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Problems with English teaching here- Why do students HATE English?

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Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:26

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Message 1 of 30 in Discussion

I moved to North Cyprus from Istanbul 18 months ago.Previously I was a tutor in Istanbul and doing one to one lessons with very very rich /high society/celebrity children. I usually started working with the children when they started their first words in Turkish. The age group was 18 months +.

There is a history of rich Turkish people hiring British and/or Native English/French/German speaking Nannies or governesses. Ataturks wife also had a governess.

Anyways we moved here and my students in Istanbul begged me to fly out once a week to continue the lessons. I got pregnant but I did continue with them.I was working 22 hours from friday eve-sun eve.During this time I was asked by two families to tutor 3 kids which I accepted. All three attended a private college. I thought (silly me) that the schools here would be on par with the private schools in Istanbul.



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:27

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What I found out was the children were receiving 10 lessons per week of English Grammar by fully qualified, sometimes even native speaker English teachers. All they did was writing, worksheets and spelling tests. Writing was not composition style creative writing or journal writing. It was writing down the grammar that the teacher wrote on the board. The classical Turkish rote system. You memorize and repeat back. When they test or quiz the children they often ask things that have not even been taught.

Imagine my shock and horror, the children HATED English and understood nothing. They couldnít use the spelling list words in a decent sentence. Couldnít recognise the words in a story or text. Couldnít write a paragraph about a topic. Had never ever read an English book in their lives. Come to think of it, they donít read much Turkish either.

Come September I didnít have a full time job and decided to do Istanbul again. My students had multiplied and now I had 9.



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:29

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Message 3 of 30 in Discussion

Come September I didnít have a full time job and decided to do Istanbul again. My students had multiplied and now I had 9. They were all from the two private schools in Nicosia. All had the same English system.All HATED English at school. None of them understood a word of it.

One of my new students (in middle school year 7) got 39% in her first quiz. Her father wanted to see me and ask what was going on during the lessons. I gently but firmly reminded him that his daughter didnít actually know English as last year they took private lessons from a teacher at her school who gave her very similar questions to the exam and quiz questions and did all her homework for her. We needed time to actually learn the language. I decided to combine my system with the grammar system and see if I could possibly teach the children English.

I got the whole range of Oxford reading tree books for my primary school students (4 7 year olds.)



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:30

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Message 4 of 30 in Discussion

I bought a wide range of games, puzzles, art and craft materials, memory games etc. I bought many picture dictionaries, thesaurusís, text books, grammar books, workbooks.

I decided to try my best even though I wanted to run screaming back to Istanbul with my students there who spoke beautiful bilingual English, and who went to schools where they had a proper program.

Now its report card time and Iím pleasesd to announce that my students who attend middle school all got top marks, my primary school children all love English, my middle school students see it with different eyes, and they are all keen to continue. I have a small group of 4-5 year olds who started a month and a half ago and they also Love English. They have leanred 7 songs, colours, a little conversation, and we have read many many books together, not to mention done art activities, worksheets and lots of fun and games.



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:30

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Message 5 of 30 in Discussion

Im still not sure if I will give up on Cyprus or if I should continue here. Its so so hard. People usually come to me for 1 hour a week and expect their kids to get 9-10 in their tests, while I calmly explain to them that I want to teach their children English, so that they can communicate, play, learn, and enjoy. Of course their marks are important, but one of my students mothers was telling me how she asked her sons English teacher how they could help him more as he was rejecting the language (7 years old and already depressed from the weekly quizzes) and his teacher said Ďget him to write out the spelling words 20 times each!í

Well these are my experiences here. What about you? What do you think?



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:41

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Message 6 of 30 in Discussion

The students that I mentioned here - the three to begin with and now the 9 are all my students here in Cyprus.



TRNCVaughan


Joined: 27/04/2008
Posts: 4578

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:51

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Message 7 of 30 in Discussion

It has been obvious to me that local kids leave school here with a very poor understanding of English, and most are unable to communicate in it. Should this place ever have a future, reunited with RoC, the Greek kids will walk all over them for the best jobs, etc., as they mostly speak v.good English.

The dropping of English as the medium of tuition in Turk Marif Colleges was IMO, a big mistake.



Ailletoo


Joined: 24/01/2009
Posts: 1003

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 11:55

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Message 8 of 30 in Discussion

I would suggest that Mandarin might be more appropriate giving the lead that China has on the rest of the world.



phylray



Joined: 21/09/2007
Posts: 1727

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 16:09

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Message 9 of 30 in Discussion

Pixie I have also taught in Istanbul in private schools and also private tuition of top people's children, and

later was asked to teach in N.Cyprus for a while. The school at Famagusta was using I.G.C.S.E, in which

I am qualified to examine, and I did not find anyone who hated English. Quite the reverse, although I must

say some of the kids were rather spoilt and lazy. These were older children, but from what you describe

it would be enough to put anyone off any language. I have met many young adults educated in N.Cyprus

and find their English to be excellent. Even met a taxi driver with really good English - don't think he had

the benefit of private education either. I don't suppose you can say which school/s you taught in?



nostradamus


Joined: 15/04/2008
Posts: 557

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 16:32

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Message 10 of 30 in Discussion

I agree absolutely with TRNC Vaughan - the standards of spoken English here are dismal and this must be the responsibility of the schools. It has certainly deteriorated in the ten years that I have been here. I do not think that English should be spoken simply because I am British. The economy of any country these days depends upon communication and the language of economic necessity is English. Vaughan is right about the Greek Cypriots - their spoken English is generally very good.



