Jim’s talk started by looking at a quick definition of demand high teaching.
Demand High is a meme, an idea that gets passed from person to person. It is not a new methodology. The question asked is ‘Am I engaging the full human learning potential of the students in my class?’
Modern language teaching seems not to push students to achieve and focuses more on being fun and entertaining.
Starting with the following questions:
Are my learners capable of more?
Am I under-challenging my students?
Would my students learn more if I demnded more of them? How could I do that?
Have the tasks and techniques I use in lass become rituals and ends in themselves?
How can I stop ‘covering material’ and start focusing on the potential for deeper learning?
What small shifts can I make?
The evolving manifesto of Demand High
It is okay to ‘teach’.
The word ‘teach’ seems to have got a bad rep over the last few years and learning is expected to emerge. There is value in explicit teaching, which is not equivalent to the teaching ‘yapping’ in front of the classroom.
We need to focus on where the learning is
You have permission to be active interventionist teacher
Learn the classroom management techniques that make a difference
Work at everyone’s pace – not just the fastest few
Risk working hands-on with language
Don’t expect the book to do the teaching for you.
Expect more – Demand High
One way of being more ‘demand high’ is by looking at one common stage in many lessons:
When students have done an exercise (individually and in pairs) and the teacher leads a feedback stage to check answers.
What are some things that one could do to extend this stage to last 60 minutes.
Here, Jim suggests
probing and expanding on the students’ answers e.g. ‘Do you agree with her answer? What do you think?’ and playing devil’s advocate (this blogger likes this!) rather than simply rubber-stamping the students’ answers;
exploring what’s behind the answer e.g. ‘Why is that the answer?’ and ‘Why do you think the person said that?’;
getting students to listen to you or the speaker is saying it and replay the voice in their heads and ‘Can you hear that voice saying it in your head? Can you change that to a different voice? Maybe a voice of a relative?’;
thinking about the paralinguistic features that go with phrases/sentences; working on the pronunciation e.g. stress patterns, speed, intonation etc;
practising the target language through drilling and playing around with the phrases;
remembering the target language by promoting recall;
raising awareness of mistakes;
playing with the grammar and lexis e.g. can you change the verb, can you drop a word, change the formality, context, relationship, etc.
ensuring that you keep the whole class engaged and pitching the challenges to the individual’s needs, yet avoiding ‘yap’ mode but intervening with authority, etc.
After lots of fun practicing some of these practical techniques with the audience, Jim emphasizes that the presentation stage of a lesson might not really be the most important part, but it is in fact that practice stage that allows students to really internalize the new language.
Communicative and fluency activities are fine and good but we should also not forget structured grammatical practice.
Fixing mistakes does not lead to insight and awareness. It merely puts paper on a crack. It should not just about collecting the right answers, but we need to start looking further.
David Crystal officially opens IATEFL Liverpool by first warning us not to trust Wikipedia, which has knighted him for a few days and stated that he has had different numbers of children and wives. He moves on to tell us about he went to school in Liverpool and proudly tells us to listen out to the Liverpudlian influences in his accent.
Introducing us to some popular songs and then focusing our attention on a well-known song by Paul McCartney and Wings, ‘Live and Let Die’, and the much-discussed lyrics ‘But if this ever changing world in which we live in’.
The tune needs two prepositions for it to work and when music calls, grammar blends.
Lexical blends like ‘brunch‘ become part of our everyday language quickly but syntactic blends do not get into our language as easily.
It is however important to note that blends are very common in speech
Here are some examples:
I don’t know to which hotel I’m going to.
For which party will you be voting for in the March 9th Election?
Mentors are for business people, mentors can help you and be your role models, couples to which we look up to.
From which country does a Lexus come from?
Syntactic blends arise when people are unsure of which to use and so they use both.
It raises because of the clash and choice that could come from formal and informal usage.
In the prescriptive tradition that dominated schools, teachers tend to try and eliminate the informal forms and therefore enforcing rules such as ‘Never end a sentence with a preposition’. Yet, Shakespeare uses end-place prepositions all the time. But the rule appealed to classically-inclined pedants. Winston Churchill even had rules ‘up with which he would not put‘.
So those who try to follow the rules taught to us and place the preposition at the beginning… but the natural pattern of the language takes over and the preposition is put after the verb where it feels most natural, forgetting that they’ve used a preposition already.
The further away the two prepositions, the more likely this is to happen.
e.g. For which of the five candidates in the forthcoming by-election will the people of Eastleigh be voting for?
But double prepositions aren’t the only Syntactic Blend that happens.
Here, Professor Crystal introduces another Beatles song with the lyrics
‘He won’t do nothing right just in sitting down and look so good‘ (as opposed to ‘looking so good’)
‘I been told when a boy kiss a girl‘ (as opposed to ‘a boy kisses a girl’)
When we leave music behind and listen to spoken English, such blends all the time.
We start sentences, change our minds and end sentences differently from how we intended when we started.
We usually do not notice this though, as we are paying attention to what is being said rather than how it is being said.
Prof. Crystal uses his own lectures as examples of the non-grammatical statements in spoken English:
‘Within how long did it take for an American English start to grow?‘
which is a blend of ‘Within what period of time did it take for an American English to start to grow?‘
‘How long did it take for an American English to start to grow?‘
Here’s an example embedded in a dialogue:
‘Well, we don’t speak it?’
‘Why don’t we speak it?’
‘Well, cos I was never taught it.’
‘Well, why weren’t I taught it?’
As a result of the constant use of the pronoun ‘we’ at the beginning, the last statement is a blend of ‘Well why weren’t we/you taught it?’ and ‘Why wasn’t I taught it?‘
These blends of course appear a lot less in written material due to gatekeeping by editors and publishers. Thus, a lot of what is considered ‘standard English’ corresponds to what is published. Yet, with the advent of the internet, these gatekeepers might not be there and most people do not revise and re-read what they write in emails and blogs (especially if they’re blogging simultaneously during a conference plenary).
