@Chucksandy summed this up beautifully: “Good cooks know what can be left out of or put into a recipe, or added as a side dish. Good teachers using course books know the same thing.” Or, as @OUPELTglobal put it, the course book should be used like a map with the route and pace being set by the students and the teacher.
This is not the first time metaphors like this have been used in the chats, but this time it got me thinking about how we describe the processes of teaching and learning languages to our students.
I’ve already posted about the ‘high’ I get when I can successfully communicate in a foreign language. I created my other favourite language-related metaphor when responding to students complaints about learning grammar, although I think it can be used to describe the process of learning languages in general too. Please note, it’s only meant to give an image to my students, without being completely factually accurate! It goes a little something like this:
- Everybody wants grammar to look like New York. Nice straight lines, turn left here, turn right there…
- In fact, it looks a lot more like London, with random twists and turns, a few bits that might resemble where you’re from, but many others which are completely unfamiliar.
- And although London might seem scary at first, especially if you’re dumped in the middle of it with no map, you CAN get to know it. All you need to do is spend time there. And the more time you spend there, the easier it is to find your way around. You’ll even get to the stage where you can go places automatically, without thinking about which way to go.
- In exactly the same way, the more time you spend with grammar / a language, the easier it is to use. You can find your way around, make educated guesses, and eventually use it without thinking about it. But you’ll never know how to do all of the this unless you make an effort and ‘wander round’.
This way of thinking about language seems to have really helped some of my students, and has even meant that a couple of them have started putting in slightly more work!
So what metaphors do you use with your students? Or when thinking about your teaching?