Sunday, 27 May 2012

Project #366 Week 21

What a strange week weather-wise. We started on Sunday with very wet weather, which was a pity for the Jersey Food Fair down on the waterfront.By the end of the week we were basking in Mediterranean temperatures.

Sunday 20th May 2012

The weather didn't really affect me, as I spent most of the day indoors preparing my very first Prezi. One of the Diploma advisors , working with some of my colleagues, was due to visit and each of us had to do a 15-20 minute presentation on a teaching point. Mine was on ESP. I walked down to the church at the end of the road with my students who are getting married. Unfortunately, there was a service on, and the doors were closed. On returning home I packed up the equipment for the open fire. It is now officially 

summer in my book!
Monday 21st May 
Looking a bit more like good weather is on its way. Spent the morning teaching, and worrying about the prezi for the afternoon. I went out into the car park to collect my laptop and saw this Euphorbia. It always makes me think of a triffid!
Fortunately the presentations all went very well. It was interesting that each teacher had chosen a method of presenting which suited their character. I was impressed by the ease of delivering mine and will certainly use the software again:-) On the way home, I spotted some walls which are really pretty at this time of the year. I love all the plants which grow out of the pink granite.

Tuesday 22nd
Very effective snail pub
Today was a much better day. In the morning I collected the bucket which I had filled with beer, and put out to attract snails. I am fed up of them eating my plants as they  start to flower. I was amazed at how many snails I had caught - That beer must have been really potent! It was great to get rid of some, as more herbs are up in the garden, and I use them for cooking, not for feeding snails.
Curly parsley
French lavender
Flowering chives

Wednesday 23rd

 Nice weather today. I went to my evening meeting, and walked back instead of taking the car. As I passed the Masonic Temple a little further down the street, it struck me that I had never really looked at it properly before. It is quite an imposing building, standing as it does in the middle of a residential area. Opposite it is the garage my daughter likes. They have a strange turning circle which is manually operated and allows you to drive in to their very narrow forecourt from the street.
Thursday 24th 

We've been living on salads and seafood this week. Crabs and lobsters abound, and
 it has been great to eat outside on the patio outside the kitchen door, perfect for dinner for two. As it got a bit grubby over the winter, I decided to use my new power washer to clean the patio. To my horror, I discovered that there was a rotten piece of wood which gave way under the onslaught of the water. If fact, there is a silver lining, as I wanted to have the little deck remodelled, and couldn't justify the expense!


Friday 25th 
As I was listening to the radio on the way home from work, I heard a lady talking about her garden which was going to be opened to the public at the weekend. She mentioned peonies, which are my favourite flowers at this time of year. I stopped off at the nearest farm shop to see if the Jersey peonies were on sale- and to my delight they were. I bought a mix bunch, which were already starting to open by the time I got home. Today the forecast topped 28 degrees!!.

Saturday 26th

A bit too warm and humid to do much today. We decided to wait until it cooled down in the afternoon, and started to paint the decking at the bottom of the garden. I am right-handed and my husband is left-handed, so we each do a side, and meet in the middle. It's very fast, and companionable too. In the evening, there was a high risk of a thunderstorm to clear the air. We sat inside and watched TV for a while- finally turning over for the fiasco that is the voting of the Eurovision Song Contest. As the voting is always political, it is fun to guess which countries will be voting for their neighbours and political allies:-)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Project #366 Week 20

Another week where the weather was a bit mixed. Two of my students are getting married, and the have to do their vows in Polish and English at St Thomas's. As Agnieska doesn't speak much English, she was panicking, and I have been coaching them. It's been fun.
Sunday 13th May 2012
This is El Tico, a cafe/restaurant on the West Coast, in St Ouen. The weather was not perfect, but it was nice to stop for a coffee, after a walk along the beach.

Monday 14th May
This was Monday morning on my way to work. The tide was high and the wind was strong. You can see the 'white horses' on the surface. The building on the right is St Aubin's Fort. In fact it wasn't a wet day, and the sky was blue, so the students went for a short cruise round the coast- I wouldn't have gone if you had paid me!!
Tuesday 15th May

I was reminded of Janet's idea when I took these pictures. I thought they would work for the proverb 'Every cloud has a silver lining :-) It was wonderful to see the silver edge of the cloud as the rain passed over us - and moved away!

