This week saw the launch of EFL Magazine, founded by Philip Pound, and edited by Sean Newton. “The aims of EFL Magazine are simple yet ambitious,” says Philip. “To be the world’s number one magazine for English language teachers, to improve teachers’ lives by supplying the best content and access to the best people to the reader, and to be an arena for change and innovation in how English is taught in an era of massive change in education.”
My favourite article in the first issue is “One-to-one: Managing Time”, by Olga Samsonova (who describes herself as a “One-to-one tutor. Teaching Unplugged fan. Personal growth nerd”):
Several months ago I started taking private classes in Spanish. My teacher Alexandra treats her job very seriously. Our first few lessons were packed with grammar exercises and lexical sets which were not quite what I was willing or ready to work with in each particular lesson. Then I asked Alexandra not to prepare any materials for our lessons and just go with the flow of where our communication would take us. She was taken aback but complied despite her reservations. Since then, our work has been based on natural conversation. My teacher helps me with my immediate linguistic needs that emerge in the process, be it work on systems or skills.
Alexandra has expressed her surprise at how well this approach seems to be working. A remark that touched me was “I feel a bit guilty charging you for lessons – I’m not really doing anything!” In fact, by being flexible, not imposing a curriculum on me and following my learning process rather than dragging me along, she is doing much more than many other teachers who look like they are “working harder” but don’t really listen and respond to their learners’ needs.
I have a monthly column in the magazine called “Copernicus”:
In the global village of the 21st century, students are generally not learning English because they want to talk to British people, or Americans, or other native speakers. Instead, they are learning English because they want to talk to Chinese people, and Germans, and Brazilians, and the rest of the world’s non-native speakers – who outnumber native speakers by three to one.