( …) I've just read Mario's reply to the BE FAIR piece Paul Bress wrote for HLT in May. Fairness is a big issue: a recent survey among school kids in the US mentioned fairness as the second top quality of best teachers originality being the first. (And we think kids are a bunch of dupes). So both pieces timely. Thank you, Hania, for your good editorial nose.
I see a difference here: I believe that you can ADDRESS every single individual in a group differently, while still providing fair, equal treatment to everyone at the same time. People run on different gears and you just have to be aware of this immense diversity at all times. So equal treatment in terms of TALKING to the people in the same manner is sheer non-sense.
I wouldn't ask a bunch of Japanese students to do an exercise on what they do best for example, because this would be culturally inappropriate BUT what I do with them and the way I address them wouldn't impinge on fairness and other criteria.
Dealing with introverted students and the extroverted ones in the same group has to be different: the former shy away from the spotlight, the latter scream for it. But treating them equally is a must. So different ways of addressing people on a micro level, but same treatment on a macro-level, I think that's how I would put it. (…)
I've just got back from the centre of the world - 3 day conference in Ecuador! The teachers were so keen - and had put so much effort into organising this first event in their region it was inspiring - and the networking has already broken down some regional barriers and produced a real desire among some of the different universities to co-operate in on-going training.
Here is some more information about the event. I believe the seminar deserves some international professional recognition.
Ecuador: Brain-friendly Learning of English Conference - The Ist International Seminar on Learning with the Whole Brain took place in June at the Escuela Politecnica del Ejercito, hosted by the languages Department of Latacunga University, (Director Janeth Pilar Lopez). Within sight of the dramatic snow capped cone of the highest volcano in the world, Cotopaxi, this significant event brought together teachers and Heads of Department from many universities and schools. It was led by Mark Fletcher MA (Oxon), Learning Consultant to the OISE Group, who gave lively, informative and amusing inter-active lectures on the subjects of ‘Your Amazing Brain’, ‘Study Skills for Students’, ‘Communicative teaching of Grammar’, ‘Active Vocabulary’, ‘Bringing Text to Life’, and ‘Fun with Phonology’. In a very dynamic and practical seminar format, these lectures were followed by workshops facilitated by ESPE staff members and by Luke Fletcher of Embassy London, in which teachers related and adapted the input to their own situations. These workshops led on to plenary sessions in which the benefits gained were shared by all the participants.
Colourful traditional dances and a special Ecuadorian food festival combined to make the event a great celebration and experience for all concerned. Very importantly, the inter-university networking which took place ensures that this first Seminar will be a springboard for future events to influence Teacher Training and the further development of education in the country.
Thank you so much for informing us of the latest news about HLTM and the courses at Pilgrims. It has been a long time since we last met, and if mind doesn't trick me, it was when Paul and you were in Bodrum. Hope u r doing well and all is fine on your side. I have looked at courses that Pilgrims are offering and have found them very useful and to the point. Yet there is something I have been wondering for years: Why don't we put up courses on "Classroom Management"? All thru my career life I have attended seminars, conferences, training courses, trainer courses, etc. and none I have encountered. I did many workshops both at home and abroad (Israel, Greece) on Classroom Management and all the teachers attended my workshop said it was really a neglected issue in ELT. You know a teacher might be well-armed with all the teaching skills and knowledge, yet if they are not able enough to conduct the "orchestra" (class) then it is quite likely to have some cacophony. Of course classroom management is the umbrella term and underneath are many sub topics like facilitating positive discipline in the classroom, giving instructions, eliciting an answer, handling an unexpected situation, etc.
more thing I would like to say about the writing courses. In all EFL settings writing is regarded as the most problematic skill and teachers have difficulty getting their students involved in writing, for they say, or the students themselves say they have no idea about what to write. As if this is not enough, they are asked to write essays, compositions (persuasive, argumentative, cause and effect, etc.) yet they are not capable of writing proper statements, yes they have problems at sentence level. So what I offer is that we should design a writing course starting from sentence level and gradually reaching paragraph and then composition. I think such a course aiming to design a syllabus based on "From sentence to essay" would be most useful for teachers in their creating own syllabus since there is no writing book starting from sentence and ending up with essay.
Thank you very much for asking our opinion and wish you good luck with your studies. You are doing a great job at HLTMag!
Mahir Sarigul, Maltepe University, Istanbul
I have attended your courses three times and have recommended them to my colleagues. Two of them have attended your courses with great enthusiasm.
I have seen your programmes for 2008. I will not attend this summer but hope to attend your course next year if I can get EU funding. This time I would like to attend a course like 'Dealing with difficult learners’. For the time being I am particularly interested in these kinds of students. I have just attended a course about 'mentoring' to be better qualified and I think this Pilgrims course would be a very suitable. I hope your will also run it next year.
( …) perhaps one should call it HIT Humanising Inspirational Teaching...yes, indeed I am reading HLT for inspiration. Doesn't everyone!
Could I suggest you to change the name of HLT? I see that on your site it is only HUMANISING LANGUAGE TEACHING whereas it should be 'Humanising Language Teaching Magazine’. Could I suggest you to add the word 'Magazine' to it?
I think it would have a good impression on the writers and readers as well. Most of the students and teachers here in my area consider it just a website.
Regards Muhammad Iqbal