Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's hard to believe, but on Monday I'll be embarking on my final three weeks of teaching here at Smoo. It's all downhill from here. I've already administered the students' first quiz; the only thing left will be the midterm exam. In the meantime, I'll have my usual complement of journals to flip through and drench in red ink.

I know one thing I'd do differently if I had the time to formally institute the changes: I'd spend less time on error correction in those journals. In fact, I'd spend no time at all on correction; instead, I'd simply circle whatever errors I found, then let the students get together to figure out where/how they must have gone wrong. I'd then ask them to do rewrites, and only after that would I involve myself in actual correction. What I do now is, basically, provide a proofreading service for the students. They appreciate the feedback, but I don't think they're getting as much out of the experience as they could. I'd love to make that change this semester, but given how tightly I've scheduled the activities, that won't be possible.

Teaching is as much a growing process as learning is. You learn while you teach; you experiment with different methods, learn what works, then go with that. You also update your methods on occasion-- not necessarily by jumping onto the latest pedagogical fads (most of which are stupid, anyway), but by going with what makes sense to you and responding to the specific needs of the academic community you're in. Most teachers, for example, realize pretty quickly that, for all their claims to "know grammar," a high proportion of low- to intermediate-level Korean students still produce lengthy utterances or essays that are grammatically feeble. This means that many of us will sacrifice part of the vaunted communicative approach-- an approach that stresses merely being understood-- in order to go Old School and reintroduce the meat-and-potatoes elements of grammar, style, and usage. Clarity does actually count for something.

Don't drop those articles!
Don't add articles where they're not needed!
Watch those prepositions!
Watch the plural and third-person "S"!
Watch how you phrase ideas in the negative ("everyone don't know")!
Watch that subject-verb agreement!
Watch how you use "yes" and "no" in response to negative questions!

I'm sure the above sounds quite familiar to people in the business.

Ah, the business. And I'll be leaving it soon.

But I'll be back. Like Arnold and MacArthur and Jesus, I offer a promise (or is it a threat?) to return.

Today I'm making charoset (we're celebrating Passover early in my classes, you see), shopping for cheeses to make a cheese platter, doing laundry, proofing a short paper, and gearing up for the week. Luckily, I did my class prep on Friday, which is why I could afford to laze around this weekend. Today, though, I've got a few things to do. The charoset and cheese platter are for my Current Events English class; I had hoped to do something with them last week, but I was just too tired, for some reason.

This week we'll have the cheese party, and along with my coworker Terry and his students, we'll be doing a movie night on Thursday evening. Not a bad way to start the downhill slide.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found the following at this nice blog:

22 Reasons Why English Is Hard

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
22) He decided to comb the tomb to find the bomb.

You might want to try these with you pronunciation class.