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NEW! Callan Method from a native speaker

IP: *.warszawa.cvx.ppp.tpnet.pl 13.09.03, 13:34
This was in response to a posting on another group site. I am an
American teacher with experience and I have been teaching the Callan
method for a few months now (see my posting below):

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul in Warsaw
> Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2003 15:03:26 -0700 (PDT)
> To: polang-jobs@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Re: [praca] Digest Number 317
>
> > 2) "Hocbas", you are going to be teaching the Callan Method full
> time.
> > Let me just warn you. You have taught before and have the TEFL, so
> you
> > have some experience with teaching already. I have been teaching
> the
> > Callan method since June out of necessity. I've found that I can
> barely
> > tolerate teaching this method anymore. I don't have faith in it as
> a
> > good method for anyone but the total beginner. I have students as
> high
> > as the 6th stage who can barely speak English when asked a
question
> > outside of the book, and recently I taught a lady in the 5th stage
> who
> > couldn't communicate AT ALL in English. She was just repeating
the
> > sounds, parroting back what she heard. Some of the higher levels
> have
> > great difficulty speaking naturally and make many many simple
> mistakes
> > when speaking.
> >
> > The sentences seem more and more ridiculous to me the more I
teach.
>
> > The author seems obsessed with accidents, death, nuclear war and
> graves
> > and the way that the questions and answers are phrased is pathetic
> and
> > laughable in many cases. "Do you think a man looks better carrying
> a
> > walking stick?", "What would happen if you dropped from the top of
> a
> > high building?", "Is there a wireless in this room?"
> >
> > If anyone has any comments I would welcome them. I haven't seen
a
> > discussion here on the Callan method and I'm interested in the
> opinions
> > of other teachers.
> >
> > Paul in Warsaw

Response:

Dear Paul,

I?ve taught methodology for many years in Poland and other countries
> and so I was surprised to hear that there was something called the
> Callan Method which I had never run across before. On looking into
> it, however, I would question whether the Callan Methods meets the
> criteria for methods that was set up by Richards and Rogers in their
> book on second language methodology. Basically, it seems to be a
> rehash of the old audiolingual method of the 1950?s. The theory it is
> based on seems to be that practice makes perfect. The fact that the
> audiolingual method failed due to this belief apparently didn?t stop
> the creator, Robin Callan, from reinstituting it. The main technique
> used seems to be listen and repeat and the students are
admonished
> not to try to understand the sentences but to subconsciously learn
> them until they become automatic. There seems a lot of hocus pocus
> here as students are encouraged to believe in the method without
> questioning it and in return, good linguist
> ic things will come their way. The problem is, as was the problem
> for the audiolinguists, that language is a creative process and
> simply memorizing answers to questions, at least at the lower levels,
> may make it appear that students are speaking when, in fact, they are
> only parroting. To make matters worse, students are warned not to try
> to speak outside of the question-answer scenarios as apparently bad
> habits will result.
>
> I have serious doubts about their claim of being able to teach
> English four times faster than other methods. Such a case, if true,
> would be a great boon to the English teaching profession. Sadly,
> there is no empirical support for the claim which casts a shadow of
> doubt over their other claims such as having 95% of their students
> pass Cambridge exams. As a matter of fact, on another forum a
> Cambridge FC examiner stated that he felt students from the Callan
> schools were ?disadvantaged? by their method. Lacking any
statistical
> support or research evidence one can only be led to believe that much
> of these claims are simply marketing ploys.
>
> I should warn you that you may be poking a hornet?s nest here by
> questioning the Callans. Though many teachers and students have
left the schools in disappointment, those teachers who stay with the
> school tend to have a fervor for the method that nearly amounts to a
> religious zeal. Then again, this may be more from the fact that they
> are benefiting financially from the method?s success than that they
> are convinced of the ?method?s? effectiveness.
>
> I?ve appended a few other opinions on this method:
>
> Hello! I've been working as a Callan teacher in Poland for two years
> now. And, sadly enough, I must admit I see very little progress in my
> students. I'm quitting this job in two weeks' time. Yet, I would like
> to know the opinions about the effectiveness of the method as seen by
> the professional linguists are. And what's wrong with the method?
> Well, I think there's something wrong with it. Thanks, Tomasz
> Wojciechowski
>
> Hi everybody!
> : I'm teaching EFL in Poland right now and it seems that every
> city/town here has a 'Callan' school.
> : I've looked at the Callan web site and discovered that, although
> this method was created in 1960, that only now is this method getting
> any attention and it's almost exclusively being taught in Poland
> (alhtough the company CMO itself is based in England).
> : The Web site offers a whole A-Z slick sales presentation as to why
> Callan is the miracle cure for learning English, yet it offers
> virtually no background history on the method.
> : It also does not answer many key questions such as:
> : 1. Why, 40 yrs AFTER being developed, is this method getting
> popularity and almost only in Poland?
> : (ie. this method is not designed with any specific ethnic groups in
> mind and their headquarters and creator are presumably 100%
British.)
>
> : 2. Why they don't sell books on www.amazon.com or any other online
> book retailer that allows its buyers to publicly review the products
> (is Callan afraid of bad reviews)?
> : 3. Who created it and what were their qualifications?
> : There are many other questions but I'll leave it at that for now.
> However, can anyone tell me if...
> : Anyone seen the Callan Method in action?
> : What are your thoughts?
> : Does anyone know anyone who learned to speak fluent English (as
> claimed by Callan) after using the Callan method?
> : Thanks!
> Seems to me like it wasn't created by teachers but by businessmen
and
> sold by salesmen. Callan.co.uk slick? Did you count the
> contradictions and holes? Far too many unanswered questions,
sweeping
> generalisations and far too many statistics that surely couldn't be
> proved one way or the other. You know what they say about
> 'statistics'! Students will be attracted by the promise of 4-times
> speed learning. I don't see how that is possible for every student
> type in the world. But they will be drawn to that and to the 'written
> guarantee'. I don't see how such a guarantee is possible. Must be a
> lot of schools losing money, or else they have "get-out clauses". One
> more thing: to be a Callan teacher is, as I see it, never to develop
> as a teacher. "If you can't do, Teach. If you can't Teach, Do
> Callan".
> >

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