Here, Prof David Crystal uses examples from the most popular blogs in the UK with blended constructions.
Comprehension is governed by the distribution of weight in a sentence. English is governed by end weight, and speakers tend to put the most important information at the end, after the main verb, rather than in the beginning. Most sentences use a single pronoun and verb followed by a concentration of content after the verb. One can of course use long adverbials at the beginning of the sentence, but this makes comprehension more difficult and the sentence is more difficult to process…therefore naturally, in spoken English, this does not happen as often.
Note these two sentences:
It was nice of John and Mary to visit us the other day.
For John and Mary to visit us the other day was nice.
We tend to get irritated with the second sentence, thinking ‘Where’s the verb? Get on with it!”
Here, Prof. Crystal uses a random ELT coursebook to make a point.
In a chapter on relative clauses, long noun phrases are featured:
e.g. Salesman who sell books at your door are a nuisance. The books they sell are often expensive’
A lot of information needs to be processed before getting to the verb, while trying to learn a new piece of English grammar.
This could make it more difficult for students and perhaps coursebooks should use relative clauses with shorter subjects when introducing the grammar point, and leave such long noun phrases for more advanced levels.
e.g I don’t like salesmen who sells books at the door.
It’s often expensive to buy the books they sell.
In ELT, we come across blends often in students’ writing.
e.g. ‘Does it not worry you that the man to whom you will marry might be cruel to you?‘
It is important to realise that errors such as these blends are signs of growth and not be condemned.
Teachers should try to understand the origin and source of the blend. To condemn them as mistakes would result in students not daring to try out new constructions in the future.
Blends tend to occur more often when the speaker/writer is under pressure and has to complete the sentence quickly, and the grammar finds it harder to keep pace with the thought e.g. football commentaries, family rows, etc.
Blends are nothing to feel guilty. In writing, we try to eliminate them for being labelled as careless and sloppy by readers who have more time to examine our sentences.
Here, Prof. Crystal clarifies that he is not advocating that we teach blends, but more that we not condemn blends in speech when we are likely to use them ourselves.
Ending his plenary with a piece of titbit about his days as a saxophone player, he muses that Paul MacCartney may have earned much more than him, Paul MacCartney never quite had the honour of ending up as the patron of IATEFL.
This series is inspired by a conversation between Mike Hogan and myself about examining the controversies in ELT. We wanted to consider the different positions taken by different members of the industry. However, to do so, we’d need a debate, a disagreement of sorts. And it became apparent that we either tend to agree with members of our PLN (flying creatures of the same feathers and all that), or would keep an open mind and be fairly polite and supportive of one another (that is why we tweet and blog). Seeing that, the only way to get a real debate going was to actively play Devil’s Advocate (DA).
The following debate took place as an Instant-Messaging Chat on Skype. The statements of here are of the DA and in no way represent my beliefs about teaching. This is merely a tool to spark a dialogue between you, the reader, and all those involved in this project. You can find previous installments of DA here.
To celebrate our eleventh installment of DA, we have Bethany Cagnol.
Bethany Cagnol is a freelance business English and ESP trainer based in Paris, France. She is the president of TESOL France, treasurer of IATEFL BESIG and on the conference committee of IATEFL. She speaks at ELT conferences and recently published “Nursing 1” with Ros Wright (Pearson). She owns two companies in France that provide language training, project management and consulting. She enjoys advising trainers on how they can develop their own freelance status and/or business and often blogs about it .
Chia: It’s so great to have you here on Devil’s Advocate, Beth!
Bethany: Thanks for the invitation, Chia. I’ve been looking forward to this all week!
Chia: It’s an honour to have the president of TESOL France, treasurer of BESIG, and IATEFL conference committee member here on the hot seat!
Bethany: The seat’s lukewarm at the moment. I’m sure that’s about to change.
Chia: Sorry I couldn’t have made the seat warmer for you. I know you’re used to being wined and dined and jetted around the world by these big TEFL organisations that you volunteer for.
Bethany: [ducks for cover] Gosh, you really start off with a good jab, don’t ya?
Being sponsored by the three above-mentioned organizations is a huge perk, yes. I’m very lucky that TESOL France, BESIG and IATEFL have contributed to my attending various events around Europe. The world? No.
But we at TESOL France have a very strict rule about sponsoring Executive Committee members for events. Excom members have to serve on the committee for a year before we sponsor them.
Chia: Sorry, could we define ‘Excom’ before we continue?
Bethany: Excom – Executive Committee
The M is not to be confused with N. 😉
Chia: OOOH! Doh! I thought Excom meant ex-committee member…!
And I was wondering why you were sponsoring people who no longer work for you…Hahaha
So why do people volunteer to be on the Executive committees? It must be all the free lunches you’re getting? Or do you do it because it makes you feel all warm inside?
Bethany: To be honest, yes and no. When I started out with TESOL France I didn’t know travelling to conferences was an option for Excom members. I joined because I wanted to work with Ros Wright. One of my colleagues told me: “If there’s anyone in ELT you should work with, it’s Ros Wright.” That was one of the reasons I joined the TESOL France Excom.
It was only when TESOL France started to grow that sponsoring attendees to IATEFL and other TESOLs in Europe became part of our norm.
And yes, volunteering for these organizations definitely makes me feel all warm and fuzzy but I’m sure we’ll get to that in a minute.
Chia: I had no idea that TESOL France Excom members get sponsored to go to IATEFL and other TESOL conferences in Europe. Wow, it’s even cushier than I thought! That’s on top of getting free trips to places where committee meetings are held, and of course, you get to attend the very conference that you help organise for free as well, don’t you? Is that why most people volunteer to become committee members?
Bethany: We sponsor Excom members to attend conferences because we want them to work for us. For example, TESOL France asks them to scout out good speakers for our events.
