Teaching like Mike Leigh?


Watching acclaimed British film director Mike Leigh being interviewed last week, I couldn’t help but pontificate on his unique directorial style.

from Wikipedia:
Leigh uses lengthy improvisations developed over a period of weeks to build characters and storylines for his films. He starts with some sketch ideas of how he thinks things might develop, but does not reveal all his intentions with the cast who discover their fate and act out their responses as their destinies are gradually revealed.

Leigh’s vision is to depict ordinary life, “real life,” unfolding under extenuating circumstances. He makes courageous decisions to document reality.The critical scenes in the eventual story are performed and recorded in full-costumed, real-time improvisations where the actors encounter for the first time new characters, events or information which may dramatically affect their characters’ lives.

Final filming is more traditional as definite sense of story, action and dialogue is then in place. The director reminds the cast of material from the improvisations that he hopes to capture on film.

With all this discussion about the relative merits of another film inspired EFL teqnique (teaching unplugged aka Dogme), I wondered if and how Leigh’s unique method might be translatable to the EFL world. Continue reading “Teaching like Mike Leigh?”

How I accidentally started my teaching career unplugged


If you are not familiar with the term ‘teaching unplugged’, you should read this, Scott Thornbury’s excellent article from 2001.

I arrived in Brazil in May 2006, and after some time waiting for my work visa, I started looking for teaching work. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Sara Walker (have a look at her CV and you see what I mean by lucky), who kindly made a couple of phone calls to help push me in the right direction. One of those phone calls led to my first contracted teaching job, which I’ll write about at some point in the future, and the second, to the boss of a language school, led more immediately to my first lesson. Continue reading “How I accidentally started my teaching career unplugged”