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The students are the boss.

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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby TaiwanVisitor12321 » 10 Aug 2012, 01:07

ironlady wrote:
TaiwanVisitor12321 wrote:Being serious doesn't matter anyway, if we're serious they still don't listen to a damn thing I say. Nearly all of them still forget the s on the end of any plural word.. they all pronounce "Whoa" as "Wow", despite being corrected several times a week, they can't read contractions correctly (they ALWAYS split them up into two words.. he'll is ALWAYS HE WILL to them... who the hell taught them this way? Why would we have "he'll" if we never said it? to save space on the page?), they can't pronounce X, they can't pronounce, well, lots of things. These are just simple reading problems. Easily fixed... this isn't even touching their grammar and other assorted problems.


Do yourself and your students a favor and look into the idea of "language acquisition". Students don't simply disregard what you say. There is a progressive development of language, and things that don't exist in the native language will generally be harder to acquire (meaning, to use automatically and correctly) than things that exist in the native language. English and Chinese are two very different languages, and frankly it's easier to go from English to Chinese than the other way around, because you're adding a whole bunch of stuff that's actually redundant from the point of view of Chinese.

You have people who have had many, many years of English instruction, for better or worse. You cannot expect them to immediately just get rid of whatever habits have been formed over those years because you say something once. And I am willing to bet that like most traditional teachers, you believe you're saying something a lot, but actually it ends up being once or twice. Even "several times a week" is nothing compared to the thousands of hours of English they've had that used whatever it was wrong.

Once you realize that language acquisition is a brain thing, it will take a lot of the pressure off, and you may even be able to appreciate your students as human beings, rather than believing they're involved in some sort of conspiracy against you in the classroom.


I give them acquisition speeches all the time when they mention memorizing things, or just when I think nobody is listening to me. I don't have time for real TPRS (or more likely I just don't know how to work it in properly), but I do try to throw in as many variations/repetitions of patterns and vocabulary as I can. I chat with them at the beginning of class and tie it in to the day's topic as much as possible, or ask them questions about their life and relate it all to the material if I possibly can, but they generally just tune out and start reading other things, or looking at their schedules to see if there's a better class to go to. they don't want to take part or listen to others or hear what I say to them, or god forbid, TALK to other classmates.

I try to structure the input as much as I can. Most of the time it's not very ideal because I have too many different things to teach them each class, but if they'd listen, I'm sure they'd fix a few of these mistakes after a while... I think (and I may be wrong) that they ignore almost any valuable input around them and focus on grammar and vocab lists instead.

I had a guy the other day who got bored and pissed off because I was talking about the day's topic instead of directly going over the reading (at least that's what I assume... he never said a word the whole time he was in class, of course). The last straw though was when I dared to ASK them questions about the material, so I could put their answers up on the board and tell them useful things about them (just eliciting responses so I could write a quick list, basically, nothing very difficult). He slammed his book shut and stormed out of the room. I had another student do the same thing in another class the same day too. I really don't get what these people are after. They don't want to talk. They get mad/bored when there's any listening... They won't answer questions... Do they expect me to give a grammar lecture or something? I give them plenty of examples, but I rarely go into language rules or terms beyond telling them something is present/past/future tense.

Sometimes I give them a speech about how they paid a lot of money to go to my class, so they should probably try to get something out of it, but like anything else, they sit there like lumps. I was under the impression that they paid lots of money to have access to a native speaker so they could practice their English, but apparently my impression is completely wrong. I have a few older people that just come in to chat and kill time, and they're friendly enough. They're not even trying, and they improve faster than anyone else there. Nobody else gets that they're actually participating and listening, rather than burying themselves in dictionaries or trying to memorize tons of pointless vocabulary (instead of listening to my explanations of how to USE the vocabulary), and therefore, improving. I point this out constantly, but it doesn't seem to get through.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby ironlady » 10 Aug 2012, 05:22

TaiwanVisitor12321 wrote:I give them acquisition speeches all the time when they mention memorizing things, or just when I think nobody is listening to me. I don't have time for real TPRS (or more likely I just don't know how to work it in properly), but I do try to throw in as many variations/repetitions of patterns and vocabulary as I can. I chat with them at the beginning of class and tie it in to the day's topic as much as possible, or ask them questions about their life and relate it all to the material if I possibly can, but they generally just tune out and start reading other things, or looking at their schedules to see if there's a better class to go to. they don't want to take part or listen to others or hear what I say to them, or god forbid, TALK to other classmates.