Wednesday 16th May
Another High tide on the way to work. This was on a grey day, and shows all the colours possible in the sea. It started off sludge grey,on the Western side, but was a beautiful aqua-marine on the other side of the bay.

Thursday 17th May
Slawek, one of my students, is a picture restorer and  took away a couple of old, damaged pictures that my husband had had since he was a boy. He brought them back today, fully restored, and we hung them in the hall, just inside the front door, to see whether my husband would notice them when he returned from work- and he did!. He was really delighted to see them again.

Friday 18th May
Today we had no food in the house so I decided to go to the supermarket. I spent £200.00 pounds- which is a fortune, but we had run out of  everything you can imagine- cleaning materials, toilet paper, cat food... . My least favourite job is unpacking it all and finding a space in the kitchen for

Saturday 19th May

This is not MY hat!
Today started with a visit to the dentist- who has moved to a very swish new surgery down on the waterfront. It took a while to find him, as the roads do not yet have named on them:-) My husband used the time to book his trip to the UK to bring back our daughter's stuff from university. On returning to the house, he had to prepare for a morris dancing display at the Jersey Food Fair. He realised that he had brought back some else's hat from the previous weekend shindig. I then did some work in the garden, until it was time to go to the hairdressers.
Cat checking out new hairstyle!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Our CPD experiment

This week we had more afternoon teachers than we needed, so it was the ideal opportunity to have a little pair-teaching and peer observation.
We started by pairing the experienced teachers with less experienced, or newly qualified ones.
The plan was simple:
Teacher A taught on Tuesday afternoon (we have a visit on Monday afternoon for all students).
Teacher B had some non-teaching time to plan a completely new lesson. The brief was to try something that you had never done before, and at the same time provide new material for the resource bank. It  was a great opportunity to get out of the comfort zone and experiment.
On Wednesday the roles were reversed and Teacher A had time to prepare a lesson.
On Thursday  each teacher had to teach their new lesson, and be observed by the other teacher in their pair.
I was Teacher A, so I started the week by meeting and bonding with my new students. I explained what we were planning to do, which they thought was a fun idea, and negotiated any areas or topics which they wanted to cover. The pre-intermediate/intermediate group of Germans, Iranian, Czech and Italian, were happy to go with the flow and had no set ideas. They wanted to see how the week would unroll. I felt guilty that I was able to meet my students before developing my lesson, and was aware that the opposite was true for Teacher B.
 On Wednesday I was surfing YouTube, when I came across a trailer for My Life Without Money. Looking further I found another one about a journalist who had toyed with the same idea. This set me thinking about what I could do with the material.
I decided to prepare a lesson on money, or how to get by without any..!
To try something outside my comfort zone, I volunteered to be videoed while presenting my stuff.

I set up early enough that I had the clips ready and the video in position before the students arrived. They came in with enthusiasm, and actually didn't notice the camera so I didn't mention it, as it was not recording them. (I did tell them at the end, in case they didn't want their voices recorded, but they were happy for me to use the recording).

I started by asking them about collocations. I gave them a worksheet and asked them to work out the missing noun (Money). This didn't take long and I elicited some more verbs from them. We ended up with inherit, invest, borrow and steal to add to the list.
I then showed them a slideshow with pictures of objects pertaining to the topic. They had to work in pairs and write down the vocabulary if they knew it. For the weaker pair, I had prepared a crib sheet with the relevant lexis. This was done as a competition between the groups.
We discussed our attitudes to money. Did we need a lot to get by? Were they worried about not having enough when they retired? etc.

I introduced the German lady's story and asked them to list the advantages or disadvantages of this way of life. The groups shared their findings and I then showed them the trailer. We looked at the second trailer and discussed the similarities and differences between the people involved.
I had a short text about the woman with a few scanning questions, and it contained some of the phrasal verbs that they had been working on in a previous lesson.

The lesson finished with a card game where they could ask questions, around the topic of money, of anyone in the room- including the teacher.
This lesson flew by and I forgot that I was being observed or videoed.

