Newsletter:Summer 2012 Print Version
From the Committee
From the Editor...
Here we are at the end of another challenging academic year. Exams have been marked, reports written, trips home/south/to the beach/anywhere-but-here have been planned, booked, and are just waiting to be had. Books can finally be read. The kitchen painted.
Some of us are bustling with summer projects - those niggling tasks we never get around to in the stress that is our working life; for others, the greatest project this summer will be to do absolutely nothing, and to do it with conviction.
But the summer slow-down will not be met with enthusiasm by all our members. For the freelancers among us, 'holidays' can translate into 'not enough coming in to make ends meet'. I hope, if you're in this position, that you find a bit of extra replacement teaching when some of your colleagues are off and about, a couple of one-off intensives at a local language school/VHS, and that you're still able to meet your ends.
The Newsletter this season is a little smaller than some of its predecessors - the contributors and editorial team alike have been burdened with end-of-year stress. I'd like to thank all of them for their hard work and creative input. I'm delighted to welcome some new names to the community of ELTA writers, with Event Reviews written by Jeannette Bergmann, Anke Vollmer and Bryan McCarvey. We welcome Noel Denvir back with another of his enigmatic stories, and a few familiar faces have found their way onto the contents page as well.
While you're tripping around the world this summer, stop and ask yourself - Is this something that the ELTA members might enjoy reading about? And it may surprise you to realise that the answer could well be Yes! So, jot it down - we can help you with the fine details, but we need your input to maintain the Newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you, fresh back from your summer adventures ;-)
Making a Virtue out of Necessity
Lorcan Flynn, on The Virtues Project as a teaching tool
Many years ago in Canada, I bought a very useful book called “ The Virtues Guide,“ which is basically about how to use positive language in our interactions with our children. I found I was able to get quite a few lessons out of it, so it paid for itself. After some time the book came to rest on my bookshelf along with all the others I intend to read again some day.
I was reminded of it again some months ago when one of the senior managers I teach came back from a hugely expensive management training seminar. He proudly produced a pack of glossy cards (each costing at least €2) containing words like “Encouragement,“ and told me how he had learned to use this kind of language to motivate his staff.
“Why don't I charge lots more money?“ I thought.
Anyway I blew the dust from my book and decided to find out more. A few weeks ago, I attended a most enjoyable and informative seminar by Andrea Kube of TugendProjekt e.V.
The Virtues Project
The Virtues Project began with an idea -- that all children are born with the virtues in potential, and that when parents and educators awaken these gifts of character, we can change the world.
The idea evolved into Five Strategies for bringing virtues to life, from birth to death. They not only help us to raise kinder kids but to improve the language we use daily in our homes and jobs.
The Kavelin-Popovs established a foundation, WellSpring International, and in 1991, formed Virtues Project International as a Canadian corporation when they began to ship virtues books and materials world-wide. The Project has spread to more than 95 countries, and has thousands of facilitators who share its virtues-based principles and practices. The Project is not affiliated with any particular faith but draws its research from all sacred traditions including the oral traditions of First Nations.
The mission of The Virtues Project is to inspire people of all cultures to remember who we really are and to live by our highest values.
The founders, the Kavelin-Popovs, believe that virtues are at the heart of meaning in every culture and belief system, from indigenous oral traditions to the world’s Sacred texts.
They self-published the original Virtues Guide in their garage, and in less than two months, by word of mouth alone, it was in more than twenty countries.
The Five Strategies
The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project are practices that bring virtues to life in every relationship. They help us to live authentic, purposeful lives, to raise children of compassion and idealism, and to create a culture of character in our schools and communities.
The Strategies apply from the moment a baby is born, to companioning people at the end of life. At every season, the practice of love, patience, compassion, excellence, devotion, and joy allows each act and interaction to be meaningful.
The Five Strategies are:
- Speak the Language of the Virtues
- Recognize Teachable Moments
- Set Clear Boundaries
- Honor the Spirit
- Offer Companioning
Speak the language of the Virtues
Language shapes character. The way we speak and the words we use, have great power to discourage or to inspire.
Our language has great power to influence the lives of others. Whether telling a baby how patient she has been, waiting to be fed, or encouraging a bullying teen to tap into his compassion, giving performance feedback to an employee, or telling someone what we love about them, language is a mirror of how we value others.
Language is also the vehicle of thought. Peace Pilgrim, a woman who walked across America for the cause of peace, said, “If we knew how powerful our thoughts were, we would never again have another negative thought.”
When our words are weighty, we need to weigh our words. And they always are. The language of virtues helps us to replace shaming and blaming with personal responsibility and respect. It is a frame of reference for bringing out the best in each other. It helps us to become the kind of people we want to be.
You focus your energy and efforts on a task and stick with it until it is finished. Determination is using your will power to do something when it isn't easy. You are determined to meet your goals even when it is hard or you are being tested. With determination we make our dreams come true.
Enthusiasm is being cheerful, happy, and full of spirit. It is doing something wholeheartedly and eagerly. When you are enthusiastic, you have a positive attitude. Enthusiasm is being inspired.
Excellence is doing your best, giving careful attention to every task and every relationship. Excellence is effort guided by a noble purpose. It is a desire for perfection. The perfection of a seed comes in the fruit. When you practice excellence, you bring your gifts to fruition. Excellence is the key to success.
Helpfulness is being of service to others, doing thoughtful things that make a difference in their lives. Offer your help without waiting to be asked. Ask for help when you need it. When we help each other, we get more done. We make our lives easier.
Honesty is being truthful and sincere. It is important because it builds trust. When people are honest, they can be relied on not to lie, cheat or steal. Being honest means that you accept yourself as you are. When you are open and trustworthy, others can believe in you.
Being humble is considering others as important as yourself. You are thoughtful of their needs and willing to be of service. You don’t expect others or yourself to be perfect. You learn from your mistakes. When you do great things, humility reminds you to be thankful instead of boastful.
When you have ideals, you really care about what is right and meaningful in life. You follow your beliefs. You don’t just accept things the way they are. You make a difference. Idealists dare to have big dreams and then act as if they are possible.
For further info, please refer to the website where I got most of this text:
In Germany:TugendProjekt e.V.
Five reasons for using video in the Business English classroom
For me, video has some key strengths in the Business English classroom. Here are my top five reasons.
Video to engage and stimulate
It’s Monday morning and your students aren’t feeling very talkative. So a short video is a great way to start off a lesson. And by short I mean anything between 30 seconds to a couple of minutes at the most. This kind of video helps to get students talking about the topic of the lesson and it’s easy to vary how you use it. For example, turn the sound off and let students watch the pictures. They can discuss what they think the video is going to be about or compare what they see to their own working lives. Alternatively, play the sound and turn the screen off so students describe what they think is on the screen.
Video to change the class dynamic
In the business English context we often teach one-to-one or small groups. The drawback is that we can’t benefit from the views of lots of other students. But video allows us to bring in another voice to the classroom. An interview with a business person on video brings in an outsider’s opinion which the student can respond to. You can either find suitable interviews from TV or on You Tube, but another way is to record your own interviews with business people. If you have different one-to-one business students you could ask each of them the same questions and record the interviews. Then play the interviews to other students for their reaction. Making videos like this is so easy these days with the camera on your phone.
