Multi-channel Dogme

The joys of digital TV! I have over 100 channels including ones from Bolivia, Rumania, Morocco and almost every autonomous region in Spain. If I knew how to use the remote control (like my daughter) I could probably watch films and programmes in English all the time and not just the BBC World News. Spoilt for choice and so, of course, are our students nowadays: they have so much access to language outside of the classroom, potentially at least.

One of the many channnels I have is specifically aimed at students of English and I am drawn to it on occasion out of curiosity. It is a curious mix of presenting and drilling through the TV, occasionally with a “live” student present to lend a hand. What I also noticed is that even on a “chat” programme the teacher dominates and the student barely has the opportunity to contribute. I have recently prepared two different talks on speaking in the classroom and particularly quantity and quality of teacher talking time and watching this channel brought me back to the theme.

Is the channel any good? Well maybe. Does it actually teach some English? Probably, to some people, a little. Is it entertaining? Well, sometimes, it could be worse. Does it listen to students and what they want? No, not really. That’s a quick review of the channel but could it be a review too of our classes sometimes, if we were to be completely honest? Like the TV station do we find ourselves perhaps, too often, too concerned about teaching, pushing out knowledge rather than working with our students and encouraging them to develop their learning skills? Of course, there are social expectations of teachers: we should be “teaching” and if, like the TV station, you work in a commercial environment such as private language academies there is again a lot of pressure to see the teacher working, ie “teaching”, usually in a traditional way. Educating students and their parents into the complexities involved in language acquisition is complex and often ignored in the end.

So, my conclusions? Once more, back to Dogme I think. A little Dogme would really liven up that TV channel, make it real, realistic and I think, more watchable (I would make the same suggestion to those channels from local Spanish regions!!!).

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