Attending conferences also gives them a taste of what a well-run international event is like. And of course it contributes to their professional growth and development. When they come back from the conferences they are so jazzed and motivated (as a teacher and as a volunteer) that they want to help us organize the same high-quality events here in France.
Chia: You mentioned growth and development. That is certainly one of the real reasons why people ‘volunteer’ to be Excom members, isn’t it? Not only do they get to attend conferences and have free trips all around Europe, but they get free business training and get to hone and develop their event organisation and team management skills, not to mention develop a useful network of contacts.
Bethany: Well, before TESOL France, right as I was finishing my MA, I thought about doing an MBA. But I couldn’t possibly pay for one. An MBA costs a fortune. But I still wanted the skills that are (usually) developed during an MBA: I wanted to learn leadership skills, basic business skills, financial skills, project management skills, marketing skills, etc. I got all that and more from being on the committees of TESOL France, BESIG and IATEFL.
And while I developed those skills, and contributed my time, ideas, and experience to the organizations, I met some amazing, incredible teachers. I made some very dear friends like Ros Wright, Debbie West, Eric Halvorsen, Gillian Evans, Laurence Whiteside, Jane Ryder and Christina Rebuffet-Broadus who all work tirelessly towards TESOL France’s cause.
And I met you, Chia! 😉 (wink)
Chia: (takes off DA hat) Aw, thanks. I’m glad I met you too…(puts DA hat back on) But I didn’t need to join an Excom to get to meet you though.
So now, the truth has finally surfaced. People volunteer not because they are being altruistic. They volunteer because they are cheap and want to save the money they would have spent on an MBA, get free business training from being on these committees, and meet the right people. Ah hah!
Bethany: I joined TESOL France because I wanted to develop skills and I wanted to know what it was like to work with other teachers. Teaching in France can be very isolating, you know. Others join for many different reasons.
Volunteering for a teachers’ organization can also help expose you to the latest trends of ELT. One good example is offering to be on the conference proposals committee. While you may have to read a ton of abstracts, it can give you an idea of what the latest ELT trends are.
Chia: But you can meet other teachers and learn about the latest trends in ELT from networking online and attending conferences. You don’t need to organise one for that and can save yourself many hours and still profit from the kind of networking you’re talking about…
But of course, being one of the organisers puts you in a certain limelight. You’re on show, you make contacts (very good for networking and getting work, getting into publishing, writing journals, and so on.)
…which brings us back to hidden agendas of these so-called altruistic volunteers again.
Bethany: I don’t disagree with you when you say that some may volunteer to fulfill their own professional agendas. Volunteers should ALWAYS gain something from the experience. I’m a firm believer in it. They should gain experience, knowledge AND recognition. But they also have to prove they are willing to carry their own weight on the team.
Chia: Could you explain what you mean by ‘prove that they are willing to carry their own weight on the team’?
Bethany: Stellar volunteers are those, who in my opinion, *consistently* demonstrate their dedication to the association’s activities and mission. They readily take on tasks, come up with ways to improve the organization and reliably carry out their responsibilities.
And if they can’t fulfill a task they have the integrity to inform the rest of the team that they need to step down or be given a different role.
Chia: I accept the fact that some volunteers do work hard and do a good job, but ultimately, would you agree with me that volunteers do it for selfish reasons and the kudos we give to what they contribute is overrated?
Many of these ‘stellar’ volunteers are only working hard and trying to do a good job because they want to move up the ladder and rub shoulders with the TEFL elite, and doing this by volunteering in an organisation like IATEFL is a lot easier than moving up the ladder in a school, for example. All one needs is to show willing to offer their services and hard work for free.
Bethany: It is true that some volunteer for that reason alone. But luckily, they are the minority, in my opinion. Based on what I’ve witnessed in three different teacher organizations of varying sizes, they are the minority.
And yes, volunteering makes us feel good. And as I stated above, it should.
But contributing to the world of ELT has grown larger these past few years thanks to Web 2.0. Blogging, Tweeting, conversing about latest issues and trends online is also a form of volunteerism.
Heck, you volunteer your time to DA, don’t you?
Chia: I’m afraid I can’t agree with that. People who blog and tweet are not volunteering. They might be spending time volunteering information and sharing it with others, but they are blogging and tweeting about what they want to blog and tweet about. They are not volunteering to do tasks for an organisation that have been decided for them. And most importantly, bloggers and tweeters don’t get the kudos for being ‘charitable’ like Excom members do. So let’s not go off tangent here…
Nice try, though!
Bethany: But before you rope this pony back into the pen, let’s take Shelly Terrell for example. She volunteers hundreds of hours setting up online conferences, doing free, weekly webinars, writing articles, mentoring people. She’s a good example of how volunteers can reach out from afar.
You claim, “They are not volunteering to do tasks for an organisation that have been decided for them.” – Sorry, I don’t agree. Many volunteers of teachers’ organizations take on tasks they want to carry out because they are confident they can.
Chia: First of all, Shelly Terrell gets paid for her webinars and the talks she gives, and yes, Shelly does quite a bit of volunteering as well. She’s investing her own time to build her brand, and she does it very well. And it’s on the strength of this brand that she gets invitations to speak all over the world.
Didn’t you mention something similar at a recent conference in Paris, Beth? About the importance of investing your time to build your brand?
Bethany: Shelly, definitely, is a good example of someone who develops her ELT brand* – and volunteering for an organization does help one promote that. Again, I don’t disagree.
But take The Reform Symposium, for instance. She volunteered her time to help organize this amazing online conference. She invested an enormous amount of time so that hundreds of teachers around the world could get together and gain hours and hours of free professional development.
*For more on developing your ELT Brand, see the article in the next issue of the BESIG Business Issues (Cagnol & Hogan 2012).
Chia: Ah, so you’ve volunteered to do this DA with me so that you can promote your article in the next Business Issues! It all becomes clear! Did you and Mike Hogan use your connections to BESIG (You as the Treasurer and Mike as the BESIG Online Team member) to get your article into the journal? How convenient! See, there’s no such thing as pure altruism. 😉
Bethany: Now now. In our article, we do suggest ways teachers can develop their ELT brand, but this isn’t the topic of this DA.
