David Crystal – The Biggest Challenges for Teachers



you the biggest challenge without a doubt is to keep pace with language change no question that is the difficulty always has been a difficulty with teaching but it's particularly a difficulty now given that language is changing so fast it's changing for two reasons one reason the internet which is indeed fostering new varieties and new experiences faster than ever before you know in the old days if you invented a new word it could take a generation before the rest of the world knew about that new word if you invent a new word today and put it on Facebook everybody knows about it within 24 hours less and so language is moving faster and teachers have got to keep pace with this because their students are already ahead of them you must have had this experience you know the kind of language that you use all the time every day whether it's English or any serbian or whatever it's often not the language that your teachers know because they're the generation older and they're just not familiar with it until you tell them and this is the sort of thing that's happening to going to happen to your students you see in due course new slang new words new expressions are going to come in the other big trend in language change is the globalization of English the fact of the matter is is that you and your students will go out into the big wide world and encounter fought in the English language well if you've been teaching your students that there is only one kind of English and that is British English and the only kind of accent is received pronunciation which is the accent of the Queen and so on and you say that's the only kind of English you'll hear out there you are going to be so wrong because only 2% of the population of England speaks RP and worldwide that proportion grows a little bit but even so the vast majority of the accents and dialects that you'll hear as you travel around the world we don't even have to travel just turn on the television set to go to the cinema and what you'll hear is of course a lot of American English a lot of its Indian cinema a lot of Indian English and so on standing any high street anywhere in the world where English is an important language Oxford Street in London I've done this I've just stood there and listened to the variety of accents and dialects that passed me by and the variety of other languages too of course and what I hear every now and then one in a hundred passes by with the educated accent that we are often teaching our students to use so for teachers the important thing is that you retain that respect for the traditional accent reason being that that's the accent probably you've been taught oh of course if you've been taught American English that's a different scenario but the same principle applies there or Australian English the same principle that there will be one accent that you know that you respect because your teachers have taught it to you you've heard it more than anything else the examiners have examined you in it the teaching materials are in it and if you know RP and British Standard English fine no change there you'll carry on doing that because it's a perfectly respectable accent and dialect but but but if you let your students go away thinking that is the only accent and dialect in the world then you've done them a disservice but you've got to do is improve their listening comprehension and reading comprehension from the very beginning you've got to expose them to as much of the variation that exists in English as it's possible to do now which varieties will you choose of the hundreds that are out there what will you choose well that's up to you to decide that's your main decision you or the institution for which you will work you'll obviously choose American English as well as British English because that's so obvious I mean because of films and television all the rest of it you have to do that but whether you then choose to expose your students to South African English or Australian English or Indian English will depend very much on your view as to where these students are likely to go how often they're likely to encounter those situations are these varieties going to be useful and even if they're not it's worthwhile spending a little bit of time just dropping them into a scenario where you've never heard anything like this before guys and you just play them a bit of say Indian English or Nigerian English or something like this and just let them flounder a bit and then sort out some of the differences point to some of the differences and say notice this notice this it Tunes the ears you know it gets them ready ready for difference that's the point about language change it makes yourself ready to encounter anything and forget that old notion that there is just one kind of thing that you would want to call correct English now footnote here that's the philosophy of the classroom but when you're training the kids to do the examinations then you have to be a bit more conservative because examining boards are notoriously conservative and you know I wouldn't put I'm loving it into an exam just yet implicit in what you're saying is another challenge for teachers where they're teaching now or teaching in the future how to keep up and bear in mind they're not linguists with time to analyze all that's going on how does a busy teacher keep up with the changes in the language and perhaps changes in pedagogy I have no idea I mean this is your problem it's not mine I thank the Lord every day but I am NOT a teacher I said in the lecture just a little while ago you know if I were in charge of the world I would want these the world to recognize there are two most important jobs in the world the most difficult jobs in the world are not brain surgery and nuclear physics and so on they're easy no the two big jobs are first of all translating and interpreting and secondly language teaching and the reason is because no aspect of human behavior is more complex than language it is the most complex thing you will ever ever do those of you who have learned two languages or three or five you've done the job three or five times over but think what's coming out of my mouth now you know 40 odd sounds phonemes whatever you call them combined into several hundred syllables superimposed there's all sorts of intonation rhythm and stress and so on combined into three or 4,000 grammatical constructions with how many words fifty thousand a hundred thousand words depending upon the size of your vocabulary but at least fifty thousand words for average speakers of English and it's all coming out along with all the politeness and the discourse features and the rhetoric and the jokes and so on all there you know and you do it in two languages or three or five and you know remember three quarters of the world's population is bilingual to be monolingual is the exception around the world and so here we have a situation and you have to teach it well good luck you know and yeah just briefly your recommendation what government should do about teacher salaries oh if I were in charge of the world yes the biggest bit of applause I got in the lecture in there this morning was when I said that teachers salaries should be increased by a factor of at least four you know four times the amount but that I said I'm not in charge in the world so that isn't going to happen but that is the point you know that kind of complex professionalism needs to be reflected in salary scales and all sorts of things and there has to be time you see that's it you have to find the time to do effectively the research into the question well of course not everybody has to do it if a group gets together they can hammer out a syllabus and focus on these global differences quite quickly there are books out there now and man course is called global and things of that kind which are trying to do this for you so some of the job has already been done but the job is now much easier than it was a decade ago and the reason is the internet so once upon a time if you decided that you wanted to teach or talk or expose the students to say South African English well how would you have done that apart from going to South Africa or something these days it's so easy just type South African English into Google and up will come the latest South African newspapers the audio will be there heck if you really want to get into South African English you just call up a school in South Africa they will have a Skype interaction with you and you can hear the thing you know live it's so easy now all it needs a bit of organizing and a bit of money of course because you've got to get the equipment and everything but the job is kept becoming easier as a result of the internet it will take a bit of time but it's time that you only need to spend once you know once you've done this basic work and got the contacts and got your materials then you'll use it next year and next year index you don't have to do it twice so I think it's an initial problem but not a long-term one

