Keith Burgess has been Director of Studies at Canterbury College for over 15 years. During his time with the college, he has developed an excellent programme of intensive language training, for students who need to improve their academic English, especially their reading and writing skills. Due to the success achieved by the teachers trained by him and using Keith’s method to elicit active use of academic vocabulary and to achieve rapid control of all the structures of English, Keith‘s Intensive IELTS courses have become famous within the local Christchurch student community.
Many international students now come from nearby university programmes for a stint at Canterbury College to “fix my English problem” and to “achieve my IELTS score”, and if they can work with Keith‘s high expectations for study habits and behaviour, students almost always achieve their IELTS and skill improvement goals.
The study behaviours Keith requires include critical thinking and active thoughtful discussion in class, as well as daily review and compulsory fluency tests to prove successful application of previously taught material. Punctuality, full attendance (except for genuine emergencies) and 100% completion of homework, including review for 10-minute fluency tests, are all standard requirements. All tests should be passed at 80%, or resat.
Students quickly feel the real benefits from the “pressure” of these expectations, and soon are proud to be in “Keith‘s class” or “in Intensive”.
Now Keith is extending his leadership into the General English programme. In 2011, he says, “I’d like the theme to be excellence”. It means all absences should be explained. Too many absences jeopardizes students being able to complete the course. Our college really wants to serve the students who wish to work hard with us.
“This entails a reiteration of the attendance and standards policy.
“Class begins at 9am. Teachers will be asked to implement a “fair but firm” policy.
“Absent students will have to catch up. For an occasional absence, the teacher will help the student to catch up. For a recurrent absence the student will have to catch up out of class and then pass tests.
“Homework should always be completed unless there is a very good excuse. We consider review and practice and passing fluency tests the most important aspect of learning. This may take just a few minutes in fact each night but definietly needs to be done.
“The teacher can identify two kinds of students, with different amounts of homework. The first group have a specific goal and the second group, who have other commitments out of class, have less homework”.
“In my experience”, remarks Keith, “if given a choice, 99% of students opt to be in the first group”.
Did you know: English has arguably the richest vocabulary of all world languages. The Oxford English Dictionary lists around 500,000 words, not including a similar number of technical terms which are not found in the OED. That’s around 1 million words all up!
Click here to see the 2011 dates for IELTS examination in Christchurch