Video to inform on business content
Following on from the idea of interviewing real business people, video has the power to bring the real world into your classroom and therefore to teach students about business as well as the language they need. This is especially useful with pre-work students in a college setting. TED talks are a particularly good resource for content-based presentations on various business-related topics as well as many other subjects.
Video to train communication skills
Scientists have found that when we watch video, it stimulates the mirror neurons in our brains. In other words, we respond emotionally to what we see. For example if the person on the screen smiles or cries, we engage with this emotionally. I think this is a good reason for using video for teaching communication skills because we can deal with aspects of body language and how we engage with the other people in, for example, a social situation. You’ll find lots of examples of presentations, meetings and social situations on You Tube. They are not always perfect examples of the communication skill but this can be exploited with students discussing what they liked or disliked about, for example, the presentation. After teaching communication skills with video, you are left wondering how we ever taught them only by using audio!
Video for developing business vocabulary and listening skills
The bottom line for any teacher is using good material to teach the language. Video works best for teaching vocabulary and for listening. The visual element often allows for good opportunities to clarify new vocabulary and, with a broad selection of videos, you can teach a wide range of lexical sets. With listening, it’s often worth letting students control the play and pause button on the video so they can choose whether to listen to a section more than once. You can also turn on subtitles so students read what they are hearing. For me, this kind of learner autonomy that naturally comes with using video – and especially video which all students have in their course books – is one of its main strengths.
John Hughes is a freelance author and trainer. He is one of the co-authors on the Business Result series (Oxford) and developed and wrote many of the new DVDs which accompany the book. Find out more about the series at http://www.oup.com/elt/result. John’s blog with information about his other Business English titles and summaries of talks is at http://www.elteachertrainer.com.
"Sitz", "Platz" und "Bleib": How our students are like dogs
Karina Kellermann, on the human animal
It goes like this:
"(name of dog)!" (said in a high-pitched, excited voice)
"Sitz!" (said in a commanding, lower-pitched tone of voice). Index finger raised, with a treat hidden in the palm of the hand.
Butt touches ground.
"Fein!" in a high-pitched, joyful tone, together with a 'Click' from the clicker.
Hand opens – there's the treat!
My puppy, Kiwi, grasped the concept after only two days. If the treat happens to be salami or Leberwurst, then the whole is followed by lustful brown eyes glued to my own waiting anxiously for the next command. She sits even before I can say it. If only teaching English were this easy...
To make a dog sit, you don't force its body into position and then reward it when it's there – you make it get there itself. Learning by doing, as the cliché goes. So when you want a dog to sit, you think about how best to get the dog there. Dogs are hunters so the best reward is food. Since one aspect of hunting behaviour is to keep your prey visible at all times, the trick is to hold the treat just above eye-level and then guide it slowly over the head of the dog. Because the dog wants to keep its eyes on the food, it automatically sits. You say the command "Sit", so the dog associates its behaviour with the word, and then reward. I did it, true to the book, and after a few tries, my puppy got it. It was amazing. The same principle applied to the other basic commands: "Platz", "Bei Fuß". My puppy can now walk on a see-saw, through a tunnel and balance on logs, among others, all through the powerful motivation of food.
So what's the point of this, you say. None of this applies to English teaching. Not directly of course. Don't get me wrong, I don't stand in front of my students waving turkey breast and shouting "Sitz!" (although I've got a few I'd love to try that out on). However, the basic idea behind this kind of training does, namely the concept of making your commands or tasks clear to your learners and showing them how to get there. When they've got it, you reward them.
I have been the proud mother (I am not ashamed to use the word) of a Labrador Retriever puppy since April. Wanting to be a responsible dog owner, I knew that training the puppy to obey basic commands is and would be an absolute must. So we bought the books and watched the videos in preparation for the little one's arrival. All throughout the process, it struck me over and over how much of what I was reading could be applied to my own students.
The basic principles of animal training are simple: encourage the behaviour you want and discourage the behaviour you don't. As usual, easier said than done. Answer me honestly: how do you motivate your students? How many of you reward your students? Do you vary your rewards depending on the performance produced? Do you take into account the different situations in which your students have to perform? Do you train these situations? Do you take the factors that can influence their performance into account when rewarding them? And: do you do it all the time?
Sounds like a lot. It is. I felt the same when reading the books. Be consistent. Train every day. Train in different situations: alone in the flat, with the TV on, with another person in the room. Can the dog do it when there are such distractions? Then raise the bar: take it outside. Can it perform in the open air? When children are around? Other dogs? A jogger or a cyclist? Train it to sit and lie down on carpet, on laminate, on grass, on wood, on tile, on cement. Where will the dog have to perform the command later? Train it there.
In order to successfully train an animal, there are some key concepts. And boy have I been learning. Kiwi and me both. If anything else, this has taught me the value of repetition. Train every day is the name of the game and Kiwi has shown me more than ever how much I need to repeat the task to ensure that she knows what I expect from her. Because she can sit on command in my living room when nobody's around doesn't mean she will sit in the park. Parallel to my English class: because my students can use the simple present in a gap-fill when they know that's expected doesn't mean they can do it in a free-writing activity, or in a mixed-tenses gap-fill. Not to mention repeating vocabulary. My own learning of German shows me constantly how much I need to see a word and hear a word before I can use it myself. It took me forever to use "eben" although I'd heard it so much and knew what it meant. Imagine how it is for our students. Simply because a word appears once in a lesson, was written on the board, pronounced once by the students and practised in a vocabulary exercise does not mean that our students can use it (or even recognise it!) next lesson.
Next point: motivation. Would you get up and go to work if you weren't paid? The factor of motivation and its relative, reward, cannot be underestimated. While many of our learners have extrinsic and intrinsic motivation for learning English, do we motivate them as their teacher/instructor/coach/trainer (pick your favourite)? To do this properly, you have to know what motivates them and reward them accordingly. My puppy is a Labrador, so luckily anything edible works (would you believe even steamed broccoli?), but there are so many ways we can reward our students for their performance, thereby motivating them to achieve higher standards. Not to mention the value of reward is also that it confirms to the learners that this behaviour is what is desired.
Reward can vary from a smile, a word or two of praise "Great!", to a sticker on a test (who said stickers are only for children?) to a box of chocolates. Your imagination is the limit. Important here is that the reward reflects the performance. If a weak student who normally never says anything actually comes up with a correct, relevant answer, a "Yes" might not be enough. Rewarding every little thing is also not the solution – finding the right balance between when to reward or praise and when not to is also key.
Related to this is keeping your expectations in line with their abilities. As our dog trainer says every week, if you're not sure your dog will respond to your command, don't issue it. I, for one, tend to get so excited when my students can do something we've been working on for a while that I sometimes set them tasks they can't achieve, along the lines of "Wow! You did that quite well! Okay, let's try this." If they don't complete the task or not successfully, then the experience is depressing for all involved. Again, balance is key. What can they do? Where do they need to go? The trick is to provide enough stimulation to keep it interesting but not off-putting.
Most of this so far will probably be familiar to most of us, we've heard it tons of times. What really got me thinking was this one: when you raise your parameters, raise them one at a time. If my dog can come on command flawlessly in my flat, my next step is not to try it outside where there's grass underfoot, people walking, cars driving, cyclists riding, children playing. No, I raise my parameter one level: I try it out when someone else is in the flat or when we're (for whatever reason) under similar circumstances in someone else's flat. If I did it outside, I'd be raising too many parameters at once: the acoustics, the flooring, the distraction level. Obviously that's too high a jump at once and if the dog couldn't perform, the tendency would be to blame the dog. Actually according to the literature, the blame lies with the trainer. This was a disturbing thought. I looked back at the courses I teach and I saw over and over cases where I raised the bar too fast, too high. The result was mostly frustration.
