‘A Challenging Conversation’ ACT I SCENE I

CAST

  • Teacher: British, male, late 20s
  • Student A: Korean, male, late 20s, graphic designer, high-beginner
  • Student B: Korean, female, early 20s, economics student, pre-intermediate
  • Student C: Korean, male, mid 20s, university student, devout Christian, beginning
  • Student D: Korean, female, mid 20s, university student, intermediate

ACT I SCENE I

(Based on real events)

Int. A modern language school in South Korea. A large classroom. It’s 7pm, and the place is semi-busy. The TV at the front of the class is showing a news report from the BBC about a massacre at a school in Pakistan. Three students crowd around the TV, watching, trying to see if they can understand all of the words that flash up on the screen. The Teacher enters, there are three tables of 4-5 students. It’s a discussion class, but the students are already in discussion. Without introducing himself, the Teacher goes and sits at a table with Students A, B, C, D.

Student B has her iPad out, and is showing student A images from a recent trip to Morocco. Students C and D are watching on silently. Teacher sits down between Students A and B.

TEACHER: May I sit here? 

STUDENT BSure… (looks back to Student A) this is the desert in Morocco. There is nothing there. It’s all desert.

STUDENT AYou can’t see anything. Is it hot?

STUDENT BYes. Very hot. Mmm.

STUDENT AWhy do you go to Morocco?

STUDENT BI want to see the new place.

STUDENT ADo you have experience of another country?

STUDENT BYes. I went to Paris.

STUDENT AFor a vacation?

STUDENT BNo. Exchange student.

STUDENT AWow. You can speak French?

STUDENT BNo, my classes were English. I was the worst student. I can’t speak English. I hated my school.

STUDENT AI want to go to Paris.

STUDENT BParis is beautiful.

STUDENT AI want to go to the Eiffel Top.

STUDENT BAh, no… Eiffel Tower is dangerous.

STUDENT ADangerous? … Ah, you mean the gypsies?

Teacher looks at Student A with a confused expression.

STUDENT BUmm…

STUDENT AMany people steal things at the Eiffel Top.

STUDENT BAh, you mean black face man?

STUDENT AYes. Gypsies. Lots of gypsies.

TEACHER: (To Student A) Do you mean thieves?

STUDENT AYes. Gypsies. Thieves.

TEACHER: Oh, I think you can just call them thieves.

STUDENT BBlack face man… black man. (To Teacher) can I say black face… black man.

TEACHER: Umm.. well what do you mean?

STUDENT BMan with a black face. Is it okay to say black man?

TEACHER: Well, you can say black man, but I don’t understand why you want to say it.

STUDENT BNear, the Eiffel Tower, there are lots of black men. I can say black man?

TEACHER: You can, but I don’t know why you want to say it, because he (Teacher gestures towards Student A) is talking about thieves…

STUDENT A…so many gypsies…

TEACHER: …and you are talking about black people. You can say black people, but why are you connecting the two?

STUDENT BNear the Eiffel Tower there are many black men.

TEACHER: So, are you saying that black people are thieves?

STUDENT BNot all, but in Paris many thieves are black people.

TEACHER: Hmm.. OK. I think you need to be careful?

STUDENT BReally? Why?

TEACHER: Well, when he is talking about thieves, and then you talk about black people, it kind of sounds likes you are saying that black people are thieves. I don’t think that’s fair. Some black people might be thieves, but some white people are thieves and some Asian people are thieves too. Black people aren’t thieves. Thieves are thieves.

STUDENT BOh. Yes. It’s not black people. I will be careful. Thank you… Hmm… I see… (Student B sits there contemplating what Teacher has just said).

STUDENT ABut the Eiffel Top is dangerous. Because of gypsies.

STUDENT BYes.

TEACHER: I think any place where there are many tourists can be dangerous. Even in Seoul, there are thieves.

STUDENT BAh YES! Sydney. Australia. Sydney is very dangerous.

STUDENT DWhy?

STUDENT BThe Muslims. The Muslims are a problem.

STUDENT DYou mean the attacker in the cafe yesterday?

STUDENT BYes. These days Muslims cause a lot of problems.

TEACHER: Whoa! It’s not Muslims who are causing the problem.

STUDENT BIslams?

TEACHER: No. It’s not Muslims or people who follow Islam that are creating the problem.

STUDENT BBut he was Islam…

TEACHER: OK. The gunman in that cafe was Muslim, yes. But how many Muslims are there in Australia?

