Humanising Language Teaching
This issue's student voices all come from the secondary sector. The first one is that of Claudia Dilley, a sixth former ( grades 11-13), in UK who praises one of her teachers in ways that implicitly speak volumes about how other teachers have treated her over her eleven years in school.
" …..This particular teacher, whom I had never met before, was trying to teach us about geography and social issues, eg famine , floods etc…Normally these lessons are reasonably boring because everybody perceives GS as a waste of time because it is the fourth A-level that we don't really need. However I found this lesson extremely interesting and even found myself exclaiming how I wish I had done Geography.
The teacher was open, honest and up-front, which always, in my experience as a student, immediately earns them a lot of respect for treating us like adults and not children. She began the lesson by saying that most of the stuff was boring and not relevant, boring but relevant or interesting and relevant. Such a statement made me listen immediately, because it is not often that a teacher says something derogatory about her own subject.
Once she had our attention she then again was very frank and would only teach what we would need to know to prepare us for the exam. She then gave us some extremely useful hints and techniques. She also handed us some well prepared information set out in a reviseable and accessible way whilst saying that it was perfect to read on the night before the exam.
She engaged us in a passionate discussion about famines and floods and showed us maps and very interesting statistics. After that she did a survey about how we felt about the environment and taught us some highly useful and technical vocabulary which she said would impress the examiners.*
She was generally respectful of our opinions, funny and intelligent while remaining definitely in control of the potentially volatile class. The whole lesson was enlightening.
The voices that follow are those of Slovene teenagers writing about their bedrooms and what they mean to them. These texts come from Go Bananas, 1994, a magazine that owed much to the work of Lena-Ljuba Vute.
If you are teaching early teenagers you could use these texts as starters for them to write about their own rooms. What one's own room means varies from culture to culture.
Why do I so desperately want to have my own room? Because such a room would give me a chance to be alone for a while. Being alone can be fun. You can look at yourself in the mirror and make really funny faces. You can sing and dance or use bad language; you can peer out of the window watching people taking their dogs for walks and going shopping. You can talk to yourself without anyone thinking you are strange. You can do anything without being told off all the time.
My room is my favourite place in our house. Nobody can bother me when I am in my own room. You know it's not very pleasant if you are disturbed in the middle of a good book or when you are daydreaming. In my "kingdom" you'll find souvenirs from different countries, cassettes I like to listen to, pictures and posters of nature, animals, stars and my books. Some of my books are as old as I am. They are all very special to me. My library is getting larger and larger. I almost have forgotten to mention my balcony. It gives me a wonderful view of my village and an opportunity to have some private moments in the open air.
My room is my perfect world. I love it because it is so cosy even when it's turned upside-down. It is enormous so it has lots of furniture, bookshelves with piles of books, and a synthesiser beside a desk with my computer. I moved in only two weeks ago so a lot still needs to be done. But at the moment I just love it the way it is.
Before I got my own room I had to share it with my sister. I guess I was the lucky one to get a room on the ground floor of our house. As soon as I got it I had to do a lot of work in it. As there was nothing in it except dust and cobwebs I cleaned it up and my father helped me paint it. My mother bought me new furniture and a new lamp. I've chosen new wallpaper and put it on the walls myself. I changed it from a disastrous room into a very nice and friendly room which is spacious enough to satisfy all my everyday needs.
I haven't got my own room. I share it with my younger brother but it doesn't really bother me because he only comes to our room to go to bed. When I was younger I was much more controlled in my room. My mother often came in and insisted on my cleaning it. I got used to doing it. If everything is quite tidy around me, it makes learning and enjoying myself easier. I got bored with the posters of singers, actors and pop groups so I've taken them down and put up ones connected with nature. When I get bored I will change it again.
Although I wish I had my own room that is not possible for now. I share a room with my sister because we live in a block of flats and we don't have a large apartment. If I had my own room I would put a large bed on the right, a small circular table in the middle of the room, and a comfortable leather couch on the left. There would be a fitted wardrobe for my clothes and a writing desk. The latest HI-FI should be on it. Pots with flowers would be everywhere, like a small garden, and the walls would all be covered with posters of famous actors and singers. I am sure I will have a room like this one day.
for me it's like space,
it's funny, it's nice
and beautiful at sunrise.
My room is my world,
it's warm and not cold.
It's like a mother to me
my mind is there free.
My room is just mine
and I think it is fine.
At the moment it's quite dirty
but I'll clean it when I am thirty.
IVA HAFNER, IB