Honestly, I was positively surprised by the city of Glasgow. Before the conference, I had mostly read about it in terms of an industrial city with a high rate of unemployment and retired industrial estates.… More
On this blog, students of ELT Research and Methodology at the University of Graz in Austria report from their first IATEFL conference. How do they experience this international conference, who do they meet, what do they think of the talks and workshops, and what are their impressions of the city of Glasgow? Read their blog posts and find out.
After returning home from Glasgow and going over my notes another time, I stumbled over some websites and ideas I wanted to share with you as I found them quite useful for future English lessons, whether you just start out as a teacher or whether you’ve been in the business for quite some time already. 🙂
M-Reader is a website that caters to the purpose of Extensive Reading. After registering on this website, the students can answer quizzes related to Graded Readers they have recently read. A certain word limit can be set, which the students have to achieve. Should they pass the quiz they took, they further get a badge (the book cover appears on the front page of M-Reader), indicating their success.
I personally thought this idea was brilliant, as it gives you a quick overview of who has done their reading and who met a particular goal that you have set your students concerning the quantity of reading.
One thing that has to be considered, however, is the possibility of cheating if the quiz is completed at home. You would have to come up with ideas on how to go against this. The speaker had the idea of offering the students three dates in a week to complete their quizzes during class so no cheating could ensue. However, the classroom situation and number of English classes differed severely to the Austrian system, so maybe you would have to think of other ideas.
Lingro is a website to translate websites into different languages. You simply enter the URL of another website such as BBC and you get the actual interface but with a twist – whenever you click on a word, you get a translation and definition of the word you just clicked on.
The speaker in this particular workshop highlighted that it would be best if there were monolingual translations only, meaning you just get definitions of the vocabulary you were curious about.
Visual Dictionary Online
Visual Dictionary Online might be especially interesting if you teach (or will teach) English in specific contexts, mainly technical ones. You can enter a word into the search bar and get a picture of said object with a full explanation of all parts needed for the object. Let’s say we need to know all parts of a dishwasher. You just enter “dishwasher” into the search bar and are presented with a detailed draft on all the important parts in a dishwasher.
This dictionary also offers the categories of animals, the human body, earth, astronomy, plants and gardening, food and kitchen and a lot other pictures. It is definitely worth looking at!
This website offers a vast amount of vocabulary games in English – you just have to look around and maybe something is just what you’ve been looking for in terms of vocabulary games!
Teaching Well-Being to Students
This is a talk I attended during the conference that I found very useful. The speaker’s ideas were very nice and easily incorporable into your lesson plans. With a few quick ideas and tricks, your students’ well-being might just rise, allowing greater learning successes to take place.
This last link brings you to a folder on 8 different feedback ideas you could also incorporate into your English teaching. These feedback ideas cater to different needs of your students (e.g. dyslexic students, students who are colour-blind…) so you would have to check all of them out to see if any worked well for your particular class, but all in all I found these ideas quite useful for my future teaching.
I hope I could help you at least a bit with the links provided (or I will help you in the future sometime) as well as my short explanations of all websites. As always – having more possibilities and more material is always good. 🙂
First of all, I want to say that I chose Eudaimoia for the title, as I think it best describes our week in Glasgow. Its origin is Greek and it significates the contented happy state we feel when we travel. Every day after visiting the conference, we used every single minute to discover as much as we could of the city.
On Tuesday, we started our journey of exploration on the west end of the city. Strolling through the streets, Glasgow’s breathtaking architecture caught our eyes. It’s characterized by a combination of modern glass buildings and old red and yellow sandstone buildings, which give the city a warm atmosphere, even though you might think this cannot be possible in rainy Glasgow 😉 Additionally, the extremely light green grass and the yellowish sunlight give the city a special appearance.
After an exhausting walk, all we wished for was a traditional Scottish dish, so we ended up in a traditional Scottish pub, eating vegetarian Yorkshire Pudding, which was absolutely delicious.
On Wednesday midday, we started our tour at the hostel. After listening to some extremely talented street musicians in the bustling Buchanan Street, we arrived at Geoge Square. There we took this gorgeous selfie below, in front of the town hall. Then, we passed by Strathclyde University and finally arrived at the colossal medieval church, Glasgow’s St. Mungo Cathedral, representing Scotland’s Gothic architecture.
