Never in my classroom – binary thinking.

Wow, I hear ya holla “theLingoGuy, two blogs so quickly after one another”.

I must doff my cap to the injection that the BESIG conference in Stuttgart gave me for lessons and general motivation to change up the mix.

Before I look into the lessons where I used James Schofield ideas (Brainpooling) again.  Let me segway into how I became a teacher and a little bit about what kind of teacher I am.

I first taught in 1999 at the ripe old age of 17 in an Urban Community project in Drumchapel, Glasgow. Teaching kids and teens drama and performance as part of a team. Maybe you can spot me?


But I always say teaching is a profession I fell into not choose, and would guess that near to 80 % of ESL/EFL trainers are likewise.

Am I wrong?

As I am an artist I am inherently inpatient. But as a dog owner ( adopted 5 year old badly trained Jack Russel) this has changed. And I believe to stay ahead of that 8 ball all trainers (as I am sure is true of other professions) need to transfer skills from other areas of their lives. This patience from owning a Pooch has started to come into my teaching. More on that in a later blog.

As a side effect of the above I dealt with yesterday very well. Both lessons did not really go as planned. I often go into a lesson with 5 ideas jotted down on paper for tasks. I am not an over planner, but like to be generative and a little spontaneous. This does not suit all teachers or students, however this time I had to change more than normal.

The first lesson was with an IT company (surprise, surprise) who had been taken over by an American company. And were replacing one of their hubs for trouble ticket support to another country. The class is normally 3 or 4 people and very new. I had planned on doing something on team building and necessary skills. I did not have to throw the baby out with the bath water however, as this became the homework.

But  I had one attendee, who I had not taught before (the majority I had taught in the company before the take over). This therefore was a good opportunity for me to get to know him, and also a bit more about the company. Looking at the website only gives you a blurry picture and one with the head cropped off. I took a back seat and let the student teach me about the 7 phases/stages of the Development Life Cycle of their “products” (really service packages; but lets not quibble over minor foibles). This also lead into a fascinating discussion of the decision process and effects of the American company  replacing one of the support hubs, as a way of optimization for them (the parent company) if not the German daughter company.

The student struggled at first with his confidence to get on with the task, but I persisted with follow up questions and patient silence that he naturally felt the need to fill.

After a good hour, we looked at phrases that could have made his mini presentation clearer.

And I got some feedback that he enjoyed being the teacher (board marker in hand). Also of which was the classic, quote:

“technikens think in binary 0 and 1, two words for one thing is crazy”.

Segway: I have always been curious why crazy is a popular word with techies

Is it only German techies? Any ideas?

The student really felt the benefit of having to present off the cuff, and I could sit back and really get a better perception of who this guy was, who he was in the team, and what his skills were.

The homework then was for the student to inform the absentees what we had done as a summary. Then hold a discussion on the skills they think they need (and in English) for the different phases/stages of the DLC.

And I was able to learn a lot more about him in this impromptu one on one. So my tip for the teachers, embrace the unplanned, and Don’t Panic!

An added bonus was that I could use some of that tricky situ of the take over for my next lesson.

to be cont’d…..













A native Brit, Stewart is from the East Midlands. He has worked all over England and has been in Germany since 2002. Through working with the youth and the disabled he has been able to fine tune his communication skills. A Cambridge qualified (CELTA/LCCI CerTEB) instructor of English as a Foreign Language, he also has experience as a copy editor/ proof reader specializing in Higher Education and Business English. He assists established companies & local English trainers (LELTA) in optimizing their platforms, markets & copy (texts). With a Bachelors degree in English & Art, he brings diverse skills within a broad palette to his academic courses, an English speakers community (So Social Club) & an art project (Lebenskunstler). Not only focusing on creative expression but exemplary use of language.

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