A Prezi to teach Cialdini’s principles of persuasion

In teaching communication skills, I’ve decided to experiment with Prezi as my presentation tool. I normally use Powerpoint to present Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, but find that Prezi, which lets you zoom in and out, lets me put the task and reference material into one big picture. The template is one of the many very nice designs available. Prezi is free of charge if you don’t mind sharing your materials on line.

Better visuals for college presentations

Today I wrote an open letter to my Masters of Public Management students on how to improve their visuals. It included these points:

Better visuals:

To improve your design, especially your use of space on slides, select a theme that suits your purposes. Consider a clean color scheme with good contrast to suit the light conditions at the university. (I used a black gradient with white letters.) Then create a slide master, which stores information about the template (theme, a set of layouts, color scheme, fonts, placeholders for positioning). That creates harmonious slide variations on one theme, all saved in one master. When you make a new presentation, you build your slide deck by selecting from among the possible layouts, changing from slide to slide, and positioning your content in the given placeholders.

Use the graphic tools provided in your MS Office programs. Create visuals (graphic organizers, flowcharts…) using the tools in Powerpoint and Word called SmartArt. If you can’t find a chart that works for your purpose, tailor organizers using Diagrams and Tables. Save your own visuals and use them in your Prezis.

Use clipart provided by your program, if necessary, but reduce your use of clipart in your academic work. Replace those generic illustrations with authentic evidence (visualized calculations, documentation, photographs) to back up your assertions effectively.

If you need evocative photos for emotional impact or reference, use license-free photographs and document your sources to use them. I like eltpics, a searchable creative commons collection curated by English teachers around the world. https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/tags/

Better use of text

I know that “Presentation Zen” author Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte advocate reducing text on slides. That works well for natural science presentations, which are best when you show just the evidence, and for marketing, which runs on emotions. However, in our international context, with so much potential for verbal misunderstanding, and in our academic tradition of analytical thinking, you do need some text! Include all relevant names, titles of works and conceptual keywords on your slide. Formulate your key thesis as a full sentence. Label your charts legibly, with 16 point lettering. Use the spaces suggested by your template to formulate a header for orientation, keep bullets points short (max. 6-7 lines x 6 words), or – better – label the containers you have created in your template to contrast or compare selected terms.

Present any quotes in full length and include the name of the author.

Your presentations are unique, and your teachers and peers respect and enjoy that variety. Use the ideas of Dan and Chip Heath in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007) to assess yourself:

Is what you present

simple – have you found the core of the idea?
unexpected – do you grab people’s attention?
concrete – can it be grasped and remembered?
credible – do you speak with authority on this subject, are your methods are sound?
emotional – do you share your sense of humanity with your audience?
stories – do you take your audience on an interesting journey?

Let’s Talk Business workshop

It was a good challenge to give a workshop on B1-C1 books to teachers whose mainstay are A1-2 learners. The teachers were great, and jumped into things.

It was very interesting to me to listen to the teachers talk about the unwillingness of their students to go along with activities, even to make the effort of getting up and walking around the room to change partners. I remember that well from my own classes at the VHS. I think the key is to introduce a certain culture in your classroom that feeds back to learners how they are actually making progress as a result of their increased efforts. We discussed writing reflections in class as a free writing activity, and I think that can be used very productively to get students to start thinking about what they are actually doing in class.

We did 4 activities that let them walk in their students’ shoes in terms of feeling what such activities are like. This is something I learned from Rolf Tynan at his dictogloss workshop for MELTA back in 2009. Jo Westcomb wrote it up in her great teacher’s column in Spotlight Online. His trick was to use a level of English in the dictogloss that was a bit challenging for us, too, and that was what I did yesterday, using a dialogue and playing it from a recording. I actually think we need to do that sort of thing more often, to better appreciate the effort our students are making, and to get a sense for what type of effort is actually worthwhile.

We discussed building memory as an integral part of language learning, and how to get learners to work harder by going from dictation to grammar dictation aka dictogloss, and going from role-play with a set of instructions to reading a description of a scenario, and relating that scenario to others in the first person without referring back to the text.

I recommended Nick Bilbrough’s wonderful resource book, Memory Activities for Language Learning, as well as Gillian Porter Ladousse’s classic Role Play Resource Book for Teachers.

