Results tagged “teacher”
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.
The BBC has recently reported on the visa scams going on in some UK English Language schools, though this has been going on for years and has never been a secret within the ESL profession. The problem seems to have come to a head because the DfES (the Department for education and Skills) introduced a registration scheme, despite repeated warnings from professional bodies that their criteria for inclusion were not stringent enough.
A Low Treshold Application (LTA) is defined as a teaching/learning application of information technology that is reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-intimidating and (incrementally) inexpensive. There is a lot in it that I like; I like the idea of incorporating existing technologies that are already well-established and avaialble, which might already be used by both teachers and learners.
ESL training courses on the internet are a problem. While there are presumably courses that are worth the money, most seem a waste of time and money. Apart from the obvious defect of not having any observed classroom teaching, many are quite simply rip-offs and there is a problem with recognition, as many have set up their own recognising bodies.
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."
Tesol Law have published a draft discussion of a code of ethics, together with a discussion on the thinking behind it. It's not a new idea- the concept has been bandied around before. Most of the code seems pretty straightforward and sensible to me, but the enforceability of it is a different question. Robert J. Dickey, in his discussion, recognises that this could be 'a blessing or a curse' as it doesn't come from a recognised body.
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.
Just before I left Cambodia, I attended the CamTESOL conference in Phnom Penh, where I gave a paper on setting-up ILT. CamTESOL was set up to organise an annual conference on ELT in Cambodia, bringing ESL teachers from all over the country for the two-day event.
I followed a link from an ESL website to an article claiming to be a guide by a paedophile teacher in Korea on how to seduce underage girls. The link had been posted by someone who was shocked and outraged, but thought that people should know about the danger. In reply, someone else suggested that it was most probably a posting by a nationalist attempting to denigrate ESL teachers as paedophile fifth columnists. The poster argued that the author had supplied a translation and made a number of mistakes in English. I cannot comment on the quality of the translation, though don't see why the author couldn't have learnt the language, especially if he had stayed there a long time. The English was full of mistakes, but they were the kind of mistakes that a native speaker could make when typing, and the ESL profession has many unqualified teachers whose grasp of the language is not what it should be. On another forum, I saw a case where a teacher had been accused put down to police corruption, which could be true as it was in a notoriously corrupt country.
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.
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.
I have just looked at an ESL site that used to have a lot of free English language handouts and printables for teachers that has now started charging for access to the same worksheets. It seems somehow false pretences to offer a free selection and then impose a charge to see the same worksheets.
According to Private Eye, No 1107 Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) recently criticised English teaching at a school on the grounds that "subject teachers have not received suffiecient trianing to help them do their job" [sic].
There has been some discussion about 'Open Source Teaching' recently. As I understand it, the idea is to build vast databases of reusable computer resources. I would like to suggest two other possible ways of doing this.