In your hands

My life as a teacher of English and other curiosities

Silver bullets and ELT


A friend called me anxious yesterday morning asking me if I could give some classes to her brother who urgently needs to learn to speak English, because he has some clients from abroad (he is a business man).  I declined, but promised to ask around. But then she tells me: “We ‘ve heard about this miraculous new method by which you can be fluent in English in three or four months”.

I was kind of baffled then and said I would get back to her, because the bell had just rang. I was saved by the bell, someone could say. So I spent the rest of the day, wondering about this “new, miraculous method” that promises to teach you English in a couple of months. Wow, I must have been doing something wrong all my teaching life then.

And what use is all this connection with people if they don’t let you know about such things? I mean I am involved in so many educational networks and nobody mentioned a thing. Are you keeping it all to yourselves people? So that you can become millionaires?

Late at night I started reading Diane Ravitch’s book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” and I was lucky enough to find my answer on page 3: “I have consistently warned that, in education, there are no shortcuts, no utopias, and no silver bullets. For certain there are no magic feathers that enable elephants to fly”. I was thankful for this quotation, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night.

But in case you have heard about this “New, Easy Way to Speak English in a couple of months with the minimum effort” please let me know!


  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Silver bullets and ELT | In your hands --

  2. It always amazes me that people think they can learn a second language faster than they learnt their first. Babies are hard-wired to learn a language and it still takes up to about 16 years to speak like an adult and have the number of words and constructions at your disposal to feel and sound competent. How on earth one is supposed to accomplish that in 3 months as an adult, is beyond me!

    We just need to keep on doing what we’re doing and point out the realities of the situation when necessary.

    Interesting post!


  3. Thanks for the remark Candy. It is amazing isn’t it how easy we can forget. Shows something about human gullibility. It’s the same with any kind of diet that promises quick results, be it a diet for losing weight, quitting smoking, learning English or whatever.

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