Teach to the Eyes

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5 thoughts on “Teach to the Eyes”

  1. During training I was working on OWIs and by the time I got to the third question, I started to panic internally–where is this going? what comes next?. Ben you reminded me to slow down, go back to the beginning and repeat. That helped me relax and figure out the next interesting question a few minutes later. I can’t take credit for asking fewer questions–I was remembering coaching from this summer and what good advice that was!!

  2. “if we ask too many questions, the sounds overwhelm them. If we speak too fast, the speed overwhelms them.” I totally agree… as I am in a foreign country teaching ESL (just now starting to teach in this new way NTCI), I too have taken the typical grammar laden language course of the local language here in order to communicate, but I can’t tell you how many times I have felt very, very overwhelmed and very stupid! While other students around me that knew some of the language before starting the class, would spit out full out sentences… I was still trying to figure out what the teacher said in her first sentence! This was a great blessing in disguise for it has given me insight on what my students go through when I do the same thing and it drives me to learn and teach in a more effective method.

    1. …other students around me that knew some of the language before starting the class, would spit out full out sentences….

      And Mel notice that there are very few of those fast processors. The vast majority are like us. I remember once in a Mandarin class I missed the first half hour and the entire rest of the two hour session was almost completely unintelligible to me and I was trying my best. Real NTCI in my view ideally is such that anyone could walk in at anytime and understand. That’s how slowly we need to go. But when it’s targeted, that can’t happen. We don’t need to scaffold language as much as we need to make ourselves understood.

      That’s why Teaching to the Eyes is the most important thing of all, next to and perhaps moreso than SLOW. Not teaching to the forehead, but right to their eyes. This bringing them in through their eyes at the human level is the best assessment tool we have. Testing is so unnecessary in our subject, because we JUST KNOW if a person with whom we are speaking gets it.

      But when true eye contact of the human variety is something that rarely happens in broken societies, many teachers just give up on it. When that happens it’s all over for the true language gains. That’s why the community building piece (ANATS) is so big. It allows/leads to real eye communication.

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