Never in my classroom – “the Muttiheft approach”


theLingoGuy classroom rule book

Rule # 1

Go in with a plan

If you have been following the blog, and think that this is my normal approach, then think again. The anti-thesis is the book approach. Something I do on occasion, due to extraneous circumstances. But I do have to, to steal a Penny Ur-ism, “mutilate the text”. Mainly due to the fact that no one book can fit the course and students. And these are no University lectures I am giving.

Most of the extraneous circumstances previously mentioned are imposed on me by the client.

Now my German may not be A perfect, but I was unable to persuade two of my lower level Business English extensive courses that a non book approach was the way forward. I do see why this is attractive:

1) gives the students a sense of structure and continuity.

2) it is built into the contract through a middle-person (Human Resources, manager, language school etc), and provides a concreteness and something measurable, rather than the ambiguity of a “No Plan”.

3) for German students use to the Muttiheft approach, a sense of security.

Muttiheft approach is a Stewism, whereby it is being front end led, and translation is the pinnacle of effective conventional teaching. This is what, in my humble opinion, the German system was built on, and is renowned for.

Five weeks into the course I see how the students interact with the book, and see it as a security net. And when I move away from it, are either not so aware of it or do not react to any movement away from the plan.

Let me turn this on it’s head, and use the previous Summer School as counter arguments:

1) the structure came from the discussions generated, the in the moment needs of the students, and

the themes arising. Often with an, and in some cases coincidental, inter-relatedness.

2) the ambiguity gave the students in most cases a sense of slight anticipation as to What happens next?”

I hope this gave the lessons a freshness.

3) the front end led approach can unnerve students if you are behind them listening in to their mistakes during discussions. But allowing for movement within the classroom space keeps them active physically and mentally. And I believe that allowing them to front end lead themselves (presenting, peer correction on the board), facilitates a sense of playing from a level field. In that all students when given this chance, find it empowering and respectful. For those that lack confidence in their abilities it can show them to trust in their skills and the tools they possess at hand.

Do you have more of a “No Plan” or “Muttiheft” teacher approach? Is this due to extraneous circumstances.

Have there been occasions where one or the other approach works best?



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