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Started by ddeubel in Websites / links / access to new resources / communities.. Last reply by Nadeem Nawaz Jul 16. 102 Replies

We are now in our 3rd edition of "Site of the Day"! Hundreds of the best sites for teaching/learning. See #1 and…Continue

Tags: collection, list, web 2.0, resources, websites

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by Amelia Meirizka Jun 20. 73 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread and butter.Got any good ideas for teaching it or using it…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Learning Designs

Started by Elise in Teaching and Methodology Mar 27. 0 Replies

I was wondering what you all thought of learning designs pertaining to English language teaching? What are the ways in which you design your lessons to achieve better learning in your students?Continue

A NEW way to teach PHRASAL VERBS so that your students understand and remember them

Started by Andromeda Jones in Teaching and Methodology Dec 31, 2018. 0 Replies

Phrasal verbs are a verb + preposition, adverb or particle. Teaching…Continue

Tags: prepositions, teach, verbs, phrasal



Teaching is an ART. I truly believe that and it is through the slow ooze of experience, of classroom trial and error that one becomes a master teacher.

I'd like to share here, my own thoughts and ruminations on teaching, good teaching. I have many years experience and will leave some notes here for others who are following. Hopefully, after a few months, I'll collect for a nice presentation for beginning teachers.

The entries will be short, concise. Meant for others to think about , ponder and arrive at their own truth. Like a koan, like a parable, like an aphorism -- a thunderbolt of thought.



Great for courses/teacher development and training. 

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David, when you have the chance, read Chuck's morning story I posted under Justino's blog. I think you'll like it : ).

Peking duck one morning, Ba Na Mountain the next : )))).
Hello all,

In my opinion teaching is nothing but facilitating learning. I dont think anyone can be taught, everyone can learn, surely. So, a teacher needs to create an ambience to facilitate learning, nothing more nothing less!

Soundar Rajan
Conversational skills in English,
Mysore, India
Dear Soundar,

I read your comment and made a reply, then got ready for bed... but I felt like I had read too quickly, and was missing something important you were saying... I have been thinking about it some more, but I am still missing something... I need your help... can you explain more? Maybe an example of how you facilitate learning, or of creating ambiance?
Hello Ellen,

Greetings from Mysore, India!

Here are some details about the 'methodology' practiced by me and Ramanarasimha aka RN, my associate, together!

1. During the class, except when we are required to be near the blackboard, we are amidst our students.

2. The Laurel and Hardy combination, yes we joke a lot, poke at each other and the students too, helps
to keep ennui away.

3. The bilingual approach, using mother tongue and English, helps students to imbibe easily.

4. TGI (Transformational Guided Imagery) sessions help students overcome the English 'phobia' .

(if you or anyone wants a ppt on TGI, I'll be glad to email it.)

5. The contents of the specially prepared 'lessons' are all contextual, and based on contemporary events

(if you or anyone wants to take a look at one of 'our' lessons I'll be glad to email it.)

6. We don't insist on learning the principles of English grammar first. We help students learn the way
they learnt their mother tongue. After all, when we were young, nobody corrected our incorrect sentences
by quoting grammar rules, right?

7. Students are encouraged to acquire new words and collocations by culling them from newspapers.
We believe Michael Lewis's Lexcial approach greatly helps our cause.

(if you or anyone wants to take a look at a module on collocations, prepared by us, I'll be glad to email it.)

8. We videoshoot the sessions, particularly the role plays. Students have a hilarious time when we replay
them. And, amidst the noise and the 'excitement' of seeing themselves on the screen, learning does get

Soundar Rajan
Mysore, India

Ellen Pham said:
Dear Soundar,
I read your comment and made a reply, then got ready for bed... but I felt like I had read too quickly, and was missing something important you were saying... I have been thinking about it some more, but I am still missing something... I need your help... can you explain more? Maybe an example of how you facilitate learning, or of creating ambiance?
This sounds really fun, Soundar! Yes, email it all! I am especially intriged by the TGI and your use of video with your students... and everything else, too!

Do you know, Soundar, that you can upload these files to EFL too? I haven't mastered the media share, but David can tell you how to do it... or if you want to show what you are doing in a blog, or in a discussion... carry on!!

So now my question is, how do you know the type of ambiance to create? Where do you get your ideas, and how do you know it is working?

For myself, I get some of my ideas from looking around and seeing what's out there, sometimes through reading, and lots come to me in the shower... that's pretty straight forward.

But how I know, or get to know/ understand, how to teach that particular student or group, is through being in tune with my students... I feel and sense my way to that. It's through an emotional and intellectual connection, and as the teacher, it is my responsibility to figure out how to get that to happen... does that make sense?

More later, it's late here : )
Yes, sounds interesting and team teaching is a very "social" and thus effective way to teach languages. Also, the use of any pictures/images to create context and bridge the gap between the mind/language and reality (the classroom lacking this and essentially being a test tube or artifice).