The reverse side of the coin: how to discourage the behaviour you don't want. Modern animal training avoids causing pain, both physical and emotional. So if the dog demonstrates unwanted behaviour, for example, begging while you're at the dinner table, you don't shout at the dog, use electric shock collars or spray water in its face. You ignore it. Dogs are opportunists by nature so eventually they stop displaying behaviour that doesn't bring results. If you shout at it, it learns that it can get your attention that way. If you cause physical pain, you create fear in the dog and it doesn't learn not to do that but rather it learns not to display that behaviour in front of you. Hence the ignoring. It's hard but it works. Try ignoring Labby eyes once and you'll see what I mean. In my English class I've applied that principle to those students who tend to shout out answers without raising their hands. I don't even look at them, and instead call on the person whose hand is in the air. Slowly but surely they get it.
I'm still in doubt as to whether this is the right technique when someone has the wrong answer, after all, ignoring it is definitely not okay. But the idea of not causing excessive distress to the person/animal who is doing something undesirable, whether physical or emotional, is a concept that I agree with. (Key word: excessive!)
The other possibility when the dog does something that you don't want is to distract it! So if every time you come in, your over-enthusiastic dog plants its front paws on your chest and gives you a warm, wet welcome, instead of screaming at it, you give it something else to do – you make it sit, or lie down. I've used this, and I'm sure many of you have as well, for students who've finished the task faster than others – they get something else to do, perhaps more challenging or to help those who aren't finished. This works wonders for keeping harmony in a classroom.
Finally, since dogs are hierarchical animals and humans are too, we as the leaders of the pack have to set boundaries and keep them. If a pack member steps out of line, the pack leader has to let it know that. I have to show my dog when I am angry with her and that way she knows she crossed the line. When my students don't do their homework or are disrespectful to their fellow students or break whatever classroom rule we set up together, I let them know that I am not happy. If dogs feel that there is no alpha in the pack, they will assume that role. And I think we humans are not much different.
A final thought. Training a dog is a never-ending process. Just like learning English. For those of us who have learners on a long-term contract of programme of study, the rewards are more than worth the effort.
The How-to Exam Section
The Cambridge BEC Exams - A Challenge Worth Taking
Compiled by J. Ellis, based on a workshop by David Thorne
The Cambridge ESOL BEC (Business English Certificate) Exams are extremely popular amongst students, professionals and Human Resources departments alike. As with any exam format, it pays to be well acquainted with the types of questions and the expectations of the examiners before a candidate sits the exams. This enables the candidate to show their English skills in the best possible light - not being surprised by the style of questioning, not needing to suddenly adjust to an unfamiliar task.
Firstly, you as the teacher should consider which exam would be the best for your students to enrol for. The exams are a rather expensive undertaking, and enrolling an overly ambitious student in an exam which is beyond their reach is simply money down the drain.
Thus, BEC candidates should (ideally) have the following:
- an appropriate level of language ability according to CEF
- some practical experience of the business world
- an interest in a range of business areas and processes
In practice, students will often lack practical experience, so they need to do lots of role-plays andsituational activities. People in business, on the other hand, may have a specific and limited area of experience and therefore need to broaden their vocabulary base and get used to talking about business areas they are less familiar with.
An overview of the three exams is provided below:
Preparation for the exams
Teachers can find a great deal of information on the Cambridge website https://www.teachers.cambridgeesol.org/ts/, including worksheets, examples of all test parts, worksheets, and video and audio files. It is advisable to fully familiarise yourself with the exam before introducing your students to it.
Apart from working through one of the course books for BEC preparation, and doing plenty of practice tests to build strategies, being aware of strengths and weaknesses, and developing vocabulary and grammar, students would be well advised to read and listen to Business English commentaries on a regular basis. Resources can be found in many places, including Business Spotlight (magazine and CDs), http://www.thelocal.de, http://www.onestopenglish.com, http://Ted.com, etc.
The following skills and themes should be a part of any preparation programme
Dealing with figures, graphs, trends
Be clear about the standard format for:
E-mails, memos, letters
Reports and proposals
Language of presentations
Agreeing and disagreeing
Get practice in discussing themes such as:
Marketing and advertising
Banking and finance
Distribution and logistics
Employment and working conditions
Pay particular attention to:
Comparatives and superlatives
Adjectives and adverbs
The Reading test
The reading tests require students to do much more than simply understand the text. Skills needed to successfully complete the reading exam include:
Skimming and scanning
Recognizing and avoiding „distractors“
Interpreting views and overall opinion
Knowing vocabulary, collocations
The Reading exam contains 7 different activities, including multiple choice and True/False/Doesn't Say comprehension questions, a matching activity based on recognising synonyms (Part 2) and choosing the correct vocab for the context (Part 6), interpreting visual information such as graphs (Part 3), and understanding and processing information in order to complete a form or a note (Part 7).
The Vantage Reading Exam has 5 parts, including comprehension questions, gap-fill involving whole sentences, requiring an understanding of text structure (part 2), multiple-choice vocabulary (Part 4) and proofreading skills for error-correction (Part5).
The 6 sections in the Higher Reading Exam largely mirror the style of the Vantage exam, but using more complex vocabulary and grammar. An additional activity is the gap-fill activity for single words (no hints given) (Part 5), and perhaps the most challenging parts are the gap-fill sentence and the multiple-choice vocab activities.
Every exam involves writing two texts, the first of which is shorter than the second. Input information is given, and content points are clearly articulated. In BEC Higher, there is a choice of 3 questions for the second task, and candidates are required to invent some of the details.
Assessment of the Writing Exam is based on the following criteria:
Grammar and vocabulary
Tips for the Writing Exams:
Procedure: read and underline key words, mark bullet points or notes that need invented output, paraphrase other points.
Planning and writing: what the situation is, who you are, why you are writing, the message, register and target reader, organisation and focus of language, structure of the text
Checking answers: check content points (rephrased or appropriate information created), grammar and vocabulary, range, organisation, register, effect on reader, length
Useful strategies: read as if you are the recipient; check if the message is clear
As with the Reading Exams, there are a variety of listening tasks/contexts to be dealt with in the Listening Exams. They include a range of voices, with native and non-native accents. They will also encompass different registers and a range of emotions.
To train effectively for the test, students need exposure to authentic spoken English in a range of contexts. When working with a textbook, exploit transcripts after doing the listening, in order to clarify any misunderstanding the accents may have caused, and to become aware of distractors. The listening exams all involve distractors - answer possibilities which quote verbatim parts of the text without actually answering the question: a trap for the unwary.
The Speaking test
The Speaking Tests are conducted as live interviews, involving two candidates and two examiners (an interlocutor and an assessor). At different stages, the candidates speak on their own or with their partner, depending on the activity. The sections in the exam are:
Part 1: Interview
Part 2: 1-minute presentation
Part 3: Collaborative task and discussion
Part 1 is a warm-up into the exam, and the interlocutor asks questions which the candidates can answer from their own experience. This may involve talking about their job, their studies, and their opinion on a range of business-related themes.
