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.


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,

Top service from SurveyMonkey

We’re just organizing a conference here in Berlin, we being a group of lecturers working across institutions, using a Ning platform we’ve called EULEAP to connect internationally. The institution that will be hosting this conference, the Humboldt Language Centre, is directed by Cornelia Hacke and the whole project is powered by the impressive David Bowskill and his team. At ELTABB we’re providing support. Michelle Teveliet has set up a great conference site here: EAP Conference 2013. You couldn’t wish for a better team. The lineup for the conference is impressive, the topics good, and it’s free to participants thanks to the great sponsors.
Now, the only issue is that we have limited space – only 100 people can attend including the organizers and speakers. That means we needed a way to organize signup. Michelle wisely opted for SurveyMonkey. But initially we hit a major snag. Just a day after the conference was first posted in a forum on the EULEAP Ning and had started being announced across various informal networks, and just before we wanted to go live and send out a formal mail shot to all interested partners, SurveyMonkey had technical trouble and shut down. Shock! They’ve explained what happened here. Anyway, that was the bad news, a bit of a bad morning here. But the good news is that they were back after 4 hours, and there was some nice person with a good sense of humor and a lot of patience tweeting away, calming the nerves of hundreds of users who were also missing the service. I can only second what A Crock wrote: Top customer service.  Here’s a brief history of those 4 hours documented on Twitter.


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.