Anyway, we didn’t “use our connections”. Anyone is welcome to submit an article to be published in BESIG’s Business Issues. Julia Waldner would love to hear from you!
But again, if you want to bring writing back into this debate, earlier, you conveniently tried to duck from the fact that your doing the DA is not a form of volunteerism. I think it is. It helps you develop skills and it gives back to the ELT community.
Chia: Nice backhand, Beth. Doing the DA simply satisfies my confrontational personality for a good ol’ verbal punchup. It might make me better at constructing arguments when I finally make it into that university debate team. So see? I’m not doing DA because I have any kind of purely altruistic bone in me either. Just like those TESOL association volunteers! We all have an agenda!
Bethany: But don’t you get enormous satisfaction in the fact that you are helping hundreds of teachers out there? By the looks of all the comments, everyone seems to get a great deal out of your conversations with other DA “victims”. That’s gotta feel pretty darn good, doesn’t it? It’s because of you, your readers think twice before going at an ESP course without a coursebook. It’s because of you, your readers think twice before giving just any language test to their students. I could go on….
Chia: But that’s exactly it. Social psychologists and philosophers like Ayn Rand suggests that pure altruism does not exist.
We operate on a basis of ethical egoism, i.e. we do what is in our own self-interest. And so if the self-interest is to boost one’s ego and feel good about oneself, then that is certainly an agenda too…
But we’re getting off the main point, that being my blogging is not volunteering, in the traditional sense of the word. Being in the Excom is volunteering…and with a much larger (and some might say, darker) hidden agenda.
It’s no longer just about feeling good and boosting one’s ego. It’s about wanting to be in the limelight, gaining a TEFL celebrity status, building an influential network and being recognised as an experienced, well-respected teacher at the top of his/her industry, even though in actual fact, for all we know, the Excom member could be a terrible teacher.
Bethany: Ok dearie, I’ll address the jabs one by one. 😉
You said, “Social psychologists and philosophers like Ayn Rand suggests that pure altruism does not exist.” – Ok. I see their point. But this is an old argument going back thousands of years.
No one should volunteer for an organization if they end up being miserable. Not too long ago I met someone who was a former member of another teachers’ organization. She said, “I worked so hard for the association, but was never thanked. I was incredibly unhappy”. So it was from that day I decided that those who dedicate their time to these organizations deserve to be thanked and recognized *publically*.
You then said, “It’s no longer just about feeling good and boosting one’s ego. It’s about wanting to be in the limelight, gaining a TEFL celebrity status… ” – I don’t entirely agree. Granted, the Internet (Twitter & Facebook) has helped make the recognition of these volunteers a lot easier. Teachers, who we, as an association, praise for their hard work, can and do become “TEFL celebrities”. But as I said earlier, wanting to be in the limelight, for the majority, isn’t the goal here. It’s the byproduct.
And finally, you said,”….for all we know, the Excom member could be a terrible teacher.” That may well be. But that’s the beauty of being on the Excom. It can help you become a better teacher, learner, leader, organizer, employee, boss, etc.
Chia: Being in the limelight isn’t a goal for the majority? (And earlier, you said that using Excom status to climb up the TEFL ladder isn’t what you witnessed to be a goal of the majority).
The key here is that those with such a goal or secret agenda are of course going to keep it secret and play their cards close to their chest. They will say all the right things about volunteering so that they can develop, give back to the community, form wonderful friendships, but in reality, their intentions are much darker. So of course, you wouldn’t be able to witness it just by talking or working with them.
Bethany: You seem to want to categorize “setting personal goals” or “having a professional agenda” as something that is terrible. It isn’t really. I’m going to bring my mother into this because she taught me to always think through my decisions and to analyze what I could gain from every experience no matter what.
As professionals, we should always think through what we can *give* and *take* from every situation. But my mother also taught me to trust people. I trust they are volunteering for the right reasons – to give back to the community but also to develop into a better person.
Chia: That all sounds warm and fuzzy in this context – setting personal goals, having a professional agenda.
Let me ask you, Beth, if someone in your PLN hangs out with you, acts like they are genuinely your friend and seem really interested in you as a person, but later, you find out that they are actually only doing so because you are the president of TESOL France, because you have great connections, and you can help them to fulfill their ‘personal goals’, would you forgive such a ‘professional agenda’?
Isn’t that what volunteering for TEFL organisations under the pre-text of doing something good for the community really is?
Beth: Thanks for calling my mom “warm and fuzzy”. I agree 100%. I’ll tell her you said that.
Well….as I’ve developed with the PLN, I find it’s now my responsibility to help bring others into the fold.
One good example is the TESOL France Executive Committee. The newer members get introduced to the PLN who come to our conferences, they are invited to give talks, they are welcomed at the dinner tables, etc. So, in a way, I choose to help introduce my fellow Excom members to the PLN and show them the benefits of not only volunteering for TESOL France, BESIG and/or IATEFL but also the benefits of making friends who can help them down the road.
Chia: But it’s all in the intentions, you see.
To use my metaphorical analogy earlier, if someone befriends you because their intentions had been genuine and they really like you as a person and want to be your friend, if you do introduce them to your network of professional contacts and help their career along the way, that’s one thing.
But if someone befriends you with the intentions of exploiting your status and network from the very start, that’s a totally different agenda.
Bethany: And again, I have to go back to what my mother taught me. I will trust them. That’s just who I am.
I know some may throw the “naive” card at me, but I really prefer to go through life trusting people.
My mother taught me it’s better to trust people. But she also helped me develop a pretty good BS detector. 🙂
Chia: You are lucky to have such a great mother. Bet she didn’t teach you those things with any secret agendas… 😉
Bethany: Her agenda was wanting me to develop my own definition of success and to know how to achieve that. Thanks to TESOL France, BESIG, and IATEFL, I do feel successful and very happy as a volunteer and as a professional.
