-----First, I want to describe what I consider to be the three varying situations in which English is being taught and the kinds of students in each. This is important since the students within each of these environments, respectively, have identifiably distinct needs requiring calculably different teaching methods. Two of these three groups are more or less involved in the study or acquisition of a foreign language, in this case English. The students composing the third set are primarily looking to improve their command of the language they already speak so as to communicate more effectively and on a higher level or simply to fulfill school-mandated prerequisites, and it is to the aforementioned ends the curriculum strives. Despite these circumstantial differences, the subject matter being taught, English, is the same; this common thread must remain intact.
-----The nature of the business in which this company is engaged may seemingly obviate a lessening in the amount of attention given to the education of native English speakers in favor of English as a Foreign or Second Language Education. This is not necessarily the case. The services hereby provided are basically, not exclusively, geared toward the student learning English as a foreign or second language. This is particularly true of the proofreading and grammatical analysis services, of which the correction and in depth commentary may actually be of more use to the native English speaker.
-----With that said, how the English education of native speakers affects the expansion of English as the international language may remain a curious point in your mind. Actually, the proper education of native English speakers is critical. Though studying the fundamental rules of grammar expedites the process of acquiring a foreign language by providing uniform models which the students can manipulate, close attention is still given to how native speakers are speaking the language, and imitation thereof has a way of becoming more attractive regardless of correctness or utility to the student. Ultimately, this results in a muddling of the rules. This then causes the appearance that English is riddled with exceptions. The final outcome is that many teachers and students of English as a foreign language come to disbelieve in structurally based education.
-----The next group consists of people studying English in countries where English is not the native language and probably is not the national language either. Students in this category I will refer to as EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students, with "Foreign" being the penultimate word in the parenthetical both literally and figuratively. The typical student of this kind is not looking to immigrate to an English-speaking country. They are studying English, the international language, to enhance their job opportunities within their own country and for traveling purposes. Ultimately, they are not immersed in native English and are not in need of English as a second, complementary language. Accordingly, they are not to be looked upon as ESL (English as a Second Language) students, which I consider to be immigrants, expatriates or, at least, people who are immersed in the language. The point is that English, for EFL students, is a foreign language and should be taught as such, and the teaching of foreign languages is not new to this planet. For one, the more effective and, thus, preferable approach is a bilingual one.
-----On the other hand, English education of ESL students, the third group, falls somewhere in between that of EFL students and native speakers. As per the premises being established, in an informal instruction setting, ESL education should probably lean toward mirroring childhood education of native English speakers; whereas, in a formal academic environment, it should probably more resemble EFL education as well as the higher education of English to native speakers. Actually, since the informal version of ESL education became the predominant version of the field and was in existence before EFL, as a field as such, international English education got off on the wrong foot. In essence, what has happened is that informally-taught ESL became the template for EFL education overseas. In this case, the EFL field became merely a spin-off of ESL, the methods of which are based on how a native language is acquired by children. This development, in both senses of the word, was completely inconsistent with the real nature of the situation. ESL education should actually involve (at least the consideration of) foreign language pedagogy and an analysis of the natural developmental process of native speakers, particularly during childhood, along with the techniques used to educate native speakers, in general, in their native language. In contrast, "EFL" education, by definition, is the education of "English as a 'Foreign Language'," which requires a much more academically oriented process.
-----It has been my experience that university English departments in far east Asia are structured more like English Literature departments in the U.S. or the Commonwealth rather than like departments of Foreign Languages and Literatures, to which they should be more akin. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of these universities are turning out students whose understanding of the fundamentals of English is inadequate and who are not capable of communicating basic ideas in spoken or written English effectively. It is only the "Harvard's" that sometimes defy this and produce students able to communicate; even then it is still despite the system and still inefficient. I was actually told by the chairman of an English Language and Literature department where I once worked that the goal of these departments is not to teach English communication, which is not worthy of being taught at a university. Their goal is rather to teach English literature and linguistics, which are considered academically oriented enough to merit being taught at the university level. What this all means is that students who may not even be able to correctly form the simplest of "be" verb sentences with any regularity at least (that is, with the possible exception of the ones which they have repeated thousands of times since middle school, like "What is your name?", "My name is...", "What time is it?", and "Where are you from?") are studying Shakespeare. If this sounds cockeyed to you, you are on the right page, literally.
-----The TEFL/TESL (Teaching of English as a Foreign/Second Language) communities are not helping by trying to re-invent the wheel of foreign language education. This is most likely due to the fact that getting a certificate or higher degree in these fields does not require proficiency in a foreign language. This lack of foreign language experience has resulted in the propagation of a method based upon the idea, "Teach what we speak," rather than a method of which the presentation is grounded in the fundamentals of English grammar, even if not directly indicated within the lesson. EFL materials are written this way not as much to benefit the students as to keep the task at hand as simple(-minded) as possible for the average untrained native speaking instructor, whose interests and background often have little to do with education. They are able to capitalize in this way due to the "unacademic" nature seemingly associated with learning a foreign language by the Asian academic community.
