Humanising Language Teaching
Letter to Bernard Dufeu
( see Long Article HLT Jan , 2001: A Look at a Way of Teaching based on Relationship.
Dear Bernard, ( may I use your first name?),
The editor showed me your article on Language Psychodramaturgy in which you suggest the learner of a foreign language suffers a double alienation within the frame of traditional communicative approach teaching.
You say that the first source of alienation is the fact that this language is not the learner's mother tongue. Well, my mother speak is Swedish and I started learning English with the age of eight. I was thrilled to to be learning this exciting new way of saying things, to discover that you say "Swedish" instead of "svenska" and that the sound in English is flatish, not like the down and up waves of "svenska". No way did I feel alienated to be learning a new way of saying things.
You say the second source of alienation is to do with the course book which presents morsels of language which the students have to subsequently re-use. Yes, we did have a course book, I remember the colours but nothing else. What I do remember is Mrs Lundquist reading us stories from the book. Her voice was so rich, sweet and beautiful…… I remember secretly trying make my own in-my-head voice sound like hers when I said things to myself in English. In my case the course book has gone from mind but Mrs Lundquist's sounds in English are still part of my mental sound archives.
In your article you present double alienation in the FL classroom as a fact of nature. This in no way corresponds to my early learning processes as an FL learner. Am I a freak whose experience you don't need to address? What evidence is there to suggest that all learners experience the double alienation you speak of?
I would suggest that double alienation is simply a straw man you set up to justify your work on Language Psychodramaturgy, a justification I don't need, as your article makes clear how brilliant the work done is.
Satisfaction in Uruguay
Happy New Year!
Let me tell you I enjoyed Issue 2000/6, more than previous ones, because it had a taste of Uruguayan flavour… I felt proud of it.
The major article is great. I like Jorge Suarez, I attended a lot of his lectures and seminars at the Anglo in Salto ( where I live ) and in Montevideo as well.
The articles are all relevant. Values Education is really appealing, and the ones on business, most valuable. I taught a group of accountants last year, it was my first experience but I think I did well.
What I find a must is Corpora Ideas, Making exercises out of corpus discoveries, (by I can't remember the author, can you?) This is my first plan to put into practice when I start my classes again in March.
As you can see, HLT is one of my favourite sites I search as a starting point for my classes. I also use a lot of humour in class so as to keep my students happy. They love jokes and I always try to use them as a trigger for certain teaching points.
And lastly, I agree that Uruguay has one of the highest divorce rates, but do you know why? Because people "think" ( late, of course, but they do.) I m joking, I am a married woman.
Well, Mario, please go on with your job, you do it excellently. I do not know how you can cope with everything, but you help us teachers a lot. Do not lose your enthusiasm, it does drive us.
Laura Realini, Uruguay.
I am thrilled at your comments because, understandably, people will often write to complain about what bugs them about the 'zine.
As far as the last Issue is concerned, my sole merit is to have located an excellent Montvidean editorial team, led by Gustavo Rodriguez. Hence much of your joy. Thanks again,
Apologising for Excellence
As I told you at the Tesol Italia Convention I had never written an article for a magazine, but I have tried to.
Mine is a personal experience, my students found the lesson interesting and I propose it to your kind attention. I will appreciate your opinion and, of course what could be improved.
I have seen and subscribed to HLT, the 'zine is really fab. I invited my colleagues to view it ASAP.
With all the best for the New Year,
Esterina la Torre.
Editorial comment: reading the second paragraph of Esterina's letter I feel a tightness inside me. Why does she almost apologise for sending me the most precious thing a teacher can send another, an account of her personal experience, an account of a lesson that grips her students'? Why do Esterina and I have to live in an intellectual climate that dubs a personal experience "anecdotal", thus devaluing it. See Lesson Outlines in the next issue for Esterina's NLP treatment of a Wordsworth poem.
HLT useful to Hongkong MA Students
I have looked at HLT and find it very interesting. I shall certainly consider writing for it later on ( when I have a bit of time ). But, more importantly it is an excellent site for the MA students I teach here in Hongkong. They are all secondary school teachers and are in need of some new ideas.
The article by John Beresford * is what we are talking about right now in the course ( critical pedagogy). I shall pass on the web address when I see them this evening.
City University, Kowloon, Hongkong
* You will find John Beresford's article in HLT, 2000/September