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October, 2011:

The Swing of the Pendulum (by Márcia Lima)


pendulum

photo: sylvar

Having been in the TEFL field for a number of years now, I’ve witnessed the ELT pendulum swing a number of times (back and forth and sideways) when talking about methods and approaches. Throughout all these years, I have seen teachers simply ‘throw away’ all they knew and believed about a certain method or approach because a new, trendier one had just made the market. I am talking specifically about the time in Brazil when the Communicative Approach swept away the Audio-Lingual Method and its (then considered) controlled, grammar-based use of the language in a way which didn’t foster real communication. It was believed that students needed to be given every chance they could get to communicate (even to the detriment of grammar). (more…)

The Halloween party that almost wasn’t

I love parties.

However, I’ve been traveling for workshops a lot for the past six months, and have had to cancel quite a few classes. During the last week of September and the first 2 weeks of October alone, I was home for 6 days. So, I thought parents might actually prefer that I let Halloween pass without notice this year, and get back to the business of having regular English class. (more…)

Because teachers matter

Soon after I moved back to Japan, I had coffee with Kazu Nakamura, the new (at that time) president of Oxford University Press Japan. During our conversation, Kazu outlined his goals in regards to OUP’s educational mission. Part of the conversation, paraphrased in my memory, went like this:

Kazu: I want us to provide teacher training workshops in all areas of Japan.
Me: OUP  already organizes workshops every year in all regions. How would this be any different?
Kazu: I want to send authors and trainers to the rural areas that don’t usually get attention. Even if only a few teachers attend, that’s OK. I want teachers to know that they matter.
Me: That’s nice.

I smiled, and gave Kazu credit for having his heart in the right place, but really didn’t expect to hear anything about his idea again. (more…)

The Treasures of Teaching (by Joanne Sato)

Joanne SatoHi. I’m a British woman who has been living and teaching in Japan for thirteen years. I have lived in Fukushima (yes, THAT Fukushima) city for the last ten of those and work at a women’s college. I have an MA in TEFL from the University of Birmingham, England. I am currently days away from giving birth to my second daughter and getting ready to leave the city I have come to regard as my home and embark on a new life in Sendai city. Here are five, very small, contextually specific observations/things I wanted to share on my life as a teacher. I hope you find them of interest. If not, I hope you come up with your own and ask Barbara to share them here. (more…)

Choice in the EFL Classroom (by Vicky Saumell)

I have been teaching teens for 20 years and finding effective strategies to motivate them is something that I have always been interested in since it has really helped me with my teen classes. The best strategy in my bag of tricks is CHOICE.

Vicky Saumell

(more…)

How to Use E-Portfolios (by Işıl Boy)

Why E-Portfolios?

Barrett (2004) defines e-portfolios as “digital stories of deep learning”. Working on the e-portfolios improves students’ learning, and fosters their learner autonomy so that they can feel responsibility for their own learning. Besides, e-portfolios are “inherently motivational” as discussed by Barker (2005). Students do lots of work, like writing essays and keeping vocabulary notebooks. Nonetheless, all their work is separate, and we as teachers can utilize the e-portfolio as a collective tool for collaborative learning (Figure 1), and encourage our students to prepare ‘learning e-portfolios’ which are described as a “classroom-by-classroom phenomenon” by Helen Barrett (2011). I believe e-portfolios should not be developed to assess students like a test but to help them improve their learning. Furthermore, Barrett (2004) holds the view that adding technology to portfolios makes it collaborative and  e-portfolios should promote collaboration. (more…)

The Blasted Oak (by Torn Halves)

The blasted oak

Image: Edinblur

This is the story of a sensitive soul who decided to teach English as a foreign language. Like other such souls she was acutely aware that the world is not as it ought to be. While at university she had seen fellow students flocking to the careers fair and queuing up to become employees of the big corporations, ditching their ideals (if they had any) for the best possible pay check. She wasn’t going to ditch her ideals, and becoming a teacher seemed to be a way of joining the forces of good. (more…)

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