Archive for November, 2011

2-4 easily avoidable pedagogical errors

November 6, 2011

given the many years that many students can spend
studying something without ever learning it,
one might fear that much education is entirely useless,
or mostly just babysitting,
and this problem is especially endemic
in language education.

certain recurrant problematic student habits can
however also suggest that failures to attain targets
may derive from the likelihood that students
are all too often getting away with ineffective approaches
which are in fact easily remedied.

thus, i want to strongly encourage all teachers to STOP
tolerating the following behavior:

1a. students answering questions with ONE word,
such as ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘one’ and other solitary numbers,
‘hamburger’, etc.

1b. students answering ‘yes’ to corrections,
rather than fully repeating an entire grammatically correct sentence.

(the above would seem to be obvious in a language classroom setting,
but from the look of surprise that new students often give
when this expectation is actually enforced, i can’t help but wonder
how often it is.)

2a. reading off written pages all the time.
(i have already emphasized this point
in a previous post;
there is a shocking frequency of students who can read
incredibly complex English without being able to string barely
3 of their own self-generated words together)

2b. speaking in chorus all the time.
(though this is often a useful way of offering
more opportunities to more students to speak,
it’s also shocking how a whole class can seem to have
internalized a pattern, while on closer inspection
many individuals will still be struggling with it)

students’ strengths and weaknesses suggest
that they are in fact learning exactly what
teachers are teaching them:

1. to read aloud
2. to listen and repeat

without 24-7 immersion, language learning will
almost invariably present incredibly challenges,
but if students are given more opportunities
to practice the target skill
of actually expressing themselves,
they just might.