Chia: And by nurturing your PLN and the new volunteers in return, you are developing your followers…a leader needs followers. In helping others, you are creating a following, which in itself will grow and give you (i.e. the volunteer in the higher position) even greater status and more limelight. Clever!
Bethany: Now now. Nah…on Star Trek, maybe. To all my followers: resistance is futile!
Chia: Mwahahaha! I’ve got Bethany Cagnol to finally admit her secret agenda!!!
Bethany: Yup! That’s what it’s been this whole time. 😉
Chia: Beth, you have managed to come out of this DA looking like a kind, trusting and positive optimist that you clearly are! And the DA now just looks like a cynical old grump…
Bethany: Well…I can fix that. We do have a position for you on the TESOL France Executive Committee if you want. 😉
Chia: One, this Devil’s Advocate doesn’t live in France. Two, the DA doesn’t want clingers trying to befriend her with secret agendas…she’ll end up trusting them and then feeling betrayed in the end. And three, I am afraid the TESOL France President’s positivity might actually cause the DA to lose her edge and actually become a better person.
Bethany: But the friendships you’ll make will last a lifetime (hint hint nudge nudge)
Chia: I’ve got you, Beth…what other friendships would I need?
Bethany: Let’s look at it this way. If I hadn’t volunteered for TESOL France, I wouldn’t have gotten up the nerve to give a small workshop for the membership.
If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had the nerve to apply for the phenomenal conferences hosted by IATEFL Poland, TESOL Spain, and IATEFL and TESOL International.
If I hadn’t gone to those amazing events I wouldn’t have taken on the organization of the TESOL France conferences. I wouldn’t have developed a sheer hunger for professional development and volunteerism.
If I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have made the incredible friends I’ve met along the way…
And if I hadn’t done any of this I wouldn’t have met you Chia.
Ok….I’m actually tearing up now. (sniff).
Chia: Great 3rd conditional personalised lesson you’ve got there, Beth!
Well, I’m certainly glad that you did the conferences you did and that I fell in love with the person I fell for because both of those two things have resulted in the wonderful friendship I have with you today! (Warm and fuzzy feeling…like being wrapped in the fur of a woolly mammoth)
Bethany: Cue cheesy music Chia!
Chia: Cue picture of Woolly mammoth (There, Phil, I’ve said it twice!)
Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy ‘conference-organising’ schedule to be on DA today Beth…you’ve been a star…
Bethany: Thanks Chia. You’ve really made me think long and hard about all this and this has been an incredible experience.
Chia: I’m glad you enjoyed it. Now, how about introducing me to some of your influential Excom friends? 😉
Bethany: Oh honey….I can’t wait for you to meet them. They will love you! Can’t wait until your Plenary in November at the TESOL France Conference!
(how do ya like my shameless plug of your plenary 😉
Chia: Sigh, secret agendas and shameless plugs…
Bethany: Sigh 😉
Epilogue (by Bethany Cagnol): Bethany’s views are her own and do not represent any organization she is associated with. Chia was only playing DA, and of course believes in the many positive reasons Bethany has given for volunteering. Bethany may have appeared to have been completely and utterly ass-whooped by Chia during this DA session, but rest assured they are still friends who are not adverse to the occasional rowdy debate over a glass of read wine (Bordeaux, preferably) or under Chia’s comfy duvet at 2am.
The BESIG Paris Summer Symposium (in association with TESOL France) might have only been a day long, but it was certainly one of the best conferences I had ever attended.
It was well-organised. – From the moment the speakers’ proposals were accepted to the day of the conference, key information was disseminated in good time, queries were answered before they were even asked, and the speakers were even sent photos of the rooms that they would be presenting in.
It was well-programmed. – Like many conference goers, I had become used to attending conferences where inevitably there would be talks that might make one feel like the opportunity cost was little high, to put it diplomatically. This conference had no such talks. Every single session I went to either gave me useful ideas to implement in my teaching or brought up certain issues that made me think. And from what I heard, the sessions that I was unable to attend due as they clashed with the sessions I went to were just as good (Eric Halvorsen, Vicky Loras, Michelle Hunter, Adrian Pilbeam, Nick Robinson, Ian McMaster & Deborah Capras: Sorry I couldn’t come to your sessions, but I have been hearing so many positive things about your sessions!) So kudos to the selection committee and to the presenters for that.
It was well-attended.– There were about 160 delegates at the conference venue attending the talks, but there were also some 70 delegates that had congregated in Argentina, Serbia, and Croatia, watching some of the talks simulcasted live into their conference rooms. On top of that, there were those who were watching the talks live from the comfort of their own homes through the Adobe Connect rooms. This meant that talks like mine which had the privilege of being simulcasted were able to engage not just the live audience in the room but also the audience in Argentina, Serbia, Croatis, and those online, involving them in the workshops and the discussions.
However, by well-attended, I’m not simply talking about the large numbers in the audience. I’m also talking about the ‘quality’ of the conference delegates. The BESIG Summer Symposium was attended by some of the most influential people in the TEFL industry, from the iconic Business English book writers and speakers like Evan Frendo, Pete Sharma, Marjorie Rosenberg, to the intercultural experts like Barry Tomalin and Adrian Pilbeam, to the online celebrities like Brad Patterson and Vicky Loras and the new generation of TEFL movers and shakers like Nick Robinson, Mike Hogan, and Bethany Cagnol (conference organizer and speaker).
For me, this conference was also about finally getting to meet up with some of the Twitter PLNers and Twitteratti in person (Christina @RebuffetBroadus, Eric @ESHalvorsen, Sue @SueAnnan, Vicky Loras @vickyloras, Brad Patterson @Brad5Patterson, Mieke @mkofab, and Carolyn @kerrcarolyn) and they are as marvellous if not more than their online presence!