Walking home, even though we had not planned to see more sights this day, we incidentally passed by the Tolbooth Steeple Clock Tower, St. Andrews in the Square and the McLennan’s Arch (from left to right), which astonished us greatly.
On Thursday we visited the University of Glasgow, which, for me, was one of the most exciting sights of Glasgow. It was founded in 1451 and reminded all of us of Hogwarts, due to its arches and many towers.
In the main building of the university, the Hunterian Museum was opened in 1807. It represents a variety of medical exhibition pieces of William Hunter’s work. Should you ever visit Glasgow, remember: You can visit all museums there for free!! 😉
On Friday, we booked a Hop On – Hop Off bus tour. First of all, we reeeeally loved the Gaelic channel 😉 Our first stop was the Riverside Museum, where we had a look at very old cars, trams, ships, bicycles and any other means of transportation. Inside the museum they even rebuilt one street with many shops from the 19th and 20th century.
In the tailor shop we didn’t hesitate to try on whatever we could find in a box of old dresses. Didn’t we look stunning?
Going home we passed many more sights, including People’s Palace, which is located on the East end of Glasgow, close to the river Clyde. One more time we were flashed by the green color of the grass of the park surrounding it.
All in all, I’m really thankful for that great opportunity that we were given. We could discover the city of Glasgow and were able to gain an insight into international conferences for English teachers. I enjoyed the week to the fullest and I will never forget it. Additionally, being with a group of people, who were randomly mixed together from all semesters was especially interesting. This atmosphere of field trips, as we had it back then in school, was nice as well, as it is not very common at university.
So on Friday was our last day at the conference. In the morning we went to the plenary session of Jane Settler, a linguistics professor at the University of Reading. The title of it was “Where angels fear to tread: intonation in ELT” and she talked about how intonation works in English and which aspects are teachable and learnable.. Just at the beginning she told us that this was the first ever plenary session about pronunciation – so that’s quite special! 😉
She opened her plenary with one important statement: “Pronunciation is very important for communicative issues but the problem is, that it’s less teachable”. I think she’s quite right about that. Teaching pronunciation is, in my opinion, very important to communicate properly, but the question is, how should we best teach it? I think every teacher has to find their own way to teach pronunciation.
She showed us a super sweet video about two babies, who were communicating with each other just via intonation. This shows us that even little kids who are not yet able to speak, hear different intonation patterns which indicate different words. She also told us that unborn babies can’t hear individual speech sounds but they can already hear intonation.
She also did some interesting studies about Chinese and Arabic speakers of English recently, so if you’re interested you can read them online on www.peps-c.com.
I could write like a hundred more words about her talk because I found it very interesting and informing, but to be honest, we as students already know most about it through our pronunciation classes. So I won’t bore you with that. 😉 (for those who are interested, you can reach her via social media. Facebook: English Language, Applied Linguistics and ELT at Reading; Twitter: @Jane Settler, @UniRdg_EngLang; Blog: aworldofenglishes.blogspot.co.uk; Youtube: Jane Settler (channel) )
After the plenary session we had a quick meeting to talk about the conference and some organisational things and then I went on to a talk by Graham Skerritt about “Homework that works: getting the most from online practice”. I think this was a very very interesting talk because he really gave us useful instructions how to use online homework. Nowadays it is just normal to let students do their homework online, but if you haven’t done that before, you and your students will be completely lost. Thats why I want to share the most important points you have to think of with you:
Getting most from online practice:
- make sure everyone can use technology
- Give clear instructtions, demonstrations, model answers
- Advise students about how to study online
- Connect homework to classroom work
- Teach students how to communicate online
- Respond promptly to students questions (so that they don’t get stuck when they have problems)
- Give good feedback
- Monitor & support students (show them that you care about them!)
In his opinion online homework is more efficient, but I cannot agree with that a hundred per cent. I agree that it gives clear written instructions, provides a deadline, is marked immediately and highlights the importance, but I think it is not very personalized. Moreover the students only get feedback from a computer and not from their teacher, who will then mark their tests. But it can be of course very beneficial.
