Hi and welcome to the ELT Digest. In this monthly email we take a look back at what happened in the last month and what’s coming up in the near future.
What’s going on with you these days, Tim Hampson?
This month Tim was in the hot seat for ‘What’s going on with you these days, ________?’ Tim talked a bit about the, so far fairly unsuccessful, launch of our online school Practical English. Tim says, “It was an interesting experience getting to do our own show. It was useful for me personally to get a chance to reflect and I appreciated the discussion afterwards too.” You can check out the recap below. If you haven’t yet, also take a look at Tim’s book on teaching conversation.
Is creativity really a 21st century skill?
If you’ve spent much time talking to Tim or Mike, you have probably heard a rant or two about how ‘21st century skills’ is a meaningless buzzword and that most of these skills were equally relevant last century. This article presents a far less ranty version of the same point of view and is a good read. Let’s hope they do ‘glocal’ next.
Back with another one of those blockrocking blogs
It’s great to see a blogger you really like post for the first time in a while, so we were happy to see Anna Loseva’s new post about finding a reflective community in English language teaching. We agree wholeheartedly that it’s important to be proactive in fostering community (although we think maybe mailing lists are good, actually! – Tim).
You might also be interested to see Mike reentering the blogosphere with two new posts. Tim is hopeful that two blog posts a week apart might be the start of a new pattern. Go check em out (and then go and tell Mike you want weekly posts – Tim).
The NATESOL conference on the 15th of May caught our eye this month. We’re always happy to see a conference costing less than a fancy coffee. While we’ve not been to a NATESOL conference before, it looks like it will have a good mix of the practical and the academic and a wide range of topics too.
Beliefs about online learning with Mike Griffin
For this month’s workshop on the 16th, we’ll be joined by Mike who will help participants discuss and consider beliefs about online learning. This is a session we’ve been meaning to run for a while, so it’s exciting that it’s finally happening. We’ll send out a Zoom link to our mailing list closer to the date. You can sign up Here is the abstract:
“Online classes must be synchronous” and “Students must show their faces at all times during online classes.” These are just two of the beliefs circulating (perhaps uncritically) in the current discourse in ELT worldwide about online teaching. Back in the previous century, in 1999, Kathleen Graves wrote, “Most teachers don’t have opportunities to make their beliefs explicit because the institutions in which they work do not generally ask them to articulate their beliefs nor do they place a value on such articulation.” This might be even more true in the current era and an aim of this session is to carve out a time and place for such articulations, in this case related to online teaching. Through considering and discussing a range of statements about online teaching and learning participants will have a chance to make their beliefs explicit and in doing so gain a deeper understanding of their own (perhaps unconscious) thinking about online teaching. By encountering and examining statements of belief topics such as homework, motivation, synchronous vs. asynchronous classes, rapport, teacher presence, grading, and teacher well-being participants will be able to uncover their own beliefs on these issues. Participants can expect to walk away with a clearer sense of their own beliefs along with some questions to consider about their beliefs in relation to online teaching practices.
We’ll also be hosting a ‘What’s going on with you these days, _______?’ session on the 26th. Keep an eye out for our announcement closer to the date.
Content consumer corner
The Mosquito Coast
The Mosquito Coast is a new drama that is coming out on Apple TV. Tim is a sucker for unnecessarily over the top cinematography, and Apple’s drone footage budget was obviously burning a hole in someone’s pocket. The plot and the acting also seem pretty good so far and there are some interesting mysteries that Tim wants to know the answer to so much, he’s considering buying the book it’s based on.
Some music is great to put on in the background, and some music demands your attention. Since the first lockdown, Tim has found himself too easily distracted to do much of the latter, but he made an exception for this wonderful bit of jazz that floats along beautifully for 45 minutes.