Debate?- You are welcome!

Being a teacher is not just a job you do every day to get money. It's a vocation that fills one with an insatiable desire not only to plant the acknowledged ideas and make sure they are learned by heart or understood properly, but to create a special atmosphere for the learner which will enable him to cultivate these ideas independently. That is why it is a hard thing for an EFL instructor to bear in mind the phenomena of both inclusivity and equality in teaching, as we not only offer topics to discuss but also provide students with necessary building material- the language. I want to tell about my experience in dealing with the issue of giving equal opportunities to different ideas to exist.

For several years I have been working as a tutor of English for adults. Everyone knows that adults are people with stable views and opinions, sometimes too critical, sometimes indifferent, today they may be angry and irritated, but tomorrow they are willing to hug the whole world. Some of them are ingrained introverts and aren't eager to speak at all (that is where you start to wonder why this particular person came to practise spoken English), some are so-called souls of the company, which makes the process of studying much easier. And for sure, any adult is inevitably affected by his profession. So one day I started giving tutorials to a man in his early twenties. "This age is just the beginning of life" you'll say? He must be full of dreams, exiting plans and be positive about the future?! Well, I've never met so controversial a person, whose opinion about the world around was more black than white. Any time I said "yes" he would definitely say "no". It appeared to be difficult at first sight. But having thought carefully about the situation I decided to use it for our common benefit. If a student wants to debate - let him do it! But!!! In correct English, of course!

So, I started to collect and invent debatable topics for our lessons, which varied from "same sex marriages are wrong" to "every nation has the ruler it deserves." The ideas were taken from newspaper and magazine articles (the Guardian, the Times, National Geografic, the Economist, etc). In addition to that, I dug for all possible phrases, words, linkers to add,to contradict, to sum up. Though this list encompassed about 70 items,he skilfully produced them within a couple of lessons without peeping into his papers. Each lesson turned to be a real research for both of us! And what is more, he managed to convince me in some points which I could never agree with. The result? We both were happy and satisfied in our own way. I had a great feeling of achievement having developed his speech and having taught him to be patient and tolerant, the skills, in my opinion, that will give their fruitful results one day.

My student was especially pleased with the possibility to express himself and even more important - to be heard. After some considerations I've understood,that this is one of the key points in our challenging profession. I would like to ask all EFL instructors always to have open hearts and open minds, which are both so much wanted by our students, as it's incredibly important for them not just to know what and how to say, but also to be heard, accepted and get our response!


Hi Anastasya,
Thank you very much for sharing valuable experience.
I really appreciate your efforts to understand the student's thoughts and feelings, and to deal with the challenge by your own creations and ways.
Actually, I used to face to the similar situation as an adult learner (I myself had a trouble like your student).
I'll remember the key point you mentioned.

Dear Rie,
Thank you very much for your commentary! I'm absolutely sure that the key to both successful teaching and studying rests in your ability to put yourself in other person's shoes! It does work! And always facilitates the process!

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