Sunday, February 28, 2016

#30GoalsEdu: My best / worst lesson

It was about time to get down to writing. What better way to do that, writing for the #30Goals?
I am not going to talk only about one lesson, but about a year with specific students.
Some years ago, I was asked to tutor a couple of girls in German with goal to pass a B2 level exam . Since I knew their father, I was really comfortable with the family and the first thing I did was to explain to them how I work.
The level of the students was under the desired level, according to the placement tests I gave them.
We started lessons, I did work with a book, grammar, vocabulary exercises, but I also tried to make them interested in the language. I mean German is a difficult language and it is not like English - you can listen to songs, watch films, use it on the internet - with German, you have to try hard to find things that would interest teenagers and are not in the book!! I have spent hours and hours preparing and searching for videos, contemporary songs and games. The kids seeemed motivated and they did improve but still when you have a specific deadline from the parents that the kids HAVE to pass an exam at a specific time, it is still hard. And to tell you the truth, I don't really believe that somebody will do better in an exam if they spent hours solving 3 books of exercises. Our goal is to learn how to use the language and know how the exam format is. If you can actually speak and write in the language, you pass the exam. No matter what the exam is...

So in my opinion, this was one of my best lessons....
However the parents decided to stop having lessons with me because "my philosophy" of teaching was very different from theirs. They believed that the kids had to just solve exam - formated exercises and they did not actually care of their kids learning the language, they only wanted the certificate.
I was really disappointed, because although it was one of my best lessons, it was the worst "lesson" according to my clients.

So my question is:
What is the best way of teaching?
Give them what they want ? I mean the answer is pretty easy when you work for a school, you have to go according to the school curriculum, but what happens if you want to be more creative?
And who says that the traditional way of teaching (book - exercises) is always right?
How about motivation?
How about language exams? In my country it is way more important to get the certificate than actually speak the language. Parents and students are in an exam frenzy, behaving that it will be the end of the world if their kids won't get the certificate. In the end, they forget the language a couple of years after and if they decide to go abroad, they just spend their money for another exam....
Where do I stand as a teacher?
And how do I fight this crazy trend?
So this was one of my best / worst experiences... Has anyone been there?

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