47 thoughts on “David Crystal – The Biggest Challenges for Teachers”

  1. I think people in general want to speak a language other than English,thus the different varieties of standard English. I think speaking French is a better decision.

  2. I always love listening to David Crystal's nuggets of wisdom. I bought his book about English back when I was a student. He has a great mind and voice. I recommend his book on 100 words of English.

  3. I'd like to know how non native speakers deal with jargons, phasal verbs, slangs and business lingo, if all of these things are made of words that doesn't mean individually what it means together, they can't understand by the context because theses stuffs are out of the context. How to solve the issue?

  4. STID:10216020
    In my opinion, if most people can understand meanings from learner's speak, it's not necessary that teacher correct students' pronunciation. We should respect other people. And I think that teacher should improve themselves or increase new knowledge to teach students because noways language change so fast.

  5. STID:10116040
    In nowadays, the Internet has developed more advance. Therefore, language is changing so fast, and the new words will come up. I think this will be the problem to be a teacher. Consequently, if you want to be a teacher, you should keep pace with this before your students get the new information.

  6. I think if a person speak one main English accent is enough, but he/she could learn more English accents that the person would probably know what others are talking about. For me, I'm a ESL person that I learned the American English accent, but I gradually learned more accents to know what others are talking about.

  7. in my opinion, teachers will not worried about the low fertility and becomes a stray teacher. only they have to face is getting dedicated to be more self-directed in their learning in the classroom and improving learning outcomes.

  8. STID:10216053 The whole countries have their own languages. The world is changing and languages changing, too. If I’m a teacher, I will teach all different kinds of English. And attentionm to global meetings to learn from other professors.

