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Filed UnderTeaching English

What is the goal for English teaching in school?

July 20, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

This is a great question and somewhat of a contentious issue. I was a guest speaker in a discussion on Clubhouse last week and among other things, the topic of language educational policy came up.

This is what someone asked:

“My teachers didn’t prepare me for English in the real world — why doesn’t the way English is taught in school change?”

But what they never realise is…. it may only be you who wants it to change.

Now, I’m no expert in Educational Policy the world over.

But before I started down my current research path (chunking – have a look at this Quora post), before I was super interested in language-teaching policy. I even wrote my Masters dissertation on it (got a distinction — just saying).

What you’ve got to understand is this:

  1. Students have their own agenda (for some it’s getting through the boring English class as easily as possible… for others, it’s to actually get good at English).
  2. Teachers have their own agenda (often to do their job as hassle-free as possible; they’re overworked, undertrained and just want to be done and go home before they collapse from exhaustion… this isn’t always the case, but in my experience of Japan it often is).
  3. Governments have their own agenda (in many countries, like Japan, it’s simply not in the government’s best interest to turn everyone into intelligent, critically thinking fluent English speakers. Only a small percentage of people like that are required, and the rest are better off — in their eyes — funnelled into lower-tier factory work and the like).

So you see, all people involved have a different agenda.

I’m oversimplifying this.

But you’d be silly not to recognise that.

Of course, it’s the same in the private English teaching industry, too — in my posts here I’ve talked about my friend who got shouted at by his boss because his lessons were too good; the boss wanted him to slow down so they could get more money from the students for extra classes. This isn’t always the case. But it often is.

And yes:

I also have my own agenda in my business.

Two, actually.

First, and on a higher “mission” level I want to change the way people think about English education for the better and be recognised for that (otherwise I’d never write an email like this — instead, I’d feed you more of the same ‘just listen to these CDs and you’ll be fluent without trying’ bullshit or pointless conversation lessons).

Second, I’m in this to make a profit (of course I am — with three members of full-time staff, two part-time, and an additional full-time salary that I won’t get into now… doing this shit ain’t cheap yo).

Luckily for you, I choose to do this in a way that, while harder work for me, gets you results.

Hope that helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook

P.S. I help high-level non-native English speakers use English better at work and in day to day life. If that’s you, you might like to sign up for the free daily email tips I send.

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