Thought of the Day on Levels and Words

We tend to limit the number of words we use writing or talking to beginners. We give beginners shorter books and textbooks tend to limit the size of the texts. Yet, when we simplify our language we use more words, not less.

Think about describing a piano to a beginner and describing it to an advanced student. Hell, an advanced student knows the word piano. For a beginner you need to describe the size, shape, colors, keys, what an instrument is, how it’s different from other instruments….

Thoughts or is this only bugging me?

More Inspiration: A Good Course is…

Following up on Goal 5, I found this gem in the book I’m currently reading, Tessa Woodward, Planning Lessons and Courses from Cambridge University Press, 2001.

I’ll state my own criteria for a good language course or lesson now. A good lesson or course, to me, is one where there’s plenty of language learning going on and where the students and I:

  • feel comfortable physically, socially and psychologically
  • know a little about each other, why we are together and what we want to get out of the experience. (We also know these things may keep shifting slightly as we go through the course.)
  • are aware of some of what there is to learn
  • are aware of some of the things we have learned
  • have a notion about how we learn best
  • accept that language is a mixture of things (part instinct, motor skill, system, cultural artefact, music, part vehicle for content and part content itself), that it changes all the time and thus that we need to teach and learn it in a variety of ways
  • know why we’re doing the activities we’re doing
  • do things in class that would be worth doing and learn things that are worth learning for their own sake outside the language classroom
  • become more capable of taking the initiative, making decisions and judging what is good and useful
  • start useful habits which will continue after we have left each other
  • follow our course and lesson plans or depart from them when necessary in order to bring about the criteria above.

These are some of the things that are necessary for me to consider a course or lesson good, for me to consider my work good!

I couldn’t agree more. I particularly like the stress on making students aware themselves of how they learn and why classroom time is spent the way it is.

Things I'm Working on

Call these my New Year’s resolutions, but I think I like the idea of blogging small things I’m trying to change in my teaching. Maybe I’ll make these private down the line.

  • handwriting-since most of my students aren’t used to the Latin alphabet
  • demanding that they type their papers and learn Western academic paper formats
  • time to think before answering