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SITE OF THE DAY - HUNDREDS OF THE "BEST" - Teaching Recipes

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

About

Use the Book!!! The tyranny of print!

I have always had a very cautious view about using a book to teach language. For many reasons which I'd like to elaborate on. I've had a few discussions recently about this, regarding new teachers and their need for a book. Most people advocate that a new teacher use a book -- or any teacher for that matter, use a book. I'm not so sure. I see the benefits and I myself as a beginning teacher enjoyed those. The structure, the ability to "seem" in control and perform as what is expected of a teacher. The portability of print (its prime benefit and why it won't ever be replaced) and the effect this has on the student's ability to study outside of class. Guidance, organization, format, hitting all the bases soberly.......a book offers all this but I have my suspicions it is hurting rather than helping in the EFL classroom.

Yeah, you are probably thinking I'm some kook for arguing against a book and the book. Crazy!!! And yes, it doesn't have to be black and white, I agree. But let me outline my arguement as to why a book is NOT beneficial in the classroom [and by book I mean "print" , a handout/print out etc...]. Further, why teachers should learn to create speakers first and then readers later.

A book really creates dependence. This is against the notion that language is communal (not insular, like print and McLuhan does a marvellous job in the Gutenburg Galaxy outlining how print affects consciousness --you might also read Canetti's opus, "Auto da fe" for a look at this too). It gives the user a false sense of control and knowing. In fact, we seldom, if ever, will speak while looking/reading from a book and sitting. Language is mostly done on our feet, with nothing in our hands. And in fact, we are wired this way, from thousands of years of development. Wired to learn language orally and by tongue and ear (not eye - a very recent development ).

A book skews this developmental process and stunts it. Students by using the book early in their learning of a language, really block their learning and only learn to speak to themselves. The new demands of language are for speakers to speak to others and express themselves. This can only be done well by getting learners to learn without a book initially, in this very sensitive, formative stage. I've developed a series of conversational powerpoints and hope to do it more based on pictures in the future. But atleast with this , students can stand walk and discuss without reference to "the book". Teachers should use language/print cues on the board or on cue cards but avoid the book in the early stages of language learning.

Think of the culture Wade Davis mentions in his musing, a culture in Peru where they can't marry in their own linguistic family. So they have to marry into a family that doesn't speak their own mother tongue. People , a tribe shares a large house and they speak 7-8 languages and learn entirely by speaking to each other. No book, no syllabus and time with a "teacher". Just figuring it out as it is spoken.

Using a book also affects the teachers own effectiveness. First, a book creates an illusion of teaching. It is comfortable because we all know the process. This makes many teachers think they are teaching and many students think they are learning. But are they? Further, a book is a barrier to real communication. It is not eye to eye, it creates a barrier to authentic discussion and is a false pipeline. A book also makes student and teacher think of language as "content" based. It isn't and is a process and fluid / changing artiface. This effects the whole teaching paradigm. A book is useful when teaching reading but when speaking is the focus, it absolutely can be ruinous. A communicative textbook would be no text book at all!!!! [this kind of reminds me of a cartoon I once read about a guy who is wandering in a bookstore. He asks the clerk where the "self help" section is. The clerk takes him to the section and points. There is a long wall of book shelves without books. The man asks, "Where are the books?" ]

A book also creates problems of assessment. You test what has been covered in the book but is that really what should be tested? Shouldn't we be testing competency, not the content? It doesn't matter what the students say , imo, as long as they know the "how" to say it. A book pushes us to assess much too much on content and reinforces content and not production, promotes regurgitation and not comprehension.

I'll pick this conversation up again on the weekend. More to add. But I do want to end by saying -- I love books! See my blog on Classroom2.0 about the new movement to open up the world of books digitally and in particularly Richard Baraniuk's delightful talk/discussion. If indeed the library was or still is "the headquarters of civilization", the new digital thought ecosphere will be the "heart fo human kind."

PS> i still believe a book is great in class, and especially the right book. Especially for begining teachers who need more structure and a place to call a home base and from which to then grow out of , creatively, in their EFL classroom. I'm just playing the devil's advocate here :)

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Supporter
Comment by Josh on July 20, 2007 at 6:46am
Wow, I agree with most of what you're saying. However...

In an academic setting a textbook is an invaluable resource and can serve as a starting point for intelligent discourse. Even in an elementary classroom, the teacher can encourage the students to think about what they have read (or even if it's a picture book) and discuss with the class.
"Why is the turtle happy?" in the kindy class to "What do you think of McDonalds' globalization and its impact on Asia?" in upper classes.

Also, in public schools with large class sizes, having a book does make lessons more manageable, and keeps the administration happy--especially in test-oriented Korea.

I agree that being married to the book is never good for teacher or student, but "books in class are bad" is just too cut and dry for me.

btw, I'm very interested in the PowerPoints you've developed, but can't seem to find them! Maybe I'm too lazy but could you point me to them?

Thanks!

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