Tips for Part 1:
Make sure you understand the question Giving (short) extended answers (typically 1-2 sentences) Practise use of different tenses (e.g. previous job vs. current job) Give opinions on business topics
Part 2 involves preparing and delivering a one-minute presentation. Each candidate is given a choice between 3 different topics, and has one minute to prepare some notes before speaking. At Vantage and Higher, after the presentation, the other candidate is expected to ask a follow-up question related to what the speaker has said, and the speaker can speak for another 20 seconds (approx.) in answer.
Tips for Part 2:
Choose topic quickly (check understanding)
Structure your talk (presentation language)
Explain why points are important
Say which is most important and why
Think of additional point if possible (esp. Vantage/Higher)
In part 3, candidates are given a scenario of some kind of meeting, in which they have to make some decisions or prioritise a list. The candidates are then given several minutes to role-play the meeting and come up with some solutions. This is followed by further questions from the interlocutor, expanding on the themes in the role-play.
Tips for Part 3:
Check you understand the task
Consider pros and cons
Listen and react to partner
Agree, disagree, interrupt
The final discussion is the chance to give fuller extended responses
Grammar and Vocabulary
Accurate and appropriate use of a range of vocab and grammar (dependent on level)
Performance viewed in terms of overall effectiveness
Ability to link ideas without undue hesitation and develop themes and arguments logically and coherently
Pronunciation includes appropriate use of stress and intonation
Ability to take active part in the development of the dialogue, initiating and responding appropriately
Can maintain interaction to fulfil tasks (although full task-completion is not essential)
Creative Writing Page
Whether for use in the classroom as a springboard to discussion or vocab work, or simply to be read for pleasure, some offerings from our membership.
by Noel Denvir
My name is Florence Weldon.
I’m in my late thirties with no kids, nor any chance of any.
I love visiting places like museums, galleries, churches, stations or even airports.
You don’t need any membership or reason for being there. It’s a wonderfully non-contractual agreement and of course, in my case, I’m not burdened by companionship.
The visit can be brought to an abrupt end and then resumed or repeated without any further negotiations.
Actually, I want to tell you a story and I thought I would start by giving a bit of information about myself. Not my height, weight and so on, you’ll just have to fill in the physical details yourself, but then one does, doesn’t one?
I’m no good-looker, but if you want to, you can make me look like one of those Hollywood actresses who is supposed to be very plain but is really rather nice, like, you know, Meryl Streep or somebody. This story is about my disappearance so I’ll now hand you over to the narrator because I’m not here anymore. I’ve disappeared.
Florence Weldon stood blatantly yawning while an elderly tourist proceeded, unbidden, to tell her all about his hometown, and then about his son’s graduation ceremony.
“How boring.” she interjected firmly.
“No, it wasn’t boring at all,” continued the proud father, obliviously, “you know, it’s a very special moment when…”
“I’m having my period at the moment,” Florence barked, then, breathing deeply to calm herself down, resumed in a more level voice, “So, you’ll have to excuse me.”
He blinked owlishly at her “Oh yeah...um...of course, go ahead...er, I mean…”
But she was gone.
She had wanted to visit the magnificent cathedral alone but had somehow got absorbed into a group of English speakers. And how they spoke. She had no option but to employ well-practised disentangling measures. The one about menstruation always worked a treat, but only with men: women would start giving advice. This required a different approach. Announcing that she was lesbian cleared the decks pretty well, and joyfully proclaiming that she’d been sent here by God effectively killed off the rest of them.
She strode purposefully across the sunlit square with a view to doing some backstreet touring. Maybe she would discover some little gem; a local open-air market, or a beautiful, shaded fountain.
And she did.
No market or fountain, but instead a charming, secluded courtyard. One side was dominated by a large wall. The other two sides housed what appeared to be abandoned shops, but which were probably going concerns enjoying a siesta.
Something she liked about southern countries was the way buildings were allowed to weather and get dusty. We northerners were obsessed by painting and cleaning. These sleeping premises only needed people, not varnish, to bring them back to life.
A cafe occupied the opposite end of the square. The faded striped awning hung listlessly over a random formation of tables and chairs and – joy – there were lots of free places.
She found a semi-shaded spot, leaned back gratefully in the surprisingly comfortable wicker chair and surveyed her new discovery.
You have to look up, someone had told her once; maybe herself. Above the shop signs and window displays was another building almost consigned to invisibility by our fixation with eye-level perception.
It wasn’t a wall opposite her; it was a church. The highly positioned stained-glass windows dulled by the exterior light nestled unnoticed in the grey-brown brickwork. The shiny, dark tiled roof swept up at a dizzying angle and then blended imperceptably with the narrow spearlike steeple, or was it a spire? Do spires inspire? Are steeples so named because they are steep?
Florence Weldon then indulged in her favourite form of architectural empathy. She projected herself onto the steeple, you can’t go inside a steeple. That’s the difference, she thought.
There she was, hanging desperately onto the crowning crucifix. She felt her arms weaken, her fingers capitulate and then her heavy body slide ignominiously down the glistening tiles. The small railing at the edge shredded her skirt and scored her intimate flesh as she screamed into her final descent.
Now what would be the best way to fall? She would refuse to land on her feet and have her legs thrust up into her torso. No, she would spread her arms, throw her head back and slam spectacularly supine onto the cobblestones, and then stare lifelessly at the sky as the crimson lake of blood haloed her head.
The waiter mistook her wild stare as an expression of impatience at the slow service, and was especially polite about asking for the order.
The customer gazed at him, obviously relieved that she wasn’t dead, and smilingly requested a coffee and mineral water.
While enjoying the refreshments a few minutes later, she realized that her semi-shaded spot had become completely darkened. The shadow of the steeple had extended over the courtyard. She could feel a calming breeze caressing her skin and gently blowing away the sweat. She thought of a quotation she liked that half the world’s problems would be solved if everybody sat down for ten minutes. Or maybe it was just the coffee and mineral water?
It certainly wasn’t the cost of the coffee and the mineral water which she received with a gasp and a look that reminded the waiter of death mask he had once seen in a museum.
It was obvious to her that the next thing to do was to have a look inside the building opposite that was so clearly beckoning to her.
“Buildings speak to you.” she said to the waiter as she dutifully tipped.
“Like nobody else would.” He, who had spent five years at his cousin’s restaurant in London, whispered as she walked away.
She crossed the square wondering what “La nobli es a ud” meant.
Following the wall towards what must lead to the main door, she discovered a recess that had gone unnoticed before. The arched entrance revealed a similarly shaped door, emphatically closed. So closed that it looked like it had never been opened.
Well, this certainly wasn’t the way in, so she made her way round to front of the building. The front facade was positively glowing in the direct sunlight and the sudden bolt in temperature almost made her retreat back around the corner. The main entrance was an arch housing two heavy wooden doors which closed in the middle. Two decorative handles perched at chest level about a foot from each other near the join and curved in opposite directions from each other like wings. But neither of them moved when she tried them.
She felt a flash of anger but managed to contain any tirade against the venerable woodwork. This was a church after all.
The perspiration soaked her blouse and the strong heat of the sun pressed on the back of her neck. “Closed.” She said.
The addressed portal remained impassive.
The best thing now to do was to resume her plan to visit the cathedral. Oh, the benefits of being alone. She could do whatever she wanted.
