Reasons I don't like most textbooks (7)

They're not about the learners.

So, why exactly are 2 billion people learning English?


To make their lives "better."

And er, what exactly must they do if they are to successfully achieve this goal?

They must learn how to talk in English.

  • their lives.
  • their jobs.
  • their deals.
  • their responsibilities.
  • their interests.
  • their hobbies.
  • their families.
  • their needs.
  • their desires.
  • their passions.
  • their concerns.
  • their ideas.
  • their musings.
  • their boundaries.

Anything else served up, which has an objective providing less than this, is less than enough.

Put the student in the book to get him out of the book.

Useful links related to this posting:
Reasons I don't like most textbooks, series 1-6
The dogma of dogme
F is for Fluency (Scott Thornbury)


The best laid plans of mice and women...

the valkyries
It is a funny old world, isn't it?

Even if you carefully plan something, design a structure and place all the pieces in a line something can come along and knock it all down.

The Sexiest Men in ELT was such a post.

I came up with this back in August or September after reading Gavin Dudeney's and Lindsay Clandfield's posts and started the She-in-ELT series. As much as it tickled me and intrigued me... and worried me... I knew I would have to wait until the end of the year before releasing it into the wild, so it sat on my bulletin board like a ticking bomb.

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
W.B. Yeats

The thing is we know there is a problem in ELT paradise. We know there is a glass ceiling and we know we really can't do anything about it.

We know that at every single conference women participants outnumber men. We know that every single conference the ratio of male speakers to female speakers is out of whack.

We can't do anything about this.

But we can laugh about it.

And perhaps in our laughter, questions could be asked. Discomfort would be experienced, yes, and even perhaps some reflection into the reasons for that discomfort...

Yet last week as Saturn and Uranus danced, Pluto spun and Venus' gravitational pull unhinged, the Blogosphere and Twitterverse imploded with the entry of the Supernovas (special welcome to them in the next post and changes to my blog layout) - questions were not asked here but instead saboteur statements were made in an alternative universe.

In the fallout, the joke took a hit.

A good friend wrote me with ways I could repair the damage

a. Feel the fear and do it anyway
b. Erase all traces
c. Call it off
d. Do a pre-poll
e. Park it for now
f. Say you're busy (which I am) and ignore the situation

I've chosen option e...

The poll for the Sexiest Man in ELT is going to sleep, for now.


Conversations at Christmas


Christmas is not my favorite holiday.

It's my least favorite.

To go into all the reasons for that would be dull...

I could say I don't like the materialism, am not a big fan of shopping or crowded markets - suffer from glühwein headaches... I could tell you I hate the cold: Christmas for me, growing up in the Caribbean, was about playing cricket on the beach, picnic'd turkey on Boxing Day.

Everyone wants it to snow here. Sssh.

Also, all those expectations to be happy. All that pressure to "let's make everything perfect."

And how exactly did Coca-Cola manage to influence everyone into thinking that a big fat man in a white beard brings gifts down a chimney and more importantly how did this concept shimmey it's way into every little boy and girl's dreams all over the world?

Bah, humbug I say.

But in the meantime, here's a little gift for you and your classes over the next 10 days:

p.s. for the new year

Related Links:

& if you've also done a lesson on this theme... do add your link!

Thnx 4 ur RTs

A rather popular figure in ELT kicked off a rather big discussion two days ago - one which captivated my attention and distracted me from doing a thousand other, much more pressing and urgent, matters.

It was regarding the social niceties which should or shouldn't go along with life in web 2.0 and whether or not we understand the culture emerging there.

For the most part, Gavin's observations were spot on but still, I was annoyed about a couple of things. Regarding the narcissism of web2.0, he's right - it is something I have observed and dislike also but the blogosphere is abuzz with it, it's not only happening in our field.

I remember my own nervous beginnings but as someone who's traveled quite a bit, I also remembered that because I wasn't sure of the map and cultural faux pàses so easily tripped on, I bought, watched, read and bookmarked the 'guide-books.'

I studied before I entered.

One particular point in the blog comments on That' SLife was whether or not thank you's for ReTweets are appropriate: if they're a form of spam and whether or not they should be made privately or publicly and discussions erupted on how they "clutter up" the hmm... really rather busy twitter stream.

So here's the thing...

I say thank you to you because I am thankful.

Actually, I'm excessively, overwhelmingly, abundantly grateful.

Let's get something pretty straight, just in case it isn't clear:

I am no big deal.

As much as I love my blog (can you tell?) and it's nice (but mostly weird) that some of you are now referring to me as a VIP, it just ain't so.

I'm an English teacher.

I pack up my backpack every weekday, just like you do, well mine usually has a netbook inside it, I go to my classes and teach there and sometimes my lessons work out well so I blog about these.... so you can go try these ideas out too and I can find them again... but sometimes, to be frank, they're not all that clever.

I train teachers in workshops however I'm not a teacher-educator.

I haven't written a major textbook and no, I haven't created an earth-shaking pedagogy.

So, how did this no-one arrive in the place of having a "popular" blog?

