It is a great pleasure and honor to introduce my new guest blogger. I first met Willy on Twitter. Amazingly enough we had been in the same conference in São Paulo (12th Braz-Tesol National Convention) a couple of months before, and because I hadn’t joined the world of a PLN and the blogosphere, we may have passed each other there and never met. Our first face to face meeting was in December, 2010, at a great tweet-up/happy hour he helped organize while I was in London. Willy is a unique guy. He’s a thinker and a great teacher. Not to mention an amazing person, fun to be with. I can’t wait to meet him at Tesol France in a couple of weeks!
He puts some of what goes through his mind in his blog, Authentic Teaching – I highly recommend it, if you don’t know it yet.
Here Willy approaches something that has been in my mind recently, especially after reading a few blog posts and lurking at some exchanges on Twitter… So, with you: Willy Cardoso!
This is a short series of blogposts on what I understand to be classroom management issue (although I don’t like that the two words collocate). I’m doing this as the usual warm-up before presenting at a conference, in this case the TESOL France Colloquium. Cecilia is going to be there too and since I greatly admire her this seemed like a good opportunity for my first ever guest post.
Last week, I had the pleasure to teach one of the most bright-eyed students I’ve ever had. She was incredibly, and constantly, in a very good mood; interested and interesting – a natural match for a conversation-driven course, which is what we did.
In one of our lessons the conversation unintentionally moved to the topic of classroom interaction and how she saw that in her morning lessons with other teachers (she was taking three hours in a group and 1,5 with me after lunch). So, at some point in this conversation she says:
I don’t know why, every time, the teachers want us to speak in pairs. There’s only one person in my group that has a similar level of English to mine, all others are below, and I don’t learn from them. There’s one boy that never says anything, he’s like furniture and it’s horrible when the teacher asks me to discuss something with him because he never has anything to say, I don’t know what he’s doing there.
Earlier this month, in a different course with different students, there was something like this:
Teacher, I think it is better when we talk to you and not when we have to talk with each other.
Really? Why is that?
All the students speak wrong and I don’t want to speak wrong, I prefer to listen you, is good English, I don’t think I improve with the others.
And I’ve heard similar reports in the staff room as well. What I can think about this is:
- Aren’t they partially right? If you want to learn a language won’t you prefer to speak to those who speak it well?
- Aren’t the teachers missing something there? For instance, to make clear to students why they do so many ‘talk-in-pairs’ moments – whatever reason it is.
So, for you reading this, if you’re a teacher:
What do you say to the student who sees no point in talking to classmates? And more, what is the effect of what you say or do?