Newsletter:Winter 2012 Print Version
From the Committee
From the Editor...
Here we are at the end of 2012, and frankly, my body-clock is still telling me it should be about August. The year has yet again flown by at an incomprehensible pace, the Advent season and the snow landed with a somewhat graceless thump and shudder, and all we can do now is hold out for a few days off after the glut of stress, overwork and overconsumption still ahead of us.
And so, on that note, welcome to the Winter Edition of the ELTA-Rhine Newsletter. If you don’t have time before Christmas to linger over a cup of tea and have a wander through the stories, then hopefully you’ll manage it before the holiday is over. As always, you can find the printable version at the top of the Newsletter – which you can save to your e-reader or print as a hard copy as you see fit.
We have an interesting range of articles in this edition, from childhood memories, through to memory techniques; from trying too hard, through to not wanting to try at all; from using technology in the classroom, through to preparation-less, resource-free activities. A special thanks to all the contributors who keep our Newsletter well-fed, and to the Newsletter team for your support in keeping it oiled and running. Some contributors have requested for reasons of privacy not to have their names released, but I can assure you all that they are familiar faces and long-term members of our organisation.
I wish you all a relaxed and happy Christmas/Winter Solstice/Holiday Season/*insert name of religious/secular festival here* and a safe return to us here in the Rheinland in the new year if you are to be venturing forth.
Vasanthi Sarnow, Chair
Well, it’s the end of another long year and I’d just like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. I hope you can all take time out to enjoy the holiday season and have some time with friends and loved-ones.
I’d like to thank everyone who has helped out with ELTA-Rhine this year – the committee and the co-opted members, who’ve kept the events running, the newsletters coming and the membership and administration under control. You do a great job, and I couldn’t survive without you. Also, all of you who lend a hand before and after events are a fantastic help.
I’d also like to thank you, the members, for your involvement in making ELTA-Rhine a vibrant and active community. The Lit Group, the Choir, the party-people who helped celebrate earlier this month, those of you who come along to the events, those of you who give support and advice, or just a few laughs, on the e-list. It’s been good to see so many new faces this year – a few more at each event. I look forward to getting to know you all at events in 2013!
And speaking of the New Year, don’t forget the AGM, which will be held on the 16th March next year. Please come along and give your voice and your vote to the future of ELTA-Rhine. There will be changes to the committee in 2013, and we will be needing your help. If you’ve ever thought about helping out with the committee and haven’t been sure about it, now’s the time to be sure. New members, older members, quiet members, we’ve got a role for you on the committee. Don’t be shy.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Comings and Goings
Mike Hicks, Membership Secretary
We’ve gained a few members and lost a few over the last couple of months, leaving us with a membership of around 260. Welcome to all of the new members, and farewell to those who are leaving us. We wish you well for 2013.
Meike Fassbender, Michael Bloy
Carly Haase, Jo Shemlit, Jennifer Taylor, Silke Althoff, Stewart Morris, Paul Morris, Rosemary Bloy, David Hadwin, Patrick Musto, Christine Stanzer, Suzanne Osterburg and Penelope Crowe
The source of things to come
One ELTA-Rhine member’s recollections of the teachers at the beginning of it all
In the 4th grade, my favorite teacher was Mrs Tyler. She was thin and had curly auburn hair. She wore a sweater that draped over her shoulders and was clasped together with a delicate little decorative chain. The white blouse underneath was buttoned up tight and her thin neck was sinewy. She wore an A-line skirt, dark stockings and flat laced shoes with thick rubber soles. She taught English.
She told us stories of her childhood in "the heart of the midwest", "the breadbasket of America" as they called it. She grew up in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota or the Dakotas - somewhere that had cornfields stretching far and wide. Corn stalks so tall that children who went down a row of corn sometimes didn't come out right away. When Mrs Tyler was little, that happened to her, and she stayed there, lost in the corn field for hours. She was frightened. No matter where she went, the corn didn't end. It towered over her and the sun moved lower and lower in the sky. She cried and eventually fell asleep. She woke up when she heard people calling her name. It was her father, her mother, the neighbors, police, the minister. She screamed, and they found her.
This story never left me. It convinced me that I was never, ever going wandering through a cornfield at any age. And years later, still mulling it over more often than I probably should, I see our 4th grade classroom of rapt listeners in neat rows, like corn, silent, while she told us her story from the heart of the midwest. Nothing on the blackboard behind her or on the desks in front of us or in the fat grammar and other school books on our desks remains as vivid and alive as thin Mrs. Tyler telling us about the day she got lost in the cornfield.
Then, in Mrs Banning's class we had to learn arithmetic. She was overweight and wore glasses. Like Mrs Tyler's sweater clasp, the glasses hung on a chain around her neck, which was large.
We had to learn how to add and subtract numbers that had 3 figures. I can still see the messy, scratched out, red-marked papers ripped by erasing wrong answers again and again. I can see the homework papers that came back with mistakes and more red marks, even though I thought I understood the system and had correctly solved the problems.
But she gave after-school help in arithmetic. On a gorgeous autumn day with summer still in mind or a fresh spring day just after the snow had melted, she patiently managed to help me practice how to take away 587 from 921 (and to add them up again afterwards to make sure the answer was right!)
At the end of that year I got much better grades on math tests, and I guess that every time I feel like I am doing something right when I help a student with corrections, I am actively giving thanks to Mrs Banning. And every time I like a sentence or a story, and I realize that I learned something well from Mrs. Tyler, then I am giving thanks to her, too.
And then sometimes I think about Mr Morton, one of only two men teachers in the grade school. He was young, dark and handsome, and he could not get Norman, the red-haired kid, to jump down from the desk where he twirled around and loved soaking up attention and laughter from everyone in the class. A few years after I left grade school there was a rumor that Mr Morton apparently lived downtown in the city, and he was seen drunk, unshaven, staggering around. He was a bum, in a dirty raincoat. This was shocking news, and it was hard for us to believe. But in fact, he had indeed left the teaching profession, and a few years later he died. I never got more details. I never wanted them. But I thank him, too: where he lacked classroom management skills, he completely supported the clown, the audience, the live and improvised nature of a day in the 5th grade, the foolishness of children. He allowed us to laugh, to misbehave and to be children.
The author of this article has requested to remain anonymous.
Making Learning Easier
Judith Ellis bridges the gaps with the help of donkeys.
I often wonder what is central to my role as a teacher of English. Yes, I can teach vocab and get students practicing it, I can drill grammatical structures, but my students have apps for learning vocab, CD Roms for practising grammar. I can get them talking. I’m good at jokes. But am I just a performing monkey? Are they learning?
What is learning? It is a question which was raised recently at one of the ELTA-Rhine events. One for which answers are as many as there are people busying themselves with the theme, and as elusive. Learning is something students have to do, not something that teachers can per se impart. From where I stand, learning is the gradual automisation of routines – being able to do something without thinking about every step involved. This is as true of learning sentence structure as it is of learning to drive a car. Learning requires patience and practice. But it also requires some kind of conceptual understanding, without which the learner cannot take personal control of the learning process.
