The Seven Deadly Sins of Teaching Language

13 December 2014 | reading time: 3 minutes

The following are the worst atrocities any teacher of language can commit. Review the list and ask yourself whether you qualify as a saint or a sinner.

Misplaced Wrath

When students fail to grasp a new concept, do poorly on an assessment, or misbehave in class, where does a teacher’s frustration rest? Usually, it’s with the students. Faculty lounges are full of teachers complaining endlessly about their students. Of course, what’s the one variable in the classroom teachers can’t control? Who will be in their classes? While it’s certainly true that frustrating student interactions happen in the teaching world, use each one as an opportunity to assess how classroom structures are functioning. Did half the class fail the quiz because some definitions were unclear? Is misbehavior happening because class time is too unstructured? Asking these questions can keep teachers strategizing calmly rather than exploding with anger.

Time Management Greed

Your time in the language classroom is not unlimited. No matter how badly you want more, you have to work with the time you are given. Make sure each lesson has a proper opening and closing, and don’t plan activities that can’t be completed in the allotted time. Remember that any time off-schedule at the beginning of the year means more time rushing to fit everything in at the end of the year.

Technological Sloth

Yes, you know you should add more multimedia to your lessons. You should get away from old overhead slides and convert to computer presentations, but it’s just so hard to motivate yourself. Having classroom tools like an interactive whiteboard can certainly help language teachers beat the sloth demon. Websites like Gynzy provide pre-packaged resources perfect for use in the language classroom, making this teaching sin even easier to repent.

Prideful Planning

You planned a comprehensive language unit your first year as a teacher. Why change that your second year? The work’s already been done. It’s hard to commit the time to revise previously completed work, but teachers learn almost as much as students each year. When teachers take the time to revise lessons based on student data, they create better outcomes for the next generation of language students in our classrooms.

Worksheet Lust

Language teachers get binders full of pre-made worksheets, each one accompanying certain sections of the textbook. What makes these pieces of paper so appealing? Is it the extra time language teachers don’t have to spend coming up with classroom activities? The way the textbook and worksheet activities align so nicely, leading to the easy assignment of reading a chapter and doing the accompanying worksheet packet? Whatever their appeal, worksheets are only healthy in moderation. Learning a language is heavily dependent on interaction and conversational practice. Traditional worksheets are usually isolated multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank activities. Consider adapting any worksheets you absolutely love into a group activity or conversational game. That way, students get the interaction and practice they need to truly learn language.

Achievement Envy

Do student test scores surprise you in a bad way? Are you left looking at other teacher’s student achievement scores with jealousy? If so, then you’ve fallen prey to achievement envy. The root of the problem is a lack of ongoing student assessment. The language classroom is full of activities that can reveal how well students are mastering the material if only teachers take the time to examine the data. When students are practicing in conversation groups, walk around and take notes on who is struggling. Consider using a daily exit ticket to quickly assess important concepts that will be on the test. These simple steps will let you know who needs some extra support before formal assessments take place, and can turn bad test score surprises into good test score surprises.

Vocabulary Gluttony

How many vocabulary words are in this week’s lesson plan? Is it 20, 30 or 40? Language teachers are some of the worst vocabulary gluttons in teaching, packing each week with excessive numbers of new vocabulary words. Remember that to effectively learn a new vocabulary word, students need repeated practice using it in context, defining it in their own words, and practicing using it syntactically. To do that for 40 vocabulary terms a week, every second of class time would be spent on vocabulary, to the detriment of grammar, reading, writing and conversation practice. Just say no to excessive vocabulary terms.

 

By |2018-07-02T20:35:45+00:0013 December 2014|Uncategorized|

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