Adding his own take to a mix of the dimensions and frameworks of Hofstede, Trompenaars and Richard Lewis, Barry creates the RADAR profile that helps us to learn about ourselves, before comparing our styles to others. Following some effective explanations and relevant examples, Barry had the audience first measure their expectations of business relationships by reflecting upon the following dimensions:
1. Are you more quality driven or cost/finance driven?
2. Are you more risk embracing or risk averse?
3. Do you prefer close contact or distance?
4. Are you more relationship driven or task driven?
We then measured our communication styles through the following:
1. Do you tend to be direct or indirect?
2. Do you often state your objectives before the reason or the background to a task before the objectives?
3. Do you tend to be formal or informal?
4. Are you more likely to be emotional or neutral?
Our organisational styles were measured according to the following:
1. Do you prioritise efficiency or effectiveness more?
2. Are you more time tight or time loose?
3. Do you tend to prefer top down or delegation?
4. Do you prefer individual decisions or team decisions?
Using framework provided by Barry, we marked out our answers to the above questions and then mapped it against the perceived styles of someone we work with, and considered the areas in which most gap was seen. Giving us the useful tip ‘Change 20% of your behaviour to get 80% of a change in the attitude towards you!’, Barry ended the session by encouraging us to think of a problem that we might have with another culture by going through the procedure he had taught us:
Identify your style;
Compare your style;
Manage your skills;
Judging from impressive attendance and the high levels of engagement, this session was certainly a resounding success. After a 15-minute coffee break, I managed to get a seat next to Christina Rebuffet-Broadus in one of the simulcasted talks, Pete Sharma ‘App-tivities for Business English’. Pete began by alerting us to several basic questions that we should ask ourselves about apps. Are they for the right platform? (Apple iPhone? Android? etc) Are they ELT apps or authentic apps? Do we need to pay for them? Is the app free-standing or does it need an internet connection to work?
He then went on to give us plenty of useful and exciting suggestions for teachers who own smart phones and iPads and would like to exploit their use more in the classroom. Here are some of them:
For listening practice, TED or BBC iPlayer.
For reading practice, newspaper apps can come in handy.
For pronunciation and familiarizing one with the IPE chart is Macmillan Sounds. The paid version comes with multiple activities for students.
Presentation tools like Brainshark or Prezi can be useful for the Business English Classroom
Prezi Viewer can help students to organise complex subjects like ‘culture’, ‘online learning’ or ‘the environment’.
Camera apps like Acrossair for geo-tagging, or Android apps like Google Goggles can provide information of one’s surroundings.
Screenchomp can turn our iPads into IWBs (Interactive White Boards)
Mindmapping software like Simple Mind can help our business clients with their tasks.
Fun and games like the British Council apps can motivate our learners.
Flashcode Reader reads QR codes. Using a QR code writer, a teacher can make treasure hunt clues, web quests, or simply send a students to an IELTS practice website.
Flashcard apps are widely available and can be used for vocab review
Pete’s book App-tivities is now in the labs of The Round, so we can go to www.theround/labs for a free sneak preview! Next up was Mike Hogan and Bethany Cagnol’s ‘Managing Your Brand as a Trainer’, where the freelancers and school owners in the audience were made to seriously think about their business plans and how much they invested in themselves and their brand. Asking the key question, ‘When people hear your name, what do they say? What does your brand say about you?’, Mike and Beth takes the audience through the different aspects of managing one’s brand, from professionalizing oneself by thinking about our niche markets and how we appear to our clients, to considering our online presence when a client or employer ‘Googles’ our name, to taking part in our clients’ conferences and courses/workshops, and even specialized training, so as to understand the environment our clients operate in.
Reflection clearly has a huge part to play when examining our brand. Amongst many other useful tips, the audience left the talk with the following questions resonating in their heads:
Are we able to present and negotiate our services with our clients?
Are we adapting to the changes in the market?
Are we investing in ways to boost the quality of what we offer?
Are we getting referred by our clients? If not, why not?
My talk was scheduled for the slot straight after lunch, so a few of us went to the nearby sandwich shop and I bought myself a ‘Skipper Sandwich’ with a chopped-up beef patty and fries between two chunks of bread, just to ensure that I would be as sleepy as my audience during my presentation.
As I often feel uncomfortable summarizing my own talks and presentations, let’s just simply say that my ‘Myths and Controversies in BE Teaching’ was largely based on the discussions that were had on the Devil’s Advocate interview here on chiasuanchong.com (see I’m trying to manage my brand! Mike and Beth would be so proud!). Polls were conducted both with the ‘studio audience’ and those watching from Argentina, Serbia and Croatia, and those at home, and we were able to get some very interesting discussions going. Thanks for participating, everyone!
The video of the talk will be up on besig.org soon! Another talk that was also simulcasted was Evan Frendo’s ‘Using Corpora in Materials Development’. Introducing the Hong Kong Corpus of Spoken English and the Enronsent Corpus for written corporate communication, Evan encourages us to get Wordsmith Tools, a concordancing tool that will enable us to analyse the corpora data using word lists and frequency lists. Keyword lists can also be another useful tool for ESP teachers as it helps us to find words that are significantly more frequent in a corpus when compared to another corpus. Demonstrating some possible uses of the corpora, Evan shows us the common collocates used when discussing a CNC machine, something guaranteed to be quite foreign to the lay person, highlighting the usefulness of a corpora to help us teachers become more familiar with the language our students’ need.
But using the corpora is not just for ESP teachers. The answer to the question “What is the difference between ‘going forward’ and ‘looking forward’?” can be found by simply looking up examples of use in the corpus data, therefore avoiding precarious situations that might arise from teachers guessing the use of certain lexis by using their instinct. Evan then ends his talk with an optimistic ‘Isn’t this what we do as Business English teachers? We analyse the language, and then we teach it.’ If only all BE teachers were this conscientious, Evan… Just before the closing plenary, Divya Brochier and Brad Patterson provided the audience with an interesting and useful way of encouraging speaking in the classroom with their presentation ‘Using Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats to Boost Conversation Classes’.