The next lesson was M's and she had put together a lesson based on the television programme @Come Dine With Me'. The students enjoyed the preparation for a dinner party for the rest of the class, and discussed themes and menus based on their own cuisine.The material was well put together and engaged the class. As with my lesson, it would have been easy to use it during a longer lesson. I believe that she planned to finished her lesson on Friday afternoon .

At the weekend,I reviewed the video.I wanted to see whether my initial impression of a good lesson panned out. I divided the video into sections and analysed the communication to see who was doing the majority of talking. I wanted to find out a) when I was speaking b) what the purpose of me speaking was. In fact I only spoke to set up the various tasks, introduce the film trailer and make encouraging noises when the weaker student spoke up. I was pleased by this as it meant that the lesson was 75-25 in favour of the students, and even then it was more or less equally shared amongst them.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Project #366 Week 19

What a strange week it has been. We have had some fantastic weather - and some shocking weather too. We did some CPD this week which was fun and quite unusual - more about that in a separate post!A couple of holidays, which affected me only in as much as my husband was off and had the car :-(

Sunday May 6th 2012
Today was freezing. I lit the fire again and spent my afternoon taking part in the Webheads In Action session, followed by a webinar organised by BEsig.
Malcolm playing the bones
The Mendip dancers don't go home until Monday lunchtime, so my husband was out and about with them all weekend. In the evening he called to invite me down to their final pub session in the Trinity Arms. I decided  not to take my instrument, and to just enjoy listening to the music for a change. My husband played his bones, which is a typical rural instrument, made from cow ribs. I also enjoyed the tuba player from the visiting side. It added something different to the music:-)
Miles and Vanessa
Some of our musicians played as well, particularly Vanessa, who used to play in a ceilidh band in the UK with some of the visiting musicians. They were all delighted at the chance to catch up and play together again.

Monday 7th May

Today was the first Bank holiday of the week. My husband ran me to work, then kept the car so that he could help drive the people to the ferry. This gave me the opportunity to walk home. As I normally have the car, this doesn't happen often, so I take advantage if the weather is fine. At first the day looked dull and damp, but by lunchtime it had really brightened up - so I took my chances. The route home takes me round the coast- or across the beach if the tide is right. I set out along the road, and realised that I would have to share with the Petit Train, cyclists, dog-walkers  etc. Everyone was out walking! I decided to cross the beach instead. It took me a couple of hours to get back, but I enjoyed the exercise.
Elizabeth Castle from the distance
Elizabeth Castle as I crossed the beach
Le Petit Train

Tuesday 8th May

A normal day today. Very little traffic on the road and I had time to take a photo of the farm that supplies the farm shop. I like their scarecrow!

Wednesday 9th May
Today is Liberation Day, a very special day in Jersey's history. Again, most people are on holiday, but our school is not closed. My husband gave me a lift to work again, and offered to pick me up if I
didn't feel like walking home twice in one week. The weather wasn't very nice, so I walked half way and then called my 'taxi'.
The Jersey Flag
Thursday 10th May
Today was wet and horrible. The lovely weather seems like a thing of the past. Fortunately the warm and wet weather has boosted the flowers in the garden. Cairis's rose is about to flower, and it won't stop for months.

Friday 11th May
A red sky at night....
It was great to come to the end of the week. I met my private student at my house after work and he told me about his forth-coming nuptials. I can't believe that he and his lovely partner are getting married on the one weekend that I will be off the rock. However, I will be in Paris at a symposium, so I can't complain. They will be getting married in St Thomas's at the bottom of the road and the ceremony will be in both Polish and English. I have offered to help them rehearse the English part as Aga doesn't speak English very well and is panicking:-) The sky tonight heralded a better weekend than the weather we have seen for the last couple of days.

Saturday 12th May
Beautiful weather, although not as warm as it was last week. I decided to do some work on the garden. This is part after I spent ages weeding it. I managed to do half of the flower bed and then mulched it with some red shredded bark. I hope it will suppress the weeds for a while.

I couldn't resist this picture of Maisie in the window, sitting half in shadow and half in bright sunlight. She had been sniffing the Sweet William on the window ledge.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

ELTChat Summary: Is Globish and International English or Standard English the answer?. What variety should we teach?