The shaded side of the building was wonderfully cool and Florence quickly calculated that the temperature was exactly twelve degrees lower here. This was, of course, correct because there was no one to disagree with it. She walked past the recess in the wall, stopped, then stepped back to confirm that the door was now open.
Inside was so dark that it seemed that a black curtain had been drawn behind the door. However, her eyes soon adjusted and she could make out a pale green corridor at the end of which was a short flight of steps leading up to another, more brightly lit opening or passage.
She entered tentatively even managing to utter a husky “Hello?”
When no answer came she continued along, prepared to be the lost tourist if anyone should ask what she was doing there. She thought this fairly likely as someone must have opened the door. Perhaps they had gone out?
It had the unmistakable odour of a place of worship, of incense, candle wax and age. She was experiencing a schoolgirl’s delight at being backstage like this.
“Hello?” Why was she whispering? She spoke again but this time louder.
She jumped at the surprising volume of her own voice, half-expecting at least an echo, if not a reply. The silence bid her to proceed.
The second, lighter corridor finally led to a dark undersized door, the top of which only drew level with her chin. She pushed it open thinking of Alice in Wonderland.
On entering, she bowed – more out of necessity than reverence – and then, straightening up, found herself bathed in a diffused biblical light streaming from the stained-glass windows.
To her right was that other forbidden area: the altar. It was discreetly, yet very effectively, fenced off by a half dozen or so gold bollards, each attached to the other by means of a thick blood-red rope. She circled this area respectfully and took a place in one of the front pews.
Then, to her own surprise, she knelt down, leaning her elbows on the wooden rail which was integrated into the bench’s design.
And, burying her face in her palms, ignored, or was oblivious to, the light click as the small door gently shut.
I haven’t really disappeared because no one has noticed that I’m gone.
by Ula Martyn-Ellis
a plastic bag hangs
(sagging, under the weight
of the last three weeks)
from one corner
of my bedside table.
two used condoms
and a rotting apple core
(engraved with your bite).
to dispose of it:
to lift the bag,
to knot its handles
to carry it downstairs
Using video in Business English
Speaker: John Hughes
OUP Publisher's Day
28th April 2012
Alte Feuerwache, Cologne
On Saturday, 28 April 2012, ELTA-Rhine, in cooperation with Oxford University Press, presented John Hughes speaking on how to use videos in Business English.
John is a teacher trainer and ELT author who has trained teachers from all over the world and also runs online training courses. He has authored and co-authored over twenty books including two titles in the “Business Result” series (Elementary and Intermediate) from which the video material used in the presentation had been taken.
The purpose of the presentation was to outline reasons for using videos in Business English lessons, present four different types of activities based on video input and provide the audience with practical ideas on how to incorporate videos into a Business English course.
What makes video such a useful tool for language teaching is that it is more authentic and motivating, it is easy to access and versatile, it is more relevant as a method of input (spoken language combined with visual input) and it allows external content into the classroom. Especially the mix of the visual input combined with spoken language makes video a highly recommended tool for language teaching. John mentioned research into how the brain transfers and receives information (cf. Allan Paivio’s “Dual Coding Theory”), showing that visual and verbal information is processed differently. This again is a strong argument for using input material that addresses both channels.
The advantages of video are that it is able to engage students’ interest and raise their motivation, that it informs students with business content and allows external expertise into the classroom, that it can be used to develop language skills such as listening, to introduce vocabulary, and finally that it can help to train communication skills. Based on graded video material taken from the course book series "Business Result", John presented four types of activity, each focusing on one of the afore-mentioned aspects.
After watching a sequence of answers given by different people, the audience was asked to identify the questions that the interviewees had been asked and then compare their questions with a partner. After checking the correct questions, each pair was then asked to talk about the same questions, which resulted in a very lively exchange. The advantage of using a video as a starting point for such a pair activity is that students already have some language input and also a sense of achievement (i.e. having identified the questions) prior to discussing the questions themselves.
The second activity showed an example of how to bring external expertise into the classroom. The video was an interview with a lecturer from an English university about management styles, especially the different cultures of appraisal in the USA, Japan and Germany. After watching the video students are asked to discuss (based on the imagery used in the video to exemplify different cultures of appraisal) "what shape their hamburger is".
The next activity was a video about Fresh Direct, a UK-based logistics company specializing in fruit and vegetables. Prior to watching, the audience was asked to identify the key steps in the process of bringing farm produce from the field to the supermarket shelves. The video was then first shown without sound to allow the audience to identify the different steps presented in the video (and compare these with their own list); afterwards, the video was shown a second time with sound to provide the necessary vocabulary input and also so that the audience could check their answers.
In a second exercise, the video (an interview with the General Manager at the Hilton Hotel in Düsseldorf) is accompanied by a worksheet including a couple of warm-up questions, video-related listening and vocabulary exercises and follow-up activities. The worksheets (and the respective lesson plans) are included in the Teacher’s Book that comes with each title in the “Business Result” series.
The last activity John presented was the use of scripted situations and staged videos (appraisals, job interviews, negotiations) to train communication skills. Studies on mirror neurons suggest that a person acting and a person observing the same action performed by someone else show similar patterns of brain activity. In other words, observing somebody having a job interview in a video “mirrors” this experience, so that the act of watching trains the language and communication skills shown in the video.
One crucial issue that was addressed in the presentations is the accessibility of video material. John suggested either using already prepared video material provided by course books (e.g. the “Business Result” series) or recording one's own videos and developing a bank of video material. Some of the videos from the “Business Result” series are also available on the Internet (see OUP’s YouTube channel on http://www.youtube.com/user/OUPELTGlobal). Another source of graded video material with accompanying lesson plans is the website http://lessonstream.org. Conversations with colleagues in the coffee break showed, however, that most prefer using ungraded and authentic video material and would rather grade the task than the input material itself.
Presentation Skills Training – The Language Problem
Speaker: Andrew Mallett
OUP Publisher's Day
28th April 2012
Alte Feuerwache, Cologne
On Saturday, 28 April 2012, teachers and trainers were invited by ELTA-Rhine and Oxford University Press to listen to Andrew Mallett talk about giving Successful Presentations – also the title of the book co-authored with the day’s first speaker, John Hughes, and published by OUP – and how language and potential language barriers may impact our public speaking skills. Andrew, a former actor, has been a presentation skills coach for over a decade and has worked in many countries, teaching in both public organizations and the private sector. He is also a management skills trainer and executive coach, and is currently working on extending his expertise in group psychotherapy in his postgraduate studies.
Andrew’s talk about presentation skills focused on the language aspect. He actually anticipated a lot of what he was going to say by going partially off course, neglecting a few of his slides in favor of a more interactive, improvisational approach. But whether you improvise or follow a detailed outline, in general, presentation skills and language skills need to meet somewhere when giving a presentation.
So Andrew set out to make the audience think about what makes a good presentation; and whether a good presentation necessarily means that its language is flawless.
When asked to brainstorm the key issues on giving talks, the audience mentioned aspects like a clear structure, coherence, a clear message, the speaker’s nerves, technical equipment, interaction with the audience, enthusiasm for the topic, etc. The main consensus among the listeners seemed to be that both enthusiasm for the topic and a clear structure (resulting in a clear message) were the key features of a talk that would make you feel you had witnessed a successful presentation. And by no means did any of those aspects mean that your language skills had to be extraordinary. It is, after all, the successful transmission of a message that makes a presentation successful, and that transmission of information does depend on non-verbal transmitters as well as verbal ones. Besides, Andrew asks, how should we measure eloquence and coherence in the first place?
