THE EXAMINATION ARENA (and how to survive)
In times of recession, struggling for survival and general grief we as teachers, apart from coping with the financial difficulties and the decreasing numbers of our students, still have to do our main duty which is to educate them and not just prepare them for an examination, something we all have been doing many years now.
History has proven that in times of hardship Greek people can rally and fight at all costs in order to survive, to evolve and make up for lost time. So, this is the time for all of us to turn all this grief and disappointment into joy and optimism first and foremost for the sake of our students and secondly for ourselves, however difficult that may sound.
Getting a certification is the final goal of students and their parents let alone the popularity and liability of foreign language schools or private lesson teachers but what about real knowledge? What about real and effective communication? These are questions we should all ask ourselves before teaching.
Now that the ‘Greek dream’ of becoming a civil servant seems to be too dim to come true and working for the private sector has become not only challenging but also precarious, just holding a certificate will no longer be the case but demonstrating real communicative skills. So, in this time of continuous changes and upturns, we have to grab at the ‘opportunity’, teach our students real English and provide them with firm foundations where to build their career and future on.
‘Easy said hard to be done’ some teachers may say, especially when we are all under pressure for successful candidates and unfortunately they will be right. On the other hand, in Greece which has become a ‘’European language certification center’’ and ASEP prevails, English teachers and school owners have turned to a ruthless struggle for best results and an endless search for the most reliable, prestigious and truly recognized certificates,(not that local and international recognition is not a burning issue) caring only for success. But what about successful thinkers? What about really literate people? Would you like your students to remember you as good teachers who offered them real and profound knowledge, which accordingly led to getting a certificate or teachers who just taught them how to get a certificate and nothing more?
So, instead of being just business people let us become real teachers again and abstain from this ‘examination arena’ where all fights are just for show. Let us fight for real knowledge, ensuring a stable ground for our students to step on and not just teach them tricks to pass the exams.
To do so, we should not urge them to learn mere grammar rules or digest unknown vocabulary without practicing them through full sentences or real dialogues, as only in this way will they learn to use the language appropriately. However, we should remember that grammar and syntax is the base for every language and they should be the first step to take no matter their age, level or exam format. In this way our students will be capable of speaking and writing right (which they will be mainly asked to do in their working environment in the future), thus bettering their listening and reading comprehension skills, while being able to cope with the majority of the exams administered in Greece, (not to mention that there are hundreds of books focusing on specific exam formats for extra practice) all of which test oral and writing skills!
To conclude, before walking into the classroom remember to smile and encourage your students to speak and write in English and when it comes to exam preparation choose the exam(s) that really appeal(s) to you and your students and really help(s) them to enhance and demonstrate their skills rather than just guaranteeing them an easy passing score.
Think of a new generation that may find themselves living or pursuing a career abroad, where real knowledge counts and not just the title of a certificate. Think of the traditional English teaching, when students went to school to learn and not just mime or prepare for a specific format, where every lesson was an opportunity to expand their knowledge and enjoy themselves with their classmates. Teach your students English, not just exams!
αναδημοσίευση με την άδεια του συγγραφέα και του ELT NEWS
Ο κος Εμμανουήλ Χρήστος είναι καθηγητής της Αγγλικής, αρθογράφος στην εφημερίδα ‘ELT News’ και συγγραφέας βιβλίων που αφορούν την διδασκαλία της Αγγλικής γλώσσας. Η πολύχρονη διδακτική του εμπειρία στη προετοιμασία υποψηφίων σε επίσημες εξετάσεις πιστοποίησης της Αγγλικής, η συνεργασία του με εκδοτικούς οίκους ξενόγλωσσης εκπαίδευσης καθώς και η συμμετοχή του ως εξεταστής προφορικών σε επίσημες εξετάσεις πιστοποίησης της Αγγλικής, σε συνδυασμό με την Πανεπιστημιακή του κατάρτιση αλλα πάνω απ’ όλα το πάθος του για την Αγγλική Γλώσσα, τον καθιστούν έναν άρτιο επαγγελματία και έναν εν γένει ευσυνείδητο δάσκαλο.