Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Damian Williams was a tutor on the Distance Delta while I was doing it, and he has also recently published a book called How To Pass Delta on The Round, in which he mentioned my Delta Quizlet sets. Going to his talk was my first chance to meet him, so I definitely couldn’t miss it!

20140402-154805.jpg

Damian was given a very useful piece of advice by Howard Smith. We think we’re aware of the world around us, but it’s quite easy to miss things. The advice is ‘Be aware’: of different methodologies, of the language, of your students, of other teachers… As teachers there are a lot of things that we take for granted, or take as a given, like the fish who don’t notice the water around them. There are also a lot of things we do in ELT which are not based on evidence or fact. ‘The plural of anecdote is not data.’

Here are some ELT mantras Damian has used, which he’s going to look at in this talk:

20140402-155854.jpg

ICQs and CCQs

If you feel like they’re patronising, it’s probably not the best way to do it. Damian is on a one-man mission to get rid of the term ICQ [good man!] – he says it’s better to do it another way, like working through the example, demonstrating or just checking they’re doing it. There are lots of ways to check: get examples, get opposites, rank things, use translation, show you how to do it (like tiptoe), draw timelines.

Visual learners/auditory learners

There are lots of different definitions of learning styles, but there’s no real evidence for the theory that people learn better by doing things in certain ways.

20140402-161032.jpg

Damian recommends looking at Daniel Willingham’s website, where there is a lot of information debunking the idea of learning styles.

Tenses

There are only two! Tenses are about distance (time, reality, register) not time. They can be ‘close’ or ‘remote’. There are no exceptions to this, and Damian presents it to his students from intermediate level.

Grade the task, not the text

Authentic texts are what learners will come across in real life, but they can create anxiety for teachers and learners. There are problems with inauthentic texts though. Here are some examples from a Japanese book:

20140402-161428.jpg

Damian recommends www.elt-resourceful.com by Rachael Roberts. She bases things on authentic materials, but uses places like http://www.readability-score.com to work out what might be more difficult.

Don’t correct everything

Damian has never heard students complain about being corrected too much, but they have complained about not being corrected enough.

There’s an idea that with fluency we don’t want to interrupt, but we can intervene by waiting until they’ve finished and then correcting them. This can really help with fossilized errors.

Using lots of quotes in my writing makes it sound more convincing

This is something Damian comes across a lot when he’s marking Delta assignments. You need to back up what you’re quoting to show that you’ve processed the quote and understood it, for example by paraphrasing and adding your own experience. This is an element of critical thinking: you have to process it and pull things together, and see things with your own eyes.

Conclusion

Even if you’re not a very experienced teacher, you can still reflect and apply critical thinking.

Damian talks about ‘The Humans’ by Matt Hait, which sounds like an intriguing book. At the end of the book there are 87 pieces of advice for humans. Damian picked out three which reflected his talk nicely, one of which was ‘Question everything’, but I wasn’t quick enough to share the others. You’ll have to ask him what they were!

For a bit more…

Damian writes at www.tmenglish.org and is on Twitter: @DRichW.

He has been looking at the mantras in a bit more depth over at the Richmond Share blog.

Revisiting ELT Mantras #1: Using CCQs and ICQs
Revisiting ELT Mantras #2: Don’t give, elicit.
Revisiting ELT Mantras #3: Visual learners need to see things, kinaesthetic learners need to do things.
Revisiting ELT Mantras #4: Exceptions to the rule

Advertisements

Comments on: "Don’t believe in fairy tales: critical thinking in teacher development – Damian Williams (IATEFL Harrogate 2014)" (2)

  1. Sounds like it was a really good talk.
    I also would like to get rid of the ICQs – I find them patronising. I don’t like it when trainers use them in the courses I attend, so why should I do it to my students? Just make sure that you provide example and monitor if they are doing the task.
    I’ll be happy to join Damian’s one-man mission!
    Down with box-ticking!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: