Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘ELL’

The 2014-15 EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 3.1 (…even NEWer “Upgrade”)!

In Conferences, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 23/10/2014 at 2:05 pm

OK – the “quiz”how many differences can you see – from Ver 2.3?

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I’ve decided to make a few tiny, tweeny-weeny changes to this year’s Conference Calendar!

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Betting against canım Türkiyem (1915)

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Yes, that image is the first one – heck…if Warren Buffett can say something outrageous about the States (and 1776), I thought I’d just borrow his words a wee bit (and apply them to our conferences here in canım Türkiyem)!

“Bizim konferanslar”, here in Turkey, have been getting a pretty good reputation over the last few years…and this year is shaping up to be the same!

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The second change is that I am not kicking off with the International “big boys” this time around. Yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an “international jolly” (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the “shop”)!

You can find all the major international events at the end of this post.

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The third change was not really up to me!

With the events this year (well, the ones that have been confirmed thus far) we are starting to see a bit of a “shift” towards…more and more joint events (this is good…cool even!) and a lot more EdTech Conferences (but not as many online or UNconferences as perhaps we should).

For this reason, ’tis no longer just the ELT/ELL Calendar

…but rather the EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Calendar!

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As usual…big, bad İstanbul dominates the calendar but word has it that a couple more are in the pipeline for “mother Anatolia” (a few schools are still being a bit coy about publishing their dates) – I’ll update this post as and when we get more information on these…I think we got up to Version 6.2 last year!

So, without further ado…here we go:

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  • I. Eğitim Kongresi (1st Education Congress – Turkish) – 21.Yüzyılda Bir Eğitim Felsefesi Oluşturmak Ve Özel Okullar
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • INTCESS15 – 2nd International Conference on Education and Social Sciences
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 2 – 4 February 2015
  • 11th ELT CONFERENCEA Portrayal of Great Teaching
  • Çevre College – İstanbul, Turkey
  • 28 February 2015
  • LIF2015 (Language in Focus) – Contemporary Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Praxis in ELT and SLA
  • Caddadocia, Turkey
  • 4 – 7 March 2015
  • GlobELT 2015 – Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (with Hacettepe University)
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 16 – 19 April 2015 
  • edtechİST 2015 – International Educational Technology Conference in Istanbul
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 18 – 19 April 2015 
  • AGUSL15Blended Learning into Autonomy
  • Abdullah Gul University (AGU) – Kayseri, Turkey
  • 24 – 25 April 2015
  • ICEFIC 2015 (International Congress on Education for the Future: Issues and Challenges)
  • Ankara University (Faculty of Educational Sciences) – Ankara, Turkey
  • 13 – 15 May 2015
  • UDES 2015 (1st International Symposium on Language Education and Teaching)
  • Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli Üniversity – Nevşehir, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 May 2015

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ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)8

As promised – the International (and Regional) “BIG BOYS”…

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  • LeWeb
  • Paris, France
  • 9 – 11 December 2014
  • BETT
  • London, UK
  • 21 – 24 January 2015
  • TACON2015 (21st TESOL Arabia International Conference) – Teaching and Learning in the Digital World
  • Dubai, UAE
  • 12 – 14 March 2015
  • TESOL 2015 – Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
  • Toronto, Canada
  • 25 – 28 March 2015
  • IATEFL 2015 – 49th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition
  • Manchester, UK
  • 11 – 14 April 2015
  • BALEAP 2015 EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges & solutions
  • Leicester, UK.
  • 17 – 19 April 2015
  • ISTE 2015 – Connected Learning. Connected World.
  • Philadelphia, USA
  • 28 June – 01 July 2015
  • BAAL 2015 – The British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
  • Aston University – Birmingham, UK
  • 3 – 5 September 2015

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AND, a little bit of “sauce”:

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  • LAL4 4th Language Arts and Linguistics Conference
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 25 – 26 October 2014

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As ever, please forgive me if I have missed any (just let me know and I’ll fix it, promise)…if you are still planning an event at your institution, get your skates on and let us all know (with a comment).

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Take care…sevgili hocalarım!

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The 2014-15 EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.1

In Conferences, Our Schools, Our Universities on 06/10/2014 at 8:06 am

This upgrade came a wee bit faster than I had anticipated…

…how many differences can you see?

8

I’ve decided to make a few tiny, tweeny-weeny changes to this year’s Conference Calendar!

8

Betting against canım Türkiyem (1915)

8

Yes, that image is the first one – heck…if Warren Buffett can say something outrageous about the States (and 1776), I thought I’d just borrow his words a wee bit (and apply them to our conferences here in canım Türkiyem)!

“Bizim konferanslar”, here in Turkey, have been getting a pretty good reputation over the last few years…and this year is shaping up to be the same!

