Posted in Blogging, CELTA, ELTABB, Training

Update and looking ahead

I haven’t been able to update the blog as much as I would have liked recently because I’ve been doing a couple of things behind the scenes.

I’ve been giving workshops on giving feedback to students and clients here in Berlin with a particular aim of focusing on making the positives more objective and clearer. This proved to be very fruitful for all involved and I was glad to see that the participants got a lot out of it. I also came away with a lot of food for thought, for instance, when reformulating students’ utterances, am I giving them sentences and words that they would actually say in their context? Am I speaking in their voice or my own? Building rapport and understanding my students’ situations and world has a newfound importance for me. It also got me thinking about how I can get the students to utilise the emergent ideas and language more, and how to stretch that further. This is quite exciting for me, and I hope to research these paths over the next few months.

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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 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 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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Posted in Reflection

A Reflective Review of 2019

I would say, hand on heart, that if 2018 was the year that I dug myself out of a hole, 2019 was a year of stability and calmness career-wise, and eagerness to develop as a teacher. I was firmly back on the saddle ready to get back on the trail and in full control of my life and career, something that eluded me the previous year. It was a year that fashioned a trajectory of positivity and yearning to do more that, perhaps, propelled me forward to this time of writing. This year was also less dramatic, so this should be a shorter blog than the previous ones! 

Thinking back on it now (being 2021 at the time of writing), 2019 was when things finally started to click, or the way I always tended to be self-critical – overly at times – the needle seemed to slowly move away from that mentality. I was starting to be more assured and confident with what I was doing in the classroom. I guess the nascent stage of my career came to an end during this time. 

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Posted in Reflection

A Reflective Review of 2018

Moving into 2018, I was very much looking forward to putting the previous year behind me which really proved to take a toll on me physically and mentally. The year started really brightly. I had put my time on placement firmly to the back of my mind, I was working hard on my written assignments, and my girlfriend and I were settling into our first home we had just bought. 

We were incredibly lucky to have got the place and for the banks to have accepted our bid. The place was a doer-upper so we were excited to learn a few skills on our way to renovating the place. Some of the rooms and the way they had been treated by the bank/previous owners, e.g. the bathroom and kitchen, were egregious and were in need of urgent surgery; far from being a sight for sore eyes. It used to be the case for most of the year that we would do our 9 to 5’s then try to find the energy and motivation to work on the house when we came home, not that we were complaining, mind; we were in a very fortunate position, those in our age bracket don’t have it as good as our parents had it. 

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