This blog on Thor’s Language & Teaching Notes guarantees to be partisan. It does not guarantee to be right, except in the view of the writer, and can’t even promise to be consistent. For all its bluster, deep down Thor is modest about his claims, but as stubborn as hell. He expects you to disagree with lots. Orgies of mutual congratulation are dull. To set the tone, here are some wild generalizations:
Luckily nobody needs a teacher to learn a language. Ask any mother. Not one in ten thousand mothers has a clue about language teaching, yet by five years old every one of their kids is a master of some enormously complicated human language.
The number of language teachers who really have a clue about language teaching is vanishingly small too. Unlike the mothers though, the number of teachers who are assertive that they are in control of their language teaching job is very large indeed. Listen to them in a pub on Friday night. For that matter the number of cluelessly confident teacher trainers is also large. Overwhelmingly, nearly all these folk don’t know what they don’t know. Their toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance is a property the teachers have in common with hordes of medical doctors, tax accountants, automotive mechanics and the labourers on road gangs. It is an inbuilt human trait that serves to preserve our self respect, not to mention our incomes. It is a tough call to educate people out of this kind of hubris. It might be impossible.
Wow! Now that everyone has been properly insulted, it is fair to ask who the heck Thor May is. On most of the available evidence, he is just another character shouting into the wind. He does have an inkling of just how little he truly knows about what is going on with the human language machine. His opinions, for what they are worth, have come from thirty-four years of being kicked around the head in classrooms, as well as wandering bereft in trackless wastelands of research for decades. Language Tangle, the doctoral dissertation he finally pushed through, after walking away from a couple of others more theoretical, claimed to be on language teaching productivity. Luckily hardly anyone reads dissertations. (By and large they amount to job applications, but this one came a few months before the writer’s 65th birthday, and so was sure to fail as a magic career token too).
If you find anything useful on this blog, it will probably be because your brain was already prepared to agree with idea X and just looking for an excuse to claim that some authority, even Thor May, had already made it respectable. That’s OK. Be my guest. On the other hand, if you become incandescent with rage over something you stumble upon here, that’s OK too. Use your new found energy to prove a counter proposition.
This blog is a branch off from my main static website, The Passionate Skeptic at http://thormay.net, which is a ramshackle accumulation of material stretching back fifteen years. It will take an months (years?) to transfer the stuff already on The Passionate Skeptic website to this and related blogs. Content for the present blog (excepting genuinely new posts) will be mined from a variety of sections in The Passionate Skeptic, but principally Teaching Methodology, Formal Linguistics, and Learning English – ESL/EFL. In the even less likely event that you want to know in more detail who Thor May is, the following link will tell you more than you want to know: http://thormay.net/docsite/aboutthor.html .