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EFT Lesson 5: Do we teach only language?

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    • #9254


        “Content for English classes in my school”

        If you were the director of your school, what content and skills would you like your students to learn, in addition to the English language? Why?

        Post your ideas in a reply below and comment on other teachers’ ideas.


      • #10047


          I believe knowing how to behave in a different cultural setting without judgment is a number one skill to be worked, but given the lack of access to technology most of them experience, some practical computer course (for subtitling something, for example) or sports so they can have some physical activity instead of sitting down all night long.

        • #10125

          Vhanessa Barbosa

            If I would be a director of my school I would like the students to be globally competitive. How would I implement that? I would ask every language teacher to coordinate with other teachers that may concern to this to talk about the skills every learner had to develop like in terms of communicating and socializing outside the vicinity of the school via technology or any means. In the lesson proper, they should embed in the language learning the subjects like values, history, geography, ethics and cultures, etc. Little by little, students would be accustomed to that.

          • #10441

            MONA HAFEZ

              I have experienced a similar situation . My school uses a coursebook that prepares students for different culture like animals in Amazon and old Inka people ,….etc . One day I asked my manager to allow me design an extension for the coursebook that can be matched with primary students attitude and culture . I designed a course for beginners includes the basic Islamic studies as they are students in Azhar Sharif ,they study Quraan and Islamic studies . Students achieved awesome progress in keeping by heart the translation of simple instructions and Sura . that progress motivated them to feel unique and helped them practice the coursebook .

              • #10517

                Pravita Indriati

                  It’s such a good idea of how you incorporated the language lessons, Mona. This will not only improve their language skills but also the character and attitude building through religion study.

                • #10519

                  @Mona This is a verygood idea and very creative!

              • #10501

                Budi Azhari Lubis

                  I always remember this when choosing materials from the coursebook, and it goes,” Use the book, don’t let the book use you. Since I don’t work at a public school, it gives me a sort of freedom to choose the coursebook and supplementary materials.

                  the coursebook I am using provides me not only with various English skills but also with other skills such as social skills and values. It provides supplementary materials such as civic education, cultural awareness. etc. I also tell students that learning language is not only learning English Grammar, we also need to understand the culture and customs in English speaking countries. My young students enjoy learning about Halloween and Thanksgiving day ( we don’t have such customs in Indonesia).

                  • #10516

                    Pravita Indriati

                      I agree with you. It’s such a great decision to choose the coursebook that allows students to learn everything, not only the language.

                    • #10520

                      @Budi I totally agree with you! Students have to learn so much more than grammar!

                  • #10515

                    Pravita Indriati

                      I’ve always wanted to have my own school which curriculum teaches beyond the language lessons and textbook. I want them to learn more about the world, stay updated with current issues, and how they cope with it. Therefore, as discussed previously in Lesson 2, about the importance of learning other skills, multiple intelligence, soft skills, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving skills as well as personal, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills. All these are meant to build generations who are ready to give contributions to their country, and ready for the world and future.

                      • #10521

                        @Pravita That’s why it’s always a good idea to create groups where English can be used, like a theatre group, or a debate group that makes the students use the language and are beyond the traditional English langyage teaching

                    • #10518

                      Yaseen Muhammad

                        What do you do?

                        I am a teacher.

                        What do you teach?


                        What do you teach them?


                        You mean grammar, verbs, nouns, pronunciation, conjunction, articles, negatives and interrogative…..?

                        That too

                        What do you mean that too?

                        Well, I also try to teach them how to think, and show them inspiration, aspiration, cooperation, participation, consolation, innovation.

                        …. Help them about globalization, exploitation, confrontation, incarceration, discrimination, degradation, subjugation.

                        …. How inequality brings poverty, how intolerance brings violence, how need is denied by greed, how – ism become prisons, how thinking and feeling bring about healing.

                        Well, I don’t know about that. May be yoh should stick to the language, forget about anglish, you can’t change the world.

                        But if I did that I would be cheater not a teacher.


                        Alan Maley

                        • #10524

                          Branka Daceski

                            Love this quote. So true 🙂

                            A friend of mine, Mark Andrews, also teacher and a teacher trainer said – “Treat your students as people first, learners second, and learners of English third, and then maybe some English might get learnt.”

                        • #10522

                          @Yaseen This wonderful. I saw Alan Maley in Athens at TESOL Greece convention some years ago! What a wonderful and interesting person!


