Return PolishForums LIVE
  PolishForums Archive :
Archives - 2005-2009 / Work  % width 204

Interview at a Callan School


Seanus 15 | 19,706  
15 Mar 2009 /  #61
True. Given that Polish is the L1 here, outside of class, many Poles don't have much opportunity to practise it on the streets.

You are quite likely to run into dialectal speech in the UK
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455  
15 Mar 2009 /  #62
This is where a native speaker should be used. To make students used to the accent, and even better, know what they're talking about when it comes to grammar.

I had an individual lesson with one guy that took his grammar very seriously. He was rubbish at actually being able to complete grammar exercises, but anyway.

I was speaking to him as you do, not in any formal lesson context, but rather just to assess his ability to speak the language. All was fine, until he suddenly stops me and informs me that I've been mixing up the past simple and the past participle. Cue a look of 'huh...?' - followed by him pointing out examples where I had been using them wrongly.

Absolutely unbelievable - so I took my revenge and gave him half an hour on how we can mix them up freely in speech and it's unlikely that anyone will care less.

Truth be told, much English teaching here is McDonalds English designed to make money. They don't appreciate the diversity of English.

Problem is, again referring back to the old bag - she couldn't understand the most basic principle that if she was struggling with my accent, she'd probably struggle in the UK full stop. I've got your generic Mile-End accent (you know what I mean :P) and talk quite clearly when teaching, so...

I've taught some fun classes on the diversity of English, though.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
15 Mar 2009 /  #63
Sometimes when I'm bored I do an entire lesson in a Jamaican accent or maybe a Welsh / Pakistani accent. The students never notice though, even when I put on my kilt and red hair and do a Scottish accent (like Russ Abbot's 'Jimmy').

They are taught Queens English, which no one speaks. Do you hear that in London or Manchester? cos if you do, i doubt you use ur ears.

But most non natives will be using English to communicate with other non-natives. Why should they be concerned with sounding good in Manchester?

The fact is that The Queen's / BBC English is the most widely-accepted British English accent because, right or wrong, it does carry some sort of prestige value. Even in the UK, just about everyone can understand BBC English but local dialects cannot understand each other - a thick Glasgow accent is just as impenetrable to someone from Cornwall, Newcastle or London. BBC English on the other hand is understood all over the world because it is a standard.

Hiring a Native and asking them to drill students in their own dialect or accent is a waste of time. What are the students meant to do when they go on to another teacher with a completely different accent? No, even though Polish teachers have a lot of faults, I can't count their pronunciation among them - sure, they might sound artificial but most are clear and most importantly, 'accent neutral' if I may be so bold.

The point of mid atlantic is to help the student fit in... wherever they go.

Good idea, but you run the risk of old Radio 1 DJ jokes


Seanus 15 | 19,706  
15 Mar 2009 /  #64
How naive in part, Mr Bubbles. For one, dialect shouldn't enter the equation when discussing most methods. It is a matter for a conversation class, nothing else.

Accent, that's another question. Sorry, I don't know of any methods that beg imitation of the students. It is their choice if they choose to imitate their teacher. Invariably, they go with their own accent which is how it should be. Secondly, they have to get used to the accents. We don't use our God-given accent to baffle them you know. This is just life. Native speakers often have trouble with one another's accents, don't lose sight of that fact.

Please don't border on selectivism. Accents are often just an aside, provided they are understandable it's ok. Why should a Londoner get a job ahead of sb from Dundee based on their accent? Their teaching is more important than their accent.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
15 Mar 2009 /  #65
Sorry, I don't know of any methods

We'll leave it at that, then
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
15 Mar 2009 /  #66
Cool. The newbie starts his training on Tuesday. Good luck to him. It's not rocket science.
mafketis 29 | 9,528  
15 Mar 2009 /  #67
Given that Polish is the L1 here, outside of class, many Poles don't have much opportunity to practise it on the streets.

Many private school students are there because:

a) they have it offered at school but they don't like the classes
b) they're having trouble with passing tests at school
c) they think it will improve their job prospects
d) they think it will save their job if there are cutbacks
e) they think it's something they should do
f) it's a hobby like stamp collecting or ballroom dancing
g) someone else is paying (company, family member)
h) it's unfinished business (this time I'll learn something!)

Probably a small minority have real intentions about moving to an English speaking country or will ever have real need to use the language in any important way.

They're also not generally interested in questions of accents or various non-standard usage, they're there to learn their idea of English (which in their minds is an inferior kind of Polish with different words, insufficient grammar, bad spelling and confusing pronunciation).
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
15 Mar 2009 /  #68
The point, in most cases, is that they want a magic wand, a shortcut to fluent English. I find it a joke how they feel that they aren't making headway. They often don't know what they want.

