Sunday, August 29, 2010

Planning Learning Destinations

I send this handout, titled "Goals and Levels," to new students applying to a class. "Where are you starting from/" and "Where do you want to go?" are crucial to planning any trip. You must answer both before addressing routing, strategies, means, etc and answering the question. "How do I get there?"

The example learning destination here is for ESL, but the methods and strategies apply to any field of learning.  

The article + quizzes from About ESL ( is very appropriate for students thinking about joining a class. Understanding reasons for studying English and learning goals help prepare for starting a new class.

But you still need this understanding and to reflect on why you are studying English and what your goals are. They may not be the same as when you joined the class. Following these tips will help you understand your English learning strengths and weaknesses so you can continue to get the most out of this class. 

The Most Important Question: Why?
The English learning goals quiz is not a serious quiz with scores or grades. It will help you understand your English learning needs. Just answer a few questions and you'll get feedback on what kind of a learning might be best for you.

The "Important Questions" article provides a deeper look at questions to ask yourself about your learning goals before you begin the class. By understanding the answers to these questions, you will have a better idea what type of exercises and topic areas will be important to you. This could make the difference between taking an ESL course or an English for Special Purposes ( i.e., business or computer) course. 


People learn English for many reasons. Unfortunately, people often think that there is only one way to learn English (or any language for that matter) and that the same things are important for everyone. 

This is not true.
Depending on your English goals, you can understand your reasons for learning English well, and then better plan your learning strategy. Take this ten question quiz to discover what kind of English learner you are in order to help you understand what is really important - and what not so important - for you. At the end of the quiz, you will find out what kind of learner you are and can follow the links to areas of the site that will help you learn what you need! Now, begin the quiz...
• Important questions about learning objectives
It's a good idea to take a few level tests from time to time to check your level and progress. The review tests listed cover all the major learning points for each level. Begin with a test you think is right for your level and take note of the questions you answer incorrectly.

If the test is too easy, congratulations! Try to take the next most difficult test. If you pass the advanced level test with more than 80%, you may want to consider taking an English course that specializes in your English learning objective - for example a Business English Writing course.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taylorism in education

Taylorization (or Taylorism) refers to the process of "scientific management" developed by the American engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, who in the 1880's, "appl[ied] the principles of engineering precision" to the management of labor in factories (Tozer, et. al., 2002, p. 90). His research into "where time, materials, and effort were being wasted" focused on "break[ing] down each complex, skilled task into its component parts-simple moves that could be taught in a short time" (p. 90).

In much discourse, Taylorization is a negative deskilling process in which workplace design insures that few marketable skills are required by workers, resulting in "a greater number of unskilled workers, and a corresponding decrease in workers' wages and power to decide on the conditions of their labor" (p. 90). Critical educational theorists (see Critical Pedagogy) have tied Taylorization to efforts by states and others to prescribe curriculum content and enforce punitive assessment policies, such as those mandated by recent No Child Left Behind education reforms. Such policies are viewed by some as constraining teacher autonomy and professionalism.

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