How Much of What You Know is Wrong?

Why you need to start updating your knowledge.

David Weller


How much time do you spend updating your knowledge? How many of your TEFL teaching beliefs are now outdated? New research is released daily, about language acquisition, linguistics, neuromyths that just won’t die. … how sure are you that what you know is really up to date?

One of the most important skills we need as teachers is the ability to critically reflect in the face of new evidence — and to actually keep up with new ideas.

The Speed of Knowledge

There are some bodies of knowledge that are fixed, where very few (if any) changes occur. Chess, for example, or music — the theory of each of these updates relatively slowly, as their fundamentals stay the same.

There are also fields of study that change almost daily — computing would be a good example.

Language learning and teaching are somewhere in the middle. I would argue that the speed at which this new knowledge is generated is getting faster, along with just about every other field of study.

So what can you do about it?

Learn — Unlearn — Re-learn

That’s the new paradigm. The ability to unlearn what you already have learned, and then re-learn from new evidence and data.

Simple, right?

Hell no.

If you don’t, though, you’ll fall increasingly out of touch. New teachers will enter the profession, with new methodologies and new TEFL teaching beliefs. You’ll be a fossil in 10 years.

So why don’t we all just stay up to date all the time? What’s stopping us? Three things:

  1. Time
  2. Motivation
  3. Ego

Let’s take a look at each of these.

1. Time

This one is obvious. We’re all busy people, with more to do than we can ever get done. I recommend the productivity system ‘Getting Things Done’, (buy the book here) but you’re still going to be busy. The answer is simply to schedule time for professional development and stick to your schedule. It’s as easy and as…



David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.