Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head
The internet isn’t always a nice place. That’s partly because it’s inhabited by people and not robots (spambots might be annoying but, as yet at least, they aren’t petty, vindictive or liable to pick holes in some tiny part of what someone said and then publicly berate them for it.) But the reason the internet is not a nice place is, of course, mostly because those people are physically removed from the object of their nit-picking or spite.
You might think TEFL would be different but its corner of the web is just as full of it as everywhere else. Maybe more so in terms of nit-picking as teachers are often focused on precision. I regularly see Facebook forums turn on people who ask questions that some members of the group deem unacceptable or evidence of incompetence or laziness on the part of the asker.
If you don’t believe me, visit one of the forums and ask something regarding grammar or language. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the answer without having to debate with some TEFL forumite whether you really have the linguistic competence to be, or train to be, a teacher.
Another way to annoy is to ask a question about a CELTA/TEFL assignment. Someone will chide the asker for not finding out the answer for themselves. Despite the fact they are doing just that …researching the answer using the tools at their disposal — an internet connection and the biggest staffroom possible. There isn’t much difference between asking in a virtual environment and asking your tutor, coursemates, a book or Google. You’d expect the answers you get to vary in reliability, but you might be surprised at the variance in vitriol.
Even — shocker — on the IATEFL Facebook page. The official one that’s moderated. A question asking for any leads to resources on using literature in EFL for an MA thesis led to a full assault by no less than one of the IATEFL page’s administrators on the ethics of the OP. IATEFL’s page is public so head on over and check it out yourself if you like but here are some quotes.
Is crowd sourcing now an accepted way of setting about a Master’s Dissertation? Just asking. In my day we were expected to do the research ourselves, not put it out to tender. No offence intended, just curious. I don’t understand “I don’t have enough resources on the subject” but suggest you discuss it with your supervisor (this is one of the reasons you have a supervisor) rather than floating it out on FaceBook. Just my two pesos.
When asked why it was any different to asking classmates:
[…] there was no Internet in my time, but I would have spent time in the library catalogues, in Google Scholar (today), looking at previously published work in the area and perhaps accessed some communities of practice in the area. But shouting out in a general area like this seems somehow inappropriate. Perhaps I’m out of touch, I often am, but as a university lecturer I find this hard to understand.
When it was pointed out that the OP was just asking for a lead not for someone to write the damn thesis:
I think you will find that people who ask for help with locating resources are really just saving time by getting someone esle [sic] to do the work for them. But hey, I was breastfed with the protestant ethic and the world must have changed.
And on it went, leaving the poor OP feeling thoroughly cowed, perhaps. or hopefully buoyed up by the supporters on the thread.
This hegemony of knowledge — we have it, you don’t so na-na-na-na-na is particularly ironic when it comes from people who are supposed to be educators. So, this is my Ask Me Anything ELT offering.
If you have a question about grammar or language, or how to approach something in class, after 12 years of teaching I reckon I can answer it. If your question is about the CELTA/TEFL course, I think I can probably answer it, or have a good go and be in the near vicinity of a right answer. If it’s about the MA, I really should know the answer but I bet I have forgotten it and wouldn’t necessarily be able to find it that easily but you’re welcome to try.
If you’re asking me, (via the comments below) the only answers I’ll approve are mine. No-one gets to chime in with all the reasons you should know better in their opinion (since — yawn — “everyone’s entitled to their opinion”) and if I don’t know I’ll just say so.
Think of this corner of the internet as a virtual staffroom and ask the kinds of question you might ask colleagues in a real one. Although I won’t be able to tell you why the sodding photocopier isn’t printing on both sides of the paper or where the pirate copy of English File Intermediate CD2 has disappeared to. You’re on your own with those.