Monday, October 17, 2016

TEFLology Podcast TEFL Interviews 23: Hayo Reinders on the Future of Language Learning

(TEFLology Podcast)

The latest episode of TEFLology is here.

I really enjoyed this episode.  I thought the conversation was interesting, Hayo Reinders was an engaging conversationalist, and it touched on some interesting subjects.

When it was all over, however, I realized I wasn't exactly sure what I had learned from it in concrete terms.  Hayo Reinders hinted at a lot of things, but I'm not sure if any thoughts were fully developed.

I'd recommend it nonetheless, though.  It was an interesting little talk.

* Because of all the background noise in the recording, I had a hard time hearing this episode at first.  But I solved this problem by putting on my headphones.  And then once I did that, I could hear everything perfectly.  (I usually play the TEFLology episodes on the loudspeaker while I putter around my apartment, but for this particular episode I recommend the headphones treatment).

* Hayo Reinders talks about ending the tyranny of the classroom, and is in favor of all the computer technology that has been emerging lately.
In terms of concrete prescriptions, nothing is developed in this episode, so it's difficult for me to agree or disagree.
I am reminded however of Denise Murray's comments, in a previous TEFLology episode, on how computers will never replace teachers.
Fredrik deBoer makes the same case over here.

Obviously of course as a language teacher I have a vested interest in defending the profession.  At the same time, however, I should admit that I'm totally a hypocrite on this issue, because in my own study of Vietnamese I've been completely reliant on the Internet and computer technology.
And it's not because the classroom option isn't available.  (I have colleagues who have enrolled in Vietnamese language classes).  It's just because I find it more convenient to study in my own time at home than to make the time to go to the language classroom.
I've been studying Vietnamese through a combination of duolingo, quizlet, and youtube videos.
(The limitations of duolingo, and other similar language learning websites, have been talked about several times now on TEFLology.  The primary criticism is that these websites can quiz you on your language knowledge, but are not very good at helping you understand why you got certain answers wrong.  Nevertheless, I've been finding it a fun little way to study Vietnamese.)


One of my duties at my school is to level test new students.   Occasionally the students will try to ask me other questions about the school and the programs.  It's not really my job to answer these types of questions (that's the sales team's job), but I'll usually chat if the students want to.

"Do I really need to pay all this money to sign up for this course," one potential student asked me once.  "Couldn't I just study English at home?"

"Oh, you could totally study English at home," I said.   "If you had a good grammar book, and you did lots of reading and listening in English, you could easily teach yourself.  The advantage of signing up for a course is first of all that it's more social.  It gets very lonely studying by yourself, and it's nice to have classmates and meet new people.  Secondly, signing up for a course forces you to keep studying even when you don't feel like it.  If you had enough self-control to make yourself study English for two hours every day, you wouldn't need the course.  But most people don't have that kind of self-control.  But try it and see.  Give yourself a couple months, and see if you can motivate yourself to study English every day.  If you can do it, then you probably don't need to sign up for the course.  If you can't, then you should take the course."

I'm never found out what actually happened to that student, but I like to think I did the sales team a favor with that advice.

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