Posts Tagged ‘english teaching’


January 28, 2016

2016-01-28mathWhile studying to be a teacher of English, I did supervised teaching in a primary school. At one of the lessons I had to introduce numbers, so after reading a respective chapter in a methodology book, I wrote on the board two columns of math problems that included addition and subtraction, split the class into two teams and told them to compete against each other in solving the problems: the left column of the problems was to be done by the team on the left and the right column – by the team on the right in the classroom.  The pupils knew math well enough to subtract or add, and this time they were only to train their language skills by articulating in English what they were doing. Of course, mathematical correctness counted too. A pupil from each team waited for their turn to rush to the board, do their own problem and return to their seat, while the next person from the team picked up the baton and did the next problem. It took longer for slower pupils to do the job, those who were more advanced did it in the blink of an eye. When the language-and-math shuttle race was over, a girl from the team which lost burst into tears and I had to run for a glass of water for the girl. Since that time I never arranged any competitions during my lessons.

I remembered the episode when I read Danielle Sensier’s poem Experiment. Danielle Sensier is a published author and an editor of children’s books. Some of her books are Costumes (Traditions Around the World), Masks (Traditions from Around the World), Poems About Weather, and Poems About Journeys.


at school we’re doing growing things

with cress

sprinkly seeds in plastic pots

of cotton wool.

Kate’s cress sits up on the sill

she gives it water.

mine is shut inside the cupboard

dark and dry.

now her pot has great big clumps

of green

mine hasn’t

Mrs Martin calls it Science

I call it mean.




June 21, 2014

As I remember my student times, our teacher of translation could hardly be called a teacher in terms of methodology. We, learners of English, just sat at our desks, looked into our books and translated aloud English sentences into Russian as soon as a turn to translate came to each of us in succession. We were ten in the group and, with that kind of approach, we could easily calculate which sentence each of us would be translating from the text in the book. If he first sentence, then the eleventh, then the twenty-first… Or the second, the twelfth, the twenty-second, etc. It was technical translation and the texts were about machine building — presses, joints, shrinks, hubs that had to be heated and nut that were to be pulled.

All that was boring. However, the translation teacher was our favourite. When it came down to “deciphering” an English speech on the cassette or to formulating a Russian passage in English, he was unsurpassed. His English was “copper-plate”: clear, rational, and very authentic. In the times when an English-speaking foreigner was no more frequent in the streets of a Soviet city than an extraterrestrial from outer space, such people as our dear Mr. P. were of a special value. We attended his classes to enjoy his English and to learn from it.

During all the years since my graduation I have done hours upon hours of interpretation and have translated thousands upon thousands of pages. The themes were related to business, finances, medicine, politics, philosophy, IT technology, all kinds of official documentation, etc. Everything I translated or interpreted was “on the cutting edge” in any field of activity. Texts about milling machines or lift-slab methods in construction, which I, as a student, started with, seem as unusual now as an instruction on making wheels for a horse-drawn cart might be. But… when I open my first textbook in translation published 48 years ago and read that “a sag-tie is a member supporting a long horizontal member which would otherwise deflect excessively under its own weight…” (a sentence that I had to formulate in Russian), I understand that those sag-ties, and point-contact transistors, and lathes, and shapers will always be higher for me than any modern text which is “on the cutting edge.” Because they were at the origins… They were the first… Just as was Mr. P., an incompetent methodologist and a great inspirer.


January 16, 2012

In its language blog Johnson, named so after the British writer, lexicographer and politician Samuel Johnson, The Economist addresses its readers with the following request:
A Friday request
Jan 6th 2012, 15:43 by R.L.G. | NEW YORK
MANY English teachers around the world use The Economist to help teach English as a foreign language.  We (the newspaper as a whole, and this blog) would like to help them out, but so far, ideas are hazy for how to do so.  Are there any English teachers, or anyone else, among our readers who have good ideas about how we might use and this blog to teach English?  Please jump in in the comments if so.

The internet address of the blog post and the comments:
Those who are interested are welcome to visit the site.

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