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Yes, but… what’s NLP?

It’s not enough saying that Neuro Linguistic Programming is the latest (or nearly latest…) trend in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) methodology. The point is: why should we teachers adopt it in our everyday practice and also, will it really be useful?
Other questions run parallel to the just mentioned ones: why should we change? Isn’t it good enough what we’ve been doing for years? After all we’ve built up our career on on Functional Notional Syllabuses, Communicative approach and Papa’s textbooks and they seemed to work well? Or not?

“These questions run too deep for such a simple man…” (quotation from a song of the eighties by Supertramp): let’s start from the middle:
why should we change?
We shouldn’t change at all! We’re certainly very good teachers, maybe excellent teachers, otherwise we wouldn’t be visiting the Europroject web site; besides in our life as English teachers we’ve piled up tons of precious knowledge and experience which we must treasure and which have helped to survive among crazy headmasters, envy colleagues and “lively” students.
NLP doesn’t aim at destroying our certainties but at helping us in building new strategies and opening new ways. It can enlarge our range of choices so that we can be more flexible and can be effective teachers in whatever situation may happen.

Isn’t it good enough what we’ve been doing for years?

Yes, it is! It has been good for years and it still is, but shall we honest! Can you remember an episode when that communicative game which had worked so well with the students of the previous year was just ineffective with the new class? How could that happen and what was your reaction? Did you come to the conclusion that it was the kids who were wrong and not you and so you insisted in proposing an activity which the students insisted on rejecting and sabotaging? Don’t worry, things like that happen to everybody all over the world… However I must also add that NLP could have helped you on that occasion. How? Well, by reminding you that

The meaning of a message is in its effect

Which simply means that we are responsible for the result of communication: it’s useless accusing other people for not accepting or misunderstanding what we propose. Beware! I didn’t say: it’s wrong! I said: it’s useless! It’s enough difficult to change ourselves: trying to change other people is simply impossible… especially if those people happen to be students. So we have convince ourselves that the most beautiful lecture or activity or pair work may be good for some learners and bad for others and if this is the case, we can’t change the learners but… we can change activity! In fact
NLP teaches us how to be flexible by increasing our range of strategies
Notice that increasing doesn’t mean to say goodbye to what we are but, on the contrary, to add to our repertoire new ideas, choices strategies and insights. Doesn’t sound it quite appealing?

Just a few words about this acronym which usually scares people to death: Neuro Linguisting Programming. Don't be afraid of the term Neuro: nobody in a white uniform will oblige you to wear a shirt with very long sleeves and, then, push you into an ambulance… It’s true that NLP is largely known by psychotherapists, but it is widely used as well by athletes to raise the performance levels, by sellers to convince reluctant customers and also by teachers to find better ways for teaching.
Neuro Linguistic Programming was invented in the States by Richards Bandler and John Grinder and has been defined by the same authors as a set of behavioural patterns which may be adopted

Know yourself better
• Improve your communication and negotiation skills
• Lead yourself on the path to excellence both as a teacher and as an individual.

Isn’t it enough? Yes, I think this stuff is enough for today. Stay in touch in order to receive another dose of NLP in pills.

Kisses to everybody!
Witch Hazel


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