If you're worried about them talking to each other, you really don't know what TPRS is. I would advise avoiding it in such a situation. It's not something that will give good results being "worked in", either.

Sometimes I give them a speech about how they paid a lot of money to go to my class, so they should probably try to get something out of it, but like anything else, they sit there like lumps. I was under the impression that they paid lots of money to have access to a native speaker so they could practice their English, but apparently my impression is completely wrong. I have a few older people that just come in to chat and kill time, and they're friendly enough. They're not even trying, and they improve faster than anyone else there. Nobody else gets that they're actually participating and listening, rather than burying themselves in dictionaries or trying to memorize tons of pointless vocabulary (instead of listening to my explanations of how to USE the vocabulary), and therefore, improving. I point this out constantly, but it doesn't seem to get through.


You have a classroom full of false intermediates. That's a tough crowd. But I can only imagine the persona you are projecting in class. I would not be very much inspired to be constantly told about my motivations and so on by a visible frustrated and angry person. That is not okay in Taiwanese society, you realize?
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby bismarck » 10 Aug 2012, 13:12

ironlady wrote:
Sometimes I give them a speech about how they paid a lot of money to go to my class, so they should probably try to get something out of it, but like anything else, they sit there like lumps. I was under the impression that they paid lots of money to have access to a native speaker so they could practice their English, but apparently my impression is completely wrong. I have a few older people that just come in to chat and kill time, and they're friendly enough. They're not even trying, and they improve faster than anyone else there. Nobody else gets that they're actually participating and listening, rather than burying themselves in dictionaries or trying to memorize tons of pointless vocabulary (instead of listening to my explanations of how to USE the vocabulary), and therefore, improving. I point this out constantly, but it doesn't seem to get through.


You have a classroom full of false intermediates. That's a tough crowd. But I can only imagine the persona you are projecting in class. I would not be very much inspired to be constantly told about my motivations and so on by a visible frustrated and angry person. That is not okay in Taiwanese society, you realize?

Yeah, I can see how that could be an issue for the poor guy. I also found that my trusty laser pointer and my question word chart (with English and Chinese) has been an immense help getting the adults on board with this.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby Confuzius » 10 Aug 2012, 15:28

bismarck wrote:
ironlady wrote:
Sometimes I give them a speech about how they paid a lot of money to go to my class, so they should probably try to get something out of it, but like anything else, they sit there like lumps. I was under the impression that they paid lots of money to have access to a native speaker so they could practice their English, but apparently my impression is completely wrong. I have a few older people that just come in to chat and kill time, and they're friendly enough. They're not even trying, and they improve faster than anyone else there. Nobody else gets that they're actually participating and listening, rather than burying themselves in dictionaries or trying to memorize tons of pointless vocabulary (instead of listening to my explanations of how to USE the vocabulary), and therefore, improving. I point this out constantly, but it doesn't seem to get through.


You have a classroom full of false intermediates. That's a tough crowd. But I can only imagine the persona you are projecting in class. I would not be very much inspired to be constantly told about my motivations and so on by a visible frustrated and angry person. That is not okay in Taiwanese society, you realize?

Yeah, I can see how that could be an issue for the poor guy. I also found that my trusty laser pointer and my question word chart (with English and Chinese) has been an immense help getting the adults on board with this.


No offense, but I think you are making 2 major mistakes (the OP that is):

1. You are taking this class too seriously
2. You are treating them a bit like children, but expecting them to act like adults.

Commentary to #1:
You do not give homework, you do not give grades, you do not give exams-this is not a "real" class. You are not teaching at a university, you are the equivilent of some dude teaching yoga or swimming at the YMCA. (no offence intended, I do the same exact job as you). You, much like the yoga guy or the guy teaching swimming, need to make it FUN! Do not teach it as though it is a "real" class where perfomance matters one fucking ounce...since it doesn't. Teach it like its fun activity time.

Commentary to #2:
You, according to your own words, give them all sorts of "lectures": lectures on how they should behave, lectures on how they should perform, lectures on language acquisition, lectures on how they should spend their money. This is WRONG if you want to win them over! They are not children, you will not change their outlook or approach to learning English by TELLING them what they need to do...you teaching tactics need to show them how to learn a language. And by this I mean they will see that they are learning from you, using your methedology and will be won over by these results not by your nagging.