Andrew proceeded to show us how the main focus on language can be disruptive, if not destructive, to the success of your talk as soon as other external aspects come into play. External aspects like trying to keep track of possible questions and concerns from the audience, time management, disturbing sounds from outside, already thinking ahead to the coming parts of the talk, etc., potentially distract you from all the perfectly formulated sentences in your head. A simple and yet very impressive example was then demonstrated by Andrew. Walk around the room at a rather swift pace, point at objects you see (window, computer, chair, door, light switch, brochures, etc) and say their name out loud while you point at them. Not too difficult. But then, in a second step, walk around the room again at the same swift pace, point at objects you see and say the name of the object you saw before the one you’re pointing at. Really not quite so easy anymore.
For a lot of the audience, there was another aspect that might make giving presentations harder for the speakers. As teachers, we are expected to grade our students for their talks – which of course means a lot of extra external pressure on top of the internal, which is hardly conducive to outstanding results.
Working with the formula Performance = Potential – Interference, Andrew’s approach is to coach via possibility. Find out what will have an impact on your performance and try to limit the interference while being aware that you cannot eliminate it completely. The overall external focus must be to convey the message, so try to disregard anything that might hinder that, such as physical awkwardness, nerves, language, etc. Don’t let language become so much the focus of your preparation that it becomes a hurdle to the success of your presentation.
Perfection is dangerous. You need a clear, basic structure. This will enable a more flexible approach towards language and might just make you lose any fear of possible language problems, thereby freeing your mind of yet some more interference.
Simplicity is valuable. Don’t watch famous speakers like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Ken Robinson, etc and model yourself on their excellence. Be yourself – if you can. Be happy with what you can do and try to stay true to that. Pretending is too much hard work when you should be focusing on your message. Authenticity, for that matter, is valuable, and Andrew mentions Why should anyone be led by you? Living leadership, by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones (2006), to enhance the point. “Be yourself, know yourself, show yourself.”
Help them be ordinary. Andrew says that nobody expects perfection – especially when it comes to non-native speakers using English – be it in the phrases and expressions you use, or even the facts. Be courageous enough to own up to things you do not know, when it comes to questions during or after the talk, for instance. And if you feel more at ease pacing back and forth than standing still, or you aren’t the relaxed, enchanting, delightful person you would like to be when speaking in front of an audience, own that as well.
Last but not least, Andrew points out (only somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that a presentation has something to do with present: if done right, it should be a gift to the audience. Remember that a good talk will give the listeners something they cannot get in an essay or an email. You transmit something in speaking that might otherwise be lost. Keep in mind that the audience wants something from you; they need you to enlighten them on some special topic, or that you are at least saving them a lot of time and trouble by presenting it to them as you do. Your communication of a message is very valuable, so don’t hide what you can do.
Research in Business English - where are we, where do we need to go?
Speaker: Evan Frendo
12th May 2012
Elta-Rhine members were treated on Saturday the 12th of May to a workshop led by Evan Frendo, a freelance trainer and teacher trainer based in Berlin. Evan has been involved in teaching English for almost twenty years now and has accumulated a vast knowledge, especially in the fields of teaching Business English and ESP (English for Special Purposes).
Saturday's workshop, Research in Business English – where are we, where do we need to go?, revolved around some very central questions. What is business English? Are we doing it right? How can we improve? And can we teach ESP without expertise in the subject at hand? First, Evan looked at the differences between EFL and ELF, that is, teaching English as a Foreign Language versus teaching English as a Lingua Franca.
EFL is the traditional model, where we as English teachers serve as models of correct English and try to get the students to emulate us while at the same time we hammer home the rules of grammar.
ELF is concerned, on the other hand, with function rather than form, communication over correct usage. Who cares for grammar so long as we understands us? Consider this: Three-fourths of those speaking English are non-native speakers, have extremely varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds, see the world rather differently, and yet still manage to communicate. What is going on? It's certainly not a result of having used the future perfect continuous correctly.
Evan then made a very convincing argument that we as native speakers might not be the best candidates to teach ELF and by extension BELF (Business English as a Lingua Franca). Rather, a better model would be someone from China, who has a competent command of English and expertise in a particular field. Such a person speaks the language of ELF, while we speak of the language of ELF. Jokes aside, for us trainers to stay relevant in a world where Business English is increasingly spoken between non-native speakers, we have to better understand that the needs of our students aren't necessarily grammar and vocabulary building.
The second part of the workshop dealt with teaching materials and specifically framework materials. We all know the advantages and disadvantages of coursebooks and the increasing difficulty we have in finding appropriate materials for courses of increasing specificity. Anything on the market will either be outdated, not quite what you need, or simply bad. So you end up scouring the internet or pleading with your students to bring in genuine company material.
Framework materials get students to provide the content of the course rather than you, the teacher, cramming content down their throats. For example, on a piece of paper is written: What do you do? What are your main tasks?, and under each question is a big blank box. Students are required to generate the content and the vocabulary and furthermore hit upon the grammar they need in order to express themselves. This can then be a more empowering way of discovering the grammar, rather than just having the grammar forms drilled into them. Another example of framework materials might be asking the students to draw a picture of their office and then talk about it.
For more information about Evan Frendo and his work, be sure to check out his website, http://englishfortheworkplace.blogspot.com. Furthermore, you can find a Power Point presentation of this very workshop on his website under 'Recent Talks'.
Research in Business English – where are we, and where do we need to go?
On 12 May 2012 Evan Frendo gave a talk at ELTA Rhine in which he summarised recent research relevant to Business English trainers, and also discussed implications about what this might mean for Business English trainers. This is his summary of his main points. For a copy of his presentation, as well as a list of references, please visit his blog English for the Workplace.
Business English as a Lingua Franca
There is now a fair amount of research in English as a lingua franca, particularly in business and academic contexts. As an in-company trainer, I see my job as helping my clients operate more effectively in a BELF environment, ie where people from different cultures, often non-native speakers of English, have to use English to do business together. It doesn’t matter whether or not I think they are using English incorrectly – success in international business communication depends on mutual understanding, not sticking to native speaker rules. BELF research is examining real language use and asking lots of pertinent questions about how people actually communicate successfully. If we take the findings into account we may need to change the way we train people – helping our learners imitate native speakers, for example, may be less important than helping our learners develop strategies which will help them adapt and accommodate to local context. A focus on form may be less of a priority when we see that effective communication depends much more on content knowledge rather than on language accuracy – in real life people simply ask for clarification when they don’t understand.
Traditionally ESP and business English practitioners have found John Swales’s work on discourse communities very useful, and this makes sense; analysing the target discourse our learners have to deal with is a key part of what we do, and Swales’s framework was and remains very useful. However more recently taking a “Communities of Practice” approach to learning has provided an additional perspective, in other words looking at how groups of people learn as they interact with others in the same community. In the past, English trainers have tended to take learners away from the relevant Community of Practice and put them into classrooms to learn English – this has certain advantages, but also disadvantages. We are now beginning to understand that detaching the learners from the target discourse community is not necessarily the most effective way to help them learn.
