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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 4; Issue 5; September 02


Mario Rinvolucri

The humanistic movement has a history that reaches well back beyond the inspirational work of people like Bernard Dufeu, Earl Stevick, Caleb Gattegno Charles Curran, and Carl Rogers ( 1950-90) . It seems to have been in the period from 1910 to 1940 that another set of major thinkers strode the scene, to mention only Steiner, Gurdjieff and Kurt Hahn. A marvellous book of Gurdjieff-related exercises fell into my hands three years ago: On Love and psychological Exercises, by A. R. Orage, first published in 1934 and re-issued by Samuel Weiser in 1998. More recently a friend has introduced me to this website, www.kurthahn.org/links.htm which gives some idea Hahn's thinking. In 1930 he published The Seven laws of Salem, (Salem was the school he founded). Here they are:

  • Give children opportunities for self-discovery
  • Have the children meet with triumph and defeat
  • Give children the opportunity of self-effacement in the common cause
  • Provide periods of silence
  • Train the imagination
  • Make games important but not predominant
  • Free the sons of the wealthy and powerful from the enervating sense of privilege.

Sometimes it feels narrow to only belong to the slice of time you happen to have been born into. The 1920's 1930's were full of thrill in educational thinking.

Welcome to HLT Year 4, Issue 5 , September 2002.

Janet Braithwaite's major article deals with group dynamics, the level that is present in any group, but that is little dealt with in our professional, EFL literature. The most moving part of her article, for me, is where she admits how profoundly the "negative leader" in the group she analyses got under her skin. How much of EFL literature deals with how we ourselves, the teachers, have our own psychological make-up tested by the groups we work with?

In Come Dancing, the second major article this issue, Gerry Kenny lets us follow him in his apprenticeship as a tango dancer, and invites us to meet a number of his remarkable teachers. What an exploration of the kinaesthetic, musical and interpersonal intelligences his piece is! It is rare to find two people who write as well as Janet and Gerry within the covers of a single technical magazine.

Chaz Pugliese in his piece Multiple Intelligences: Setting the Record straight, introduces Howard Gardner's work and offers you two exercises that will help you share MI thinking with your students.

I enjoyed Tony Harris's NLP: If it's useful, use it…. for its "political" analysis of what gets up the noses of academics and what allows them to breathe freely. His contention is that NLP seems to cause them severe nasal blockage……

If you are interested in writing then Nigel's piece on "sample writing" is a must for you: Major Article 4.

This issue caries two contributions from my colleague, Simon Marshal: his short article on Respect for the Students' Mother Tongue, and a set of exercises from his book From Advanced to Native, that you will find in Teacher Resource Book Preview.

In the first of the short articles, you have a clear, unequivocal statement by Bernard Dufeu of the presuppositions of his group's way of teaching: The Hypotheses of Language Psychodramaturgy.

Student Voices presents a gym teacher, seen through the eyes of a gawky, unathletic, teenage Czech girl. How an initial student view of a teacher may change over time!

In Readers' Letters, Avril Collins explains how she began using new techniques in the week following a 4 day EFL methodology course. This page will be of considerable interest to you if you are an inset trainer who wonders what does ( or does not ) happen after you have left.

Lesson Outline comes this time from a group of State school colleagues in Luxemburg. If you ever thought that Luxemburg was a rather placid place, then just try their fireworks in your classes!

In Pilgrims Course Outline, I comment on 5 of the 18 teacher training and language for teachers course we plan to run in the Eastertide ( to fit in with the IATEFL Conference|) and the July and August period in 2003. If you are after European money ( have you heard about Grundtvig?) you should have a look at our course descriptions now, well in time.

A few of us, 250 to be precise, attended the LEND Portonovo Humanistic Conference in late August. The emotional and intellectual quality of the participants was very high, and mostly the animation team did not disappoint them. I came to understand a lot more about Non-Violent-Communication through one hour with Eva Jonai, Hungary, than I had ever gleaned from 10 hours with its founder, Marshall Rosenberg. Alan Maley, whose topic was stories, was working at a level that struck me as that of a master, and this is not a word I use lightly. If you can get to work with him anywhere, leap at the chance.

The bad bit is that Italy will not offer us another Portonovo until August 2004. They are a mean lot!!

In the first half of this year, around 300-350 people were visiting HLT each day. Over the last two months this figure has shot up and we are now averaging 450 visitor sessions per day, a far cry from 250 a week back in out first year, 1999. Thank you for coming. Please write for HLT's readers.

The final issue of this year is currently being prepared for you by the teachers in one of Brussels' largest Language Institutes. There will be a November breath of fresh air from Belgium.

If you are in the Southern Hemisphere let me wish you good second semester, if you are in Scandinavia let me wish you a good second half of the autumn term, and if you have recently met your students for this year, bon courage!

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