Monday, 7 December 2009

How do I bug thee? Let me count the ways

If you are a student looking for a foolproof way of getting up a teacher’s nose, let me recommend ‘Telling Him How To Do His Job'. This is especially irritating if you, as a student, are a teacher in your own country. You can tell your teacher how you do things there, and compare his approach unfavourably. Never mind if you teach physics and know diddly squat about language teaching – all the better to piss him off. More tried and trusted ways are offered below.

  1. Sit sulking in silence for most of the lesson, then well over half way through, complain that you are not being allowed enough opportunity to speak. Point out that in your country, the teacher has students read aloud around the class, thus affording everyone the opportunity to drone a few lines of text while everybody else either scans the page to calculate which bit he will be required to read, or nods off. You should be prepared for the usual teacherly nonsense that reading aloud is not something most people are called upon to do in ‘real life’, that it is quite possible to read aloud without understanding a word, and that it is mostly pretty sort of pointless, really. Dismiss such objections. You didn’t scrape pre-intermediate level by the age of thirty-five in Libya by speaking spontaneously, did you? Well, then.
  2. If your teacher, mindful of your previous objection, brings in a poem or a dialogue for reading aloud, pull a face. Object that poems and dialogues are only used for kiddies in your country. Bear in mind that he will have excuses, as ever; poems are written to be read aloud, whereas editorials from The Independent usually are not. A dialogue has potential for some entertaining work on stress and intonation that The Economist entirely lacks. Have none of this. Are you not an economist? In seminars you will want to bore everybody into catatonia by reading aloud ad mispronounced, mind-numbing nauseam, as you would back home.
  3. There’s a kind of English language teacher that will work very hard to draw you into conversation by forever eliciting your views and encouraging you to elaborate on them. You’ll recognise the type: Alexander Technique poise, perpetual inviting smile, eyebrows arched encouragingly. Usually perches on the front desk, bright eyes trawling the room. Watch that taut bod sag like a dead octopus on the dot of 2.45! Until then, respond costively. Allow the ingratiating pillock to ply you with questions for about half the lesson before flouncing out, huffing that you came here to learn English, not have conversations!
  4. Wait until your teacher has spent a good fifteen minutes leading into a reading text, teaching relevant vocabulary, trying hard to engage your interest, striving to relate the topic of the text as much as possible to your experience in order that you might know the satisfaction of successful comprehension... ah, just watch the poor sap try… then say ‘yes, but I sink phrasal verbs are more important dan such tings.’ The counsel of perfection here is for you to be a pernickety, clench-sphinctered Swiss banker of twenty-five going on fifty, and say ‘Freissl Wurbs’. How your teacher will want to gob you one!

Happy aggravation!


Michael said...

I think I would be great at being the teacher that follows Rule #3. Amusing list, but I don't think you should feel downgraded as a teacher. They just don't have the right learning mentality.

Do you hate it too?
"If you're going through Hell, keep going."
Holy Holism!

vilges suola said...

Ah, it's a long time since a student made me feel downgraded as a teacher! Eventually you bring them round to seeing who's in charge!

Nik_TheGreek said...

Διάβαζα παλιότερα σου κείμενα και μπορώ να πώ ότι είναι πολύ ωραία. Μπράβο...

Όσον αφορά τους μαθητές σου, έχω την εντύπωση ότι θα τα πας μια χαρά. Έχω την αίσθηση ότι δεν πρέπει να σε φοβάμαι εσένα. Έχεις την εμπειρία που απαιτείται σ'αυτές τις περιπτώσεις...

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Turning the topic on its head a little, I once (and I mean only once) had to endure an Arabic teacher who had us all read a list of vegetables from a list. Great stuff, eh? I was expecting some sort of role play to develop, but it never emerged. Reading from lists was apparently all we were expected to do.

I did feel the temptation to jump up and grandstand a little - "I'm a teacher with 350 years of experience, and never in my life have I ..." etc., etc. But I couldn't be arsed. Just didn't come back.

vilges suola said...

@TT I think that is what many of my students would prefer me to do, and bugger all this interactive shite.

vilges suola said...

Ευχαριστώ, Νίκο, χαίρομαι που σου άρεσαν. Ε, έχεις δίκιο, δεν πρέπει να με φοβάται κανένας.

Anonymous said...

God ... just coming out of the black hole... ( of depression I mean, ) I have missed so much !
Apologies for not reading but going to make up for it now.
Alitheia !!!!!!!

Mac xxxx

PS. NO matter how educated, aware, etc etc, why do the black holes envelope us totally ????? Why do we let them ? After so many years can we not recognise the warning signs ?
Answer: NO

vilges suola said...

Ela, agapi mou

Well, I reckon they have to be endured - I last had an arseholing from my subconscious last Xmas, and it utterly wrecked the holiday. Not just gloom, but panic, heart racing. I tried to ignore it like bad weather but it wasn't going to be dismissed that easily.

If it's any consolation, they seem to diminish in frequency with age!

Papotine said...

AHA ! this is extremely funny ! you experienced all the situations, I can tell, and you packed them up with funniness : great !

vilges suola said...

@ Papotine: glad they amused you!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin