The last four chapters have been concerned with good teaching and effective learning. But however good the teaching and however effective the learning, there will always be a place for remedial work of one kind or another because it is beyond the capacity of a human being to absorb perfectly and retain indefinitely everything he is presented with. Hence, from one point of view, every learner needs remedial teaching after the first lesson. It is unfortunately not uncommon to find a student who is quite incapable of using the present simple tense accurately at the end of the first year of English, even though it has been one of the main teaching points. Before considering what can be done about this sort of situation, it is worth looking first at some of the possible reasons for error.
Poor teaching is of course one culprit. But very often there are circumstances quite beyond the teacher’s control which produce a remedial situation. The syllabus, for example, is usually not within the control of most ordinary teachers. Some older courses follow a ‘linear’ progression from one teaching point to the next. First, for instance, the present simple tense is taught quite exhaustively. That is ‘done’, and the class moves on, without a backward glance, to the past simple, and so on. In this way, over the years, the syllabus covers in some depth all the major structural points. The difficulty is that the students get indigestion from doing too much of one thing all together, and that once a topic is finished, it is only incidentally referred to