Thursday, October 16, 2008
The TEFL Trap
One of the many small ironies of the English teacher's life is being expected to improve your students' linguistic abilities at the same time as your own is slowly, constantly and, so it seems, irredeemably deteriorating. We've all had it, that awful feeling when you look at the whiteboard and realise you're no longer capable of spelling even the easiest of words. In the Czech Republic I saw a teacher spell habit with a double b; today, in the classroom next door, a scrawled dialogue began with the line Why are you so exited?; I once had three goes at architect while ten Italian teenagers looked on. But the symptoms are even worse for those of us who had no grounding in the language at school. Early on in my teaching career an over-keen Korean student sprung a question about transitive and intransitive verbs on me, right in the middle of class. It was way above my level of grammatical competence (even with my degree in English I would've struggled to explain the difference between a noun and a verb). Luckily, it was way above his too. Like all good teachers, I bluffed it out.