Friday, 29 April 2011

Pomp and Grandeur: Kate and Wills Tie the Knot

"Two rather beautiful kids tying the knot", sums up the day perfectly. I heard this quote during an interview with Simon Scharma, the well-known British historian. The Royal Wedding between Prince William and his stunningly gorgeous bride, Kate Middleton was everything I had hoped for, and some. The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's big day was fantastic and it encapsulated the best of British pomp, circumstance and majesty. It was also cleverly intermingled with the "common touch".

It was a moment in British history that I desperately needed to be a part of here back in Abruzzo. K set about strimming the garden with a vengeance, leaving me alone with Sam and her 4 adorable kittens, to witness the wedding of the century streamed via the Internet. With a token flute of chilled "bubbly", I settled myself down to watch the most amazing show on earth today.

At first I wanted to turn this post into an idiomatic field day, but then I stopped myself. This shouldn't be turned into anything but what it really is. The most magical event witnessed by about two billion people worldwide.

My Highlights
  • The spectacular horse-drawn carriages
  • The sight of the sprightly 85-year old Queen and 90-year old Duke of Edingburgh
  • The bride's entrance with her father walking down the magnificent Westminster Abbey aisle
  • The beautiful bride Catherine and handsome groom Prince William
  • The wonderful fairy tale atmosphere
  • All the fascinators (special headgear) on display
  • The mixture of royalty and the crowds
  • The timeless elegance of Princess Catherine's exquisite designer dress
  • The incredible music in the Abbey
  • The fly past of historical Spitfire, Lancaster and Hurricane planes
  • The ride in the old Aston Martin, driven by Prince William
  • The sight of so many street parties around Britain
  • The sheer joy and exhuberance on display
  • The British Monarchy enjoying a surge of huge popularity
  • The future King and Queen of England having a grand day out!
In the words of the comentators, this wedding was "a nice, communal, unifying experience with the magic secret. It was a symbolic and ornamental expression of royalty".

I personally loved it!!

Have a look at the fabulous images from the MailOnline's Royal Wedding Coverage here.
The Independent has a comprehensive list of videos of the day, in case you missed any parts.
YouTube The Royal Channel had live streaming of the ceremony and events.
The English Blog has lots of great links regarding the wedding dress.

Newsy Video: The Wedding Dress

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

AKaTea and William Memorabilia
I had to buy the teabags below. I found them in Brighton and I wanted them immediately. Of course, I won't use them. I will keep them for historical and collactable purposes only! They are really fun and in thoroughly good taste, don't you agree?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The King and I @ IATEFL Brighton 2011


The King and I

You may be wondering why I chose this title. Well I had a picture taken with the King of Rock at the Honey Club in Brighton!! Elvis Presley was there!! Well, actually an Elvis impersonator who was very, very good indeed. I couldn't resist it, but I had to have a photo with him. As soon as I saw him, this blog post title flashed through my mind and here it is!! That's the way my mind works. Title first, blog post second.

The occasion was the onestopenglish 10th anniversary birthday party celebration on the beach front. The wine was flowing, the food was delicious, and the partygoers were lively and dynamic! I went on my own but within seconds I had met up with lots of lovely people, who I chatted to throughout the evening.

Janet with Shelly

Sue, Tara, Brad and Marisa

Sue, Petra, Janet and Burcu

The Tagxedo below in the patriotic shape of England is a summary of my thoughts and feelings of the 45th IATEFL Brighton Conference. I have read so many fantastic summaries already that I'm afraid I feel that I wouldn't be able to add anything new or fresh, so I have decided to sum it up briefly using a few Web 2.0 tools, images and links to some fab blog posts with great reviews.
Every single session I attended was inspiring, and you can view most of the presenters' materials and resources in the index here.

I was in 7th heaven throughout the 4 days in Brighton. Or more to the point, on cloud 9!! There was so much to see and do that I was spoilt for choice!! The weekend was like the merry-go round below - full of action, fast and furious!

Now I am slowly but surely going through the links to presentations and slides that presenters have kindly uploaded on their session page on the BrightonOnline site.

I couldn't attend all the talks, but I have been reading a lot of summaries from my PLN. One talk I missed was "Web 2.0 Tools for IELTS speaking and writing success" by Amanda Wilson and Susan Dempsey. This is interesting for me because I have taught a lot of IELTS examination classes and anything to make them more dynamic, is most welcome!! I like all the web 2.0 tools that are suggested in this session.

