Callan Method of Learning/Teaching English

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Basil Fawlty
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I am seeking an opinion on the Callan method. This method of teaching English as a foreign language
is extremely popular in Poland now. Is it popular in your country? Is it really effective? Most of
the schools using this method guarantee passing FCE after the course. Do you think that this method
is good to learn/teach English on the post-FCE level? Or, do you think that Callan is not worth
your while at all? If you know Callan School in London, what is your opinion about it? Is it really
so famous?

Pawel Marciniak

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Serwis Usenet w portalu Gazeta.pl -> http://www.gazeta.pl/usenet/
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Cybercypher
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"Basil Fawlty" <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:

[q1]> I am seeking an opinion on the Callan method. This method of teaching English as a foreign[/q1]
[q1]> language is extremely popular in Poland now. Is it popular in your country? Is it really[/q1]
[q1]> effective? Most of the schools using this method guarantee passing FCE after the course. Do you[/q1]
[q1]> think that this method is good to learn/teach English on the post-FCE level? Or, do you think that[/q1]
[q1]> Callan is not worth your while at all? If you know Callan School in London, what is your opinion[/q1]
[q1]> about it? Is it really so famous?[/q1]

I've never heard of this method, but reading through its advertising material on the Net,

http://www.callan.co.uk/english/index.htm

it looks like something I'd like to check out, simply because it recognizes a couple of important
principles that I have also recognized based on my years of teaching experience:

1. The more listening and speaking the student does, the faster the student's progress;

2. It is necessary to make things very interesting for students,
because learning a language is hard work and often boring;

3. It is necessary to ask the student questions constantly, but I don't stand up in front of the
class and ask them or ask students to answer them in a group. That does nothing positive, as
far as I can tell, and is just too boring for everyone concerned. I write everything down and
encourage students in my classes to use my topics and questions as examples for their own
topics and questions. It is important to make students realize that answers to the questions
are not the point of the class -- starting an interesting conversation is. If the questions
and topics are not interesting to the students involved, then there is no conversation. The
questions should be simple but allow for the most complex of answers so that they can be
answered by students at every level (it isn't as hard to write such questions as it seems),
and they must be plentiful, because unless there is a reason to talk, many students won't,
especially here in Far East Asia.

4. [Here's one that the Callan Method does not recognize] It's best to allow students to talk
about things that interest them most rather than forcing them to listen to and talk things
that are boring to them.

I did check the Call Method out on the Web, and here is one bad review I found:

Message 1: Callan Method-Repost Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 11:23:32 +0200 From: Tomek Wojciechowski
<[email protected]> Subject: Callan Method-Repost

Hello!

I submitted the following query (below) to linguistlist (Callan Method, 17, Jul, 2002) but I lost
all the replies due to a virus. Is it possible that all of you who wrote replies could send them to
me once again, that is, providing of course you saved them on your computers? I would be grateful.

Regards, Tomasz.

"I have been working as a Callan teacher in Poland for two years now. And, sadly enough, I must
admit I see very little progress in my students. I'm quitting this job in two weeks' time. Yet, I
would like to know what the opinions about the effectiveness of the method are as seen by the
professional linguists. And what's wrong with the method? Well, I think there's something wrong
with it. "

Thanks,

Tomasz Wojciechowski

http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-1819.html

Here's a query on Dave's ESL Cafe site:

Re: Callan Method - anyone has the same feelings about it?

Posted by nikki on Tuesday, 5 March 2002, at 7:24 p.m., in response to Re: Callan Method - anyone
has the same feelings about it?, posted by John on Tuesday, 20 November 2001, at 7:15 a.m.

Yes, I was a little skeptical of those percentages. I think there are many Europeans who don't speak
(at least not with any real level of speaking competence) any language other than their own. And
perhaps some of the most educated, who are actually interested in retaining knowledge from language
education received and seeking out more, do speak 4 or 5, but I think they are in the minority.
Here's just a little snippet I got from a quick search on Google from AIIC. The page is "The
European Year of Languages". What is AIIC? "AIIC is the international professional association that
represents conference interpreters and sets standards for the practice of the profession. " They do
have something in there about most parliamentary workers being able to work only within their own
language and about how half of Europeans claim to speak at least one other language (meaning the
other half claim no such thing). Of course I'm sure it varies country by country, but anyway, have a
look for yourself.

