Please read: Social responsibility & Self-destructiveness

I’d like to call you to your senses, not to follow the path of panic whose outburst made you think that taking exams in class was a far better option than teamwork designing listening and reading exams, or that what you need to be doing daily: listening/reading and retelling in class! It’s such an uninformed and destructive idea, I haven’t been able to sleep well tonight. And then people say it’s the school system. Well, it seems we help. Turning our back to constructive approaches to learning is not what we want to do in our course/school.

I’m asking people interested in taking exams, with little free time and who in my view underestimate the power of meaningful learning and communicative methodology (because they don’t believe that is as effective) to please stay home and do all the exams they like. Teachers in our School (who, incidentally, offer information people simply don’t read), have put together a page full of links — in case the reason for asking this teacher to give more exams in class is you don’t know how to find exams on the web. The path is eoifuengirola.es – Certificaciones, and here is the link: http://eoifuengirola.es/certificaciones-1 I hope you make good use of it.

Still, I don’t recommend you get obsessed with this. I never recommend taking lots of exams, that’s why exam format training is done in a month. If you do, have a look at the tests but controlling your fear because taking tests gets us nervous and panicky (because we still believe tests are monsters, it’s a trauma, an irrational event in our minds) and we don’t learn English then, we just learn to be victims. If you’ve done what we did in class, you’ll be OK. Put your effort in keeping calm and enjoying your use of English. Consider we are always training too for exams, even if it doesn’t look like it! 🙂

Whatever you do — but please, I appeal to your social responsibility: don’t hurt the group by showing how nervous you are, bby spreading panicky ideas, feelings, etc. — be certain this will not influence my profesional skills when evaluating your work in June or September. I evaluate absentists as I evaluate people who followed the course, because I’m a profesional and my task in PUCs is to determine whether the State can certify that somebody’s exercise has reached an advanced level. The exercise and my evaluation remains filed for everybody’s supervision, so coming to class, doing homework, making progress or a big effort are things I can’t consider when evaluating your performance in PUC exams. Those things are good to help you learn, of course, but not something that counts in the Evaluation Sheets we use to evaluate your performance.

For us, your passing is a consequence of having the level in that particular excercise, not of how much effort you put into it, because this is adult education and we are the public system certifying a level. And I am very scientific in my professional work. You should know. Exams in Avanzado 1 or Básico have nothing to do with this because they are not PUCs, they don’t give people certificates. There teachers can design their own evaluation systems, as I do with my Básico 1’s, and we don’t have exams, we have listening diaries and orals every week. And we have a wonderful Writing File and the Celebration of Learning Orals in May. And we do train in exam format in spring, just for the kicks, not to pass or fail.

When we decide to consider information not in your PUC is only for positive reasons. So I mean, there is no “manía” or negative attitude in examiners when it comes to PUCs because these are certification exams.

It’s April, and we’re having a group panic here, which threatens to destroy all the work we’ve been doing. So please, control your fear, and stop this now, if it is not because you understand learning in this course, be it because you don’t want to harm your classmates, OK? Don’t use the excuse of exams to make up for the work you couldn’t do, because it doesn’t make up for it and you simply harm yourself and others.

As I warned you before, whatsapp groups are not a good to place when adorable students become soldiers of Exam Culture waging a war. They spread panicky feelings. Just remember our mirror neurones. Of course we can fight that with our rationality and empathy. But if you’ve started panicking in April, imagine the whole month of May of panic and destructive approaches to learning! You’ll be worn out before you take your exam. (The good thing of being exhausted is that self-destructive mechanisms don’t work as well!)

As I know well from experience, and from theory, this course prepares people to go to their finals with a positive approach, with resources to control their fear and be confident on their skills. But if you doubt or refuse to do this, please, stay home and do what you consider best. There are zillions of textbooks, with exercises, test books, websites…

If you wish to come to your senses and follow this course, and you want to intensify your use of English, please, do more of what I suggest, don’t feel that taking exams is doing something crucial for your English because it is not. For example, designing a listening exam entails listening to a lot of audios, and then working intensively in some. You cannot design a listening test out of a transcript, even if you use a transcript in the project. Designing a Reading test takes a lot of reading and thinking in English. This Project is not only about you creating an exam: its development involves the use of English in many different levels, and helps you spend more time using your English. Remember the format of the listening of Pets? Or that of part 2 of the PUC we did? Well, teamwork to design that would mean lots of people listening and listening, and lots of exercises designed, out of a same effort.

But we don’t even have to do that Project. If you simply did what I’ve been asking you to do all the way, listen and retell and share in class, read and retell and share in class, along with OPs and (overdue) monthly writing assignments, you would be doing far more for your English than spending time in class taking exams and then me reading out the key and you “failing” or “passing”.

Exam Format training in this course is perfectly enough for allowing people to pass a PUC exam if they have the level. And as I told you, we still have one more Reading and Listening test (apart from the exercise next day), we have to continue training in timed orals and focus on interactions (next day we could form the first speaking test teams), and you’ve got a full C1 PUC on the Junta’s website, to do at home when the exam draws near.

I’m going to have breakfast and stop of feeling so bad. I hope you understand what I mean and feel free to comment, of course. When I say I’m open to feedback or proposals I mean it. But I will certainly contest what I see as unfair feedback (as I did when a 40% of the class evaluated that I didn’t prepare my class that well) or proposals that work against the kind of teaching and learning we pursue in this course in the School.

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5 comments

  1. Dear teacher
    I have read your post and although I became a member of the WhatsApp group a couple of weeks ago, I don’t really see the situation as bad as it seems according to your words. I must have missed something out. I was surprised and sorry yesterday when I felt your anger and how disappointed you were. This made me feel bad too. Sometimes I find it hard to follow all your posts and due to my little time, and because I should work more, I tend to go from one thing to another and I get easily lost.
    I don’t belong to the 40% you mentioned before, and even with all the missed lessons I do think I’m learning a lot and feel more secure to face the exam.
    On the other hand I would like to be able to not take part on the designing project and still have the chance to go to your lessons as there’s always something interesting that comes up to do and learn. Would you take this option into consideration?
    Thanks a lot for all your hard work, time and feelings for the C1 course.

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  2. Hi, there, dear Hablemos!
    It’s great you read and posted. However, I don’t understand some parts. Let me check:
    – Have I unwelcomed students ever, or rejected overdue work? (Or made any of you feel unwelcomed, or made you feel I would reject your overdue work? I mean?)
    – Do you think I don’t take enough time to help students in trouble because they miss lessons or can’t follow the blog (consider classroom time is not the only resource: we have emails and face-to-face tutorías?)
    – Are you telling me that my words are unjustified because I exaggerated the situation? i.e. that there was no atmosphere of people panicking, no words indicating people were panicky?
    Please, can you clarify? Thanks!

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  3. Hi Michelle
    Hablamos it’s me Cristina Reina. I don’t feel like carrying on with This talk on the blog, it’s getting out of hand and I would be more than happy if we could have a relaxing chat one day about what I wrote as I feel misunderstood.

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  4. Oh, I’m sorry about my questions then. Accept my apologies, please.
    I just needed to understand what you were saying. Don’t worry, Cristina! They were professional questions about group dynamics and teacher’s intervention. I don’t feel angry or that the situation is out of hand. It’s just classroom dialogue. So please, don’t fret. Once you pass I’ll be delighted to go for a drink, of course! But hopefully, not to talk about school matters, right? 🙂 ❤

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