STUDENT DI don’t know… a million?

Teacher thinks about that answer for a moment, knows it’s not correct but decides to go with it any way.

TEACHER: OK. So let’s say there are a million Muslims in Australia. How many gunmen were there in the cafe? One right. There was only one. That’s one out of a million! It’s not the Muslims.

STUDENT BSo, Islams are not a problem?

TEACHER: I don’t think it’s Muslims who are a problem. It’s terrorists.

STUDENT CMuslims are right. Right. You know right? Muslims are right. Korea is right. Muslims more right Korea.

TEACHER: But you can’t blame Muslims. I think the media is not always fair on Muslims. You know yesterday, there was another shooting in Pennsylvania in the US?

STUDENT BPens…?

TEACHER: Pennsylvania. It’s a state in the US. It’s a place in the US. There was a shooting there yesterday.

The Students look blankly at the Teacher

TEACHER (cont): Did you hear about the shooting in the US?

STUDENT DNo.

TEACHER: OK. So there was also another shooting in the US yesterday. A gunman killed 5 or 6 people. This is also terrible, right? But in the newspapers, they talked about the man from Sydney as a Muslim gunman, but in the US, they only said gunman or attacker. Do you think that’s fair?

STUDENT CI don’t understand. What does he say? (Turns to Student D) Can you translate what he says?

STUDENT DUmm.. I don’t know his point exactly.

TEACHER: So, I’m trying to say that when a Muslim person does something bad, the news always says his religion. But if it’s another person, if it’s a Christian, they never say a Christian attacker. It’s only when it’s a Muslim.

STUDENT CTeacher, are you Muslim?

(The Students burst into laughter, with the exception of Student C)

TEACHER: No, I’m not. I’m not a Muslim.

(More laughter. Again except for Student C)

STUDENT C: Sorry, teacher. Sorry… Sorry. I just wonder.

TEACHER: It’s OK. Honestly. Don’t worry.

STUDENT CSorry. I just think… why you protect Islam?

TEACHER: Well, Muslims are not terrorists. Terrorists are terrorists.

STUDENT BWhat is different Muslim and Islam?

TEACHER: Well, Islam is the religion and a Muslim is the person who follows Islam. At least I think that’s correct. I’m not 100% sure.

STUDENT BAh okay. It’s not the same?

STUDENT CWhat he say?

(Student C stand up, and moves to a seat directly next to Student B so that he is closer to the conversation.)

STUDENT D(To Teacher) So, are you a Christian?

TEACHER: No. I’m not a Christian.

STUDENT BYou are atheist?

STUDENT C(To Student B) What?

STUDENT B(Translates into Korean)

TEACHER: Umm… well, not really. I think people might call me an agnostic?

STUDENT CWhat is it?

TEACHER: I don’t believe in God, and I don’t think there is a God. But I really don’t know.

STUDENT DSo, you don’t care?

TEACHER: It’s not that I don’t care. Rather, I just don’t think we can ever know. I’m interested in other people’s opinions. But I don’t think that there is anything higher up. I am happy to accept other people have opinions and I think it is absolutely right for other people to believe different things.

STUDENT CIn UK. Christian is not strong.

TEACHER: Umm.. what do you mean?

STUDENT CI heard Christian is not strong in UK. In Korea, Christian very strong. But UK not many Christian.

TEACHER: Ah. Well, I think a lot of people say they are Christian in the UK, but not all of them go to church or practice Christianity.

STUDENT CWhy?

TEACHER: Good question. Umm, I don’t know.

STUDENT CMany Muslims in your country?

TEACHER: There are more than there are in Korea.

STUDENT CHow many?

TEACHER: I don’t know. I can find out if you like.

(Without waiting for an answer Teacher pulls out his phone and types ‘Religion in UK’ into Google. He clicks on the first link which takes him to a Wikipedia entry that contains pie charts breaking down the different religions in the UK.)

TEACHER (cont): So it says here that 4.4% of the population in the UK follow Islam.

(Teacher shows the phone to Students C and B)

TEACHER (cont): And it looks like almost 60% of people are Christian.

STUDENT C(Surprised) That’s more Korea! I heard Christian not strong in UK.

TEACHER: Yes. As I say, many people say that they are Christian, but they don’t really do anything.

STUDENT CHow many Muslim?

TEACHER: See here, it says 4.4% of people are Muslim.

