The ABC of ELT

Taking another bite of Dog food with Self study

Carrying on from my previous post on hypocrisy in teaching especial with regard to teaching methodology.

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Image by Sh4rp_i on flickr

Self guided learning is probably an even larger area for concern.

Although, every teacher in this school advocates encouraging and helping students to do their own out of class learning, we rarely do our own.

The only teacher I know who really does has started taking extra lessons, which isn’t really self guided.

There are so many things we recommend that we, ourselves, don’t do.

This is true of myself. Despite setting up a project to encourage my students to blog and take responsibility for their own learning outside of the classroom, I haven’t really taken advantage of these resources myself!

Perhaps it’s because we get introduced to all these out of class ideas all at once that it can feel a bit overwhelming to have a million extra ideas assaulted upon us (much like our students) However, we really ought to start doing some if we are advocating them.

However, I suspect there are two reasons for this lack of action:

  1. Procrastination: I can indeed be a procrastinator and when other activities come along (PD courses,
  2. False belief in acquisition by diffusion: Despite knowing that very little learning happens by accident and that we do have to make an effort to learn a language, the underlying false belief can help reinforce the first point.
  3. No one is watching: Sometimes we need people to check on us to see if we are/aren’t doing what we said we’d do. Having someone ask questions can be really helpful.

It is perhaps no surprise then, when considering the points I mention above, that I find more time to work on Spanish than I do on Russian, despite living in a Russian speaking region!

There is always tomorrow…well I spoke to that person in the shop today…well I have to do this assignment for my course..etc

All very common statements for me to me.

As such I’ve been trying to persuade my fellow teachers to do some out of class Russian work on a collaborative blog.

The idea is that this will be:

  • Self guided,
  • Use authentic material from all around us (we’re in Ukraine after all)
  • Test out some resources we’ve seen online (but aren’t ready to unleash upon the students yet.)
  • Will give us a stronger, peer checking motivation to look at our progress

In effect, We Will Eat Our own dog food.

If we find the work load too hard, then it will help us be more lenient on our students. If we can management then we can show others they can too. And perhaps most importantly it will help us with our language development.

So I challenge you. Eat your own dog food.

With any language you are learning (or take one up) and try out some of your digital tools, see how easy or hard it is to use them. Help your students overcome these obstacles but most of all. Give it a go!

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

2 Replies

  1. @LizziePinard

    Did it work? Is there an update post? (Just followed the link to this from twitter…) 🙂

    1. Yes and no! It worked for a while in Ukraine but I really haven’t kept it up here in Spain. I need to set aside some more effort in my study :S thanks for the prompt Lizzie

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