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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 6; Issue 2; March 04


The British Council teaches English and open-mindedness!

A year or two back the British Council ran a slew of advertisements aimed at recruiting teachers for their round-the-globe schools with this headline:

Teach English and Individualism

HLT commented at that time that it was odd to mix up teaching a language, especially an international one, with one particular value held dear by one set of Off- Shore European islanders.

The Council is currently running a new teacher-recruiting advert with this headline:

Teach English and Open-mindedness

Curiouser and Curiouser. How exactly would you go about teaching "open-mindedness"? Can you be examined in "open-mindedness" at the end of a pre-service teacher training course?

Dear Reader, do you associate "open-mindedness" with the people you have met from UK? Do you find Brits with their extra-ordinary island culture, open-minded? Perhaps the history of Northern Ireland would be a good example, which the British Council could cite, of this cultural value in practice, with Ian Paisley as a prime exponent of the quality in action?

The feast that awaits you in this Issue

This issue has a major emphasis on the use of drama techniques in ELT.
The Teacher Resource Book Preview offers you six of David Heathfield's excellent drama activities, and Short Article 6 has Marisa Agostinelli showing you how to use these methods with tiny tots. In Theater Games, Short Article 7, Jane Pahr asserts her right to invite students to play, and to learn language through play, to get them to enter a "creative space" and not be hamstrung by TEFL orthodoxies, however much colleague pressure may try to hem her in. Major Article 3 also draws its juice from Theatre work. Robert McNeer, a genius at inducing teachers to give of their best, tries to outline the Shape of Intuition. My pleasure at reading Robert's work is as much literary as intellectual and psychological.

In Major Article 2, Ian Tudor completes what he had to say in the January issue on Motivation. This second piece is a gold-mine of practical exercises you can take straight into your classroom if you are teaching upper secondary school or adults.

As I edited Language Impaired, Major article 1, I found the tears pricking, so moved was I by Claire Ozel's comparison of the world of a partly deaf student and an elementary student in a foreign tongue. A stunning piece. I was very lucky to get it for HLT readers. Thank you, Claire.

This issue, Student Voices comes from South Africa, though the person interviewed is an immigrant to Durban from Burundi. So far HLT has carried sadly little from Africa.

Have you read the work of Parker J.Palmer? Under Publications, The Courage to teach you will be able to read what he has to say about fear, fear as much in students as in us teachers. I guess this is a much bigger factor in learning/teaching than I have realised up till now.

My great joy in selecting and lightly editing the material that goes into HLT is the knowledge that, however much I may like this or that article or exercise, I have absolutely no idea how the same piece will be read by you. It is thrilling to realise that each of the approximately 700 people who read this or that bit of HLT each day will be reading a radically different magazine from the one I am under the illusion of editing. Such is the nature of human perception. The map is not the territory.


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