Thursday, July 5, 2007

Listening to lead

By George Rosecrans

Students have many different learning styles and so it is up to us to develop different teaching styles. Students are our clients, our reason for being here. If we cannot or will not accomodate their needs then we need to be in another line of work.

We don't lead them to the mountain and say go climb it. We lead them over the mountain following the path they can traverse. As native speakers, we can climb the shear rockface. They cannot so we must take them up the path they can handle. Thus, we need to do a little scouting on our own the find the appropriate path. If we are unwilling or unable to do that, then we have no business here.

Fully, 90 percent of teaching is listening. Lyndon Johnson once commented that "when you're talking you're not learning. "Listening to students is very important because they are telling us what they need even if they have trouble articulating it. I've received a lot of valuable teaching advise from my students and I always try to take their words to heart. They know, far better than we, what their needs are. The only real question is how do we meet their needs. It's up to us to help them overcome their fears and self doubts.

[Photo: Business English college students in China doing pairwork.]

1 comment:

Charles Nelson said...

It makes sense that to understand our students' needs, we need to listen. But saying that students "know, far better than we, what their needs are" goes too far. Students (people in general) know what they want, but they often do not know what they need. Read the previous post by Eve Ross.

On the notion of different learning styles requiring different teaching styles, that is simply the current buzz notion in education. The modality of the learning objective is far more significant than any perceived learning style. If you're an interpersonal, intrapersonal, visual, linguistic, etc. type person wanting to learn to play the violin, success requires going into kinesthetic mode.