Tech Gurus
I met someone I owe a lot of my technology awareness to: none other than Mr Russell Stannard himself. His presentation was wonderful and I enjoyed finding out so much about different web 2.0 tools and their applications. A Channel Live reporter from Tuxpi was able to snap the photo below!

The room was packed full and I enjoyed the talk immensely. Click on Teacher Training Videos to see all the fabulous tools that Russell shows us how to use.

I also attended another of my Tech Gurus presentations. Nik Peachey's fab talk on "Digitising your ELT Course Book" proved to be very exciting, and it was great to see him in action in person. You can view the full session details here.

World Premiere
The world premiere of An Idiomatic Story 2011 took place in Brighton & Hove. It has now been made into an award-winning film!! You can view the original screenplay on Slideshare here.
Please click on the promotional film poster produced by BigHugeLabs in order to view it better.

Brighton Images

The Brighton Pier was lovely by night. I had to have fish and chips as soon as I arrived and I bought them from the Pier. The chips were absolutely delicious!

Brighton beach was empty while I was there, as you can see. I enjoyed eating my sarnies on the pebbles, and just watching the ebb and flow of the waves. I also reflected on the variety of the pebbles
The sunsets were lovely.

The B&B was conveniently located near the seafront and Brighton Conference Centre.

A Busman's Holiday
Brighton's colourful red buses reminded me that I was having a "busman's holiday".
A busman's holiday is when you go on holiday and do the same thing that you would normally do in your job. In my case, I am a teacher and I had my first proper holiday in ages in Brighton by attending a Teachers' conference, so I was actually learning and talking all about my job the whole weekend!! I am not complaining, though. Iwould do it all over again and I feel lucky to have been there.

Some Feedback Blog Posts
Finally, for some links to some fab feedback blog posts please see below!

Phil Bird's Classroom 201X - IATEFL - On Tech
Brad Patterson's A Journee in Language - The WHY, WHY NOT, and WILL of IATEFL
Tara Banwell's My English Club - IATEFL Wordle Reflection
Mike Harrison's collection of feedback on his FaceBook Blog
Mike Harrison's collection of feedback on Scoop It!
Marisa Constantinides' TEFL Matters -Reporting after IATEFL Brighton
Shaun Wilden's Blog - What I Learned in Brighton
Sharon Hartle's Blog - Post Iatefl Blues
Profesorbaker's Blog - IATEFL 2011 Highlights: Magical memories

This Youtube video by OUPELTGlobal sums up the wonderful Brighton conference. Thanks also to Eva for her very kind words about my session!!

Tying the Knot
Sadly, Frederick was denied the pleasure of tying the knot with his beloved Isabella, so I'll have to make do with the Royal Wedding instead, which takes place on Friday 29th April.

I'll be in Abruzzo on the actual day. I wonder how Italian telly is going to cover the Big Day? Watch this space!!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Having Kittens, Literally!!

From being a kitten to having kittens herself very soon, Samantha's life has been a dramatic rollercoaster ride in just 8 short months. Having been cruelly abandoned by her owner, she found her way to our home and this is her amazing story "Welcome to Samantha's World". You can also read "An Open Letter to Valentina from Samantha".

She's been wandering around like the cat that got the cream recently, and has according to a very reliable source, been getting bigger and bigger by the day. I would like her to organise herself so that she can have her kittens when I get back to Abruzzo, so that I can enjoy the excitement and all the fun involved!!

Click on the image below from the Visual Thesaurus to find out some synonyms for the idiom "To have kittens".

The Imminent Arrival of Frederick!
Yes, you may by now know that Frederick had his literary debut at IATEFL Brighton. I can now purposefully "let the cat out of the proverbial bag", or in other words, reveal a secret! Frederick is also the name of the future cockerel that I will buy as soon as I get back to Abruzzo. It has always been the intended name, just as little capon "Al Capone" was named way before he was ever bought!! Unfortunately, Al didn't last long. In fact he suffered a very untimely and gory ending at the talons of a wild local hawk. I doubt whether a baby cockerel would experience the same exit, but I guess I had better not tempt fate!

Below an image sent to me by K of a bird taken in the garden in Abruzzo yesterday. What is it? A falcon? An eagle? A buzzard? It looks quite pretty, anyway!!

You can view a video from BBC News ( 2008) about Basil the noisy cockerel here.
A story about an interesting hen can be read here.

Tulip Fever
How is my garden faring? I have to content myself with images of my tulips such as the one below, sent to me by my hubby K. I do hope I will see some of the many tulips and spring flowers I planted before I left! Apparently all my seedlings are growing dutifully, and I can't wait to inspect them in military fashion, and then transplant them.

