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Showing posts from November, 2018

Is teaching 90% crowd control?

"Teaching is 90% crowd control." I don't know who first coined that statement, but it's been around for years and I think there's a lot of truth in it. In this blog I nearly always write about lesson ideas and pedagogy, but have never directly addressed the issue of classroom behaviour. I think it's been a bit of an oversight, because for me ensuring good classroom behaviour in an atmosphere of attentiveness and mutual respect trumps any issue of language teaching pedagogy. Thankfully, these days teachers are much more open about issues they have in class and often share them readily in schools via social media. It's clear to me that there are lots of times when teaching is undermined by both low-level disruption and plain disrespect. You can't teach effectively in those circumstances

I spent my career in selective schools with good behaviour systems and was fortunate enough to rarely have to deal with badly behaved classes. I was able to teach with …

The age factor in language learning

This post draws on a section from Chapter 5 of Jack C. Richards' splendid handbook Key Issues in Language Teaching (2015). I'm going to summarise what Richards writes about how age factors affect language learning, then add my own comments about how this might influence classroom teaching.

It's often said that children seem to learn languages so much more quickly and effectively than adults. Yet adults do have some advantages of their own, as we'll see.

In the 1970s it was theorised that children's success was down to the notion that there is a critical period for language learning (pre-puberty). Once learners pass this period changes in the brain make it harder to learn new languages. Many took this critical period hypothesis to mean that we should get children to start learning other languages at an earlier stage. (The claim is still picked up today by decision-makers arguing for the teaching of languages in primary schools.)

Unfortunately, large amounts of rese…