  9. 10216006 Jasmine

    How can children learn English efficiently? If I am a teacher, I will use the newest ways to help they learn easily. For example, search on the Internet, attend international seminar and go to others countries to learn different things. I think that the formal learning ways may make children bored. To put some interesting ideas in teaching is teacher’s challenge.

  10. In my opinion, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, is famous nowadays, therefore, if I were a teacher, I would connect with other teachers from other countries in social media which is convenient even fastest to exchange each other's idea and cooperate to solve their problems.

  11. I think teachers should be exchange with international scholars , and they can increase international perspective.However, teachers can see more foreign speech which also can learn more knowledge .STID10316036

  12. I think being a teacher need to teach student that how to communicate with foreigners, and train student to listen to different pronunciation of English. In addition, language change very fast, we can know some new information of language from internet, and make our language ability more better.

  13. In my view, as a English teacher we should cultivate more and more skills and intelligence which probably meet students needs. We broaden our horizon and keep in touch with our foreign friends to know what the world happened. It is a good way for us train our social ability. Not only can we train our social ability but inspire what we learn and what we think. it is worth doing such a great thing with our foreign friends.

  14. STID: 10216054 許渝屏(Ping)
    My opinion is teacher must have patient and passion, because children are very independent now, they will not tamely to listen what you say.
    I really like this speech. it’s kind of humor! it’s not serious so much. And I can learn more from many opinion.

  15. In my opinion, if students want to follow the step of world English, they not only follow the indicate of teacher. They also can learn a varieties knowledge about English from Internet. For instance, Facebook, Youtube…..etc. Students don't limit their learning motivation in classroom. (STID:10216005)

  16. In Taiwan, some of the English teachers face the problem of teaching students who don't like English.

    Some students do not spend time on learning English and being lazy to study English because they don't put emphasis on it. They even find that they somehow don't need English in their careers.
    However, teachers still have to put efforts into teaching them whether they really want to learn well or not.

  17. 10316051
    Thanks M.r David Crystal
    每次看完你的演講都會讓我有很大的啟發。許多我們沒想到的地方你都提到了。
    個人認為教學不要制式化,站在孩子的角度來看。並非一貫的教學方式對他們才是好的。

  18. STID:10316047
    Many teachers wish their teacher training programs did a better job of preparing them for these real classroom issues. I think many teachers can improve student’s listen skill to make student understand foreigner’s language.

  19. I thought Mr. Cystal is brilliant. His speech had the clear ideas. I find him impressive. In my opinion, I will learn more foreign languages. Try to listen to other languages. This speech was very knowledgeable and I worthwhile listening to. (10316019)

  20. if i am a English teacher, i should teach by our culture. i can pay attention to speaking. because many types of English were exist in this world, i make student to touch every country English. Surveys and case studies offer compelling insights into the areas in which new teachers commonly struggle. By effectively addressing these areas, schools can help new teachers improve their skills more quickly, thereby keeping them in the profession and raising student achievement. (10216012)

  21. I think teachers in nowadays should more time to search on the Internet. They have to keep on the pace of the English languages changing . So that they can keep on the pace what teenagers think. There isn’t always only American English in the world now. Such as, there are also Indian English…… and more and more. Keeping on pace of global English is an important thing.

  22. In my opinion, English is an international language.
    The purpose of language is to communicate with others, so don't limit the way to use English or to teach English.
    The fast way to learn English is to walk outdoor to see the world.
    10316024
    康祐國

  23. STID 10316049
    我認為老師可以透過不同的研習或是研討會以增進自己的教學能力,可以與各國不同的老師進行意見的交換或者是傳承。亦或是到不同的國家進行實地考察,我也認為教導給學生的不只是書本上死板的東西,可以更多元更豐富。

  24. I think that teacher can learn a lot of knowledge about languages from the Internet. Because learning languages well, you have to listen, read, and write more. We can learn languages from looking the videos, talking to foreigners, and showing opinions by yourself. So you can learn many languages by so many ways.

