Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wedding Dance goes Viral

The dance sequence opening the wedding ceremony of Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been viewed more than 6 million times since it went up on the video-sharing site less than a week ago. Read the full story here.

On Friday I showed my teachers the "JK Wedding Dance Entrance" YouTube video that I had first come across on Twitter the day before. For some unfathomable reason, we watched this without sound. It was still very interesting to watch, but here it is with the funky music. I love it and I think it is a truly joyous tribute to the young couple whose big day it is. I hope they have an amazing life together.

Friday, 24 July 2009

30th Anniversary Celebration

The Lake School of English does everything it can to ensure that everyone is truly happy. All the staff and students are very well looked after and cared for.

Friday July 24th 2009It has been a mega special day. Susan from the Lake School of English celebrated 30 years of being at the school. Now 30 years is you must acknowledge, a huge amount of years to devote to one institution. The Lake School of English, however, is like no normal school. It is unique in the whole world. Why?? Well, the answer is simple. The Lake School is a school that really cares about everybody.

30th Anniversary
So, this afternoon, we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Susan being at the Lake School. It is a truly awesome achievement. Susan has been the bedrock of the school. The school has survived many ups and downs. The one constant beacon of light has been Susan. She is the heart and soul of the school. Many congratulations, dear Susan!! What a truly amazing achievement!!

An Inspiration
I do not need to say any more. You can get the picture. One day, I would like my garden in Abruzzo to look like Susan's. A true English cottage garden in the wilds of Abruzzo.....

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Words matter!

My inbox today contained access to a very interesting video from CreativityWorks. I watched it because I had never heard of the Mehrabian rule before and so I was intrigued to find out what it was. The importance of words over gestures is an important part of my language teaching. I noticed the use of quite a few phrasal verbs such as "to let someone down". I was teaching phrasals earlier today and had stressed the importance of learning them. This short talk is an excellent example of the phrasal verb "to get your message across".

Do you agree with the message of the video?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Shift Happens

Our lives are changing dramatically as I am writing. The constant ebb and flow of technological innovation is startling. We cannot fight against this new age of the Technological Super Highway. I am trying to keep up in my own modest way and that is all I can do- in my own modest way. I have a stark choice: try to follow what on earth is going on or bury my head in the sand and get completely quagmired. The following 2007 video created by Karl Fisch is truly fascinating. Thank you Terry for mentioning it to me tonight. I had a choice. Go to bed early or see what "Shift Happens" was all about. I'm glad I chose the latter!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

ToonDo - creating my own cartoon

Being a very inquisitive type of person, I couldn't resist trying out a new Web 2.0 tool which I have just read about in the July 2009 edition of Modern English Teacher. Russell Stannard has written an article called "Web 2.0 for ELT" and in it he describes 5 exciting Web 2.0 sites he has enjoyed using. I liked the sound of ToonDo and decided to look into it. Below is a very simple cartoon that I was able to create in seconds. ToonDoo is an amazing resource and I believe students would have great fun creating their own comics or books. Russell Stannard has made an excellent video on how to use ToonDoo on his Teacher Training Videos site. I will be studying this video lesson very carefully and hopefully I will create my own book soon!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

An Eventful and Inspiring Week

The picture of my beautiful almond tree has inspired me to write up this post. The past week I have been busily teaching groups of well-motivated primary school teachers from around Europe. I have had a lot of fun and when appropriate, have been using technology in my sessions. I lacked confidence before but now, I am trying things out and the prospect of seeing my lesson materials on a huge screen at the University of Oxford Said Business School has really encouraged me to be adventurous. Of course, the prospect of failure in front of so many teachers is a bit scary but without experimenting, how would I learn?

A Visit to a Special Primary School
On Friday I went to Windmill Primary School for a guided tour with my teachers. It was a fantastic experience. The school is a very impressive place and the headteacher, Mrs Lynn Knapp, gave us a wonderful tour around the school and its facilities. We were all left amazed by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The children looked motivated and engaged in their various activities. There was a joyful and positive buzz around the school. The pupils seemed to be having great fun but at the same time were learning the essential core values such as respect, which is at the heart of what is taught across the curriculum. The abundant creativity which was all-pervading was a truly inspiring sight. Thank you very much Mrs Knapp and all the staff and pupils for welcoming us so warmly into your delightful school!

Respecting Values

My primary school days at Headington Quarry School in the 1960s were so different (no technology at all!) but yet so similar in terms of the morals and high standards which were imparted to us, especially by my headteacher Mr Reagan, who I will remember forever. ... We were also taught the values of respect, kindness, politeness, generosity towards our peers and elders. These have stood me in good stead throughout my life. Mr Reagan once told me "Janet-You can achieve whatever you want as long as you want to do it". How true his words were! Basically his words boiled down to "No desire, no gain". We are all of us capable of achieving our dreams, but we need to strive hard to reach the pinnacle of success.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Easy Peasy Phrasals

Making phrasal verbs fun is quite a challenging task. Today I did a session with my primary school teachers and used a variety of activities and techniques. Creating a quiz with phrasals is excellent for collaborative group work.

Have a go at the following review quiz:

How would you feel if your holiday plans FELL THROUGH?
What does OTT STAND FOR?
If my car is a WRITE-OFF, can I use it?
Do you need to BRUSH UP your phrasals?

Can you unjumble the following questions and then answer them?






The phrasal verb Dvolver scenes above were created in a matter of seconds!