Over the last few years intercultural training has become an important element in most business English courses. Recent research has focussed not only on how people from different cultural backgrounds use language differently, but also how they adapt and change the way they use language when they come into contact with other cultures. In this part of the talk we briefly looked at some research by Averil Grieve in this area, and discussed some of the implications. We then moved on to the subject of identity, in other words, who we are and how we present ourselves to others, and discussed how cultural identity might also affect how we use language.
Specific lexis and genre
There has been a lot of research on specificity and genre, and it seems to me that understanding these two areas are crucial to successful business English training. When is a common core approach appropriate, and when should we be targeting the specific language used in a particular discourse community? Recent research by Ken Hyland, for example, suggests that we need to pay more attention to how specific language use is in different disciplines. We also compared static and dynamic approaches to genre, and discussed how both approaches are relevant to Business English trainers. Treating genre as a type of text allows us to present models of language to our learners; however, adopting a more dynamic approach allows us to take context and professional practice into account.
What's coming up at ELTA-Rhine?
Please mark the following dates in your diaries:
Saturday August 25th
Mike Hogan is giving a workshop in two parts
21st Century learners - How can teachers cope with the changing needs and learning styles of our learners?
Read more here (link to page Future events) or check out his 'about me' page or follow him on twitter
and on Twitter @irishmikeh
Saturday 22nd September
Our first ever ELTA-Rhine Webinar hosted jointly by BESIG and MELTA (Munich ELTA) will take place in the language lab of the University of Applied Sciences in Sankt Augustin. There will be a discussion of copyright-related issues and time to socialize and discuss in the breaks in between. We are really excited to be part of this new venture uniting ELTA members from all around Germany.
October 2012 Awaiting finalisation.
Saturday 24th November
Scott Thornbury has agreed to come and give a workshop on the topics:
English grammar is (a) easy (b) difficult?
Language teachers spend a lot of time teaching "tenses", and coursebooks suggest that the tense system in English is both intricate and opaque. In this talk I will attempt to simplify the traditional model, by first distinguishing between tense and aspect, and then suggesting ways that a simpler, more elegant system might be applied in practice.
This is followed by
Grammar or speaking? Or Grammar of speaking?
Can you learn to speak without grammar? Can you learn grammar without speaking? Is there a special grammar of speech? What's the best way to learn speaking? In this workshop I will address these questions, with specific reference to fluency, accuracy and (syntactic and lexical) complexity, including a look at the way these factors might be quantified. I'll also propose an instructional model for the teaching of speaking, and demonstrate ways that speaking and grammar can be integrated.
His website: http://www.thornburyscott.com/index.htm
The final event this year will be our Members Day & Christmas Party on Saturday 8th December.
More details will follow on the future events page of the website (http://elta-rhine.de/Future_Events), so if you are not signed up for the E-list (Yahoo group) keep looking there for updates.
A Desperate Discussion
Literature Group Meeting on 13th January 2012
You would have been forgiven for thinking that the title of the first novel under discussion, Desperate Characters, referred to the members of the Lit Group as they tried to negotiate the rabbit-warren that is Werkstattstraße in Köln-Nippes to find Majella and Thomas’s snug little house. But later, when we’d finally arrived to a warm welcome, wrung out our clothes, and settled down around a table full of delicacies with a glass of wine in our hands, you would have been reassured that the epithet no longer applied.
Written by Paula Fox and first published in 1970, the novel owes its reissue and revived popularity to championing by Jonathan Franzen. Set in New York over a single weekend, the plot has a certain unity of time and space, while flashbacks allow the reader an insight into the main character’s past. The story is narrated from the point of view of Sophie, a translator from French when she feels like it, who is married to Otto, a lawyer. The narrative arc begins with a bite from a stray cat Sophie has been feeding and ends with the lab report reassuring her that the animal was not rabid. The throbbing wound is not so much a metaphor as a tangible grain of physical and bodily reality around which the angst which permeates Sophie’s life can crystallise. This general sense of foreboding is reflected in an apparently degenerating neighbourhood and vandalism at their weekend home but, like her own dissatisfaction with the barrenness of working and home life, refuses to manifest itself in a directly confrontable form.
For such a short book, it was a long intense discussion that the Litgroup got out of it. On the one hand, we discussed the writing. Some compared it favourably with Franzen himself, claiming Fox had compressed more into her slim volume than ‘the most important American writing today’ had in his doorstopping tomes. Others demurred, opining that Franzen developed his characters, and especially their relationships, in much more detail. On the other hand, we enjoyed sharing and comparing our views and interpretations of the people and events described. Was Otto justified in ‘divorcing’ his legal partner? Was Sophie right to flirt with the latter in the middle of the night? What did we make of Sophie’s lover and their strange trysts? What did her idiosyncratic friends contribute to the story? As usual we found parallels in our own lives and environments and came away having found out more about the book and ourselves than we would have thought possible for one Friday evening.
The next meeting of the Literature Group will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday 28th October to discuss Out of Sight by Isabelle Grey. The meeting will be hosted by Ursula Roth, Sintherer Straße 23, 50829 Köln (Bocklemünd) Tel. 0221 / 503175, email: Roth.Ursula@t-online.de Public transport: Tram No. 3 to the Bocklemünd terminus (Ollenhauerring) or bus 127 to the same stop. New members and guests are always welcome but please let the host know in advance that you are coming.
The ELTA-Rhine Song-birds
We are always happy to welcome new members into our little singing community. Come for the sing, stay for the chat and nibbles in very pleasant company. And, no matter how you're feeling before you arrive, it's amazing how much better you feel by the end of the rehearsal - reoxygenated, reinvigorated, humming a little tune in time with the spring in your step.
We normally meet once a month on a Sunday evening, sing in three or four-part harmony, and perform whenever people let us!
Don't be shy - if you would like the occasional chance to oil the vocal chords, come along. Being able to read music is helpful, but not completely essential.
The next confirmed choir rehearsals are on 15th July and 2nd September. For more information, please contact:
02203 / 3266
BESIG for Beginners
Emma Stockton, on being a first-timer
A few weeks ago I spent one of the several wet June weekends that we had this summer in Paris. I got onto the Thalys train on the Friday afternoon and settled down to enjoy the anticipation of both visiting Paris again and also attending my first ever IATEFL BESIG1 (http://www.besig.org/) conference. I was not disappointed on either account and returned home inspired by the conference, Paris and the Impressionist paintings I saw in the Musee D'Orsay before travelling back on Sunday.
Some of you, of course, are conference veterans and you may wish to skip the next lines. For those of you, however, who have never been to such an event, I will try to convey something of what I experienced and, who knows, maybe you will be inspired to attend one in the future.
The venue, belonging to Télécom Paris Tech, seemed to be tailor-made for such an event. Large and small lecture halls within easy reach of each other were made available and a sizeable lobby was used for registering at the beginning of the day, for looking at the publishers' stands, drinking tea and coffee (and later wine) and meeting old and new colleagues and friends during the breaks.
The programme was a full one, with a choice of five talks for each time slot and seven slots throughout the day, plus the plenum with David Crystal to round the day off. The hardest task was to decide which talks to attend as I would really have liked to go to all of them!
