Month: September 2017

Deep Learning in ESL

Traditional pedagogical practices are rooted in the era of the Industrial Revolution, when schools for the public became common but the general population, and their children, were still thought to be stupid and vacant, and their teachers the fount of knowledge. Much of the general populace still grew up and was being reared to serve the elite, and therefore, there was no need for teachers and students to strive for anything other than surface learning – a mere memorization of facts, choosing of the correct answers, filling in of blanks.

The twenty-first century however demands students to be able to think critically, creatively, and communicate and collaborate with others to create new knowledge systems. Communicative language teaching (CLT) in ESL fits the bill. If you teach communicatively, you are already preparing your students for 21st century’s unique challenges. But is there anything more? Anything to deepen the learning? Despite our post-CELTA and post-DELTA teaching expertise, too many students slip through the net, into the abyss of language learning despair. Is there a way to take CLT to a new level and make deep learning the norm?

As an aside, watch this fantastic video on the futility of the modern day education system.

One of my most treasured memories of my teaching career is when I bumped into a student I hadn’t seen for 2-3 years. Maha had been a very shy creature, albeit in her mid-twenties, in my first Beginners class in Riyadh. Her fear of language was such that she kept her eyes down and avoided all attempts at opening her mouth in the classroom. When she did speak, usually during drills, her pronunciation was painful. Her first language was Arabic and she found the strangeness of the English language frightening. (more…)