La Rivista per l'insegnamento e l'apprendimento delle lingue

On preparing the palate for a new blend of English breakfast

Linda Taylor

L’auteure présente avec un “british sense of humor” les différences qui existent entre les diverses conceptions de l’enseignement/apprentissage de l’anglais et se demande dans quelle direction la formation des enseignants d’anglais va évoluer. Elle trace une typologie de profs d’anglais, expose les visions contrastantes de ce que doit être la formation des enseignants, apporte des exemples sur les tendances didactiques et sur les visions d’éléves. Pour les enseignants d’autres L2 qui ont souvent cru que l’enseignement de l’anglais était à l’avant-garde, cet article est aussi “rassurant”. (Réd.)

1. Becoming aware of contexts
1.a. The British Perspective

‘tea /ti:/, teas. 1 Tea is 1.1 a drink made by pouring boiling water onto the dried leaves of the tea bush. In Britain it is usually drunk mixed with milk and often with sugar. 1.2 a bush whose leaves are dried and chopped into small pieces which are used to make tea. Tea bushes are grown as a crop mainly in Asia. 1.3 the dried and chopped up leaves of the tea bush which you use to make tea. 1.4 a drink made by pouring boiling water onto the dried leaves or flowers of certain plants
2 Tea is also 2.1 the main meal that a family has in the early evening. This meaning of tea is used in Britain especially by working class people and in the north 2.2 a light meal taken in the afternoon, usually consisting of sandwiches and cakes, with tea to drink. This meaning of tea is used in Britain mainly by middle class people.
3 If you say that something is not your cup of tea you mean that you do not like it and so would not choose to do it, read it, etc.’
(Collins Cobuild Dictionary, 1987: 1498-9)

What is it in British education and in the British version of the English language that is valued, and how much of what goes on in the British context is useful or applicable to teacher education elsewhere?
Within my own lifetime, the education system here has come full circle, from a centrally prescribed curriculum existing when I was born, through a period in the late 1970’s when, as Taylor puts it, schools worked to no centrally directed or monitored curriculum policy (Taylor, 1999:29)
It is useful as a starting point for this discussion to reflect on what the terms ‘teacher’ and ‘education’ mean to those working in the UK context. I have found the results of the ‘anecdoting’ and brainstorming techniques reported in Cotton (1998) to be illuminating. The following list of attributes for ‘an educated person’ was arrived at:

An educated person:
• can learn independently
• doesn’t blame the system or people in the system for failures
• does not see people or subjects in stereotyped boxes
• is literate and numerate in the broadest sense
• is fun to be with
• knows that school can’t teach you everything
• knows their own strengths and weaknesses
• is questioning and challenging
• can take and pass exams
• has respect and trust for those who support their learning
• retains a childlike excitement in possibilities for the future
• is open to influences and willing to change
• knows there are more questions than answers.’
(Cotton, 1998:109-110, my adaptation)

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