-----Along those lines, I must regretfully admit that I actually met a certified university EFL instructor who said that when posed with a question in class, it is better to make up an answer if you do not know it than to look it up or figure it out and give it to the student at a later time. To further this point, blatantly erroneous material is being taught for the sake of or in the disguise of perceived pragmatism. There are highly-recognized internet English education establishments, based in the western hemisphere, that are misrepresenting the most basic of grammatical concepts and are, thus, perpetuating improper English. Worse yet, in their boldness to teach "English practically," they become blind to the very real damaging effects, practically speaking that is, of this insistence on teaching in this unscholarly style. Case in point, consider the following presentation of the very basic concept of direct and indirect objects that I found at a "reputable" English education web site. Though the material is presented in an elaborate and high-tech manner, it is riddled with fundamental flaws. After correctly illustrating direct objects with the verbs "want" and "eat," which are typically used transitively, they go on to give another example with the verb "look," which is usually used intransitively, thus, not usually having a direct object. They give a sentence like "I am looking at the woman." In this sentence, their claim is that "woman" is a direct object answering the question "Who are you looking at?". It is unwittingly dismissed that "at's" object is "who(m)" and that "at" can be put before its object, making the question "At who(m) are you looking?". They, in conclusion, simply state that direct objects answer the questions "What" or "Who" [strictly speaking, it is actually "Who(m)"], which is true. "Objects" are nouns; "What" and "Who(m)" are nouns. However, in this example, "at the woman" answers the question "at who(m)," which is adverbial in nature, not simply "who," which is nominative in nature. "Woman" and "who(m)" are objects of the preposition, not direct objects. The real damaging, practical effect is that since the actual adverbial nature of the phrase is obscured, the use of "Where," which is an adverb, to make the question "Where are you looking?" becomes, at least grammatically, inexplicable, and the language does not seem whole. Rather, it seems as though English has many holes, i.e. exceptions. They, then, proceed to give two examples of indirect objects, like "I gave the cup back to the waitress." and "She is getting some water for me.", claiming that "waitress" and "me" are indirect objects. They rationalize this by simply going on to state that an indirect object answers the question "For who(m)/what" or "To who(m)/what". This is simply untrue and tendentious, even if not complicitly. Yes, indirect objects can answer the question "To/For who(m)/what," but, no, not every phrase which answers "To/For who(m)/what" is an indirect object. Indirect objects can also just answer the question "Who(m)/What." To exemplify indirect objects the sentences should read "I gave the waitress the cup." and "She is getting me some water." They go on to say that it is not possible to have an indirect object without a direct object, which is true, but not how they presented it. Now, we have mistakes on top of mistakes. According to them, then, the correct sentence "He gives to the church." would be wrong. Correctly taught, the student implicitly would be able to extrapolate that "He gives the church.", where "church" is the indirect object, is incorrect. The whole point of having the labels direct object and indirect object is precisely to serve the function of differentiating their manifestation from that of an object of the preposition, predicate noun, etc. Finally, in this lesson, this ends up snowballing into the presentation of indirect object usage with verbs, which they call special verbs, like "introduce, explain, describe, say, repeat, and mention," whose "indirect objects" can only be employed after the direct object and the prepositions "to/for," as in "He introduced her to me." In reality though, they have no right even bringing up these verbs in the same breath as indirect objects as these verbs have absolutely nothing to do with indirect objects at all. Given fair scrutiny, the abundance of damaging material in use in the ESL/EFL field becomes evident to even the not-so-trained eye.
-----The fact is that "teaching what we speak" is not even necessarily useful to these students because in many cases they are looking to communicate in a third mutual language with another non-native speaker. On a more fundamental level, making "what we speak" the basis of the approach causes the content to be randomly structured, producing students whose language is too eclectic.
-----A silly debate on whether British or American English should be the international language has even surfaced within the EFL establishment. However, there are common threads amongst all of the dialects of English. The future of English as the sole international language is contingent upon the delineation, isolation, organization, development and presentation of these common threads. English will have to go through a hybridization process subsequent to which the future international language of English will probably be as unrecognizable to any current native speaker of English as contemporary English would be to English speakers living during Chaucer's time. If the aforementioned process is adopted, EFL education can be made more uniform (and professional) than it is now. In order to accomplish this, Foreign Language majors may actually be among the most appropriately suited candidates to teach EFL and work on the development of EFL materials. An intelligent, energetic, young person fresh out of college who majored in the language of the country in which he or she is to give instruction may actually be the ideal candidate, given the superiority of a well-planned bilingual approach. However, any bright Foreign Language major should have taken from his or her education an understanding of what learning a foreign language requires, which should facilitate the learning of the native language of the country he or she is in as well as make him or her a more competent teacher from the get-go. Also, since basic grammatical relationships can be understood by logically deconstructing them, the serious student of Philosophy should probably be considered in the top tier of applicants as well. Also, Philosophy students, especially those attending or having attended graduate school, are required to study at least one foreign language. Philosophy students would be well-equipped to contribute to the delineation and isolation of those common threads, while Foreign Language students would be well-suited to organize and develop this material. This company recognizes that these young people could have a great impact.
-----This company is in support of eliminating the heretofore noted problems of EFL education and intends on taking one further step by working toward better standardizing EFL education as it expands more into the area of general education.
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Master. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08 Oct 2014 11:57:02 -0700 .