Well, sorry if you don’t know the Robbie Williams song and maybe you are sorry if you do but I couldn’t resist.
EFL is a strange profession in that many people who say they are EFLers aren’t. For instance, some are ESPers, BEers, EAPers, ESOLers or even content teachers yet we are all put under the ‘EFL umbrella’. Yet, the differences still remain.
A while back when I’d had enough of teaching the same EFL courses for what seemed like ever I decided to move abroad where I suddenly became a ‘foreign expert’ whatever that is. Thankfully, a colleague took me under his wing and taught me the ropes. One of his first remarks was “I’m not an English teacher” the next was “I don’t teach them English”. He was rather intrigued about my EFL background and asked “so, what do you teach them besides grammar?”. This guy was not just a fly by night teacher out for a year off, he was studying a PhD, had an MA, had been a Cambridge examiner, had studied at top unis and had also worked for the embassy. He then explained that he had been in the country for 20 years and that students learn English for 15 years before they get to uni and then they still have grammar/vocab/pron/reading classes with local teachers. He argued that they need culture and outside information and knowledge but in English and as they are so tired and fed up with English they also need to be ‘edutained’ as he put it.
This idea helped me a lot, well, more than a lot actually. I had seen the ‘entertain approach’ with students running round or teachers telling endless jokes but it wasn’t for me. I tried the serious British lecturer approach but it didn’t work. His idea was to use academic ideas/topics but then have the occasional related joke or share an informal moment or anecdote.
His lessons/lectures were very very popular, so popular that his PPT’s became standard use for everyone in the department. His main interests were lecturing European cultures and history and even in his speaking classes he used the same ideas. In debate classes I finally understood his point when one day it hit me that “they aren’t saying their opinions because 1)they don’t know the topic 2)they haven’t got an opinion. So, my classes started teaching western topics via texts/videos and it worked. Students really enjoyed the classes and learning about simple things that we take for granted but that they found fascinating.
So, edutain, what does it mean?
=to educate in an interesting and occasionally entertaining way
Or have a look at this version.
Do we need to entertain students?
Can we be considered as real teachers if we don’t?
Why are games and ‘fun’ so engrained in the typical TEFL approach?
How do you feel about comments like “he is a good teacher, he makes us laugh”, “his classes are fun” or “I enjoy her class because we do games”?