You may need to go and teach children, and I do not mean to be offensive by this in any way, but teaching children and adults is a totally different ball of wax and your methods seem to be the ones people use for children, which often work quite effectively.

I have never had an adult class behave like this, all my adult classes LOVE me, I do not know if you got my response to your pm a while back, but you need to be much more entertaining, much more their buddy, than their teacher.

A lot of other people on this thread have pretty much said the same thing as well I have noticed. Your classes do NOT sound fun, not at all, and they really need to be. You're not an educator, you're a hobby facilitator (I am too) but knowing that is important. Don't take your job so seriously, you're getting paid to entertain people in English for around 20 usd an hr, not too bad! You really don't even need to prepare for these kinds of classes, so its a sweet deal. No, it doesn't give you much in terms of self-respect or feeling like you are a valued educator empowering people to improve their lives....but it beats working at 711 or throwing sticky balls IMHO.
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This post was recommended by bismarck (10 Aug 2012, 21:18)
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby TaiwanVisitor12321 » 11 Aug 2012, 01:36

Basically I go in trying to have fun and not take it seriously. I go in happy and ready to spend some time with these people, and often I just get a brick wall... no laughing, no smiling, no response... definitely no questions, not comments.. and I have to do SOMETHING in class, so I essentially tell them they're boring and not fun, and try to tell them how to actually get something out of the class. This is a last resort, not a daily thing.

If I have some live students (as opposed to dead ones that just sit around) we do have fun. If they listen to me, I have them laughing and having fun. It's essentially just me talking to them though. They don't put much in...

Generally if I want to do some sort of activity, they'll protest, or just start whispering to each other in Chinese. Half of them don't even know what part of the reading we're on, because they just don't pay attention to a damn thing. We go around taking turns, and they can't even figure out that their turn is coming up, so they might want to pay attention to what part they're about to be asked to read. I'm talking some minimal effort here.

A student recently told me she loves my class, but I'd be a lot more popular if I had a style where they could just sit there and not be expected to do anything. They're after a class where they can just magically be injected with English without any effort.

I'm known as the young, nice, handsome, FUN and friendly teacher at my school. They say everyone else is so serious, but I give them more opportunities to speak out and have fun.

Of course, these are the students that actually talk to me telling me this, so they may not represent the silent majority.

So, I agree, it should be fun... what kind of fun can I have with a brick wall though? I mean really, what are some activities that might work with this kind of group?
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby tomthorne » 11 Aug 2012, 04:11

TaiwanVisitor12321 wrote:
So, I agree, it should be fun... what kind of fun can I have with a brick wall though? I mean really, what are some activities that might work with this kind of group?


You've been given a lot of suggestions. Some of them from the traditional output driven approach, others from the far more effective input driven approach. I'm not sure what else to add because you seem to have a reason why every piece of advice won't work with your students.

OK, here goes. CI/TPRS instructors please look away now :lol: .

Get them into pairs. Do this as soon as possible after they walk in the door. Introduce a topic, any bloody topic, and do it with enthusiasm. Get them to brainstorm topic related vocab in pairs or groups and elicit any other vocab you think they'll need. Then give them a typed up list of questions in their pairs. You don't even have to think of these yourself, you can easily pull them off the internet. Get them to read through the questions and check any unknown words. Then get them to ask you random questions from the list. You then give the same sort of answers that they are capable of, but with reasons. Also, when you answer each question ask a question back such as "How about you?", "What do you think?" etc. Review follow-up questions and the Answer Add Ask rule (always emphasise the word "rule"). They almost certainly won't ask each other follow-up questions, but at least you've tried :) .

Then they ask each other the questions in their pairs. You move from pair to pair looking really interested and drop in on their 'conversations'. Ask questions about their answers and laugh a lot. Then put pairs together to further discuss their answers. When they have all finished chatting try to create a class discussion if you can. Don't worry if it falls a bit flat.

Don't pressurise anyone to talk. If they want to spend the lesson staring at their electronic dictionaries that's their choice. They are the paying customers and can do as they wish. Encourage as much as possible, but don't ever put anyone on the spot.

If that doesn't work then I recommend kindy :D .
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby bismarck » 11 Aug 2012, 12:12

tomthorne wrote:OK, here goes. CI/TPRS instructors please look away now :lol: .

