Greg Quinlivan (00:06:49) :
I agree with much of Alastair’s comments above.
However, for me the issue is not that we can’t fit into coursebooks materials about Paris Hilton’s ‘fab’ lifestyle, but that we can’t include many things happening in the lives of students or in their own cultures.
As I mentioned in the example of China, what’s often missing is content about, or their personal experiences of, events in their own country, not what some ditzy blonde is doing with her purse pet!
Of course, the English textbook is not the place for absolutely ANY topic. For instance, it’s not where we would teach sex education for elementary students. Still, for older youth and adults, it’s entirely appropriate to include many of the ‘taboo’ subjects where this assists language learning and communication, which must remain the focus of our teaching efforts.
The world is not a neat, tidy, always sanitised place. Fortunately many teachers try teaching for the “real” world where real communication happens, rather than the “fantasy” world maintained by some textbooks to appease blinkered governments.
Posted June 30, 2010 at http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/t-is-for-taboo/#comment-1444
Says: June 29th, 2010 at 15:23
T is for Training. Teachers need to learn how to use IWB’s so they don’t become WMD’s.
My first (untrained) experience with one was when I didn’t realise it was any different from a regular whiteboard and used a marker pen on it. Now that was embarrassing!
My ongoing experience with them here (in Taiwan) is that only local teachers are taught how to use them, while Westerners (us) muddle along without any PD, and with operating systems, software and instructions written in Chinese, while being expected to use them as if they are second nature.
My advice: don’t wait for training to be offered, look through all the great resources in the A to Z here, experiment, practice and make some creative use of them. After all, they are not just fancy projection screens and they won’t explode upon first use.
Posted 29th June, 2010 at http://edition.tefl.net/articles/teacher-technique/abc-iwb/comment-page-1/#comment-12523
Greg Quinlivan (12:22:32) :
Scott, another stimulating topic for discussion in “T is for Taboo”.
The previous posters have stated the case for a more balanced and sensible approach quite succintly, and I would agree with them on this point.
In the EFL field, we should factor in cultural sensitivities through openly communicating with the various stakeholders, while not just assuming they exist and thereby being guilty of our own stereotyping.
Two further points I’d like to add to the discussion are:
(1) Good teachers use a text as a framework, but go well beyond it by accessing their own resources, other activities, the Internet, and so on. In this sense, it doesn’t really matter if the texts are imperfect since they are only a jumping-off point anyway.
(2) Those writers who do have something valuable to add to ELT, if faced with opposition from publishers, should realise the power of the Internet, PLNs, social networking, etc and SELF-publish. Perhaps if enough did so, the publishers might be forced to re-think their current censorial approach.
Greg Quinlivan June 27th, 2010 at 09:25
As in all things, in the absence of direct guidance it’s up to the individual to make their own decisions about what is skilful and what is not.
I would like to make these points:
(1) As Bodhipaksa notes, a distinction is made in Buddhist thought between sentient and non-sentient beings and how they should be regarded. For example, there is certainly no ethical dilemma for Buddhists in eating plants and vegetables.
(2) At the same time it is clear that the Buddha ate meat, so his example and circumstances should be given some consideration in developing our own thinking.
(3) Boycotting those involved in the meat industry is seen by many as a logical extension of the First Precept against killing. However, please recall that the Precepts themselves are not commandments but guides to skilful actions.
(4) While guidelines for monks and nuns are not binding on lay followers, they do provide useful aids for making our own decisions, and so should not be dismissed out of hand just because they don’t suit our argument. Sure, we don’t have to be celibate either, but the aims of avoiding dukkha and of having the best possible conditions for meditation which underly this ideal, are things we can all benefit from and consider in the way we enjoy our sexuality as lay people.
(5) In traditional Buddhist countries, very few people are vegetarian, though they do appreciate the value of vegetarianism, and at least on poya or uposatha days avoid meat.
(6) It might be better for the lives of more cattle, etc if greater energy was focused on educating others of the benefits of avoiding meat, after all, Buddhists in Western countries are a very small part of the population.
(7) If we do decide to be vegetarian it helps to look at our motivation as well. How much of the decision is related to compassion and kindness and how much to our own ego? As in all decisions, the purity of our intention matters too.
