II was planning on using today’s blog entry to talk about a teacher workshop that I attended today, but it was such a disappointment that I can’t bear to think about it any more. I tweeted about it in frustration during the event, and I was not kind:
A lot of academic writing on ESOL is just explaining in the dryest, most pretentious way the same techniques and methods every eikaiwa teacher learns on their first day of training
— redlandcannibal (@redlandcannibal) January 20, 2018
I can’t really go into specific details since not many people attended and I’ll be found out pretty quickly, so I’ll be very general with my criticism:
- Workshops by and for university English professors tend to be so far removed from reality. They spend hours pontificating on some of the most basic tenets of teaching like it’s some new thing that nobody’s ever heard of, and love the sound of their own voices so much that they just can’t ever seem to get to the point. One of the presentations was 90 minutes of a breakthrough new way of teaching where you have students work in groups so that they can practice L2 with each other, which… I don’t know of an eloquent way of putting this, but yeah no freakin duh.
- If under the “Problems” section of your presentation you complain about “lazy” students not participating in your classes and don’t offer any solution for this other than “fail the student,” then you are not someone who should be in a position to teach, let alone lecture other teachers on how to teach.
- For all their academia and faux-intellectual approach and withering condescension to people who aren’t “real” teachers (ALTs and eikaiwa instructors), lecturers sure don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. One speaker kept confusing phonemes with phonics, and another didn’t know what CLIL stood for even though he devoted an entire section of his presentation to it. Presenters also kept referring to L1 as “Japanese” but the universities they work for don’t cater exclusively to Japanese students.
I’m planning on going to another one of these workshops in a couple of weeks because for all my whining, I do think it’s important to learn what other teachers have to share. It’s also a nice little ego boost knowing that even without a masters degree or university teaching position, I can hold my own. I just hope the next workshop is a little better than this one was, sheesh.