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May 27, 2005

Are You a Teacher or a Teller?

In his regular Daily Yomiuri column Indirectly Speaking, Mike Guest today explains his distinction between teaching and telling. He does not consider discrete vocabulary or idioms to be something to be taught, anymore than one's name or address. Rather, the focus of teaching should be on items with "intrinsic value" and "productive value." He illustrates the idea with a brief explanation of the "value" of the past perfect tense, but points out that simply providing grammtical explanations is not sufficient, though it remains common in Japanese classrooms. Guest questions the value of teaching or learning in a piecemeal way, such as word or idiom lists, and doubts that they have any real value in terms of developing a "productive language system."
The difference between telling and teaching

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