Here’s the blurb for the event:

11 October 2014
Informationszentrum der Cornelsen Schulverlage, Friedrichstr. 149, 10117 Berlin
Let’s talk business – Building speaking and business skills from B1 to C1
These days even at lower language levels, our learners are expected to think on their feet and show skills in typical business situations. How can we get them a) to use the language of the workplace in the classroom setting, and as they progress, b) to think through how well they are communicating and where they can make improvements?
In part one of this Cornelsen Business English Day we’ll go through the approach taken and the role-plays and simulations developed in the Basis for Business series, which get learners to use the language they need at work in class. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of building on the units as input to create more personalized tasks, and present/practice numerous ways to personalize the material.
As learners progress to the higher language levels, they will be expected to handle more complex business situations. We will look at the language they need based on research into the real language of meetings, and explore communication frameworks recommended for difficult conversations. In part two of the Cornelsen Business English Day this will form the basis of simulations for C1 learners that will help them become more spontaneous in English. Trying these out in groups, we will look at each situation and the language that would be appropriate in it, and pool ideas on how to model the language and give related feedback.
Anne Hodgson, anne.hodgson@t-online.de

Basis for Business wins a bronze medal at the Best European Learning Materials Awards

Basis for Business wins bronze in secondary school /adult education materials at the Best BeBELMA 2014
Basis for Business wins bronze in secondary school materials at the Best European Learning Materials Awards (BELMA) 2014

Today at the Frankfurt Book Fair the Basis for Business series was awarded a bronze medal in the annual Best European Learning Materials Award (BELMA) competition.
We’re delighted the series has received this international recognition and would like to take the opportunity to thank you all once again for your excellent contributions to this highly successful coursebook series. We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at BESIG in Bonn this November.
Best wishes from Berlin,
Sinéad Butler
Programm- und Marketingmanager Englisch in der Erwachsenenbildung”

The evaluation criteria make my heart sing.

Mike Hogan started this series so well, and then he and Carole Eilertson teamed up for B1 and B2. I did much of the writing for C1, and then there were all the great advisors and Janan Barksdale, the wonderful editor who held things together from B1 on. Overall, Cornelsen and the team did a great job. It’s a privilege to be part of this winning team.

I’ll be doing a 2-part workshop for Cornelsen here in Berlin on Saturday. Over 40 people have signed up for an activity-and-reflection-packed day:

Let’s talk business – Building speaking and business skills from B1 to C1

These days even at lower language levels, our learners are expected to think on their feet and show skills in typical business situations. How can we get them a) to use the language of the workplace in the classroom setting, and as they progress, b) to think through how well they are communicating and where they can make improvements?
In part one of this Cornelsen Business English Day we’ll go through the approach taken and the role-plays and simulations developed in the Basis for Business series, which get learners to use the language they need at work in class. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of building on the units as input to create more personalized tasks, and present/practice numerous ways to personalize the material.

As learners progress to the higher language levels, they will be expected to handle more complex business situations. We will look at the language they need based on research into the real language of meetings, and explore communication frameworks recommended for difficult conversations. In part two of the Cornelsen Business English Day this will form the basis of simulations for C1 learners that will help them become more spontaneous in English. Trying these out in groups, we will look at each situation and the language that would be appropriate in it, and pool ideas on how to model the language and give related feedback.

Location:
Informationszentrum der Cornelsen Schulverlage
Friedrichstr. 149
10117 Berlin

Schedule:
10:00 Welcoming with tea & coffee
10:30-12:30 Let’s talk business – Part 1
12:30-13:15 Lunch-break
13:15-14:45 Let’s talk business – Part 2
15:00 Farewell

PowerPot – An English lesson for e-lab technicians

Imagine that you’re on a camping trip out in the wild, far away from buildings with power socket. You can’t connect any equipment to the power supply. Your mobile phone needs recharging. Luckily, you and your friends have invented a device that will let you recharge it. What technology is it based on? What spare parts do you carry with you?

Guess what, such a device has been invented. Watch this video, and answer:

  1. What technology is it based on?
  2. What components is it made of?
  3. How does it work?
  4. What devices does it provide power for?
  5. What problems did the inventors have to overcome?
  6. Which users and what markets do the inventors want to reach?
  7. Is there more than one model? What for?
  8. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform. Did this invention get funding? Check the website.
  9. Find out at least one more fact about this invention by googling ‘PowerPot’.
  10. Would you buy one? Why or why not?


