Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fun vs Hard Work

I have known a lot of teachers who I would call ‘activity teachers’. They fill their class time with games and songs and physical activities. On the other hand, there are the ‘book teachers’, who go through the textbook, never missing an exercise and getting the students to do plenty of hard work.

So who is right?

My belief is that learning English should be a balance between hard work and fun.

The problem with the activity teachers is that a fun game may take twenty or thirty minutes to play and the students may end up learning a handful of words. Imagine trying to learn English this way. It would be a slow and, in the end, tedious process.

The problem with the book teachers is that books often do not put the language in context or make it fun. Although a lesson from a book may be richer than a game in terms of language knowledge gained, the students are less likely to relate and less likely to retain the knowledge.

So the learning process needs to be a balance to get it right. And in particular, games need to be focused and rich in learning points. Exercises from books need something to give them bite and make sure the students remember. A roleplay is a good example of a balance between these two styles – it is fun like a game, but it can be rich in learning and easily related to a book lesson.

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