I’m a great believer in finding ways to make things easier to learn. I think there are two basic keys to this: memorability and transparency. I have a range of techniques and explanations I use with students to develop their critical appreciation of the language, their ability to self-correct when there’s no teacher standing over them with a silver spoon. With time, these ideas lead to awareness of mistakes, competent self-correction and finally (hopefully) the automisation of the contextually and grammatically correct structure. In effect, the language becomes more natural, the speaker more fluent.
One technique I make regular use of is what our German students love to refer to as ‘Donkey Bridges’ (a metaphor which has actually left me a little bemused).
I have a bunch of recurring Eselsbrücke, some of which I’ve been taught by students. We all know the ‘He/She/It, das -s muss mit’ for dealing with present simple. But have you ever heard ‘Will und Would machen if kaputt’? After a couple of lessons on the conditionals, this one is ingrained and students start to notice when they do it wrongly. ‘If I would go… whoops... if I …eh…went…’ The first step is for students to become aware of the fact that they are doing it (whatever it is), the second is to start to learn that it sounds wrong (this is most important with structures that have been unconsciously transferred from the mother tongue, where it would sound right), and once it really begins to sound wrong in their ears, they will be less tempted to use it. The Eselsbrücke help me in each of these steps – it becomes itself automatic for the students, and it helps the target structure to be learned similarly.
One Eselsbrücke which comes up regularly in writing classes is ‘no comma before that’ . There is an explanation behind this little rule. It deals with the problem of commas and that in relative clauses (a defining relative clause can have that but no comma, and non-defining has commas but no that) and it deals with the problem of the transfer of the punctuation of the German , dass sentence (in English, we can’t separate Subject from Verb or Verb from Object/Complement with a single comma. In the sentence ‘I believe that it is wrong to steal’, the clause that it is wrong to steal is the complement of the verb believe. We can no more separate believe from its that-clause than we could separate believe from God in the sentence ‘I believe in God.’ I write ‘I believe, in God’ on the board, and students can see that it looks wrong. Ipso facto, No comma before that.) The explanations are all well and good, but what students learn, remember and can take into situations where they need to edit independently (e.g. work or exams) is ‘no comma-that’. And it works. They remember it. They learn it.
Now, obviously, these little memory aids are not the final story. In each case, there are exceptions to the rule. That can be preceded by an interjection between two commas (‘I think, however, that…’); the 3rd person singular Present Simple of modal verbs is s-less; will and would can occur in the If-clause in polite requests (‘I would appreciate it if you would shut your mouth.’). I warn students that such exceptions exist, but until they’re at a level to be dealing with the exceptions (once they can handle the basic rule effectively), I don’t focus on it.
Another use of Eselsbrücke is entirely individual and spontaneous, depending on the nature of the student mistake. I use minimal pairs (two words which are exactly the same bar one element - e.g. one consonant or one vowel) to deal with consistent pronunciation mistakes of one particular sound. The Berlitz ad ‘Vot are you sinking about?’(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR0lWICH3rY) is a fantastic example for dealing with /th/ versus /s/. But I had a lovely one a few weeks ago where a student was talking about a ‘cheap prostitute’ (I should say, she was criticising a character in a literary text, not trying to hire one), and pronounced it ‘sheep prostitute’, to which some vague comment about Wales or New Zealand may have been uttered (the class has amusingly advanced cultural knowledge…). She is now working hard on her /ch/. Dirty words are a slightly risky but good source of such lessons, because the students become aware of the danger of mispronouncing simple words. Suddenly, getting the pronunciation right becomes a matter of meaning, not just aesthetics. I had an elementary class a while back in stitches about the difference between the long /ee/ and the short /i/, as seen in a sheet of paper and bedsheets, versus another word we shall leave unprinted. There was general agreement that one must make oneself understandable.
Metaphor can also offer extremely memorable learning experiences. Being able to picture a scene can anchor vocabulary, especially idiomatic, in the memory. Verbs of movement for figures and graphs, for example, generally derive from simple physical movement verbs. Many a lesson, I have jumped, dropped something, fallen, bounced or rocketed. They only need to see it once: meaning is implicit in the sources of the verb, and once they have made that connection, the more abstract meaning is anchored and unforgettable. The same goes for presentation signposting: to turn to (I change the direction I’m walking in); to outline (I draw an outline of my hand on the board – no details, just the basic shape); to fill you in (add some detail to my hand outline); to talk you through (the image of a factory tour, and having the production process explained as you go through the plant, and through the steps).
But some things are just hard to learn. I often ask students to come up with their own donkey bridges if they can. So long as they can somehow anchor it, or to use a more modern metaphor, link it to the correct word/structure/meaning, it doesn’t matter how silly it is. And they’ll only need it for a short time (for vocab, at least), until that piece of learning has been accomplished. And then they can create new ones to help them with their next problem.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Kay von Randow discovers that instructing students to 'try harder' may sometimes be counterproductive
While teaching an intensive course recently, I was able to test out one of my pet theories; namely, that trying harder - concentrating during a listening exercise in this instance - can sometimes actually hinder progress.
One member from the group told me he'd listened to the video of a technical presentation given by an American speaker, which he found almost imposssible to understand. He'd tried to puzzle out whether his inability to comprehend was due to the kind of English being spoken (the speaker had an oriental background), the speed of the spoken words, or if he 'just wasn't up to standard'.
As he had his laptop with him and could call up the video right away, we all listened - for about 10 minutes - during which time I observed the students. What I noticed, was that most of them were sitting very still, showing tense neck muscles and frowning with the effort of concentration. When I halted the video, there was a lot of moving of shoulders and stretching of arms, to relieve this muscular tension.
This was a class of B2 standard, yet only a couple had understood much more than the greeting. As they all took part in regular telephone conferences with colleagues and customers spread out over the entire globe, and were quite desperate for hints as to how to understand all these different 'Englishes', I decided to try an experiment.
Although I already sensed what the outcome would be, this was a golden opportunity to show them, too!
So I suggested that they get really comfortable in their chairs and shut their eyes. I told them that they should wriggle their shoulders .... necks .... any part of their bodies where they became aware of tension .... and then just let go .... and relax. I asked them to be aware of their breathing ... in ... out .... in .... out, and to breathe deeply into their stomachs, just in an easy manner, without any strain.
I then asked them to keep focusing on their breathing while I played the video again, and not to try to understand, but to let the words just float into them.
I was actually suprised that none of them had any 'intellectual' remarks to make, about what I was proposing. They all took part in the best possible spirit, I'm happy to say.
And the result? Every one of them was able to tell me that they'd understood much more by listening in this relaxed way, than when they'd concentrated hard. I only hope that they do sometimes use this method, as I'm under no illusions about the levels of daily stress our students work under; the constant 'no time', not enough people in the team, deadlines the day before etc., etc..
Kay von Randow has taken a course in Conscious Breathing and is a qualified teacher, so if anyone would like any more information about how breathing can enhance the learning and working process, you can contact her at: Kay.von.Randow@web.de.
