Total Pageviews

Sunday, 24 July 2011

I support meaningless jingoistic cliches - two world wars and...

I had a lovely reflective post planned about the reluctance of using technology by some of the teachers where I work and what I had learned from this about myself as a manager and how this would affect my future tech implementations at future places of work but that all changed on 20th July when the BBC posted an article on Americanisms.

Wow- talk about opening up a whole world of hate. Now I must say that I have biased interest in this topic.I am married to an American, and I have witnessed open mocking of her accent and choice of words by British teachers when we were teaching in Poland. This went beyond the banter of gosh don't you sound funny to quite blatant derisory attacks. We have lived in the UK now for close to 5 years, and she has experienced this with colleagues at work who see now problems with repeating what she says back to her in the most obnoxious mocking imitation of her accent. Like some sort of Jim Davidson or Stan Boardman 1980s entertainer. Just for parity they also have mocked my Northern Accent, but well you know you are all right you are one of us- don't take it personally

The question I always ask (and unfortunately do still need to ask) is would you do that to a colleague from India (Jade Goody anyone?)

People are shocked that I would even ask the question...

If you replaced America with another country it soon becomes puerile and racist-

so what is your favourite Indianism? The way they pronounce Manchester is just funny- What about those Turkishisms? It drives me crazy when they can't pronounce kebab properly Ad nauseam...

So after careful thought I waded into twitter and got stuck into the debate. What an eye opener. I do recommend looking at the hash tag Americanisms and you will see that the English (not British really) are quite happy to chant along to all this hatred.

An example here:

What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington

To "medal" instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset

Helen if you are reading this (I am sure you won't be!)please don't watch the Olympics next year and thank you for that wonderful turn of phrase to set your teeth on edge with a vengeance. Must remember that one.

Never mind all the other problems in the world happening at the moment -

Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London I am sure the Daily Express have already started an inquiry into that one.

I am not surprised by these feelings but I am surprised by the BBC - especially with their close connection to the British Council and what they stand for.

The best post in response to this was at Language Log

Sadly it is telling that there is a disclaimer on comments stating that:

Comments are closed because the British would start posting more of their hate speech here, and Language Log doesn't allow that.

Bit of a long rant but I feel better now. Hope to post that reflection on technology soon.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Feedback in the field

I was reading a rather interesting comment in response to Scott Thornbury's post on P is for Practicum

The idea was of using twitter in the class to provide an instant assessment / advice for the trainee teacher while they are teaching. This would give real-time feedback (learning as a process) and would not break the flow of the lesson. I think this is an amazing idea with a lot of potential.

Scott's video shows how he provides real time (just in time) assessment and evaluation for his trainees, and it is a wonderful example of deep learning taking place for the whole cohort.

This is certainly something that I would like to experiment with for my next round of observations: an I pad could be placed on the teacher's desk, set up a Tweetdeck hash tag and welcome tweets from your peers. I think there could be value here as well for students to post during the session.

Since we started using google docs for our admin system, I have noted that I receive a lot of emails and texts during class regarding teaching points. To be honest this is great. I like the idea of me sitting in at my desk providing explanations of language points to classes around the school in real-time. Very powerful stuff.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Communicative language for who

I have been re-reading the rather excellent Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (Richards & Rodgers)and I was struck again by Howatt's (1984) distinction between strong and weak CLT.

I had to cover teach an IELTS class today and in this class, as it progressed, I was consciously trying to notice when I was closer to the weak or the strong version. For me I see the weak and the strong versions of CLT, not as on a scale from one extreme to another, but more like a spiral where as the lessons ticks along it is closer to each aspect. I am not always happy with this approach. It seems that may students arrive in Brighton in good faith wanting the best English lessons in the best English style.

This translates as I am going to naturally learn English quicker as I am in the UK. The school I work at promotes this as part of its marketing and this is not an isolated incident. Ben Goldstein and Julian Edge

are two people who have wrote extensively on this, and I suppose that this post is a natural continuation of my quest to find myself in this profession. I feel privileged that people are willing to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of time to learn the language I speak. The problem is, well, I do not feel proud about this, though.

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Both David and Edward have written about this idea of the sense of the self and I have been so inspired to the extent that it even spawned this blog. I have had blogs in the past but these have
a) always been for personal use only;
b) abandoned after a few weeks.

I am not sure why. Time was and is a factor, but even from these few brief posts I have felt a sense of cleansing, so once again I am going to persevere.

I know Ed and David only from sharing an online presence via Manchester and our shared MA route. We have connected to a certain degree and that has shaped our interactions. I can tell you a fair bit about their online presence and the persona that is presented in that form.

Ed’s point about labels and connections rang so true.

What is brand Warters? Is teacher Martin different to colleague Martin – what about Director of Studies Martin or online Martin compared to Twitter Martin. Breaking this down more, how do the established teachers at the school see me compared to the new teachers?

What about the newly qualified CELTA graduate I interviewed this morning? What ideas about the DoS of the school did they have - did I match her expectations? Are these personas all different and in boxes like Action figures? What message am I presenting about what I want to be and who I want to be in this profession? So many self-reflection questions

After my IATEFL workshop, I was stopped in the coffee hall by a delegate who said that she had really enjoyed the session - I didn’t know what to say. I was silent and a bit aloof- nothing like presenter Martin. I think we both left that conversation feeling a bit cheated.

Ed’s point of Evolving as a professional is important to me, but I wonder at what cost this will come at.

Stopped me on the page. I have felt the cost of professional evolution in the past financially and emotionally. Thankfully I have a very understanding wife who supports me, but having to postpone holidays and spending a lot of money not to mention the time spent on reading, well, I feel lucky and ashamed all at the same time.

I feel Edward and David are asking vital questions and I encourage you to see their full blogs.