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Hi,

I currently teach at a school that uses the Callan Method of learning English. I took the training for the method and found it incredibly rigid, artifical and often illogical. Thw whole point of the method is to enable students to learn English in a quarter of a time as well as concentrate on their conversational skills. However many of the phrases we teach the students (eg 'Are you your father's only child?' instead of 'Do you have any brother's and sister's?') seems a little strange, nay devoid of how people speak in the real world. Have you/do you teach the method? If so, what do you think? What changes would you make to it, if you could?
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Hi Xanthe,
I know what you mean about the Callan Method: I worked at a Callan School for a year and almost everyone teaching there had serious doubts about the outdated material: the thing is that the 'don't think about it, just follow the method' mind-frame ends up taking over. I've just spent two years working at a school where they use a method called Speak your Mind, which is a similar kind of method but much better thought-out. Vobulary and grammar are presented in a more relevant and comprehensive way and the dialogue is much more natural, as students say what they mean rather than just having a 'right answer' prompted out of them. Teachers still have everything prepared for them but it provides you with room to think and respond to students and their language-needs in a way that Callan tries actively to prevent. One other big advantage I saw is that Speak your Mind works well at advanced levels: the school I worked at had many classes at post FCE level while the Callan school abandoned the 'advanced' Callan books because they were just an exact continuation of the elementary level books but with weirder questions and didn't give students what they really want at that level.

Jon
Hi Jon,

Thanks for your response. Which Callan School did you teach in? Was it the main one in London?

I have never heard of the 'Speak Your Mind' method of learning English, I just googled it but couldn't find anything. How can I find more about it?

I'm a new teacher and start my second week tomorrow. I always dread going in; I find the students are always well-versed in much of the 'New Work' especially when I have to cover something like 'Do you walk to school?' it treats my students like idiots and it's embarrassing for me as I have to assume the class doesn't know what 'walking' and 'school' means when they do.
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Hello again,
I worked in a school in Poland - I've never been to the main school in London. You are describing the most infuriating part of the Callan Method - when rigid rules get in the way of what you see in front of you. Why 'teach' something when it's obvious the class know it already? I think all those rules are there to make it fool-proof in the worst possible scenario - incomepetent or ignorant teachers in a mixed-level group. The thing is, good groups and on-the-ball teachers are stuck in that straight-jacket too. It's like having to repeat every question even when students get it first time - what is the point really? The bottom line is that you are paid to provide a service to studnets who have chosen to be there with you, so it's not fair to rebel in the classroom, especially after a week or two. Grin and bear it and look for little loopholes where humour can break through.
Spea your Mind isn't so rule-governed but it doesn't need to be. Everything is well explained and makes sense and things pretty much work by consensus.

Keep at it, Xanthe. Things are worst at the beginning. You'll soon get over most of the embarassment and a politely tongue-in-cheek
approach can even make it fun with the right classes.

Jon
website found... www.speakumind.com Has anyone else had any experience working in a school using this method? Do they hire regionally or is there a center which you need to go through? I would be interested in one of the schools in Spain...
Hi,

I wrote to their website, and they forwarded on my cv to the school in where I was hoping to go. That school got in touch with me but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go for the interview in the end. A pity as it sounded interesting.
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I teach a few hours of Callan each week. I used to do more, but I hated it so much that I opened my own school, in which I use what I like to term the 'Common Sense' method. This method employs the radical 'identify what your student doesn't know or understand, and help them to learn or understand it using whatever resources are at hand' approach.

The Callan Method is the polar opposite. It takes a standpoint which says 'never mind what your student's know or understand. Just read from this book at slightly quicker than normal talking pace, and everything will be fine'.

My experience of the method has been of unskilled teachers who do this simply because they can't do anything else. The 'head teacher' of the school I work in had to ask me how to form the perfect tense and why we would use it a few weeks ago. I would expect this sort of question from a student, but from a NATIVE SPEAKING English teacher, I found it a little odd. It's worth mentioning that he has 'taught' using this methd for 6 years. If he hasn't managed to pick up the fundamentals of the langugae along the way, what chance do the students stand?

It's absolute nonsense.

Does anyone know anything about Speak your Mind, by the way?
Yes - I do know something about SpeakYourMind and I would say it's not really fair to lump it together in the same basket as the Callan Method, which is perfectly preserved fossil from 1950's learning theories. No teaching method, however novel, can ever be totally unconnected with what has gone before, and SpeakYourMind certainly has features in common with Callan, but it's view of language and it's approach towards how language can be learnt is far more multi-layered and enlightened than Callan. It's also far more respectful - towards students and teachers alike. And up-to-date in a real way. I like it and think it should be taken seriously.
I know sometimes people laugh at us, or think we are a bit strange, but I say -- let them. I have taught using the Callan Method for several years and am convinced it is an excellent tool for teaching a language. One of the best tests being: Callan teachers provided Callan classes in another foreign language (with a good, well-trained teacher) almost unanimously say they would prefer to learn a language in this way -- regardless of whether they like teaching with the Method themselves. However, I should say an untrained person with a Callan Method book isn't a teacher, much less a Callan teacher. Like a lot of things in life, it only works well if you understand it and know what you are doing with it.
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