On the Road with Gary in… Cambridge

A Rhetorical Question

            While taking the Eurostar from Paris to London on my way to Cambridge last month, I was reading my latest issue of the IATEFL Teacher Development SIG Newsletter as the train entered the Channel Tunnel. And I remembered the first time I took the Eurostar a long time ago with my daughter when she was a little girl and she got hungry just before we entered the tunnel so I bought her some lasagne which she ate during the crossing. Then when we got to the UK and people asked her ‘How long was the tunnel?’, she replied ‘Just long enough to eat a lasagne!’ That is an example of logos, an appeal to logic, one of the so-called Three Musketeers of Rhetoric and that what this post is about: rhetoric.

Because in that TD SIG Newletter in David Crystal’s regular column on ‘Reflections on language, languages, learning and teaching’ he relates teaching to drama and acting and also mentions lecturers and writes that “…the sad fact is that most lecturers have never been taught how to lecture…Yet there is vast experience in the world, dating back over 2,000 years, dealing with the subject of how to communicate. It is called ‘rhetoric’. A course in practical rhetoric ought to be an obligatory element in the induction on any lecturer.” Hmm, ‘rhetoric’ I thought; that makes sense—especially as it’s coming from Sir David, an OBE as well as Patron of IATEFL. That is ethos, an appeal to authority, another of the Musketeers of Rhetoric.

            So when I went to the Waterstone’s bookshop in Cambridge to stock up on some summer reading and came across a book entitled You Talking to Me: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leth (Profile Books, 2011) , I decided to buy a copy. On the Eurostar back to Paris I read the introduction in which the author insists that we mustn’t think of rhetoric as archaic, ancient or old because in fact rhetoric— although we might not call it that—and traditional rhetorical techniques are all around us in the modern world: political speeches, advertising pitches, Homer Simpson-speak and yes, also in teaching. For example, the 3 R’s of Rhetoric are… Repetition, Repetition, Repetition; and repeating, rephrasing, recycling is of course a good teaching principle, practice, procedure–right, my fellow rhetoricians.

            BTW: in the UK I also went punting on the Cam one evening. You know, if you’re ever in Cambridge you should go punting on the river so you can get some views of the colleges that you just can’t get on foot—but probably choose a better punter than me. That is pathos, an appeal to emotion, the last of the Three Musketeers of Rhetoric.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of my book on rhetoric and to any comments —or rhetorical questions—from you…

Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer


4 Responses to On the Road with Gary in… Cambridge

  1. Helena says:

    Thanks Gary. An interesting blog, as always. I’m constantly looking for materials suitable for my teachers. Some of them teach English to 4-12 year olds in mainstream non English-speaking schools. Others teach their subject, in English, at Bachelor level. I run the teacher training courses for both groups. Any advice on materials is most welcome!


    • Gary Anderson says:

      Hi Helena and thanks for reading & commenting on my Blog,
      Just back from summer holidays to read & reply to your message. Sounds like you have a challenging training situation! For your teachers of young learners you might want to look at the new (legally) photocopiable *Teaching Young Learners to Think* which combines thinking skills with langauge learning. For your BA-level teachers *CLIL Activities* handbook might give you & them some ideas and of course there is the *Professional English in Use* series.
      Good luck,

      • Helena says:

        Hi Gary, thanks for your reply and the tips! I’ll definitely check these out. Looking forward to your next presentation in the Netherlands



  2. Shittu says:

    Hello Garry,
    I teach Diction in Lagos State, Nigeria, and have been at it for a little over three years. Over this time I have come to think that the use of resource materials (for example, books, dictionaries, discs etc) in teaching English Language is very important. However, I have also come to discover that the training of the teacher and as well the availability of these resources sometimes get in the way.
    I have personally been trying to get a copy of the Cambridge English Pronouncing dictionary (Daniel Jones 17th edition) for over a year now but as soon as I enter my location detail as Nigeria the network connection trips.
    I believe as for the training, the British Council in Nigeria do a great job. However, the prices and a well the publicity of these programs sometimes prevent all teachers who would have loved to participate in them. This is (by my reasoning) mainly because of the teachers’ low pay and as well the economically unfavourable conditions.
    I believe if these things are taken care of more people would be participating in English training programs in Nigeria.
    I would keep trying to get the CEPD (17th edition) because I still need it and would really appreciate receiving your views on your blog.
    Keep making a difference.

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