Is Globish and International English or Standard English the answer? 
What variety should we teach?
This was the second #eltchat on Wednesday 9th May 2012. We were treated to a wealth of experience from teachers based in many countries around the world and a few new members, who, as always, were very welcome.
The first question, from@naomishema was how to define International English. @bcinfrance wanted to know if there was a difference between 'basic, simplified, clear English' and the International variety, and @leoselivan asked whether International English was the same as ELF. Clearly this needed to be defined before we got bogged down in details.@Marisa_C gave us the following link  and said that she knew it as Standard English, the official variety which is comprehensible to all. The link however, also looked at reduced forms of English.@EdPegg thought that International English differed in that it focussed on cross cultural performance.
@hartle quoted Barbara Seidlhofer 'Global English is a description of usage, but not a variety'. She believes that the main thing is to respect and describe usage rather than to prescribe it.
@elawassell offered us - Robin Walker's talk about which variety to teach.
@pavlamilerski gave us the following link from David Crystal on global English and also this link to an article on the future of English as a global language from 1999
We also had this from @leoselivan McCrum's article on Globish.
Whose English is right? by Brad Patterson
@Timek offered Jennifer Jenkins on shifting to ELF
We then asked whether we should teach ELF in the classroom. The overwhelming reply was that it was not a variety to teach, although we need to recognise its production in certain circumstances. @leoselivan  was very tolerant of inaccuracy in favour of comprehensibility. He quoted Penny Ur 'it's OK if students speak Globish, but we are teachers and should be teaching English' @TyKendall said that his students did not want ELF, but a  recognised variety of Standard English - either US or British. @Noreen_Lam believes that it is the teacher's job to set standards.@jimscriv went as far as to call it an impoverished  version, which would be unacceptable to his students. Chia suggested that this was an often misunderstood view of ELF! @hoprea gave us this .
@leoselivan offered a BC report which shows that 75% of exchanges in English take place between NNS

Personally, I think, as did others, that the exam boards are not ready for non-standard varieties of English.  @chiasuan commented on one of her Korean students who fared badly in an exam because of an unintelligible accent. That this is not an isolated case was agreed by @harrisonmike, who is an IELTS examiner. He thought that deviation from the 'standard' was punished, but only if it was incomprehensible. He said that IELTS is in weird place vis-a-vis world English as it's a requirement for immigration to  US, Canada,Australia and UK, which means that spelling variation is acceptable, as long as it is consistent.  A similar point was raised by @Timek, who thought that course-books are still very much based on NS models of production.
@hartle suggested that we should be helping our students develop their own 'English identity', one's own idiolect, as Marisa put it.  @DinaDobrou believes that students may have to deal with other varieties of English, in particular, accents. I think that the needs of the students are paramount when deciding what to expose them to.@theteacherjames noted that there is a difference between EFL and ESL situations.
Is it useful for teachers to know other varieties? 
@Shaunwilden asked whether we should just teach the variety we know. @jimscriv said that he would be teaching a foreign language were he to teach International English. Ty thought that a familiarity with Br. and US allowed you to handle most varieties, however this was disputed by Chia who suggested that many varieties would still be a struggle for teachers, both NS and NNS, to deal with.  Jim also said that he couldn't teach American English, although he could point out features.  Naomi suggested that students , depending on level, were only confused by having more than one variety to learn.

We decided that it is necessary to differentiate between comprehension and production. We were in agreement that it was  a useful thing to expose our students to listening tasks which sensitise them to various accents, particularly if they need to work with people from a particular region.@SophiaMav asked whether we should do the same with young learners. @designerlessons believes that learners could struggle outside the classroom if not exposed to other accents. Noreen asked for resources for listening tasks which would provide variety.
@theteacherjames: global varieties of English resource:
and the British library collection for British regional varieties 
and also our own @sandymillin: on understanding British accents.
Jim Scrivener wanted to know whether we should teach weak forms and other features of Standard English. Not doing so could penalise our students outside the classroom. Again this could be a question more of recognition  than production. Marisa thought that role-plays with regional identities could be fun!
How about colloquialisms? But whose? It depends on whether your students want to blend productively into the community: @Marisa_C. Shouldn't enhancing our students' accommodation, collaborative and communicative competence be part of our job?: @chiasuan @professoruk: integrating colloquial English is a fundamental of a rounded learning experience. This led to some amusing comments about outdated idioms and taboo-ish expressions.  Many students do seem to enjoy learning idioms, but there is always the danger that they will  be overused- and make the learner sound unnatural! James drops the odd idiom into his speech from time to time- doesn't do any harm and amuses the students.Chia agreed that some are common and useful. @jankenb2 loves idioms as a source of cultural logic and metaphor.