8

The second change is that I am not kicking off with the International “big boys” this time around. Yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an “international jolly” (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the “shop”)!

You can find all the major international events at the end of this post.

8

The third change was not really up to me!

With the events this year (well, the ones that have been confirmed thus far) we are starting to see a bit of a “shift” towards…more and more joint events (this is good…cool even!) and a lot more EdTech Conferences (but not as many online or UNconferences as perhaps we should).

For this reason, ’tis no longer just the ELT/ELL Calendar

…but rather the EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Calendar!

8

As usual…big, bad İstanbul dominates the calendar but word has it that a couple more are in the pipeline for “mother Anatolia” (a few schools are still being a bit coy about publishing their dates) – I’ll update this post as and when we get more information on these…I think we got up to Version 6.2 last year!

So, without further ado…here we go:

8

  • I. Eğitim Kongresi (1st Education Congress – Turkish) – 21.Yüzyılda Bir Eğitim Felsefesi Oluşturmak Ve Özel Okullar
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • INTCESS15 – 2nd International Conference on Education and Social Sciences
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 2 – 4 February 2015
  • LIF2015 (Language in Focus) – Contemporary Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Praxis in ELT and SLA
  • Caddadocia, Turkey
  • 4 – 7 March 2015
  • EdTech Summit 2015
  • Bahçeşehir University – İstanbul, Turkey
  • 14 March 2015 (UPDATE Coming Soon)
  • GlobELT 2015 – Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (with Hacettepe University)
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 16 – 19 April 2015
  • edtechİST 2015 – International Educational Technology Conference in Istanbul
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 18 – 19 April 2015
  • UDES 2015 (1st International Symposium on Language Education and Teaching)
  • Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli Üniversity – Nevşehir, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 May 2015
  • INGED 2015 (17th International INGED ELT Conference)
  • Çankaya University – Ankara, Turkey
  • October 2015 (UPDATE Coming Soon)

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ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

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As promised – the International (and Regional) “BIG BOYS”…

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  • LeWeb
  • Paris, France
  • 9 – 11 December 2014
  • BETT
  • London, UK
  • 21 – 24 January 2015
  • TACON2015 (21st TESOL Arabia International Conference) – Teaching and Learning in the Digital World
  • Dubai, UAE
  • 12 – 14 March 2015
  • TESOL 2015 – Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
  • Toronto, Canada
  • 25 – 28 March 2015
  • IATEFL 2015 – 49th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition
  • Manchester, UK
  • 11 – 14 April 2015
  • BALEAP 2015 EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges & solutions
  • Leicester, UK.
  • 17 – 19 April 2015
  • ISTE 2015 – Connected Learning. Connected World.
  • Philadelphia, USA
  • 28 June – 01 July 2015
  • BAAL 2015 – The British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
  • Aston University – Birmingham, UK
  • 3 – 5 September 2015

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AND, a little bit of “sauce”:

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  • LAL4 4th Language Arts and Linguistics Conference
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 25 – 26 October 2014

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As ever, please forgive me if I have missed any (just let me know and I’ll fix it, promise)…if you are still planning an event at your institution, get your skates on and let us all know (with a comment).

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Take care…sevgili hocalarım!

 

How long does it take to LEARN English, hocam? – The “10,000 Hour” Upgrade…

In ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 21/02/2014 at 9:55 pm

There is a lot of talk around canım Türkiyem these days about how many hours are needed for students to LEARN or “speak” English. In fact, we have even invented new acronyms to help us do this – classroom contact hours are now frequently referred to as GLHs (or “guided learning hours”).

What a queer turn of phrase – when what so many schools really mean is “bums on seats” and ears “pointed at” the teacher!

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TELLıng theTRUTH (Ver 03)

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These discussions have been “aided” by wider (mis)understanding of the CEFR (the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment)– now, you know the reason for the abbreviation!), and its six levels of proficiency from A1 to C2.

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Now, not everyone is a fan of the CEFR – mostly because it has been skillfully co-opted by ELT marketeers eager to sell their wares (by pasting on a EU logo onto whatever they are flogging)!

However (and in truth), the CEFR is refreshing change from the “fuzzy labels” of the past – “intermediate” or “upper-intermediate” or even “pre-faculty” (in academic contexts).

More of the same (my dogs)

I never did really know what these terms meant anyways!

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Besides, the CEFR was originally designed to improve levels of “transparency” – always a “fan” of that (as is Julian)!

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Fasülye (Blog new ver)

YES…there is a “prize” for any non-Turkish speaker that can work out that one!

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In a way, it is impossible to accurately calculate the hours needed to LEARN a language – as it depends on factors such as the learner’s language background, the intensity of study and levels of individual engagement, the learner’s age and motivation (even “gender” – yes, girls do generally kick ass in the right environment), and the amount of study and exposure outside the classroom – in addition to the quality of TEACHing (we sometimes forget this one) …and how many iTunes downloads a student clocks up each week!

Many ELL professionals, for example, think it’s a total waste of time to even try and run a “time and motion study” on language LEARNing.

Afterall, it’s the “quality” rather than the “quantity” of hours that matter…isn’t it?

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So, what do we “know”:

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GLHs (Hocam post)

Yep, that bloody acronym…again!

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I really, really, really have my doubts about the recommended GLHs for C2 – most higher-level learners do not get to this level based on classroom GLHs alone (“talent” is a key factor, as is extended contact with native speaker-like environments – ….or taking a “spouse”…)!

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C2 Level (Hocam Post)

Also, the right kind of “interest” or “engagement” is soooooooo importantmy wife has been an EL learner for 27 years (her first “second” language was French) and I do not think she would mind if I said she would probably struggle in a more “academic”  ELL environment – she would, however, wipe the floor with most native speakers on matters of a spiritual nature, reconnective healing, and…counselling workaholic EDUcators!

But, that’s for another post…

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For many hazırlık centres or “prep schools” at university level in Turkey the distinction between B2 and B1 is of more interest. This is because, in terms of the CEFR, most Turkish universities have selected a hazırlık “exit requirement somewhere between B2 and B1.

We see this more clearly when we look at IELTS equivalencies for these CEFR levels – somewhere between IELTS band 4.5 and 6.5 for those of you more familiar with IELTS.

Yes, you heard me…there are some “bodies” here in canım Türkiyem that believe that a student with a Band 5.0 in IELTS…can go onto a full-time, English-medium…undergraduate programme!

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Handle the truth

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BUT, maybe we should just avoid talking about IELTS…for now!

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You know me sooooo well!

I never did listen to my lawyers that much…

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Most “hazırlık centres” in Turkey are still to define their programmes and progression systems in terms of CEFR (the labels, we use…at least!) – TOEFL scores or IELTS bands are the more common form of currency when discussing what it takes to “graduate” from hazırlık into “freshman year”.

Top ranking universities in the UK currently all require an IELTS band of 7.0 and other “respectable” UK universities ask for an IELTS band of 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in each module) for international students applying to their undergraduate programmes. These universities will also accept a band 5.5 for entry onto their “foundation programmes” – …the equivalent to hazırlık.

If you want to live in Australia (forEVER – …speak to my wife before you do that!), you have to make sure you have an IELTS band of 7.0 – remember this!

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However, let me introduce you to my little friend:

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Gladwell

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Yeah, I know some (very smart) buggers have been having a dig at Malcolm Amcaof late!

But, you know what, I like this 10K thunk of “his” (…and Anders Enişte).

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I was going to do an analysis of the 10,000 hour “rule” for ELL – but someone beat me to it…someone I love to bits!

Sarah Eaton, a wonderful ELL Consultant from Canada – and…

…fellow “Jedi blogger

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I have mentioned Sarah a fair few times on allthingslearning – and she has often extended more than a helping hand to little ‘ole moi with my bouts of bloggery!

Sarah did a great paper on the time required to become “an ELL expert” – and published a version on her own blog (Literacy, Languages and Leadership).

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In her paper, she suggested a number of “scenarios” (you know how I loves me “mini-cases”):

Scenarios (no years)

Now, I know we ELL professionals are not that well-known for our “math skills” (I hate that my English is being “corrupted” by those guys “across the pond”)!

BUT, get your calculator out…NOW!

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Bet you didn’t!

The calculator thingy…that is.

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Scenarios (years)

Bet you (real “cash” money…this time!)…you are thunking something like this

Expletive (one)

…right now!

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I got thunking to meselfwhat if we did this for our hazırlık schools…here in canım Türkiyem!

I did, you know!

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Here goes!

This is what you WILL thunktrust meI’m a TEACHer:

Expletive (four)

Don’t believe me?

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Hazırlık (01)8

Told you so!

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The solution?

Well, I guess we need to look at our tried and tested quality / improvement strategyyou know the one, çoçuklar:

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ELT Strategy

Yeah…right! Worked in the past…YES?

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Let’s crunch the numbers…with a calculator!

Double the number of contact hours (sorry, GHLs!)…and…let’s throw in a “summer school” – why not!

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Hazırlık (02)

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You know what I am thunking, YES?

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Expletive (sixteen)

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YOU, too?

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Ask the studentsgo on, I dare you!

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Expletive (too many to count)

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So….what is the answer…Tony Paşa?

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Scroll up!

Yes, UP!

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What do my dogs say!