That's why they buy into stuff like Callan. 4 times faster, LOL. Yeah, 4 times the level of BS.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455  
17 Mar 2009 /  #69
Why should a Londoner get a job ahead of sb from Dundee based on their accent? Their teaching is more important than their accent.

I'd never give a job to someone from Dundee! I'd be scared that he would steal everything from the school, or that he wouldn't bother to take a bath for several months.

That's why they buy into stuff like Callan. 4 times faster, LOL. Yeah, 4 times the level of BS.

No homework too with Callan, don't forget that ;)

(having said this, it's a toss up as to who is more irritating - those that do nothing but memorise the answers word for word, or those that don't look at anything English related between classes)
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
17 Mar 2009 /  #70
Ach, Dundonians aren't that bad. Not that good either mind you ;)

No homework, true. How much longer are you gonna stick with Callan, delphi?
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455  
18 Mar 2009 /  #71
Ach, Dundonians aren't that bad. Not that good either mind you ;)

I was starting to get worried... :P

No homework, true. How much longer are you gonna stick with Callan, delphi?

To be honest, I don't know. I like my school, and so far this week, I've been teaching an equal amount of Callan and non-Callan - and even the Callan classes have been...shall we say not 'pure' Callan ;) I'm not bored senseless yet, so that's something to consider - and to be honest, many schools in PoznaƄ appear to have an absolutely dreadful atmosphere. Better to be teaching Callan among other things in a good school and environment than to go elsewhere and end up thoroughly miserable, I think.

Having said this, if I was forced to teach Callan as he intended it, I'd have gone mental by now. Thankfully, my school allows me to do different things - I made an entire class face the walls to do a dictation, for instance. Worked a treat, too :D
Harry  
18 Mar 2009 /  #72
Why should a Londoner get a job ahead of sb from Dundee based on their accent? Their teaching is more important than their accent.

Obvious teaching ability is the key criteria, but I would most certainly factor accent into teaching ability. A standardised accent is better for students because it gives them something to model their own accent on. And they should have a standarised accent because that is the one which they are most likely to be understood when using.
dtaylor 9 | 823  
18 Mar 2009 /  #73
I get paid more because i have a strong Scottish accent, but i can switch to the BBC accent when i need to.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #74
Harry, you are confusing two very fundamental things. Let them use their natural accent. You too are bordering on selective favouritism. What you want to say is a pronunciation model. They don't need to copy my accent, just the way I pronounce words which is relatively neutral. I have a weak 'ing', that is my achilles heel.

What is a standardised accent? Even within an area, you have variation. Look at London for example. Cockney is different. I don't understand those buggers sometimes.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
18 Mar 2009 /  #75
What is a standardised accent?

Well, ideally the teacher should speak clearly, and this would usually involve them not using any obvious regional accent. In this case, a standardised accent would be unaccented clear speech. If anything, it would be language that approximates the written form, with spaces between the words and the speakr trying not to drop any phonemes.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
18 Mar 2009 /  #76
You too are bordering on selective favouritism.

Or perhaps you are being swayed by personal bias...

I grew up speaking with a broad souf London twang - over the years, living abroad, I have conciously changed my accent to something akin to received pronunciation. I want to be understood the first time and got bored of repeating myself...
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #77
The twangy stuff is awkward for language learners.

Better post this time, Mr Bubbles. Speaking clearly is so important.

I was just thinking, can you imagine sb from Bolton or Yorkshire teaching articles.

Now, I was goin up motoaway (sic) when I turned on radio. Didn't have t'internet mind you. LOL
Harry  
18 Mar 2009 /  #78
Harry, you are confusing two very fundamental things. Let them use their natural accent.

By 'them' do you mean the teachers or the students?

You too are bordering on selective favouritism. What you want to say is a pronunciation model. They don't need to copy my accent, just the way I pronounce words which is relatively neutral. I have a weak 'ing', that is my achilles heel.

I would hope that I am more than bordering on selective favouritism. There is a right way to speak and a wrong way to speak: the right way is the way in which people will understand you; the wrong one is that in which they won't.

What is a standardised accent?

One which doesn't have the variations which make a speaker difficult to understand.

Look at London for example. Cockney is different. I don't understand those buggers sometimes.

Which is a rather good example of the point I was making.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #79
On the first point, both

On the second point, in that case, why not let them be taught by a German teacher of English? It seems to be the case that foreigners understand one another better than they do native speakers.

