April 17th 2011 archive

IATEFL Chronicles, Day 2

Day 2 is over. After a wonderful Pecha Kucha event hosted by Jeremy Harmer, I almost forgot my tiredness, sleeplessness ( my biologic rhythm, unfortunately, hasn’t realised yet that I’m in Brighton and I keep waking up exactly at the same time I have to get up at home)Last year I watched the PK live at home while doing the ironing. That night I really wanted to be there and promised myself to do my best to be able to attend the next IATEFL and it just happened and I was there with my friends and enjoyed watching the amazing Pecha Kucha presenters. For me, PKs are very difficult as you have to present something and at the same time you have to be humorous, witty, engaging and fast. I congratulate on all of them for the beautiful work they did today.

our little walking tour

our little walking tour

Well, today I and Karin had also enjoyed ourselves walking around Brighton with 23 other delegates. Our guide was great and I can say she was a wonderful storyteller as well. Walking through the lanes, she told us stories and really made the moments of the tour memorable for us.

Chocolate Fest

Chocolate Fest

OK, I had some fun today but of course I attended many sessions, toured the book exhibition,poster presentations, lost my little notebook where I had jotted down my blog post notes. Anyway, here comes a brief summary of my day 2

One of the sessions I attended and enjoyed very much was of Carole Robinson’s workshop called, ‘Visualising language-Activities to make language stic’. She pointed out that when we use visualisations in class, motivation increases. As she said if we give a chance for our students to visualise, they will remember better. She repeated that everybody has a different way to remember things and during the activities we had done we really saw how different our learning strategies were.

Here I’m listing some activities and notes from the workshop.

  • Play instrumental music and ask students to choose a picture from a handout you gave or ask them to draw their own picture of the place.
  • Use Guided fantasy. Take them somewhere and make them visualise that place and then ask them to describe.
  • Tell them to draw the picture of the key vocabulary they learnt during the lesson.
  • Ask them to bring a favourite photo and describe it.

What can we teach and practise using visualisations

  • Language of reasoning
  • Senses
  • Comparison
  • Tenses
  • Adjectives
  • Modals
Just after Janet's session

Just after Janet's session

The other session I want to write about was of Janet Bianchini’s wonderful presentation of web 2.0 tools. The talk was called ‘Teaching Idioms effectively with web 2.0 tools’. Janet Bianchini was one of the first people I started following and she immediately followed and helped me in the twitterverse. Reading her blog, I knew how creative and hardworking she was and I just wanted to be present at her session. It was a fabulous introduction to web 2.0 tools. She presented everything in a very clear and meaningful context that everybody who was not familiar with web 2.0 tools had an idea and a desire to use them.

The talk was how to teach idioms. She showed great sites where we can find definitions, drawings, examples of idioms. She wrote a story using many idioms and those idioms appeared on a web 2.0-tool-parade. You will find the slides here on Brighton Online  and from her blog.

IATEFL Chronicles, Day 1


And the real event started on Saturday. It is already Sunday today but I’ll be able to post this in the morning. I had a fantastic day at the conference, not because I met some of my twitter friends for the first time and hugged and kissed each other as if we had known each other for ages, it was because a very full day with great talks and ideas.

Glad the weather permits us to enjoy Brighton :)

Glad the weather permits us to enjoy Brighton 🙂

Karin and I decided to attend different workshops and write about different things so I chose to go to Michael Berman’s session, called ‘English through the writing on your forehead’. The main focus was on storytelling and how to use stories in classroom. Since I attended British Council’s Winter Warmer in March and had the opportunity to listen to amazing Jan Blake at Istek conference, I’m more interested in telling stories in EFL classrooms. He used two stories from Armenian folklore and mythology and here are the activities I jotted down from the session.

  • Fish and chips game: tell students you are going to tell or read a story and whenever they hear the word fish in the story, they have to shout chips; otherwise, they won’t learn the ending of the story.
  • While telling a story to the engaged and motivated students stop suddenly and ask them to fill in the gap with the correct word.
  • While telling stories, if you mention something interesting stop and ask questions or give information.
  • Michael Brennan pointed out ‘We like making choices and our students are not exceptions’ so he suggested that we give our students a chance to make choices while answering the questions. Give your students a set of questions and tell them to answer the three of the ones that they want.
  • Prepare a set of question starters and ask your students to ask questions on the story and then exchange papers with their friends.
  • Use guided fantasy/visualisation. Students may not want to share what they have experienced so instead you can ask them to write their account.

And then we finished with a wonderful activity. He asked us to write a note for him and then we exchanged papers then we tried to guess our friends personality through their handwriting.

The other session I attended was Michael Swan’s talk on ‘Where reading and grammar meet.’ He pointed out that language learners whose mother tongues are not similar to English can have lots of troubles while reading complex (embedded) texts. Those problematic areas are

  • Past participles often look like past tense
  • Reduced relative clauses
  • Omitting relative pronouns


  • Give students handouts and ask them to underline the embedded bits.
  • Prepare handouts. Ask students match the halves. Try to come out with funny sentences.
  • Ask students to add ‘that’ to make the sentences easier to read.
  • Ask students to make complete sentences including the groups of words.

e.g.: the food they ate today was not tasty…

        a thing children …

  • Rewrite the words in italics to make the meaning clearer.
  • Use an internet search engine to find sentences
  • Ask students to write exercises for their friends

The next session was reading again. It was ‘Text to context: where reading takes us’ by Robert Hill.

And I ended the day at the blogosphere symposium listening to Karenne Sylvester, Tara Benwell and Berni Wall. These three ladies are amazing people ready to enthuse the people who are following them.

Karenne talked about what we blog, why we blog and what the benefits are.

Tara told us about the wonderful thing she has been doing on MyEnglishClub. The activities she does with her students on MyEC are not different than the things we do in class. I must say her writing challenges are great challenges for everybody who are blogging. Once in a while I wrote about them too.

Berni focused on the importance of twitter for starting our own learning network and she even showed us how to form it with a quick warmer. She explained what edchat, eltchat and virtual roundtable conference are and how they work.

Blogosphere symosium

Blogosphere symosium

I know many people were amazed at what they had found at the symposium.

As Karenne stated blogging is not just keeping online diaries for teachers. It is more. I repeated that many times I have a 7/24 staffroom full of teachers who are ready to interact, collaborate, help and comfort me because of blogging. You don’t just share ideas, you also see what your weaknesses and strengths are when you are doing. You get feedback, you get suggestions and you get invitations for collaborations.

We finished the day at MacMillan’s OnestopEnglish birthday party, listening to Elvis and chatting to friends.