Keeping up with the times
Mike Hogan reflects on the themes of his two ELTA-Rhine workshops in August
21st Century learners (How can teachers cope with the changing needs and learning styles of our learners?)
I opened my first ELTA Rhine workshop in August by saying that the leaders of tomorrow are being taught by today’s teachers using yesterday’s methods. Pretty bold, I know, but also true in too many cases. This may, unfortunately, be a logical consequence of teachers using how they were taught as a basis for how they teach others.
Taking the issue raised above as acknowledged, it is then important to look at how changes in society and technology have changed the way people communicate, interact and live their daily lives, and think about the effect this has on how we should be delivering training programmes. In the Information Age we live in, the Internet, rather than the depths of our memory, is readily consulted for fast facts. People want immediate feedback and are more prepared to take a trial-and-error approach to finding and processing information. 21st Century learners are characterised as being multi-taskers, their lives are more interconnected with the lives of others, learning is collaborative, social and experiential, with access to learning being random and needs-driven rather than linear and sequential.
Bearing all this in mind, trainers and training providers need to consider how a group will best learn, and set up training programmes in a way that achieves a maximum return on effort and investment. Selecting from a number of methods which integrate the use of technology, either in training or between training sessions, can prove useful.
Trainers can start using mobile devices (theirs or their learners’) in their teaching for tasks such as taking and presenting photos, audio/video recording telephone calls or meeting for immediate peer feedback, and so on. This can lead to successful social learning outcomes.
The Flipped Model looks at making training sessions more active, collaborative and practical by giving learners the input to work through themselves before coming to training, where they can discuss the issues, look at case studies, simulations, and so on. Teachers can use tailor-made platforms, such as English360, to create such content and courses and encourage more learning autonomy.
At the end of the day, we can best fulfill our learners’ needs by focusing on the processes they need to complete in the target language, while not losing sight of how 21st century learners may best learn rather than teaching the way we were taught.
Stimulating Business English learners though simulations and authentic business input
In my second workshop of the day, I spoke about role-plays, simulations and real business input. Some learners like role-plays as roles can provide safe havens for learners with low confidence levels. They can also be useful for pre-experience learners, such as apprentices, who may find it difficult to think of realistic situations in which they will need the target language.
On the other hand some learners, perhaps many, don’t like role-plays. Some learners might find it difficult to relate to the roles they are asked to play, while others might find it difficult to be creative when not enough background information is provided. There may not be enough relevant vocabulary, language or even scenario details provided for it to be successful.
So, rather than do that next role-play you’re thinking of, why not set up a simulation instead? Simulations are different from role-plays in that the learner gets to create the scenario, based on the situations they are likely to encounter in their professional lives, thereby making them much more relevant.
They can be easily set up around three key questions:
1. What’s the situation? (A meeting, a telephone call, a business lunch, etc.)
2. Who’s involved? (Are the parties involved colleagues? Is there a customer/supplier relationship?
3. Which language/vocabulary/phrases will you need? (Brainstorm and feed in new language during the preparation stage)
Then just let your learners run with it. You can take notes on language usage to give your learners feedback on it later. Also allow time for them to think about what went well and what didn’t go so well. They will probably identify areas of language or communication where you can help them in later training sessions.
Moving on from simulations, course books can be brought alive by building on the storylines within, through reading up on current business affairs on the same topics with connections to the learners’ job, company or industry. Then, after the linguistic input of the book, introduce the other topic to generate a learning environment based around ‘real’ business. If you do use course books you should use them as a springboard for further discussions and personalisation. This will also, hopefully, encourage learner autonomy.
In the workshop in August, I gave the example of Derek Sivers, who started a company ‘accidentally’ while helping out friends, sold it ten years later for $22 million and gave the money to charity. He also speaks at conferences and a number of his presentations can be found online.
In this workshop I used examples from my latest book Basis for Business B2 (Cornelsen 2012) which features simulations that learners can set up themselves, and also interviews with real business people, including Derek Sivers.
Reviews of the two sessions can be found here:
Survey on (Culturally-based) Learning Preferences
Cáit Kinsella’s investigation into attitudes to learning across cultures. How you can help her, and how this theme can benefit you in the classroom.
Do you like explicit instructions when you are asked to complete a task? Do you think that students should not openly disagree with or challenge their teacher or that a dialogue is essential to learning? Is learning how to learn more important than learning the right answers? If you find these kind of questions interesting, then you might be interested in the an online survey I'm conducting at the moment on (culturally-based) learning preferences to use as input for my classes on intercultural communication at the University of Cologne and the Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences.
I have also asked in-company Business English groups to do this survey and it has led to very fruitful discussions on how we want to work together and what is important to them in a learning environment. With new exchange students it encouraged reflection of the differences that become apparent and what they might need to do differently in order to be more successful in the German academic context. German students found it helpful to reflect on how they like learning best and what possible difference they might encounter when they do study abroad.
As many of you have been educated and/or have taught in several countries, I would be interested in knowing which you consider to be most influential on your learning preferences today. For example, I was educated to Bachelor level in Ireland, but am aware that the last 14 years in Germany, both studying and teaching at German universities, is now the more dominant influence on my learning preferences. Please enter the country which has had the most influence on your current learning preferences/or expectations of the learners you work with.
The survey was designed by Patrick Parrish, The COMET Program, and Jennifer A. Linder-VanBerschot, University of New Mexico, for instructors, instructional designers, and students. I am using it with their permission. If anyone is interested in reading more about their Cultural Dimensions of Learning Framework, I can recommend their 2010 article on "Cultural Dimensions of Learning: Addressing the Challenges of Multicultural Instruction": http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/809/1497
If you want to analyse your own results, you can use the analysis form provided by Patrick Parrish on his website: http://homes.comet.ucar.edu/~pparrish/ . The original questionnaire can also be downloaded as a Word document from the same page.
Feel free to forward the link to the survey to anyone you think might be interested in doing the survey. Just thinking about the questions can give your great insights into your own learning preferences. It is also a great starting point to start a discussion about learning preferences and expectations with an international or monocultural group of learners. Link to the survey: http://bit.ly/TJfVgJ
Before you start, please decide whether you will answer the questions from the perspective of a learner or of an instructor and try not to change roles.
Cáit Kinsella, December 2012
-advanced English and intercultural communication-
Idea Swap Shop
Speaker: All of us!
Saturday 20th October 2012, Alte Feuerwache Köln
A sunny afternoon in October, the last rays of late-summer, and the sinking feeling that we were to be missing it. An extremely intimate gathering of ELTA-Rhine members congregated for a session of sharing ideas, opinions, solutions to problems, experiences, coffee and a few laughs. The weather outside was so beautiful that we considered adjourning and just enjoying the afternoon, but we resisted temptation and delayed the indulgence until after a fruitful exchange. New faces Paul and Victoria joined a small cast of vocal regulars.
I’ve since heard that some of the ideas found their way into classrooms subsequent to the meeting, and were successful and useful. That, frankly, is what it’s all about.
