January 2013

She sings exactly what she hears…

Bless her. She sings exactly what she hears. In other words, this is how English sounds to learners.

Breaking Through the Glass Wall

skydiverAdvanced students are as reluctant as beginners to hear their own voices speaking English. Fear of looking foolish is something humans dread and it really comes into play here. Making grammar mistakes and self-consciousness about accents are primary reasons why adults aren’t comfortable speaking English. Once these concerns are addressed, students talk. Our Speaking Made Simple curriculum addresses student concerns head on. Jason West has the only other program I’ve seen that manages students’ fears effectively. It’s why I think he is so brilliant – he is jut like me.

Grammar doesn’t matter as much in conversation as students believe. Accents are charming and rarely impede understanding.  Jason coaches students about their fears and prepares them with a short introductory speech before setting them loose to talk to unsuspecting strangers in Trafalgar Square. Did I say brilliant already?

I call the ESL students’ inability to speak to strangers ‘the glass wall’. Education backs more and more information behind the glass wall but is not designed to break through it. Education packs the parachute, something else makes them jump. Something or someone has to lead learners through their fears and free them from their own worries in order for them to participate in conversation. Jason’s technique ensures a safe and successful first English conversation with a stranger and shatters the learner’s invisible wall that is talking to strangers.  Once a student experiences success and their worst nightmare is put to rest, the confidence they gain stays with them forever.

Until next time,

Teacher Judy

ESL Doesn’t Work

What self-respecting ESL teacher could resist clicking on such a catchy YouTube title? Not me.

The video was my introduction to Jason West and his English Out There program for teaching  people to speak English confidently in record time. In this video he trots out some extremely upsetting data that proves conclusively the way English is taught doesn’t work. Here is the link to the study Jason is referring to. Canadian Govn’t LINC Study. Many teachers figured this out already but here is proof for those who need research studies. What bothers me more is that teacher training hasn’t changed an iota since it was proven the methods don’t work. ESL is a cash grab.

CIC LINC survey

Although teachers know we don’t teach students to speak English confidently, what we don’t know is what to do about it.  Jason’s philosophy hinges on taking away the key elements that stop students from speaking English in the first place.  Brilliant. No one wants to look stupid. No one wants to make mistakes and embarrass themselves or others. It isn’t a student thing it is a human thing. Jason has many videos about getting great results by putting a little twist on what we thought we knew about teaching humans.

Teachers are educated. We care about our students and work really hard. Adult students in particular are motivated (smart) and try hard too. No one is getting the results we deserve. Teachers still get paid but when students walk out of hundreds of hours of ESL class time and all they can do is read better – we failed. That might be enough reality to swallow in one day. There is good news.

Jason West, Rita Baker, Benny Lewis, Jennifer England, Me… Programs are popping up  all over the internet that teach the basics of speaking English also known as the patterns of speaking English that have students speaking confidently in under 30 hours. Give some of these a look. Students are finding them fast and they can’t be worse than what is not going on in class now.

Until next time,

Teacher Judy