Referring to your question, I really enjoyed the whole course you taught but if you ask me to choose, I think the part about the Theory of Multiple Intelligences was the most interesting to me.
I had heard a little about it before, but I didn't know how to use it effectively in the class and you gave us plenty of ideas and practice that are easily adapted for all levels. As for the rest, unfortunately we don't have very high levels and it's difficult for us to be able to work with all the new approaches you dealt with. However, as a teacher, I learnt a lot and all the areas in the course brought new light to my job.
I hope to meet you again some time.
) Itīs true that Iīve got very nice memories from my course at Pilgrims. It was a very good experience for me, as almost all my partners had more teaching experience than me and more fluency at the time of speaking in English and therefore I could also learn a lot from them, too.
The aspects of the course that were more appealing to me were: The Lexical Approach, Corpus Linguistics, Spoken Grammar and Written Grammar, Teaching through art, The theory of multiple intelligences and task based teaching. These are aspects that can be (and some of them in fact have already been) applied in my lessons and that work well with most students.
I hope that my humble contribution and reflection is valuable for you.
Here I am again,as I promised.Iīve been thinking about your questios and
going through my course notes again and I think Iīm now ready to tell you
what ideas,principles or activities have been especially useful to me since
the new school year began last September.
To begin with,I must say that on the whole the course was very stimulating,thanks both to the high interest of most of the contents and to the possibility of exchanging views with other teachers who provided me with new ideas and new ways to do things.Then Iīd like to point out an obvious fact:any teaching practice is limited or influenced by the teacherīs personality and by the studentsīcharacter as a group.I mean that there are things I just canīt bring myself to doing in the classroom because itīs just not in me to do them.For instance,I know e-learning is a powerful teching tool,but I donīt feel confident with computers and therefore I only use the net to extract materials or find information,which I know is a pitiful limitation.Then the type of students you have to teach must be considered when fixing targets and planning lessons. This year I am teaching those twelve-year-old supposedly bilingual students I think I told you about. They have been taught at least two subjects in English since they first went to primary school and show a high level of communicative competence,though their command of the English grammar is rather limited.But I try not to tech them any grammar as such. Instead we do projects or lessons on different
topics (London,famous writers,a bit of history...) so that they learn grammar accuracy spontaneously.Thatīs why,of course,I find CLIL essential for this type of learner.There has traditionally been too much grammar teaching in the English classroom,at least in Spain,and I think that learning the language as you learn IN the language is the future.
Other aspects I have found practical and efficient are the use of painting cards or other images,as they are easy to prepare and can be applied to different purposes,task-based teaching,which gives the learners a clear aim and clear rules,and the possibility of exploiting texts or other materials from different points of view geography, history, economics, morals....). As you can see,all these points share the basic principle of teaching something
else together with the language. Also the idea of using non-grammar language for short messages or everyday communication seemed brilliant to me, again because it reinforces the feeling that grammar is not everything.
I could mention other course contents that I found interesting,such as the use of music or even just noise to ellicit language practice,but I havenīt really used that in the classroom so far and I think this message is already long enough as it is.I could try to be more specific on any particular point if you want me to give you some more details,so please feel free to ask any
questions or make any comments the next time you write.
As far as the afternoon and evening sessions at Pilgrims,I am afraid I was too tired to attend any of the 4 oīclock lectures or workshops (I just needed a nice walk,a cup of coffee and a pipe then),and the evening sessions with Phil Dexter or other teachers were really amusing and relaxing, but not very useful for the classroom,All along the two weeks we were there,I had the feeling that I had learned enough in the morning and I deserved a rest
Thanks again for everything.I hope you donīt find this message too long or
too dissapointing and I look forward to hearing from you again.
All the best
Good to hear about your new venture with HTL Magazine. I will be more than happy to contribute with an article on methodology or teaching ideas. Just let me know about the requirements. Kind of intimidating to be mingling with the likes of the Rinvolucris and
Davises of the world...
Things about the summer course that have helped me. As I mentioned in the other email, it made me aware of the good initiatives I had and that it was a good moment to reflect and gather everything and file it properly. I like the humanistic approach and interaction in the clasroom. I don't look at my students like my customers or like a bunch of people that need to be taught or want to be taught but like people I want to have a relationship with, people I
need to understand in order to reach them better. The course made me aware that I was overemphasizing the linguistic intelligence -we were taught that way- and that I needed to experiment a little more with movement in the classroom. The students love inner circle-outer circle. My approach towards vocabulary teaching has been rerouted. Whenever there are
vocabulary drills in the textbook I ask the students to do them at home. Then I give them the answers and we discuss in class. Then I prepare a barrage of activities addressing the different multiple intelligences that help them practice those words. Finally, I have more common sense. The classroom is a place to, above all, practice. Modern times and technology allow the learner plenty of autonomy. You can practically self-teach a language at home. But you
still need people to interact and have a sense of purpose. One of the activities I do that the students love is this one. I get my cell phone out and call my wife - she is a native speaker. I put my phone on speakers mode so everyone can hear and a student holds out a conversation in English (we normally practice whatever we are dealing with, whether it is some specific vocabulary or situations, a particular topic of conversation). As they have a conversation I write out on the board key words from the conversation. You could call this a "living corpus" if you will. They get really excited about having a conversation with a native speaker and practice what they learned only 5 minutes ago. The ramifications and exploitations of
this activity are endless. I have many good ideas for follow-ups. Let me know if you are interested. The thing is every teacher has somebody to call for 5 minutes. It doesn't have to be a native speaker really. It could be another teacher, you could call next door's classroom. As a student of let's say German I could be having a conversation with a German teacher from Spain. Obviously, his/her German is far better than mine. If I'm learning German my
conversations are not always going to be with native speakers. If I went to Poland, for instance, I might be able to communicate in German with some people over there (hotels, restaurants, in the street, socializing in a bar, a business meeting...). Anyway, let's keep
I have just read your message and you canīt imagine what a surprise and what a pleasure it has been to hear from you after all these months.The truth is that I had thought of sending you a message quite often, but a mixture of shyness and laziness had prevented me from doing it so far. Now I have the perfect excuse to tell you how much I enjoyed the course at Pilgrims, not only because I found most of the contents very inspiring and useful, but also because you were able to create a wonderful atmosphere among the group, so the sessions became someting rather infrequent: enjoyable work. (
) Thanks a lot for everything you did for us in Canterbury
Editorial: July and August are the months of Pilgrims courses at the Hilltop in Canterbury. For many his is the time of unique professional, social and cultural experiences. This is the time special memories are forged for many. Here are some memories from Pilgrims, letters from teachers who attended the same Pilgrims course summer 2005. These are their personal course outlines and outcomes.