Posted at http://dhammabum.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/buddhadasa-bhikkhu-on-vegetarianism/#comment-322
Why don't more teachers have a PLN? #edchat #efl #elt
- they don't know what they are
- they don't have time to explore the huge range of options, evaluate their merits, and make the best choices
- some are stuck in a rut and are unmovable
- some don't appreciate them or use the underlying technologies in other situations let alone in PLN ones
- the Educator's PLN group for EFL seems to be dead (it's my teaching area), so it doesn't do much for those of us in this industry, apart from general English discussions and tech-related ones
- selling the idea to schools might help, but it's teachers who will opt in or not
How to improve the situation:
- set up generic PLNs for different subject areas, besides tech ones, to get people started (of course they can add more later)
- get the word out there, particularly marketing the benefits in terms teachers will understand
- include PLN's in PD programs
- in EFL world, it needs peak bodies to promote e.g. IATEFL, as many teachers work in isolation from colleagues
- will offer to run a PLN session in my city - there are 55 "foreign" teachers here - but tendency is to wheel in local professors who live in academia. Also I may need support in putting together an appropriate presentation (up to 2 hours)
Sorry for being tardy. Sometimes hard keeping up.
Posted on Twitter @gregqbear today.
In the field in which I work, EFL (teaching English as a foreign language), high-stakes standardized tests are alive and well.
Unfortunately a significant number of students in Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan are not. Why? Because they chose suicide rather than continue their miserable lives as students preparing for these tests.
How can we slow the death rate? We have to cut off the demand for the results of such tests.
Where is the demand coming from? Well, if you look at these excerpts from the sites of the three major language tests – IELTS, TOEIC and TOEFL – you’ll see that just about every government, educational institution, company and organisation in the Western world (and up to 190 countries) demands these tests. So these are the people that need to be convinced of the need to stop.
“IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 2,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organisations. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and Canada.”
“Today TOEIC® test scores are used by more than 9,000 companies, government agencies and English language learning programs in more than 90 countries, and more than 5 million TOEIC tests were administered last year.”
“The TOEFL® test (Test of English as a Foreign Language™) is the most widely respected English-language test in the world, recognized by more than 7,500 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries.”
I doubt if the proponents of these tests publish suicide data. Perhaps someone should ask them if they are even aware of, let alone care about, the effects their examinations are having on the lives of so many millions of students. Clearly they are making considerable amounts of money selling these products, but how much of that are they putting back into student counselling and health education? When does turning a blind eye become impossible any longer?
While the questioning of standardized tests on the basis of our growing research base into assessment reliability and validity is well and good, and we can waggle our fingers at those bold enough to attempt cheating, I think there are larger issues at play in using them as the sole or major criterion for making life (and death) decisions.
I can only hope that the discussion will broaden and become part of the mainstream dialogue of those working in this massive educational industry.
Posted today at http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/undoing-the-damage-of-high-stakes-testing/#comment-1189
Greg Quinlivan, on June 19th, 2010 at 3:17 am Said:
Like Mark, I feel MM’s definition of friendship is too narrowly focused. If you consider your own friends for a moment, or how you act as a friend to others, you will quickly see my point – they offer companionship, warmth, support, an occasional home, understanding, loyalty, and sometimes love. In other situations they offer criticism, warning and downright disagreement without holding back the punches.
Additionally, I agree that not every friend is able to be all of these all of the time. Nor is assuming the role of ‘critical friend’ a simple matter. Many lack the skills to balance genuine criticism against unquestioning support. For this, one has only to watch ‘friends’ allowing others to act irresponsibly and even dangerouly.
What I would add is that the role of ‘critical friend’ tends to happen when one is invited to be such, when one’s opinions are highly regarded by the other person or the population at large, or when one has earned such a role after proving oneself over time as a ‘regular friend.’
Is critical friendship necessary? That depends on the individual. Some of us are good at self-criticism, so having an additional external source might not be appreciated in this circumstance. However, the differing insights and perspectives such a friendship offers, provide the opportunity to take us out and beyond our own limiting views.
Is critical friendship desired? The answer to this will determine whether or not it will happen. Imposing such a friendship may not have the results desired, and could lead to a violent physical response. That is where a combination of diplomacy, a preparedness to receive criticism back in return, and a genuinely caring attitude will enoucrage the process.
So, Barbara, to answer your initial question, in my opinion not everyone can be a critical friend, but they could do worse than learn the skills for becoming one.
Posted at http://tdsig.org/2010/06/frequently-asked-questions-and-provoking-answers-2/comment-page-1/#comment-121
Greg Quinlivan (08:37:42) :
The adoption of an “English” name in EFL situations seems quite common in the countries in which I’ve worked (China, Korea and Taiwan) and I suspect it occurs throughout other Asian countries as well. The names are generally chosen by the students with either parental or teacher assistance if required.
