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De-subjecting English.

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It’s a quiet day on the school front, so I have been doing some trawling around my favourite blogs. I’m not sure of the actual frequency of these bits of lexis, but the language used to speak about EFL is the same language that is used for any “school” subject – curriculum, testing, exercise, subject matter, lesson, lesson plan, coursebook, notes, class, teacher etc. But it’s patently obvious that learning a language is NOT the same as learning Biology or Geography or History. Learning a language is actually the development of a skill and the subsequent increase of control one experiences over the deployment of that skill in a variety of circumstances.

I know this isn’t an original thought, but what is it that makes us want to turn a practical driving lesson: negotiating traffic, managing gear changes, checking blind spots and keeping to the left, into a lecture on the workings of the internal combustion engine?

It’s time to “de-subject” English.


4 responses »

  1. it’s time, Candy!!

    i’ve been thinking whether it’s also time to de-center the bloddy learner? has all the rage of learner-centerdness gotten us anywhere? possibly, to the same place of customer-oriented businesses, which didn’t make the customer a happier person, but the business richer.

    now to something sensible: there’s something i like to repeat on and on: “all teaching is language teaching”

  2. Thank you Willy. Hi and how are you? I knew there’d be a voice of reason somewhere out there. All teaching is language teaching – superb!

  3. I like the driving analogy. When learning to drive my instructor told me’ I will teach you to drive~ not to pass your test’. What followed was a 60 mph emergency stop. It was challenging, scary, awe inspiring and confidence building. Language learning is the same. The safeness of a classroom is nothing in comparison to the dealing of the real situation … So we need the knowledge… But we need the reality. If you can deal under stress then everything else becomes easy. Surely we are teaching our students to be able to work/live/ be successful… If they don’t feel that stress in the classroom , how can they truly deal outside of it?

    • Hi Lea and thank you. Indeed! It’s time to take English out of the classroom and the safety net of books and into the real world!


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