STUDENT CHow many people?

TEACHER: Umm… There are 63 million people in the UK, so I don’t know. How many is that?

STUDENT CMany! Surprised. I don’t know Muslim in UK.

TEACHER: There are a lot of different cultures and religions in the UK.

STUDENT BIs there a temple in the UK. I never seen a temple in the UK.

TEACHER: I don’t know. There might be.

STUDENT CNo Buddhism in UK.

TEACHER: Well, actually my mother is a Buddhist, so there are some in the UK.

STUDENT BSo there is a temple?

TEACHER: Well, not for my mother’s type of Buddhism. It’s different from Korean Buddhism. She follows a Buddhism from Japan.

STUDENT COh.

TEACHER: They don’t have temples.

STUDENT ADoes she have a … (points to his wrist).

TEACHER: Oh, you mean beads. She doesn’t wear beads on her wrist, but she does have some beads that she holds in her hand (Teacher puts his hands together and rubs). When she chants she rubs the beads. It’s a bit different from Korea.

STUDENT CYou are Buddhist?

TEACHER: No. I’m not Buddhist. Only my mother is.

STUDENT COh, most people follow parents religion.

TEACHER: I think a lot of people do, but not always. Actually my mother became a Buddhist when I was 10. But she never made us become a Buddhist too.

STUDENT COh. Why?

TEACHER: I think I’m a bit more independent. My mother said I could choose.

STUDENT CI think you are very… (Korean word)

STUDENT B(Translating) stubborn…?

STUDENT CStubborn.

STUDENT BStubborn… is that right?

TEACHER: I don’t know.

STUDENT BStrong? Stubborn?

STUDENT DI think just independent. Strong mind.

STUDENT BBut Muslims. You must be careful.

(Teacher rolls his eyes)

STUDENT B (cont)My friend in Rome. Very dangerous. They attacked her.

STUDENT AWho?

STUDENT BTwo Muslims. With a knife.

STUDENT DReally?

STUDENT BShe is walking down the street. Two Muslims hold the knife.

STUDENT DHow do you know they are Muslims?

STUDENT BThey are wearing hi… (She stops to think. Draws an imaginary circle with her finger around her face) hijab. They put the knife to her. (She gestures holding a knife and pointing it at her chest).

STUDENT D(laughs) Really? A knife? Maybe they just want to cut some bread. Maybe they want to give her the knife.

STUDENT BNo. They tell her come with me.

STUDENT AIs she OK?

STUDENT BYes. She ran away.

TEACHER: Where was this? Rome?

STUDENT BYes. Rome. Two Muslims put the knife to her and say you must come with me. But she ran away.

STUDENT DHow?

STUDENT BShe screamed and shouted a lot. Some foreigners saw her and they helped her run away.

TEACHER: Foreigners?

STUDENT BYes, people in Rome. Local people.

TEACHER: I see.

STUDENT BShe ran away. But scared. Muslims are dangerous. Be careful.

TEACHER: I don’t think it’s fair to say that Muslims are dangerous. This means all Muslims are dangerous. But they are not. I think some people are dangerous.

STUDENT BBut they are Muslim.

TEACHER: Yes. I understand that. But do you remember back in 2007, there was a man who went into a university in the US and killed lots of people?

STUDENT CWhat does he say?

STUDENT BAh, you mean Korean?

TEACHER: Yes. He was Korean. He killed more than 30 people at a university in the US.

STUDENT AReally?

TEACHER: Yes. But even though he was Korean, people didn’t go around saying that Korean people are dangerous. It was just one person. He was crazy, but we have to be careful.

STUDENT BOh, I see. Korean people.

TEACHER: Right. If we judge people on one crazy person’s actions, it can be dangerous.

STUDENT CWhat he mean?

STUDENT BIn America, a Korean man killed many people.

STUDENT CReally?

TEACHER: Anyway, my time is up here. I have to go an speak to some other students. It was nice talking to you.

STUDENTS (together): Bye.

Fade to Black


 

 

Comments/criticisms/observations are welcome.

  • How did Teacher react to the situation?
  • Should he have engaged students on such controversial topics?
  • Is it an EFL teacher’s place to explain things (as he/she sees them) to students?
  • Should Teacher have tried to steer the conversation away from these topics?
  • Have you ever had a conversation like this?
  • Is Teacher too opinionated?
  • What did Teacher do wrong?
  • What should Teacher do differently next time?
  • What is the purpose of discussion classes in the EFL classroom?