  25. In my opinion, you need to surf the internet from different countries, and attend all kinds of discussion forum.

  26. STID:10316004
    If I were a English teacher, we should teach all varieties of English. We should go outside to talk with other foreigner. In order to improve our ability, we should attain to global meeting to listen professor talking about. We learn the correct pronunciation form other people and improve ourselves wrong use. The important is communicate with foreigner, we begin to start examinate our English and listen more a varieties of teaching and absorb to knowledge.

  27. 10216007
    Student can learn the pronunciation of one variety, but try to listen to all kinds of varieties of English. And teacher can participate seminar to contact others foreign teachers.

  28. St ID: 10316006 Hsiao-Yu Chang
    I think that teacher should improve the students’ listening and writhing skills. It is because there are many kinds of accents in the world, such as British English or Indian English. Now many teachers in Taiwan will improve the students’ listening skill because of the TOEIC. I think it is good for students to understand many kinds of accents in the world because English is globalizing nowadays. We will contact with many foreigner around the world.

  29. I like the video very much. I agree with that. I will try to learn all kind of the varieties of English. It is important. I learned a lot from this video.

  30. STID:10216002
    Whether British English or American English
    It should not be single learning
    But you can be in common use one of those languages
    Teaching modern education, it should be more acceptable to the various trends
    Integration to communicate with each other rather than dogmatic finds a language.

  31. STID:10216008 Alice
    教小朋友英文–教導小朋友英文應該要用孩童角度去思考,舉例:英文教材,要使用他們年紀看得懂的簡單語言,而不是使用大人看得懂的,須去適應孩童學習的角度,才能教導他們。
    現代英文老師挑戰–隨時吸收新知,了解語言文化,多去涉獵不同的東西,每個人以及各國價值觀,文化皆不同,了解才是最重要的,例如以前常說的a piece of cake現在美國人也已經不常用了,我們也應該隨時更新,不被趨勢淘汰。

  32. I think that we can learn to ready for different that's the point about language change, makes myself ready to encounter anything.

  33. 語言就像科技一樣是與時俱進的,在不同的時代會產生不同的說法,同樣是一種語言可能在不同國家裡會有不同的說法,就好比中文在台灣裡,僅僅在小小的一個台灣裡同一個詞就會有北部跟南部不同的說法,不同的腔調。我覺得身為一個英文老師,該教給學生的是該怎麼去跟外國人溝通,而不是死板板的教一些已經是過去式的單字或片語。在台灣的英文補習班許多都是為了應付考試而教的英文,這種英文就算學生學會了,出去也是很難跟外國人溝通,所以我覺得英文老師必須除去這種只為了考試而教的英文,改成教學生比較有實用性的英文。

  34. Language is changing for two reasons, one is the Internet. The modern child use a lot of new teenager language in the Internet. This teenager styles language is only the child to understand. Second is globalization of English, it is think only one kind of English, but it is not good for child. I think teaching child needs use different way to teaching them.

  35. STID: 10216009
    I think the English teachers can according to the different situations of students, and plan different ways of teaching. The teachers can use internet and discuss different ways of teaching with the other teacher from the other countries. They can share own ways of teaching and learn more different ways of teaching. Besides understanding the ways of teaching, they can do International exchange.

  36. Language change so fast.
    It's from internet and globalization of English.
    I think we should adapt this change and keep pace with it.
    In the same time, we should improve our listening and reading.

  37. 我覺得在網路上學東西很快 學英文也是。上網方便,也有字典,不需要再搬出大本的字典。現在老師上課有時候會把網路、平板當教學用具。也可以節省紙本列印,保護森林。他的演講都還蠻不錯的👍🏻
    (10317018 NHU)

  38. the generation different. cause of the internet developing many thing come new fast. teachers need to follow some new news that can connect with students easier. and teacher might be more open-minded to absorb new notion. not to teach the only old things. let students to experience more.

  39. if I become English teacher in the future, I would tell them to understand listening comprehension from different country, just like David Crystal said. (10316010)

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