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 16:58

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Message 11 of 30 in Discussion

I agree with nostradamus and TRNC Vaughan about the deterioration in English speakinf in the younger generation.

I always taught privately, if I continue living in cyprus I will think about getting a day job at a school but which one ?



swannee7


Joined: 21/08/2009
Posts: 394

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 20:07

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Message 12 of 30 in Discussion

Lack of ability to communicate with visitors (whatever their nationality, English is used 99% of the time) is only too apparent across the board. Only those whose work brings them into daily contact with English seem to have a reasonable grasp of our language. Visitors/tourists/potential property buyers etc., don't have time to learn Turkish so for the tourist industry to make any impression on foreigners to NC it's imperative that school kids are reintroduced to English lessons. The brighter students will go on to bigger and better things academically and return to their homeland with excellent qualifications gained, more often than not, through examinations set in the English language. GC students in the south are made to study English and the majority of all GCs (men in particular) have a pretty good grasp of our language. Communication is everything. Come on KKTC - what Mehme doesn't learn, Mehmet will never know !



phylray



Joined: 21/09/2007
Posts: 1727

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 20:53

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Message 13 of 30 in Discussion

Pixie Have you tried Eastern Med. College? Don't know what it's like now but 10 years ago

it was one of the better schools here. I would have stayed on if the management had been better

They paid partly in dollars, and we could live on the balance of tl, plus we had ok accommodation

But we had ex-pat contracts.



Woodspeckie


Joined: 25/01/2009
Posts: 2263

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 21:22

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Message 14 of 30 in Discussion

We have Turkish friends in NC whose daughter aged 11 goes to a private school in Lefkosa she has english lessons there and also has private lessons 3 hrs a week and has done for the past 5 years we have known them, she refuses to speak in english when we visit, her parents says she "speaks very good english" and does very well in her exams, this we have yet to hear, we stayed with them for 10 days last year and not once would she answer us in english.



Mertbalin



Joined: 09/07/2009
Posts: 171

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 22:40

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Message 15 of 30 in Discussion

Hi Pixie,



I had similar experience as yours.

I used to have an after school activity center called smartkids in Levent - istanbul.

My kids were from A+++++ income, had both french and english nannies etc.

My center was for kids aged between 2 to 14 having different content for playgroup, creative explorers and crazy contraptions classes. I was teaching computer, science and technology via Lego sets.



When i first came to Cyprus i tried to do a similar thing, i felt the same as yours.

What i do at the moment is go back to istanbul 2 times a month, and have classes with my previous students.



Hope we can get over it here somehow.

mert



Maz


Joined: 29/03/2009
Posts: 1924

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 23:00

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Message 16 of 30 in Discussion

Don't condemn the system and the students in it, Pixie. There are many private schools here that use all the modern methods of teaching and the students love going to classes. They write essays and rarely just copy anything from the board. As you speak of private schools in Istanbul, one assumes you are comparing with private schools here, and not state schools. There are some excellent teachers here who teach very happy children. Normally, kids hate the subject where they don't relate to the teacher!

As to the standard of English here, well..... how many people are aware of the appalling drop in the standard of English in U.K? Normally foreigners speak the language better and are more grammatical with better spelling.Even Sainsbury supermarkets have posters spelt incorrectly.

And interesting though your long tirade was, Pixie, I am afraid I lost the plot!



bridie


Joined: 18/09/2008
Posts: 308

Message Posted:
02/02/2010 23:59

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Message 17 of 30 in Discussion

The standard of English here, and that is amongst the British, well said Marie, what has happened to the English language?

I am shocked at the number of people trying to promote teaching English when they can't even spell correctly or do not understand English Grammar.



Groucho



Joined: 26/04/2008
Posts: 7993

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 07:34

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Message 18 of 30 in Discussion

It should be noted that children in state schools often take additional lessons in the afternoons as they finish at 1pm. However the subjects of choice are Science, Maths and Engineering as these skills are held in high regard amongst the Turkish Cypriot community.



I suppose, "Give me someone who can fix my problem" carries more weight than "Give me someone who can talk about my problem in a foreign language"..



The teachers can earn many times their state wage giving these lessons. I guess that's why they don't want the school day extended as this would wipe out this lucrative source of income at a stroke.