                        • #10523

                          Branka Daceski

                            If we are talking about private language school, I will tell you first what I wouldn’t have in my school. I wouldn’t have courses in which students in the end get TOEFL or IELTS certificates, and all the other official certificates, and I wouldn’t have classes which are additional classes for the English kids learn in school – because this is what most private language schools do, and there is plenty of that, and it’s kind of boring (for me). What I would have – creative courses, in which the students wouldn’t learn just language, but all the other subjects as well. For the youngest students, it would be a course with storybooks, for example, and through reading storybooks, storytelling, drama activities, etc, we would learn language. All the language they need to learn can be found in those books, and they would also learn about other things, animals, nature, geography, history, math, through these books.

                            Then, for teenagers, there would be a course like “21 century skills” or something like that, where they would learn language but also critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity (the four Cs).

                            Then course based on projects and tasks (task based, project-based).

                            Then, a book club, for example, movie club, art club, and so on; everything in English, of course.

                            These are just some of the ideas.

                            As far as state schools are concerned, the situations is not optimistic, but, I believe, if you want to do something, you’ll find a way, and there should be no excuses for not doing what you know is right thing to do. I don’t like when teachers say “I don’t have time to do that in my classes, because I have to follow the curriculum, I have to finish the program”. We teach people, not programs, and we need to be able to see what our pupils’ needs are, what matters, what’s important, what will engage them, motivate them, to learn.

                            I have taught one whole semester with storybooks (3rd graders). We covered the program, but we just didn’t use the course book, and it was more interesting, engaging and memorable.

                            What I also do a lot is take students out, to a park, to museums and galleries, with a certain language goal in my mind as well, with prepared lesson plans, and then see where it takes us. (one example from my blog

                            I do use a lot of authentic materials, like poems, books (some excerpts), newspaper articles, paintings, photographs, songs, movies, commercials, talk shows… Also, bringing guests (native speakers) to your classes is a great thing, and really easy nowadays with skype or zoom. There are so many things around us that we can use in teaching. We should just be alert, and I think most of us are, and be able to recognize all the resources we can use in the classroom.

                          • #10525

                            Thuy Hang Le

                              Language and culture are inseparable ( Clarke &Clarke ,1990) because language is embedded in culture. Therefore, when we teach language we are supposed to teach culture to raise students’ awareness of asking personal questions, stereotyping and misunderstanding .

                              In Vietnamse it is quite acceptable to ask someone about his/her age,marital status or even salary at the first meeting to show that you really care for or respect the person you are interacting with. However, these personal questions are likely to get someone from another culture embarrassed or upset. It is advisable that such questions as ” How old are you?”, ” Are you single or married?”, ” How much do you earn,if you don’t mind me asking?” should never be asked to strangers or people we first meet in particular.

                              As far as stereotypes are concerend ,some examples of this sort  include the premises that ” All Asians are good at math.”, ” English people are reserved.”, ” Vietnamese people are hard-working”,etc.Stereotyping is  said to be hurtful,wrong or negative and stereotypes often create a false view of another culture ( Levine et al,1987).

                              The lack of “please” and “thank you” when a learner says ” Can I have a drink? or ” I want a kilo of pork” might make an Australian shopkeeper come to a conclusion that the learner here is a bit rude. As a result ,misunderstanding might happen or take place.

                              To sum up, as EFL teachers , we must be aware of the role of cultural factors in language learning and teaching since culture is integrated closely with language ( Liddicoat,2000). Furthermore, language teachers should help learners develop ways of finding out more about the culture they are learning by analysing their experience and further exploring the chances of being exposed to the target language.



                              Clarke,J&M.Clarke (1990)Stereotyping in TESOL Materials in Harrison,B.(ed)Culture and the Language Classroom. Modern English Publication and the British Council.

                              Levine, al (1987) The Culture Puzzle .Prentice-Hall,Inc.

                              Liddicoat,A.J.(2000)The intercultural approach to language teaching in Languages Victoria March 2000, Vol.4,No.1

                            • #10527

                              MONA HAFEZ

                                @pravita   The experience was so motivating and added to the young students of grade three even about their Islamic culture, after a long discussion with them about how would they like to present a  project at the end of the year, they chose to act one of the famous films that discussed a great historical period of Islam;’ Al Resala’ or ‘The message ” to show the world their culture in English. To sum up I’d like to say the experience added the passion, the depth, and integration to both students and teachers.

