jueves, 6 de abril de 2017

The Teaching Formula

To talk about teaching, I like the following formula:

Someone + teaches + something + to someone + by a means to an end

Someone refers to the teacher, though not always. Teachers have different teaching styles, different approaches to teaching and different personalities. However, good teachers share some characteristics such as knowledge of the subject they teach, variety of techniques and resources, consistency, fairness, sense of humor, patience... and the list may go on forever.

I recommend two texts on this:

Teaching refers to approaches and methods, as well as teaching as decision making. To teach is to make decisions and to do so as a reflective practice. In order to understand what teaching is nowadays, it is necessary to learn about methods that were used in the past -and may still be used- to have a more global view on the subject. From teacher-centered to student-centered, from inductive to deductive, from focus on grammar to focus on communication... another list that may go on forever.

Two texts worth reading are:

Something refers to what we teach. We teach English, that’s clear. But it is necessary to elaborate on what we mean by “English”. It may mean pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, skills, communication, as well as social conventions, values, habits, and one more list that may go on forever.

In this case, I recommend:

To someone refers to students, age groups, levels of English, learning styles, multiple intelligences. And it also refers to motivation and classroom management. Knowing your students will help you teach them. 

I'd like to share two texts on teaching with the student in mind:

By a means refers to how we teach, the techniques we can use in the classroom, the use of ICT, material design, innovation, assessment, and many other tools that we can use to improve students’ learning... a never-ending list.

To stay up to date with teaching techniques, to share experiences, to know what specialists are up to, I strongly recommend using social networks, like Twitter, and I also recommend taking MOOCs, webinars and anything that will keep you thinking, experimenting and reflecting.
To an end refers to the reasons why we teach English, especially in high schools. Focusing on the language as an object of study is not the same as focusing on the language as a means of communication. The purpose is different. That’s the big deal. When we teach a language communicatively we focus on what students can do with the language rather than what they know about the language. And being able to communicate is just one of the reasons why languages should be taught. it's also because it opens doors to new cultures and it helps reflect on our mother tongue.

Two texts we need to read as Argentinean EFL teachers:
This Teaching Formula is a good reminder of how complex teaching is. The decisions involved in teaching go way beyond what textbook to use or whether to teach present simple before or after present continuous. It's a lot more than gap-filling and translation. It's tough but rewarding... I guess that's why we keep trying :)

I invite you to share interesting information about teaching EFL on Twitter using the hashtag #SedesTeach


To dig deeper

Clerici, C. (2014). Catering for Learner Differences: MI, VAK and Other. Humanising Language Teaching Magazine, 16(1). Retrieved from

Clerici, C. (2016, April 6). Unexpectedly interesting [blog post]. Retrieved from

Fuller, A. (2011). The Teacher as a Decision Maker. Pearson. Retrieved from

Miller, P. (1987/2012). Ten Characteristics of a Good Teacher. English Teaching Forum, 25(1), 36-38. Retrieved from

Richards, J. C. (1990). Towards Reflective Teaching. Teacher Training, Back Articles, 33. Retrieved from

The New School (2013, July 22). Communicative Language Teaching: Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury [video]. Retrieved from

UNESCO (2004). Common characteristics of good teaching. [post] Retrieved from

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