When I started in September last year, I wasn't on Twitter. So in the beginning I got maybe 5 visitors a week..? And probably of those visits, 50% were made by my parents. But I came to the page and I wrote.

I put in the hours.

Some of my articles were just awful. Embarrasingly so.

Some of them were average.

Sometimes I thought, wow, is like no one ever going to read my words? All those so-called supportive colleagues at the school I used to work at - too busy, they kept saying they'll look at the weekend but the weekends went by and they did not come.

That so-called best friend who told me she liked my blog and then when I asked her, did you like what I did with the pictures, she said huh, what picture... and I knew she too, had not come and visited.

And though I was hurt I came to the page and I wrote.

I went out and I learned from the better bloggers. I offered to do guest-pieces for those who knew what they were doing because I read that you should do this. Some of these were accepted, some were not.

I visited your blogs and I learned from you.

I wrote more articles.

I bought books on blogging.

I combed through slideshare and the 'net for tips on how to become a good blogger: Darren Rowse and Chris Brogan helped me enormously - their mantra became my mantra and if you really want to be a popular blogger too, make it yours:


Somewhere around the 4 months mark... I came up with something which was considered useful by you: some of you decided to share a lesson plan I'd spent 12 hours writing with your colleagues on Facebook, you sent it on by email and it got listed in various yahoo!groups.

Now all of a sudden I was getting 20 - 50 visitors a day... and some of you even began to subscribe to my posts.

Which meant, holy cow, responsibility...

I had to write...

So I came to the page and I wrote.

You started talking back to me.

At around six months, some of you started writing to thank me for what I was writing and it was this gratitude of yours which pulled me to the page and made me write even more articles, now twice or three times a week instead of every now and then.

I joined Twitter in May and as we bloggers of the blogosphere connected daily in the Twitterverse, suddenly the number of visitors to my blog increased exponentially and with that, the deepening obligation to keep writing.

I enrolled on a course with Darren Rowse and did the tough but rewarding 30-day challenge to become a better blogger.

I wrote every day and did every exercise...

My writing improved and now you began to regularly share my posts with your friends, with your colleagues, - you RT'd my work, ideas and tips and passed these on to your own professional and personal learning networks.

Let me say that again.

You read my posts and you commented on them and then you decided what I wrote had enough value to be shared with your own colleagues. This may seem to a casual observer as no big deal... this may seem odd as "in real life we don't thank people for repeating what we say" but this is what you did:

You rewarded me with the highest praise
any writer could ever wish to receive

you told me my words were worthy.

So though I'm no VIP and though I don't write the best blog in the blogosphere you keep bringing the obligation and responsibility to do the thing I love doing most: writing.

Through your appreciation, you have transformed my quiet life - - you've gotten me two paid writing assignments, you've given me a thousand new ways to smile, confidence in my concepts and ideas about teaching - - you have challenged me to be consistent and true, you have helped me grow as a person and a character in the edu web 2.0 world and

you have given me the gift of the page.




Who is the sexiest man in ELT?

Normally on a Thursday, I post up the She-in-ELT series...

Normally at the beginning of a month, I work on producing my monthly wrap-up of the blogosphere...

My S-i-E posting for this week didn't arrive in the in-tray. DN... am awaiting the posting on Daff.

The wrap-up is a double-monther this time 'round: was awfully busy at the beginning of Nov' however after leaving a rather long and detailed comment on Gavin's latest blog posting on Twitter and the VIPs... I went back to wading through the most interesting and earnest articles for the most informative, the most innovative, the blog postings from the newbies to the 'sphere... but sigh... it's taking me a while to fit them all together under the theme of teachers being under construction...


And then I figured - it was a brain wave, really - I happen to be in that kind of mood tonight:

I know! I'll lower the tone instead.

It is end-of-year nominations month, after all.

Grammys round the corner, ELTons submissions sneaking through the Twitterdom, EduBlogs asking us to send in lists.

Sidestep for a wee bit o' fun:

Who is the man you just can't wait to see up there on that podium in 2010, pontificating on his latest book, his newest learning theory or the best pedagogical practice for language acquisition?

  • The knowingness of the wise and done it all?
  • The deepest thinking methodologist?
  • The techiest of the cyborgs?
  • The brainiest academic/critical thinker?
  • The bookiest of the business and ESP?
  • The hottest comedian & entertaining orator?

So girls (and gay men)... it's all PeopleMagazine meets The TEFL VIPs on my blog this month.

Part one:
Nominate a devastingly sexy man in ELT. Please do not nominate yourself.

Part two:
We'll do a poll, a little fairer than Clandfield's faux pas - I might let you vote for more than one person.

Part three:
New year posting... an award?

Who knows, maybe I'll even land an interview detailing his hobbies and interests, marital status and how he got into ELT... and if you're lucky, an Obamesque beach scene.


p.s. for those of you who'd rather not be known by all of blogosphere for saying that Mr So and So is hotter than a jacket potato, might I most kindly draw your attention to the anonymous function when adding comments but for the rest of you: don't hesitate to stand-by-your-man.

p.p.s. if you've any photos - perhaps taken at a recent TESOL/TEFL conference(?), don't hesitate to pop those in an email.

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