Saturday, July 22, 2017

TEFLology Episode 63: Dictionary Update, Sustained Learning, and Pāṇini

(TEFLology Podcast)

New episode of TEFLology podcast is online here.

I don't really have a lot to say about this episode, so I'll keep my comments brief.

Dictionary Update section:
* I don't have anything to add, but it was interesting, and I appreciate that this podcast keeps me informed about news items like this that I would otherwise miss.

Sustained Learning Section:
* As with the presenter, I also experience some frustration about the apparent lack of progress my students are making, and I often suspect they could be making more progress if they were studying more outside of class.
...But, there's also a question of how motivated the students are, and how much time they have to study.
I tend to think that learning English is the most important thing in their lives, because I'm an English teacher.  But I have to accept that for them it's just one of many commitments.
Plus, my own track record of studying languages is terrible, so I'd be a hypocrite to criticize them too much.  (I did learn a lot of Japanese, but I've learned no Cambodian and almost no Vietnamese).

Over the years, I've gone back and forth on this a lot in my head.  But since most of the points on either side of the conversation were already mentioned in the discussion on the podcast, I won't duplicate it all here.  The TEFLologists already did a good job of discussing everything.

At the moment, what I do is I spend the first day of the term going over activities the students can do to study English at home.  And then I just wash my hands of it for the rest of the term, and assume that the majority of them won't study English at home, and I have to plan my class objectives accordingly.
I call it the: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" philosophy of English teaching.  A tiny minority of my students will be motivated enough to reach proficiency in English, the rest won't, and I just have to accept that.

Panini Section
* I knew nothing about this, but it was interesting.  The assertion that the language followed logical and predictable rules reminded me slightly of The English Verb by Michael Lewis, which I just recently finished re-reading.

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