Some time ago I watched a video where a non-native English teacher was teaching a large class of English students. You know the way you sometimes browse YouTube videos and one video leads to another and you end up watching something you didn’t even intend to look for in the first place?
So the Chinese man was teaching his fellow countrymen and women, and he was literally radiating knowledge and expertise.
He was really eloquent, he was writing plenty of sample English sentences on a whiteboard to illustrate the grammar related points he was making, and he was talking non-stop thus making a really, really professional impression of himself.
And guess what the poor students were doing while our super-teacher was entertaining himself in front of the classroom?
They were all crouched over their copybooks frantically trying to write down every single bit of the precious information their English teacher was throwing at them! And believe me – there was A LOT of information to be processed because their teacher was really knowledgeable and you could just tell the guy must have worked really hard to achieve such a level of expertise in the English language and its grammar aspects in particular.
What about the students though?
Did their super-teacher pass all that knowledge, skill, expertise and ability to speak in English fluently directly onto them by being so generous with information in front of the classroom?
Well, I strongly doubt it, and that’s the very reason I decided to write this article!
The Academic Teaching Approach: Showing Off One’s Achievements
Ever since academic education started affecting people’s social status, it’s seen as something to be proud of due to the hard work invested in the process over a long period of time.
Academic education still remains the only way for a lot of people in the world to get a chance of a better life, so it’s quite understandable that one who’s attained a certain academic degree is going to be looked up to by others.
And this, my friends, is the biggest problem I have with the academic educational system – especially when English teaching and learning is concerned!
The teacher standing in front of his or her students is the embodiment of all that the students ARE NOT.
He can speak really fluently and eloquently – THEY CAN’T.
He can talk about complicated English grammar aspects and provide loads of sample sentences to illustrate them all – THEY CAN’T.
He’s carries himself confidently in front of an audience – THEY CAN’T.
So what do you think such an English studying climate promotes in the students? Let me tell you first what it doesn’t promote – their confidence and ability to speak in English! The poor folks are focusing all their attention to their copybooks and textbooks, and as a result their English is developing as a purely textbook-based language centred around grammar concepts.
Sure enough – the teacher might have the best intentions in the world to help the students, but the point I’m trying to make in this article is that all the skills and expertise in the world isn’t going to make students into good English speakers for as long as the teacher is the one in the spotlight!
English Students Should Be The Focus Instead Of The Teacher!
Here’s how it should happen in an ideal situation.
English students should be doing 90% of the heavy lifting during the English lesson, and here’s what I mean by it:
- Students should be required to speak about various subjects – divide them into twos or threes and off you go!
- I’m not a big fan of English grammar anymore – but if it has to be part of the school curricula, at least let students actively discuss it during the lessons!
- English writing has to be developed as well, however, it should be done in a more active way rather than making students simply write down stuff their teacher is talking about – they may as well read about it in a textbook at home!
Basically I strongly believe that the current English study setting whereby the teacher is standing in front of everyone thus invariably causing an inferiority complex in his students is wrong.
The teacher is merely showing everyone HOW GOOD SHE OR HE IS, that’s all!
You think I’m being unfair towards hard-working English teachers who wish nothing but the best for their students?
Well, I know very well it’s not the teachers’ fault, it’s the very academic-oriented English teaching system that’s at fault.
Still, it doesn’t take away from the tact that…
… Teacher’s Expertise Means Little – It’s All About Their Ability To Bring About The Best In Students!
For all I care, a teacher might not have any credentials or academic degrees whatsoever for as long as he or she is able to MAKE ME get onto a rapid learning and improvement curve.
If the end goal is for the students to become good at the subject they’re learning, why would anyone assume that the teacher is going to somehow magically transfer all that skill and knowledge onto the students?
Here’s a couple of misconceptions why people might think so:
- Listening to a fluent English speaker alone is going to make you more fluent – IT’S NOT THE CASE!
- Real skill and ability to teach others can only be acquired over a long period of time of hard work and academic study – IT’S NOT THE CASE!
It’s about time people realized that a good teacher is there to provide advice when the student needs it; other than that it’s the student who should be ACTIVELY engaged in a lot of English improving related activities!
It’s really not so dissimilar from learning to drive a car, for example.
Would you learn to drive if all you’d do is just sit at a desk and write lots of information about driving and rules of the road in a copybook while your driving instructor is standing in front of everyone just talking?
Of course not ❗
It’s YOU who has to do the driving (in our case – speaking) and the instructor is there to give you a piece of advice when you actually require it. All his skills and expertise counts for nothing if all he does is shouts at you thus making you feel miserable and make more and more stupid mistakes behind the steering wheel…
The very same can be said about English teachers.
They may hold the highest academic degrees, but if they can’t make their students good English speakers, in my opinion they’re worthless! 🙁
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!