Weekend 3

Apparently I'm not a student of TEFL at all. TEFL is "Teaching English as a Foreign Language", whereas what I'm studying is TESOL - "Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages". Not to be confused with TESL - "Teaching English as a Second Language".

There's also IELTS, but I can never remember what that stands for - something to do with Business English. And they're all kinds of ELT - "English Language Teaching".

[Update: I stand corrected - IELTS is an qualification in English language proficiency, not a qualification in teaching. The levels run from 1 to 9 - if you're around 7.5 (corresponding roughly to having passed an "Advanced" EFL certificate), you're judged good enough to attend university.

But there's loads of somewhat incompatible and incomparible systems of grading and testing, all with their own barrage of acronyms and abbreviations.]

For some reason, there don't seem to be qualifications for teachers of basic literacy skills - letter formation, word recognition, punctuation etc. These things tend to be taught by volunteers with TEFL qualifications. Or TESOL or TESL or IELTS.

A welcomely restful Saturday. I lay in bed after waking for two whole hours doing absolutely nothing, and enjoying every minute. Then a leisurely shower, a slow fried breakfast, and some reading on second language aquistion.

In the afternoon, my hosts took me on a sightseeing drive of London, taking in Canary Wharf (full of unoccupied luxury flats going for peppercorn rent), the streets of Wapping (scene of the printworkers strike of the 80s), Cable Street (where Oswald Mosley's fascist march was halted and his movement effectively broken by a communist-led coalition), Tower Bridge (which is blue and goes up and down), and bits of London's East End (which looks exactly like the rest of London, and not remotely like the set of Eastenders).

I've been keeping myself out of political matters, but bits of news still reach me.

The Respect party is having trouble (again) because its one MP and would-be leader George Galloway has thrown a strop (again), because he didn't get his own way (again).

An electoral alternative to New Labour (more or less, a new Old Labour) was, and is, necessary. But once again an attempt to create one has fallen to the twin idols of Ego and Opportunism.

I don't have a crystal ball for seeing the future, but here's my prediction: Galloway with his collection of small businessmen and toadies will will split from the SWP on or before the conference on November 23rd, to form his own short lived party, before he carves out a career in media. The SWP, finding there's no forces or groups to try building another party with, will concentrate on union work - and anti-war stuff if America bombs anywhere new.

So, Talk Radio will get a new voice, trade unions will get agitated, and there'll still be no genuinely left wing party to vote for in elections.

There's two ways to hate your job. One is to hate the actual job, the other is the hate yourself for doing it.

Most people who hate their jobs hate the drudgery, boredom, repetition and sheer mindlessness of the task, plus the oppressive attitudes of their superiors and misdirected anger of their colleagues.

But there's also a distinct minority who have jobs that would be satisfying, if it weren't for the way circumstances force them to do it. The youth worker who sympathises with the rebellious kids, but has to bully them into submission just to keep order. The middle manager in a similar position with workers.

Oh, and the EFL teacher who's supposed to be teaching a language, but actually has to get students ready for exams on a language that doesn't exist in the real world.

Personally, I'd much rather be in the second group than the first. It's easier to live with your ethics outraged than your dignity. It's easier to have your professional pride offended than your personal pride. At least, I think so. At least, I think I think so.

Of course, it's entirely possible to hate your job in both ways.

A morning of lesson planning, an afternoon of walking in the park, and an evening of roast dinner and conversation about drugs and prostitution. A nice way to spend a Sunday.

My hosts are treating me very well. Oh, and they've asked me to stay an extra day after the course ends so I can fix their computer.

Some things, evidently, will never change.

The final week of the course includes teaching for blocks of one hour. Now, there seem to be two approaches to stepping up from forty minute lessons to sixty minute ones.

One is to do a forty minute lesson. slowly - with more pictures, a longer lead in, more repetition and more checking of understanding.

The other is to do a forty minute lesson with extra tests. "Test" here doesn't mean "exam" - it means "activity designed to make the students use the language taught in the lesson". The textbook I'm using gives a lesson on the different senses of the word "Like", comprised of five to ten minutes of actual teaching, and seven different ways to test it.

No comments:

Post a Comment