Posted in Reflection

The heat is on

The weather has been pretty nice at times and unbearable at other times here in Berlin. I think I have acclimatised quite well though since I moved here, much to the dismay of my fiance (I got engaged recently). She rolls her eyes when I say that I am cold when the temperatures are in the low 20s. 

The winter temperatures are notoriously low which I am not looking forward to considering the energy crisis we are currently in here in Europe. Having said that though, it wasn’t bad earlier in the year. There were some days when my bones were shaking, and I made it my mission to teach vocabulary kinetically to warm up. 

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Posted in Dogme, Reflection

A love letter to Dogme teaching

I know Dogme teaching isn’t to everyone’s liking, but boy did it get me out of trouble recently. I was in a real bind which I’ll detail below shortly. 

I am really thankful that I explored this teaching methodology during my Delta, and I tend to have, what teachers and bloggers call online, ‘Dogme Moments’ in my classroom pretty much all the time now. However, for a class I had a couple of weeks ago, I had to use a deep-end approach, and it really saved my bacon. Let me explain.

I came home after a long day ready to start my in-company sessions for the evening. As you do, I got my email, material, and Zoom all fired up and ready to go. But, the Internet started to drop a little bit. No big, just restart the computer, what could go wrong? Big mistake. 

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Posted in Reflection

Accessibility in the classroom

As a gamer, I must applaud what game developers are doing these days when it comes to making their games as accessible as possible for their target markets. Basically, for those who don’t know, they are now implementing accessibility options for those who want to enjoy their games as much as they can. Having a game playable for those who are visually impaired, have hearing difficulties, autism, and so on, must be really liberating. For me, I often have to magnify or zoom in on text that is so scrawny. I don’t understand why other developers make their heads-up display (HUD) or text so small. Like, we have massive TVs these days!

This got me thinking about my lessons in the classroom. Am I attending to my students’ needs when it comes to accessibility? Can I do more?

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Posted in Reflection

Working with students who need English for Specific Purposes

Yesterday, I attended a really nice workshop on one-to-one teaching, led by one of my Directors of Studies at a Berlin school I work in. We focused on a number of key points to consider when teaching in this context: pros and cons when teaching and learning in this way, the needs analysis, and troubleshooting. 

One area of the workshop that got me thinking was working with students who need English for Specific Purposes. Unfortunately, when it comes to materials and coursebooks you may need to use to get a good sense of what it is like to be in the student’s shoes, these books can be lacking in the engagement department. Not having a background in the student’s field can really alienate a lot of teachers, too; it can be an uphill battle before you’ve even started the student’s course.

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Posted in ELTABB

EXPOLINGUA 2022 

As the weather started to get a bit more unbearable, heat-wise, here in Berlin, it kind of warranted an escape to cooler parts of the city. Signing up to help ELTABB at EXPOLINGUA at the lake was just the ticket I needed.

EXPOLINGUA is an annual trade fair comprised of exhibitors from all sorts of language backgrounds showcasing courses, conducting workshops, and/or informing patrons about recruitment opportunities. Like most events, this event returned to its former glory in person, not done since 2019. 

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Posted in Blogging

Blogging – one year on.

It’s been a year since I started this blog. The fact that I have kept it going is huge for me because I didn’t think I had it in me to do it and maintain it. As I had detailed in my very first blog, I had several reasons why I wanted to have one. Have I managed to keep to my initial goals? More or less, yes.

I have explored and detailed some interesting areas, such as being on the other side of the fence as a language learner experiencing a placement test and later trying to survive an intensive course. This experience helped me to understand students a bit more closely. Some of the intricacies of being a student can only be gained from being one. 

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Posted in Conversations from the staffroom, Reflection

Trying to understand students who seek perfection

Let’s talk about ‘perfection’. I’ve never understood it and never really understood people who chase it. Does it exist? 

Sure it does. Mathematics is perfect. Science is, too (flat-earthers look away now). If you burnt all the books written about those topics and started from scratch, testing and experimenting as you normally do when investigating a hypothesis, you would get the same results you had once lost. 

But, can people be perfect? Can the things we want to achieve and ‘do’ in life, like speaking in another language, be perfect? 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Student: “Teacher, are you sure?”

This is the question that sends shivers down our spines as teachers and makes us glance back at the board we had written on with sheer panic. 

Did we explain a piece of grammar or vocabulary incorrectly? 

I have heard this question over the years and it has always resulted in a playful chuckle in the classroom among the students and myself. Recently, I have come to the conclusion that this question always comes from a good place and is not meant to be taken in a malicious way or to challenge the teacher. The student has a perception of an item of grammar or vocab they have acquired elsewhere and a genuine curiosity, and it’s up to me to shed a bit more light on this item of language. I never say that they are wrong. I actively listen to what they have to say, then add my two cents. This type of exchange has not always gone down well with my colleagues, though.

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Posted in Blogging, Reflection

The importance of up-cycling language items for higher-level learners.

Teaching higher-level students can be quite daunting for teachers a lot of the time; it certainly was for me in the early stages of my career. As students move up levels, they have certain expectations of learning ‘sophisticated’ or ‘professional’ language when they reach C1 and C2 levels; these expectations and wishes just come with the territory. To better prepare ourselves we are oftentimes scrambling to get dictionaries to equip ourselves with concrete definitions of words and phrases we sometimes don’t use productively, or checking a corpus like SKELL to share examples of collocations that are seen as correct instead of saying to the student, “this collocate just doesn’t go with this word” which can leave the student frustrated. 

While this is all true, there is something that I have recently learnt after receiving feedback from a C2 level student.

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Posted in Reflection, Uncategorized

A Reflective Review of 2020

I don’t think many of us at the start of 2020 imagined how impactful this year would be and how it was going to flip our world upside down. For people around the world, life in 2020 was like a Hollywood movie with a few ups and many downs. That simple analogy was certainly true for me. Every generation goes through a traumatic, era-defining global event, as the picture above shows where you have children trying to learn during the Polio outbreak, and the COVID-19 pandemic was the one that I had to navigate through.

The year started brightly. One of my resolutions for the year was to be more sociable (bit of a jinx, no?). I went to a few events my friends had organised and really enjoyed this time after completing the Delta exam the previous month. I cherished these moments with friends and new ones, too. I’m normally quite shy around new folk, but as soon as we get to know each other I show a bit more of myself. It’s weird because I have no problem working with new students! I had no idea that those few weeks of socialising, relaxing a little, feeling great about getting more comfortable meeting new people would turn out to be the only real interactions I would have with people in large group settings for the remainder of the year. Mad thinking about that now.

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