English is a Conversation – Teacher’s Notes

English is a conversation.
We talk with people and we develop our language abilities.

What do you think about learning languages?

Read more about it at this link: Learning Languages

The Technique of Rabindranath Tagore

Education is a conversation.

The conversation is between the teacher and student.

It is a two way process.

The student learns and the student teaches too.

The teacher teaches and the teacher also learns.

Usually the teacher teaches.
Usually the teacher explains.

The student asks questions and the teacher answers them.
The student asks for explanations and the teacher gives them.

This is how Rabindranath Tagore worked in his university in Shantiniketan.

Are you a teacher?

Have you thought about the issue of:

Education or Evaluation?

Evaluation means testing.

Evaluation means testing students and giving them a value or a number.

Evaluation means testing students and giving them a value which is a number.

In a conversation, each time the student asks a question, if the teacher answers, the two of them can continue on faster and higher to deeper and more penetrating insights but if each question is greeted with:

“You work it out.”
“I want you to work it our for yourself.”
“I will teach you to think for yourself.”

or a multiple choice of phrases like:

(1) Are you happy?
(2) Is you happy?
(3) Be you happy?
(4) Did you happy?

then the student is exposed to incorrect patterns and taught nothing. Progress is very slow.

A Conversational Approach

Nowadays at each junction in the conversation, I give several answers.

A student asks:

What do I say when I cannot open the door?

I give several possibilities.

1. I cannot open the door.
2. I cannot open this door.
3. I am afraid I cannot open this door.
4. I simply cannot get this door open.

Then make a role-play/drill:

A: What is wrong?
B: I cannot open this door.
A:What did you say?
B: I simply cannot open this door. (etc)

The students try out various possibilities, which are all correct.

Then the students scribble notes in their books quickly so they have seen, heard, written and said the new phrases instead of puzzling over several incorrect wrong phrases and wondering which one is incorrect and not moving forward in the dialogue between the teacher and the student.

After the door question, the conversation can go in a number of a directions. A student might ask another question.

How do I say: “Why does not open?”

The teacher might see this as the ideal time to teach a new point.

Why doesn’t it open?
Why does it not open?
Why is it stuck?
Why is it sticking?
Is it stuck on something?
Is it stuck?

All these possibilities are correct.

If the teacher has an “evaluation approach”, he will say:

You choose:

Why door not open?
Why not door open?
Why is door not open?
Why won’t the door open?

Only the last possibility is correct. The others are wrong. A teacher who teaches like this is evaluating for the sake of it. Evaluation has already replaced education in that classroom.

Has evaluation replaced education?

Are you a teacher? Are you a student? Have you noticed that there is more and more testing in academic life. There is more testing. These is more evaluation. Sometimes it is every day.

We are evaluated every day.
I am evaluated every day.
We are evaluated every day.

What do you think about the increasing level of evaluation in academic life?
What do you think about the decreasing level of instruction in academic life?

Has evaluation replaced education?
Is evaluation replacing education?
Is evaluation going to replace education?

Let’s carry our lesson on a little further. One of my students wants to know what we call a door which opens by sliding. I can say:

a sliding door
a door that slides
a door which slides

Now let’s do a quick conversation:

Student A: What kind of door is that?
Student B: It is a …(insert “sliding door” etc)

This is a doorway to another way of looking at it.

Have you read the doors of perception?

The Evaluation Approach

Nowadays I think it is more common to not give the answer and not give several possibilities. It is more common for the teacher to turn it into a little test. More evaluation!

Look at the possibilities below:

a door that goes from side to side
a slide door
a sliding door
a slides door
a door of slides

Which one is correct?

The student has to guess the correct one and while he does that he is looking at “wrong English”.

Evaluation is not Teaching

Do you understand the difference between the two approaches?

the education approach – giving information

the evaluation approach – withholding information

Let’s carry our example on further. My students want to know:

What does “withholding information” mean?

I can say:

not giving information
failing to give information
not being willing to give out information
being unwilling to give out information

Let’s do a quick roleplay:

Student A ( a manager) : Why have you complained about our agent?
Student B ( a customer) I am complaining because your employee is … (insert)

Do you get the idea?

Does your teacher withhold information?


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World English Course

There are lots of things you can learn in the World English Course. There is a place where you can talk about work and there is also a place where you can find a job and a place where you can find staff. There is a place where you can have fun and there is a place where you can talk about food or family. There is also a place where you can talk about money or love or philosophy. You can study anything you want anytime you want. You can do it once a week or every day or any time you like. Have fun! Work hard! Tell your friends and family members! Enjoy!

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