Contemporary teachers have become mainly classroom managers and operators of materials. This is perhaps a natural outcome of Communicative Approaches – and of much current training – but is it really what we want? We may desire more “learning-centred approaches” but in class much teaching has become ritualised, with organisational tools such as “group discussion” seemingly expected to achieve learning goals without any teacher intervention.
When I observe lessons nowadays I often see a teacher who does little more than a series of announcements to start up and close down exercises and activities. There is typically a lack of “up-close” teaching skills, no “hands-on” work with language and little or no engagement with the process or experience of learning. Much of traditional “teaching” is devolved to the coursebook. And coursebooks are now so good that they can take that strain.
But what can the teacher do when they want to risk breaking free? The escape routes are no longer clear. Some teachers see Dogme and assume that that is the only other place to go – but it is a fairly drastic extreme to dump materials and syllabus and wander naked through the dogme forest. Are there other routes open? Ones that allow the teacher to start exploring what it means to be a “teacher” – even with a syllabus and a headteacher and parents and a coursebook and all the day-to-day problems?
This website is a chance to discuss current ELT and to ask the question: Is this where we want to be? And where else can we be?