“English “language learning activities must be related to the learner’s needs, interests and daily life experiences; they must be authentic and purposeful, as well as engaging the learners in genuine acts of communication.”—
Hong Kong EDB English Language Syllabus
I’ve been told several times that I’m not following the Hong Kong syllabus. In light of this quote, I can’t understand why.
1. Start Class with a Mind Warm-Up 2. Use Movement to Get Kids Focused 3. Teach Students How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success 4. Use Quickwrites When You Want Quiet Time and Student Reflection 5. Run a Tight Ship When Giving Instructions 6. Use a Fairness Cup to Keep Students Thinking 7. Use Signaling to Allow Everyone to Answer Your Question 8. Use Minimal-Supervision Tasks to Squeeze Dead Time out of Regular Routines 9. Mix up Your Teaching Styles 10. Create Teamwork Tactics That Emphasize Accountability
this is an interesting take on “racism” in Hong Kong. i think the D&G fiasco is about more than just race and consumption. from hong kongers with whom i spoke i gathered that it was about asserting who is “local”, as well as making claims to public space against a retail entity. i would even go as far as to say the protests against D&G were not so much about losing face to mainlanders, but making a call for a type of democracy.
“A world that like myself never stands still. This is how I’ve come to understand my identity as a teacher, not one that is static but always seemingly in a process of ‘becoming’. I therefore see becoming a teacher as a life-long apprenticeship that has no beginning nor end game, there will be no final feeling of ‘mastery’ over my profession, the day I can say ‘I am a teacher’ will not come. I can only ever say I’m learning to be a teacher.”—A teacher is always a student.
“Grammar is power. Grammar invests EFL teachers with transmittable knowledge, thereby propping up a status that is often felt to be dodgy, to say the least. As Wright (1991) warned, “one great danger of acquiring specialist knowledge about language is the possible desire to show learners that you have this knowledge” (p. 68-9). Combined with what Curran (1972) called “the sickness to teach” (p. 114) the grammar revival legitimises lessons of excruciating boredom and irrelevance. Classroom discourse is not so much discourse as metadiscourse (Scollon & Scollon, 1995). It is talk about talk. It is content teaching where the only content is grammar. Real language use, if it occurs at all, occurs in the interstices and marginalia of lessons. The effect of this “overt teacher grammar display behaviour” is not only to deprive learners of valuable practice opportunities but to maintain the unequal power relationship that already exists in many classrooms.”—
Scott Thornbury on the teaching of grammar in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language. I definitely see how some teachers use grammar for the purpose of their power and the oppression of students.
In my university classrooms, I’ve been advocating for teachers to reconsider how much they really need their textbooks. In fact, in my own secondary school classrooms, where my students all learn through English (their second or third language), I have already done away with them. This has led some teachers to question me.
"How can students learn without a text book? How can they revise? How will they learn grammar without doing worksheets? How will they be prepared for their public exams in five to six years?"
I have a conviction that the best approach for my students, who are marginalized in our Hong Kong education system, is to engage them in meaningful communication; that if our classroom is a place where they are critically engaged in considering their own realities, they will become invested in building their language skills. This year I have seen students become increasingly committed to their own academic voices, in speaking and in writing. The grammar only comes when it is a tool to enhance the power of our written and spoken speech.
Well, as it turns out, there is a name for this sort of pedagogy: Dogme teaching. It is inspired by Danish film makers such as Lars Von Triers (one of my favorites) who created a manifesto for film making, Dogme 95. Anyways, its nice to have a new theoretical perspective to describe what I’ve been doing. I have had a real anxiety over the past few months. I felt like I was taking a gamble with my teaching, but I reassured myself that it would pay off, and it has. Now I have some back-up to describe part of what I have been doing in the classroom.
The link above has a nice, brief overview of Dogme.
[VIETNAM] For more than a decade, Nguyen Thi Quyen’s ethnic minority students in Lao Chai village primary school would stare at her blankly, unable to respond to her questions. As the school year wore on, they dropped out to tend farm animals or hawk knick-knacks to the tourists.
Quyen was teaching in Vietnamese, the language of the majority Kinh, but ethnic minorities in the country’s northern hills speak Mong […] With Vietnamese the official language for education, school remains inaccessible for many ethnic minorities, who comprise 13 percent of the population and are among the country’s most impoverished.