Monday, December 19, 2005

How to evaluate your teacher

My last post was about the article written by Jim Scrivener where he states that he is not sure sure whether teaching grammar is possible. How would you feel if a doctor said that he didn't really know if his treatments were effective? Or you hire an electrician to change your wiring but he can't guarantee the results? You would certainly want some kind of assurance that you would actually get something for your money. So what makes a good teacher? Results? What results? There are some institutes that offer a guarantee of success. But how do they measure success? If your ability to speak English can be measured from the results of a grammar test, then yes, it is possible to offer a guarantee. But I don't think that there are any schools that guarantee you to be able to have a ten-minute conversation with any anglophone on any subject. That would be a much better indicator of success.
I've taught hundreds of students and the success rate seems to depend on the capabilities and motivation of the student.
The ability to conjugate all the irregular verbs in English counts for nothing. Your brain stores that information in a different place to the part that makes conversation. So the only way to practice conversation, is to converse. I can't guarantee that you will speak English like me, but at least I always have something to say and an opinion on most subjects, and I think that that should be the main criteria for choosing a teacher, as well as some teaching ability and a basic knowledge of grammar(just in case).
Evaluate your teacher on how stimulating the lessons are, not on how much grammar was covered. A boring teacher will put you off learning English for life. But a lively debate will have you coming back for more.

1 comment:

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