The photo of my tulips has been embellished with the use of Tuxpi, my fave tool of the moment.

A chicken-proof area has been set up and so hopefully this year, my veggie crops won't be decimated and trampled over by the last four chickens left standing!

Happy Easter!
I wish all my readers a very happy Easter 2011. I hope you are enjoying the same kind of weather as in the UK at the moment - sizzling sunshine!!

Breaking News on Easter Day!!
Samantha has had 4 kittens today. Please see the first born below. More pictures to follow later!! It's a pity I've missed out on all the fun. Can't wait to see them all soon.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

IATEFL Brighton 2011 Rocked!

Original image source of Brighton Pier here.

Brighton was awesome, the 45th IATEFL Brighton conference was amazing, the presentations I attended inspiring, and seeing many members of my lovely PLN was absolutely incredible. It was a dream come true to meet everyone under one roof, so to speak and also to present for the first time at such a huge global and international event. This is an initial posting, and I hope to post more impressions and feedback in the coming days....

My session on idioms went very well and a full house attended in the Boardroom of the Old Ship Hotel. As promised, I have enclosed my presentation below as a Slideshare.

Teaching Idioms Effectively with Web 2.0 Tools

I have also included the actual "Idiomatic Love Story", that I created specifically for IATEFL Brighton in order to showcase various Web 2.0 tools
An Idiomatic Love Story

A Huge Thanks
I'd like to say a very big thanks to everyone who attended my presentation on "Teaching Idioms Effectively with Web 2.0 Tools". It was lovely to have so much support from my PLN and also from people whom I had not met before. I really appreciated the enthusiasm you all had to do some of the activities and I am glad if the session was useful!! I am delighted that some very kind friends and kindred bloggers have written up a review, and I would like to post them here below for your reference:

Karin from Coffee Addict blog: Straight from the Horse's Mouth
Eva from A Journey in TEFL blog:IATEFL Chronicles, Day 2

Thank you so much, Eva and Karin!! It was lovely to meet you both in person.

Frederick's Fate
I placed the ultimate fate of Frederick'sIdiomatic Love Story completely in the hands of the audience. There was a surprising majority of approximately 66.66% who voted in favour of the "Bad Ending", which was inspired by my classes, who thought my original "Good Ending" was far "Too Hollywood!!" The final page in the Photofunia-inspired antique book below, reflects Frederick's sentiments perfectly.

Hello To My Lovely PLN
I will be posting up images I took of Brighton and the conference as soon as I get back to Abruzzo, or earlier, if possible! It's difficult to name everyone I met, but I would like to say a big hello to Marisa, Nicky, Gavin, Kristina, Carl, Anne, Simon, Isil Boy, Burcu, Petra, Eva, Shelly, Ozge, Sue L-J, Sue A, Sue K, Burcu A, Shaun, Russell, Martin, Carla, Willy, Mike, Brad, Tara, Berni, Anisoara, Laurey, Karin, Helen, and so many more!! You know who you are and I do hope you all got back to your countries and destinations safe and sound.

Sadly, I didn't manage to meet everyone I know via Twitter, Blogging and Nings. I'm so sorry our paths didn't cross this time round. The Brighton Conference Centre was a huge venue spread across different areas and sessions took place in many different rooms, so it wasn't easy to be in one place at exactly the same time as everyone.

I really, really do hope to meet you at the next global conference :)

You can view all the videos filmed during IATEFL Brighton here.

Thanks to all the Conference organisers for a wonderful weekend of high level Personal Development and Fun Extra Curricular activities, such as the amazing Pecha Kucha Event on Sunday night, that I attended.

Watch this space for my next post on IATEFL Brighton called "The King and I".......

Monday, 11 April 2011

Dvolver Animation

You can watch Russell Stannard's Dvolver Video tutorial to find out how to make these easy animations!

Please note. I noticed that some of the characters are not suitable for younger learners so, a bit of caution is necessary in choosing ones which would be ok.

I've been burning the midnight oil the past few weeks! Teaching Face 2 Face full time by day, and online by night. Inbetween these periods, I have been busy finalising my IATEFL Brighton presentation. I have spent about 25 hours in total now on the preparation and I think I have got to stop!!! I met my self-imposed deadline of finishing my draft yesterday.

I tried out the presentation on my group of teachers today and I asked them about the ending of my Idiomatic Digital Story. They kindly suggested an alternative ending, so I have decided I will let my audience at IATEFL Brighton pick which one they prefer!

