One of the great things about teachers is the diversity of the backgrounds they come from and the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring to the classroom. Of course, much of the wisdom and know-how they have gained in their lives outside school may, at face value, seem to have little connection with the teaching of English. However, I am reminded of Charlie Ellis’s article in ETp Issue 119, in which he pointed out the phenomenon of ‘TEFL-eye’: the habit of teachers to perceive the classroom potential of almost anything they come across in their daily lives. Something of that phenomenon is evident in many of the articles in this issue, in which the contributors explain how something outside the field of ELT struck them as having relevance for their teaching.
What a variety of outside interests our contributors have! In our main feature, Clare Hampton explains how her experience of playing World of Warcraft, and her achievement of the status of ‘level 100 mage’, have given her insights into ways to enhance and improve her students’ experience of learning English.
Jamie Emerson reveals how he put his leisure time during the Covid-19 lockdown to good use by reading widely in the field of popular social science. In the process, he has learnt several useful lessons that he can apply to his classroom.
Like many teachers, Judit Fehér is inspired by art. However, for her, it is not so much the finished product but the way that art is actually taught that gives her ideas for activities to use with her language students.
Other contributors have turned to psychology and philosophy for inspiration. Matthew Hallett employs Edward de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ technique to encourage his students to understand and acknowledge viewpoints other than their own. This is a vital skill for those who have to write academic essays or engage in any kind of debate – and it is a life skill that benefits society at large. For Giulia Sepe, the philosopher is Paulo Freire, and she examines how she can best apply his writings to her classroom.
Diana Bauducco and Chia Suan Chong both take their insights from the world of business. Diana looks at the way marketers are currently targeting Generation Z, and sees how this might be applied to the teaching of young learners and teenagers. Chia takes four business theories and examines their implications for classroom practice.
Of course, perhaps the best way to understand what our students are going through is to become language students ourselves. This is what Scott and Stephanie Gross did, and they share their experiences of learning Moroccan Arabic and what this has taught them about the achievements of their own teaching practice and ways in which it might be improved.