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New BLOGS on the BLOCK (in Türkiye)…

In Guest BLOGGERS, News & Updates (from the CBO) on 19/05/2012 at 12:35 pm

A few weeks back, I did a post entitled – Made in Türkiye (BLOGS that is)… – and highlighted a number of great ELT bloggers from Canım Türkiye (Seriously, seriously…Google Translate…when will you get your act together)!

OK – I also had a bit of a “rant” about how many of these bloggers cannot use the beautiful spellings of their names and surnames. But, things are changing – and as a wise old fella once said:

 

Also, if you is a fan of the “Bard of Avon” (and have a couple of hours to spare) – why not check out the excellent movie “Anonymous” this weekend. You will not regret it…

Tony, will you ever LEARN to “focus”?

 

Ken Wilson also did a recent post – Young Turks in ELT (in their own words)and profiled a few of the lovely and talented bloggers from around the country. But, I have to say that a few of them (you know who you are) were, shall we say, not quite as “young” as Ken’s title suggested – and certainly not as “lovely” as some of Ken’s female bloggers!

 

Anyways, I’ve also been doing a bit of “digital stalking” and come across a batch of new bloggers from around Anatolia…and that tiny, wee place that pretends it’s a city but is, in fact, almost a country in itself

The reason I like so many of these new blogs is that they are really getting to grips with “reflective practice” – by sharing some very personal stories about TEACHer LEARNing and growth…


 

So, yes – this is a “call to arms”…drop in and say “hi” to some of our new kids on the block, leave a comment and pass on the word…

…and, hey…let us know if you hear of any more budding bloggers out there!

So, you wanna be an ELT Teacher Trainer…huh?

In ELT and ELL, Teacher Training on 04/01/2012 at 7:28 pm

Those of you that know me intimately (well, maybe not “that” intimately) will know that I spend some of my “free time” working with teachers and school leaders on various development programmes and LEARNing opportunities (gotta plug the blog – it is, afterall a brand new year)!

Right now, I’m getting ready to work with a bunch of ELT teachers – who have taken the “leap” and are planning the “transformation” into the role of ELL Teacher Educator (sounds so much better than “ELT Trainer”, dunnit)?

I was pulling together some on-line “bedtime reading” resources together as pre-sessional prep – and actually went back to one of my very first posts (almost a year ago to see what had changed – to see if I have changed)!

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In that post, I made a few observations – as have others before and after me:

 

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  • There is no one best “route” for becoming a teacher educator – and sometimes many of the so-called “trainer-training” programmes that have sprung up over the years are a waste of time!
  • There is no one best “trainer profile” – trainers and teacher educators come in all shapes and sizes (but many of them are “rounder” than most – and, not sure why, a large proportion of them still smoke)!
  • Teacher training or educator LEARNing, as a job, is about “service” – to teachers and the profession. It’s about“serving” – not being “served”.
  • Teacher-training is really about who you are, what you know, what you stand forand how you share all of that and get others to “find their voice” and share what they have to offer.
  • It’s bloody hard work – not just about “winning the crowd” or “having a laugh” (what I call the “ka-ka-kee school of teacher training”) – and requires a lot of varied and multiple experiences if you really want to add value to the LEARNing and teaching of others.

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NONE of these have changed – over the past 12 months!

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What had changed for me, however, was the resources I was recommending to people. In my early days as a teacher trainer, I focussed vey much on “content”. If I was working with ELT professionals, all my recommendations were about ELL – if I was working with engineering lecturers, all my stuff would come from the literature about “engineering education” (go on, I dare you, try and find that kind of stuff)!

With the recommendations I have been making more recently, there’s much more of a “variety” – much more “transdisciplinarity” (is that a real word, acaba)! This has got to be a good thing and it made me realise that I have another area in which I am walking-my-talk.

Yes, reading is good – and sexy – but reading outside of our disciplines, our comfort zones is sexier!

 

Anyways, I thought I’d share the most recent “bedtime reading list” with you – especially, if you are thinking of taking the “leap”:

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REFLECTION, REFLECTIVE PRACTICE & REFLECTING 


BECOMING A TEACHER TRAINER 


PLANNING WORKSHOPS & TRAINING EVENTS 

 

What I will say, to wrap up, is also that a few other of my ideas and bits of advice (from last year) also remain unchanged.

Just as we are starting to realise that “intelligence is learnable” (finally), we are starting to see that teacher training abilities can be learned – but require Disraeli’s “three pillars”.

