“But why do we have to learn English? Don’t we speak it already?”
If you heard this familiar – if flippant – remark from a student, how would you react? Perhaps, if consider yourself as diligent as The Quill Guy during his teacher training, you might have responded with one of the following:
1) Because we want to forge useful, engaging and wholesome identities for ourselves. Or perhaps just to survive.
2) To raise literacy levels in a real sense, therefore allowing people to function better in society.
3) To introduce different cultural perspectives in an accessible and interesting way (different tastes in film, for example.)
4) To emphasise concepts that, to an educated adult, would be deemed common-sense – such as developing an awareness of ego, and of promoting social skills.
5) To develop effective critical thinking skills, that can be applied across a range of real-life activities.
6) To facilitate the expression of contentious popular opinions, with the possibilities of granting a voice to socially useful minority views.
7) To provide employment to English graduates, and a useful social function for our country’s young people.
8) To encourage an empathy with other perspectives, and therefore give some grounding and meaning to our own.
9) To promote an ability to organise and collate thoughts and opinions into a manner that allows effective and clear communication.
10) Because we can.
This side of teaching, though, I would probably laugh and carry on. Why? Because ‘learning English’ should be an exploration, not least from the teachers themselves.
Like a quill pen, each of the above reasons has a limited lifetime before they need to be renewed. Therefore, you should see this blog as the ongoing renewal of why to teach English – especially through the use of ICT.
What can you expect from me?
1) Regular links to the most creative web 2.0 learning tools for your class to explore.
2) A repository for resources, and reviews, when these tools have been used with some success.
3) An honest assessment of how to do this from the point of view of a greedy comprehensive school teacher with enough on their plate already.