Coffee and Chechen

December 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Turn left” in Chechen.

Who devised the Cyrillic alphabet?

Why, Saint Cyril, of course!

Our winter holiday is booked, we’re off to Galicia, to Alan Tait, my one-time hero. Here was someone who could speak fluent Italian, and revelled in the Coffee Break Method, giving his business students a task while he nipped out for a well-earned rest. “They’re the ones who have to do the work, not me”, his reasoning went. Gosh! What a teacher! What a man!

Adam Beale posted, in Five against One, what I believe is a common question many have about dogme: How much time should you spend actually looking at language, being a teacher as it were, and how much should you be “drinking coffee?”.

Willy, too, asks on what criteria teachers’ pay scales should be based.

For personal and professional reasons, I’ve been looking at online Chechen language materials recently. A few letters look and sound the same as their Latin counterparts, some look the same but sound different, many sound similar but look different. So it’s a bit difficult when you’re presented with a string of these symbols to remember and learn, especially as all they do is just keep giving you more words, mainly words, sometimes a phrase like this, the next one in the sequence, meaning “turn right”:

Now maybe it’s just me, but I had to search pretty hard to work out the difference between “turn left” and “turn right”. I’m code-breaking, except, as Teaching Unplugged says, language lessons should be social and happy events, with coffee and cakes, for everyone, not just the teacher. This wasn’t. This was a struggle.

So for Adam’s and Willy’s questions, my belief is, if they’re happy for you to always drink coffee, go for decaf. But if they want linguistic awareness, then it’s not how long you spend doing it, but how well you do it.

Look at this simple little language plant. Notice the difference? Your learners will too.

I want to make a difference!

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