I started this blog as a doodling-pad – a place to write in order to more clearly see what I want to say – as I blundered along attempting to “teach” autonomous language-learning at a private Japanese institution of higher education. I hoped also to attract comments and observations, because I was not/am not getting enough of that where I work.
Basically, I was trying to understand what was going on in my classroom, what was going on in my students, and what was going on in me. Why did we behave as we do? Especially as some of that behaviour is
c) downright weird, given the circumstances.
(Oh, and what exactly are the circs? That question did not occur to me until much later.)
Teaching a foreign language, one might think, should be pretty straightforward: you offer a class, people sign up, you teach the class, people follow your directions, they practise, they learn, they improve. Voila. In the words of Pappas (Point Break), “How hard can it be?”
Well, it was a lot harder than that.
People signed up (or were signed up automatically), but then didn’t show up for weeks, sometimes never.
Of the ones that DID show up, some
never brought any paper, dictionary or writing implements;
some collapsed across the desk, hid behind their bag and did not resurface until the class was over;
some brought the requisite tools, but refused to open their mouths;
some stalked non-stop, only not in English;
almost all, without exception, never did homework – they did not refuse or object, they just never did it;
the majority, even the ones that seemed genuinely interested went right along with everyone else in subverting the practical purpose of the activities.
What was going on?
Chats and comments in the staff room suggested that this was a normal state of affairs. Although I did not want to, I came around to believing them.
(To be continued).