Does Tefl need a shake up and need to shape up? Discuss.

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Does Tefl need a shake up and need to shape up? Discuss.

Unread post by AjPaul » 01 May 2013, 17:56

Is TEFL (purist) way of doing things relevant to contemporary ESL learning and in particular to learners in Thai schools? Are the methodologies outdated or need to reviewed and do they transfer effectively to a structured English program. Such teaching methods as:

!. Not giving grammar structure rules on the board and making everything a game or activity when the course book you are working with in most schools will state the structure (S + 'to be (past simple) + V + ing) as a way of forming tense which from experience tells us is the most effective way of presenting, practising and producing deep learning in this part of grammar.

2. Another Tefl "rule" being that no teacher should translate or transliterate words when presenting new vocabulary due to the "Primary Language Interference Theory" which is only a theory and has not been truly tested until recently and is now being looked at with some interest. Students are encouraged to use Thai/English dictionaries so why can't the teacher say the Thai word for 'inconvenient' or 'unfortunately' if that word is judged suitable instead of stressing through the planning and delivery of presenting the word. We could argue that this method is lazy on the part of the teacher and it definitely is if the ESL teacher is virtually transliterating the whole lesson or even phrases in Spanish or especially Thai as these do not transfer well and it is lazy and wrong to have the primary language used ( other than the odd one word or short phrase) during second language lesson.

3. "Do not state the object/focus/heading of the lesson just let them find out"? Mainstream teacher training firmly backs and strongly promotes the AFL (Assessment For Learning) approach giving the learners as much of an idea or 'road map of where we are going, why we are going there and what we should find when we get there. Why does this method not transfer to Tefl teaching and learning?

Does a balance need to be found in both mainstream and Tefl, ESL methodologies. From experience of teaching all sectors, levels and age groups it would seem that the drilling of dialogue lines 3 times (TT, TS, ST, SS) is not fun at all for all concerned and mostly not necessary unless we are working with hotels with absolute beginners which it seems the current thinking or methods in Tefl deem it only suitable for these sectors. Again does it transfer effectively to the school or structured (English for Life) program?

Is it for self preservation reasons that current Tefl methods state these rules and promote this 'tunnelled vision" way of looking at teaching and leaning.

Any thoughts, defences, discussions, reasons or anything constructive would be appreciated.



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Re: Does Tefl need a shake up and need to shape up? Discuss.

Unread post by Alex Case » 04 May 2013, 02:31

I don't know how you got the idea that those are standard current TEFL methodologies. Sensible use of L1, telling students what they will do and why, and writing up systematic analysis of the language they will be using are all quite standard in Cambridge Delta lessons, for example.

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Re: Does Tefl need a shake up and need to shape up? Discuss.

Unread post by Richardavie » 21 May 2013, 13:21

I don't like using formulas for teaching grammar, symbols are meaningless and off-putting to anyone who doesn't know anything about grammar. I've seen some ESL textbooks that look more like maths textbooks.

The way I see it, you as a native speaker don't know the form aux + sub + verb + object / adv is used to form a question, therefore your students don't need to learn it that way either.

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Re: Does Tefl need a shake up and need to shape up? Discuss.

Unread post by rachelb » 26 May 2013, 18:08

I think you have to make judgements about how and what to teach according to the level, the type of course, the students' backgrounds and expectations, and sometimes just what is happening on a particular day in a given moment. There aren't any fixed "rules" about teaching, and exercising a bit of principled eclecticism and experimenting with methods and techniques is all part of the fun.

The way people learn their first language, and the reasons for which they do so, are vastly different from the ways/reasons people learn a language later on in life, so I don't think that's necessarily a reason to avoid describing English patterns and structures and using metalanguage. Sometimes it's useful, sometimes it isn't.

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Re: Does Tefl need a shake up and need to shape up? Discuss.

Unread post by Ziad Dajani » 22 Aug 2013, 11:10

The research shows that translation is totally appropriate in certain circumstances. For instance, in the case of vocabulary learners learn faster if given the L1 translation when first learning the word.

Search for Keith Folse's well known 'Myths about Teaching and Learning' article for more info and evidence that this has been out in the ether for some time :)

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