For those of you who are interested, Graham Skerritt recommended a guiding book for online practice, “Blended Learning for Language Teaching”. There you can read up some interesting things about cyber learning.
The last workshop I attended on Friday was “Using music (not songs) in the language classroom” by Hanna Kryszewska. This was also a very interesting session. She showed us different activities how to use music effectively in a classroom. These were all activities which were really funny and also good to use in a classroom. One activity we did was describing a video to a person. We got together in pairs, one person standing with the back to the video, the other one facing it. The person who faced the video had to describe what happenes in it to their partner and after 2 minutes, they switched. In my opinion this is a very useful activity because we can easily get our students to talk and moreover they have lots of fun.
So after one week at the conference, I can really say that this was one of the most amazing and interesting weeks ever. It was so informative and I gained lots of new knowledge. I would really advise everybody to attend this conference at least once. You will get to know so many people from different parts of the world, talk to them and learn from them. I am more than sure that this year’s IATEFL conference wasn’t my last one. You definitely have to go there – it’s just awesome!
Big thanks to Ulla Fürstenberg, Sarah Mercer and Elke Beder for making this possible!!
On Friday, April 7, I visited some of Glasgow’s most important sights. The first one was Glasgow University. It is a wonderful, ancient building and it seems like a castle from the outside. Apart from the different departments that are located inside, there is also a free Museum called “The Hunterian”. It is the oldest public museum, founded in 1807. The exhibition includes scientific instruments, Roman artefacts and an anatomic teaching collection. I was really surprised that the entrance at the museum was free – which, by the way, is a very common thing here in Glasgow.
After having visited Glasgow University, I went on to explore the Kelvingrove Museum. It is an extraordinary building with two floors inside. You can find many different topics united under one roof: animals, paintings, furniture… After two hours I had to leave the building because they were closing – otherwise I would probably have stayed there even longer.
A bit later, in the evening, I met with two friends of mine and my girlfriend to have dinner in the city centre. We went to a place called “Mozza” and tried a pizza there. We were more than happy to have chosen that particular place. The food was delicious and the staff was extremely nice.
We had a great time there and reflected on the past days. Glasgow is a gorgeous place and I am really happy to have taken the opportunity to come here and to take a walk through the city, visiting the most important places and buildings. Time is nearly over and I will return to Austria tomorrow evening – I am looking forward to seeing you again GLASGOW.
This week, I focused on sessions about how to incorporate literature into the classroom.
Thursday was the Literature SIG (Special Interest Group) day, and these are the special events offered by the group:
- Extensive Reading in Translation by Peter Grundy (Durham University)
Everyone was given a piece of paper with half a sentence on it and we were supposed to find the person with the matching rest of the sentence, which took up most of the time of the workshop. Then we tried to fill in dialogue and narrative of a 26 pages translated novel. The main idea of Peter Grundy was that if you first read a novel in English and then read the novel in your native language, you will be able to confirm your understanding of the English version.
- IATEFL Literature Special Interest Group Forum
- Learning and Teaching English in a Literary Museum by Elena Vaneyan (The Pasternak Museum in Peredelkino)
This was an interesting talk as the audience was able to see how young learners in Russia are taught English in a literary museum and one could really see how much fun they had in the videoclips Elena Vaneyan presented. Should anyone wish to contact her or have a virtual tour of the museum, send her an e-mail to: email@example.com. The museum’s website can be found here: http://wildimpatiens.weebly.com/
- Rewriting classics: writing inspired by reading by Robert Hill (Black Cat Publishing)
This talk was about teaching creativity and writing to students by letting them pretend to write missing letters. The talk was interesting and the Black Cat Publishing books are, in my opinion, very useful. If anyone is interested in having a look at one of their books, I bought a copy of Wuthering Heights (Language Level C1 accordind to Black Cat Publishing) and I would be happy to let you have a look at it. They also have a huge variety of books on their website: http://www.blackcat-cideb.com/
- Shakespeare lives! (in the classroom) by Francis Prescott (Karoli Gaspar University, Budapest, Hungary)
This was my favourite talk of the day. We were divided into groups of three and explored various teaching techniques. First, we were each assigned the role of Witch 1, 2 or 3 from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and read the dialogue out loud. We then posed as the characters and after that, everyone had to think of a character, was placed in the “hot seat” and had to quickly answer questions by the other two group members. Francis Prescott’s e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The difference literature makes: exploring literature in foreign language teaching by Sam Duncan & Amos Paran (University College London, Institute of Education)
This was a talk where a study of how important literature is for teachers, both professionally and privately.
