Audio books in German on German history

I was asked on my youtube channel about German language audio books on history. Here are the CDs I found in my library. Others may have other suggestions. Please advise.

Who can afford an iPad?

I think that the iPad is a revolutionary educational device. Opposition to this idea comes from those who dislike Apple. Personally I do not care if it is an iPad or some other electronic tablet. It is the fact of being able to connect anywhere and everywhere to all the learning content on the Web that is exciting. I believe sites like Khan Academy can replace text books and classrooms, not to mention cram schools and tutors, at least for some students.

Another voice of disagreement comes from teachers, who claim that many people cannot afford an iPad and say that the school system does not have the money to provide everyone, whether a schoolkid, or an adult learner, with an iPad. However, the cost per learner of our bureaucratic school system is enormous, between $12,000 and $27,000 per year in the US according to this study.

I think it is a matter of how the money is spent. Less time in class, and more advice and encouragement on how to become an independent learner, might do wonders. We need to liberate the learners from the classroom and the teacher. And a learner who does not want to learn, is not a learner.

Native speaker teachers or non-native speaker teachers or independence

A number of people have commented to the effect that they prefer language teachers who are native speakers of their own language.?? Here is one example from my blog:

“I’ve been living in Thailand for a year and have taken Thai lessons from native speakers for most of that time.

I couldn’t write or read and could barely speak. About two weeks ago I started lessons with an american and in two weeks learned to read – something the natives couldn’t teach in a year of study.

I think learning another language from someone who shares your mother language is the best way to learn a language. My new american tutor says it this way: “I can’t teach English, I don’t know how I learned it but I know how I learned Thai and can teach you that process.”

How can you live in Thailand for one year, want to learn the language, interact with a native speaker teacher and not be able to read or speak? This is a far cry from Benny’s three months to fluency. The only explanation is that the learner is dependent on the teacher. The first rule of language learning is independence.

If you spend one year in Thailand, or anywhere else, listening to the language, and slowly teaching yourself to read, while listening, and accumulating words, you cannot help but learn. The native speaker is there to speak to when you are ready. If you wait for a teacher to teach you, you are captive of whatever teaching theory he or she has. Language learning is about learning, not teaching.

One quarter of ESL teachers in the US are non-native speakers

I was surprised to learn that one roughly quarter of ESL teachers in the US are not native speakers of English. They may be just as good at teaching as the native speakers. However,?? if I emigrated to China or Poland, I would certainly prefer to learn the local language from a Chinese or Polish teacher, rather than an American or French teacher.?? I wonder how many students who travel to a country to learn a language would happily accept a non-native speaker as a language teacher. Surprised.

The Khan Academy

Here is an interesting video about Sal Khan, of Khan Academy, who has the most popular (or one of the most popular) educational video channels on the Internet.

There were some interesting comments from the audience.

It is better to just see the blackboard and not a teacher.
The teacher is a distraction, and can even create pressure or tension.
We can go back or fast forward, as we wish.
Sal goes through the explanations simply and in an unrehearsed fashion.
He is logical and relaxing.

Check out his videos. I would like to do something similar for languages. Does anyone know what the best “blackboard” software would be? I am a messy writer and would rather type than write. Any advice?

Discrimination and diversity in the teaching profession

This was the subject of a discussion on the NIFL listserv. The body of the message referred to the following decision in Arizona.

“According to recent media reports, the Arizona Department of Education has mandated that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English.

And teacher members of the listserv were asked the following questions.

“What questions does the article below raise for you?”

“What do you think the impact of discrimination against nonnative English speakers who teach English has on adult learners in the classroom?”

“Is our own teaching profession is as diverse as the learners we teach? What benefits does a diverse teaching profession bring to the classrooms? To staff development? How important is having a diverse teaching profession?”

“I welcome your thoughts on these or related PD (professional development) issues.”

My response was as follows:

“In my view, with the wide range of learning content and resources available on the web, it is not a necessity for the teacher to be a native speaker. Native speaker audio and text content can be brought into the classroom from many sources.

Rather it is the other qualities of the teacher, in particular the ability to inspire and empathize, that should matter the most. All other things being equal, a native speaker is probably a more attractive source of inspiration for a language learner, but all other things are rarely equal. This kind of heavy handed edict is just another example of the inflexibility of much of institutionalized education.”

What I felt like saying but did not, because my message would have been censored, is the following.

“The education system already discriminates in favour of teachers who have certain teaching certificates, union membership or seniority, and ignores the wishes or interests of the learners. This particular instance of discrimination against English teachers with poor accents and grammar, is just another example of discrimination, except that the ideological background behind this case is not so popular with the teachers. Why not let the learners or their parents decide whom they want as teachers?”

What are your views?