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So, what does all this mean for teachers who are thinking about moving into teacher training (or educator LEARNing):

  • Watch a lot – go to as many training sessions as you can, check out as many conference papers as you can, get on the web and find other presenters. LEARN like your hair’s on fire!
  • Reflect a lot – think about the sessions you go to and draw up a list. Think about the “best” training sessions you have been to – ask yourself: What worked? What mattered most? What did the presenter/facilitator “do” and how did that make you feel? – DO IT! Also, think about the “worst” sessions you went to – ask yourself: How did I feel? What got in the way of my learning? What stopped my engagement? DON’T DO IT – EVER!

Most importantly:

  • Get your hands “dirty” a lot – as a wise man (I actually thought it was a woman last year) once said:

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You will LEARN more by doing “teacher-trainer-type” things and “failing” than by reading a bookand you will figure out how to make it happen, if you really want it!

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Waiting for KRASHEN…still!

In Bilingualism, Conferences, ELT and ELL on 18/05/2011 at 2:33 pm

If I get one more bloody e-mail from my so-called “friends” telling me how wonderful Stephen Krashen’s drop-in keynote (in Istanbul last week) was, I’ll ……………

As many of you know, a few weeks ago I did a short post on the “Grand Master of Language Learning and told you all how I would move heaven and earth to be there.

“Work” happened to me – again! I “missed” it…

 

But, I have friends in “low-places” (with photocopy machines and PDF software) – and they sent me my crib-notes.

So, for those of you like me…here’s a few highlights.


Krashen did manage to highlight his “new theory” – read, be bi-lingual and drink coffee! While I am not quite sure if these recommendations will be as big as “hit” as his earlier work:

  • Natural Order Hypothesis
  • Acquisition/ Learning Hypothesis
  • Monitor Hypothesis
  • Input Hypothesis
  • Affective Filter Hypothesis

Now, if I had come up with just “one” of these…

…he clearly made an “impact” on lots of participants with the first of his “new ELL trinity” – everyone ran home all-geared up to begin new “reading” programmes with their students.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

 

The coffee bit is “easy” – also MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Mmmm, not so sure about being “bi-lingual” – bit more difficult than making a cuppa-java! But at least all our non-native English teachers now recognise that they have something over their less-linguistically-endowed “native colleagues” – time to pay them more!

 

However, in looking over the notes I found a really interesting reference to the work of Ashley Hastings and HIS “7 Myths” (in an earlier version of this post I actually used “her” – see, this is what happens when you do NOT go to a conference. Ashley, was forgiving and humourous enough to point this out but he also sent me a full set of links to his FOCUS SKILLS page – take a look).

You know me and my love of “conspiracy theories” and “urban myths” but I’d come across some of these before (not in such a comprehensive manner) and wondered how many of them would have the same “impact” as Krashen’s recommendation that we all do more “silent reading” in class (isn’t that how most of us read anyways – how many people out-there actually use “reading aloud” as a classroom technique).

I wanted to list them for you all:

Myth #1: “The four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) must be introduced and taught together.”

Myth #2: “Grammar and vocabulary must be explicitly taught.”

Myth #3: “Instruction must be based on structured textbooks.”

Myth #4: “Teacher talk should be kept to a minimum.”

Myth #5: Reading skills must be explicitly taught.”

Myth #6: “Students’ written errors must be marked, and students must correct them.”

Myth #7: “Students must be required to speak as much as possible.”

 

Now, I’m not sure if I would agree with all of them (esp. “Myth #7” – speaking is a great way to “co-create” and “learn” language, IMHO).

But, Ashley / Stephen – do you know what you are suggesting here?

No grammar teaching…No textbooks – OMG!

 

Love you both…when are you coming back?

Think I need another…




Why is our CBO “MIA”?

In Conferences, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology, Uncategorized on 02/05/2011 at 3:05 pm

Most of you know I’m busy running around for Conference Season here in Turkey at the moment…but I have also been glued to CNN watching how “Obama took down Osama”.

Far more interesting than my usual soaps!

OK – back to Conference Season. I have just returned from a really great “ELT EdTech Fest” put on by the lovely chaps at UES (up in Istanbul) down in Antalya – a great event with so many dynamic, young teachers (we are all young when we get to a conference in Antalya)…

I had plans to do my own post on events down in Antalya…but…

Upon my return, literally after only minutes of being in the house, Scott Thornbury put up his “T for Technology” post – had to take a look, didn’t I?

Scott began his post with reference to the “Twitter is for the birds… debate held between Alan Waters and Nicky Hockly at the recent IATEFL Conference in Brighton. Many, in both Brighton and Antalya said Nicky “kicked ass” – but Scott’s take on it was more balanced:

Instead of arguing about the merits of integrating technology into (language) education, it became a free-for-all about technology in general (“I wouldn’t have been here if it hadn’t been for Twitter”, “If you are unable to follow a Twitter-stream you are soft in the head…” etc). Comments like these seemed to be largely irrelevant to the matter in hand, i.e. the uses (or abuses) of technology in language education.

