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Professional Development

Why Language Teachers Still Need a (Second) Life

Part of the series: Teaching and Learning in Second Life

My Second Life self, Lynn Carlucci, being camera shy in 2009

You may have heard about Second Life . I actually hadn’t heard of it before I saw the course description for a TESOL EVO workshop  on Virtual Worlds and Language Learning. Considering that I thought an avatar was a diety in Hindu Mythology, I think it’s fair to say that my learning curve was pretty steep. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 3 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers Article 3

We’ve come to the last of three posts about using mind mapping for writing. The first article looked at using mind maps to brainstorming, capture and organize ideas. The second talked about focusing on an idea and adding details. This final article will look at how to use what you’ve entered into the map to help you write your article, play, novel or, yes, even your school or business report. Mind maps are content- and purpose-agnostic. Use them for anything that requires thinking, planning, organizing, or writing. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 2 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers Article 2

Welcome to the second of three articles about using mind mapping for writing. The first article looked at using mind maps to brainstorm, capture and organize ideas. This article begins with the list of ideas, and moves to the second stage of creating and managing complex content. (more…)

Mind Mapping for Writers Part 1 (by Hobie Swan)

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Mind Mapping for Writers: If you’re more artist than engineer, this approach is for you.

Article 1: Think first, organize later.

This is the first of three articles about using mind mapping to make your life as a writer easier or more creative. If you are serious about writing and have a “visual mind,” then mind mapping might be a refreshing way for you to brainstorm new ideas, capture and organize those ideas, manage complex content, chunk up your writing, and add new flexibility and freedom to your writing process. That’s a lot of claims. We’ll see if, by the time you’ve read all three articles, I’ve convinced you of their validity. I’d encourage you to read this Wikipedia entry to learn more about the history and practice of mind mapping. (more…)

2011 Challenge: Become a Beginner (again)

A few of the things that gave me that beginner feeling


This year

Try something that makes you feel foolish.

Something that guarantees you’ll make mistakes.

Something that frustrates and overwhelms you.

In other words, do something that helps you remember what it feels like to be a beginner. (more…)

My first guest post!

I’ve written my first guest post :-)

It’s called Goldilocks and the three answers and it’s over on the OUP English Language Teaching Global Blog. The post is about the challenge of finding a balance between natural and productive language when teaching young learners.

If you have a chance, please drop by and let me know what you think…


Very Cool Events: Free Online Conferences for Language Teachers

In the time I’ve been exploring online opportunities for teachers, I’ve come across a number of incredibly cool people who organize workshops and conferences, create tools, nurture groups, and try to make the world (both virtual and real) a better place for us all. Just in case you haven’t already met these people or heard about their efforts, this post begins a new series introducing them. I’m calling it ‘Very Cool’ because, well, that’s what they are and that’s how I actually talk :-). When I wrote the first draft of this post, I focused on the people who make everything happen. However, I realized that they usually choose to stay in the background and would much prefer to shine a spotlight on their heart-projects, and so I changed the focus. (more…)

Long Ago Lessons in a Japanese High School

Part of the series: Lessons Learned from Students

Back with the ink was barely dry on my MATESOL, I had a group of students from whom I learned many, many lessons. This post is about three of those lessons…

The setting: A once-a-week English class at a high school in Japan, in the mid 1980s.

The characters: Sixty 16-year old boys who had never seen a foreign person “up close and personal” and me, a teacher who still thought she actually knew something about teaching and whose Japanese repertoire consisted of hello, thank you, and I’m lost. (more…)

High Tech Ideas for Low Tech Classrooms: VoiceThread

Is this what Internet access looks like at your school?

Some time back, Anita Kwiatkowska encouraged me to start a new series. I’ve actually been thinking of this idea for a few months, when OUP asked me to do a series of presentations about using technology in teaching young EFL learners. (more…)

How to Create a Jazz Chant by Carolyn Graham

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Last November, Carolyn Graham did a workshop at the JALT National Conference in Shizuoka, Japan, on how to make a Jazz Chant. I taped her workshop, and with her permission am sharing the part of it where she demonstrates her technique.

One of the many things I love about Carolyn is that she spends most of her time giving away her secrets. In this short video, Carolyn shows teachers how easy it is for them to create their own chants to reinforce vocabulary or grammar. (more…)