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Student Assumptions Regarding Good Teaching





Student Assumptions Regarding Good Teaching



TESOL Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Teacher Education ISs





We ESL teachers walk into our classrooms armed with proven frameworks for natural language acquisition and all the latest communicative teaching methods. We’re going to change the world, one class at a time! Yet all too often, our students do not respond well, and many drop out. They think we should be doing something else – more drills, more translation, more something. This session is exploring the assumptions held by adult language learners as to what are good teaching methods. It will consider both individual preferences, and preferences that are linked to educational level and cultural background.


The session is being moderated by Thomas Gault, PhD, and is based on his dissertation Adult Immigrant Hispanics' Assumptions Regarding Good Teaching in ESL.


Target Audience

The target audience includes administrators and teachers in any program for adults or even teens. The material will be useful to individual teachers as well as curriculum coordinators, program directors, and materials writers.

Computer beginners are welcome.


Weekly outline

Week One

Welcome message, introductions & procedures


Please email the group and tell us a little about yourself – where you live and work, how much training you have had, and what you think are the marks of good language instruction.


Presentation of some basic concepts:

  • Input versus output
  • Comprehension versus production
  • Natural language acquisition versus grammar-based learning


Special project 1

You can start on this anytime. We’ll start discussing them in a couple of weeks.

Interview an experienced teacher, a beginning teacher, and a student. These interviews can be very brief and informal.

Ask them to briefly describe good teaching practices. Do they want a classroom that has a lot of comprehensible input? Translation? Grammar? Tests?

Ask the teachers how they think their students would answer the same question.



Week Two

Online presentation/ discussion:


  • What has been documented regarding student assumptions?
  • What do master teachers and administrators just know (or assume)?
  • What do other teachers assume that their students believe?

Participants report on Week One’s interviews, with discussion of each as a separate thread.



Week Three

Discussion of interviews – special project 1 – and my findings regarding less-educated adult Hispanic students.

Begin discussion of the difficulties in gathering data – language barriers, unfamiliarity with Likert scales, etc. and the protocols I used to gather more valuable data.

Begin discussion of political/cultural sensibility in doing this research.


Special project 2 (optional): Use a brief protocol – one of mine or other – with a class or a focus group to survey their assumptions regarding good teaching.



Week Four

Continue previous threads of discussion.

Participants report on special project 2.

Analysis and comparison of different groups/types of learners, as presented by participants

Discussion of methods of data collection, and how to turn a data collection into a class activity that is helpful to all.



Week Five

Continue previous threads of discussion.

Implications for curriculum design of student expectations that are out of sync with good teaching practice – how to adapt lessons, how to sell new methods. How to get students on board with effective pedagogy.



Week Six

Continuation of previous threads & final discussions

Be sure to complete the session evaluation (address to be posted).




This session could be done entirely with bulletin-board postings with multiple threads at our Yahoo! Group. Participants will be encouraged to read and post daily. Level of involvement will be up to the participant; the session can accommodate the casual reader who does only a few outside interviews, as well as the serious student who might be looking for research methods and topics.




Thomas Gault, thomasgault2@sbcglobal.net, holds a PhD from the University of Southern California, where he studied under Stephen Krashen and David Eskey. His dissertation examined “Adult immigrant Hispanics’ assumptions regarding good teaching in ESL.” He taught at USC, elsewhere in California, and in Taiwan. He is an educational consultant for GM.

Join this session


To join this group:


  1. Go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ESLSA
  2. Click on the blue button:
  3. Follow the instructions


Note: When you register for the group, you will have to be approved by the moderator. In order to reduce the possibility of "unwanted" members (such as spammers), please be sure to explain who you are and why you want to enroll in the session


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