Saturday, August 14, 2010

Suroy2x sa Mindanao

Studying language versus using language.

From elementary to high school to college we learn these over and over: subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, dangling modifiers, misplaced modifiers, simple present tense, present progressive tense, past perfect tense, and so on. One sentence at a time. Or one paragraph at a time.

Not very useful when outside the classroom we have to write multiparagraph compositions in the form of emails, cover letters to resumes, letters to the editor, love letters and responses, auto/biographical essays and so on.

Student talk versus teacher talk.

Same thing. I've watched classes where during the entire period teachers ask all the questions and students respond with "Yes" and "No." There's no prodding, no analysis, no reflection. No small group work and pair work where students have 'real' conversations.

So you can imagine how happy I am to be part of a team that tries to shift teachers' paradigms: From teaching how language works. To teaching how to use language to carry out tasks. AUTHENTIC TASKS. (Not fill in the blanks with the correct verb that agrees with the subject. Or identifying the correct preposition from the list of choices. Or the craziest of all: labeling nouns. Is this a common noun? A pronoun? A count noun? A mass noun?)

A big part of the job is designing the curriculum and always finding better ways to reword it so that teachers can easily see the connection between the Students Books, the Teacher's Notes, the Workbooks, the independent studies, the discussion to the independent studies, the interview practice and the teacher/student reading/listening/writing/speaking assessments.

Six schools down. Seven more to go in October. Four in May 2011. And maybe 8 in October 2011. From Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cagayan, Iligan, Marawi, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Davao. All trained to use the Oxford and Cambridge instructional materials using communicative language teaching methods.

I love my job.

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