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Listen……. and ask

I said this some time ago and at the time it was one of those throw-away things that one says – or in this case, tweets – just to sort of be in there and contributing and like that. And Luke, being who he is, picked it up and ran with it, joyfully, like it was a kite and I watched it catching the wind and floating up and up. And every so often now I catch another glimpse of it somewhere and wonder at its strength and simplicity – just like a kite.

And I’ve said this before and I need to say it again, just to reasssure myself that indeed listening and asking are as simple and as strong as they always have been. This week I have delved into stuff that pads out and points and plasters this very simple dictum: stuff like “strong form CLT versus weak form CLT”. All that says is, if it is the “strong form” we talk about what YOU want to talk about and if it is the “weak form”, we talk about what I want to talk about. And as teachers, guides, facilitators, coaches, communication partners, interlocutors or whatever it is you wish to call yourself, if you are NOT talking about what the person in front of you wants to talk about, why not?

And then there is all that nonsense about whether we need to focus on the linguistic aspect, or the communicative aspect, or the inter-cultural aspect, or the interpersonal aspect of communication. Sod off! Where does one start and the other end? LISTEN to the person in front of you (not an easy task) ASK them anything at all (when did you last ask a question that you really wanted to know the answer to?) and get on with the task at hand. Stop couching it in verbiage and dense theoretical claptrap and other shades and masks. Let the kite catch the wind and then – when it asks you to – let it go.


15 responses »

  1. Good to have you back. The world makes more sense when you’re around.

    • Alan – thank you! Good to hear from you. More than any other vnture I have undertaken, EFL has to be solidly SIMPLE…. Call back whenever you like.

  2. Where have you bloody been? Great to see a new blog post, and one that resonates with me, as I’m teaching a course I feel utterly unqualified to teach, despite the fact that ‘cross-cultural communication’ is what I’ve been engaged in all my bloody life, and all the students are Chinese and each one is a resource in him/her self. When will I learn…

    • Hi Steve! Good question. Where HAVE I been? Long long fairly boring story, but am back hopefully as inspiration strikes. Thanks so much for the comment – it’s good to be missed. For so long I didn’t trust that the student could provide everything a good lesson needed, but oh yes, they can and do. I think it is a question of drilling down rather than fracking – release it, don’t force it.

  3. Hi Candy. Nice to see you back. I always like reading your posts and find myself shouting “YES, EXACTLY” at my laptop screen. My housemates must think I’m insane.

    • Dale! Hi! I have been so distracted – unwillingly, I need to emphasise. I have fought my way to the surface for the moment – hopefully for longer. It’s SO good to hear from you and to know that you identified with the thoughts in the post. We WILL prevail…..

  4. brilliant!
    I haven’t read much good stuff lately, to be fair. Apart from Dale’s. The main reason is that I’m fairly bored when I read to like anything. Another is that I’m trying to pay more attention to flesh n blood around me and that consumes my like-ability so much. And there’s too much being written with the same ol’ perspective, and to much technology-driven discussions (and I don’t mean iPad and stuff). Apart from the coursebook Dogme list discussion. Anyway, this is great. Because of its simplicity and heat. I like when you say “sod off”, I wish I could say it outside of my head whenever I hear simiilar crap. I also like that your posts always serve as a reminder for me to cut the crap and do what I know well how to do: it turns out it’s listen… and ask.

    PS. i’m cutting a sentence or two, or three/four off your text to use it in a workshop I’ll give soon. i’ll report what discussion it prompted.

    • Hi Willy – what pleasure to see you here again. Please use whatever you like and report back. It’ll be great to see what comes up. šŸ™‚

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  6. What I love about your posts, Candy, is that I can hear your voice! It is almost audible.

    And behind it I can hear another, fainter voice, not that differenty accented, the voice of Sylvia Ashton-Warner:

    “A rainy, rainy Thursday and I talk to them all day. They ask ten thousand questions in the morning and eleven thousand in the afternoon. And more and more as I talk with them I sense hidden in the converse some kind of key. A kind of high-above nebulous meaning that I cannot identify. And the more I withdraw as a teacher and sit and talk as a person, the more I join in with the stream of their energy, the direction of their inclinations, the rhythms of their emotions, and the forces of their communications, the more I feel my thinking travelling towards this; this something that is the answer to it all; this . . . key”. (from ‘Spinster’)

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