http://aiic.net/ViewPage.cfm/article242.htm

http://www.eslcafe.com/discussion/dw....cgi?read=1063

You can check out the other sites:

http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...=Callan+method

--
Franke
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John Warner
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-=> Quoting CyberCypher <[email protected]> to All <=-

<snip>

C<> it looks like something I'd like to check out, simply because it C<> recognizes a couple of
important principles that I have also C<> recognized based on my years of teaching experience: C<>
1. The more listening and speaking the student does, the faster C<> the student's progress; C<> 2.
It is necessary to make things very interesting for students, C<> because learning a language is
hard work and often boring; C<> 3. It is necessary to ask the student questions constantly, C<> but
I don't stand up in front of the class and ask them or C<> ask students to answer them in a group.
That does nothing C<> positive, as far as I can tell, and is just too boring for C<> everyone
concerned. I write everything down and encourage C<> students in my classes to use my topics and
questions as C<> examples for their own topics and questions. It is important C<> to make students
realize that answers to the questions are C<> not the point of the class -- starting an interesting
C<> conversation is. If the questions and topics are not C<> interesting to the students involved,
then there is no C<> conversation. The questions should be simple but allow for C<> the most complex
of answers so that they can be answered by C<> students at every level (it isn't as hard to write
such C<> questions as it seems), and they must be plentiful, C<> because unless there is a reason to
talk, many students won't, C<> especially here in Far East Asia.

C<> 4. [Here's one that the Callan Method does not recognize] It's C<> best to allow students to
talk about things that interest C<> them most rather than forcing them to listen to and talk C<>
things that are boring to them. <snip>

G'day All and Franke,

Be very careful Franke. You are creeping dangerously close to the Direct Method and may be burnt at
the stake if the competency police or the followers of Haliday catch you. I too am a heretic and
became reasonably affluent from DM because business people, engineers, yochien parents and such
liked the results.

John in Sydney.

state, negate, ask, command, know what you are saying.

... [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]
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Cybercypher
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[email protected] burbled news:[email protected]:

[...]

[q1]> G'day All and Franke,[/q1]
[q1]>[/q1]
[q1]> Be very careful Franke. You are creeping dangerously close to the Direct Method and may be burnt[/q1]
[q1]> at the stake if the competency police or the followers of Haliday catch you. I too am a heretic[/q1]
[q1]> and became reasonably affluent from DM because business people, engineers, yochien parents and[/q1]
[q1]> such liked the results.[/q1]

Heresy is a way of life with me. I do everything my own way. I don't claim that what I do others can
do and I do claim that I often cannot do what others can. What works for me works for me, and what
works for others works for them.

I don't want to make any claims about anything called the Direct Method (Isn't that what Berlitz
claims to use?) I'm just a facilitator with a particular personality who writes all his own
materials and establishes his own idiosyncratic type of rapport with his students. I've been having
great success in Taiwan, but I don't know if what I do would work in Japan, for example. No problem
in Europe, I know, because I used to teach Europeans at College of Marin, Kentfield, CA back in
1989-90. But Europeans basically teach themselves. They're wonderful students. My success here in
Taiwan has been training the Taiwanese students in my classes to be open and more like the European
students I've had. It works and they do too.

--
Franke
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Unregistered
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I am a teacher and have been for nearly eight years now. As I was thinking of becoming a callan teacher I thought I should check out the callan.co.uk info on it. I did that, but I am not convinced.

There are many holes and contradictions in the description. I couldn't go through them all here, but I have two main problems with it:-

1) It may well be good for students, but it has absolute zero in it for teachers. How can you ever develop your teaching ability if you are a Callan teacher? If you do pretty much the same each and every lesson, you may as well be a 'Teacher Robot'. And if anyone can learn to teach Callan in 5 days (and that means ANYONE), then it really does undermine our profession. The callan.co.uk people don't address that. TEFL teachers get enough criticism as it is about English teacher not being a "real job", and Callan will only reinforce that!

2) They say the student can never be bored. Maybe so. But what happens if a student is absent for one or two or more lessons as they are sometimes? They may have study commitments or work hours that change. So if they don't come to callan lessons then they really will be lost because they will have missed those "vital pages" in the book. Another thing. Maybe they won't be bored, but talk about STRESS!!

There are other points I could bring up, but these will do for now. Are there experienced teachers out there who switched to Callan and regretted it? Maybe they even gave up feeling they were learning nothing as a teacher.
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