Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Present Perfect

The present game compered by Barbara has found a regular place at the ELTAF Christmas party. Some members got perfect presents and wanted to keep them, but others found their presents imperfect and wanted to swap them, and that was when the fun began. Warm woolly socks were found to be lacking, whereas the macadonia nuts were in such demand that they changed hands several times. The mysterious tape dispenser from last year tried to repeat it's success but was pushed aside by the rush for the plastic drawers! Thanks to all the organisers for a very enjoyable evening. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

K*ss and Tell

Imagine the scene, a room full of experienced English trainers admitting to each other that they sometimes have prob.., sorry, challenges in the classroom.
This was the latest Knowledge Share Session on Saturday November 18th, and once again the format proved it's worth. The difference this time was that the knowledge was brought to the workshop in the heads of the participants, and everyone contributed under the guidance of Julia H. who facilitated the workshop. Well done to everyone involved, let's have more of this! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mario Magic?

You can love him or hate him but you can't ignore him! Organised together with Provadis and with lunch sponsored by Cambridge, Mario Rinvolucri gave an entertaining workshop on "The Silent Way" of teaching grammar and techniques to get students laughing.
It is easy to see why Mario is such a popular presenter - he involves his audience, treats them with respect, encourages discussion and gives you food for thought and lots of useful tips.
Seeing Mario for the first time, I very much enoyed it and took a lot away with me, but more seasoned Mario watchers saw little new in today's workshop. I'll leave the final verdict to Barbara who is doing a write up for the NewsletterPosted by Picasa

Monday, September 18, 2006

No more double decker buses

Participants at the ELTAF conference on Saturday were treated to thought provoking keynote speech by Penny Ur. With over a third of the world's population speaking English, mainly as a foreign or second language, English has become a "lingua franca" detatched from the cultural roots of mother toungue countries and used primarily as a tool for international communication.
The implications are huge: Penny told us about the developing world standard English that is neither British nor American and forces us to rethink our ideas about what is "correct". In future we have to concentrate on a culturally neutral model of English with an emphasis on comprehensibility in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Posted by Picasa

Intercultural Communication at ELTAF Conference

Intercultural communication was a hot topic at the ELTAF conference, with a track of workshops running through the day that I and many of my fellow attendees followed. These were enriched not only by the excellent speakers, but also through the participation of colleagues from many different cultures. The discussion group in the photo represented at least 5 different countries! Posted by Picasa

Cool Catering at the Conference

Participants at the ELTAF conference were treated to a cornucopia of wonderful food from breakfast through coffee, lunch and afternoon tea and cakes. Maybe this is the real reason for the popularity of the conference. I was often to be seen hovering at the entrance to the workshops trying to finish my coffee/roll/cake before rushing to catch the start of the workshop. Posted by Picasa

Top Speakers at ELTAF conference

The ELTAF conference on Saturday attracted top speakers from far and wide including Penny Ur, Bob Dignen (photo) Adrian Pilbeam and James Chamberlain as well as many well know authors from the ELT field such as Paul Emmerson, James Schofield and Mark Fletcher. The high quality of the speakers is undoubtably the main reason for the popularity of the biannual conference with participants who came not only from our own Rhein-Main area but also from other parts of Germany. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Critical Moments Workshop

How do you get learners to use important language chunks essential in business situations such as small talk before a meeting or an unexpected visitor? Tom Smith and Stephanie Ashford of ELTAS showed us how trainers could set up short simulations based on information gaps, and harvest the language used to feed back to the participants. Apart from the quality of the presentation, there was a stimulating discussion. Congratulations to the organising team for bringing this gem to Frankfurt.
 Posted by Picasa

Summer fun

Ulrike and Suzanne certainly enjoyed the ELTAF Summer Party at Kuffler & Bucher after the Critical Moments workshop. Everyone agreed that the food, atmosphere and company made for an enjoyable evening undisturbed by the thunderstorm going on outside. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 21, 2006

KSS on Telephoning 20th May 2006

A well organised Knowledge Share Session on Telephoning took this member-driven style of workshop to new heights. Co-moderated by Carole, Liz and Silvia, the session offered a mass of ideas and materials for running "Telephoning in English" classes either as seminars or weekly classes.
Silvia shocked us first of all by getting us to do a back-to-back telephoning role play in FRENCH (help) which was a sobering reminder of the difficulties our learners face trying to do it in English. Liz brain-stormed us through the 10 P's of telephoning (polite, prepared patient etc). Carole gave us the interesting insight that learners who have done telephone training in their own language perform much better doing it in English independent of their level. This led to the discussion about whether we are only teaching English or also the skill of telephoning. It all depends on the needs of your learners was the answer from our moderators.
Spelling names on the phone was a fruitful area and our Chair Helen got everyone to act and dance their way through the NATO alphabet.
There was a very interesting discussion about the German habit of answering the phone with surname only and the difficulty other nationalities have with this. Use both names was the tip here.
A lot of coloured balls started to fly around as Carole told us about the importance of reinforcing standard expressions by repetition and stamping out the "Here speaks Manfred" syndrome. Carole gave full credit to ex-member Linda York who introduced "the balls" at the ELTAF Conference in Mannheim back in 1998.
Conference calling was a hot topic, and Carole stressed the need for trainers to experience an actual telephone conference and explained how one of her clients had set up a live session using different conference rooms. We were given strategies for slowing down the discussion by re-stating and clarifying.
On the topic of games, Silvia showed us board games, Liz showed us Telephone Traffic Lights and Carole introduced us to an adaptation of "I went to market" which starts with "I had a bad day - I tried to phone xxx but she was in a meeting/on maternity leave etc".
An excellent session - many thanks to the organisers and contributors.
Peter Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 11, 2006


