British Rail and buzz

Going to IATEFL next week, and buzzed about it, too. Yesterday I gave up trying to book a train on British Rail and decided to go by bus from Heathrow to Cardiff after all. Why? The interface kept asking me to make decisions for the system about which options were best for me. Hey, that’s what the system is supposed to do, isn’t it? By the time I’d figured out that you have to select the going and the return trip from the same price category (there are about 8 categories), and can’t just select the two cheapest ones, I’d sworn to boycott British Rail for life. Sometimes systems turn us into fools. (Kate held my hand on the phone.)

The pre-conference buzz includes Pecha Kucha and Wordle. Teachers have picked up on the presentation practice and the web application and are using them for teaching. I liked them when I first saw them, and am curious to learn about how others use them. I also hope to find out more about using games in teaching. Nik Peachey posted a case study on twitter about using Guitar Hero in class, which sounds really great, and Lindsey Clanfield had guest blogger Kyle Mawer present how he uses free online Flash video games like Runescape, Growcube and Motas to teach teens English. I’m not much of a gamer – very clumsy, not much fun – but I’d like to see what kids get out of it. Overall, there are great experts out there, and I’m just going to try to be a sponge and see who they are, what they do, and try to figure out what I could turn around and use. After all, my students are getting younger.

PS re Wordle: Mike Hogan has posted something on Auntie Web:

“You can also create “wordles” of phrases by adding ” ~ ” between each word you input … I recently got my students to create their own word clouds on telephoning phrases for homework. Not surprisingly, they all did it!”

And Jamie Keddie has a new article in Guardian Weekly:

“Although never intended as an educational tool, the site has become steadily more popular with teachers and learners. The word cloud can be used as a warm-up before reading or listening. Students can be asked to ­predict the genre or subject of the source text by looking at a word cloud created from it. Does the word cloud suggest a newspaper article, song lyric, joke, poem or dialogue? This ­approach has the advantage of activating key vocabulary. For productive language skills, word clouds can be used to ­reactivate short texts that students have already seen before ­going on to reconstruct them.”

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Trainer/ coach from Washington, D.C. based in Berlin. Enthusiastic gardener, sailor, reader.

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