Here are some of the ideas we tossed around; some old, some new to at least some of us:
Guess the Ad
Emma produced a set of colourful print ads from magazines. The ads had been carefully cut into two pieces, so that the picture was on one piece, and all the text on the other. We were divided into pairs, and each pair was given one picture (Emma held on to the texts), which we had to discuss and come up with an idea for what was being advertised (e.g. shampoo, baby food, deodorant). We then presented our picture to the group, justifying our choice of potential product, which developed into a larger discussion as others added their ideas. Emma then gave us the other half of our ad, so we could see how close we were. Great fun, lots of discussion, descriptions, giving reasons, language of possibility, etc.
Emma and Hilary suggested variations on tic-tac-toe and four-in-a-row. Either draw a game board or have ready-made laminated blank game-boards. This could be a simple three by three board, or a larger grid, using numbers or letters to identify each position. Taking turns, each student chooses the square they wish to occupy, and the teacher then gives them a task in order to win the square. This could be irregular past verbs, telephoning phrases, conditionals, or whatever learning objective needs to be practised in the lesson. If the answer is incorrect, the rival student wins the square.
Twenty questions with a twist
Emma also described a game she uses to promote interaction within groups; a variation on twenty questions. The teacher gives the class the key-words of a story, and the participants need to ask yes/no questions to elicit the story. The teacher sits with their back to the class, and uses ‘thumbs up/down’ for yes/no, and hand signals for giving grammar feedback (the gestures can be agreed upon in advance). No answers are given until the question is grammatically correct. The rationale behind the method is to remove the teacher as much as possible from the interaction, so that the class can and is required to interact in a relatively uninhibited way with each other.
Monika then offered a similar activity which she does using the song ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPrixYOTNHw). The class asks yes/no questions to find out who the main characters are and the basic setting. They then create a narrative using the details they have gleaned and their own ideas. The teacher then plays the song so that the class can compare their ideas to the story in the song.
Hilary provided us with several great little revision activities and time killers for the last gasp of a lesson. Firstly, just before the end of the lesson, wipe the board clean, close books, and students should make a list of everything they remember from the lesson, and then share it with the class. A great way to revise.
Secondly, write a letter on the board, and students think of as many words starting with that letter (or ending with it) as they can. This very often brings up vocab from the lesson, as these words are still fresh in the students’ minds.
Thirdly, a game of ‘Back to the Board’. One student sits with their back to the board, facing the class. The teacher writes either an intention or a problem on the board, and the class should make suggestions, offer solutions or give advice. The student with their back to the board has to try to figure out what the problem is.
As a conversation starter, Hilary suggested a two-column page with the title ‘the best or the worst’ (the left column for the best, the right for the worst). Give the class themes like work, where you live, spouse, Germany, food, etc., and get them to make notes about the best and the worst things about each of them. Then compare ideas with a partner and get into conversation.
Another conversation activity for encouraging small-talk among business groups is to choose 3 – 4 appropriate themes, and each student should write at least one open question on that topic, then mingle and ask and respond to questions.
Annette brought along one of her favourite activities, the Word Box. Basically a largish box of vocab cards from the class, this only works if the box can be stored wherever the lessons take place, or one of the students takes responsibility for bringing it each lesson. One student is appointed scribe each week, and creates vocab cards for any new vocab handled. Annette suggested different methods of organisation: a different colour of card for each week could signify which week the vocab is from (useful for classes with fluctuating membership when it comes to recycling vocab from the relevant week); or different colours could be used for different word forms (e.g. phrasal verbs), or different structures (e.g. idioms), or different themes (e.g. work-related, food, etc.). The vocab should be recycled on a regular basis, using any number of different strategies. A few possibilities are:
- Back to the Board
- Writing the words on the board, minus all vowels (b_s_n_ss _ngl_sh). Students then guess the word.
- A card stuck on the back of each student. They need to mingle and ask yes/no questions to find out what their word is.
- Write a paragraph using 5 of the words. Read the paragraph out, minus the 5 words. Students suggest what the words are.
- Take two words (not necessarily thematically related) and write a sentence comparing them. (‘A car is a form of transport, whereas apples are a kind of fruit.’ or ‘You can’t eat a car, but you can eat an apple.’
21st Century learners (How can teachers cope with the changing needs and learning styles of our learners?)
Mike Hogan (Session 1)
Alte Feuerwache, 25th August 2012
At the ELTA workshop in Cologne on Saturday 25th August, Mike Hogan asked how to cope with changing needs and learning styles, and promised to interest his audience and provoke our thoughts. He was aided and abetted by Chia Suan Chong. If you needed to brush up on your jargon, Mike’s rattling off current developments in education, including 3-letter abbreviations, was just what you may have wanted. He began by asking a question about the number of countries bordering Germany. No prize for nine. Then he asked which actress appeared in 2 films (of which I’ve forgotten the names) and when he told us, I’d never heard of her.
This quiz intro was a means of demonstrating to us that memory in the brain is being replaced by online info. A non-sequitur, you may think, but only the first of many. In response to changes in society and technology, Mike urged us to bridge the gap to potential challenges – where do we go from here? What was he on about? Today every young person has a smart-phone, tablet and laptop, so why not use them in the classroom? What’s more, this may result in UGC, user-generated content, coming bottom-up from learners. No more top-down knowledge owners.
Mike showed us a table with 5 stages, starting with teacher-centred on the left, leading to facilitate+collaborate as the desired outcome on the right. In between was stage three, blended learning, not forgetting social LMS, learning management systems. Technology, we were assured, is not just a wow factor in class, it leads to content that was authentic+meaningful. Mike had to rename things to fit into his table, so learning-by-doing was now called a “constructivist approach”, something which I associate with the Soviet avante-garde. Similarly, generation Y means nothing to me – are there people who identify with this, who would call themselves generation Y?
Let us turn to the next topic – the flipped classroom. An article in the Economist a few months ago described its use in primary school. Instead of pre-teaching and presentation coming from the teacher in class, pupils watch that part at home, online, videos with goofy characters and so forth. Then, next day they do what would’ve been the homework in class, where the teacher can help any pupils who get stuck at different stages of production and practice.
According to Mike, however, flipping the classroom means getting learners to do the boring stuff at home, online, then come to the lesson for fun activities like role play and communicative games. “But what if they don’t do the homework?” chirps a voice from the audience. “Oh, they will, because they’re motivated, they feel ownership of the tasks they have to do at home,” says Mike. “Today’s generation Y learner isn’t willing to do grammar exercises, he’s not going to invest two or three months in learning a language. He wants to feel progress every three minutes!”
“Could you define learning?” “That’s a difficult question”.
“What about setting goals, how can you prepare for exams?”
“Goal setting is key!”, Mike agrees, then hands over to Chia Suan Chong, who questions the reliability and validity of tests, leaning more in favour of communicative competence, like the CEF (Common European Framework) “can do” criteria. Mike?
“Through strategic and discrete usage of technology, you can focus on learning nuggets. If you’re a little-sticky-bits-of-paper person, you can do that virtually, too.”
I wonder whether virtual learning could mean just pretending?
“Today there are language learning apps, virtual training and webinars, or you can even read a book!”
