Some provocative quotes on elicitation from the latest ETP

and a nice summary of ELT publishers’ marketing from Darren Elliott at the bottom

From “Question-and-answer” by Peter Wells, from English Teaching Professional Issue 69 July 2010:

“Prone as students are to ignore their teacher, they’re even more prone to ignore their classmates” page 56

“A class is nothing like an organism, and there is no such thing as ‘class spirit’.” page 56

“Teachers’ impressions that a lesson ‘went well’ (or ‘went badly’) are usually based on a small number of assertive students, whether supportive or disruptive, and these students might not be representative.” page 57

“When you arrive in Japan you are told by the ‘Old Hands’: ‘You won’t get them to talk. They don’t talk.’ Don’t believe this. Japanese students will argue, discuss, give oral presentations, joke, do roleplays, shout, sing and tell stories as enthusiastically as any students in the world… What they won’t do is play the Q&A game. They have no interest in answering a question to which the teacher obviously has an answer already, especially if there is a chance that they might not give the answer that the teacher had in mind. Unlike students in other countries, they have no interest in showing that they know something that the other people don’t know, because showing off is, happily, not part of their culture.. They (rightly) don’t think it’s their job to impart to the class information which the teacher can give far more effectively than they can. So when teachers start shooting off open-ended questions, Japanese students wait silently until the lesson starts” page 57

and from The Coursebook Challenge by Darren Elliott

“…from a marketing perspective the publishers have to make every new textbook sound innovative and fresh, yet similar to another successful series you are already familiar with” page 13

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3 Responses to Some provocative quotes on elicitation from the latest ETP

  1. Yes, quite pithy that, isn’t it? And I’ve just uploaded the pdf to my website in the ‘Works’ section, so you can read the whole article for free!

    But that Peter Wells article is great. Something I still struggle with, if I’m honest, and part of the reason I don’t like textbooks. I hate coming up with new ways to check all the answers to those exercises with classes of thirty students and a chalk board!

  2. Andy Mallory says:

    Reading the point above about ‘The Q&A Game’ made me wonder how many normal people – not ust Japanese people – would participate enthusiastically in eliciation sessions. I think – while it’s nice if you can involve the students and check what they do know – it’s perhaps natural for students not to be so keen to join in. The Japanese (who are in no way abnormal despite what I imply above) are just an extreme case.

    Elicitation works if you have a cadre of experienced students who can show the others how to please the teacher by answering his/her stupid questions – and enough ‘teacher pleasers’ to take up the baton when the old hands move on. I.e. it works well enough in the (now disappearing?) world of Languge schools in English speaking countries. It’s much harder to get this to fly if all the students are new. It’s too easy to blanket all East Asian students as shy or ‘quiet’. I could get Korean adults to do all sorts of roleplays, drama and some quite good presentations.

  3. Alex Case says:

    You seem to be echoing exactly what the writer said in the rest of the article, Andy. I still try to elicit so that I can take what they say as the starting point and so not say things they already know, but don’t take offense if that is met by silence.

    Here’s my take on it, from a couple of years ago

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