Read along in the transcript and do language exercises in the pdf worksheet after the break below:

Continue reading PowerPot – An English lesson for e-lab technicians

“Mein Sohn möchte besser Englisch schreiben können” – 10 Tipps für den Anfang

Heute fragte mich Ewa, wie ihr Sohn sein schriftliches Englisch verbessern könnte. Nun, man braucht Motivation und Praxis. Gut Schreiben lernt man jedenfalls, indem man mit Engagement schreibt, und dann von einem interessierten Leser Feedback bekommt. Hier sind für den Anfang schon mal zehn Tipps:

  1. Fang an zu lesen. Suche eine Muse, eine Inspiration, einen Schriftsteller, der packend über das, was Dich interessiert, schreibt. Surfe und suche Artikel, die Dich interessieren. Lasse Dich auf das geschriebene Wort ein. Fine Texte zum gleichen Thema, und vergleiche sie: Welcher gefällt Dir besser, und warum? Laß Bilder und Filme im Kopf entstehen.
  2. Fang an, jeden Tag auf Englisch zu schreiben. Keine Angst vor dem leeren Papier/ der leeren Datei/ dem leeren Blog. Mache daraus ein Ritual, wie Sport oder Essen. Variiere die Umstände, unter denen Du schreibst, bis Du Dich wohlfühlst und alles passt.
  3. Schreib 10 Minuten lang drauf los. Egal was. Der Text soll fließen. Wenn Du nicht weißt, worüber, schreibst Du, “I don’t know what to write about, but Anne said I have to write for 10 minutes, so here I am, …” und scheib einfach weiter. Aufhören darfst Du nicht. Denk nicht darüber nach, ob etwas korrekt ist oder besonders schlau klingt oder ob Dein Stil gut ist. Durchgelesen wird später. Selbst wenn Du meinst, Du müsstest eigentlich Material und Ideen sammeln bevor Du loslegst, laß Dich nicht ablenken, bau Dir erst einmal ein lockeres Gerüst aus Gedanken auf Papier.
  4. Lese das, was Du geschrieben hast, Dir selbst laut vor. Du kannst es auch aufnehmen. Indem Du das, was Du schreibst, genau anhörst, wird es im Laufe der Zeit authentischer. Es gibt zwar auch auf Englisch deutliche Unterschiede zwischen dem geschriebenen und dem gesprochenen Wort, aber wenn Du einen guten schriftlichen Stil anstrebst, dann sollte der Text inhaltlich klar gegliedert und damit einfach zu verstehen sein.
  5. Mach aus dem Schreiben ein Spiel. Suche z.B. 3-5 Wörter, die in Deinem Text vorkommen sollen. Schreibe sie auf, und schaue im Laufe des Tages öfters drauf. Wenn Du abends dann schreibst, benutze sie. Oder schreibe nach dem Alphabet jeden Tag über etwas, das Dich beschäftigt: Airport, B…, C… Das Spiel lebt von den Regeln, die Deinen Handlungsspiel einschränken und Dir somit Kreativität abverlangen.
  6. Probiere Webseiten aus, in denen Leute gemeinsam Texte produzieren, z.B. http://foldingstory.com/ – oder wo es fertige interaktive Geschichten gibt, die Du dann selbst ebenfalls schreiben kannst, wie https://writer.inklestudios.com/
  7. Im Englischen gibt es standardisierte klassische Modelle für Aufsätze. Suche nach “Essay writing”, und Du findest z.B.
  8. Grammatik:
    Erklärungen auf Deutsch gibt es auf http://www.ego4u.de/
    Eine Seite für Sprachliebhaber: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl
  9. Es gibt Systeme, die Dich unterstützen können, wie der Online Grammatik Checker Grammarly: Dieses Programm findet alle möglichen Problemstellen in Deinem Text – auch dort, wo es keine Fehler gibt, aber wo die Syntax leicht zu Fehlern führen könnte. Kopiere Deinen Text hinein und lese das Feedback sorgfältig durch. Es erstetzt nicht das Gespräch mit jemandem, der Dir persönliches Feedback gibt, aber es kann es im Vorfeld entlasten.
  10. Style guides sind sehr hilfreich. Hier eine Reihe nützlicher Links: