1. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Misleading appreciation

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Hwaigon, Apr 20, 2015.

    So a student told me (when I asked her why she had an expression of haughty acidity in regard to a grammar exercise she understood) that she took it for granted she understood the grammar structure, but it obviously stirred no pleasure in her to know.

    Reminded me of my grammar school years when I excelled in grammar knowledge (given high school normatives for foreign language results) and also of my haughtiness. I would think university - cough- has nothing more to offer me in English than grammar school already has. Such course of thinking was due to the fact I always had got As in English and didn't know defeat. Then at university, I was much annoyed to learn my knowledge was slightly above average at best of the times.

    All As can then be misleading because they give a false illusion of "knowing everything". One should be aware that they much rather mean "knowing everything out of the compulsory frame of knowledge".
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I switched high schools in my younger years. When I went to my new high school I found that some of the classes were using the same curriculum as the other but was much farther behind the other. I't was quite annoying to have to go over the same course work, but instead of becoming a grumpy Gus, I looked at the bright side of things. Not only could I get good grades with my knowledge, but it allowed me to tutor other students and make friends with other students who I had just met. Maybe you should make the student a tutor and give her a sense of accomplishment.
     
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  3. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    That's a great suggestion for improvement. It has several bugs though: She's quite lazy and won't do a thing if she doesn't have to. She's also a year nine student, being accepted to a high-school, so she's basically thrown in the towel. Also, although she's very good at English, she's far from being least cooperative and as such can never be a work horse of the clasd. Let alone a tutor. The same holds true of her best friend.
     
  4. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    You could start giving "Extra credit" work to the class that is far beyond the regular work that might be a challenge to the student.
     
  5. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Yes, I know that. I tried this approach and it didn't work.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm confused. The student is not excited about the class and knows the material. And you're worried it will lead her to think she knows everything already when she doesn't?

    If you are sure she indeed knows the material, offer her an alternative assignment: looking at the debate whether non-human primates can learn syntax. I learned a lot about grammar from that very debate.

    Another option would be looking at syntax of different languages.
     
  7. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    What I was trying to say is that she's simply spoiled by success.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So you're not looking for a solution, you're more opening a discussion of the issue in general?

    I think there's definitely a problem with gifted students getting lazy and disengaged. In my area, the "need" for gifted students to have enrichment activities that will keep them interested and challenged is legally equivalent to the need for struggling students to get extra help.
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Are you an EFL/ESL teacher?

    Some ideas:
    -Task her with in-class co-teaching exercises. She gets to teach something to a group (you'd want to involve others too as teachers but you can give the most difficult subject to her). A simple teach-back exercise, although might not work if the students don't get along.

    ETA: Also, take advantage of scaffolding. She can share her knowledge with others and you can make language learning more communicative this way. The downside is, if she hasn't a particularly nice personality, it might cause friction with the other students.

    -Elaborate on the existing exercises to make them more difficult for her. When she's done, challenge her with a new task while you wait for the others to finish (you're the key here, it's arduous to make students see why they should give a shit but in the end, the human brain likes to be challenged).
    -Kick-off a language portfolio (ELP) project with the entire class but encourage her to fill the portfolio with C1-C2 level material. Although, it might be too late for this now, but you can try it with another class later to even out competence differences.

    Check out books on task-based language learning and teaching. I.S.P. Nation has published books about teaching different areas of language with loads and loads of exercise ideas.

    ETA 2: Come to think of it, I actually have loads of ideas for this, but I'd need to know about the goals of the students, what kind of group it is (affects how you "individualize" your teaching), and what competences you're currently teaching to your group.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  10. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Yes, exactly. My initial post was more of an observation rather than a scream for help.

    Yes, I'm an ESL teacher.
    The thing is, there's friction on literary all sides in this particular class. I've thought of co-teaching exercise but even if she cooperated
    with me on it, the rest of the class wouldn't. I found (and made) some exercises that could pose a nice challenge to her but the moment
    she was done with the regular ones, she wouldn't do mine. She has a very unique mindset, hence the title of this post. She's used to
    be perfect at the given level but once I raise the par and exemplify to her that there is STILL a lot to learn, she gets discouraged.
    Excessive indolence is something of a suit in this group. The issue is, without a doubt, a global one.

    Thank you for the publication tip. I'll check it out.
     
  11. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I don't know about your part of the world, but here in the US, I'm convinced that the biggest failure of our public education system is the way they fail to challenge brighter students. We do a much better job educating the kids at the other end of the brightness scale.
     
  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is something you can try if you're practicing for an exam or for example recapping what you did the last time. It can work if you are able to pair up the students (might not work if there's a lot of friction in the class): make / copy / print out exercises about the given topic(s) and wait for the class to pair up or pair them up yourself. Hand out 1-3 exercises per pair, and make sure the brighter students get the most challenging exercises. Make sure you have the answers on separate sheets of paper so the students can check the answers themselves and also that you have enough exercise sheets for those who complete theirs very quickly (so don't print just one exercise per pair).

    I had a class where there were two girls who were constantly at each other's throats outside the classroom. One of them was a typical bully but she was also bright. As long as she and the other girl sat on opposite sides of the room, things were peaceful. The best way to engage the bully was to make her talk about herself. Talking about your own experiences is usually fun for students, things that you'd want to do, you dream about, or what you've done, movies and books you liked, etc. It's also easy to elaborate on these topics and mold them to fit specific language goals. I wonder if "autobiographical" learning would motivate your student, although I'd imagine you've done it to some extent at least already.

    I highly recommend everything task-based, although with a difficult class with people not getting along, it can get challenging. Also, you might have to implement the method right at the beginning of the semester so that the group learns right from the start to work together. Task-based learning isn't by default communicative, but it serves the communicative learning goals really, really well, and since communication and speaking in the target language tend to be prioritized in curricula, I'd say it's worth the shot.
     
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  13. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Huge thanks for your and everybody else's input. I'll definitely look up task-based learning and info on classs dynamics. It feels refreshing to have other ESL teachers around. Where I teach, I'm the only English teacher in the facility, so my work tends to get solitary and lone-wolfish sometimes.
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I know the feeling. It's a common complaint from teachers that teaching is actually a quite lonely job. You're alone in the classroom, doing your own thing. Since it's also quite exhausting, one doesn't always have the energy to reach out. Are you a member of a teachers' union? Usually language teachers have their own organizations as well, and those can be useful resources for new ideas. Best of luck, and if you ever want to spitball ideas about teaching, feel free to PM me. It's always interesting to hear about language teaching in other countries. :)
     
  15. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Much appreciated, I will, thank you.
    We have beer sessions with my two fellow teacher colleagues regularly. It helps a bit to share experience.
     
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  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This reminds me of a friend (and I've found this as well) he got a first at undergraduate level and was invited then to do a PhD - skipping the MA process most people go through. He soon found himself almost failing at work that was getting 80% or 90% just the year before.

    I think - and I've found this very much to be the case too - that education often lets you find out just how little you know, and how much you take for granted.

    In short, I knew a lot more about literature before I started this MA. And while I've read more theorists, read more books, and can make better and stronger connections between books, I now know that what I knew at BA level wasn't very much at all. At all. I now realize that when I graduated with my BA degree I knew absolutely nothing compared to what I know now, and yet I feel much less sure of what I know.
     
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  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    What Terry Pratchett (I think) called lies to children.

    All education is a matter of giving you an explanation that you can a/ understand and b/ use. Your capacity for understanding grows with age (and the fact that you've also learned a load of stuff in other subjects that now forms a cohesive world-view), so a new, more complex explanation is given. Which is often the complete opposite of what you were taught last year.
     
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  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think teenagers are strange creatures - filled with a world of self-doubt and yet somehow so irritatingly self-assured too lol. Their every emotion is so strong that sometimes they come across as overreacting or melodramatic and then they get all philosophical like they finally "get" the meaning of life - it's just nobody else has just yet and they're doomed to exist as lonely geniuses just waiting to spread their wisdom, if only the world would listen and stop looking down at the fact that they're only 14 :wtf: :bigtongue:

    Ah, the curses of being a teen - they already know so much!

    Anyway, I've never found a way to motivate teens who simply don't wanna work. I admire those who have! I know that I myself was a horrifically hard-to-teach teenager. My teachers weren't the best, but looking back, I sorta feel sorry for them. They tried :unsure:
     
  19. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This made me nostalgic for a time when my friends and I could go to an abandoned building we knew to drink and smoke - we must have been about 14 or 15 - and talk about 'the philosophy of life' and we thought we had everything worked out, that adults were just stupid because they had lost their way. We used to honestly think that, not one of us having worked a day in our lives, of course.
     
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  20. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I find it trmendously difficult to have understanding for those "creatures", mostly because of the fact that I myself have never been one of them. Certain events in my life took too much of my energy to focus or deal with my emotions, add to it I was bullied by the very brats-creatures in their pursuit of discovering themselves. If I had been raised in the fashion that allowed overblown self-centeredness, then maybe I'd have more understanding for them now.

    I think I've never even been a teenager in a general sense. It's more like I was a kid and then an adult.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I hear echoes of Ayn Rand's philosophy leaking out there, (not that you intended it to).

    The school district here in my city has advanced placement classes and two levels of gifted student programs. There is also a Spanish immersion program for kids who strive for fluency in Spanish by 6th grade.

    It's really about what the community is willing to pay for. Cut state taxes too severely and poor neighborhoods' property taxes can't support decent schools. It's not that "our" system doesn't challenge the brighter kids, it's that half the country doesn't believe they should have to pay into the community coffers to collectively educate the children.
     
  22. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Oh? How do you mean?
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    She thought our education system wasted resources on the worst students. Her philosophy was that we should invest only in the brightest students and if one invested in educating the worst students it was a waste of money.
     
  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think that certainly will be the cause of a Randian sort of system, but that isn't how I understand her philosophy exactly - I always took her thing was laissez-fare capitalism and business deals in every sector of society, no investments at all in a departmental, government sort of way.
     
  25. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You sound like you had a difficult childhood/adolescence. However, both my own mother and my husband have had a difficult time growing up - my mum in particular, coming out of deep poverty and in an environment where girls weren't even encouraged to go to school - and I've found that these kinds of experiences can give the people who've come through to the other side wisdom and a measure of gentleness that is hard to find elsewhere from people of a similar age.

    So I dunno - not that this would help you teach the teens, but it might help them relate to you if you shared some of your stories. I know my mum's stories have shaped me as a person for the better - I'll never quite "get" it like she did because I've had a very sheltered life, but it does leave a mark. I wonder if maybe there's something better you could teach your teens other than school - teenagers love to ponder on life and philosophy, so give them something to ponder. Turn their worldview upside-down by telling them one of your stories. I think teenagers also respond the best when you don't act like you're too much above them - if you treat them like they're your equals, they tend to have more respect for you, I think. Laugh and joke with them. A lot of teenagers often feel unheard as well, esp by the adults in their lives. They're just still trying to find their way.
     
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