I actually put this entry on my blog a few weeks ago, calling it 'Bad Teaching Trends in Taiwan (1)'; however, I feel, for better consistency and clarity, it should be part of the 'Tricks to Watch Out For' series. So, I will repeat the entry here, with a few changes.


Let's Begin

Instant IELTS ‘experts’ have been regularly emerging. Well, you need to be aware of the risks here. You could easily waste a lot of time and money, and send your IELTS mark downwards (see the picture). In this post, I’ll look at the …

“You only talk to the teacher” syndrome.

Yes, this seems to be the latest claim to attract students - emphasising that ‘you don't talk to fellow students; you just talk to the teacher’. Logically then, talking to your fellow students is bad?

Wow! This claim is attacking one of the most basic foundations of modern language teaching, so it is important to first established that I have the credentials to respond, holding the Cambridge Certificate, and the Cambridge Diploma, of Teaching English as a second language (Cambridge CELTA & DELTA), and being a Cambridge teacher trainer [that is, I train new teachers in how to teach English as a second language]. Please check my credentials by clicking on this word to verify my claims.

So, my response comes with authority, and my response is that anyone who makes the 'you only talk to the teacher' claim is ...


(1) deliberately ignoring (or ignorant of) the most basic principle of language teaching, which is to maximise ‘student talking time’, and to minimise ‘teacher talking time’.

(2) deliberately ignoring (or ignorant of) the fact that in the IELTS Speaking Test, 1/4 of your band score is based on fluency (= the words can easily come out of your mouth).

(3) someone you should be careful about (since you won't learn particularly much under a 'you only talk to the teacher' system of teaching). Such a system may lower your speaking ability (hence, the above picture).


Let me try to prove this by explaining in layman's terms. Think of learning English as learning to drive a car. You learn it by doing it: that is: driving. Similarly, you learn to speak a language by speaking it – and accuracy is not the most important aspect. There are other equally important aspects.

So, in a class of 10 students, if you talk only to the teacher, then at any time, 9 students are not talking - and that is a sign of a very bad class.

[To be continued in the next post]


Find the meaning of the underlined words, also repeated below.

  • clarity(n)
  • credentials(n)
  • ignorant of (adj)
  • fluency (n)
  • layman





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