Thursday, 24 January 2013

How to create your own TEFL method


disclaimer: All methods appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real methods, living or dead, is purely coincidental


1. come up with a new theory


It doesn't really have to be new, it can be a rehash of old stuff with a new name if you like. Ideally it would involve doing the opposite of whatever it is teachers are currently doing. For example, if teachers are using textbooks, the your method should be textbook free. And if teachers generally like to correct students' grammar then your method should avoid that altogether. In fact it should expressly prohibit correction.


Teachers are constantly disappointed with the results they achieve. Like the overweight   making yet another doomed set of new year's resolutions, teachers' sense of hope is strong. They believe that if they can just find the right method, it will unlock the secrets of English for their students. Whip up some interest, -the thrill of the new, -claim that your method is "revolutionary" and make extravagant claims about it's effectiveness.

2. Give it a interesting name

Call your method something ear-catching and cool. If you can't do that then come up with an approach which ideally can be reduced into a three letter acronym like TPR, NLP, CLL, ELF, PPP or TBI. If you only have two then just toss in a meaningless word.  Like 'total' in total physical response.  Could we have HHPR (half hearted physical response) or NMPR (not much physical response)?


The more complex the name the better. Make it sound complex and scientific if possible -don't worry if you don't know the first thing about science, it doesn't matter!  Just grab some sciencey sounding words and paste them together. The more obscure the better.  Take Neuro linguistic programming for example, (NLP!) even the practitioners state, with no apparent shame, that it has nothing to do with neuro science or linguistics! 

3. don't really describe what it is

That is, tell people it's a new 'system' or 'approach' (don't call it a method!) that is concerned with the approach to humanistic and holistic autonomous learning spheres which takes account of students' multiple intelligences and promotes student-centric learning. Or something like that. Alternatively just define it as whatever anyone says it is, like this:

A: It seems to me this is related to motivation?
B: yes, motivation plays a part in it.

or

A: Is it related to teacher identity in the technological classroom?
B: If you want it to be

3.5 be a man 

No method has ever been invented by a woman. 

4. tell people it works
 
Nothing succeeds like success. In the same way. nothing works like things that people say work!  Just keep telling people that your idea "really works" that the students "love it" and that you have seen great improvements and eventually someone will become your follower and start saying all this stuff for you. After a few years you'll have a book out and be running training courses in your approach.

5. In case of emergencies

By this time your method becoming quite popular. This is when the backlash begins.  Don't worry about those spoilsports pointing out that your theory is meaningless, just carry on and be even more vague than you were before. Tell your critic that what you do is not measurable by their methods, but only by whole body and mind convergence and the nourishment of the soul!  Let's see them try to measure that.

6. If that doesn't work

Weird theories are oddly resistant so don't worry. Even if some bright spark shows you to be a complete fraud just nod sagely and say that "it's not for everyone" and that "teacher's and more importantly students can decide for themselves what works and what doesn't".  Another well worn trick is to throw out some of the troublesome bits of the theory and keep the popular bits. Strangely in EFL when something doesn't work teachers are very reluctant to throw it out but would rather keep using bits of it, so you'll still be able to sell books and appear at conferences. Also if you wait about 30 years your method will no doubt come back into fashion.

7. sit back and count the cash

Now you can relax and let your followers do all the work for you.  If you're as successful as someone like Chomsky you can move out of the field together, reappearing with a book every now and then!  Don't worry about being found out, the academic world is slow to process things and weighted towards the ones with the ideas, not those who point out they don't work. 

So what are you waiting for, get cracking with your new theory and good luck!









27 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this read! I will keep it in mind as I author my new approach, Seburnicopia. Look for it.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. My first attempt at TEFL-based humour.

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  2. Haaaa haaa:-) it is so truly funny yet tragically true:-) loved your piece:-)

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  3. Hum I'm not sure what to call mine...maybe evidenced based EFL. Perhaps that's a bit too long. ;P

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  4. Nicely done. #3 made me laugh out loud.

    If you ever need to back up your method with research, this Pecha Kucha from Dr. Frank Boers might help you get the evidence you need to fend off the naysayers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O5ywvU3c7U

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    1. I enjoyed that! Let me know if you have any other videos like that.

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  5. My favourite posting so far.

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  6. How did my name come up as LAP?

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  7. This is so true it actually made me angry as I was laughing !

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  8. Brilliant stuff. Well done, Russ. I was grinning from ear to ear as I read this. I strongly urge you in all seriousness to put this forward as a conference paper, workshop or poster session.

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    1. hahaha! it's nice to get a compliment from you. I don't know how they would feel about me using something I already blogged though?

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    2. I think it would be more than fine to present on. I don't think anyone would be fussed that you'd already blogged about. Believe in the King.

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  9. I created mine last year: 'Usta ELT'. I explained it in great detail, too. On reflection, I probably put too much thought into it and it almost made sense. For some reason the money hasn't started rolling in yet. Made I need to whore it around the conference circuit first, eh?

    Go on then, I'll give you the link to my masterpiece...

    http://www.teachthemenglish.com/2012/08/dogmeelt-the-first-1000-years-or-how-i-integrated-dogme-elt-into-my-teaching/

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    1. it certainly is a masterpiece! I remember reading it last year, -it must have taken a hell of a long time to write.

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  10. This is brilliant. Too brilliant to only be a blog piece. EFL satire. And it parallels nicely with religion so my new method with will TESOLogy

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    1. TESOLogy! sounds good! It is actually quite simillar, that's an astute observation...and like religion you also need a charasmatic authority
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_authority

      Dr Ascher for TPR
      Li yang for crazy English
      R. Bandler for NLP
      I'm sure you can think of some others

      I wonder if I can submit it for a conference after it's been published in a blog?

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  11. I imagine that as long as you develop it a bit it can be a conference submission. Plenty of people do the rounds with the same talk so it has to be ok, surely?

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  12. I seem to be joining this party quite late! I'm enjoying it, though. Shame I can't do much about point 3.5...

    You might enjoy this post I wrote a few years ago:
    http://laurapatsko.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/parlamos-ensemble-elu-a-multilingual-methodology/

    Just make sure you note the date it was written. ;)

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  13. I seem to be joining this party quite late! I'm enjoying it, though. Shame I can't do much about point 3.5...

    You might enjoy this post I wrote a few years ago:
    http://laurapatsko.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/parlamos-ensemble-elu-a-multilingual-methodology/

    Just make sure you note the date it was written. ;)

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  14. When is your book coming out?

    ReplyDelete