teaching unplugged – in brief

Strippin’ away at it all*

I recently spent a very enjoyable day with ESOL tutors and volunteers in Glenrothes, Fife. I know from my contact with Brasshouse Language Centre in Birmingham that unplugged teaching can have a natural fit with ESOL (providing external demands are not overwhelming), an impression reinforced in Glenrothes. Teaching that starts by eliciting not language but experience has an obvious relevance to learners with stories to relate and problems to solve in English, and it was good to explore this with a mix of experienced tutors and volunteers – some in their seventies – who have only just started teaching. Their enthusiasm reminded me that language teaching represents a remarkable exchange, something that resonated with my reading that weekend. My thanks to Frances Marnie for setting this up and, with her colleagues Helen Davison and Alan Elder, making me feel so welcome.

*I did a search on the words ‘fife’ and ‘Dylan’ as I remembered him singing the word – it led to Where Teardrops Fall



  Mike Harrison wrote @

Glad you had a good time in Fife, Luke.

I had my best moment teaching relatively unplugged recently with my ESOL students (blogged on Karenne Sylvester’s Kalinago English – look for Meatloaf). A very poor turn-out (3 out of 19 students present) turned into a fab ‘organic’ conversation class about likes and dislikes. Not wholly unplugged as I did use a PC and projector, but coming almost entirely from the students. I’m a definite believer that you get the best out of students if the teaching/learning comes from their own experience.

By the way, very neat idea on the blog word limit. I’m applying it to this comment as well. Hopefully there will be, as you say, some nice brisk exchange, probably quite different to what is already ‘out there’.

All the very best from London.


  lukemeddings wrote @

Hi Mike,thanks for this and maybe your ‘in the spirit of 140’ comment will set the tone!
I just read your excellent post on Karenne’s site and will comment there when I am not on a wobbly train.
I think the key is to build on that breakthrough lesson.It’s almost as if that interaction is a ‘culture’ (like for baking sour dough bread?)which forms the base for other lessons and is in turn renewed each time-a little shared conversation can go a long way.
I can’t bake,by the way.If any roving bakers or patissiers are reading this,please feel free to comment!

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