Linguistic Landscapes in Korea (and Wales)

I’d never heard of the term ‘Linguistic Landscape’ until the announcement of this week’s #KELTchat. You can read more about it over on the #KELTchat page, which also includes some links to other places, such as Scott Thornbury’s A-Z blog, which includes the following handy description:

refers to the visibility and salience of languages on public and commercial signs in a given territory or region. It is proposed that the linguistic landscape may serve important informational and symbolic functions as a marker of the relative power and status of the linguistic communities inhabiting the territory (Landry and Bourhis, 1997: 23).

Anyone who’s visited Korea knows that you can’t walk 5 feet (that’s 1.5 metres meters) without seeing English somewhere, some of it okay, some of it more questionable. I’ve often wondered what the purpose of English on (some) signs was. I can understand the use of it on corporations such as McDonald’s, KFC, etc. who are foreign companies, often American. But what about the small Korean companies, the ones who don’t really offer anything to English speaking people, who don’t trade overseas? Why do they use English on their signs?

I was once asked by a Korean colleague to check a slogan that had been written in English. I wish I could remember what it was, but I can’t. All I can remember is that it made no sense. I asked her where it had come from and why she wanted me to check it. Her boyfriend, whose English was quite poor, had recently started working for a medium-large Korean company. Because he was new, one of his first tasks was to come up with a slogan, in English, that was to be placed on some promotional material. I had no idea what the product was, or the purpose for the slogan. Only that it needed to be in English. I tried my hardest to find out what it was for, but no luck. Even the boyfriend didn’t fully understand what he was supposed to write. Perhaps this is indicative of that attitude (of some) in Korea towards English. It’s there to look pretty, but is it really important if it is correct or not? However the same might be said about other languages in the UK, such as when this teenager found out she’d had ‘supermarket’ tattooed on to her belly instead of her boyfriend’s name.

The following are just a collection of pictures that I just happened to have stored on my phone from the past year.

 

March Mom's Touch Kyobo Dog do

 

This is quite a common site in Korea. When new restaurants are being built/refurbished, a lot of the signs outside are displayed in English.

This is quite a common site in Korea. When new restaurants are being built/refurbished, a lot of the signs outside are displayed in English.

I also find this McDonald's near where I live quite interesting.  All of the signage for the drive-thru is in English.

I find this McDonald’s near where I live quite interesting. All of the signage for the drive-thru is in English.

This KFC one caught my attention during the World Cup. For a country that is quite nationalistic, especially when it comes to soccer/football, I find it amusing that KFC's support for the team is in English.

This KFC one caught my attention during the World Cup. For a country that is quite nationalistic, especially when it comes to soccer/football, I find it amusing that KFC’s support for the team is in English.

Babies are beautiful

The hospital where my son was born had English signs and phrases throughout. All of the promotional pictures that were on the walls also seemed to feature white women.

When H&M opened in Daegu, I saw this poster with the spelling 'favourite'.

When H&M opened in Daegu, I saw this poster with the non-American spelling ‘favourite’, which I find to be quite rare here.

Some of these businesses, especially those featured at the top, may be excused for their incorrect use of English. However, there are probably some companies in Korea, you know, whose business is selling the English language, who shouldn’t really be able to get away with putting out mistake-ridden English.

'Grand Opening' would really be better, if you really have to use the phrase.

‘Grand Opening’ would really be better, if you really have to use the phrase.

Obviously not for the punctuation practice.

Obviously not for the punctuation practice.

Hmm...

Hmm…

For me, growing up in Wales, bilingual signs were normal. You might think, that given how 47.3% of people living in Ceredigion (where I grew up) speak Welsh, it would be quite important to get it it right on public signs. Unfortunately, it turns out that’s not always the case. Only this week were two supermarkets guilty of putting up signs that used incorrect Welsh. Tesco thought that ATMs were the place to offer free erections, and then a few days later, Asda mistakenly used Scottish Gaelic instead of Welsh.

Starbucks hasn’t done any better in Aberystwyth, the same town as the Tesco supermarket above. While it is not the first Starbucks in Korea, it is the first to adopt Welsh over English in the store – at least in theory. Unfortunately, the majority of the signs just didn’t really make that much sense.

