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Motivation; "dogme" in teacher training

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  • davidhogg_bcn
    Hi everybody. I haven t gotten around to reading any Van Lier yet, but these snippets that keep popping up on the dogme list are pure poetry. I must get hold
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2004
      Hi everybody.

      I haven't gotten around to reading any Van Lier yet, but these
      snippets that keep popping up on the dogme list are pure poetry. I
      must get hold of the real thing sometime soon.

      I referred, a few posts ago, to something which I think I called the
      scary ordinariness of much of what (still!!) goes on in many
      language "teachers"' classrooms. Y'all know what I mean. Lots of
      performancy nonsense (such as in Rob's Van Lier excerpt). Tons of
      transmission-based irrelevance. Oodles of surrealia and immaterials.
      And worse, teachery condescention abounds. All in all, the norm is
      what I like to call Dragging learners to English instead of
      delivering English to learners.

      All wrong wrong wrong, of course. But nonetheless, it seems to be the
      norm. Which makes it "our" daily bread and butter (inasmuch as we
      associate ourselves with what so many of our colleagues do in the
      name of English Language "Teaching").

      Someone around here mentioned teacher training recently, too. On
      teacher training courses that I've worked, I've not felt the
      slightest bit uneasy about telling novice teachers that they have to
      be REAL with the people in the room. I've felt no obligation to
      instruct them to go along with the ELT flow of having learners do
      bizarre nonsense in the name of "motivation". I've directed them to
      Harmer's sober analysis of what really motivates learners to want to
      come on language courses in the first place, and I've asked trainees
      to connect with that motivation within the people in the room, and to
      deal with that motivation appropriately rather than to do all the
      false stuff described by Van Lier, which so many novice teachers get
      told to do (and which many of them never unlearn: they go on doing it
      for the rest of their ELT careers as if it had some merit or other).

      And I've handed out photocopies of Kumaravadivelu's comments on topic
      nomination and on encouraging what he calls "metaprocess questioning"
      (i.e., lots of "why" questions, making students explain the reasoning
      behind what they've said. The outcome of metaprocess questions, of
      course, is so personal and real that it simply can't be predicted on
      a lesson "plan").

      Written lesson plans are a requirement of the courses I've been
      involved in. But I see some worth in having novice teachers go
      through the *process* of thinking about how one planned activity
      links to others before and after it; and to learners' needs. And it's
      that thought process which is much more important than the extent to
      which they actually stick to the plan or stray from it. And I tell
      them so. I tell them that they're free to stray from the plan, but
      that they must develop the mental discipline of justifying (to
      themselves; to me; to their peers) their reasons for straying from
      it. "What do you believe the students gained from that improvised
      activity that you did? On what basis can you justify that belief?".
      [Trainee replies]. Then, "Oh, so that's ok then. It's good to see you
      thinking on your feet so well, and responding to students' on-line
      needs." / "Ah, I see. Actually, I think you're wrong about that
      because[...] . You'd've done much better sticking to your plan, which
      would've met these peoples' needs much more accurately, because[...]."

      Timing [Hi Diarmuid!] is never adhered to at all by my trainees.
      Sometimes that's an issue that I have to pick them up on, but usually
      it isn't.

      Lesson plans are not always useless, particularly for novices. (I
      hope that's not diametrically opposed to anything I've said recently,
      though it might be!).

      And so teacher training / teaching does not have to be about "playing
      the game in order not to be rebuked by our superiors" (although,
      Wendy, I acknowledge that this is not true in all contexts - yours is
      probably one of the many exceptions).

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