- From art to writing by Malu Sciamarelli (Language School)
In this workshop, Malu Sciamarelli gave each group the choice between two paintings where you could either write a poem, description or something else that’s considered creative writing about. Her website is http://www.malusciamarelli.weebly.com.
To sum up the Literature Sig day, I would also like to mention that if you are a part of the SIG, you can try to publish something written by students on their blog.
On Friday, there was another workshop that wasn’t part of the SIG day. It was called Young learners, storytelling and story-making! and was held by Karen Saxby (Cambridge English Language Assessment). It was interesting to see how easy it is to create a spontaneous short story in the classroom and I had the impression that everyone had a lot of fun. She pointed at someone in the audience and that person began with a character’s name, age or a sentence and she had everyone repeat that part by pointing at them; and I still vividly remember the story word-by-word, therefore her technique was successful.
…time in Scotland.
If you are planning to travel to Scotland one day (which I would highly recommend), here’s my top-10-list of advice for you:
1) Trainee trainers
If you want to get through the day without blisters and hurting feet, wear comfortable shoes. Trainers (of all colours ;-)) are higly recommended. If you want to be on the supersafe-side, choose waterproof ones, because…
2) It’s all about the rain
Even though we were really lucky with the weather, we realized that taking an umbrella with you is never a really bad idea in Scotland. Glaswegians treat theirs with special care:
3) Lost in directions?
Admittedly, driving on the left can be quite irritating for Austrians (especially in roundabouts), even for pedestrians. Therefore, there is one important rule you should stick to:
Luckily, Glasgow tries its best to help you:
4) Hot & Cold
Be prepared to get burnt and blast-freezed at the same time while brushing your teeth, because the hot and the cold water tap are separated. My tip: Turn on both at lower power and mix water of both temperatures together in your hands.
5) Power breakfast
If possible, start your day with a rich (British) breakfast. It will provide you with the energy you need for exploring the city/country.
6) Roasty toasty
In case your hotel has such an amusing, rotating toaster as ours, test it!
But beware: Don’t send your toast through a second time, unless you like it black.
7) Smoker’s guide
If you’re a smoker, keep in mind that smoking is only permitted in (sometimes creatively) acknowledged areas.
8) Wee & big
You may want to familiarize yourself with some Scottish vocabulary in advance so that you know what you’ll get if you order a “wee latte” at the coffee shop.
9) Seriously fresh
My personal trick for refreshing tired feet (with (not so hidden) product placement) after a long day of walking.
10) Charm & Advice
Last, but not least, my secret tip: If there is any chance to do so, take these two lovely ladies with you on your trip – they are simply amazing!
Thank you very much for this great trip to Glasgow!
I have to say that Glasgow is really one of the best cities I’ve ever been to! The first good thing was that the weather was not as bad as we thought J. The city is really beautiful due to its mixture of old and new buildings. We visited many interesting sights: The Lighthouse, the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis, the University of Glasgow and its museums and chapels, the Mackintosh house and museum and the People’s Palace. IT WAS AMAZING!
In order to go from one museum to the other we drove with the tourist bus and enjoyed the fresh (but windy!) air of Glasgow. What I really like about the city is that the people there are ALL so friendly and helpful; for example, one man told us the way without us even asking, or another offered to take a picture for us and even gave me his wallet (I should hold it while he took the picture). We lived in an AirBnB apartment and our host Alistair was also super-friendly and we had a lot of fun when we met him! I think we have found the best place to gout in Glasgow, namely the Pub “Pot Still”.
It is a nice little pub in Hope Street and it offers so many different kinds of whiskey and beer. People meet there and enjoy a drink together. For us it represents the real Scottish culture. Talking about culture I won’t forget to mention the Kilts. They may look a little bit weird for us, but they are really cool!
All in all, Glasgow was an amazing experience, academically as well as culturally, and I am happy to have been a part of this IATEFL journey.