Pigs may fly

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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Kevin Vosper
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Pigs may fly

Unread postby Kevin Vosper » Sat Feb 24, 2007 6:02 am

Dear fellow teachers

I have noticed over the years that a lot of lesson plans begin their list of lesson aims with the phrase:

'by the end of the lesson the students will........'

Does this demonstrate a clear and sensible vision of the ideals of the teaching or just that the teacher has lost touch with reality and has totally misunderstood the nature of the learning process?

Would the following be more realistic and practical in a normal teaching enviroment?

'The students may be able to use the taught structure'

'The students might be able to use the taught structure'

'There is a very slight chance that the students will learn something'

Or even:

If the students can use the taught structure by the end of the lesson then pigs may fly'

Humourous comments are very welcome.

Best wishes


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Unread postby pthompson4 » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:39 pm

I don't know how old you are, Kevin, but I am close to a million, so Here is my response. The humourous part about "pigs may fly" is sadly the fact that the teacher is so bad nobody learns anything. I have many times heard a teacher say, "More than half the kids in my class failed the test. These kids don't even try to learn." By announcing this to his peers, this person has also asked, "Is anyone else as rotten a teacher as me?"(of course he/she doesn't know that has happened.)
In preparing lesson plans one should never set oneself up for failure. Compare:
1. Lesson: How to find the percent of a number.
2. Lesson: By the end of the lesson students will be able to find a percent of a number (WRONG)
After stating what the lesson topic is, then plan:
a. introduction
b. development
c. recapitulation
d. assignment
The various levels of success are discovered in the testing. Usually like this...(I simplified it)
Grade A (80-100) = thorough understanding
Grade B (70-79) = very good understanding
Grade C (60-69) = satisfactory understanding
and so on...
The best teachers realize that there are TWO sides interacting in the classroom... Teacher and Learners.
If you are able to use this information right now, then look up and see the pigs. 8)
Considering TESOL somewhere

Kevin Vosper
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Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:35 am
Location: Locri, Italy

Unread postby Kevin Vosper » Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:36 am

Dear pthompson4

Thank you for your reply with which I totally agree. I have also heard the same complaint, of students not learning, in the staffroom of many schools, even to the extent that I sometimes wonder why the teacher doesn't look for a different job. The posting was written in a humorous style but it did have a serious point to make as well, so just to make things clear for other readers I will give a little background.

I have always believed firmly in a structured approach to learning, both as a teacher and a language learner. However, recently I have been looking at the dogme approach and, while I am not a total convert, I have used some of the ideas in my own lessons. This approach rejects the use of books and structure, and indeed testing, in the classroom in favour of a more free use of language in a "real" communicative environment. Previously I had always viewed such an approach as "chatting" to students rather than actually teaching and, although it has an important place in teaching, it is the teaching of structure, especially grammatical structure, which should decide the lesson plan i.e. "By the end of the lesson the student will be able to compare different objects." I am now not so sure and was wondering what other teachers thought. As I said, I am not by any means a total convert and still use a structured approach for most of my classes but I do feel that a lot of the dogme ideas should perhaps be given greater emphasis in the classroom.

You raise a number of very important points in your reply, perhaps the most important of which is that there are two sides interacting in the classroom, a fact which is often forgotten, and therefore no one side can be held totally responsible. This is not intended as an excuse for either bad teaching or bad learning but simply as a statement of fact.

You also state that, "one should never set oneself up for failure," a statement which is very true. I don't actually use the word, "will" in my lesson plans because of this but also I don't write about flying pigs either.

Thank you once again for your reply.

Best wishes


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