Red and Blue Pill
englishman abroad, Teaching English

Sometimes my lessons go like this…

Most of the time, lessons have a specific plan: ‘I will teach my students about X today’.

X could be new vocabulary for technical English, or when to use the present simple and when the progressive, it could even be a more functional lesson like how to traverse an airport in English, or book a hotel.

But sometimes the students have a lesson plan: ‘today we want to talk about Y’.

Y could be pretty much anything that would appear in X, but it can also be whatever bee happens to be in the students’ bonnet at the time.

Yesterday I had an amazingly unplanned conversational lesson with a couple of sociologists about Action Theory versus Communication Theory, whether societal actions were communications or vice versa and the great sociologists such as Durkheim, Parsons et al. My sociologists are very academic, better qualified and far cleverer than me (Prof. This and Dr. That).

BUT I had the opportunity to bamboozle the students a couple of times by injecting and explaining relevant ideas from other fields: Behavioural Economics and Predictable Irrationality (I’m a big fan of Dan Ariely), and Illocutionary Acts (John L. Austin’s philosophical / linguistic concepts on performative utterance).

My planned lesson on grammar went out of the window, of course, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. This particular group has one lesson left, I hope it will be about X, but I’m going to swot up on Jean Baudrillard just in case it’s about Y again.

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