Happy Holidays!

Dear English Teachers


Just a little note to wish you all the very best for the holidays - see you next year!


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Using slideshare for teaching business English

comedianMy student Markus called in the early afternoon.

'I didn't have time to do my presentation' he gushed.

Markus is a part of a 3hr, once-a-month evening presentations course I run. Part of the requirements are to bring in their real presentations for "hands-on" practice, powerpoint slides - which we review, discuss and dissect for standard lexical chunks and language specific to Business English.

'Markus,' I said 'Go on over to Slideshare, find a presentation in your field, download that and bring it in. I need your English, not specifically your slides.'

He did.

The presentation he chose was from by Bach, Abraham, Fisher and Dupree of the Moore School of Business and was about Hydrogen Fuel Cells.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: hydrogen fuel)

As this topic is directly related to his industry and key responsibilities, he was able to follow the original authors' work and successfully add his own specialized knowledge and input.

What slideshare offers are presentations: on each slide there are only key words and/or images so the success of the exercise is entirely dependent on the student's ability to elaborate on the information and statistics.

In our case, a quick, less than 5 minute download led to a half hour presentation which we then could turn into a dynamic pedagogical exercise. As a group, we discussed his lack of 'signposting' (language indicators of where one is within a presentation), worked on his introduction and summary language, reviewed phrases they'd been taught previously from Business Builder, 7.2b and Macmillan's Presentations English, unit 1.

What was also interesting was the territorial aspect Markus to on to the work - he didn't agree with all of the statistics or the slant on each slide and didn't hesitate to let us know what he thought they should be or what Germany is doing in these ventures.

Try this type of exercise with your students -low prep on both your parts, maximum speaking practice on your student's - and, of course,

do let me know how it goes!

Useful links related to this posting:

More lesson tips using slideshare

Some links to sets for Business English and ESP (English for specific purposes) included below but not limited to:

Related textbooks/supplementary:

Business builder - Germany, UK, USA +world
Presentations in English - Germany, UK, USA +world

Authentic books related to teaching presentations:

Harvard School of Business - Germany, UK, USA+world
Beyond bullet points - Germany, UK, USA+world


Nothing more important than your family and friends

Teaching English to speakers of other languages usually means living far from home and we don't often get the chance to see our families at this time of year. Once you've been doing it for a while, traveling around the world, friendships become stretched across the continents (but thank g, for Facebook, right!).

Are you in this situation too?

Me, I always dread Christmas - it's the most prohibitively expensive time to go on home and most of the time I can't afford to do this. Too much competition from the tourists ;-).

However two years ago my sister and I plotted to return just before my Dad's 70th birthday.

We spent Christmas day together in London and then flew on over to Grenada on the 26th. We'd set it up with my uncle to go directly to his house from the airport and then hid there on the 27th. My mother was in on the secret as was my little brother.

It sure was murder looking out at the beautiful Grenadian sea, watching the sun slip into the ocean, realizing what both of us had been missing out on by living in Europe and knowing that we still had to stay hidden for yet another day.

Of course, Marty came on over to visit us - to give us a big hug, check that we'd really made it and to find out what we'd got him for Chrimbo. It was wonderful seeing him but we quickly sent him off with pleas not to give the game away.

Our greatest fear was that Dad would pop 'round to see our Uncle so our eyes were peeled out for his car all day.

On Dad's birthday we sneaked over just before breakfast, giggling the whole way, laden down with chocolates, sweets and gifts.

When we arrived, around 7.30am, we knocked forcibly on the door and heard my mother calling out "Now who could that be, bothering us at this hour?"

When she opened the door up wide we burst into the room singing "Happy Birthday, Daddy!" - my father just about had a heart attack!

His girls were home.


Do you have a great memory like this? Do your students? I'm pretty sure that you do and isn't it lovely to talk about these.

This month, registered users of the Kalinago English website can download a free set of conversation cards all about family and friendships.

Click here to get your students telling their stories - laugh and cry through their memories and impressions.

And for the teachers who teach with technology, looking around for a great pre-teaching/vocabulary review activity, what about using this video from the Boston Globe, on America's first-grandma:

If you're uncertain how to download video on to your laptop come here - if you're interested in getting a mini-computer, come here.

