When I first started teaching EL at the university, I visited several lessons conducted by my own former school teacher. Here are a few new insights which I learned as an observer.
• How to parcel out various topics; how much or how little we may fit into 45 minutes; how to stop myself from sharing ALL my own knowledge of a current theme at once so as not to overload my students. I appreciated how much she knew, and how effortlessly she doled out information so as to involve her class in the process but not overwhelm them.
My long experience with ELT at all levels and ages has led me to the following simple conclusions; One, to quote Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), is this: “Knowledge is power”. Two, we cannot change human nature.
Traditionally, the introduction into the world of other cultures happens at an EL lesson close to Christmas. The first mystery our students face is this: why is Christmas celebrated on December 25 in many European countries while in the Russian Orthodox Church it falls on January 7? I remember trying to understand the whole idea of different calendar systems that our EL teacher explained to us in second grade. In middle and high school today we can suggest that our students research the subject online and make their own short reports in the classroom.
When new acquaintances ask me about my profession, I often jokingly reply that I am a professional chatterbox. Indeed, after a quarter century of teaching I can deliver a ninety minute lecture on various topics even in my sleep so to speak. And naturally I have a stock of stories to fill in any lull in a conversation if needed. To wit, most of our work is indeed talking, but not all of it.
Writing is greeted enthusiastically by younger pupils because for them it is a new challenge. They revel in their ability to construct a whole sentence from the recently learned words, and proudly present their efforts to the class and to the teacher. In primary school three sentences are already a story or an essay. “The soldier walks to the palace. He wants food, drink and the princess. Three magic dogs help him”. Recognize “The Tinderbox”, a fairy tale by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, originally published on May 8, 1835, under the title “Fyrtoiet”?
Posted by NinaMK
As a student at Moscow University, I was part of an experiment conducted by the head of the English Department. After our first semester and examination session, she insisted that those who got straight A’s should be enlisted into the same academic group. Nobody asked our opinion. Thus when we returned from our winter break we learned that we were now members of an elite group of eight students.
A few years ago I witnessed the following little scene in Barcelona, Spain. A city guide was telling her little group of obviously rather rich tourists about Sagrada Familia, (the Holy Family), the celebrated basilica begun by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. An irritated woman’s voice rang out loudly into a pause: “Why don’t you tell us what kind of family it was, who were its members?” On a par with this question was a comment overheard in Florence: “Can we see that church, its façade looks like waffles, it’s quite pretty, it has that ancient dude’s statue nearby”.
A real live meeting with colleagues is one of the most motivational annual events for me. In January 2019, the regional Winter Methodology School organized by the local ELT Association turned fifteen. More than two hundred EL teachers and educators from Siberia, Moscow, the Far East, Longman-Pearson representatives, Cambridge International Exam specialists and two English Language Fellows from the USA gathered together to make their presentations and conduct workshops, to discuss the current problems, and simply to socialize.
We have been doing international internet projects with students and teachers for more than twenty years; I have written about them many times. For our new topic, I would like to share our ongoing positive domestic project. Several years ago a few well-equipped schools, the local education authorities and parent-teacher associations suggested an innovative usage of the numerous internet classes. What if we could work at bridging the generation gap by bridging the digital divide?