Somebody asked me if I had a philosophy about TEFL, a manifesto if you like, perhaps a mission statement, a set of general beliefs about teaching English to speakers of other languages. I laughed and said I didn’t really believe in grand statements. Besides, I was watching the Wimbledon semi-final and didn’t want to be distracted.
A couple of days later, I read a blog post and it got me thinking about creating my own manifesto for TEFL. I’m not for one moment suggesting that I have found the secret to successful English language teaching, but I’d like to think that I have found a set of guiding principles that I automatically follow when teaching or suggest that my trainees teachers consider when I am training.
1. Learners need to practise using English, not the teacher.
2. The learners are the best resource.
3. Teaching doesn’t necessarily result in learning.
4. If there was a magic pill to help learn a language, everybody would take it.
5. Knowing how a car is built doesn’t mean you are a good driver.
6. Learning a second language is like building a house to live in.
7. Speaking and writing are 2 nations separated by a common language.
8. Make grammar presentations as simple as possible but no simpler.
9. Base your lessons around your learners’ needs and interests not your own.
10. An empty room with 2 people and something to write on can be the best way to learn.
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