And, as it's coming up for Christmas, all teachers can also download a set of excellent Christmas conversation prompts.

Supportive materials related to Christmas

For more lesson tips and ideas about Christmas, check out these blogs and sites:


Toys for Teachers

toysAll I want for Christmas is...

some really great teaching equipment.

Have you been a good English language teacher this year? Have you been learning and growing, communicating, aiding, facilitating, coaching and generally imparting your knowledge of this wonderful language?

Good, you deserve a treat and so you can have a quick chat with Santa, I'm gonna tell you about the most important thing I bought this year.

As I've mentioned often, he's the number one love of my life.

Actually, I confess, when I hit the "create a new post" button I thought I'd begin this with a poem, an ode in fact, but realized that

The Little Blue Guy
I traveled from shore to shore
visiting each and every store
wasn't sure what to do
I needed to find you.

My back was killing me
my laptop, you see
weighs a ton!
teaching with technology's
so much fun.

Had a quick look

you're the size of a book
I fell in love:
you fit in my bag like a glove.

You're shiny and new

you're beautiful 'n blue
I immediately knew
what to do -
I bought you.

well, Puh! That's simply just too corny.

You'd probably prefer to just read the statistics, get the hard facts and data and get told how to go find your own.

Rightie, then.

The Little Blue Guy's real name is an Acer Aspire One.

He's one of a genre of netbooks currently on the market. Mine cost €399 a couple of months ago however shortly after purchasing, noticed that Amazon had him at €50 less. Hmmm... you live, you learn. I never reckoned that buying electronic equipment would be cheaper online but there you go. (Links below.)

In general, Netbooks range from €299 to €699.

At the lower end of the price range they are pre-installed with the operating system Linux. Unfortunately, despite what all the techie geeks say I'm going to tell you that if you're not a SuperTechie and don't have a SuperTechie spouse, in the house, then don't go there.

It's simply too time-consuming to figure out how to make the video functions work or utilize some of the great free downloads available. I know, I tried and ended up going back to the shop to get the Acer.

If you're a regular ELT (English language teacher) currently in the process of moving over to TwIT (Teaching with Technology) and you'd like to have your own little guy, you'd be better off going for a model with XP.

And don't worry, those abound. Here are two good, short videos, one's cute marketing propaganda and one's a review of four models .

The Acer shown by the guy in this video uses Linux, again: look for one with XP pre-installed. The main reasons, as you probably gleaned from my poem and the vid, for using netbooks to teach English in the classroom/ in-company are:

they are portable and practical
  • light (1.8kg - 3.1kg)
  • small (7" - 10")
and in many cases they
  • come with more memory than a normal laptop (120-160GB compared to 80GB of most models).* -be careful, some only have 8GB: not useful if you want to download and save videos.
  • are often more powerful than a normal laptop

Do note that these machines aren't meant to replace your laptop or your desktop computer at home. If you spend hours typing on one of these your fingers and wrists will end up hurting!

It's a mini computer, made specifically for infrequent and internet usage - perfect for taking into class, to training conferences if you're a teacher trainer, for showing videos, playing mp3s & podcasts, recording your students and sharing presentations you've made or grabbed from slideshare.

Some downsides you should also consider:
  • no DVD or CD slot
  • you will need to purchase or download free software separately.
  • the touchpads are small (best to get an extra mouse to go with and if you want to walk around the classroom while controlling what's going on the screen, get a 'presenter' mouse.)

Want Santa to come on down the chimney? Get the banker of your household (if you have one) to have a general browse around at what's available in your city. It's a good idea to compare prices - also come on over and take a look at my Amazon "toys for teachers" pages where I've presaved some good models



USA and rest of the world
p.s. if you want your operating system to be in English and your country allows importation of computer goods, best to go with a purchase from UK or US.

On The Little Blue Guy, I've put the following useful freeware:
Use OpenOffice.org
  • documents, presentation tools, pdf, spreadsheets: open office
NB: Most free software comes with options to set the language of preference.

To grab stuff from my stored resources:
Any questions?

Do you have observations or experiences you'd like to share with us about the model you chose and how it works? Don't hesitate to click on the green comments at the bottom and type in your message there.


p.s. Lindsay Clandfield's new blog is up and he's got a list of six more gift ideas for teachers, they're over here.

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