As I creep to where the researchers are training their binoculars through the windows of the classroom, they gesture for me to keep my voice down.
“It’s vital we don’t disturb it now. If we’re very lucky, we’re about to see a learning moment,” one whispers to me.
“This particular specimen isn’t fully developed,” whispers another, “but they can grow up to three sentences long.”
I ask her whether this is the first Jazz Chant she’s seen.
“Oh no. I used to have a thriving colony of them in a ring binder, but over time they were poached for review lessons.”
Jazz Chants are not native to the Czech Republic, having been introduced by hippies in the 1980s. Numbers had grown throughout the nineties before dropping to absolute zero when nobody could be bothered with them anymore.
At one time, they were on a list of endangered techniques along with substitution drills and suggestopedia. Conversationists had hoped that this would help preserve them but it didn’t. As soon as it became known they were endangered, students throughout the vast Chinese TEFL market began taking parts of the Jazz Chants and grinding them up to make medicines.
I ask what will happen to this one.
“We’ll keep an eye on it. Hopefully it can stay in the classroom, where it belongs. Eventually it might mate with a worksheet or role-play and give birth to a lesson.”
Will this Jazz Chant be allowed to flourish or will it’s natural habitat to make room for smartboards and blended learning? The TEFL world holds its breath.