Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Closing Plenary – Fish!

Gavin Dudney started the final plenary and said that 50 000 people visited the site yesterday, 400 000 page views with Turkey surfing the site most.
And then it was time for Derek Dick (Fish)
His songs have been translated into 7 languages and have been used in the classrooms and even have been a university thesis topic.
Derek said: As a kid I hated English lessons (they were reading and writing back then). As an adult Scotsman, I understood that you need to learn English properly.
Derek sang some great songs (Brother 52, Family Business, etc) We danced like butterflies and balerinas and sang the Russian way. Great singer with great songs and ideas!!!
There was a raffle at the end of the plenary session. The prize was an iPad and the winner was Sophia R. from Toronton. 
After that on the way out of the conference centre everyone got a bag with a can of drink and chocolate. Now it is time to do the touristy part! 🙂
Complete session can be viewed here: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2012/sessions/2012-03-23/plenary-session-derek-dick

Singing, Chanting and Rapping

This workshop with Jane Harding da Rosa was very inspiring, it also made us all feel energetic and put us all in a good mood.
 Jane started by rapping: “I like it, I like it a lot.” That was amazing. This could work as such a great warmer activity. In this first part Jane used affirmative and interrogative sentences plus short ‘yes’ answers in Present Simple. This could also be used as a drilling activity for this tense. She also suggested another option with it going like “Why did I do it? I shouldn’t have done it, etc.” A simple idea and such a great one!
 Then Jane introduced a chanting activity to drill vocabulary (vegetables in our case). The pictures were shown quickly and Jane kept on pointing at the places where the pictures had appeared (almost dancing) and we had to remember what was in that place and as it was done very quickly we were all chanting involuntarily. I loved this idea too!
 There were many other activities that were based on rythm and intonation. We all sang, chanted and rapped! Fantastic!
 Thanks Jane! 

12 Steps to Webinar Success

This workshop with Sarah Milligan was particularly interesting to me. I have never given webinars only attended a few but I would like to take online/blended teaching one step further.
The first question discussed was “Why give webinars?” Webinars are easy to access, useful for professional development, for collaboration with teachers around the world and they are fun! 
Webinars are similar to f2f meetings in a way that they are synchronous and have the same aim. They are different because people are not in the same place and they are audio and internet reliant. 
There are a few platforms for organizing free webinars, such as Skype, Elluminate, Wiziq and Join the meeting. 
The rules for webinar success are the following:
1. Decide on the type of session you are giving. Is it a presentation, workshop or training?
2. Get the message across. Make sure that your participants know that the webinar is available. To do this you can use Eventbrite.
3. Prepare and remind participants (and then again)
4.  If you have a guest speaker, let the person practise the speech online beforehand.
5. Manage your participants. (Post  a set of rules, give and take back control.)
6. Have the sound checked before the webinar. 
7. Materials should be readable and not with a lot of text on each slide.
8. Go slow! Try not to speak or go through slides fast online due to your participants’ web connection speed.
9. Interaction and tasks. (Introduce-Demonstrate-Interact-Give tasks-Give feedback)
10 Share details and hand-outs with your participants.
11. Give Feedback.
12. End on time.

The Last Day of the Conference

It is the last of the conference today and quite a few people have already left Glasgow. The conference centre feels empty as I am walking around the exhibition hall and the centre itself.
All the exhibiting companies are packing their stuff and OUP are giving away cups of chocolate.
 There isn’t the usual gathering of participants outside the centre and it makes me feel sad to realize that this is the end of this event. Tomorrow the place will be empty and the last participants wil have left by tomorrow evening in the hope of meeting next year at the conference in Liverpool again. 
 We have exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch. Isn’t it funny how quickly we make friends and how difficult it is to part?

Sound Advice or Pronunciation Practice

The talk by Suzanne Cloke was about tools to use when teaching pronunciation, something that many of our learners are struggling with.
 I will not go into the statistics because I would like to share the advised sites with you. Suzanne advises to practice pronunciation with students systematically. She did it over 10 weeks for an hour and half with two groups of her Italian learners. As listening and pronunciation go together, by the end of the course her students imrpoved their listening skills by 95% and their pronunciation skills by 91%.
With her learners Suzanne used:
 But the most interesting sites are:
http://www.englishcentral.com – a site where students can watch and listen to the videos in slow motion by clicking on the snail icon for better understanding of the sounds and repeat them; and
http://eolf.univ-fcomte.fr/index.php?page=english-listening-exercises where students can shadow speeches. I use this technique as well with my students so I was really happy to hear that it helped Suzanne’s students.
I hope this will help your students too!