However Ellen, I think you'd get a lot out of this short article attached. A lot more suggested reading on this page, where I put up materials regarding "inductive teaching". A focus on the students and giving them more power and respect in the learning process... I think that is what Soundar meant in his initial post. The objective is not teaching but learning -- we shouldn't ask ourselves at the end of the day , "Did I teach well?" (for infact, our efforts to "teach" are too often impediments to learning) but rather we should ask ourselves - "Did my students learn?"
Hi everyone : )

Thanks for the articles, David, I read them all. I had already read Finch's from another post you made, and borrowed heavily from it when I was filling out one of those questions on a job application... what does teaching mean to you, or whatever they call that annoying question!

Why does this whole 'there is no teaching, only learning' thread bring out the curmudgeon in me? One, I think it is a misuse of language. Of course there is something called teaching!! And of course there is a role as a teacher! How semantically twisted are we getting when we start making whole theories out of this? (I told you it makes me cranky). Oh god, for some common sense. Would anyone in their right mind say they had taught Johnny to read if he couldn't read? No, they would say they had tried to teach Johnny to read, but it didn't work. Back to the drawing board. Trying to teach is what makes you a teacher, but of course something hasn't been taught if it wasn't learned!! That doesn't mean there is no such thing as teaching. A teacher is someone who tries to facilitate learning. Teaching is the verb- you are putting yourself at the service of your student, you are giving it your best shot. Do we have a good word for what transpires then? Mutual understanding? Because everything that is taught/learned between two + people happens in the context of mutual understanding. How else could it occur? Where else would it occur? If there is no mutual understanding, then nothing has been taught... but I think 'nothing' rarely happens, just as we rarely have communicated exactly what we think we have. And this communication always happens on an emotional as well as intellectual level. By its very nature, it is mutual. So, whatever has been taught and learned, (by both parties, because in active teaching, this dynamic teaching/ learning feedback loop is constantly happening), is the result.

One important point I want to make about teacher/student roles... there is a point where, when someone has decided that one person or persons needs to learn a skill, and has also decided that another person is going to be responsible for communicating that skill (concept, understanding, it is all a skill of one sort or another).... there is a point where the teacher offers herself to the student, and the student gives themselves over to the teacher, at least for moments in the ensuing activity... and there should be great tenderness and respect for these moments... it is the teacher's utmost duty to cause no harm to the student when this is transpiring. It is ok to not get to the goal (the transfer of skill), but it is not ok to leave any damage in the wake of the process. This is the great responsibility a teacher holds as she teaches, and it is not a shared responsibility- the learner has no such obligation to the teacher. They shouldn't, they need to be free to try to learn in whatever ways they can. And the teacher simply isn't vulnerable to the student in the same way.

This is what makes teaching one of those holy professions, like clergy, doctors, therapists, and yes, lawyers... and the same boundaries need to be applied (exceptions made for spouses :) ). When someone allows you to teach them, which is a great honor, they are opening their vulnerability to you... there is no other way to learn. We must open ourselves to learn... different degrees for different situations, but I don't see how learning occurs without this opening... and that's what makes teaching a spiritual activity, with spiritual implications, and why it is not enough to say that teaching is 'just' this or 'just' that... and why zen and the art of teaching is an important discussion to have.

And, to bring it back to the beginning, a BIG reason why semantics can be important. It is simply a misstatement to say there is no such thing as teaching, only learning. Oh yes there is, and it carries a great beauty and a deep responsibility with it. If one doesn't take that to heart somewhere inside them, whatever they want to call it, then they really aren't safe to teach (be in the role of a teacher).

I hope I said this well enough : )... if not, I'll try again later :D
David, do you remember the conversation we had in the scribblar room, where I was saying that knowledge is progressive, and you were saying that it is always present in its whole, complete? You replied, Ellen, do you really think we know more (as a species) than we did 5,000 years ago?

I stumbled upon Cantor sets today, and immediately thought of the I Ching...

Scale-Free Mathematics

Imagine a line of fixed length. Now split that line into thirds and remove the middle third, leaving you with two lines. Now split each of those into threes and remove the middles, so that you have four lines. Keep splitting each line, again and again, to infinity. Now, how long is the total set of lines and spaces? Still the same original fixed length, of course. But how many smaller lines and spaces is it made up from? Infinite lines and infinite spaces. So is this new shape of fixed length or infinite length? That is exactly the thought experiment introduced by German mathematician Georg Cantor in 1883 when he defined the Cantor set:

Now look at the symbols of the I Ching -purported to be revealed supernaturally to Fu Xi about 2800 BCE:

Click on image for larger view
What do these symbols mean? I think you just gave me a sweet new idea for a tattoo.
:D From what I remember from my I Ching days, stuff like "wood over water"... but you can get the full scoop over at wikipedia.
awesome, I like your ideas. Absolutely right.
Teaching is a kind of art, so we can be creative as we want to be.

U must be a great artist, in that respect.^^*
Teachers are Helpful.

Today, I have a comic to illustrate : ).... you might have to click on the image for a larger view to read...

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