Which brings us to how dogme can help, explained by Chia Suan Chong. Taken from the Lars von Trier no-frills declaration on film-making, Scott Thornbury was involved in writing a book about dogme in the classroom. This should be conversation-driven, materials-light, and concerned with emergent language, whatever that means. Isn’t Scott in favour of a lexical approach?
One of the slogans of generation Y is quoted: “Doing is more important than knowing”.
I found this puzzling. If any ELTA member can help, answers please on a postcard.
Stimulating Business English learners though simulations and authentic business input
Mike Hogan (Session 2)
Alte Feuerwache, 25th August 2012
Role-Play Part II - or rather Simulation?
Back “on stage” for Part II of the workshop after a short (off-stage) coffee break, Mike Hogan immediately plunged the audience in medias res as the computer projected two flash-cards onto the white board. The text in huge letters and bold print dealt with a role-play far from our real life experience: a dialogue between a Nepalese mountain guide and the owner of a charity for disadvantaged kids. The workshop participants seemed to enjoy the interactive experience involved in “diving into” the imaginative world.
In light of this, it did not seem surprising that the scene soon switched to a discussion which, first of all, revealed the advantages of using role-plays in class: being lively, they can provide a stimulus to the students’ imagination. Moreover, the “actors”, in particular less self-confident people, like to be given the chance to be a different person. By slipping into a new role, they overcome their fear of speaking the foreign language: it is now the “other self” that is making mistakes. And yet, we soon found that there are some drawbacks to using conventional role-plays as a teaching technique. They can be really boring if the students find it difficult to identify with or relate to them.
Given their unquestionable advantages, Mike Hogan pointed out that (the more fictional) role-plays should not simply be replaced by simulations of work-specific situations. Simulations can be – but do not necessarily have to be – more meaningful for learners than conventional role-plays. Teachers just have to find out what is more meaningful for their students.
Learners of English can create simulations of authentic business life scenarios either with a partner or in a small group by addressing typical “wh-“ questions, such as “What is the situation?” “Who is involved?”, “Which vocabulary/phrases will we need?” Setting up a simulation thus becomes a linguistic and at the same time performance-based encounter. To demonstrate how this can work in practice, MIke provided the actively involved audience with an authentic example: an e-mail dealing with typical problems of communication within a multicultural team. In a language teaching setting, this can be used to trigger a lively discussion on culture-based differences in the perception of time or in people’s attitudes to communication; it can also serve to create a role-play or simulation of a business meeting where the students need to solve a problem by asking what challenges they might be faced with. Either way, it encourages the students to practise useful vocabulary for business meetings, such as opening or interrupting a meeting, negotiating, giving opinions or asking questions. In view of the potential disadvantages of role-plays, Mike Hogan suggested de-briefing them at the end of a lesson to find out what went well, what did not go so well and why.
Just as simulations can be easier for language learners to relate to than role-plays, real life stories can be more interesting and motivating for them. Mike Hogan drew our attention to the fact that the – usually rather boring – stories one can normally find in course books can be made more engaging by pulling them into the real world.
At this point the website www.sivers.org flashed up on the white board. We were introduced to the real life story of Derek Sivers, an independent musician who accidentally started a company (CD-Baby) by selling his own CDs and those of his friends on his web pages. Ten years later Sivers sold his company for $22 million and gave the money to a charitable trust for music education. “What do you think – how can this story be used in class?” Hogan asked. The participants immediately came up with several ideas: How about triggering a discussion on business ethics or philanthropy? Why not use the story to discuss intellectual property rights (GEMA)?
The brief discussion was followed by another change of scenery: as Derek Sivers is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, the workshop participants were invited to watch a video featuring Sivers’ well-known presentation How to make a movement (cf. http://blog.ted.com/2010/04/01/how_to_start_a/). In groups of two or three, the English language instructors then discussed the film with a view to its usability in a classroom setting. This time they were brimming over with creative ideas: How about using the video to talk about presentation skills? After all, Derek Sivers seems to take people “out of the box” in terms of doing presentations. Why not use the presentation to fuel the (critical) political debate about leadership? Or how about discussing the stimulating role of leaders and their “first followers”? Given the workshop participants’ favourable response, Mike Hogan drew their attention to a number of other resourceful and authentic materials by Derek Sivers and others, including the book “Basis for Business Level B2” (cf. list below). He also suggested that students should be invited to bring along their own devices to download additional applications.
Personally, I must confess that Mike Hogan’s rather pragmatic approach to language teaching did arouse my (old age?) scepticism at the beginning. I wondered: What will our real-life stage be like at the end of the 21st century? Will people still be able to communicate face-to-face and to use their imagination if 21st century learners are provided with technical learning devices, simulations of authentic business life scenarios and real-life stories? But then, as the workshop moved on, I gradually came to change my mind. After all, Mike Hogan expressly pointed out that he did not want to do without conventional role-plays. It also crossed my mind that even professional actors often simulate authentic scenarios and imitate real-life politicians and business people rather than performing conventional theatre plays. Moreover, I suddenly found that some of the world’s greatest poems, short stories, novels and theatre plays are said to be based on real-life experience. Yes indeed, the real world seems to provide us with a wealth of stimulating stories and roles to relate to or identify with. The workshop participants’ spontaneous reactions to the examples presented in class finally convinced me that it is indeed possible to trigger a lively, engaging and motivating discussion based on the brand new audiovisual materials – a discussion that even encourages, rather than hampers, interactive communication in a classroom setting. If used prudently in addition to conventional techniques, the new 21st century materials can, in my view, provide an enrichment to foreign language teaching that points to the future. 21st century teachers are lifelong learners ...
For further real-life materials, please go to: Basis for Business, Level B2, by Carole Eilertson & Mike Hogan (Cornelsen)
Keep your goals to yourself! (presentation by Derek Sivers) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHopJHSlVo4)
Weird, or just different? (presentation by Derek Sivers) (http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_weird_or_just_different.html)
Anything You Want - 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur (book by Derek Sivers, obtainable via Amazon or the website http://sivers.org/a)
The author of this review, who has requested to remain anonymous, is a long-standing member of ELTA-Rhine.
The Mad Hatters
Lateral Thinking: Using De Bono's Thinking Hats
Speakers: Divya Brochier and Brad Patterson
Saturday 8th December 2012, Alte Feuerwache
The words of Good King Wenceslas fit very well to the weather on Saturday December 8th. The snow was deep and crisp and even, however, luckily it was the sun that shone brightly as one by one we made our way to the Alte Feuerwache for the December event and Christmas party.
The topic was "Lateral Thinking: Using De Bono's Thinking Hats". I must say the theme caught my imagination as I tried to conceive of a possible link between thinking hats and conversation classes. The workshop started a few minutes late as the frosty weather prevented members (myself included) from arriving as punctually as they had planned.
The presenters, Brad and Divya, introduced each other smoothly (they've done this before!) and invited us to introduce ourselves using a self-drawn plan of the physical set-up of our classrooms. While it was interesting to hear from the twenty-plus attendees about the various teaching situations they face, this phase of the workshop lasted well over thirty minutes and it was going on to three o'clock before we got to the meat of the matter: conversation classes.