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 08:36

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Message 19 of 30 in Discussion

MertBalin did you own smart kids?

I had a friend who taught robotics there - Barish- perhaps you know him. He is currently a teacher at Enka, but will be moving back to Canada in June.

Please send me an email with what you were trying to do here, and what you are currently doing in Istanbul.

One of the people I work for here is interested in opening up an English etud- after school center and I am sure they would be interested in what you are doing as an extra for the kids.

bluestriver@hotmail.com



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 09:34

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Message 20 of 30 in Discussion

I wanted to add that initially I posted on here to get other peoples views and experiences on teaching English in North Cyprus, and I wanted to understand more of the system- both private and govt.The topic was not meant to aggravate nor rub anyone the wrong way- simply my experiences and what others had to say.

I do not believe that I have enough experience (in North Cyprus)to condemn any sort of system here, I am just trying to understand and help my students more by understanding the system which they are going through.

None of my students liked English when I began teaching them. It was a total shock to me, and I thought it would be interesting to others as well. Perhaps they are only a few out of hundreds who love English.

Whatever the case may be, I think I have made a difference, and I know that there are many wonderful teachers out there who are, like me, trying to make a difference to their students.



Brinsley


Joined: 04/04/2009
Posts: 6858

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 09:43

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Message 21 of 30 in Discussion

Pixie

What a well written article about your observations.

I know a few Brits who post on here that could do with some elementary English lessons from you!



Richard



Groucho



Joined: 26/04/2008
Posts: 7993

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 10:02

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Message 22 of 30 in Discussion

One of the factors that influences children to want to learn another language is often music. Music sung in English has had a profound effect on many of the European countries where they speak much better English than we do their languages.. The children learn the language where they want to understand lyrics.



In Turkey and Cyprus in the indigenous population are not exposed to as much English music as the rest of Europe, given their love of their own cultural roots and with it their musical heritage, this is not surprising.



Music from the US and UK is gaining ground but it's a long way off the prevalence that it enjoys in mainland Europe.



Contrasting this is the parrot-fashion learning of English from lyrics by some of the Asian and Far-Eastern youngsters that often leads to very odd-ball misunderstandings.



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 10:20

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Message 23 of 30 in Discussion

Groucho keep the comments coming...

I totally agree with you!

Thankyou Brinsley, I think that was a compliment



Brinsley


Joined: 04/04/2009
Posts: 6858

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 10:44

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Message 24 of 30 in Discussion

Pixie

It was!

I'm having problems understanding 'Strine' at the moment, any tips?!



Richard



phylray



Joined: 21/09/2007
Posts: 1727

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 12:45

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Message 25 of 30 in Discussion

Groucho I would agree with your comments on music. The children I taught in Istanbul loved music and

were very familiar with Beatles songs and the like. They would need no encouragement to stand up and

sing e.g. "Let it Be" Also, we used little books which were abbreviations of well known classics and they

were very popular (especially My Cousin Rachel!) I remember.

MarieB Yes, there are some good private schools in N.Cyprus too, and yes, the standard of English in the

U.K is pretty poor these days (witness posts on here!)

It is certainly important that they learn English as it has become THE international language, but it also

surprises me that so few ex-pats living in Cyprus bother to learn even a little Turkish/Greek. It is always

so much appreciated by the T.C's at least.



Trinsurance


Joined: 24/12/2008
Posts: 42

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 15:36

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Message 26 of 30 in Discussion

Pixie could you please email me your contact details. I know someone who likes to improve her English I will pass your details to her. She is now attending to an English course but not happy at all maybe its better for her to get private lessons. my mail adress is emrepar@turkishbank.net . Thanks



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
03/02/2010 16:50

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Message 27 of 30 in Discussion

Brinsley you've really got me worried now...

Did you know Im from Australia or are you just making random talk?

check out this web site

http://www.abc.net .au/civics/globalcitizens/ozstrine.htm

that should help you with the strine



Brinsley


Joined: 04/04/2009
Posts: 6858

Message Posted:
04/02/2010 02:29

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Message 28 of 30 in Discussion

Pixie

I didn't know you're from Oz. I just happen to be visiting family in Brisbane during the monsoon season, better then the cold and the forecast snow!



Richard



Pixie


Joined: 18/03/2009
Posts: 489

Message Posted:
04/02/2010 08:30

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Message 29 of 30 in Discussion

I lived there till I was 18 - then cyprus 6 months, Istanbul 12 years and finally in Cyprus again...

Could have given you some strine lessons before you went. Never mind..next time..



MarkVPiazza


Joined: 14/08/2008
Posts: 530

Message Posted:
04/02/2010 10:23

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Message 30 of 30 in Discussion

We met a guy who had almost completed his training to be an English teacher at GAU - absolutely frightening, he was terrible, obviously never having been taught or talked to a native English speaker.



Come to the TRNC, get a degree, as long as you can afford the fees !



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