The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

Back to School

Catching up with old colleagues, summer plans and post-summer thoughts for the future, all while meeting the new-comers, getting your schedule set. Truly, September is all about getting back into business, regardless of whether you’re a teacher or a student.  Top that with some yummie pizzas, a view of the Siberian Ural Mountains and their beautifully peaceful lakes, and a presentation about the use of “Ah!” suspense in teaching and there you have it, the beginning of a new year. There are still a few days before I’m going to meet my new Kliny students, which, everybody knows, is when the real fun begins, so, in the meantime, I’m off picking up some remarkable brains at the conferences and workshops that never seem to let the teaching community down in the busy month of that same old cloudy September.  At the workshop artfully led by Mr Gregorz Spiewak today, we slalomed past eight suspense-filled activities that opened new trails to more creative lesson content and filled our inspiration baggage with thoughts like 1000 ways to fill in these gaps:

“The world is controlled by (1)……………….. (let’s say: teachers) with the help of (2)………………. (maybe, an arsenal of pedagogical purposes, why not?)…” and so on.

Joking aside, and there WAS a lot of laughter we gave in to today, my favourite activity was the so-called “mental” dictation, which can be used to reconstruct images such as a famous painting of your liking. What you have to do is make sure you keep this painting of your choosing a secret until the very end, while spoon-feeding the students descriptive sentences only, one  after the next, asking them to imagine and possibly add more visual details to them, progressively. This activity reminded me of a little experiment of one of my University literary theory professors’. At one of our lectures I and my colleagues were asked to describe the sweet little Red Riding Hood. How does she look? Hmm, she’s tiny, wears braids or one pony-tail, she might be blonde, red- or even dark-haired. We were speculating on various possibilities until we soon enough realised  what the point of the exercise, or experiment, as you may wish to call it, actually was. You’ve guessed, it’s the “imagining” part that is the most important, and this is an utterly personal experience, different with every reader.  This, my friends, is the beauty of reading. From experience, I can say the same about reading your own writings – more on the topic later,  here and there. The musing and sense of wonder remains, that’s a given.       

What’s next on my brain-picking list? The very interesting workshops at the ELT Pearson Conference scheduled tomorrow – see the scheduled activities below, movie treat included! 

 10:30 – 11:30

              Speak Out! Successful Communication in the Classroom, Robert Dean

 12:00 – 13:00 Grammar Practice is Boring – or is it?, Daniel Brayshaw
 13:30 – 15:30    

Cinema treat, where we’ll be watching:

Rebecca Hall-Led Chiller’s “The Awakening”

Haunted by the death of the fiancé, Florence spends her time debunking supernatural claims, using methodical and rational explanations to disprove the notion that the dead can still haunt us. She feels compelled to accept a request to go to Rookwood, a boarding school in the countryside where a boy has recently been found dead and rumours about a ghostly boy haunting the school are causing panic amongst pupils and parents alike.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms

and the ELTea MASTERS IN ACTION Conference recommended and organised by Mr Grzegorz Spiewak himself, and the DOS Training Solutions team this coming Sunday in Krakow. 

ELTea Masters in Action autumn 2012 – to mark the start of the new school year, we are bringing the very best that Canada has to offer the world ELT: the one and only Ken Lackman, with a practical-ideas-packed programme on teaching vocabulary. Totally unmissable! 

 Brain picking, anyone? Some herbal ELTea, maybe?

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