The first task was to create a role-play situation in our classrooms in which conversation breaks down. Brad and Divya wanted to have an impression of the problems that EFL teachers in Germany have to deal with. This activity was not explained very clearly since one half of the group had a different task from the other half, but once we got started, the volume level rose considerably. The feedback from this task was not a big surprise, most importantly that communication usually breaks down because students expect the teacher to lead the conversation, and stop speaking because of a lack of interest.
It was, however, a nice transition point to the next phase in which we heard about the history of argument. Divya gave a very brief summary of the great thinkers who influenced the way an argument is re-created in the classroom. The result is that an argument is usually vertical, in that the speakers present the pros and cons of the aspect, justify their opinion and get louder in an attempt to convince their speaking partner. The interaction between Brad and Divya was a pleasure to watch, as Divya referred the linguistic and etymological explanations to support Brad, while he felt free to jump in and back up or explain further any points she was making. Their team-work was good and while there were a few times where they didn't seem to be too clear on what they wanted us to do, overall the effect was of genuine pair-work, not two individual presenters.
This brought us to the alternative to the traditional method: horizontal, not vertical, in other words lateral thinking. The concept behind the thinking hats is using an artificial grid (the hats) in which a natural conversation takes place. It sounded complicated and they launched at once into an explanation. The thinking hats are a problem-solving method created by De Bono and are used to get people talking openly about an issue but with the same aim, not vertically, where they try to beat each other down. So everyone is on the same level and looking at the topic in a critical and multi-dimensional way.
How does it all work? Well, there are six hats in all, each of a different colour. Each hat represents a role, for lack of a better word. For example, the white hat is the Information hat and the white hatter tries to give unbiased information on the topic. The red hat, in contrast, is the Emotional hat, and here feelings (not thoughts!) about the issue are discussed. The Blue hatter has the most challenging role, because he/she directs the conversation, keeps it on track and asks the questions to get the other hatters talking.
After the break it was our turn to "hat". Five brave volunteers went up to the front to talk about using the horsehoe seating arrangement in a classroom (that was the reason for our introductions at the beginning of the workshop). Divya took the blue hat and she expertly guided the conversation, working through the hats one by one. The result was that the facts, positives, problems and solutions were all discussed in an undoubtedly more fruitful conversation than if it had been a simple debate. After that, we had a go in groups of three to four and we were able to try out the alternative (good for small classes) where one person played the role of the blue hat and the others jointly played the other hats.
The feedback session was cleverly moderated by Brad so that, without explicitly mentioning it, we collectively "hatted" issues such as reversing leadership in our classes and how to use this method in our classes. This led to interesting sentences like "Let's red hat this", which makes absolutely no sense to the uninitiated! One important aspect raised by Divya in the question-and-answer section was that the success of this method depends on the confidence of the trainer. She admitted to having had difficulty at the beginning in getting her students to converse in this way, because of the discipline required in focusing on only one hat at a time. We saw it ourselves, because it was very easy to slip into other roles while speaking, so that instead of only mentioning positives, a negative or two slipped in.
I enjoyed watching Brad and Divya's presentation. It introduced us to the method and gave us enough practice to hopefully have us feeling confident enough to try it out. My only complaint is that I would have liked to hear more about the history of argument, which was over too quickly, instead of such a long introduction of the attendees at the beginning.
Overall, the event presented a different approach to speaking in class that I for one would like to try out. The method is similar to role-play, but because of the general roles (emotional, factual, optimistic etc.), it encourages more creativity on the part of the student and results in a more relaxed conversation than one in which the roles and opinions are previously determined.
White Hat – Neutral Information: facts, objective observation
Red Hat – Emotions: gut feeling, avoid the word ‘think’
Black Hat – Problems: the disadvantages
Green Hat – Creativity: A different solution?
Yellow Hat – Optimism: additional opportunities, possible positive outcomes
Blue Hat – Organisation: enabling a balance of perspectives, seeing things from each side
First of all, thank you to everybody for making 2012 such a wonderful year packed full of great events: the speakers, the committee, the Alte Feuerwache and you the membership made it a year to remember. I hope 2013 will be equally great!
As many of you know, we had to cancel our long anticipated event with Scott Thornbury at the end of November as Scott had to fly back to the US in a hurry due to a death in the family, but he has promised to come in 2013 instead. As soon as I have a date I will let you know and post it both on the website and on the E-list.
I am very happy to announce that our first event in 2013 will be on 26th January starting at 3pm and will take the form of an "Art talk" http://www.art-talks.de/ given by one of our members Karla Schlaepfer-Karst (MA), art educator and trainer (in English). The event will focus on David Hockney, the designer and innovator, the contemporary chameleon who always manages to surprise and delight us! and we are really excited about it.
On the exhibition:
He was constantly exclaiming: "This is a road where every tree is marvellous, different shapes!; it’s like an exhibition of trees. Look at that wonderful pink in the sky!" - David Hockney quoted by his biographer (Gayford) whilst with him on the road. David Hockney, who recently turned 75 years old, is just as enthusiastic when he paints and he does so, "with head, heart and hand".
The large, very popular exhibition from the Royal Academy London entitled "David Hockney; the Bigger Picture" is now showing at Museum Ludwig. It showcases English landscapes and other motifs which Hockney first drew in part on an iPhone then iPad. Hockney was here in Cologne and helped hang this spectacular show, which he likes even better than the one in London! Here, there are more of Hockney's multi-perspective films. Films that Hockney shot using 9 cameras on a moving Jeep. The show is vivid, colorful and reflects Hockney's love of his native Yorkshire countryside. Hockney uses a traditional subject to reflect on how art can reinvent itself through the use of new media.
I will post more details on the future events page in the next days, but please note the event is limited to 25 people, there will be a small charge for members and a slightly larger one for non-members. Advance booking only!
You are welcome to bring a friend of family member with you. The talk will take place in the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and we will book tables in the cafe afterwards. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Out of Sight by Isabelle Grey
Report of the Literature Group meeting on 28th October 2012 hosted by Ulla Roth
Nobody thought it had changed their lives. But even those who had hated the book – and there were a couple – enjoyed the discussion and the chance to analyse why. The phrase behind the title – out of sight, out of mind – refers to the main male character, who at the beginning of the novel totally forgets his infant son in a parked car, leaving him to die a lingering death from heat exposure. The question is how anyone could be so self-absorbed as to commit this horrific act of negligence. The book is billed as a psychological thriller and the rest of the novel is an attempt to pinpoint the origin of this infanticidal self-obsession. In the end we decided that what we find out about Patrice’s past is nowhere near enough to account for, let alone excuse, behaviour so irresponsible. The same character flaw manifests itself less fatally, but scarcely less hurtfully, in serial absconding from relationships in which he appears to have found an understanding and forgiving partner. Some of us found Patrice’s personality too static and wished to see some development. Others felt that incorrigibility was in his nature and remained highly sceptical of the hint of warmth and redemption at the end of the story.