Illustrating the fact that some students are simply not very motivated to talk through a hilarious roleplay with Brad and Rakesh Bhanot playing bored business students (Bravo for that French accent! It was so real I almost forgot that you both weren’t French!), Divya and Brad that goes on to show us how the use of the Six Thinking Hats could solve this problem.
The White Hat: Unbiased fact
The Green Hat: Creativity and Growth
The Red Hat: Emotions
The Black Hat: Problems. The Devil’s Advocate.
The Yellow Hat: Optimism and solutions.
The Blue Hat: Organisation
So the next time your student says something to the tune of ‘I don’t know’ when you ask them to comment on Global Warming or some topic in a reading text, try move around the six hats instead: What are the facts? (White) How do you feel about it? (Red) What are some of the problems with this? (Black) What are some of the advantages/benefits? (Yellow) How can we move forward from here? (Green) How would you summarise what’s been said? (Blue)
The fantastic conference then came to an end with David Crystal’s closing plenary ‘Language and the Internet’. David sets the tongue-in-cheek tone of the plenary by asking if we were addicted to the Internet and whether we check our emails when we wake up at night to go to the toilet? Surveying the audience with the questions, ‘How many of you here blog?’, ‘How many of you here tweet?’, and ‘How many of you here are tweeting right now?’ (I had my hand up to all three questions), David jokes about the fact that there now exists Twitter Scores that indicate how many people are tweeting in your talk. Clearly, the more people who tweet, the more important you must be!
What was known as Computer Mediated Communication in the 1990s no longer seems to be an appropriate term as the distinction between phones and computers blur. We now talk about Electronic Digital Communication. In fact, the mobilization of the internet means that by 2020, 80% of access to the internet will be through mobile phones.
While adults criticize text messaging and text speak as the way young people are harming our language through abbreviations, David Crystal debunks this myth, stating that text messages are NOT full of abbreviations as only 10% of texts are abbreviated, and we are now seeing abbreviations die away in text-messaging perhaps due to the fact that the novelty has worn out. (One Twitterer tweeted as a response to this, saying that this could be due to the dominance of predictive texts…but I’m not sure if this applies to smartphone users).
Interestingly, using ‘U’ for ‘you’ and ‘c’ for ‘see’ have been around for at least two centuries, and the very parents that criticize today’s teenagers for abbreviating were probably just as guilty doing the same with acronyms like ‘SWALK’ (Sealed with a loving kiss) at the back of envelopes. More interestingly, the earlier one gets their mobile phone, the better a speller one turns out to be. Text messaging is upping our literacy and not harming it.
Defining the difference between electronic communication and the spoken language, David Crystal highlights that electronic communication features successive feedback as opposed to simultaneous feedback. But we can be rest assured that there has not been many changes to the lexicogrammar of our language even with the advance of the internet. Perhaps the most noticeable change is in orthography, i.e. spelling and punctuation, but even so, this is a marginal feature.
Moving on to Twitter, David shows how the move from asking ‘What are you doing now?’ to ‘What’s happening?’ has made tweets less introverted and less about ‘I’ and more about ‘they’. Twitter is now used for business and for reporting on the things that are happening around us.
Ending his talk with a bit on blogging, David entertains the audience with a little skit on ‘blue bottles’, demonstrating how the internet and blogging has led to the start of many romantic relationships between the online users who share a common interest. The one and a half hours flew by with David Crystal telling anecdote after anecdote that the audience could engage with and relate to, and making his points loud and clear, all without the help of any slides or notes. It was certainly an impressive and thoroughly enjoyable presentation, and a great way to end the BESIG Summer Symposium.
Here’s a fascinating interview David Crystal himself by the BESIG Online Team.
All that is left is to congratulate the winners of the BESIG first-time presenters’ Award Vicky Loras, Eric Halvorsen, and Luke Thompson and Andy Johnson, and it’s off to the nearest restaurant for some escargots and frog legs!
(For more photos of the BESIG Paris Summer Symposium by Mike Hogan, go here)
The last day of the conference began with Enric Llurda’s plenary ‘Policies and Attitudes to ELF : A southern European perspective’.
Multilingualism is a natural habitat in Europe (Murphy-Lejeune, 2002)
Myth 1 : One person – One Language
Myth 2: One country – One Language
This corresponds to the monolingualism ideology which leads to native speakerism.
Metaphor of the bridge for ELF –
ELF is a shared language which can connect people on two shores.
But actually, it’s a metaphor for EFL. The bridge is fixed and takes people from one shore always to the other shore and the destination is fixed.
So perhaps a better metaphor is that of a boat, that allows us to be flexible and takes us to different definitions. There are also different types of boats.
A necessary warning
ELF has to do with glabalisation = Englishization = Macdonaldization
Seidlhofer (2011) clearly differentiates Globish? from ELF.
ELF may be a global phenomenon but it’s always locally realized (Mortensen, 2012)
Here, Enric Llurda outlines his research into Catalan universities.
Language policy in Catalan universities
Problem 1: International students require course in English
Problem 2 Local students need to improve their English proficiency to go abroad
Solution courses offered in English (CLIL/EMI) [English as a Medium of Instruction]
If you look at the top 10 European institutions in 2007 academic world rankings, 8 of them have English as their main language. There is now an increase of English programmes in universities in Europe.
Due to a combination of a lack of skills in English, and lack of skills and will to learn by the international group might mean a possibility of Spanish becoming the lingua franca for the university. But this could be devastating for local language and damaging to the international ranking of the university.
Instead, the university should aim for trilingualism.
There was a significant different in English attitudes related to status. Students from high status families had more positive attitudes than medium and low. This might be associated with Dornyei’s (2008) ‘possible self’. No other language was affected by status.
