Following your nose ….


It’s Sunday a day of repose. Re – Pose.  Re Position.

If there is one thing in my life I’ve done well – it is to “dance to the beat of my own drummer” a la Thoreau or that other great quote of Blake’s, “No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings”.

It’s something I’ve insisted upon as a teacher and more so as a teacher trainer. We are all to create our own methodology and best practices. Not that we ignore the advice of others but that we use it and smudge it to form our own teaching collage.

English language teaching and too our commercial driven lives,  is full of “the new, best thing”.  Do not be entranced by snake oil salesman. Do not offer blind allegiance to anyone. Be they a Nunan (tasks), Krashen (input), Thornbury/Meddings (Dogme) or a whole flock of others.   These are only “ideas” and we know so little about second language acquisition that we’d be so wrong to bet “All In !”.  I say that with the most respect to those offering up new approaches and methods. Same goes for a textbook or a technological approach. They aren’t to be blindly implemented – rather, follow your nose.

Same with the flip side of the coin, learning a language. Some will benefit from intensive memorization of vocabulary, some will need a lot of extensive listening. Others benefit from reading.  Find what works for you and stick with it – until it is time to “reposition”.

Beware of systems. Ideologically or as part of your teaching beliefs. Questions, criticize and adapt to your own teaching style and classroom/school environment. Same goes for teaching certification and training.  A CELTA is one way of teaching English. So too your own trainer’s approach and instruction.  Even the hallowed “CLT” or communicative approach is just that – a suggestion. There is nothing proven in terms of efficacy. We are human and that’s the rub and difficulty. There is nothing foreign to us – in terms of learning.

The best teachers weave and dance to their own music. They make magic happen, learning happen, precisely because they are not “tunnel visioned” but adapting and testing, trying and changing. No guru, no method, no teacher – like Van the Man said.

Just like spring, always be ready to begin anew. But stronger, given the knowledge and experience gleaned from one more winter…..

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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