Sunday, April 5, 2009

Listen and Learn - Dodgy EFL Methods (part one)

Soon, all language teachers will become superfluous - we won't even be needed! - and all EFL classrooms will resemble a cobwebbed corner of The Munsters' residence. And you know why? It's because we've all been conditioned to study a language in order to learn it, whereas the reality is ... quite the opposite! Such fools we all are!!

Now let me explain. If we are all to believe the upstanding and honourable-looking guy alongside, we'll be happy to learn that "research shows that subconscious learning of English is much better than consciously 'studying' the language." So, throw away that TEFL certificate/diploma/doctorate, and just look for another job (perhaps as exciting as teaching), as subconscious language acquisition is here for keeps. Yes, really.

That's right, my dears, the bell has already tolled for us intrepid EFL teachers, who have vainly struggled to unravel the mysteries of the present perfect tense for our students (and ourselves, of course). For according to the blue-eyed TEFL guru above, who goes by the monicker of AJ Hoge, "students who learn English subconsciously learn faster and better than students who use traditional, conscious, analytical study methods." Yeah, right mate...

Anyway, what exactly is this magical method that makes such awesome use of the subconscious part of our brainbox? Well, apparently, Mr Hoge has written a whole number of 'short stories' that provide just enough understandable English input to your brain, but which rely on your subconscious brain decoding the tough bits you didn't catch first (or fourth) time around. Or something like that.

It seems that the mere fact of repetition forces the subconscious brain to, somehow, sort things out and arrive at the right meaning. So, according to the blurb "You never think about grammar rules. You never attempt to memorize words." And you probably never understand much either - or am I being a shade too pessimistic here?

However, let's press on, for the next part is the truly wonderful bit. Apparently, once your subconscious brain has decoded all the bits you couldn't make head or tail of when you were struggling to allocate meaning to that stream of gibberish, it then shoves them into your active vocabulary, so that you can use them! It's SO amazing!! Mr Hoax, sorry, I mean Mr Hoge, thinks so too - look at this...

"When you learn in this way, you can actually use the grammar too! ... It will feel automatic – you’ll just say things better and write things better and it will feel effortless. You won’t be thinking about rules at all!" Yes, it's as if it were ... just by magic! Follow the Yellow Brick Hoge!!

The truth is that you'll probably be talking and writing garbage too! I mean, does anybody actually believe all this flim-flam man type of stuff? Use my lazy-arse method and you too can become as proficient as Jade Goody? Pah! It's just another form of snake-oil salesmanship, I reckon.

However, don't let yourself be afraid - throw your intrinsic bullshit-detector to the four winds, because...

"So many students are afraid to use subconscious methods because they don’t trust their own brains." Really?!

Well, I would recommend that all prospective students trust their own brains here and give Mr Rogue a wide berth the next time he comes punting his magic method around your neck of the woods. Something tells me his lazy-brained method is the pedagogical equivalent of anti-aging cream - everybody wants to believe it works, so they buy it just to feel better in themselves. Anyway, if he's right, it could put us all out of a job!

For those of you soon-to-be-forever-unemployed EFL teachers who would like to know more about this 'language learning for suckers' scam, you can find out all about Mr H. and his dodgy lame-brained language-acquisition approach right here:

http://effortlessenglishclub.com/subconscious-vs-conscious-learning

However, before I lose you to another page in cyberspace, can I interest you in the unique Sandy McMAnus approach to learning a language? You don't even have to book a course or buy a single text book. Just .... ah, but that would be telling, wouldn't it?!

12 comments:

M. le Prof d'Anglais said...

He sounds like the bastard offspring of Krashen and Rinvolucri. My eyes always start to glaze over when I see the words "research shows...", unless it's followed by the works "...just about anything you damn well want"

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Hmm, my dear Prof - I would not put the lightweight Mr Hoge in the same league as those two dreadnoughts, Krashen and Rinvolucri. They are poles apart, in my opinion, and peddling entirely different wares.

As for the phrase "research shows", it's usually followed in these snake-oil salesman cases by a sweeping statement designed to shock you. But there's never any attempt to justify the claim by reporting clearly on the alleged 'research'. Anyway, it was probably carried out by Mr Hoax himself, on a couple of gullible punters - erm, I mean willing students, of course!

Oliver Twist said...

If you go to the guy's site and click on his 'Welcome Video' you might get a bit spooked. He reminds me of Hannibal Lecter! Creepy ain't the word - but it's also quite comical too!

LCSE-Abu Dhabi said...

ونحن نعمل من أجل Laughing Coyote.
ونحن في أبو ظبي.
نريد أن نتحدث.
لدينا طيف الجمال لك.

Kapitano said...

I know your average DOS is a bit thick, but they can't be that thick, surely? And I know your average EFL teacher is a bit of a hack and not too good at grammar, but they can't be that gullible. Can they?

There's a serious question here. Exactly who is this guy selling to? And if they're buying, why are they buying?

The TEFL Tradesman said...

My dear Kapitano - never misunderestimate the stupidity and naivety of the average UK Tefler. Just take a look at your staff-room colleagues (perhaps yourself even!), and you'll see a wide range of living, breathing examples of over-educated and under-motivated couch-potatoes and bar-stools.

Of course, the above was entirely rhetorical - a joke even! In fact, I have a hunch that the next PM of the UK will turn out to have been at one time a rank-and-file Tefler!

engelsk said...

I can't help thinking that his advice for people to read or listen to the same text 30 times must surely be aimed at boring them into submission.

He tells them to throw away their text books. And then they have to buy comprehension exercises that he's written. Snake oil indeed.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Absolutely right, dear Engelsk. In fact, I have e-mailed the fearless Mr Hoax and pointed out a few of the shortcomings of his scam, erm, I mean 'method', but either he's too busy or he's having a bad day. No doubt he'll be in touch soon, though!

Anonymous said...

Haha, AJ Hoge was one of the distinguished few who actually managed to get himself fired from a Thai University job a few years back. Among other things, for his rambling blog about drugs and the like.

So now he's ended up back in the US where he's flogging complete nonsense on the Internet. Caveat Emptor!

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Best place for him, the arrogant little prat! Still, having seen the video on his site, I can understand his need for regular doses of pharmaceuticals. He probably needs the anti-loony pills on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know whether Hoge is fluent in any language besides English. If he truly has discovered a way to learn English without effort, the method must be applicable to learning other languages. And thus, Hoge must be a polyglot. But I doubt we'll see him anytime soon on YouTube pitching his snake oil in anything other than English ...

Anonymous said...

he recently stsed he speaks only one language, Snake-oil English.