Friday, May 5, 2017

Experiment with virtual museum

I got this idea AFTER the IATEFL Glasgow conference in April. Vi"siting the Glasgow Museum of Art, I found a glass case in the main hall which contained various artifacts from the museum's collection, each identified with the name of the local resident who had chosen it for either its beauty or ugliness, along with a few sentences explaining the person's choice. Apparently, the museum had organized a program offering Glasgow residents an opportunity to visit the museum and choose items they found beautiful or ugly. The personal comments were so endearing!

This brought to mind my advanced learners, four in the group, and not a very cohesive one -- so I asked them to visit the National Museum of Natural History in the U.S. online, take a virtual tour of the various halls, and choose an item for its beauty, another one for its ugliness, and write a few lines. They had just learned the words 'epitome' and 'epitomize' so several students used those words in their explanations.

I collected their screenshots of the museum items along with their comments, and placed them on a page in the class wiki, which we viewed together in class and discussed, focusing especially on how each individual's use of English reflects his or her thinking and personality.

One student wrote

"I think that whales are too big relative to me. I think their eyes are evil-looking. Maybe that's the background of my choice that I do not like any aquatic animals."

Another said

"The epitome of beauty I found is an aquarium. I chose this because the underwater world attracts me, also watching fish just swim around and underwater plants sway has a calming affect on me."

This project seems to have drawn the students together by allowing them to respect each other's unique personalities through English.

I recommend it for anyone who needs to build a good atmosphere in their classroom.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Attention please! 20 APRIL DEADLINE! You can apply to the mentor training course sponsored by IATEFL Hungary with award winning materials and training. Location: Budapest, starting in September 2017 on Fridays. Details and forms here!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Starting up again, I hope!

It's been a long time since I wrote something here. At the moment, I'm reflecting on 25 years in the teaching scene. For so long, I set concrete goals about my teaching, such as "increase task-based teaching by 10%" "design effective whiteboard lessons" or "chart the roles I play during a lesson"

At the moment, I'm not disciplining myself with any concrete goal. In a relaxed fashion, I'm watching each student, estimating his or her needs, and writing up lesson plans on an A4 page fill-in I made myself. It looks like this:


Teaching point:................

Warmer ..................

Body 1 ......................

Body 2 ......................

Body 3 .......................

Extra ....................

What's next/homework ....................

WORD BANK (where I note vocabulary while monitoring during the lesson)

This form seems to be sufficient for now, and I can mesh it pretty nicely with the handouts, notes, and ideas I've been picking up lately at various teacher workshops, conferences, and from readings.

Visitors! How are you doing your lesson plans these days?

Attribution: eltpics @Senicko

Friday, October 28, 2016

My reflections about the 2106 IATEFL Poland conference

Conference Notes
IATEFL Poland conference, 16-18 September 2016, Szczecin

A good conference is like strenuous exercise: it makes you stretch. However, conference goers should keep in mind many factors when choosing presentations: stretching out of their comfort zone, relevance, and professional development. The talks and workshops at IATEFL Poland offered a broad, well-balanced selection. I chose Business English and professional development slots, but I jumped out of my zone, too.

Twenty seconds is all a teacher of 4-year-olds gets to transition from one activity to the next, otherwise the little learners scatter like autumn leaves. I watched “Musical Babies,” a live English lesson demonstration with pre-schoolers. Anna Rattenbury changed activities with speed and skill — she was supremely organized. According to one study, most teachers who attend conferences become more aware of developments in ELT contexts other than their own. True enough for me: I learned how cleverly YL teachers plan their lessons.

Back in Business English, I found one thing in common with Mandy Welfare — we both love teaching lower level business people, and we were the only ones in her session who felt this way! The key points are allowing as much speaking as possible, and motivating with bite-sized successes. Later I heard Evan Frendo provide easy ways to contruct discrete items (multiple choice and gapfills) — finally! I’ve always wondered how it’s done, and now I can hardly wait to do it myself.