This is what we have come to expect from Scott.

I read through the post and started to read a few of the comments that his bloggers began to put up. Some followed Scott’s lead and agreed with the idea that we all need to adopt a more balanced, principled approach to using technology in ELL.

I also watched as young Coco (an 11-year-old student) explained how he had learned so much from teachers using IWBs and how much fun technology was for students. Well done Coco!

The problem was that a few bloggers could not hide the fact that they wanted to continue the free-for-all begun during IATEFL debate. You know the usual “technology-bad, teaching-good”…

Now, you know me! I have trouble keeping my mouth shut – and so threw in my “two-cents” about “technology not really being the problem – rather it is the obsession with teaching”…

My comments helped make me a new “best friend” – Luan (from Shanghai)!

Scott mentioned that he is worried that blogging is becoming a full-time job for him – I’m more worried that commenting on the posts of other bloggers is also becoming a major undertaking.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that that Antalya, Osama and Scott’s post are the reasons for me being “missing-in-action” … excuses, excuses (and I haven’t forgotten about “Speaking – Part Three” or the two guest-posts I have sitting on the desktop)!

BUT, take a look at the post (and all the comments) – makes for fun reading!

“Mother-Tongue-Plus-Two” – Doable in Turkey?

In Bilingualism, ELT and ELL on 08/03/2011 at 6:04 am
This is a bit of a re-post. I got in touch with the guys who look after the Eurobarometer surveys only to learn that the 2010-11 survey has been cancelled – something to do with an economic crisis! 

The good news is that they are just putting the finishing touches to another survey on European language competencies for school children – should be ready by February 2012.

The benefits of knowing more than one language have long been recognised across Europe, even despite the worries about political and economic integration in member states of the EU. The EU developed its “mother-tongue-plus-two strategy” in 2002 – and the European “project” to foster large-scale plurilingualism went mainstream.

The EU does recognise that English has emerged as the most widely spoken language in Europe, but wants to make sure this does not become, over time, a factor limiting linguistic diversity within its frontiers.

The success of this EU initiative is highlighted in the regular Eurobarometer surveys. One of these surveys asks EU citizens (and “candidate countries” such as Turkey) about their beliefs and attitudes towards foreign languages.

In the last of these (in 2006):

  • The vast majority of Europeans (83%) believe that knowing foreign languages is or could be useful for them personally. In fact, over half (53%) of the respondents perceive language skills to be very useful.
  • 9 out of 29 countries covered in the survey indicated that over half of EU Citizens can hold a conversation at least in two foreign languages.
  • 56% of EU citizens are able to hold a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue and 28% state that they master two languages along with their native language.
  • 73% of EU citizens indicate better job opportunities as the main reason for the young to gain knowledge of other languages other than their mother tongue.
  • Practically no one (0.4%) considers that it is not important for young people to acquire language skills.

And, with regards English:

  • English is perceived by Europeans to be by far the most useful language to know (68%). French (25%) and German (22%) follow next (Spanish ranks fourth with 16%).
  • English remains the most widely-spoken foreign language throughout Europe. 38% of EU citizens state that they have sufficient skills in English to have a conversation.
  • 77% of Europeans consider English to be the language that children should learn.

Of course, such survey data can hide considerable variation between countries:

  • 92% of citizens in Luxembourg  report that they can speak at least two languages apart from their native tongue
  • 75% of respondents in the Netherlands report the same
  • 44% of Europeans admit to not knowing any other language than their mother tongue.
  • 67% of Turkish citizens report that they cannot speak another language than Turkish.

Let’s take a closer look at what Turkish citizens said in the same survey.

What do Turkish citizens say? 

From the Eurobarometer survey of 2006:

  • 79% of Turkish citizens agreed with the statement that everyone in the EU should be able to speak one language in addition to their mother tongue
  • 63% agreed with the statement that everyone in the EU should be able to speak two languages in addition to their mother tongue
  • 33% are able to hold a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue (this was the lowest of all participating countries)
  • 5% are able to speak at least 2 languages
  • only 1% are able to speak at least 3 languages
  • 95% believe that knowing foreign languages is or could be useful for them personally
  • 72% consider English to be the language that children should learn
  • When asked about the best age to start learning a first language apart from the mother tongue,71% said ages 6 to 12
  • 9% report that they have improved their language skills at primary school

  • 49% agreed with the statement language teaching should be a political priority

The “count” on whether language should be a political priority is not as strong as the result in the last referendum (!) – but it tells us a lot.

A few universities across Turkey have been trying to get their students to learn another foreign language (over and above English) – without much success!

Perhaps, we’d have more success if we started kids off earlier.

Need a BUDDY, buddy?

In ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities on 05/03/2011 at 6:39 am

Mentoring is rapidly becoming a “hot topic” in Turkey – and not just with businessmen or educators / teachers.

Emre Gökhan Şahin, a student at Özyeğin University in Istanbul, is President of the Student Council and offered to share what he has learned from an innovative student mentoring project – the SBSS Project.

Gökhan is the first of our “guest-bloggers” this week – a student guest-blogger!

This post – his very first blog posting – is a great example of community-building, “giving back” (or “paying forward”) and of learners “learning” learners.

Gökhan – you will go far, my man!

I am a sophomore student studying Business Administration at Özyeğin University, Istanbul-Turkey. I wanted to share my experience on a project called the “SELI Buddy Support System”, a project in which students (in their faculties) who studied on the prep-program help current prep students in their studies.

While I was studying English in prep, I had some real “hard times” – as did many of my friends. We were the first students at our newly-founded university and we sometimes suffered because of the lack of “senior” students who had been through the same learning process we were going through.

Whether you believe it or not, talking to experienced peers who achieved what you are about to do and getting advice from them is the most powerful source of motivation.

I am sure that there must have been a time when you (as a student) did not feel comfortable asking your “teachers” questions; because, you probably thought that you would be the only person who did not know the answer.  I felt this way many times – throughout my education.

Although our teachers were great at telling us about the key methods of learning a new language, I did not consider all of them because I thought that all teachers had another agenda – making sure every student should just study more.

Unfortunately, I saw the light only after I failed the upper-intermediate level assessment test.

I had always been a successful student until then – I knew had to get my act together!

Feeling unsuccessful and being isolated from my classmates who had passed the course, I dedicated myself to working closely with my teachers and looking for the ways that could help me to learn, help me perform better.

Finally, my consistent efforts paid off. I passed…I moved onto my department.

Because I was a member of student union, I used to have many conversations with fellow students. For sure, the most common complaint was about the difficulty of the prep-program. I met some students who failed a level once and believed that they would never be able to learn English or even “finish” the prep program.

I knew I had to so something.

At first, I volunteered to help my friends with their studies. Mostly I shared my experience on how difficult it was to get used to a new language and which strategies helped me to overcome the obstacles – especially, the damage having a negative attitude could bring.

After helping them relax, I studied with them on the areas they had difficulty in.

When I heard that my friends had also finally passed the course, I felt so proud because my support had helped them.

Students that I helped were so pleased that they started coming with their friends. Sometimes group study turned into a “cry-on-my-shoulder” session, which helped me realize that there was a need for psychological support as well as academic study.

As the number of the people increased, I wanted to create a project from which all prep students can benefit. A voluntary project that aims to enhance the effectiveness of the learning environment through knowledge and experience sharing was something that our instructors really appreciated.

When I started working on planning the project with prep school faculty, they asked me to consider the following: try to avoid doing students’ homework for them, teaching new objectives, and interfering with the thinking process in feedback interpretation.

After we decided on the ground rules together, we began to build our team with the full support from prep faculty.

When we started the project two years ago we had 5 buddies currently there are 13 of us. Each of us in the team has had a different experience in terms of the challenges we faced and what we did to cope – this is a great advantage to the project.

When it comes to how the system works, it is quite easy.

We are using the student union’s office and available “buddy” hours are posted as a time table on the door (with an e-mail address). If a student wants to get support from us, he/she simply informs the “buddy” via e-mail at least one hour before coming.

Like teachers – we need preparation time especially when the request is for group study.

In the feedback we gather, which is shared with the prep faculty periodically, generally students visit us to study grammar and get feedback on their presentations.

Of course, you may wonder what happens if “the buddies” teach something “wrong”?

This is a crucial question. Although all our “students” are supposed to be aware that we are not professionals (but students like them), we try to reduce this risk by openly telling them that we do not know enough to answer every question.

If we do not feel comfortable about a particular topic, we advise them to see their instructors. Or the other option is that we can send an e-mail to the participant about the subject after we study it. This is great – as we also get the benefit of improving our own language skills even more. In addition, online communication provides flexibility and students can contact us regardless of the time table.

Honestly, this project is one of the best things that I have been a part of.

Seeing freshman students (who benefited from the SBSS project) sign up as “new members” of the “buddy team”, gives me hope for the future and the energy to continue.

Instead of (just) “book learning”, we have the chance to experience and contribute to “real learning”.

The “New Orthodoxy” of ELT

In ELT and ELL on 19/02/2011 at 9:07 am

Like many language teaching professionals I am always intrigued by new trends in language and language learning.

Trends have a way of clarifying “where we are” and “where we are going” – and help us spot the “driving forces” that will shape how we “do business” in the future.

