Most of the teaching in Learningguild in 2015 was done by Dr John Howes, the President, but his aim is that (in Melbourne, elsewhere in Australia, and in other countries) more and more members, including men and women who have studied English as a further language with him, will gain recognition as Learningguild teachers and give regular or occasional help to students.
In his editorial letter in our magazine Learningguild Letter, 2.2014 (pp.1-4), Dr Howes has set out his view of what some main features of tertiary-level education ought to be. He has also specified some vital components of secondary-level training and development (at any age), components that ought to precede acceptance into tertiary education but now, for many students, both non-native and native speakers, need to accompany it! You are asked to read this account of the tuition we offer in conjunction with that letter.
In a good education at any level there normally needs to be the right balance of these four components:
- written materials (usually printed) and recorded visual and/or oral ones such as DVDs and CDs;
- occasions of spoken exposition, preferably with opportunity for questions before, after and even during them;
- small groups (normally no more than fifteen), sometimes listed students but sometimes any who wish to come, seated so that each person can see each of the others, and primarily concerned with discussion of questions asked by the members, not only by the teacher; and;
- one-with-one meetings of teacher and student.
Learningguild gives special emphasis, as Oxford and Cambridge have traditionally done, to the fourth component, partly because students are very different in their needs, levels, aims, interests, abilities, and personal situations at any given time. Moreover, those of our members who desire tuition have different times of availability.
Dr Howes’s one-with-one meetings with students will often be on Thursday afternoons and evenings and Saturday mornings and afternoons. Sometimes such meetings are arranged for other times. They are normally weekly, and often of about half an hour (sometimes less, sometimes more). Sometimes, though the tuition is basically one-with-one, it is valuable for a student to overlap with another in a session with Dr Howes. Students may be invited to afternoon tea and encouraged to get to know and cooperate with others.
Dr Howes normally charges a fee, for those who can afford it, of $100 a month, payable at the beginning of the month. Though there will often be four or five one-with-meetings in the month, it should not be supposed that this fee is for such meetings alone: there is also Dr Howes’s annotation of written work, writing of letters, and seeking of material that would or might be especially helpful to the particular student. People who could not afford $100 a month are invited to discuss their situation with Dr Howes. It may be agreed that they will pay a reduced fee and give some help to Learningguild and/or to him, for example in clerical tasks such as collating and in working in the garden at his and Margaret’s home (23 Fallon St, Brunswick), a garden being developed partly in order to assist refugees.
All our students are warmly invited to come whenever they can to our Saturday Meetings, held (1-3.30), for lunch and discussion, normally on the first and third Saturdays of a month in the school terms. No charge is made for the lunch: members of Learningguild are invited to bring some food or drink to share. The place for all these gatherings is often but not always the home just mentioned (the Melway reference is 29 F8). There are occasional other gatherings, e.g. a picnic, an end-of-year dinner, a weekend in a rural area.
A person who would like tuition in Learningguild is or becomes a member: the annual subscription is $11 or, for a couple, $16.50. (An additional $5.50 for another member of a family.) There is a flyer for each term setting out our activities in it: the text is also on this website, at ‘MEETINGS’. Members are entitled to a 20% discount on all our publications.
Each person entering upon tuition in Learningguild should obtain, at the reduced and discounted price of $8, the set of papers called ERSON (Early Response to Students’ Ongoing Need). They accompany, and are listed on, a sheet with that heading.
Members who are already in undergraduate or postgraduate courses, or at a senior secondary stage, should use what is called the Learningguild Rectangle. That is, overlapping with the ERSON set:
Members seeking tuition would already have, through ERSON, the booklet Reasoning and one pair of exam paper and report. 7F is one sheet, and free; a discount price of $2.40 is charged for the Learningguild Letter (1.2013) that ends with QPS. (In fact, since Sir Ernest Gowers’s great-granddaughter Rebecca has revised his classic book, I shall revise the references in QPS, and a paper copy of the replacement will be free of charge to those who have the present QPS.)
This rectangle deals in turn with the ranges of skills which a tertiary student or postgraduate student ought to have and develop and on which a candidate for the Learningguild Certificate is tested. To senior secondary students and undergraduates, the word ‘essay’ is more familiar than ‘paper’ as used in ‘a good talk or paper’.
Dr Howes’s booklet-and-CD Sounds, Words, Sentences is recommended to all EFL students as a guide to pronunciation and to the grouping of sets of words so as to bring out meaning clearly. Members may obtain it at the discount price of $17.60.