Hi there! How is it going? I have class in a few hours and I wanted to share some things I will likely do in class today.
- I’ll probably ask “Do you understand?”
I will explain something and then check for understanding with this question.
I might even say, “Does that make sense?” or “Is that clear?”
I will probably also say, “OK” a lot too.
I will almost certainly not check students’ understanding by somehow getting them to prove to me that they have understood what I have said. I will say things, ask if I have been understood and then move right along.
- My “Teacher Talking Time” will be through the roof at times
I might talk for 5 minutes in a row. I might take long interrupted turns and do some mini lectures. Lots of telling. Lots of explaining. Not a whole lot of inductive anything.
- I will almost certainly explain grammar and usage points
In doing so I will probably use meta-language too.
- I will focus on the tiniest of errors/slips/mistakes/whathaveyous
I will focus on the smallest of errors. Prepositions and articles out of place will be noted. I will prioritize accuracy over intelligibility.
- I am going to highlight esoteric English points most “native speakers” are not even aware of
My pickiness will know no bounds. I will focus on the tiniest of confusions or possible confusions.
- I will rely on “‘native speaker’ intuition” rather than researching the lexical and grammatical confusions I choose to highlight
- I might highlight a specific student’s error for the whole class by saying what the mistake was and who said it
I will not save the errors for later or hide the fact who said what.
- If a student makes a funny/interesting mistake I will probably highlight this mistake
Saving face is not my primary concern. Making the the problem memorable is a much more important consideration.
- If I don’t know the answer to something I will proudly say, “I don’t know”
Yep. (Actually, I think this is generally good practice and is something I would usually do in almost any class).
- I will encourage my students to speak L1 if they feel like it
They can feel free to speak Korean as much as they’d like.
- I will probably check Twitter during class time
And Facebook. And email. I will probably daydream too.
- I will not plan
I realize this is something I will not do, but I still think it is worth mentioning.
(In the interests of full disclosure I should mention I planned 20 minutes of the 3 hour lesson.)
Confused? Wondering if I had a bout of self-flagellation or some sips of truth serum? Actually, I am doing all of these things consciously, for a reason. No, I am not doing some experiment in “worst practices” nor I am trying to do a bad job. I am simply teaching my students in that way that makes the most sense to me and matches what I see as their goals.
Before you decide that I am a terrible teacher/person, the reason(s) behind these decisions can be found below (written in white font so you just need to scroll your cursor over the paragraph that starts with “So” and ends with “Thanks for reading!”
So, the thing is that my class is anything but a typical English class. It is actually a class for simultaneous interpretation, entitled “Seminar in Simultaneous Interpretation. All the students are 2nd year grad students in an interpretation/translation program. The class is designed to be like a mini conference each week. To this end, one student reads a speech in Korean and other students go to the interpreting booth at the back of the room and interpret what they hear. Then students give each other feedback on what they heard while I prepare what I want to say. Then I share some (picky) observations and do my best to answer questions that students have. I also guide their discussion as they ask each other about how they handled certain parts of the speech and what they might do differently next time. I am not sure if this explains all of my decisions above so I will just add that the students are already extremely proficient at English and accustomed to scathing feedback from their other classes. They have a strong desire to be as close to perfect as possible and really want the pointed feedback they tend to get. Do you understand? By the way, the reason I ask this is because they tell me when they don’t and ask more specific questions when they want to know more. In terms of planning I find it hard to plan besides thinking about the topic or reading the English version of the speech (when available) and imagining possible problem areas. The Twitter time might occur when students are giving each other feedback and I have prepared myself on what I’d like to say. Thanks for reading!
Class has been over for an hour and I am compiling/adding to my diligently collected notes from the class. (Note to potential employers: I am not lazy…please don’t misread the not planning thing). I didn’t do too much of #1. #2-6 were clearly done. #7 Happened a bit but it was pretty gentle and mostly in the form of questions rather than finger pointing. I did some #8 but it was not directly related to what one student said. There was only one incidence of #9. I said I thought “cover dancing” was a pretty Konglishy expression but I wasn’t sure. #10 is standard, as is #11. And #12, we already knew about.
It was very interesting (and a bit surreal) for me to be in class today with that list already written out. As just one example, there were times when there was a chance to single out a particular student for something they said and I chose not to because it was something that anyone could have said so I just chose to address the group. Listing out these “bad” things I expected to do made me hyper aware of these possible choices and made my decisions (reflection in action?) all the more clear.