word order with adjectives and verbs, the following sentences were used:
My mother lost her keys.
The boys play ball all the time.
The words in italics are the ones the site had highlighted (accessed on the 15th May 2005) as the adjectives in the sentences.
I recently came across the MissionFinder.org website and saw adverts to 'Use ESL to help plant churches among unreached Muslim peoples.' I found this rice missionary approach a little troubling; I see no reason to see a culture and religion as rich as Islam as 'unreached' and worry about the idea of abusing ESL in this way. Missionaries masquerading, as ESL teachers are nothing new; Mormons, generally honest about their intentions, and evangelical Christians, among others, poured into post-war Japan offering English lessons, while trying to make converts, and South Korea was also targeted. Little headway was made in Japan, but South Korea has a huge evangelical Christian population. Now they are heading for 'unreached' Muslim countries as well as refugees in the USA and other western countries.
I recently followed a Google ad link to a site offering the secrets to becoming 'an ace at teaching'. It claims to be the 'only teaching guide written by an actual teacher who has spent a lifetime of work "in the trenches" teaching every grade and every subject over the course of a lifetime'. At this point my suspicions were aroused, as I see nothing particularly unusual in a book being written by a practising teacher, and no need for the use of 'actual'. The writer gives three reasons to believe what she says, the first of which starts 'In case you don't already know me, my name is ...'. In over twenty years of teaching, I'd never heard of her, so I decided to have a little sniff around the internet.
I am taking lessons in Khmer. Twice a week I go for my classes in a classroom that is literally in the shadow of the Toul Sleng genocide museum, also known as S-21, the school turned into a notorious prison where thousands were tortured before being executed in Choeung Ek, the Killing Fields of the Democratic Kampuchea regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
In an excellent article about English teaching in Nepal, Yakity-Yak, Chris Sowton states that 'English is being turned into the weapon of the elite'. His picture of language learning in a resource scarce setting is bleak, but much of what he says matches what I see around me in Cambodia.
The Department for Education and Skills' materials for the ESOL Adult Core Curriculum are a depressing example of how not to do something. I have been given the materials for Levels 1 & 2. My Level 1 students last year were able to take the UCLES Cambridge First Certificate exam. This year where I am currently working, the exam is to be replaced by the Level 1 exam from Edexcel.
The UK government has been plugging its ESOL curriculum for some time and the materials designed to accompany it are coming through now, and are even worse than I had imagined. Unit 1 of the Level 1 course, which is not beginner level, but high intermediate, starts with a unit on 'Life in the UK'.
I was looking at the Edexcel website to see some information about their ESOL exams, as it seems that the UCLES exams have fallen out of favour with government, which will not be popular with students as UCLES are the gold standard for many. Edexcel have been in the news on many occasion for mistakes in exams and other administrative errors, so the title of this entry, which comes from the description of ESOL (Skills for Life) Entry level, doesn't inspire much confidence. The Writing Test for Level 2 is confusing- question 2c comes before 2b and doesn't have any handwritten text to correct, though it instructs studentsto find five mistakes in the missing text. There is something deliciously ironic in asking students to proof read the missing text in a question in the wrong order.
There has been endless talk about the dumbing down of education, but little about how far up the educational ladder this decline has got, with most of the scorn saved for courses like Media Studies and arguments about why training courses have been awarded degree status.
Polls can be used as a quick and easy way of generating questions for students and language learners to practise their English. A multiple choice question is readily adaptable, and can give you from 1-5 choices. As the poster, you can zip in straight away and post the correct answer. Generally, other native speakers seem to do the same, so the student can depend on finding the right answer after they have clicked, even if they get it wrong.