What do you think about the Callan Method?

Elliot   Sun Jul 31, 2005 2:26 pm GMT
What do you think about the Callan Method?

Sander   Sun Jul 31, 2005 2:56 pm GMT
It looks a bit simple to me...

=>The psychology of the Method
The Callan Method is based on actual classroom practice, on the psychological teacher-student relationship, and on their relationship to the language. When the Method was shown to some educational psychologists, one of them said "How else?". In other words, as language learning is a question of developing quick reflexes, how else can this be done than by a system of stimulus and response? The same psychologist went on to take an exaggerated example, by adding that one could teach a monkey to play the piano, given such techniques. In other words the monkey, like a pianist, a typist or a language student, is learning to perform a trick, and tricks are best learnt through practice and through a system of stimulus and response, which in the case of the Callan Method means quick-fire questions and answers. The difference between the monkey and the pianist, typist and language student, however, is that the monkey cannot do much with the trick he has learnt, whereas the pianist, typist and language student can; for them the trick is a means to an end. For the monkey it is an end in itself.
CORE   Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:10 am GMT
I have been teaching for about three years with the method now. I am also a CELTA qualified teacher and have used a variety of approaches in various countries.

I am currently teaching at a school using this method.

There are certainly many pro's and con's in this method. As we have seen from previous posts, the method is restrictive and tiring to both students and teachers. Creativity is dicouraged and it is almost exclusively speaking-based learning. Teacher are seldom qualified teachers as the training takes only one week, and because everything is scripted, a knowledge of grammar is not required. The only requirement for a teacher is to be a native speaker who speaks clearly. (This is not always true for schools outside the UK). As I did my training at the Callan School in London, I use this as my base.

Some good points of the method for the teacher is that there is no need for lesson preparation, not a lot to learn for novice teachers and constant interaction with students.

My personal opinion is a bit divided. Although I use the method at the moment, I have found that the method is incredibly effective with beginners, but do not offer a solid base at higher levels where communication rather than accurate speech is required.

With the Callan Method, students do not hear the natural rhythm of English but are rather drilled in the correct pronunciation, word order etc.

The method is approx 40 years old and many of the questions in the book are outdated and some material at the higher levels of Book 6 & 7 even show Robin Callan as a women-hating, racist character. Also some of the material in the book takes a quite morbid view on life.

The method is structured in a way so as student can gradually pick up the 2000 or so most commonly used words in English. By forcing students to speak and corecting constantly, students learn very quickly at beginner level.

From a business perspective though, the Callan Method is great. Minimum input with maximum rewards. The cost of classes are lower as teachers are not qualified and are paid below the average. As many as 14 students can be put into one class and not material other than the books are needed. The initial cost of setting up a school is limited to a couple of chairs and a lecturn.

I do not think that this method is designed to give student a good grounding in English. The more I teach it the more I realize that it was designed with economic benefit in mind. That being said, classes are usually cheaper than at other schools, so students tend to flock to the schools.

I do not like the method because I do not think it is the best approach available. Why do I teach it then? Well I am a part-time teacher and very pressed for time so I do not have a lot of time to prepare lessons. I like the idea that I can come in to school 10 minutes before my lesson, look at the pages to be taught and go teach them. I have used other approaches as well and are gradually suggesting them to our director as an alternative for higher level students.

If you are interested in teaching with the Callan Method, the best place to start is the Callan School in Oxford street, London.

For more info visit:

CORE   Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:14 am GMT
Hi Sander

I have had a look at your post and realised it is exactly what the Callan brochure says. Please realize that these brochures were created long ago and the general consensus among educators and education psychologists is that the method is NOT EFFECTIVE.
Kate_K   Mon May 15, 2006 12:14 pm GMT
In my opinnion this method is great, I learn by means of this method about 2 years and I will take the FCE in August 2007. I know that I'll pass because I want to very much. I thougt that this method is boring and stupid because you reapet what your native speeker or teacher said but now I don't think so. My teacher told me that this method i working for someone and for others not. I belive that on me works and everything will be all right. Bye!!!
FOTOMANN   Tue Jun 20, 2006 5:26 pm GMT
The statement : "...general consensus among educators and education psychologists is that the method is NOT EFFECTIVE" sounds a a bit "sour grapey". Typical educator mind-set talk.

I have reviewed the programs offered by local colleges (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) and find that they are heavy on theory and light on practice, in short, "long on say, short on do". You are bored to tears with endless course on linguistics, anaylsis, evaluations. With no practical application.

