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What is the content of your lessons?

May 19, 2005

Hello again. I am interested in knowing what guidance schools give their teachers about the content of their lessons. As English language teaching gains ground globally, I think students know why they want to learn the language (it gives them a distinct advantage in educational and employment fields) and teachers know why they want to teach it (opportunity to travel, see the world, meet many different people, the reward of being effective in the classroom, etc.) But do students and teachers know what content they want lessons to have?

Long ago I remember practice drills that were entirely artificial and had nothing to do with the way learners would actually use the language in real life. We have moved on a lot since then and learner centred teaching and a more humanistic approach ensures that lessons focus on the students' lives and interests. The current trend it seems to me, however, is to widen content away from the student's personal orbit and focus on global issues. Inevitably global issues involve the key problems the world faces today: climate change, the environment, sustainable development, terrorism. I am concerned that content of this nature requires teachers to stray into political debate and opinion that might compromise their professional impartiality.

Although I am sure it is entirely desirable for the spread of English to be associated with the promotion of peace, environmental awareness and international understanding, it is questionable whether the role of the teacher is to proselytize in this way.

I would be very interested to hear your views about what is appropriate content for English language lessons and what guidance you give teachers in this area.

Back soon.


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  1. E. York Says:

    Every teacher brings their own opinions to the classroom, and that is what makes each teacher unique. We teach what we know and what we believe. If we have a desire to promote peace, awareness and understanding, how does that compromise our professional ability? I have brought songs in to my classes with feminist lyrics and news articles about negative things that my country´s government does. I want my students to learn and to be aware. Isn´t that what teaching is about? As adults, they can form their own opinions, but it is somewhat impossible to keep our own opinions outside of the classroom, nor do I believe that we should.

  1. paul mcauley Says:

    Say for instance I wanted to teach bible stories to children of a different religion? What might be the consequences for these beliefs being brought into the lesson? Obviously we need to draw a line in the content of our lessons- don’t we?

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