For students, they seem to enjoy having such a name – it’s a bit like their time in SL anyway – and they often choose a person or concept they relate to personally. Examples include musicians, movie stars, sports heroes, words like ‘king’, and even objects, like ‘yo-yo’.
For us teachers, it makes it much easier to say and recall their names. If you’ve ever tried pronouncing 700 or more Korean or Chinese names with the correct tonal inflections, you will understand how difficult it is. Also since you only see them once a week for less than an hour, it becomes extremely valuable for communication if you can use more familiar names. I suspect they prefer to be called by some name rather than a mispronounced one or just “hey you”.
I also feel that it adds a little to their cultural experience of learning English. None of them would consider their English name as having any official status. They seem to consider it more like a nickname instead, or even just a nickname for English class.
Still, I would never try ascribing them new identities, as I feel that this COULD be harmful to their developing sense of self. It is enough to assume other characters in the context of a role-play or drama where the individual being represented is clearly not themselves. Going further might be psychologically damaging.
As an aside, I chose a Chinese name before I first started teaching in Taiwan and, when asked, I’m happy to share it with students and have them call me “Teacher Kuang” instead of “Teacher Greg”. That way, it’s more of a two-way street.
Posted 14th June at http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/i-is-for-identity-2/#comment-1318
1 | Greg Quinlivan
June 5, 2010 at 1:29 am
Good on you, Rick. You are a great example of what dedicated teaching is all about.
I liked your comment on “assumptions” about teachers working with PLN’s so students aren’t short-changed in their learning, particularly in using technology.
Although I’ve just had my 56th birthday, I only came to teaching just over 6 years ago mostly in the EFL field, currently in Taiwan. I was a middle level federal government public servant before this, but grew increasingly dissatisfied with that life. I did a Music degree first, as I’ve always been into performing, then an Education degree. After completing English language studies I’m now able to teach Music or Business or EFL/ESL in Australian schools (where I’m from). However EFL/ESL is what I’ve been doing – in Australia, Brunei, China, South Korea and Taiwan.
Like you, I’ve found the provision of hardware and the support & PD for using new programs has been poor to non-existent. Due to our low status and the language/cultural barriers in non-English speaking countries, it’s very hard to change this, but I try and, as you say, the PLN’s I’m developing are a rich source of ideas to help.
So, I wish you well in your endeavours and encourage you to keep up the good fight for our kids’ futures.
Posted on http://socmeded.wordpress.com/about/
I have to agree with you too. All this ’social’ life can be very exhausting to keep up with. I think many of us decided to dip our feet into the waters of the social web and found that it was really more of a tsunami and a small, babbling brook.
An interesting point, if you watch firemen with their hoses, there are usually two, three or more holding on the line to handle the pressure. So, perhaps you need to hire an assistant to keep it all going. Hugo Chavez has 200 apparently, though one has to wonder what’s the point in his case.
I have managed a slight tapering of the flow by using columns in Hootsuite (Twitter) and just looking at ones that interest me. If I want to read about travel, I just look at that column. Additionally, I’m no longer following a number of those following me as either (a) I don’t have the time or (b) I’m not that interested in their tweet topics.
Possibly the best decision was to set up a Bloglines account. Now I can follow about 70 sites of interest by simply receiving their RSS or Atom feed. The posts can be read without going to the individual sites, so it really saves time and ensures I’m current with what’s happening.
As Marcos said in his comment, it’s a question of determining what one wants to get out of the social web and then building a strategy to go with it. (I haven’t quite worked that out yet.) I’m fortunate in that my tiny website is not looked at that much and is a work in progress. Still, keeping up with the tweets seems the biggest challenge.
Perhaps we should re-write the etiquette for Twitter along these lines:
(1) if you decide to follow me, I may or may not follow you
(2) if you mention me, re-tweet me or send me a tweet, I may or may not acknowledge this or reply to it
(3) if I re-tweet you, I may or may not retweet all the sources before you
(4) I may or may not reply to your tweets either at all or in a timely manner
(5) I will not look back over tweets sent more than two hours ago unless they are DM’s or mentions
(6) I act this way because I want to live my life in balance.
Best wishes, Greg.
Posted by: Greg Quinlivan | June 11, 2010 at 03:43 PM