Then came loads of fun with Anna Podlewska, who teaches medical students, but her games could easily be adapted to other ESP areas. For example, there was a derivative of musical chairs, based on the teacher reading out true or false statements about diseases — very funny, and the subject matter could easily be finance, marketing, etc. Another hilarious game was a dialog cut into strips and distributed to individuals in the class, who called out the statements on their strip one by one, while the others strove to find the appropriate reply.

Professional development is still exciting, even if not the newest star in the sky. I was reminded by Marjorie Rosenberg to wake up my blog and make it work for me. Also, Magda Zawadzka provided a smorgasbord of tips and tricks that ranged between paper-and-scissors preparation and a few clicks for online resources. These may not be new ideas, but small changes make a teacher more professional, too.

In his Sunday morning plenary, Jamie Keddie extended and contracted his leg asking, “What am I doing?” Answer: “Szeczin!” (stretching). At the 2016 IATEFL Poland conference, I really stretched out, too. No doubt I’ll do the same next year in Bielsko-Biata.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IATEFL Hungary's Business English Special Interest Group in action again!
The next Business English ‘extra’ Creative Cafe event will be held on Friday 22 May, 2015, 4-6pm at the Libra Foreign Language Bookshop, Kölcsey u. 2. in Budapest.
The event is two-fold. The main part is a workshop with Tapolcai-Malaczkov Szilvia.
In the second part, we will be focusing on the 20 June BESIG/ event, to clarify what our role there will be, and the plans we have for autumn 2015. This is a chance for participants to join in, get involved, and make suggestions to shape our network!

Presentation skills: Involving the audience
In this workshop my aim is to share with fellow teachers the experience I have gathered while teaching presentation skills to business college students. I’ll concentrate on the major challenge that students seem to face while preparing a persuasive presentation: how to win over the audience. This session will include how to involve the audience from the start, and ways of promoting interaction during the presentation. By the end of the workshop we will have several practical solutions on how to involve and win over our audience.  
Szilvia teaches at Külker, the Budapest Business School, College of International Management. Besides holding a degree in English language teaching, she is also about to graduate as an Economist.

Others coming along to this event – for both the Presentation skills workshop, and the discussion in the second part – include Jasmina Sadovska, Mary Sousa, Philip Saxon and Rachel Appleby. We had a great turn-out for our March get-together, and are optimistic for another this time, given the wide coverage this topic has! It’ll be relevant not only within Business English teaching contexts, but also for adults, and secondary school teachers. Do join us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The chasm and the colander

Colander in my ELT kitchen

Burnout, Biomimicry, use of students' first language, and future technology in teaching: like fresh
apples, they're filling the colander of my IATEFL Hungary Veszprém experience.
Struggling to shake the colander and decide what's good for my practice, I muddle off to my
lessons without even leafing through the handouts or browsing the IATEFL conference blog.
No time! Zero prep! Tired from schlepping my backpack between bus stops, office buildings, and
I am angry! What's wrong? Have I attended too many conferences? Am I just too nose-to-the-grindstone to change the way I apply materials? Why this chasm between the excitement of
plenary talks and the execution of (nonexistent) lesson plans?
No more! Change was in the slogan of Veszprém, so let it be mine as well.
Trying to get a handle on the colander
Two columns: ­ left column, conference topics; right column, my current students
Match the topics in the left column with the names in the right column. Rather arbitrary,
but at least it's a start, and it's familiar, like the matching exercises in ELT course books.

Concept questions (Rachel Appleby "The Joy of Discovery") --> ­ my pre­int systech learning present perfect
Green teaching (Jane Petring's plenary) ---> ­ my teenager heading for a school leaving language exam
Turnabout translation (Philip Kerr "Translate Your Coursebook") ->­ my internal auditors who are learning to translate their findings into English
Creating personalized google maps with students (Nagy Nóra - Digital Reading) --> my IT consultant making a map about his clients
YouTube genres (Barbara Bujtás) --> my logistics manager learning phrases for reacting to news ('DumbWays to Die')

After this, maybe I'll try to digest Clandfield's exposé on technology and Komlósi Edit's research in emotional intelligence. Then I'll feel I've done the 24th IATEFL Hungary conference justice!