When compared to the attitudes that students in University education, those in secondary education were dramatically different too. The attitudes towards Catalan and English were lower and attitudes towards Spanish were much higher.
International students came to the university to improve their Spanish, but there was also expectations of English being used as a medium of instruction. There were tensions and resistance to Catalan being used as a medium of instruction.
ELF can also lead one to an appreciation of other languages and multilingualism.
Catalan NNESTs’ self awareness
No need to be native-like in order to teach the language successfully
Students about to use English as international language
Knowledge of British culture preferred over local culture or European culture
NNESTs themselves would choose a NS teacher over themselves!
Other interesting findings
Lack of frequent opportunities for using English in interaction.
Significant impact of prolonged experience abroad on attitudes and self-perceptions – Those who had less contact with NSs and didn’t have as many opportunities to use the language were more ‘hooked’ on the NS model. Those who have been in England for a longer period of time were more open to different models of English.
Transformation due to interaction opportunities. They can be empowered through increased usage and better awareness of ELF.
Learners and parents often have the goal to become native-like. Parents are often willing to pay good money to give their children a ‘correct’ model
Users have the experience with a diversity of speakers of different origins and accents. They are aware of ELF and appropriate the language.
There is a growing awareness and people are starting to challenge notions that used to be taken for granted. There are effects of adding an ELF perspective into teacher training programmes.
He mentions Jeremy Harmer’s blog stating that ‘ learners need some standard to aim at’.
And the question then is – what standard should that be?
In a comment by Jim Smiley on Harmer’s blog, Jim appropriately says that it was about helping students to migrate from learner to user.
As a conclusion, he reminds us that change is on its way and teachers (both NS and NNS) can greatly contribute to it.
As Widdowson (2012) said, first to lead the change would be the community of language teachers and applied linguists.
Andy Kirkpatrick on ‘ELF in Asia – Roles and Implications’
Historically, Malay was a lingua franca, and Bahasa Indonesia and Putonghua (Chinese) were lingua francas in quite different ways. Only 2% spoke Bahasa Indonesia although it was adopted as first language in Indonesia in the 1940s. Today, more than 70% would say they speak Bahasa Indonesia. But this means that other Indonesian languages and cultures are under threat as a result.
Putonghua is completely different
China is multi-ethnic and multilingual.
54 official national minority groups speaking many more than 54 languages.
7 major Chinese languages (with many sub dialects etc)
The language of the powerful has been adopted as the lingua franca.
ASEAN represent political, cultural and historical diversity.
Local Asian students are only learning their language + English, and not learning regional languages.
The ASEAN Charter states that they aim to promote diversity but then states they want unity…which is often obtained at the expense of diversity.
Andy Kirkpatrick stresses that although English being used as a lingua franca in Asian is almost a truism, we must be careful of subtractive multi-lingualism.
David Graddol follows on from Kirkpatrick on ‘How Economic Change can shape the future of ELF’ by talking about the economic expansion in Asia, using the Pearl River Delta economy.
It is regarded as the factory of the world where a high proportion of the world’s electronic goods, garments, shoes, toys etc are made.
Foxconn, who assemble computers and phones (eg iPhone) employs 450,000 in Shenzhen
This economy is premised on the availability of huge numbers of cheap workers.
There is a close relationship between the SARS (HongKong, Macau) and the mainland border areas (especially SEX’s) such as Shenzhen.
CEFR Global Scale
Although we’ve been cruxifying CEF this conference, Graddol says it is revolutionary on its own because it focuses on ‘can-do’ statements and language skills.
Is the CEFR anglo-centric? Does it embody ideas about language learning which are rooted in the EFL experience? (50th anniversary of Haycraft’s Teacher Training course at IH London)
Is the CEFR too euro-centric? It is based on European contexts of language learning.
Is the CEFR based on the NS norms?
The history of the CEFR explains some of the current biases in the CEFR but more can be renegotiated than may be assured.
David Graddol then looks at how CEF is being renegotiated.
CEFR is intended to be an instrument which is defined locally for specific purposes
The CEFR levels are instantiated by particular course and exams.
The functional level descriptors are in principle (but not in practice) ELF-neutral
The ELF community could attempt new descriptors which embody ELF notions.
There is already currently a huge research project underway.
A1 Can understand and use basic phrases related to familiar topics if the other person talks slowly and helps.
A2 Can understand sentences and common expressinos can communicate in simple and direct exchange of information related to routine and familiar situations.
Both these A level descriptors suggest ELF phenomena, but note that bot A1 and A2 levels have been primarily thought of as learner levels, as opposed to L2 user levels.
Level B is defines as the ‘independent user’ i.e. the first level at which users can successfully negotiate meaning without relying on an interlocutor of higher proficiency for support.
C1 has emerged as the key threshold for professional communication. C1 users are able to manage meanings with precision, not always in interactive contexts, At present, NS norms appear strongly in descriptors at this level.
CEFR started with the B1 level and C level descriptors are only now being fully elaborated. Is there a role for ELF?
Many call-centre workers are recruited at B1, trained along the way to B2, and eventually with experience and time, get to C1. When we get choices on the phone e.g. ‘If you need xyz, Press 1. If you want to leave us, Press 2, etc’, we are then put through to different call centre workers with differing levels of English dependent on how difficult the negotiation is likely to be. This is due to the fact that managers need to consider how much they can pay their workers and may not afford higher level English speakers.
We are seeing a number of different economic trends, many of them demanding a high level of English.
The global economic is hastening the shift away from manufacturing towards services.
Primary sector jobs are dropping but this is the sector that doesn’t need ELF.
The Secondary sector grew but is now declining.
What is growing is the Quartenary sector, and here, high levels of English competence is needed.
Interestingly, people who have A and C levels of the CEFR is increasing in demand, and it is the ones with the B levels which are less needed.
Does this mean that mid-intermediate students suffering from ‘mid-int-nigtis’ need to buck up and get to C1?