But what about an English Challenge?
I’m kind of passing through after being reticent for the past few days. I’ve thought about adding an entry, but I haven’t been feeling inclined, or other things have been claiming my attention. In local news, John the Maths Teacher had 121 students line up in front of the clock at school so that he could get a picture of them at 11.11am on 11.11.11.
That’s one of the few dates which the Americans don’t mess up. A whole bunch were all excited recently about 11.1.11 even although that happened months ago.
One of the amusements for our little darlings has been the UK Maths Challenge, which got me thinking about some sort of English challenge which I could post on this website of ours. I was thinking of something like paraphrasing a sonnet (AS) or answering some reading comprehension questions about one (PAL). I want a text which is short and self-contained and which require intelligent thought to comprehend. It’s an idea that’s been bobbing about in my mind for the past couple of days and will almost certainly be as popular with the little darlings as a birthday made from turd; but it may get some sort of response from some of the students who think that the sun of the English language shines out of their arses.
More likely, it won’t get any response at all because they don’t want to face up to reality, viz. the inferiority of their language skills even when they get 110+ in TOEFL.
As I’ve said before, A*s in maths are so common here that they’re meaningless as a measure of the academic prowess of students. The list of students who did well in the UK Maths Challenge also included the names of some complete nitwits whose English is appalling.
Of course, their English might not be that bad, but if they behave like little bastards in class, it’s hard not to conclude that I’m dealing with some imbecile because I have no positive interaction with the halfwit in question.
We are trying to do something about improving the attitudes of students as they progress. The A2s have continued the tradition of absolute arrogance, which has them doing what they please without so much as a proverbial by-your-leave, and quite a lot of this term has included Adrian or Fred coming into the office after class and reporting how few students they had in class. Students can only pull this sort of stunt with the permission of their Chinese tutors and our approval. It’s not an issue for PAL, but there have been one or two instances of AS students disappearing.
I’ve still been wondering about what to do with the AS classes. I’ve more or less abandoned TOEFL, but I am keeping Advanced Vocabulary in Use and Listen to Learn. I need something for reading and writing, but I’m not sure what. The problem with TOEFL is that the AS classes have been getting it from elsewhere (in school and outside), or they’ve done with it and I’ve been wasting my time doing it. I was led to believe that it’s what they’d want even although I didn’t want to teach TOEFL myself.
Ironically, we have some TOEFL and IELTS training coming up, but I just don’t see the point. With any luck, we can drop IELTS and TOEFL altogether next year and deal with something different in class so that we’re not always an also-ran in the proficiency exam race.