Thursday, February 08, 2007

Change ?

I have recently started doing private lessons with a doctor. We meet once a week and I help him with his spoken English as he often travels abroad for his work and therefore wants to practice his conversational English. Of course he could quite happily do this via Skype or with KanTalk, but he prefers to do lessons face to face. In our last lesson he said something that stuck in my mind; he told me that as a specialist in pulmonary disorders he has to relearn his discipline every seven years. i.e. changes in medicine are so rapid that a doctor who hadn't kept up with developments for just seven years would be unable to function effectively in a modern hospital.

Then I considered how we teach in school; the materials we use, the techniques that are encouraged, the methodologies employed and realised that they have changed very little in the last 18 years. I could have walked out of a classroom in 1989 and into my 2007 one and within the space of 20 minutes carried on. This is truly a depressing thought.

The only good piece of news in this whole, sad scenario is that this is most definitely not true of the lessons I do with my private students. In those I have much more control over my choice of teaching materials and methodology and many of the learning exercises I do with them now would have been unimaginable even two years ago. Lessons with Flickr, Youtube video productions and blogging are a few of the examples in which not only have the tools I used changed but also the way I approach teaching English as well.


dorapap said...

It is true that we use the same old things... but in ELT things are really advanced compared to the methodology of other languages... German textbooks for example were full of pattern drills 5 years ago...
Not to mention Spanish or Italian coursebooks.
I guess things are much slower than in medicine

teacher dude said...

It's not just the books but the whole approach that hasn't changed. Nobody wants to do anything different and in the meanwhile students are getting more and more bored.

dave kees said...

I think that as technology, business, entertainment, even life changes, so must education.

That is why students are bored. They know the plugged-in life. They grew up on fast action Sesame Street and honed their attention skills on MTV. They multitask in their work and multitask in their play and recreation.

Teacher Dude & Co. are early adopters of bringing this sort of change to academia.