                                we don’t teach just language



                              • #10528

                                MONA HAFEZ

                                  @Theodora …I just created the idea, but the students added  the inspiration

                                • #10529

                                  Steven Herder

                                    Hi everyone,

                                    There has been heavy rain all day here in Japan – the rainy season hit us hard and suddenly just a few days ago. I am beginning to miss you all already…

                                    I teach a great deal more about life than about language as my experience increases. Of course, I do as much as possible of this teaching in English, but it varies depending on the level of the class. I tell them all on day 1,

                                    I will use as much English as possible
                                    I will use as much Japanese as necessary

                                    I teach what I call MACRO skills beyond the four skills:
                                    – Typing
                                    – Speed reading
                                    – Critical thinking
                                    – Logic
                                    – Clear communication
                                    – Emotional Intelligence (EQ) 4 categories: Self-awareness, Self-control, Social Awareness, Relationship Management

                                    I also have a series of life messages that I inevitably share year after year with new groups:
                                    1. Find the right way to do things and everything is better.
                                    2. Find the balance in life and many good things happen.
                                    3. People only regret the things they didn’t do in life.
                                    4. We cannot choose whether to go to work or not, but we can choose how to be at work.
                                    5. I choose to find the positive, and try to laugh at the negative each day.
                                    6. Treat people as you want them to treat you.
                                    7. Most people give up before their turn comes. Everyone who sticks with it will eventually get a shot.
                                    8. Change is difficult until you accept it. Once you accept change, it is rather easy.
                                    9. Effort is so much more valuable than natural talent.
                                    10. You cannot control the results, but you can control your efforts, AND be satisfied by your efforts.


                                  • #10533

                                    Branka Daceski

                                      This is the video I was telling you about 🙂

                                    • #10539

                                      Ruben Pignataro

                                        That’s a strange position, getting in the director’s shoes.

                                        Were I the director of my school, firstly I would start thinking about what the students need and what they deserve. I would not just think of parents’ satisfaction – I call it “school marketing”, a fact that has been driving director’s decisions for a long time.

                                        But, with reference to the English curriculum in the High or Secondary school where I teach, the approach should be more connected to the students’ own reality. I sometimes find myself teaching them “how to go from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace in London”, well aware that seventy per cent of them would hardly visit the Capital City of our own country, and this happens just because it is in the book.

                                        I use the book. I do think books are necessary, but I use my own criteria and without “the authors written permission” the beautiful palaces in London become the City Hall or the bus station in my small town. These changes help students find the practical use of a language. The verbs, the prepositions, the questions are the same ones, but the content is real, feasible.

                                        It is very common to find in our texts lessons based on animals’ lives. Though no polar bear will ever be seen in this warm place, it is interesting for them to learn about preservation of wild life. And so again, I come to my own “wild life protection project” and we start investigating native animals which are endangered.

                                        I think that the activities are specific to the subject being taught and they have to stimulate curiosity in the learners. This has to be in the language they are learning and through the four skills. They can read all kinds of texts, even authentic material, listen to audio programs from their books, participate in a forum, write in blogs and speak in class or explain when presenting their production.

                                        But, is this the director’s job? Or is it the teacher’s? The school presents an outline and a curriculum to be followed and completed within a certain time, but it is us, the teachers, the ones that give life to the classroom. It is our castle. Our kingdom. Our responsibility.


                                      • #10564

                                        If I were the director of a school I would teach more than the four English skills. I would encourage my students to work on feelings and emotions, critical thinking, creativity and cultural awareness.

                                      • #10591

                                        Yaseen Muhammad

                                          We as teachers not only teach the language and shouldn’t be so. Language Education should have greater purpose and long term goals that go beyond teaching only certain types of syllabus and course book. There are other aspects that need to be addressed while teaching English what is known as hidden curriculum. Hidden curriculum is when educators intend to foster and instill certain norms, values and beliefs in the student’s life. We should also bring life into the class through discussing current topics such as politics, climate change, technology. So in this case you teach the content through language and language is a means to achieve greater goals. So it’s our responsibility to engage the students emotionally and cognitively.


                                          My course book (face 2 face second edition) has many extra material such as world quiz and getting acquainted with customs and cultures. These activities are important because it encourages student to be global citizens and find the facts and to have cultural awareness.




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