This last one, however, is probably my favourite translation mistake of all time, made by the council in South Wales, no less. While the English part of the sign was correct, the Welsh translation below was in fact an auto-response message, telling the sender that the recipient was out of the office.

JAC35

Landry, R. and Bourhis, R. (1997) ‘Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: an empirical study’, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 16,  1.

Where am I from? An identity crisis?

**See UPDATE below**

If you’re following David Crystal on Twitter, you may have seen lots of talk about potatoes in the last few days. I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about, until @ELF_Pron tweeted about this post yesterday.

Ben Crystal (David Crystal’s son) and David Crystal have recently released a book called You say potato: A book about accentsTo tie in with the book, the Crystals have been asking people from around the world to record themselves saying the word ‘potato’ and to note where they are from. All of the recordings are uploaded and added to a map on Macmillan’s website for everyone to see.

Potato Map

Most of the recordings come from the UK, probably because of the appearances that Ben and David Crystal have been making on daytime television over there in the last few days.

So, I thought I’d give it a go and add my voice, but then I noticed something. The website says that you should record yourself saying: “This is how I say potato and I come from / live in [location]”. And this is where I got stuck – what should I insert as my location? I’ve been in Korea for the last 7 years, in a city called Daegu. Should I mention that? Surely not, after all, this is a survey about accents. I don’t speak Korean, and I don’t speak with a Korean accent. So saying I live in Korea can’t be what they’re after. At the time of writing, only one entry from Korea has been posted, by ‘Jimin’ – a Korean.

So, where to say I’m from? I grew up in West Wales between the ages of 6 to 21, mostly in and around a little town called Aberaeron to be exact, and later Aberystwyth, 16 miles up the road, where I went to university.

Aberaeron

I grew up speaking Welsh as my second language, and despite not having actually spoken it for the last 10 years, could probably still use it conversationally (don’t test me, please). But, I never adopted the Welsh accent. Sure there were (probably not so much now now) a few words that had a Welsh twang to them, especially when speaking with other Welsh speakers, but I’d never say I had a Welsh accent. So, should I say that I’m from Aberaeron/West Wales? I guess it’s the closest thing I’d call to a hometown, but again, this survey is about accents, so it doesn’t quite sound right to say I’m from West Wales, because I don’t speak with a Welsh accent.

You see, I’m not Welsh. I was born in a town called Guildford – about 45 minutes south of London. At least, I think it’s about 45 minutes south of London because I’ve only ever been there a handful of times, when I was much younger. I remember some things from my very early childhood, living in England, but not much. My mother’s from the South of England, and so I do quite broadly speaking talk with a southern English accent. But it feels uncomfortable to say that I’m from Guildford, because I’m not. I’ve never lived there. I know there’s a law school there, and an ice rink, and an ice hockey team – but I couldn’t tell you how to get there, or anything else about the place.

You see my dilemma?

When I’m asked where I’m from, it’s always a bit of a complicated answer. I’ll always start with ‘I’m from the UK’ or ‘I’m British’. I identify as being British, rather than English or Welsh. The only time I’ll differentiate between English and Welsh is during the rugby, where I’ll always cheer for England over Wales.

But just saying I’m from the UK usually leads on to the question of ‘whereabouts’? Talking to a Brit, I’ll usually answer with ‘I grew up in Aberystwyth’. To anyone from further afield, I’ll just say I grew up in Wales.

But then, I’ll usually get pulled up on this and asked to explain what I mean by ‘grew up’ *sigh*. It’s at this point that people begin to turn off.

Language, accent and identity.

All of this poses some quite interesting questions, at least for me. What do accent and language have to do with identity? Identity is quite a big topic in SLA, especially within the area of motivation. There are numerous books on the topic that include the word identity. Motivation, Language and Identity and the L2 Self (edited by Zoltan Dornyei and Ema Ushioda) and Self and Identity in Adolescent Foreign Language Learning (by Florentina Taylor) are just two examples.

Do people keep their accent because they want to be connected to their community? Urszula Clark talked about this in her talk for the British Council Seminars series earlier this year. I wrote about that talk (with a link to the video) here. I’ve also heard the argument that when it comes to English language learners, many of them choose to keep their accent because it helps to identify where they are from. Unfortunately, this is not something that many of my learners in Korea seem to believe. For them, speaking ‘like a native speaker’ without a Korean accent is more desirable. But you’d be hard pushed to find a Korean learner of English, who does not identify as Korean.

