Hitting the books again

Having finished Basis for Business C1, and soon to hand over ELTABB events coordination, my workload is relatively light.  Next to my compact teaching sessions I’m writing teaching files:

But overall I now have a little extra time on my hands to finally, finally finish my Diploma TESOL.

I was in Barcelona in August 2011 to complete Unit 1, the written exam, and Unit 3, the assessed lessons and the oral phonology exam. I blogged about that here. I’ve also completed most of Unit 2, including my Observation Instrument – though I need to rewrite the argument thoroughly, since scaffolding means something different to me now.  My Developmental Record on teaching pronunciation is all done.

What remains is my Independent Research Project. It will most probably be either

  • a questionnaire on Learner Inventory – an issue that is much debated and misunderstood, but was a revelation to me in Barcelona. I’m looking forward to welcoming Rebecca Oxford to ELTABB on 1 June.  We had Marjorie Rosenberg speaking here recently on Learning Styles, and her book for Delta Publishing is very useful. I think there is more to both Learner Inventory and Learning Styles than meets the eye. Specifically, I’m interested in how awareness of learner-style diversity can increase skill in handling cross-cultural diversity. This is a minefield I’ve wanted to get a handle on for some time. It’ll require a bit of deep thought.
  • a questionnaire on using technology to extend a coursebook – this is an old chestnut of a topic, but one I’m rather a specialist in. Oxford University Press have very kindly invited me to provide a VHS teacher training workshop on combining the new Headway with online tools, a workshop due on 21 June.

As I work out how to set up those questionnaires and the arguments to go with them, I’ll be rereading Theresa’s and Paul’s related posts on their great (discontinued) blog, http://passthediploma.edublogs.org/

A natural presenter: Chris Glass, graphic designer

I’m taking a good course in Public Speaking on Coursera, recommended by Edward Tanguay (thank you!).
Looking for presentations to comment on for this course, and for examples to show in a presentation seminar I’m giving on Friday, I’ve been watching countless ones and stumbled across Chris Glass, graphic designer.

I really like the naturalness of Chris Glass’s presentation. Listening to him is pleasant because everything about him his congruent, from his beard and hat and relaxed clothes to the awesome slides he creates. There’s a very nice interview with him on The Great Discontent that matches the presentation in all aspects. This is a guy who knows who he is and what he wants to do. Refreshing stuff for anyone who is looking for some magic formula to presenting. Take it from the masters. Relax. Be yourself. That’s what makes you shine.

There’s another piece of advice going round, which is “fake it till you make it”, so: act relaxed and in control and soon you become just that. The techniques involve centering and breathing and coming prepared. I see the importance of that and many people will take comfort in the fact that, yes, you can psych yourself into taking space and standing tall until it becomes natural. It’s really very much like practicing the drawings in the book that Chris Glass presents, Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World. Learning by doing in small, manageable steps. The important thing to keep in mind is that in the end you want to become … yourself.

Now remember, though, this is a peer-to-peer presentation. Chris Glass is sharing his stuff, not pitching to a client. To pitch or sell his ideas, he’d need a different kind of presentation, one containing arguments for or against each given solution. Chris carefully avoids any such argument here, letting his authentic stories speak for themselves.


After and before

Yesterday we had our second EULEAP meeting, and I’ve just put together the minutes and tried to do some more networking to get people involved. EAP practitioners are notoriously shy about networking – or could it be a lack of interest, after all? There is #EAPchat, which is connecting up many of the players, and we’ve got this baby Ning going, which will soon grow into a Ning Plus, sponsored by Cornelsen, which will allow Calendars and Groups for a more Ivory Tower feel.

Done with that. And now I’m just putting together everything I need to go to Paris for the BESIG Summer Symposium: Laptop, headphones, cables and connectors, my flip mino and recharger, and some notes on the people whose sessions I’ll be recording, and those I’ll be interviewing. It’s daunting, the number of skills needed to be a part of the BOT – Besig Online Team: You need to be able to run an Adobe Connect session with satellite partners; to use a handheld camera to record several hours of talks without a glitch; to interview someone you haven’t met before and only know a few things about, for an international audience and all online posterity; and to keep all of these different activities sorted on computers and the camera, with the power infrastructure in place, all on the road and without a quiet space to come back to, to collect your thoughts. Yesterday I also made some video tutorials for the BESIG Ning, since we’ll be closing the Yahoo group soon, and opening up the Ning, so we’re expecting a flood of new users needing support. I hope everything works out, both in Paris and online.

On Monday and Tuesday after the conference I’ll be teaching in Cologne for Management Circle. And before I start off, tomorrow I have lessons that I haven’t begun to prepare, so there’s quite a bit of materials to coordinate before and after the main event, too. And tonight I’m expecting a dear visitor who’ll get a nice dinner. Oops, and then there’s the laundry and ironing. OK, well, back to work.

Agenda-setting at a teachers’ association

Exciting times for me: I’m honored to be the events coordinator for ELTABB, the teachers’ association for Berlin-Brandenburg. I was only able to volunteer for this job because I can draw on wonderful teacher networks that have grown over the years.

At the moment I am a classic “fast follower”, looking at what other associations are doing and taking my leads from them. When I was a member of the board at MELTA, we embraced the idea of, in addition to our free, membership-based workshops, hosting an income-generating course that provides participants with an internationally recognized certificate. That course has in fact just taken place. Helen Strong, the events coordinator at MELTA, ran Mark Powell’s certificate course in Coaching One to One in Munich, and it’s run elsewhere as well. I’d like us to follow the model here: We charge a fee that is lower than the price charged elsewhere and saves the cost of travelling and staying abroad. Unfortunately, our expenses are higher here than those of our sister organisation, but the course will still generate a bit of income that we can invest in other workshops.

I love the idea. But what signal does hosting a big, fat, expensive course send out to those trainers who can’t afford it? Berlin is not Munich. Even a fee that is far lower than that originally charged may be out of reach for many, if not most of our members. It would be devastating to communicate to our members:

Them that’s got shall get
Them that’s not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own
That’s got his own

Billie Holiday / Arthur Herzig Jr.

So if we offer this, we need to balance it out with an equally attractive offering that is aimed specifically at skilling up and providing a market advantage to those teachers who are willing to invest a bit of time regardless of their income.

I think providing a high-end workshop on how to incorporate technology in teaching, a free members-only event subsidized by the membership fee, would be just the thing. So that is my agenda. And the wonderful Carl Dowse (the mind behind and manager of BESIG Online and a Cert ICT tutor for TheConsultants-E when he’s not lecturing fulltime (!) at the University of Applied Science in Essen), bless him, would consent to do it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this not only finds acceptance, but also turns out to be highly attractive to our members.