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The Uni-Files

A candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher's perspective.

December 17, 2013

EFL Teaching Crimes and Pedagogical Punishments

I hereby propose that the following fifteen categories of teaching violation attain the status of law among EFL teachers, with punishment, as decreed below, duly applied:

1. For holding a test in the final class session—with no opportunity for feedback to students.
Teacher’s salary and contract conditions to be held in secret without explanation until expiry-- and that to be done with a week’s notice*.
(*Yes-- I know that many teachers actually work under such conditions.)

2. For suggesting that university English programs should focus upon ‘daily conversation’.
Lifetime exposure, as a manager at a highly specialized professional firm, to university recruits who can flawlessly convey how they went ‘shopping for shoes in Shibuya last weekend’.

3. For encouraging high-school students to study grammatical minutiae more ‘because that’s what is needed to pass university entrance exams’.
Be required to take every national university entrance exam designed in the country over the past ten years utilizing only your knowledge of English grammar. Kudos if you manage to qualify for anything higher than, oh, a Dog Grooming Vocational School.

4. For asking general classroom questions such as ‘Has everyone remembered their textbook today?’ to a class consisting of more than ten students and actually expecting an answer.
Be seated in front of a national TV audience and asked repeatedly, “Have you stopped stalking underage celebrities?” until you can respond with a suitable yes or no answer.

5. For not informing EFL students as to exactly how many words or pages a written assignment consists of.
To be awoken every thirty minutes by an alarm that consists of an annoying twenty-something voice asking, “Are three A5 sheets enough for my Master’s thesis?”

6. For making bad jokes involving student names (*e.g. for Japanese speakers only* such as encouraging ‘Yukari’ to go ahead by saying, “Go Yukari, douzo.” Ta-tum!).
Be renamed Michael Guest and thereby be regularly exposed to hotel reception staff and immigration officials telling you, with great mirth, how you are a ‘Guest’ in our hotel/country. Nyuk nyuk.

7. For sitting with your butt on the top of a desk, ‘let’s chat’ style, while in class (East Asian ordinance).
Teach your entire next class wearing only a Speedo. Your students will consider it as an equally egregious breach of etiquette.

8. For searching for the single ‘best’ or ‘correct’ English teaching method.
To be given a Total Physical Response by being forced to wear an off-white Miami Vice-style leisure suit and be time transported back to 1984, because that’s where the perpetrator is apparently trapped, and then be given the Silent Method treatment by his or her peers.

9. For believing that your role in the local classroom is to enlighten students about their own country—under the presumption that the education system has hidden these truths from them.
A cross-Pacific flight (minimum 12 hours) seated next to an opinionated political know-it-all who thinks this is the best time to regale you with his ‘insider ‘knowledge’ of the secret world order. The one that you don’t know about because ‘it looks like they got to you’-- but hey, he’s on to them.
Return trip required if your original classroom spiel focused upon Global Warming.

10. For taking points off a student writing assignment for ‘each mistake made’.
A full year marking the safest, most boring, bland, least lexically and grammatically adventurous student-made texts known to mankind. Throw back a shot of tequila each time the sentence, ‘I keep a pet.’ appears.

11. For mischaracterizing your student’s simple question about how many paragraphs he/she should write as "an intense meta-discourse on the process of composition."
Required teaching of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow to a first year EFL class.

12. For assuming that students should be able to utilize a certain complex English skill proficiently because you ‘went over it in class’. Once.
Be forced to read the thirty-page thick ‘shiryo’ (meeting handouts) out loud at the Japanese faculty meeting because, after all, you studied from the book, ‘My First Two Hundred Kanji’. Once.

13. For making any student over the age of five sing, “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes”.
Having to listen to any student over the age of five sing, “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes.”

14. For making a lesson that consists largely of ‘teaching’ concrete words that any student could look up in a dictionary.
Spending an entire evening in conversation in your second-best language with a native speaker of that language, whose notion of conversation consists of pointing at mundane items and naming them.

15. For asking questions such as, “Do you like movies?” or, “Do you like music?” in the classroom, and believing that you are ‘teaching conversation’.
A complete and utter sudden loss of the ability to enjoy absolutely any movie or piece of music at all.

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