You can see a brief preview of my slides on the IATEFL Brighton online site here.

I will be totally off-line over the 4 days I'm in Brighton. I won't be blogging, tweeting or doing anything technological during these 4 days. It will be back to basics, and I am looking forward to chillaxing by the beach. I really want to make the most of attending as many sessions as I can and also connecting face to face with people I have met online via my blog and Twitter. I am getting very excited indeed! I will try to write up a feedback summary of my experience when I get back.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Don't Miss Out! Join IATEFL Brighton Online Now!!

Brighton Online

The excitement is beginning to mount. I have joined Iatefl Brighton online and so now I can keep up with all the action. Wherever you are in the world, if you can't come to the IATEFL Brighton Conference this year, not to worry!! It takes place from 15th - 19th April. The programme includes over 400 workshops, talks, panel discussions and symposiums. The presenters come from over 60 countries!

Take a comfy chair, and view all the thrills and spills of this huge international conference in the comfort of your own home. You can keep up with all the Twitter updates here. I look forward to joining in the discussions and to seeing members of my lovely PLN in person in Brighton.

Comic created with

I had the great honour of moderating the Harrogate Online Learning Technologies Forum last year, and it was a fabulous experience. There were some great discussions on this particular forum and I started one off called "Facebook or Twitter- which do you prefer? This topic was quite popular!

Although I was at home in Abruzzo, I felt as if I was taking part in the conference, because there were so many discussions, interviews with presenters, and live streaming going on that it was really exciting and action-packed.

I still can't believe I'll actually be there in person this year. Presenting at a major international conference like IATEFL Brighton is a dream come true.

I love Brighton and there is so much to see and do in this vibrant city on the coast!! I look forward to walking up and down the historic Brighton Pier! I might even bump into one of the readers of my blog there. Please do say hello if you recognise me.

Image source from this site here

If you are going to Brighton, here's Macmillan's "Cheeky Guide to Brighton" Youtube video, which gives you lots of information!!

Embedded below, are directions on how to get from the Brighton conference venue to Macmillan's famous Onestop Rocks Party! Maybe see you there??

Sunday, 3 April 2011

IATEFL Brighton - An Exclusive Interview with Janet

With IATEFL Brighton looming in less than 2 weeks, it is time for an interview with Janet, the blogging teacher from Abruzzo.

Laura Lidiana, an extremely close contact from Civitaquana, Abruzzo, very kindly agreed to interview her. Below is a faithful rendition of the interview which took place in Oxford, England yesterday.

LL: Are you ready for IATEFL Brighton?

Janet: No, I'm not.

LL: Oh, I see. Why not?

Janet: Well, it's been a bit hectic the past few weeks what with a few virtual conferences and face to face workshops that I have had the great pleasure to present at, so I haven't had enough time to get down to doing it completely.

LL: What is the title that you are presenting?

Janet: It's on one of my favourite teaching topics!! It's called "Teaching Idioms Effectively with Web 2.0 Tools".

LL: When are you presenting?

Janet: I'm presenting on Sunday April 17th at 16.55pm.

LL: That sounds fab! Have you done your research for your presentation?

Janet: Yes, I have. I've already done about 15+ hours of collating information, reading, finding some useful references and so on.

LL: Well, that sounds positive. How about your slides. Have you organised them yet?

Janet: I've already got about 15 done, but ideally I'd like to have about 30 - 35 slides ready.

LL : How do you actually prepare for a major presentation like IATEFL Brighton?

Janet: I have a lot of brainstorming sessions first, where I just sit down with a pen and an A4 piece of paper. I just sit and stare at the blank piece of paper and wait for inspiration to happen. It usually does happen and then there is an explosion of ideas, and that's when it gets a bit manic. I jot everything down using circles, arrows, bubbles and all sorts! After that, it's linking, linking and more linking. Then I stop, and leave this first basic draft.

LL: I see. Then what happens next?

Janet: Well, then I wait for the next stage to miraculously happen, and as soon as I get an inkling that inspiration is on the cards, I sit down again with the original draft and then start to sift through all the many ideas. That is my second draft. After that, I do a third draft, always following the same sort of procedure until I finally have the Final draft with the ideas I definitely want to include in the presentation. All this takes quite a few hours!!

LL: That sounds good. Ok, so are you on track to deliver the presentation in 10 days or so?

