(17 of 50)   MODERN LANGUAGE TEACHING (CLT) & TAIWAN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT: A Conversation with Someone who Disagrees (ii)(

By | December 5, 2017

Do you think this person will agree with me? Probably not.

A Conversation with Someone who Disagrees (ii)

Let us continue our imaginary conversation with that person who strongly disagrees with everything I have said. They are like the picture above, and they certainly don’t look happy, right? I will list their comments, and give my answers, and let’s now look at their 2nd comment.

Their 2nd Comment [By the way, don’t worry if you can’t understand this comment; it isn’t meant to make sense.]

Grammar translation is based on cultural dimension, and logical input is necessary in the IELTS test, so students need to have the underlying logic explained in Chinese in order to reformulate messages into good speaking. That’s the only way to really learn. And only by memorisation can the inner phrasing of collocated words become meaningful since you can identify the patterns through accepted ways of thinking, accessible to the learners.

My Response

Those who defend their methods of teaching will sometimes use a lot of words, and strange argumentation. There is an interesting phrase in English: ‘to blind someone with science’. This means, to just use a lot of strange words (for example, scientific words or jargon from a profession), and put these words together for the purpose of totally confusing the people who are listening, while trying to make yourself sound smart. Since the listeners are totally confused, they don’t know how to respond, so they assume you must know what you are talking about. You have ‘blinded them with science’.

Your job is to really think about this, and decide if the comments you are hearing actually make sense. The 2ndcomment makes no sense at all. The comment comes from someone trying to ‘blind you with science’. Trust me, there’s a lot of this going on among schools and teachers: just lots of stuff that doesn’t make sense.

Their 3rd Comment

CLT isn’t perfect. Many people disagree with it, and criticise it!

My Response

Actually, most people who know what they are talking about accept CLT, and it is the most widely used teaching methodology in the world. However, there is no ‘perfect’ system, and everything can be criticised. For example, some people say CLT does not offer enough grammar/structure; however, the ‘soft’ version of CLT introduces a lot of this.

Others say there are no ‘rules’ in CLT, so nothing can be standardised or systematically taught to teachers. There is no ‘rulebook’, but just a vague set of principles and techniques. My response is that this is true, and this is what makes CLT such a difficult skill, and why experience and hard work is always necessary – and why many who may claim that they teach in this way, may not be good teachers at all. Everything all depends on the teacher!

To those who take CLT and their professional seriously, and have developed their skills to make it work in the classroom. The drawbacks of CLT can be overcome, and the criticism can be easily answered. The obvious question I would like to ask these people is: do you have a better system? The answer is a definite ‘No, you don’t!’

We will look at another (critical) comment in the next post.

Now, check that you know the meaning of the underlined vocabulary (also repeated below).

  • a dimension (n)
  • to blind sb. with science (v)
  • to reformulate (v)
  • jargon (n)
  • to criticise (v)
  • to be vague (adj)
  • a drawback (n)
  • to overcome (v)

If you want to find out more about me, go to aisielts.com .

Author: Andrew

Andrew Guilfoyle Cambridge CELTA, Cambridge DELTA, Cambridge CELTA teacher-trainer, M.Ed