Monday, February 19, 2007

Going to extremes over methodologies

By Eric Ross, M.A., Seibou Gakuen, Saitama, Japan

There are some things that I see not working well at my school, and others that have turned out well, sometimes better than I imagined. I just would like to get a panoramic picture of what successes others have had and how they got to those successes.

When I went the through the TESOL masters course, I heard many different professors with many different opinions on multiple methods of teaching. Not all worked, not all worked entirely well. And we need to take each culture, each educational system, each student into consideration before we pull a "brand x" method from the shelf and feel that it is going to solve all of our teaching challenges.

I think we can all agree that the goal for each one of us is to get our students to begin using English in a meaningful way. Is one method or several known methods able to definitely do that? I don't think there is enough research out there to justify a "yes" answer.

So, I hope that those who have had successes in a more communicative approach would approach things from the standpoint that "this worked for me and here is what I did..." Let's try to avoid tearing down what others are doing because we are all trying to do what we can as we have the opportunity to do it.

I want to be a good teacher, and I am sure that all of us want to be good teachers. And if we want to be, we are showing that we are not just collecting a paycheck but doing something to care for each and everyone of our students. These are people I am working with, not highly volatile chemicals. Mixing a few things is not going to cause a caustic black cloud. If some things do not work, then I move on to try something a little different.

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