The two most severe criticisms of the book were stereotyped characters and clichéd language. No doubt some of our disappointment with Leonie, the female protagonist, was exasperation at her readiness, which the author seems to share, to explain away her lover’s misbehaviour. More minor but more hard-headed characters, such as Leonie’s girlfriend Stella, the couple who employ her in the French village where they meet, and even Patrice’s self-centred mother attracted more of our sympathy.
The view of the writing as clichéd was not widely shared, but there was general frustration with a narrative style which told rather than showed. Many of us felt the author explained too much and indeed really laboured points obviously close to her heart, leaving little room for the intelligent reader’s pleasure in inference and deduction. Yet if this detracted from the book’s appeal as a thriller, the majority of us had nonetheless found the writing compelling and the book a real page-turner. In the end, then, not perhaps a book to be read and reread, but certainly one to keep you absorbed on a long journey or winter evening. And even those of us with reservations agreed that there are also very moving passages and descriptions of great psychological insight. Particularly impressive is the way the author deals with the death itself and the reactions of the parents. The short passage in which Patrice and Belinda scatter their child’s ashes over the Downs is a tour de force which – especially for those who have experienced something similar – should perhaps come with a health warning.
Many thanks to Ulla for hosting this meeting and providing such a magnificent spread. The next meeting of the Literature Group, at 4 p.m. on Sunday 27th January, will be hosted by Elizabeth Hormann (Neusser Str. 866, 50737 Köln-Longerich, Tel. 0221 / 745067 email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Under discussion will be Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor. New members and guests are always welcome but please let the host know in advance that you are coming.
The Choir was on its annual recruiting drive at the ELTA-Rhine Christmas Party the other week, singing for our supper and being as persuasively red-hatted as we could manage.
We are hoping that one or two of our promising new recruits will see fit, in the aftermath of a red-wine-induced agreement to join us in the new year, to follow through and come along for a jolly good sing once a month.
The Choir is always happy to welcome new members. We offer a once-a-month wellness service of conversation over a cuppa, and music. This is a no-stress, no-pressure alternative to sitting at home in front of the box on a Sunday night. Come along and try it out!
Dates vary depending on availability of members, andno rehearsals for 2013 have been set yet. Please contact us if you're interested in coming along, and we'll let you know when the dates are confirmed.
For more information, please contact:
02203 / 3266
An autumn of conferences; SIETAR and BESIG
Cáit Kinsella, on putting a face to an avatar, getting in touch off-line.
This is my year of attending conferences for the first time. After attending the annual forum of SIETAR Germany (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research) in Berlin in September (http://www.sietar-forum-2012.de), I went to Stuttgart mid-November for the annual IATEFL BESIG conference http://www.besig.org/events/conferences/annual/Stuttgart2012.aspx. The BESIG conference was without a doubt the most useful conference for me, as much as I was inspired and motivated by the SIETAR congress. The SIETAR forum was quite theoretical and philosophical. Very inspiring for me and many others, it aimed at paradigm changes- encouraging researchers and practitioners in the field on intercultural work to transform their view of intercultural communication towards cosmopolitan communication. It will take me months to process all of the new ideas and approaches I got to know in those three short days. The people I met from all over the world were so interesting and it was great to meet many people in person with whom I had been only in touch online until then.
BESIG had a more pragmatic approach. It was full of workshops and talks that – for the most part – were directly relevant for my daily work. I came away with lots of ideas that I could use the following weeks in my classes. A highlight was Charles Rei’s pre-conference workshops on assessment in Business English classes; a very pragmatic and doable approach (summary here http://businessenglishideas.blogspot.de/search/label/assessment). Claire Hart’s workshop on dealing with sporadic attendance confirmed many of the thing I do in my classes and gave me new ideas. The seven ideas on how to successfully use blended learning with busy adult learners, presented by Valentina Dodge, has encouraged me to give blended learning a try with in-company groups and not just with university students.
A number of workshops were by authors presenting topics closely related to their books. While some participants found this off-putting, I found it helpful to get new ideas on how to use books that I mightn’t ever have considered buying. The workshop with the David Riley prize-winner Ian Badger on working with authentic listening materials convinced me to go buy his book “Listening” (published by Collins) a few days later. It includes clips of non-native speakers of English discussing work matters. He showed how these dialogues and the accompanying exercises can be used to great effect to help business people understand certain accents more easily, e.g. Indian English. The book also has an accompanying app with can be bought in the iTunes store. The Android app will be released in 2013. Those of you who teach accountants or auditors might want to take a look at Patrick Mustu’s book “English for Tax Professionals”. It doesn’t take the usual approach of exploring UK and USA tax systems and issues, but focuses on helping learners to discuss the German tax system with their clients. Patrick is an ELTA Rhine member based in Düsseldorf.
An aspect of the conference I hadn’t expected to find useful was the publishers’ exhibition. It was great to be able to go from stand to stand and compare books from different publishers and authors on similar topics and see which one might work best for my groups. The best thing about BESIG was getting to hear people whose books I have or whose blogs and tweets I follow. It was really nice meeting people in real life with whom I had communicated online. For those who don’t know it yet, the BESIG social network on the NING platform is also open to non-BESIG members: http://iatefl-besig.ning.com.
The BESIG annual conference is held regularly in Germany (around every three years) and I’ll be going again. I might even save up to go to the conference next November, which is rumoured to be in Prague. Going to professional conferences like BESIG and SIETAR are a big investment as a freelancer when you’re covering your own costs and I just wanted to test them out as I’ve been putting a strong focus on professional development this year. The ideas, materials, connections and motivation I got out of both were worth every cent. The next of these conferences that are on in Germany or nearby I’ll be going to!
Cáit Kinsella, December 2012
-advanced English and intercultural communication-
Haiku Deck: Optimizing Lesson Preparation by Using the iPad
I recently discovered a really fun App - Haiku Deck - and would like to share my enthusuasm with you.
With this App you can create a simple and effective presentation which you can show from the App itself, or, if you’d like to add roll ins/outs etc., you can import it into Keynote and Powerpoint. There is no limit to the number of slides.
The creative possibilities are clear, and limited to the essentials, which is one reason everything can go so fast. These are:
1) choose a theme for the entire presentation - including font and style, so your slides might have a retro/black-white/sepia/misty/larger-than-life/brightly/delicately coloured look throughout.
2) choose the background - either from browsing directly from the App in libraries of Creative Commons Licence photos, adding your own photo or design, or choosing a plain coloured background.
3) add text and choose the layout for this.
You can show the presentation from the iPad or iPhone by connecting it to a Projector, or as I’ve done, to a widescreen HD TV, using the appropriate Apple connecting cables. And of course, from a laptop or desktop computer.
Haiku Deck can be downloaded FREE from the iTunes App Store. It comes with 5 themes. I so fell in love with the possibilities that I purchased all the other themes (€1,99 each) too, and haven’t regretted it.
Here are some examples of my slides so you can see exactly what it looks like:
Ex. 1 - Those Uncountables - Title Slide, using my own design.
Ex. 2 - You can count these balloons but not the air in the sky - using an imported Creative Commons Licence photo.
Ex. 3 - In the Autumn, it feels so good to reflect .... to renew .....
