The Entree video (2014?) shows the standard situation in the foreign country. You need to obtain something. In this case I ordered a double Americano, served in a takeaway cup, and some kind of pastry. I choose a chocolate and almond croissant.They knew me then. The Entree chain now is opening in Notting Hill, London, but has abandoned two prime locations in Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue, as depicted, and Peking Street. Entree staff are no longer as punctilious or attractively presented. It is no Cafe de Flore just now.
The catalogue reminds me of the Russian workmen who accidentally built a house without windows. The architect had forgotten to specify windows so they just followed the plan. The majority of the books listed are those dedicated to exams or to the acquiring of the skills reputed to be necessary to pass these exams. Resource materials for teachers gets a paltry single page, while Literature scores only three pages. Of Readers, there are only eight pages; while DVDs clock up a mere two! Yet we live in the world of YouTube where there are millions of videos, masses of foreign languages material, and on Wikipedia and other sites an abundance of interesting information about all the things in the world which one might wish to consider in the English, or indeed any other tongue! Oxford Bookworm readers - otherwise the inspiration behind my English course - are sold by the kilo in blocks of ten..!. Two mythological parameters - apparently a result of the digital revolution - seem to have fortuitiously distorted things. I would call them 'The Marteau sans maitre effect' and the 'Sorcerer's Apprentice phenomenon'. The 'hammer with no master' is the title of Rene Char's surrealist poem, which Boulez alludes to in his music of this title. It was supposed to be a Sixties nihilistic gesture in the spirit of Camus and Sartre, but Char's image has a deeper resonance. In another piece Boulez evokes a similar nuked moonscape where we are no longer in control of what we do. Try the audio here,
ideally while perusing my page
in a second browser, and you will see what I mean.
As Andrew says to Laura in The Browning Version, 'There was very little I could say, in Latin or any other language.' Today's Sorcerer's Apprentices aggregate materials which are essentially a side-effect of the ready availability of digital resources. Each intellectual category spawns a dozen more, logically derived from it: so that how to study, how to teach, what to teach and the curriculum itself is decided not by those most intimately concerned, but by the whims of unknown decision-makers in the world's great publishing firms.
'The prime need in the Western World is to break the ice of rationalism and release the imaginative life once more,' wrote Michael Tippett. There is a need, in fact, for something meditative, contemplative, even, in the teaching and studying act: an intimacy between teacher and student based on a communion of ideas, a searching together for the springs of learning and of language learning. We need those Russian windows, in fact. We need, in Huysmans' words, to 'open the shuttered lodging' of the student's soul, so that 'light and air [will come] streaming in'. This can best be done by rich and lucid material that is non-dogmatic and which can be modified at will be the user: who indeed is at liberty (and in fact invited!) to collaborate to produce new variations on a similar formula.
I thought long and hard before deciding which format to use. In the end I settled on Word 2010, because it can include hyperlinks to Powerpoint, sites such as YouTube, Scribd and Picosong, and because it is robust. If any element needs to be replaced or modified, well the user is welcome to make such an improvement or correction...in the spirit of Wikipedia. Indeed I see English etc as a form of languages resouce Wiki; and there is no reason why people should not construct similar stand alone modules for other languages too.
The great work which Michel Thomas* nursed in his silver years needs to be recast in fresh and exciting ways in the century before us...
'What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels'
HENRY DAVID THOREAU