Useful sites to help you pick up more phrasals:
BBC English

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Blog Carnival : Kalinago English - Advice for NOOBIE Bloggers

I follow Karenne Sylvester's excellent blog entitled "Kalinago English" with great interest. It is always full of brilliant ideas and lesson plans. A while back Karenne wrote this post here inviting bloggers around the blogosphere to write about their experiences and tips for new bloggers. A reminder was posted up on 25th June called "Advice for NOOBIE bloggers in ELT (carnival reminder)". This posting has just prompted me to write up a brief analysis on my personal experience of blogging.

Janet's Top 10 Blogging Tips
  • Be on the look out for post materials from all walks of life
  • Read other blogs and comment on them
  • Find your niche and develop it
  • Stick to a set format
  • Try to include visuals- pictures/videos
  • Try to think of appealing headlines to grab readers' attention
  • Don't get discouraged at the beginning. Read my posting called "All Quiet on the Blogging Front"(I was really down in the dumps that day re my blogging experience - I am so glad that I persevered).
  • Do suitable research for your posts
  • Add links to other sites where possible
  • Write from the heart and most importantly of all, write with passion.

My Bejewelled Notebook
I love looking out for posts to write about. My secret is that I keep a bejewelled (of course) note book, (thank you Dora!) which is the central hub of my blogging experience. All my ideas, inspirations, random thoughts are contained within. Without it, I wouldn't be so organised and there would be no references to past, present and future sources. I leave various stickies to remind me of certain points.

Inspiration - Where Art Thou?
I read newspapers, magazines, books. I read news on the Internet. I read other blogs, I watch the news on telly and I listen out to what people are saying at home, in social situations, in the street. Anytime, anyplace, anything, anybody, anywhere is a constant source of inspiration. Basically, life in general can be turned into a lesson or a posting.

Blogs in the Blogosphere
Onestopenglishblogs has become a bloggers' paradise for me. For new bloggers, it's definitely the place to be exposed to a rich source of ideas, information, styles, subjects etc. It's an extremely useful point of reference and it is very handy to have over 100 ELT blogs all in one place!

I don't really have any idea of what is successful or not on my blog apart from readers' kind comments. I installed clustr maps some time ago and that helps me understand if people are reading my blog or not on a weekly basis. I enjoy doing a religiously keen general "check" every Sunday morning to see if the viewer numbers have changed. My average seems to be 60 viewers a week and I am absolutely thrilled that so many people are logging on to what I have to say. It is a real bonus and this definitely keeps me "on my toes".

Losing one's Dignity?
Eight months ago, in November 2008 when I was still relatively new to blogging, the one thing which somewhat terrified me was the final act of the "Press Publish" button scenario. I was motivated to go public and hence, viewable on the entire web, (as opposed to staying "private"- open by invitation only)by Nik Peachey, who personally imparted these words of wisdom to me. "What have you got to lose, except your dignity?" I followed his advice, and the rest is history. I realised that if you are writing for yourself primarily, the rest should technically follow. Publish only what you yourself would like to read if written by someone else. I suppose that is a logical piece of advice.

My Final Tips
DO NOT BE AFRAID. Enjoy yourself. Have fun. Treat your blogging experience as a virtual, online diary of where you are now. In the future, you will look back on these halycon days....
Finally, A very BIG thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point in my life. I feel so much more confident now and I love writing my blog.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Minted! Lucky 20p Owners Could get £50!

Do you have any 20p coins like the above in your possession?

Thousands of Brits with a new 20p in their pockets could find themselves £50 richer after a mix-up at the Royal Mint.

Around 200,000 of the coins have rocketed in value after the manufacturer admitted it had forgotten to put a date on them. Read the full article here.

I will be looking at any new 20p coins I get with keen interest from now on!

Vocabulary Note
If someone is "minted" it means they are very rich.

The meaning of the word "mint"

1. a place where coins, paper currency, special medals, etc., are produced under government authority.
2. a place where something is produced or manufactured
3. a vast amount, esp. of money: He made a mint in oil wells.
4. Philately. (of a stamp) being in its original, unused condition.
5. unused or appearing to be newly made and never used: a book in mint condition.
–verb (used with object)
6. to make (coins, money, etc.) by stamping metal.
7. to turn (metal) into coins: to mint gold into sovereigns.
8. to make or fabricate; invent: to mint words.

bef. 900; ME mynt, OE mynet coin < class="ital-inline">monēta coin, mint, after the temple of Juno Monēta, where Roman money was coined

Thursday, 2 July 2009

An Xtranormal Introduction

I will be introducing myself to approximately 60 teachers over the next few weeks while doing Teacher Refresher courses in Oxford and so I thought it might be fun to try out an Xtranormal film as an introductory activity.

What I usually do is write up a few correct and some incorrect statements about myself on the board and then get students to guess which ones are true by asking me specific questions. I give all answers as if they are correct and so the students have to catch me out. Once they have found out the real facts, they have a few moments to repeat the activity for themselves. In small groups, they test each other on their information. The video below is just a different medium for exploiting the same idea.

For more ideas on how to use Xtranormal, especially with younger learners, please read Alex Case's really informative posting " & young EFL learners". It is full of useful ideas and tips on how to use this nifty little Web 2.0 tool.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Forbidden Italian Temptations

The picture above was used as an advertisement for an Italian-themed product. The advert has now been banned by the ASA (The Advertising Standards Authority) after readers complained the picture of a nun and priest in a seductive pose was "offensive".

Can you guess what the advertisement is for? There is a clue in my heading and in the picture.

Read the full article here.

Do you agree with the ASA's decision to ban this advertisement?