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  • Copier Quake

    Damian O’Donovan

    You know the scene, the daily queue for the photocopier. Someone is making endless copies of some dull course book. Your first thoughts are of long walks on short piers, but, with a descending tone and just a touch of a fortis obstruent, you utter the ubiquitous photocopier barge-in phrase: ‘Um…Can I just…?

    I’m sick of photocopiers, they should all be scrapped, thrown out of every English teaching and training establishment, whether you teach English for aviation or finance, for packet soup producers or chicken farmers. The buzz, the grunt, the nauseating, noxious fumes, the breakdowns and the sweaty engineer all instil a wild panic in the teacher whose lesson starts in 2 minutes, so hurried that the copy they make of the latest course book page they select at random comes out looking a dog-eared mess of wonky, blurred text. Stay away from the creature in the corner, regard it, like Morrissey does the wardrobe, as a beast of prey.

    And what about that notice from the CLA, ‘No more than 5% of any book can be copied,’ in most cases that’s 5 – 10 pages maximum and the course book is no solution, you need to start and finish one to feel the benefit. Who has a class that stays the same for long enough to do so?

    It doesn’t reflect well on your teaching when you hand out someone else’s out-dated ideas hoping they meet all your students’ needs and fit the perfectly crafted learning programme you may have spent weeks on? It sure wouldn’t impress me, if I were a student returning home with a file crammed with slap-dash, cut and paste exercises. ‘Yes’, I hear you troll: ‘…what about paid preparation time then?’ Yes, what about it, indeed? I have never experienced it in the private sector.

    There comes a time when you have to rely on your training and experience and deny the call of the course book and any paper at all. It’s time to get back to the resource book, what you picked up in your training and to the veritable Niagara of free, up-to-date and copyright free materials online and in your head. Maybe try a little teaching unplugged from time to time. This won’t really happen until the rumbling elephant in the room is taken away; however, for the time being: ‘there is a light that never goes out’.

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