Poxig and the boy

Poxig encountered the worst that the woods of Gorgola had to offer. He had eaten some bad blueberries, and nausea had overtaken his senses. As for the gnome, he was nowhere to be found. But straight through the underbrush, Poxig observed an amazing sight. A young boy was there, dressed as a pretend knight.

“You there, boy!” Poxig yelled. “What’s your name?”

“I am Gabriel,” the boy replied. “And who might you be?”

“I am Poxig the elf from Marginalia,” he said. “I have been travelling for many days with no relief in sight. Do you know these woods?”

“I do!” Gabriel replied. “I was born here, and I have been wandering these woods my whole life.”

“Can you show me the way to Marginalia?” Poxig asked.

“Of course! But you have to give me something in return,” said the boy.

“Name anything!” Poxig said out of desperation.

“You must bring me an amethyst for my rock collection,” he said.

Poxig had no amethyst to speak of. But he took out a purple bauble from his belt, one that he had acquired from a gift shop in Eyrrf, which was made of glass.

“Here is the amethyst that you desire,” Poxig said.

The boy could not contain his excitement. “Give it here!” he said.

Poxig had fooled the boy. If it had not been for the gnomic pronouncement, he would not have trusted Gabriel. The boy merrily showed him the trail that would lead him back to Marginalia. Poxig could only think of the Latin phrase he had heard from Sir Binural: mirabile dictu. 

“What does that mean?” asked Gabriel.

“Wonderful to relate…” replied the relieved elf.

Poxig & Gabriel

The reform movement

I am beginning to be influenced by a major change in ESL at this point. It is the switch to communicative language approach which is put forth by sociolinguist Dell Hymes. The weirdest thing about this is that the reform movement is simply about what we as ESL teachers should have been doing all along. That is, get students to respond to input in the classroom.

I have instituted a number of ideas for communicative language teaching CLT:

  1. Long wait times. Allow there to be uncomfortable silences.
  2. Constantly stop to ask if there are questions.
  3. Give the students a checklist of questions to ask
  4. Stop getting in the way of student input: shut up and allow them to speak.
  5. Minimize Teacher Talk Time (TTT)
  6. Maximize Student Talk Time (STT)

Get the student’s attention without being overtly officious. The minute that you lose the temper, that is the moment that CLT breaks down. I have been trying to institute these in my ESL classroom with varying success. Sometimes, there is just no output. In that case, I revert to TTT. But more often than not, I try to implement these CLT objectives.

I got so many yawns with the top-down approach. When it is all about what I know, the students tend to tune out. But when I try a bottom-up format, suddenly they are more engaged than they ever were.