@TyKendall: Translation.
Seidlhofer book

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Project #366 Week 18

This was a week which proves that weather forecasting is a difficult skill. I think they got it wrong nearly every day! We have had everything except snow this week, including sandstorms that saw owners of beach cafes unable to open their doors.

Sunday 29th April
Cat Yoga?
Warm in the house, if not outside.
Grey, wet, and miserable weather. My husband wandered around with cabin fever after his regatta was cancelled due to the high winds. I lit the fire, although I had thought that we'd finished with it until the end of the year:-( and curled up with the cats and a good book on my kindle.

Monday 30th
Today was bizarre. Overnight we had a torrential storm, which blew large quantities of sand a long way from the beach. All the plants around were buried, and the road to work was dicey as the sand blew everywhere. Later in the day the weather calmed down and I was able to enjoy the view from my classroom. The vegetation is really growing quickly now, and the lush greens are very soothing. I also enjoy the little flashes of pink granite from the houses down the valley.

Tuesday 1st May
Hal an tow, Jolly rumbelow
We were up, 
long before the day-o
To welcome in the summer, to welcome in the May-o
For summer is a-comin' in and winter's gone away-o
France on the horizon
Sun rising over the coast
This is the traditional welcome to summer that we wake up to in our house on May Day. At 4.30 am we got up to see in the May and, around 5.15,we drove down to Mont Orgueil Castle, on the East of the island, to start the Morris day of dance. Both the Helier Morris Men and the Jersey Lilies dance their way around the Parishes, starting in the East as the sun rises, and finishing around 6.30-ish in the evening. The forecast was grim, but the weather surprised everyone by being fantastic all day. As my husband is a dancer,I usually go out to watch the first couple of spots and then leave for work, only to meet up with them again in the evening.
Gorey from the castle
End of the day - surprisingly fresh!
Wednesday 2nd May
I took this picture of a rather fine end to the day. We had a another beautiful day, with perfect weather. The early start on May day caught up with me and I felt quite sleepy as the day went on. 

Thursday 3rd 
Con carne
One for the vegetarians!
The Helier Morris Men usually invite another side to join them in May, but the Queen's jubilee celebrations made it necessary to bring forward their usual time of the end of the month bank holiday weekend. The men of Mendip Morris, from Somerset, are due tomorrow- and my husband volunteered my services as the Friday night cook! As they will be hungry early evening, I had to make the meal in advance. They asked for chilli con carne and a vegetarian one too - each for 15 hungry men.

Friday 4th
With all the visiting dancers and musicians, the usual Friday pub session promised to be fun- and so it proved! The visitors had a score of musicians, who played many instruments between them. We were  there with ours too, and the session really had to be heard to be believed.
I tried to make a short video which I will upload when I have time.

Saturday 5th
Three Mendip musicians
Helier and Mendip Mass Bonny Green Garters
Today we have the weather which we have been expecting daily, according to the weather forecasters.It is  grey and depressing, but not actually too wet. This is fortunate, as, not only are the dancers out and about today, but the rest of my musician friends, who like me are not dancers, have been booked to play at the Maritime museum for the Jersey Spring Boat Show. On my way down to meet the others, I stopped off to watch the dance spot in the town centre.
Wooden boat
The boat show
The wooden boat was built in the UK and the man who made her rowed  her across to the island for the show. She is a pretty thing. and advertises his business well. The weather doesn't seem to have put people off coming down to the boat show, which is on until Monday, as there were lots of families milling around.