So, plan in hand I set off for the first presentation and before I knew it the day was drawing to a close and we had all assembled for the finale - a one and a half hour talk, Language and the Internet, given by the supreme David Crystal, 90 minutes of fascinating information without even the prop of a scrap of paper! A wonderful end to a wonderful day.
I was also very impressed by a talk given by Mike Hogan and Bethany Cagual - Managing your Brand as a Trainer - and am looking forward to Mike's workshop in Cologne at the end of August (http://elta-rhine.de/Future_Events).
Another thing worth noting was that the conference was transmitted via webcam to groups of BESIG members in both South America and the Balkans. The wonders of modern technology!
Of course, with my ELTA-Rhine hat on I was on the look out for people to give workshops here at ELTA-Rhine and hope we will be able to put together a good line-up for 2013.
To finish off, I can only say that if you ever have the chance to attend such a conference don't pass it up. It's really a blast. And if the conference happens to be in Paris, even better.
ELTA-Rhine Events Coordinator and Vice-Chair
Business Start-up 1
By: Mark Ibbotson and Bryan Stephens (2006)
Cambridge University Press, distributed in Germany by Klett Verlag
Part of a two-level (CEF A1/A2) course, Business Start-up 1 is a textbook aimed at very low elementary-level adults who want to learn business English.
Business Start-up 1 is a visually attractive textbook with a fast-moving, twelve-unit syllabus that takes even complete beginners from learning to introduce themselves and say the alphabet in Unit 1 to taking orders and talking about a company’s performance in Unit 12.
Each unit is divided into three 2-page lessons, each of which is presented as a double-page spread and is laid out in a well organized, easy to follow, two-column format. The lessons present realistic language using authentic materials and credible communication scenarios appropriate for adult learners. There are no contrived story-lines weaving lessons or units together - each lesson stands alone from the previous and focuses on a functional communication skill like asking about business facilities, discussing future arrangements, giving an update, or discussing how business is going. The third lesson in each unit focuses on a more general functional skill like saying what you do in your free time, buying train tickets, talking about the weather, or staying at a hotel. This helps elementary learners build the general English skills they also need for social and travel situations.
Grammar and vocabulary are introduced in realistic contexts and are well-integrated within the functional skills focus of the text. Each lesson has a grammar box presenting key grammatical structures and linked to a more detailed Grammar Reference section and to exercises in a Grammar and Vocabulary Practice section. Both sections are located at the back of the Student’s Book. Every lesson ends with a Useful Language box summarizing the key vocabulary of the lesson for easy reference or review. In addition, an alphabetical vocabulary list for each unit, with German translations, and tape transcripts are included at the back of the Student’s Book.
A Communication Practice activity - a role-play or information gap task - is included for each lesson. The activities are in the typical student A /student B pair work format, rather than as group tasks or case studies, and provide fairly tightly-controlled practice of grammar and vocabulary structures. This format gives beginners a strong (perhaps false!) sense of “success” and the pair work format is one I, as a teacher, generally prefer because it’s just so uncomplicated. In most of my Business English groups, I’m never really certain how many students will be in attendance on a particular date – so no matter how many students show up, if I’ve got an uneven number or an unexpectedly small group, I can still make the activity work by playing the role of a partner in the Communication Practice activity myself.
A checklist of “Can-Do” statements for each lesson (downloadable from the Business Start-up website) keeps the syllabus (and teacher!) focused and helps students track their own progress.
The audio materials accompanying the textbook are provided on 2 CDs that are packaged and sold separately (€38.00), unfortunately adding to the overall price of the course.
According to the publisher, this course should provide 50-60 hours of classroom material. Each lesson could likely be covered easily in a typical 90-minute training session with even a little time for real conversation and a quick game or two.
Additional course components include an A5 Workbook (€18.99) with CD-ROM/Audio CD for students to use independently outside the classroom, and a Teacher’s Book (€19.99). The Teacher’s Book includes an Entry/Summary test plus progress tests that can be used after every three units, and photocopiable Resource Sheets with additional communication activities.
In summary, Business Start-up 1 is a good choice if you’re looking for a compact, fast-paced textbook to use with adult learners, at a very low-elementary level, who want to learn business English.
BOOKS OFFERED FOR REVIEW
The following titles are currently available for review. We’ve got one new title that fits our feature articles on exam preparation: Fit für TOEFL from Hueber (number seven on the list). Don’t forget the Fit for FCE, from the same series released last year (number six). We’ve also got a couple of readers from Cornelsen (Lernkrimis) and a copy of Vocabulary – Englisch nach Themen.
If you decide to review a book, we provide criteria to help you with writing your review and the book is yours to keep after reviewing. This is a great opportunity to keep up-to-date with all the teaching materials out there and will benefit those of us who are always looking for new books to try out in our classes. The reviews also help other teachers to choose new books for courses or their schools. So please do not hesitate to contact me (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, address and the desired title and I will gladly post it to you.
ELTA-Rhine Newsletter – June 2012
Teacher Development Courses
Here is my new list of online and offline teacher development courses for the next few months …
The Pyramid Group is offering three courses in Neu-Ulm.
Introduction to Teaching English for Technical Purposes
03 – 07 September 2012
Introduction to Teaching English for Medical Purposes
03 - 07 September 2012
Introduction to Teaching English for Legal Purposes
03 – 07 September 2012
The Consultants-E offer a wide selection of online training and development courses for teachers of English. I’ve just listed a few here.
E-Moderation: A Training Course For Online Tutors
02 July – 31 July 2012
15 July – 30 July 2012
Cert ICT: Certificate in Teaching Languages with Technology
03 October 2012 – 06 March 2013
Cert IBET: Certificate in International Business English Training
03 October– 19 December 2012
mlearning in Practice
01 November – 12 December 2012
Pilgrims offers a wide range of teaching training courses in Canterbury. Here are just a few. You’ll find a lot more on their website.
Creative Methodology for Training Business People
01 – 14 July 2012
Using Interactive Whiteboards
15 – 21 July 2012-05-27
Coaching Skills for Teachers
29 July – 11 August 2012
Skylight offers a number of highly professional trainer-the-trainer courses in Cologne. I can highly recommend “Blended Learning” and “Coach Approach”.
Blended Learning in Business English Training
23 June 2012
Communicating internationally in English 3
14 July 2012
Communicating internationally in English 4
8 September 2012
29 – 30 September 2012
Englisch nach Maß is offering a Trinity College London CertTESOL course in Troisdorf.
30 July – 24 August 2012
LTS training and consulting are offering a five-day course in Bath entitled Teaching English for International Business.
03 – 07 September 2012
International House is offering a Cambridge CELTA course in Frankfurt/Main.
30 July – 24 August 2012
International House offers CELTA and DELTA courses and online training. You’ll find more details on their website.
Teacher Development Interactive offer online courses for ELT professionals.
Do tell me if you manage to go on a training course. I’d love to hear from you.
PS Don’t forget to take a look at Russell Stannard's free ELT / ESL online training videos: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/
PPS Interested in some entertaining sites for adults and children? Russell Stannard can help you yet again: http://www.etprofessional.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1109:56-webwatcher&catid=30&Itemid=50
Publication Information and Details
Newsletter of the English Language Teachers'
Association - Rhine, e.V.
Vol. 30 No. 1, Autumn 2017
The ELTA-Rhine Newsletter is published electronically three times a year in March, July, and November. It is sent free of charge to our around 240 members and several further organisations and individuals who take an interest in our work.
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