My first job was in an orange juice factory, but I got canned,.....couldn't concentrate.
Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the chop.
After that I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn't suited for it.....mainly because it was a pretty so-so job.
Next I tried working in a muffler factory, but it was too exhausting.
I tried to be a chef - figured it would add a little spice to my life - but I just didn't have the thyme.
My best job was being a musician, but I found I wasn't noteworthy.
I studied a long time to become a doctor, but I just didn't have enough patience.
Next was a job in a shoe factory; I tried, but I just didn't fit in.
I went out on the trawlers, but discovered I couldn't live on my net income.
After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as a historian, until I realised there was no future in it.
My last job was working in a coffee shop, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.
So I retired and find I do the job to perfection.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Using blogs in English teaching

You can read a lot of articles on this subject, but if you want to see a real live project, have a look at this link. This is a class blog with instuctions from the teacher and in the side column you can click on the individual student blogs. The teacher is Jane Petring from Canada who was one of the moderators of Blog06, the online course I "attended". Feel free to leave comments on the student blogs, they would like that Jane told me.

what is the difference between this blog and our list

I am curious to see how our blog develops and what the content of it will be. Many blogs serve the purpose of a sort of online-diary or journal. Personal experiences play a large role. I think the blog is a place for story telling, whether in the form of an anecdote or a little longer text, a place for musing out loud. It is a "slower" medium than the ELTAF_ML list and allows us to weave a tapestry of comments.

As a "treat" to myself, I am tutoring a high-school student who just wants a regular opportunity to speak English, and read interesting or challenging English stories and texts. It is fun to share her enthusiasm for reading. Today we started the abridged version of "I know why the caged bird sings" by Maya Angelou. Since I grew up in the south of the USA I remember some of the atmosphere that Angelou describes.

I'd like to know if there is anything in your teaching that you experience as refreshing or as a treat.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thanks for the invitation. I think ELTAFOLK is a great, simple idea for us non teccies.

The mailing list is great. We all receive regular communication from the list in our e-mail in tray. With the blog however, we choose when we enter and it therefore has a less urgent feel to it and might therefore lead to a different form of communication.

As ELTAFOLK provides a complete chronological record of contributions, it will be interesting to see how it develops.

For example, I'd like to see it used for contibutions such as:

"I had a really successful lesson today...it went like this..."

What about piloting this with a wider sample of members to see what they'd like to use it for?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Commenting and contributing to this blog

To comment on anything in this blog, just click on "comments" at the bottom of a posting and a window will open where you can type and upload your comment.
ELTAF members are also welcome to become contributors to this weblog. Please send an email to Peter Smith (email address on the List) and you will be sent an invitation via Blogger.

Registering with Blogger is free, but you have to enter a username, password AND dispaly name (which appears ar the end of your posting). This is a bit daunting I know, so a few tips:
  • Your display name will be seen by others and if you want to be recognised (which I think is useful) then choose a compound of your own name, or even your own name (it doesn't have to be unique like an email address).
  • Your username does have to be unique within Blogger so you may have tweak it a bit to get it accepted. I think there's nothing to stop you using the same username as another service like Yahoo.
  • As for your password, I think we all face the problem of remembering them so I tend to always use the same one (not for bank accounts of course).

Happy blogging

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Happy birthday to the List

Can you believe that our ELTAF ML is 7 years old! Marina set it up while most of us were still struggling with emails and the Internet. I joined, as did many others in February 1999, and it has become one of the mainstays our association.

In the same spirit this weblog (blog) has been set up to take us forward into the brave new world of online resources. Class blogs and student blogs are two of the ways this tool is already being used, and blogs are starting to be seen as an important component of blended learning. Even if you still prefer to prepare your lessons with scissors and paste, I'm sure you subscribe to the idea that ELTAF is a learning organisation and that we can learn a lot from each other.

It is an experimental blog with no fixed idea about how (or if) it will be used by members. I have a few ideas which I will share with you in the coming months, but it is a collaborative tool and I would like as many members as possible to join in and contribute ideas, views, reflexions, resources, etc. on the whole area that binds us together.

I will explain how to contribute to the blog in a later posting and also on the List. If you want to do a bit of exploring now, click on the Blogger logo and have a look at some of the "Blogs of Note" or search for a topic. You can also click "NEXT BLOG" at the top right of this page, but be warned, this is a random link to any blog in the world on any topic, some of which may not be your cup of tea!
Happy blogging