lunes, 18 de abril de 2011

Is Communicative methodology a failure?

Some days ago I had an interesting exchange of points of view with a couple of friends/colleagues on the pertinence and effectiveness of CLT (on Facebook). It was not surprising to see that opinions are divided. I see CLT as a failure. Any methodology that has all possible resources to work and does not deliver fails; and that is happening to CLT. We now have technology our teachers and trainers never even dreamed of in their good old days. My language student classmates and I never had a PC or a DVD or CD ROM or Internet or speech recognition software or video or smart boards or whatever they have invented, and still we mastered the language and were ready for a Michigan in one third of the time students are now (starting from scratch, mind you). Today, completing a language course at any of the most respected institutes takes three times longer; mastering the language at an acceptable FCE/ Michigan level takes longer, not just longer, way longer. Why is that? Aren´t new methods supposed to ease our way towards success? Why do our students have to devote more time to trying to speak a foreign language when there are technologies that should make it faster and more effective? In a society where speaking a foreign language is a must, how come methods do not help people to do so? Why are students still saying "I have 20 years old" and the like after two years of studies (deja vu?)?
Scott Thurnbury has an answer (however, I don´t see eye to eye with his preference towards a fluency=>accuracy scheme, that is exactly the reason why CLT fails, fluency and accurancy live together, not apart). It is the word of a respected scholar and researcher, and it derves to be heard (or read). The article where he explains his point of view is HERE. Have a look and make comments if you feel like it.

Cesar Klauer

miércoles, 6 de abril de 2011

What do you take with you to every class?

We have talked about technology in the classroom and how to apply it in different situations, but sometimes, we find ourselves limited by the availability of modern technologies. For example, in our previous post, I suggested an article about using cell phones in class. One of the tips was to use the camera feature on the cell phone to get students to make a short video of themselves so that they can show it to their classmates and have a little fun while practicing the language. I decided (as many of you may have, too) to try the activity in my class. It was a complete failure. Why?, you are wondering. Well, simply because technology is not democratic. That is, not all students have a cell phone with a camera and not all cell phones with a camera record video. An important number of students, 9 or 10 out of 20, could not produce their video due to one of the reasons above.

The experience got me thinking but then I got my hands onto something different (life is so fast nowadays) and I kind of left it behind. However, today I found an interesting article in the English Teaching Forum where the author lists his ten low-cost teaching tools. He says he takes them to every class he has and uses them whenever they are needed. What do I take with me to every class (apart from my textbook)? Let´s see: board markers in black, blue, red and green; a laser pointer that doesn´t work sometimes, water, my USB flash drive (but I kind of use my ppt presentations less now… we have smartboard software!) and that´s it. I used to know colleagues who carried big dictionaries (no need now, you can use the Cambridge Dictionary online for free), a grammar reference (online too), blue tack (no need either, you can project pictures), and even candy to reward good answers!

What do you take to every class in your bag? While you are thinking, take a look at Ten Low – cost Teaching Tools by Kevin McCoughey.
Comments are welcome!
Cesar Klauer