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The Diva Method

by Ann Henry

There is no God but Cher, and I am her prophet.

Unlike certain schools of thought in ELT, which maintain that anyone with a pulse can teach English if he or she follows a certain idiot-proof methodology, the Diva Method is only open to those who have wit, style, and absolutely gigantic egos. Why would such a person be in this profession? Not all Divas are genuinely talented, thus barring them from the careers in stage and screen they feel themselves deserving of.

Divas dislike jobs in which they are forced to actually work, which excludes many other professions. ELT, then, can be a good career move for a Diva who follows my method. He or she can be assured of the adulation necessary to maintain a highly inflated self-image. Unfortunately, the salary is not enough to maintain a gigolo, but this is only a problem for ageing Divas, and such a problem, Darling, even Cher can’t get laid these days.

Why the Diva Method?

Think about it. You are stumbling into an English class your parents or boss forced you to take. Who would you rather see in front of your class? Madonna, Marlene Dietrich, or some ELT bore? Just because the entertainment career was a failure doesn’t mean that The Diva doesn’t live to amuse others. Your classes are fun. Your students adore you. Everyone else hates you. Get used to it.

Teacher Talking Time

Being a Diva is about maximising TTT when ever possible. Remember, this class is all about YOU. If they didn’t want to hear You talk, why would they have hired a native speaker? Discussing Your many experiences teaches them the past tense. Experiences involving celebrities are very popular. Your story about The Sex Pistols really amuses them. If you don’t have a story about the Sex Pistols, make one up. The story of how Your ex walked in while you were shagging someone inappropriate is a wonderful way to teach them the past perfect. Discussing your weekend plans is a marvellous way to introduce the future tense, even tricky ones like the future perfect continuous—“By this time Sunday I will have been drinking, drugging, and shagging for seventy-two hours.” On Friday, when no one really wants to be in class, do homework review. Their homework is finding enjoyable shopping experiences for You.

Communicative activities

Of course You must include some communicative activities. Otherwise You will become too hoarse to belt out See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have at the bar. Ask them to recount the kinkiest thing they ever did. Send them all over the building barging into other classes to ask the students and teachers the kinkiest thing they ever did, and if they ever did anything kinky with a celebrity. Your colleagues will thank you for giving them a much-needed break, and the students will learn reported speech.

Field trips and realia

This is important. Make your students go shopping with you. They speak L1, and can bargain with the locals. You can use this as an opportunity to teach them modals: You should buy this, You ought to buy this, You must buy this.

Instead of You bringing in realia, get them to bring in realia in the form of charming little gifts for your, ahem, 35th birthday, about which you feign great despair. This teaches them expressions of reassurance, since they are required to tell you how beautiful you still are, and more importantly, teaches them the joy of giving. If they have been on a Field Trip with you, they should realize that you have exquisite taste and know full well what things cost.


Preparation is essential. Always make sure You go into class with Your hair just so. Since a major topic of class discussion will be Your wardrobe, it is vitally important to be comme il faut at all times. Often, this will entail an entire weekend spent shopping, traipsing from shop to shop dragging heavy purchases. Then there are the hours spent poring over fashion magazines, not to mention celebrity gossip mags, since occasionally the topic may stray from You, in which case it is important to dish some dirt. You can teach them useful vocabulary like toupee, body double, drug problem, career in the toilet. No one ever said Diva Method was for lazy people.

Divadom takes a lifetime of prep, and is a 24-hours-a-day job. You must call in sick one day a week in order to Prepare, or in the event of a bad hair day, a broken nail, etc. Your colleagues will thank you for providing them with much needed overtime. Strangely enough, they also like it better when You are not around.

L1 in the Diva classroom

No, they cannot speak L1 in your class. You don’t understand L1, so it is boring for you. The must learn early on that Divas, when bored, are dangerous. The exception: they may teach You useful phrases in their language, such as “Barman, give me another,” and “Have that one bathed and brought to my tent.” This way, they learn by teaching the teacher!


Q. I am a heterosexual man. Can I be a Diva?
A. Yes, of course. Look at Mick Jagger. Look at Derek Bowie…well, don’t look too closely.

Q. I can’t seem to remember my students’ names. What should I do?
A. Why should you remember their names? If you are really a Diva, you can’t remember the names of half the people you’ve slept with. You often can’t remember your own, but you must ensure that everyone else does. The solution to this is simple. Call everyone Darling.

Q. Do Divas use the textbook?
A. Darling, of course not. Who wants a boring old book when You are in the room? The exceptions are books about You. A fun writing project that will keep them busy on those days you are too hung over to teach: ask the students to write Tell All Biographies of You.

Q. I am a Diva. My colleagues hate me.
A. Darling, of course they do. You deserve it. You work less than anyone on staff, yet somehow the students like you best. Don’t worry—your colleagues are not important. They would not be working in this dump if they were. If you really want to keep your job, sleep with the DOS. It’s a dirty thankless job, but someone has to do it. After all, you slept with Keith Richards once, also Jodie Foster, and Robert Downey Jr. Of course you don’t remember doing this, and neither do they, but you’ve told everyone in the faculty room all the details, so pretend.