Ex. 4 - We enjoy what we do so be prepared to have fun, too. ( both these backgrounds use personal photos)
One of the Haiku Deck characteristics is - to match the Haiku tradition - limited text possibilities. In fact, there are two text lines for each slide, and you can choose from a number of layouts as the following example shows:
Ex. 5 - Haiku Deck - Layouts and Themes.
This means that you choose what you write with care, and this vastly aids clarity of expression.
My last example shows how Haiku Deck finds images for your presentation:
Ex. 6 - Haiku Deck - Matching Images to your Words
After writing one word of text, several pictures which are conected to this word load. I’ve found some amazingly funny as well as surprisingly appropriate images to choose from.
A Haiku Deck presentation can be exported as a PPT file and sent by email. Another possibility is to export it to the Haiku Deck website. This is partularly interesting for English Trainers without presentation equipment/facilities who can then send their class a link. You can choose from 3 categories: Public/Restricted/Private.
I’d like to quote from the Haiku Deck website, here: Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Haiku Deck is essentially a manifestation of the presentation designer’s most important commandment - use big visuals with little text. We think it’s a great resource for the at-home presentation designer striving for simplicity. The two-line limit becomes much less daunting if you restrict yourself to including only one point per slide. More often than not, expanding a 25-slide presentation into a 50-slide presentation presents the same information much more effectively. The quantity of slides isn’t important. The memorability and impact of each individual slide in the deck is what truly matters.
Kay von Randow
BOOKS OFFERED FOR REVIEW
The following titles are currently available for review. Two new titles are on the list: the first is Intercultural Competence in Business English published by Cornelsen (number one on the list). If any of you attended our workshop in 2010 or their four-day workshop, the authors Rudi Camerer and Judith Mader will be familiar to you. The other new title comes from Hueber: Business English Sprachkurs – ganz leicht (number four). Don't forget the other new titles published this year: Vocabulary Nach Themen (number three), Fit for FCE and Fit for TOEFL (numbers five and six).
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: email@example.com) with your name, address and the desired title and I will gladly post it to you.
Business Result Upper Intermediate Student’s Book, with Interactive Workbook DVDRom
By Michael Duckworth & Rebecca Turner
Level: B2 +
Oxford University Press
Business Result Upper Intermediate has made a refreshing change in several of my B2 business classes recently. An approach different to the more exam-based books I have been using, there is very little focus on reading or listening comprehension, and a much greater focus on vocab development and the active use of the newly acquired language.
Most units kick off with an input text – either reading or listening – followed by the elicitation of thematically or structurally related vocabulary (e.g. phrasal verbs). Some of these activities are really quite challenging, and a weaker B2 group will probably require quite a bit of teacher support in the early part of each unit. But so far my students have been enjoying the challenge, and making use of an increasing vocabulary.
This initial section of each unit is then followed by a Business Skills section with practical output tasks, a rather small ‘Language at work’ section (I love it how Business English books avoid at all costs the dirty word ‘grammar’) and interesting Case-Studies, each with an Expert View provided by one of the book’s consultants. The Case Studies are divided into two sections, the first of which is input material and a class discussion, and the second a role-play. This structure is excellent for teachers or students who react allergically to the concept of role-play, as the concepts can be handled in a more critical, intellectual way if required. This is also a useful approach if using the book for one-to-one teaching. In addition, each unit has extra practice of the vocab, phrases and grammar at the back of the book.
The 16 units, spanning 6 pages each, make Business Result a satisfyingly meaty text, and the variety of activities keeps the students’ interest. However, I do expect to be needing to supplement the grammar sections. In my experience, the students I teach often start off by saying they don’t want much grammar, and then being disappointed if they don’t get it. This aside, between the Practice File at the back of the book, the Progress Test for each unit in the Teacher’s Book, and the Interactive DVD Rom, there are certainly plenty of opportunities for making use of the language and revising what has been learned. An added bonus are the videos with photocopiable worksheets, which could either be handled in class or at home in preparation. The audio files can be found on the DVD Rom, and need to be saved to an mp3 player in order to be used in class. I would tend to do this, rather than have the students do the listening at home, as they often springboard into communicative tasks.
According to the Notes to Teachers, each unit provides approximately 4 teaching hours of material, plus 3-4 hours of self-study. With a chatty group that could also be extended, but the course can also be truncated effectively, creating an intensive short course by using only the Business Skills sections and their related Case Studies. These two sections of each unit integrate quite effectively, with the role-play making use of the acquired skills.
The wealth of material gives the teacher wide scope in designing a course to suit the needs of the particular class. So far I’ve found the themes engrossing and the activities fun, with plenty of opportunity for discussion.
Teacher Development Courses
Here is my new list of online and offline teacher development courses for the next few months …
The Consultants-E offer a wide selection of online training and development courses for teachers of English, so you don’t even have to leave your home or office to attend!
VLE Starter: An Introductory Course to Learn How to Use a VLE
10 January – 14 February 2013
E-Moderation: A Training Course for Online Tutors
10 January – 7 March 2013
Cert ICT: Certificate in Teaching Languages with Technology
10 January – 13 June 2013
Cert IBET: Certificate in International Business English Training
10 January– 28 March 2013
mlearning in Practice
10 January – 20 February 2013
Skylight offers a number of highly professional train-the-trainer courses in Cologne (now how convenient is that!).
Intercultural Skills: Building Bridges Globally
15 December 2012
Customizing Training Targets
16 February 2013
Streamlining Course Design and Training
2 March 2013
The Pyramid Group is offering an interesting course in Neu-Ulm.
Introduction to Teaching English for Technical Purposes
02 – 06 April 2013
Pilgrims offer a wide range of teaching training courses in Canterbury. Here’s just one of them:
Creative Methodology for the Classroom
24 – 30 March 2013
LTS training and consulting are offering a five-day course in Bath entitled Teaching English for International Business.
11 – 15 March 2013
International House is offering a Cambridge CELTA course in Frankfurt/Main.
14 January – 8 February 2013
International House offers CELTA and DELTA courses and online training.
Teacher Development Interactive offer online courses for ELT professionals.
If you know of any other courses, I’d love to hear from you.
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.
We are always glad to receive contributions on any subject related to the aims and activities of the Association or of interest to its members, but the Committee reserves the right not to publish either articles or advertisements which it feels run counter to the best interests of the Association and its members. Under normal circumstances we can only accept contributions in electronic format. If in doubt, please email the Newsletter editor before sending. Help with administration and editorial assistance is always welcome.
We also welcome advertisements. All advertisements are, however, published at the Committee's discretion. The advertising rates for the web-based Newsletter range from €50 to €280, depending on size and placement within the Newsletter. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more detailed information.
Advertising copy should be sent in electronic format. Please contact the Newsletter editor before sending large graphic files.
The deadline for contributions for the next Newsletter (Winter 2017) is Sunday, 3 December 2017.
All payments for ELTA-Rhine should be made to the following account:
Account No. 402521502
ELTA-Rhine takes no responsibility for the opinions expressed in this newsletter, or for errors in either form or content. ELTA Rhine also takes no responsibility for any external links published in this newsletter.