Janet: I have no choice. It has to be ready. I usually work very well to a deadline and my pre - final or penultimate deadline is Sunday April 10th. That will give me 4 clear nights to finalise everything to my complete satisfaction.

LL: Have you been working hard on it recently?

Janet: Yes, I've been a bit snowed under with work and family commitments, and I have been burning the midnight oil. I hit the sack at 2am last night. I suddenly got inspired at about midnight and I couldn't stop! I was doing screenshots of images, looking through all my folders and I was as busy as this bee below!

LL: My goodness, DO make sure you don't overdo it, as you need to be on the ball for Brighton, don't you??

Janet: Absolutely!!

LL: Do you mind my asking? How come it's taken you so long to present at IATEFL in England?

Janet: Yes, that's a good question. My tutor in Hastings at a Teacher Refresher course in the early 1990s suggested back then that I should apply to present at IATEFL. The only thing that stopped me from actually following his excellent advice was myself, that is the honest answer. I did not push myself, I didn't really want to, nor need to step out of my "comfort zone", as I was extremely happy the way I was back then, in my pre-technology era.

LL: Do you regret not pushing yourself in your pre-technology era?

Janet: It's best not to look back with regret at things that are not possible to change now, as that is detrimental to the present.

LL: Ermm, I don't think you have really answered this question, so if you don't mind, I will ask you again.

Do you regret not pushing yourself in your pre-technology era?

Janet: What can I say? I was very happy back in those days and I am happy now. That's my final answer.

LL: Right, ok. I feel you are hedging somewhat, but ok, let's move on. So what prompted you to start doing so many presentations recently?

Janet: I was inspired by some very kind members of my PLN who invited me to participate in virtual conferences and Face to Face conferences. They had the confidence in me that I would be able to deliver on a big stage in front of many educators from around the world.

  • Virtual Round Table in 2010, and 2011
  • Reform Symposium in 2010,
  • Connecting Online 2011
  • TESOL Italy - Rome National Convention 2010
  • Tesol Italy L'Aquila in 2010, and 2011
I feel very happy that I have presented at all these venues. I would never ever have believed I would do this before 2008, when my life changed overnight.

LL: I see! Ok, so my final question of the day is: Have you read any blog posts on presenting that have inspired you?

Janet: Yes, I have read quite a few and I am going to be reading them again over the next few days before I get to Brighton.

LL: Well, Janet - thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. I know how reclusive you are and how difficult it is to pin you down, especially with you looking after all your chickens, cats, dogs, seedlings and olive trees!
Below we can see a rather hen-pecked Kelly surrounded by his flock of followers, all trying to grab his food.

LL: I'd like to wish you good luck and I hope you enjoy Brighton!

Janet: Thank you very much Laura! See you there?

LL: Yes, absolutely! I will definitely be there.

Janet: Great, we'll have to meet up for a Montepulciano or two?

LL: Yes, that sounds fab! Or even a Trebbiano?

Janet: Maybe we won't find any Abruzzo wines in Brighton, but anyway, I look forward to seeing you there!!!

End of Interview

Link to image here.

Links to Helpful Posts on Presenting at Conferences
The Power of Presentations by David Deubel
It's Conference time, and I'm getting nervous... by Ken Wilson
How to present at a conference: Part 1 taking the first steps by Darren Elliot
How do you plan a successful presentation? by Jeremy Harmer
Death by PowerPoint (and how to avoid it!) by Seth Dickens
Improve Your PowerPoints in 45 Minutes by Seth Dickens

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Weekend of Istek 2011

For more CPD this weekend, look no further than Istek 2011. You can keep up with the exciting updates from people who are there via Twitter's live #istek stream here. The conference is also being streamed from the Internet via the site here. Please note you will need to have the latest Flash 9 installed to view the videos.

Eva Simkesyan has written about her talk here and I am sure it went down a treat! Ken Wilson has also blogged about Istek here, and tonight he will be hosting the Istek Karaoke party. I wish I could be there!! I can imagine how much fun it is going to be!

Adam Simpson was chosen as the roving reporter for Istek and he has written this very practical post called"10 Things For Teacher Bloggers To Do Before The Istek Conference". I think his sound advice could apply for anyone going to IATEFL Brighton in a couple of weeks as well. I will need to take note!

The Istek 2011 conference closes tomorrow, and I look forward to reading all the feedback from the lucky people who were able to attend this year!

Arjana from Traveloteacher blog has just written a lovely post called "A tweet up".

The Istek blog has lots of impressions of the weekend, and some fabulous interviews with people at the conference.