On the third point, they spend half the time laughing at the pompous BBC accents that they lose the thread of what they are saying, LOL. It's 10 pAAAAst 7 ;)

On the fourth point, you may have tripped yourself up. You accept that Cockney is tricky, right? Well, how about a Scottish teacher from Ayr, dtaylor for example? Or somewhere even smaller. There are many more speakers of Cockney than those from a Scottish town or village. There can be no ducking it. Many Poles go to London, that's a fact. Exposure here will help them across there.
Harry  
18 Mar 2009 /  #80
On the second point, in that case, why not let them be taught by a German teacher of English? It seems to be the case that foreigners understand one another better than they do native speakers.

I wouldn't have a problem with him teaching (provided of course that he was at native speaker level fluency and didn't have a non-standard accent).

On the third point, they spend half the time laughing at the pompous BBC accents that they lose the thread of what they are saying, LOL. It's 10 pAAAAst 7 ;)

"Ten pAAAAst seven" is not a standarised accent.

On the fourth point, you may have tripped yourself up. You accept that Cockney is tricky, right? Well, how about a Scottish teacher from Ayr, dtaylor for example? Or somewhere even smaller. There are many more speakers of Cockney than those from a Scottish town or village. There can be no ducking it. Many Poles go to London, that's a fact. Exposure here will help them across there.

Anybody with any strong accent is difficult to understand. Which is precisely why students shouldn't have one and shouldn't have a teacher who has one. Well, not unless they have signed up for a course in Cockney anyway.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #81
Fluency doesn't mean accuracy though, Harry. There are many other attributes required besides fluency.

Is a Brummy accent a standardised accent?

I'm sorry Harry, there are many strong accents in Britain. Well-defined and hard to follow. Should we just impose an outright ban on reality?

Are you talking accents or rhyming slang now, Harry?
niejestemcapita 2 | 561  
18 Mar 2009 /  #82
Should we just impose an outright ban on reality?

Yes.

All English teachers should sound like Trevor McDonald....;)
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #83
LOL. There was a woman who said that she couldn't understand me. That was the first time I had ever heard that. My accent is very clear.

She's a cun* so I decided to patronise her by accenting everything as clear as day. Daft old sod!!

How does clean your ears out you old f*ck sound?
niejestemcapita 2 | 561  
18 Mar 2009 /  #84
How does clean your ears out you old f*ck sound?

hmmm.....tempting.

I have a SLIGHT London accent and have had the same problem at times.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #85
It's tough titties for her I'm afraid. She's an old hag who has pissed me off before. At the start of a lecture, I set an A-Z task. They had to give their A-Z associations of Scotland, then I'd discuss them. She told me that I was to lecture her but I had my intro activity to do first. Old cun*
niejestemcapita 2 | 561  
18 Mar 2009 /  #86
I set an A-Z task. They had to give their A-Z associations of Scotland, then I'd discuss them.

I wonder what they came up with.........could be a thread in it!!!

Old cun*

Yes theres alot of it about...
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Mar 2009 /  #87
True, anyway, back to the discussion on Callan. Where is cjjc? I want to tell him that there is a free place and that he should contact the school in Gliwice.
dtaylor 9 | 823  
19 Mar 2009 /  #88
Teaching should never be based on accent, if a student only has lessons with one standard accent, then they will never be able to understand anything anyone says in any English speaking country. If a student is only taught by a teacher with a BBC accent, then that student is doomed when it comes to trying to understand English. Point and fact is, i hired alot of Polish care workers who had passed their FC exams, but within one week wanted to go home cos they never understood a word that was being said to them.

To teach with only one standard accent, which Harry is talking about, is to leave the student with no understanding of how the language works, and how it varies.

I think everybody is getting it wrong, teaching English is not the same as teaching linguistic skills. End of point.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455  
19 Mar 2009 /  #89
True, anyway, back to the discussion on Callan.

No, please, anything but this. I can't stand him anymore :(

Actually, I'm starting to think that if you take the non-grammar parts of Callan, combine it with proper grammar teaching (or heck, just working your way through Murphy!) and with teachers who can adapt easily and can ask thought provoking questions, then it might just be a successful formula.

But it would require teachers who can think outside of the box - anyone without imagination would surely fall down on the altering-Callan question part, and poor teachers would struggle with effectively teaching the grammar.

Having said this - we're doing a variation on this with one class, where they get simply the new words from Callan each class, combined with grammar teaching, conversations and a reading/dictation each time. It seems to work, but this could be because they're an adventurous group who aren't afraid to talk. It wouldn't work with old Polish hags, I think ;)
dtaylor 9 | 823  
19 Mar 2009 /  #90
Top English is a school that has adapted this method in their own way.

I teach callan as follows; Introduce new material straight from the book. All questions in revision are my own, made to fit the level of student. Grammar work i do as my own on seperate lesson when i come to it. Seems to work ;)

Archives - 2005-2009 / Work / Interview at a Callan SchoolArchived