23 Experiences of Language Teaching

Finished reading the Experience of Language Teaching a week or two ago, and here are some of my favourite quotes:

on continuous enrollment

“like teaching on a moving bus, or in the middle of a railway station, with people coming and going all the time” pg 232

on working under a permanently temporary contract

“There’s very much feeling that… if you speak out in any way, even if it’s because you want to improve the lot of students, then you’re likely not to be employed the next month” pg 233

“Casually employed teachers tend to teach casually” pg 59

on games

“Our students are used to disciplining themselves to learn. They’re used to it, they expect it, and some of them actually believe that if they’re having fun they can’t possibly be learning anything” ‘one teacher’ pg 184

on things that work great in one class and then bomb in the next

“You can only do some things with some of your classes some of the time” pg 151

on lesson planning

“I plan my lessons, not only for the students, but for myself too” pg 160

on sticking to the lesson plan

“So long as we get to B, or something that’s as useful as B in the overall scheme of things, then I’ll have taught a successful lesson” pg 153

on problem students

“One teacher even went so far as to keep a diary about her struggle to manage one particular student over a ten-week period, entitled ‘My ongoing battle with Stavros'” pg 122

on the newly CELTAed

“The novices who are coming out of those courses are so keen to put what they’ve learnt into practice that what the learner is getting out of it is secondary” pg 46

on passing the CELTA the easy way

“It’s a matter of realising how the CELTA people want you to teach. And then, provided you follow the pattern they want, you’ll meet their criteria and they’ll be happy” pg 41

to each new class

“I’m no different from you: I just happen to know more English” pg 84

on going from the CELTA to teaching kids

“The kids were really enthusiastic- and totally conned” pg 95

on teaching in the real world

“I could feel the students and me pulling at either ends of a rope, because of our different expectations of the teacher’s role.” pg 96

“I was someone from the moon to them: they had no experience of my approach” pg 96

on the nightmare teachers’ room

“Nobody shares in this place because people with established positions are jealously guarding them”

on TEFL apartheid

“It is almost as if there are parallel cultures of teaching running alongside one another: a higher-level research-based culture that many busy teachers tend to ignore, and a lower-level practice-based culture in which newly trained teachers soon become immersed.” Rose Senior pg 67

on going beyond the CELTA

“For eight years I just blundered on and then suddenly, bingo! It just came together a bit more. All that experience suddenly culminated in a qualitative leap, when I suddenly got the picture…”

on completing a master’s degree:

“I remember thinking, ‘I know that! We do that!’ It just confirmed and confirmed everything that we’d been doing. But at the same time I was able to challenge some of the literature and say, ‘That’s a load of rubbish!’ Because the person that’s researched it isn’t in the classroom from Monday to Friday. It’s all very nice radical theory, but we are the teachers, and we know what we have to do when we get in there” pg 72

on those nightmare moments

“standing there naked in front of the class with your imperfect knowledge of the English tense system exposed for all to see” pg 51

on textbooks

“When I have a book I worry about getting through it- but when I don’t have a book I worry about where I’m going” pg 59

on taking a risk

“I’m always wanting to be creative in teaching- but I don’t trust myself to do so” pg 61

on the whole experience of TEFLing

“it’s a million times better than sitting behind a desk” pg 58

“It allows you to keep the idea afloat that life is open-ended” a ‘mature-aged teacher’ pg 38

BTW, picking up a TEFL book and just reading the quotes and ignoring the rest is a great way of getting through it quickly and getting all the best bits.

This entry was posted in CELTA, Cultural differences/ cultural training, Experience of Language Teaching, Grammar, Lesson planning, MA TESOL, Problem students, Teacher training, Teaching young learners, TEFL, TEFL games, TEFL in the UK, TEFL qualifications, textbooks, Working conditions and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 23 Experiences of Language Teaching

  1. nicky says:

    I’m sold, guess it’s time I ordered this book already…

    “I plan my lessons, not only for the students, but for myself too” pg 160

    …speaking of which, I’ve just begun my fledgling career as a TEFL blogger, if you have a spare moment, please have a look-see!


  2. Teflista says:

    One that made me chuckle, was:

    On establishing learning environments

    I told them that they weren’t going to get pearls of wisdom out my mouth: they would have to learn for themselves. I explained how we teach in Australia, saying,’ In Australia we teach like this and the students really do improve…


  3. Alex Case says:

    Always nice to get a chuckle out of a TEFL book, for whatever reason. Are you a fellow fan?

  4. Teflista says:

    Definitely a fan and there’s something there for everyone – from newbie to experienced teacher trainer to researcher. For those who have been around for a while, it’s more or less a humorous snapshot of our lives. Sometimes we no longer see the forest through the trees and it does a great job of fleshing those sorts of things out. And for those just starting it addresses the of question of ‘What’s it really like to be a an English teacher?’ As a whole, most of it seems quite the obvious, but it really does fill a gap in the literature. It’s also the only teacher resource book I’ve ever read with a chapter subsection heading of ‘bums on seats’ !

  5. Sandy says:

    Yes, I feel a moment of enlightenment coming on too. Or perhaps I mean ‘plagiarism’? No, surely not – adore, adopt, adapt; that’s what I mean (get me?).

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