However, in looking at trends or patterns it is important to remember that we cannot simply jump on the “flavour-of-the-month” band-wagon. As educators, we need to reflect critically on how underlying trends and changes will develop over time and impact the types of “living educational philosophies” and “lived missions” we use to design learning opportunities for our students and the planned experiences we take into our classrooms.

One interesting set of trends I saw recently were presented in a “think piece” prepared to help educational leaders and teachers better understand current trends in language education. In the monograph, Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century, Eaton presents an innovative list of “what’s in” and “what’s out” for the language classroom:

What’s OUT

  • Vague, hollow promises that can’t be proven.
  • Saying that learning languages is easy.
  • Authoritative teacher attitudes.
  • Complaining about cutbacks and lack of funding.
  • Language labs.

What’s IN

  • Clear, provable demonstrations of learning.
  • Frameworks, benchmarks and other asset-based approaches to assessment.
  • Individualized, customizable, learner-centred approaches.
  • Proving the value of language learning through stories and speech.
  • Using technology for language learning.
  • Linking language learning to leadership skills.
  • Showing funders the impact their investment has on our students, our communities and our world.

At first sight, her list of “ins” and “outs” does not seem to offer many earth-shattering insights.

It is certainly true that behind Eaton’s list is a more powerful message on the purpose of language learning: the focus in language education in the twenty-first century is no longer on grammar, memorization and learning from rote, but rather using language and cultural knowledge as a means to communicate and connect to others around the globe. However, this should not be news to many of us – as is her suggestion that more old fashioned “authoritarian models are giving way to gentler, more collaborative models” and the fact that “geographical and physical boundaries are being transcended by technology”.

What is different, however, is her emphasis on the fact that that we need to reconceptualise how we “do business” in ELT around the notion of “walking our talk” and knowing exactly “what that talk is all about”.

One of the most comprehensive discussions of trends in language education is presented by David Graddol, in his excellent monograph “English Next”. In this, he builds on his innovative analysis given in The Future of English (1997) – and also offers a great deal of insight into helping us understand where the business of ELT is going.

Graddol’s main purpose is to explore a wide range of trends from demography, economy, technology, society, education and languages. Ultimately, he arrives at the same conclusion as David Crystal and recognises that English has become “the” de facto global language. In much the same way that Crystal notes, he also claims that the current, apparently unassailable, position of English as the world’s lingua franca, is the result of the unprecedented social, technological and economic global changes we face today.

Some of the economic trends to which he refers have already become a reality. This month saw Japan’s 42-year ranking as the world’s second-largest economy come to an end – as she was finally eclipsed by China.

Graddol draws on some mind-boggling statistics, generated by a computer model developed by The English Company (UK) Ltd to forecast potential demand for English in the education systems around the globe.

  • There are now over 5 billion people globally who do not speak English as either their first or second language.
  • Around 1.9 billion of these are between the ages of 6–24 (the key age group for education and training).
  • The total number of non-English speakers is expected to rise slowly and peak in 2030 at just over 2 billion.

In 2000, the British Council estimated that there were around 750 million and 1 billion people that were learning English. If Graddol and The English Company are correct, almost a third of the world’s population is trying to learn English – as I write this.

This is great news for ELT professionals – we all get to keep our jobs for the next 20 years. Well, not such great news for native speakers. This is because, as Crystal notes, the spread of English is not as stable and permanent as it once was. Graddol suggests that the rise of “Global Englishes” and Teaching and learning English as a lingua franca (ELF) is changing the traditional face of ELT and EFL – but that’s for another conversation!

It is this last point that distinguishes Graddol’s work from that of Crystal.

Graddol also focuses his attention on the impact these changes and the rise of “linguistic post-modernity” are having on the world of ELT and uses this to introduce what he describes as the “new orthodoxy” that is shaping the world of ELL.

For Graddol, this new orthodoxy is built on four pillars:

(1) Start teaching English at primary school – preferably Grade 1 but at least by Grade 3.

(2) Begin teaching at least part of the curriculum through English at secondary school. Possibly provide specialist support by English teachers.

(3) Require students to be proficient in English at entry; reduce support for English teaching within university to specialised subject knowledge.

(4) Teach more courses at university through English, or at least expect students to be able to access study materials – such as textbooks – in English.

In his earlier monograph Graddol suggested that “the future was bilingual”, however, in his sequel he talks more of how English has become a “basic skill” (as is the case with literacy, numeracy, technology and learning how to learn) in today’s globalised world – and about how this is having a profound impact on who is learning English.

So, what does this new orthodoxy mean for YOU?


The Language Revolution (Themes for the 21st Century) by David Crystal

The English Language: A Guided Tour of the Language by David Crystal

Redesigning English by Sharon Goodman, David Graddol, and Theresa Lillis