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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 29th, 2008, 01:36 am
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Clive Hawkins
 
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Default Fear of learning?

Does anyone else have this problem?

I've been teaching a particular group of adults for at least four years now, and we've made steady progress (they had also done at least three years elsewhere). Our most recent course was a post intermediate level and it didn't pose any particular problems for the group.

Imagine my surprise when, quite by chance, I found two of them attending an Elementary course! My first reaction was to ask what on earth they were doing there, not because they weren't doing the course with me but because of the level. They explained that they just wanted to do some 'dusting' of their English etc and in fact weren't actively participating in the class. I found this a little difficult to believe so spoke to their teacher who confirmed my fears. They were the first to shout out the answers, unsolicited, and weren't terribly patient with the other students who were at the CORRECT level for the course.

I can't find an explanation for this. Why would you spend 6 hours of your busy week doing a course that is of absolutely no use to you whatsoever? I could understand doing a refresher course at a lower level, say Intermediate, but not back to the very beginning.

Has anyone else experienced this? I'd like to hear about it.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 29th, 2008, 09:36 pm
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

I haven't seen that particular example but I know many people like to be in a class below there level because it makes them feel good, because they feel smart.

I think sometimes they also feel insecure about the basics or lower level stuff. So, they want to go back and work on some of those things or at least build some confidence.

Maybe they feel at higher 'correct' levels they don't get enough time to speak because it's not as easy.

Hard to say, but it's really the teacher's responsibility to make sure everyone has an equal go and not let the quicker students control the lesson.
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Unread Sep 30th, 2008, 04:34 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

I know for me and taking Japanese classes, I sometimes go for the easier ones because I'm not confident enough for the higher level classes. I'm one of those perfectionists that unless I can do ALL of the lower level things, I don't want to move on.

Another reason I've been more apt to go for the lower levels is because just want to be in the 'Japanese environment" without putting out too much effort into studying.
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Unread Sep 30th, 2008, 08:51 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

I've seen similar problems in the past, mostly with a student wanting to be placed in a lower level. In part, it may come down to a lack of confidence. In part, it may also come down to the idea that he/she needs to perfect some basic structures.

However, after a few lessons, these better intentions get forgotten. It then comes down to looking good, feeling smart, and demonstrating all the hard work put in to learn the language - showboating is a good word, I think.

If the student were in one of my classes, I would move him/her up. Unfortunately, you don't have this option.
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Unread Sep 30th, 2008, 09:19 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

yes, I would also move them up. or at least complain of them. because the other students can't work properly. they are disturbing the class, in a way.

I completely agree with smbd who's mentioned that the reason for this might be a lack of self-confidence.
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Unread Sep 30th, 2008, 10:29 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

Yes, you're all right to some extent. I can understand brushing up on some structures etc, and for sure there is some element of looking good, but what I can't get my head round is the huge jump in levels they've decided to take. Last year we were working on some quite advanced structures, with good, long listenings and having pretty fluent discussions on a wide range of topics - all exactly what they had asked for at the start of the course. Going back to Headway Elementary and doing the present simple just leaves me gobsmacked! Putting myself in their shoes and enrolling for a beginner Italian course, I'd go out of my head doing two hour lessons three times a week on stuff I learnt and have been using for several years.

If it were my class, I wouldn't have even let them come in and sit down!
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Unread Oct 1st, 2008, 05:03 pm
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

I also think it's because they feel better. But I wouldn't be so sure about criticizing them because of that. If you feel good, you learn better.
And also because if you are in an easier level, it allows you to pay attention to the little things in the language that you wouldn't perceive if you were just struggling to keep face, about to drown in the load of new language. The issue is a delicate oneerhaps they should really choose an easier level if they want to; obviously they feel the need to have the feeling they have accomplished something, which the new course does not give them. Eventually they will see that they have to leave that stage behind: people do not want to be babies all their lives, they want to grow. But they also need some security. And really, teaching is all about security and challenge, isn't it?
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Unread Oct 1st, 2008, 05:10 pm
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

but cris, you missed this part:

Quote:
Quote clivehawkins View Post
They were the first to shout out the answers, unsolicited, and weren't terribly patient with the other students who were at the CORRECT level for the course.

so they sort of put down those students at elementary level, or something like that? they are definitely disturbing the class then
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Unread Oct 1st, 2008, 05:23 pm
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

Well, I'd have a nice private chat with them pointing out their learning difficulties and asking them to be in the other student's shoes. It's obvious they are perhaps a bit resented at being treated the same way in their beginnings. Perhaps if they are asked to be cooperative they will either help or finally discover they've grown out of that stage and need something more and be in a class where everyone helps each other. Of course, I'm miles away and all this is mere speculation. They might just be plain disruptive - but they should be made to respect other students' rights, that's for sure. A bit of reflection on learning processes would do it, I'm sure. After all, they are not having a session with a private tutor.
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Unread Oct 2nd, 2008, 02:44 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

Quote:
Quote crisholm View Post
I also think it's because they feel better. But I wouldn't be so sure about criticizing them because of that. If you feel good, you learn better.
And also because if you are in an easier level, it allows you to pay attention to the little things in the language that you wouldn't perceive if you were just struggling to keep face, about to drown in the load of new language. The issue is a delicate oneerhaps they should really choose an easier level if they want to; obviously they feel the need to have the feeling they have accomplished something, which the new course does not give them. Eventually they will see that they have to leave that stage behind: people do not want to be babies all their lives, they want to grow. But they also need some security. And really, teaching is all about security and challenge, isn't it?
Again, I take your point in a context where someone has dropped down 1 level, say from intermediate to pre intermediate. But here we're talking about going from future perfect continuous, mixed conditionals, inversions for emphasis, authentic texts from the BBC, Newsweek, etc to do \ does, be with jobs, 3rd person s, adjectives, countability, irregular verbs in the past simple etc. The difference is SO great, that the argument for feeling secure, not wanting to drown in new language, feeling accomplishment etc just goes over my head - it can't accept it. I fail to see this course for them as anything other than utterly pointless, not to mention the difficulties it creates for the teacher and other students in the class.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 2nd, 2008, 09:34 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

I seem to have got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this, don't I?
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Unread Oct 2nd, 2008, 10:24 am
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

no, no, don't worry.
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  #13 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 2nd, 2008, 02:29 pm
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

Well, kick them out of both courses - obviously the higher one is too difficult for them and they are a nuisance in the lower one. Or let them take the Dialang test to find their level ; some work with descriptors would help.
Anyway, I don't know why I got into this discussion - I guess I got chatty , happy about being back on the site.
I am a great fan of your site, Clive. Wonderful work! Very useful for us busy teachers and very enjoyable for our students. Congratulations!
P.S. Perhaps they are in love with their teacher!

Last edited by crisholm : Oct 2nd, 2008 at 03:13 pm. Reason: Adding things
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  #14 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 3rd, 2008, 02:03 am
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Clive Hawkins
 
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Default Re: Fear of learning?

Quote:
Quote crisholm View Post
Anyway, I don't know why I got into this discussion - I guess I got chatty , happy about being back on the site.
No, don't get the wrong idea. It's great to hear all of these opinions - that's why these forums are invaluable! I appreciate your taking the time to help out. You'll have to excuse my ranting!

Quote:
Quote crisholm View Post
P.S. Perhaps they are in love with their teacher!
I won't go into details, but I SO hope you're wrong!
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