Was prepping for a meeting tomorrow with a company director. My mission: get approval for more class time. Presently, the company only has two hours a week alloted for each person to take English class. I know that you know that this amount of time is simply not enough, but he doesn’t seem to be very aware.
I met this guy once before, and noticed that his office was covered in cool statues related to jazz and music in general. The guy loves it. Then, thanks to reading this article ( using metaphores to help you connect with the people you’re trying to convince of something) I thought, maybe I could use his love of music as a way to convince him that more English study time was needed.
As I did a little research about how much pro musicians practice, I realized something…
English teachers can learn a lot from professional musicians…
From Principles Of Practice - Music Teacher Magazine here are three ideas that can and should make there way into our teaching style:
"PRACTISE ONLY AS FAST AS YOU CAN RETAIN CONTROL Practice which is too fast leads to inaccuracies and works against the development of technical control. Every single mistake delays the leaning process more than one might expect. It takes much less time to make a mistake than to erase it from the memory. In fact, it is estimated that up to 20 correct repeats can be necessary to prevent the return of a single mistake. Mistakes which have been practiced are especially persistent, particularly rhythmical ones. It can be quite an effort to eliminate them completely, and it is sometimes almost impossible."(Principles of Practice, Isolde Schaupp - emphasis mine)
Point One: "Practice only as fast as you can retain control"
Application: do students demonstrate control over those new grammar points you just introduced? Can they "control" that list of vocabulary - or are they just spitting out the right answer on your fill in the blank test?
Class time should make lots of room for "language control" to develop. (If we’re marching through our lessons in order to finish our course on time, do you think we’re promoting lang control? "Practice which is too fast leads to innaccuracies."
Point two: "… it is estimated that up to 20 correct repeats can be necessary to prevent the return of a single mistake."
Application: 20 correct repeats. 20 correct repeats. 20 correct repeats. 20 correct repeats. 20 correct repeats. 20 corr– ok, so I think you get the point. Repeating is, in my humble opinion, an underused - or abused - language learning power tool.
Underused in that teachers (or perhaps schools or HR folk,) simply don’t make time for it. Maybe repeats happen two or three times, but if you’re at a basic language level, repeating what you hear is the only way forward.
I am teaching a wonderful guy who is almost at square one in English. It’s slow. It’s VERY repetitive, it’s very repetitive, it’s very repeti- oops, there I go again. Really, we sometimes have to repeat a phrase or word so many times that I feel a little….silly. (Sorta feels like this sometimes: Steve Martin’s English class (**If this little video doesn’t make you laugh out loud, I’ll give you your money back. 100% Guaranteed.)
Abused: Repeating can easily make your student feel like a moron. Watch yourself: don’t become impatient. Don’t laugh AT the student(heard horror stories of that from students) and if they seem to reach a frustration point, take a break and do something else. Return later.
Point Three: Focus Small - Focus on Quality.
"Only if one makes it a rule to practice in short passages can enough attention be paid to each detail." (Schaupp)
Application: Biting off more than you can chew is a common English student killer. Classes should be about "how well we can do this" vs. "how fast and far can we go?" Nuff said.
If you liked the connections, try exploring these articles…you might get some useful ideas: