I write you this message from a very calm Baku. The sky has emptied all the rain it can and now is serene.

Dear Everybody,

    Try this exercise: make sure each student has a large sheet of blank paper in front of them. Tell them that you want them to draw something and that it ought to take up the whole of the paper. Tell them they wil have just one minute to draw it. TELL THEM TO DRAW A ONE MINUTE MAP OF THEIR COUNTRY AND TO PUT IN ALL THE DETAIL THEY CAN IN THE TIME ALLOTED.

Time the minute.

Ask them to get up and mill around the room, working  in succession with five or six different partners. They are to discuss the difference between their maps.

The odd thing about this activity is that the maps will be substantially different and yet the students see a more or less accurate [ "more or less" because you cannot represent a curved surface accurately in two dimensions ] map of their country each time they watch the weather forecast.  How can you explain the differences? What makes these maps of their so strikingly different?

The really amazing thing is that the EFL tradition somehow expects 30 students to read the same text and somehow , magically, to mentally register it in the same way. This simpy never happens.

We can disregard neurological and psychological reality but they won't go away. Our tradition in respect to reading and lilstening is a thin sad, professional self-deception.

Grumpy-old-manishly,   Mario

Comments

Please keep being grumpy - that's how the light gets in ( to paraphrase a well known quote "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in". L.Cohen.)

 We need more teaching that focuses on the students creating the content - such as your example above. The world is mapped by a mind, not imposed from without...

 I often sing 

All I got is a lot of language, 3 chords and the truth

All I got is a lot of language

The rest is up to you (to paraphrase again!).

 Happy travels, 

 David

Dear David,

                 When students read or hear a text they will always mentally create. The teacher's skill is to find ways of helping them to express what they have created. Much EFL teaching simply and happily sails past the reality of text elaboration, and maybe not just EFL teaching.

Warmly yours, Mario 

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