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Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby archylgp » 15 Dec 2011, 21:48

GuyInTaiwan wrote:archylgp: Wow. That's quite an undertaking. I'm not seeking to become such a specialist, but kudos to you if you can do that by yourself. One of the issues I am finding reading the Iliad at the moment is that there's so much incidental knowledge to do with classics that I simply don't know. I studied classics in my first year of university, and we read the Odyssey then. It was immensely helpful to have a real expert on the subject right there. At some point, I'm going to get around to Shakespeare, as well as people like Milton, Dante, and so on. I know that's going to be really difficult without expert guidance. Are you getting any expert guidance in person (or by correspondence) with your study of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties?


There might be something like "reading companions" that you can you use along with your readings of the classics -- that is, some book that will have the relative background information along with the text. These types of books are called 讀本 in Chinese and they're what I use to read classical Chinese literature.

I've been in contact with one of my former professors but that's about it. I suppose one of the more difficult things about studying on one's own is knowing what is worth reading and what is not -- there's more bad research than good out there it seems. I'm working on getting into a grad program back home, but I want to do it right this time (I just quit a grad program here) and I'll need some funding.

I completely agree with what you said about practice. But I also think the quality of practice is just as important as the quantity, perhaps more.
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby heimuoshu » 15 Dec 2011, 22:29

ironlady wrote:It cuts both ways.

Yes, there are foreign teachers who are phoning it in and doing the absolute minimum, plus most are not qualified teachers in the sense not of having some piece of paper but of having some clue about classroom management and how to discipline and instruct (which have to come in that order if there is going to be instruction).

But at the same time, the Taiwanese don't help much. Even in naming, the foreign teachers are not afforded the same respect that any Taiwanese teacher would demand. No one would ever call a Taiwanese teacher "Teacher Joe" or "Teacher Kathy" -- full names only, if you please, or at least the surname. The mistaken idea that the foreign English teacher must first be a "friend" is probably one foundation for many of the management problems in classrooms taught by foreign English teachers.

Absolutely.
I insist at my school that me students call me by my name. No title or anything. If the want to add a title do it properly. I also tell them that my name and what they call me has little influence on my opinion of them and should have little influence on their opinion of me. They know very well that if they disrespect me or any of the teachers that work for me, hell boils over. It happens once or twice a year at most.
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby Whole Lotta Lotta » 16 Dec 2011, 00:20

ironlady wrote:It cuts both ways.

Yes, there are foreign teachers who are phoning it in and doing the absolute minimum, plus most are not qualified teachers in the sense not of having some piece of paper but of having some clue about classroom management and how to discipline and instruct (which have to come in that order if there is going to be instruction).

But at the same time, the Taiwanese don't help much. Even in naming, the foreign teachers are not afforded the same respect that any Taiwanese teacher would demand. No one would ever call a Taiwanese teacher "Teacher Joe" or "Teacher Kathy" -- full names only, if you please, or at least the surname. The mistaken idea that the foreign English teacher must first be a "friend" is probably one foundation for many of the management problems in classrooms taught by foreign English teachers.

I once read a book called The Essentiall 55 that had something interesting to say about this subject. It said that it is neccessary for the kids to like you, but they cannot know that you need them to like you. If they know that you need them to like you, they have a powerful tool that they can and probably will use against you.

I have also had adults tell me that they are not just looking for a teacher, but also a friend. They told me that they liked the previous teacher because she was funny. They also went on outings with her. This is all well and good, but did it improve their English? I taught them at a higher level and I felt they struggled.
It does seem at times that teaching adults is a popularity contest and that they may like a teacher, but their English is not improving all that much.
Ironlady, do you think the idea that a teacher must be a 'friend' is a problem when it comes to teaching adults :ponder: ?
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby tomthorne » 16 Dec 2011, 00:28

Easy answer: don't teach kids.

Isn't the whole point about teaching ESL/EFL/TESOL/whatever to eventually get away from teaching kids and just teach people you can have a conversation, of sorts, with? Such as teenagers and adults.
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby ironlady » 16 Dec 2011, 00:53

No.
I prefer beginners, and most beginners in EFL are children.
What would make me chew off my own arm would be the rote-memorization, sticky-ball approach to ESL/EFL that one gets at most places in Taiwan. If you can actually teach children in a meaningful way, it's just as much fun as teaching adults. There are all sorts of "conversations", after all, and adults aren't the only ones who can have them in English.
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby superking » 16 Dec 2011, 01:04

I don't think it is necessary for the kids to like you, they need to be able to respect you for the fact that you are doing a good job. The problem with getting the kids to like you is that you eventually have favourites and that is a terrible position to be in for the kids who know they are not your favourites.

Adults, mah, it's easy to make them like you. Show up and provide good value for money. Friendship? Why not. As long as they are paying you for your time and as long as you give them all equal attention. Most adult students now tell me that they liked me because I taught clearly and gave them lots of work, which I always marked. I also put their learning in their hands. If they had a question I let them figure it out and guided them with examples to clarify. They just want someone to hold their hand. Don't go getting drunk down the pub with them though, not unless you are in England or someplace and they are just over for a short course. Being all friendsy wendsy with the locals can lead to jealousy just as much as it can with kids. Do some outings, sure, but go as a group and get the money for it. They are getting something from you, and it ain't genuine honest friendship. You are either a route to some weird language goal or you are a status symbol for them to drape in front of their friends.
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby Whole Lotta Lotta » 16 Dec 2011, 02:35

They just want someone to hold their hand.

That is the problem with some adults; They don't want to take responisbility for their own learning. They think that the teacher must be the be-all and end-all of their experience :2cents: .
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby ironlady » 16 Dec 2011, 05:32

I think the difference is that it is possible (if not likely) to be friends with adult learners and still be able to command the discipline needed to run a class without disturbances. With kids, that is usually not possible. You are either in a position of authority or not.
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Re: Microphones and Sleeping with One's Eyes Open

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 16 Dec 2011, 08:13

archylgp: Yes, I think I'm going to have to get a secondary text for certain books. When do you think you're going to be ready to apply for a new graduate programme?

You're right about quality of practice rather than quantity of practice. From what I've read, that really seems to be the way to go, and across disciplines. It's more efficient in producing better results because it really gets into extending the student/performer, and it also prevents burnout, injuries, etc.

mups: I agree with everything you wrote. Right on the money. Further to that, one has to actually have authority as granted by administration. About the only thing I am really allowed to do in my class is move students to another location within the room. Anything more than that and I have to go to someone else, who then goes to someone else. Occasionally, I can cut one, but not two, people out of the process. The whole thing makes a mockery of any supposed authority I have in the classroom. It's bloody absurd, to put it mildly.

Satellite: No, I don't administer any of the tests here. I have seen the tests the kids do because they occasionally leave them lying around or they (or teachers) come and ask me questions about them. I don't administer them though.

ironlady: Your point about what the kids call their teachers is a good one. My students do not call me Teacher (First Name). They call me Mr (Family Name), as kids would back home. At the beginning and end of the lesson, I make them all stand and we offer greetings and farewells in a similar manner to what they do with their Taiwanese teachers, only in English. I try to at least give them some inkling that they're in a classroom with a teacher, not just some dude name Teacher Kevin or Teacher Jason who is going to have a laugh with them for 45 minutes (with certain classes, we do have a laugh, but we also do what we're meant to be doing).
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