Sunday, 26 July 2015

Reasons to count my blessings Number 30

Reason 30

Other people's special events

It is summer time, which means lots of weddings for the Ceilidh Band. At the moment we seem to have one every week, and always in quite diverse places. Yesterday we were in a Marquee on the edge of the west coast of the island, and last week was in the Castle on the East coast. Next week we will be in St Helier, the capital of the island.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to help make people's day special. A ceilidh is ideal, because everyone can dance; old and young are not disadvantaged. Even drunk(!) people can manage when they have a caller explaining what to do throughout the dance. 
Last night was fun- the wedding guests were well up for dancing the night away. They started while we were doing our sound check!!
Some of them had already started on the silly juice though, and the band was almost reduced to tears of laughter on occasion as they tried to understand what to do- or muddled their rights and their lefts.
The evening was exactly what the Bride had asked for- and we left, quite late,  leaving them to disco with the hardcore while taxis arrived to pick them off in small groups.

I wonder what next week's will bring..... 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Reasons to count my blessings Number 29

Reason 29

My 1-2-1 students

I love my students. I enjoy all of my classes, but I have a sneaky preference for some of my 1-2-1 students.
They are so interesting.

At the moment I am working with an Italian Miller, a Swiss Neurological Musician and a Luxemburg Civil Engineer. They all bring soo much to the table- and I learn about their roles, just as much as they learn to use their English. 

It's a pity that some of their visits are really short, but in the main 2-3 weeks is a great time to get to know new people and share ideas.

Roll on Monday !


Monday, 13 July 2015

Reasons to count my blessings Number 28

Reason 28

The garden

I really love the days when you wake up knowing that the weather will be good; and not just for an odd day here and there, but for a long spell of warm sunny days. 
I don't mind if it rains during the night- it saves me from watering the garden too much. 

The garden is really welcoming at the moment. Everything is very colourful and the herb garden is growing like the weeds.

I enjoy eating breakfast outside before going to work.

  My garden is such a sun trap, it can even be too hot to sit in, until the day cools down a bit.

 I love watching the cats sleeping in the pots of catmint when I return in the afternoon. Look at these two drugged up kitties :-)

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Reasons to count my blessings 26 and 27

Reasons 26 and 27

The Island Games

 This was a two-weeker because the Island Games have been on. The Island version of the Olympics takes place every two years on one of the islands, and this year it was the turn of Jersey to shine.
Both my husband and daughter were officials for the Sailing and Sailboarding categories, and it was lucky that they were working down the road from the college as I got a chauffeur to work in the mornings.
The opening ceremony was last Saturday, and each of the 24 Islands taking part showed up, together with our version of the 'games-makers', who were assigned to either a sport or an island.
By the end of the week Jersey topped the medals table, with an amazing display of sport from all involved. 
 Many records were beaten, including that of the weather! 
 I felt sorry for the people from the Northern islands of Gotland, Aland, Hitra and Froya, as well as those from the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney, who had to put up with temperatures of over 33 degrees C. Even our athletes found it hard going at times.

The teams left yesterday or today, having had the time of their lives.
The games are known as the 'friendly' games, and that was clearly borne out by the friendships, both rekindled and newly started. 

Everyone is now looking forward to the 2017 games in Gotland, but I'm sure that the competitors will look back with pleasure on their time in Jersey, as will the islanders,who showed overwhelming generosity of spirit and patience while roads were closed and alternative routes sought.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

IATEFL Besig Summer Symposium

Thoughts on an excellent symposium.
I’m putting my thoughts down while the joint IATEFL Hungary and IATEFL BESIG symposium in Budapest is still fresh in my head.

We actually got together as a group BEFORE the conference itself. Mary Sousa and Rachel Appleby did sterling work organising a meal at Hemingway’s, a Hungarian restaurant, situated in a park- with excellent food and company being the order of the evening. This helped break the ice and introduced us to new colleagues who will, I’m sure, become valued members of our PLNs in years to come.

Vegetables-at last:-)

The symposium started with a plenary session given by Jeremy Day. In some ways it stated the bleeding obvious: there are good teachers, bad teachers and those in between- and they belong to both the Native and Non-Native groups. He also discussed and dismissed popular stereotypical arguments which were in favour of native speakers, and looked at the fact that everyone is qualified to teach standard International English. He left us feeling that we could, and should, do something about combatting these misconceptions which disadvantage many excellent professionals.

In the first session I attended, I was interested in Rachel Appleby’s take on the value of the ‘S’ in ESP. She talked us through the needs of three of her students and induced us to talk about whether they were specifically ‘Business’ needs or not- and at what point a teacher might need some specialist knowledge. I particularly enjoyed her recurring theme of the Chain bridge, showing that 1-2-1 teaching has to be a two-way traffic.  This was a very logical and helpful session which would have put many minds at ease, particularly any teachers who are new to the teaching of ESP.

MY favourite session of the day was that of Rob Szabo, entitled: Spoken business English, systemic functional linguistics and power games. We looked at transcripts of genuine conversations and analysed them according to the three metafunctions of Field (ideational), Tenor (interpersonal) and Mode (textual) contexts. This brought up some of the reasons for communication imbalance in companies and was illuminating to most of the people present. The room was divided into two groups, each with one side of the conversation to consider.

I later enjoyed Andrew Wright’s somewhat rambling look at storytelling. He is the epitome of a storyteller, putting stories and anecdotes inside other stories. He went for the voice and a flip chart as his tools, proving that it isn’t always necessary to look for high-tech solutions. I could listen to him for hours, but he did well to keep to the timetable, and has also offered us his handouts as a PDF by email, thus cutting down on paper.

An extremely useful day of workshops, certainly for me, finished with Jasmina Sazdovska’s session on Process versus Product driven presentations. My goodness, she really knows her stuff, and her handouts will help me deliver some enlightened lessons for my own students. Her explanations were clear, as befits the head of a language department who is usually to be found working with young adults.

I enjoyed the speed networking session. This allowed me to meet new people- some of whom have already contacted me online since the weekend.  We lined up on two sides: Besig members and non-members, and did a type of speed -dating session. I made some great contacts and found out more about people I'd seen around during the weekend.

Marjorie, IATEFL President, ended the day with a summing up of the process and the collaboration between the two organisations. This was her first official gig since becoming President.

The Spa hotel where the conference was being held, laid on a BBQ in the evening, allowing us the opportunity to chill and chat together while winding down from the day. I was happy to see my husband, completely at ease, as he joined in a wide-ranging discussion on everything and anything. He also enjoyed his visit to Budapest.

This was well worth the time taken to participate in the day. I have come home full of ideas to test out, handouts to reread, and new contacts to befriend. What’s not to like?