Poznan is a gorgeous city and having arrived early in the morning, I got the chance to have a wander around the city and even bought myself some lovely Polish amber.
It was a lovely treat to meet Barry Tomalin and Petra a.k.a @TEFLPet in person – she’s just as sweet and pretty as she is on Twitter and Barry is wonderful and warmhearted.
I’ll let you in on a secret… the first time Vicki wrote on my blog I thought one of my colleagues was playing a trick on me! However, bit by bit over these months, I’ve gotten a chance to know her better - through her blog and on various social networking sites so finally hearing her live and finding out how generous and nice she is as a person - not just as a leading author and trainer - was, well, fab!
In this world of cultural differences where what we say to each other counts, she talked to us about things like how we give directives (orders, suggestions, requests) saying it’s not just about the form we use or who is saying what, but how things are actually said. She introduced us to the concept of whimperatives – the questions we ask when we’re pretending the other person has a choice.
Oh, those are for my son’s classmates in response to My, those biscuits do look awfully delicious, helps save the face of both parties and allows the greedy one to be gracious with a How lucky.
Our students often ask what is a more formal way of saying something or how to be more polite yet it’s really not as simple as that - it depends so much on the context and culture – and this is often ambiguous. What do you think?
I’ve been thinking about her points all week and it’s already been creeping into my lessons!
She created a wiki, which is now public, where she’s able to give students instructions on things like how many articles to write, netiquette issues, copyright and also asked them to create their own blogs, 10% of whom still post!
Using Voxopop, a voice based message board, her students were also able to discuss real issues with people all over the world and linked up with another university in Spain.
By the way, the next free training session to become a webhead starts December 4th.
After this session, I trundled on over to see Heike Philp and Holly Longstroth talking about the use of 2nd Life in Business English and their Avalon project.
This was a pretty interesting session. I’ve visited 2nd Life a couple of times but to be honest, haven’t really explored it as an educational tool - the truth is my current students aren’t much into it - still it was very interesting to find out more what goes on there and I’m hoping to attend Language Lab’s session on the same subject in Harrogate next year.
After lunch it was time for Cleve Miller and the opportunity to learn about English 360. Cleve and I have had a pretty long-standing joke… I thought his avatar looked a bit like Seth Godin back in the early Twitter days… but actually, in RL, he doesn’t!
However he is as innovative and brave and as dynamic a presenter.
To be honest, bogged down with my blended learning platform plus our supportive wiki recording emergent language - where I’ve got my students becoming co-creators of all the materials we need in true dogmesque2.0 fashion… (huge fun, an engaging learning environment but a lot of work) …after seeing what English 360’s got on offer I must confess this just might have been a much simpler option!
Cleve’s thang lies in the creation of playlists and his concept is, I’m convinced, the future of coursebooks – I love the idea of a book being broke up into parts where I’d have a say (based on my students’ interests) in what is done and when.
English 360 is an online space where TEFL teachers are able to do just that and create, share with others, discuss ideas and learn from each other. It’s an active, user-generated content platform combining your own work plus, this is the wow factor, previously published materials from Cambridge University Press - all of which can be integrated and even branded as per each teachers’ /language institute wishes!
To find out more visit the English 360 website or read the interview with Cleve Miller on Jeremy Day’s Specific English.
World of Work Panel
Then it was time to head off for the World-of-Work forum with Evan Frendo, Matt Firth, Carl Dowse, James Schofield. Due to personal reasons, Eric Baber was beamed in live from the UK.
Matt spoke to us about the impact technology has on the development of courses and their curriculum… it was a bit odd watching him do this presentation, constantly seated in front of his Mac… I kept wondering if he was filming himself as part of a webinar.
Evan chatted about how the use of technology is principally age-driven and related some of restrictive problems from the corporate perspective (not being able to access youtube or other sites) and glitches (what Thornbury calls faffing about).
And then the most shocking thing I ever did see… occurred in this room.
Well, passions were high – any discussion discussing the use of technology in the classroom is bound to raise the blood pressure…
James threw a book on the floor, stomped on it… I mean he jumped up and down on it, really, then picked it up again, waved the tome in hands and said: See, good as new, I can still teach with it. Books are permanent.
No, not really.
Here’s a short video from the World-of-Work forum in July explaining a bit about what they’re doing, there’ll be a virtual conference next year.
The next day
Fair point, but I do remember not liking writing essays for the sake of writing essays nor memorizing random dates for the sake of memorizing dates… so not much has changed really ;-), learners want to learn stuff that’s useful and practical and all teachers should pay attention to that, innit?
Cleve restated his position on crowd-sourcing and collaborative content: the future’s in personalized materials. I feel in my bones he’s right. Shiv Rajendran, of the Language Lab, described the situation rather sensibly: learners want to learn in the way they want to learn – whatever topic, whenever – adhoc lessons on their own terms.
Vicki chipped in with the fact that although we’re all using the internet and it’s great for supplementing our lessons, our students mainly want to speak: they want to talk , to commune-icate and often, pretty much… about themselves.
As this is my no. 1 mantra, the theme if you like of my blog, it was good to hear it from someone I respect so highly - it truly amazes me how many publishers and teachers miss out on taking advantage of the narcissism (not sure that's the right word) driving language acquisition.
See you next year!
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