6 Key Questions for Teachers and Trainers at the Crossroads

This was a fantastic talk given by Jeremy Harmer. It was actually quite a funny one too. Jeremy Harmer has such a great sense of humour.
 During his talk Jeremy read 6 statements and we had to stand up if we agreed and stay in our seats if we disagreed. The blog entry will be very long if I go into details of what has been discussed during this session. So I thought I will just post the questions and then if you are interested we could discuss them through comments.
 So the questions are:
1. Does a good teacher have to be tech savvy?
2. Does correction work or not? Is it just a waste of time?
3. Is testing our students a good thing or a bad thing? Is it something that we have to live with?
4. Is CLIL the future of learning English?
5. How do teachers create rapport in the classroom?
6. Does drilling work? If it does, then why aren’t there any sessions on drilling?

The Plenary with Steven L. Thorne

Steven shows a picture of his tiny daughter sitting in front of the computer and typing something being very concentrated. As Steve says she has managed to send out some emails to his contacts from his email account. 🙂 This is the proof for what he said previously: Technology use starts early! Funnily enough my younger son also manages to do such things on the computer that it makes me wonder where he gets this knowledge from. Is this perhaps some kind of inborn ability that modern children have? How else could they be computer-literate while still 2 or 3 years old?
 Is it possible that our children are going to learn a language by just using the Internet? Could it be easier for them to learn a language by playing games? In many of modern games they have to collaborate with other gamers from around the world and the language of communication among them must be one. So if it is English, would they learn it more easily if the learning takes place online in communication with other people who share the same interests?
 What we do as educators matters but when we teach a language to our learners, we teach them what we find appropriate or what the course books tell us we should teach at each level. Steven used here Mark Twain’s quote about learning French: “I was discouraged when I arrived in France and discovered that there is no intermediate French.”
 Well, then maybe social media and gaming also matter in language development and maybe have more influence on our learners because the learning happens now and is more real-life. So then maybe we should start incorporating gaming and social media into the curriculum to make the experience of language learners more relevant to them?

Complete session can be viewed here: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2012/sessions/2012-03-22/plenary-session-steven-l-thorne

Building your PLN

As a big fan of PLNs and PLEs, I got up early today to get to SECC by 8am for Nik Peachey’s ‘How to…’ session. The conference centre is so quiet at this early time in the morning that it feels a bit strange.
-Personal Learning Network is really about people who you learn from and connect to, – says Nik Peachey at the beginning of his ‘How to…’ talk. 
The big question to think about before building your PLN is “What do you have to offer?” According to Nik if you have something to offer to people around the world, then you should start building your PLN and the first step is to start blogging. Nik suggests using Posterous to new bloggers.
In terms of using Twitter, Nik says that using TweetDeck is the easiest option for sharing/tweeting on Tweeter as the interface of Twitter itself is a bit confusing. These are just the basics of your PLN. 
It is also important to use a social bookmarking site to share links that you find useful wit your network and also to learn about new sites from people you are connected to.
Start sharing with your network when you find something useful. Scoop.it could be used for this purpose as everything you have collected from around the Web is compiled on one page and people from your network can easily see it. The more you use this site the more it understands what you are interested in and suggests similar sites that match your interests. This way you might discover and share even more.

Zooming into the Reading Class: Prezi

Although I have been using Prezi for quite a while, I decided to go to the session mainly because when I met Hakan in the morning he said that even for people who know how Prezi works the workshop will still be interesting. And he was right!
I actually only used Prezi for presentations or summaries but Hakan Senturk’s workshop made me see other possible uses of this great web 2.0 tool. Hakan uses Prezi to develop his learners’ reading skills and I think it must be enjoyable for his students.
Hakan creates pre-reading and while-reading tasks in one Prezi. He showed us one of his creations which was based on Vikings text. What I loved the most about it is the fact that Hakan thought out quite well how to define unkown words: for some words he just added the definitions above the zoomed-in word, or (this I loved!) he just added a youtube video with the action verb illustrated. It makes it so much easier for learners to understand what this or that action is.
Brilliant! Thank you Hakan! 🙂

Does CELTA Provide for New Teachers’ Needs?

The talk by Ruth Hamilton caused a lot of debate around what teachers need to be able to do when starting to teach.
 Actually it was quite interesting to hear different opinions around what a teacher has to be able to do or maybe should know. Some participants argued that teachers should know grammar and should be able to explain it to their learners which is true. Some other people argued that grammar was not as important as being able to understand what your learners are trying to say and helping them with the vocabulary. This is also true. But I think that a teacher should be able to do both not just one, and it quite difficult to give preference to one over the other.
 The results of research carried out by Ruth were quite interesting. In reply to ‘What are the needs of a newly qualified teacher?’ teachers said that it was support they needed most. In contrast teacher trainers and employers didn’t find it as important and said that classroom management was very imprortand for new teachers. Surprisingly teachers themselves didn’t find it as important. The research also discovered that the teachers didn’t mention the importance of basic teaching skills as important. However, trainers and employers found them very important.
It was found out that teachers out of the CELTA course were not adequately prepared for teaching different class types such as young learners and didn’t know what the reality of the job was.
I am not sure about the first two points but maybe the reality of the job should be added to the outline of the CELTA course.