Get them into pairs. Do this as soon as possible after they walk in the door. Introduce a topic, any bloody topic, and do it with enthusiasm. Get them to brainstorm topic related vocab in pairs or groups and elicit any other vocab you think they'll need. Then give them a typed up list of questions in their pairs. You don't even have to think of these yourself, you can easily pull them off the internet. Get them to read through the questions and check any unknown words. Then get them to ask you random questions from the list. You then give the same sort of answers that they are capable of, but with reasons. Also, when you answer each question ask a question back such as "How about you?", "What do you think?" etc. Review follow-up questions and the Answer Add Ask rule (always emphasise the word "rule"). They almost certainly won't ask each other follow-up questions, but at least you've tried :) .

Then they ask each other the questions in their pairs. You move from pair to pair looking really interested and drop in on their 'conversations'. Ask questions about their answers and laugh a lot. Then put pairs together to further discuss their answers. When they have all finished chatting try to create a class discussion if you can. Don't worry if it falls a bit flat.

Don't pressurise anyone to talk. If they want to spend the lesson staring at their electronic dictionaries that's their choice. They are the paying customers and can do as they wish. Encourage as much as possible, but don't ever put anyone on the spot.

If that doesn't work then I recommend kindy :D .

I was asked by my adult students why all the other teacher's let them do group or pair work and I don't and I answered, "I don't think it's a good idea to spend half our class having you guys speak to each other and re-enforce incorrect grammar and pronunciation. We do do 'pair work' all the time. You vs me. But that way I can hear everyone's responses and questions, you can hear how I speak, and I can correct any problems as well as explain things so everyone benefits. But it's your money. If you prefer to talk to each other instead of to me, then we can do that."

It never came up again. In fact, now they tend to bitch (to the school manager) that the other teacher's make them do too much group work without the benefit of hearing a native speaker all the time. :roflmao:
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby tomthorne » 11 Aug 2012, 14:13

bismarck wrote:
tomthorne wrote:OK, here goes. CI/TPRS instructors please look away now :lol: .


I was asked by my adult students why all the other teacher's let them do group or pair work and I don't and I answered, "I don't think it's a good idea to spend half our class having you guys speak to each other and re-enforce incorrect grammar and pronunciation. We do do 'pair work' all the time. You vs me. But that way I can hear everyone's responses and questions, you can hear how I speak, and I can correct any problems as well as explain things so everyone benefits. But it's your money. If you prefer to talk to each other instead of to me, then we can do that."

It never came up again. In fact, now they tend to bitch (to the school manager) that the other teacher's make them do too much group work without the benefit of hearing a native speaker all the time. :roflmao:


I did ask you to look away :lol: . The OP's in such a cycle of negativity that he's just got to have the simplest of lessons work, IMO. Just walk out of a classroom thinking "That went well", even if it actually didn't in terms of acquisition. Then he can step up to the cutting-edge stuff :) .

Besides, if you were observed by a DELTA type only spending half your class having S-S would be deemed too much teacher talk time :lol: .
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby ironlady » 11 Aug 2012, 20:46

So, what does the opinion of some DELTA type matter? :D

What is student-centered teaching, really? I don't believe it should be measured by whose mouth is moving. I think it is a much more complex issue that centers on engagement and ownership of texts (in the linguistic sense) -- the sense of having what's going on belong to the student, not being imposed from the teacher. But of course that is much more difficult to measure or observe than "the teacher is talking too much."

Honestly (CI or not CI, TPRS or not TPRS) -- my issue with so many "evaluators" is that they throw around standards that they can't support. They can't show research that supports a certain proportion of teacher talk/English/whatever being more effective, but even more damning, they can't even really defend their quantification of how much teacher talk/English/whatever is going on.

I had this sort of evaluator this summer at a program I was teaching at. He couldn't get over the fact that TPRS uses English (when English is the shared fluent language, as it was in this case.) Wouldn't look at results or talk to the kids -- just said "Too much English. We have a 90% standard for use of the target language."

Being a research-oriented sort, I recorded a class, transcribed 10 minutes of tape, and counted the words. 90.3% Chinese. And at least I could tell him precisely why I was using each word of English that was used in class (if he'd been remotely interested, which of course he wasn't).
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby tomthorne » 11 Aug 2012, 21:00

ironlady wrote:So, what does the opinion of some DELTA type matter? :D


Unfortunately a hell of a lot, career wise.
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