I have taught English to Russian emigres from the Ukraine and conclude this is a very effective method for gaining an immediate grasp of the language.
Callan's for the Birds!   Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:50 am GMT
While I agree with some of the earlier posts, I must admit my dislike for the Method. I am currently teaching at private school teaching children between the ages of 8 and 15 years old. My director of the school is convinced that the Method works and he insists I use the Method. I completely disagree and I do not think the Method is effective for that young of learners. The Method has been taught to some of my students for as many as three years. These same students cannot even form a comlete simple sentence. They completely rely on the teacher for filling in their sentences. It's a complete joke! I have learned one thing from this experience, and that is to make sure the next school I teach with is not using the Callan Method as a means for ripping off their clients. By the way, our school is very small, and we continually are losing studnets because the method is boring and way too intense for such young learners and definitely NO FUN! Who can contact to report the misuse of the Method. Have they ever proved that this method is effective for young children? I would love to report my school for the sake of the parents spending hard earned money for a scam headed by my director. BTW, I am only permitted to teach the class once a week for 45 minutes to my students.Aren't I supposed to be using the method with those students every day for at least 2 hours? I can't wait until my contract is finished and I can actually teach and prepare lessons that will the students will enjoy and and learn!
Bello - PL   Mon Sep 11, 2006 10:38 pm GMT
For me it is a strange question, works the method or not.
I learn English before during last 6 weeks at one of Callan method schools in my town. Please, be sure, the metod is extremally effective. I understand almost all vocabulary, used above, as well as what about discussion and you could notise that I am also able to answer. I am really excited by Callan method. By the way, if you count correctly, you will see the fact that Callan method course is really 4 times faster and 4 TIMES CHEAPER than others 'classic' methods.

Other starnge thing for me is how you can call the method boring, because you have not time to be bored during the lesson. It is impossible to be bored during the lesson, if your teacher is really using Callan method. I suppose, some teachers just use Callan books, but not a lot of very important Callan rules and it is a reason why some people are unsatisfied.
Robin   Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:20 am GMT
I have a Polish friend who learnt English by the Callan method. When I was on holiday with her, I realised how limited her knowledge of English was.

I think that the Callan method has some advantages.

However I suspect that it is also superficial.

I also suspect that it enables people to speak 'Broken English'.

English people do not learn English by studying grammatical rules. At some point repetition is important. But as children progress, they develop their language skills through interaction.

The problem is: How to develop a method of Teaching English that is cost effective?

That provides a reasonable salary for the teacher, that is not expensive for the students.

I have looked at some of the other English Language Teaching. Some of it seemed to be at a very high level, asking the student to do exercises that a lot of English people would struggle with.

At least the Callan method gives people the basics, so that they are able to come to the UK, and speak to people. The danger with other methods is that they produce perpetual students. Also, you get the strange phenomena of Foreign Students criticising English people and English literature for not being correct.

Learning a language is a very complex skill, rather like 'driving', that some people will never master, and most people will have some room for improvement. Easy to do badly, difficult to do well.
Alan   Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:43 pm GMT
You have to remember, the delivery of the Callan method is as vital as the content of the method itself. If you have improper delivery, the Callan method I imagine, can be disastrous, like any other teaching method.

It would be interesting to hear the opinions of people who have taught/studied english in the Callan Method at the Callan School on Oxford Street, London.

My opinion ? It does what it says on the tin - it teaches you basic english in a quarter of the time of conventional methods. After the beginner - intermediate level, if proves less effective than other "traditional" methods, but I think its a pretty good way to learn the foundations of spoken English in a short period of time.
Ayo Ogunmolasuyi   Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:54 pm GMT
Callan method is a unique method that can never be left out, if fluency in all areas of English Language is to be attained with ease.
Ant_222   Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:09 pm GMT
So, the method prefers subconscious to conscious. Instead of exploiting our ability to think, generalize and understand they use our brain as storage for a number of conditional reflexes.

I don't like that for some reason.

Alan: «After the beginner - intermediate level, if proves less effective than other "traditional" methods» — that's expected since more thinking and less stupid learning by heart and remembering comes into use.
Alistair   Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:25 am GMT
Well as a English language teacher of 11 years, whose students regularly come up and say how useful the lessons and course were and how pleased they were with their progress I have to say this is an extremely impoverished learning situation. I have taken many students form beginner level through to advanced etc. . I see many students form Poland and it is immediately apparent which of them have been taught using this method.

In my 11 years experiance the best approcach sees the teacher with the biggest toolbox of techniques availible and the confiendence and skills base to impliment them depending on the studnets infont of him/her. Drilling has it'sd place but only as part of a rounded course. So please lets leave this con behind I run courses which are slightly cheaper than the Callum schools but boy are htey better! The students develop thinking in the language and thus can cope with actually situation in the real world. Come and see a real teaching and learning in action!

jwhitney55   Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:23 pm GMT
Yes, Callan is "four times as fast" but it is important to remember is that this is when it is taught 5 times a week for 2-3 hours a day. As in Poland where we teach it twice a week (or at some schools, once a week) it is not twice as fast. With classes only twice a week the memorization of the last 2 to three books becomes very difficult and student interest drops waaaaay off. Several Callan schools now offer students the option of traditional or Callan after book 3.
nurdan   Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:39 pm GMT
Hi all,

I am from Turkey and going to teach English with this method but as this year is going to be my first teaching year (I just graduated from the university and became an English teacher) I need some help . I am not a native speaker of English but my pronunciation is very good as I have been working with a native speaker of English for one year. The teachers who are using/ have used this method, grateful if you give me some advice on teaching with this method. Thanks.

Nurdan Kulluk