And what about language itself and identity? Could you say that someone can be from a certain area even if they don’t speak the language. Again, I think we have to look to the example of Wales. According to the most recent UK census, 562,016 people claimed to be able to speak Welsh. Compare that to the 2,393, 825 who couldn’t. While the latter number will of course include people who have moved into Wales, it also includes people who were born and grew up in Wales. This is because in certain areas of the country, mainly in the south, where the majority of people live, Welsh is not learned or taught at school. My stepfather is Welsh, has been all his life, but he doesn’t speak a word of Welsh. Compare this to mid-Wales and the north where some people are brought up speaking Welsh. Many of the people I went to school with never even began to speak English until they started school. But a Welsh person from Bangor (north) is surely just as Welsh as someone from Blaenau Gwent (south), no?

And then there was the story on the BBC yesterday about the Welsh-speaking Argentines, who despite having roots in Wales, clearly identify as being from Argentina.

The matter of where you’re from, language, accent and identity is not so clear cut after all. So what should I say when I record myself saying potato? Perhaps I’ll just say something like “This is how I say potato and I am originally from the UK, born in Guildford, but grew up in Aberaeron, but now living in Daegu, Korea where I’ve been for the last 7 years” and let the editors figure out where to place me on the map.

[UPDATE]

Just a little update: After sending in my recording, it looks like I’ve been placed in Guildford!

Guildford

Why do I continue to work at private academies (hagwons) in Korea?

I’ve been working in Korea for the last seven years. Throughout that time, I’ve been working in private language academies, known as hagwons in Korea. While these days I am doing other ELT work, my primary income still comes from my work at a private academy. Private academies, and the teachers that work there, often get a bad rep in Korea. You might want to check out Mike Griffin’s post on the topic for more on this.

I’ve not really experienced that much negativity, but I guess it does exist. The one comment that I do often get from some people in Korea over and over, is why I’ve not started looking for university jobs. I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t looked at what’s on offer and sent out a few speculative e-mails, but the attraction of university jobs is just not really there for me. That’s not to say that somewhere down the line I won’t be more interested, but just at this moment in time, I’m not really looking to move into the university sector in Korea. I’m happy doing what I do.

Sure, working for a hagwon has its disadvantages – the small amount of vacation days for example. And the pay’s not that great either. But the one reason, by far, that has kept me here is because of the students people I get to teach meet and work with.

They might not be the best English speakers, or even the best students. Some of them can be challenging at times, but every day is different, and every day I get the opportunity to meet these people and find out a little more about their lives. I’m lucky (imo) that I get to teach very small classes. This week, for example, has been a pretty quiet week so I’ve had a few one-to-one classes. Here is just a snapshot of a few of the learners I’ve worked with this week:

  • The ex-businessman turned public servant who once ran a successful IT business until he lost everything during the economic crisis in 2008. He’s now studying English to improve his speaking skills so that he can take the TOEFL and get into graduate school in the US to study for his MBA. He’s quite bitter about having lost all his money, and it shows.
  • The 20-something nurse who works in an emergency room at a university hospital, who came to class at 9pm having just finished a 16-hour shift. She was going to go home after class to get a few hours sleep before he next 16-hour shift due to start at 4am. She kept saying the worst part of the job was having to deal with patients ‘expiring’. She hates her job.
  • The classical opera singer/lecturer who had just returned from a concert in the US. Currently working at a university in the city, but planning to move to the US to teach classical singing next year. He’s one of the most eager students I’ve met.
  • The pre-med student who had an excellent command of the the vocabulary for the lesson (commercial relationships!), and had come prepared to class with lots of questions about the new idioms he’d come across. He’s hoping, although still undecided, to become a surgeon*.

I was told by the trainers on my initial teaching course that we were so lucky to have the group of students that we did for our TP. They told us we would never have students like this in the ‘real world’. How wrong were they! While there are still other things that I enjoy about my current job, I feel that it’s the people I’m going to miss most when (if?) I move on.

*Through discussions with other doctors and medical students in the country, becoming a surgeon is one of the ‘lowest’ positions in medicine, due in part to the low salary and the amount of litigation in Korea.

#KoTESOL International Conference 2014 – Review

The KoTESOL International Conference 2014 was held this past weekend from October 3-5. This year KoTESOL had found itself a new location, at COEX in Gangnam. This meant an extra early start for me because the venue is about 45 mins from Seoul station.

THE VENUE

COEX - KoTESOL 2014
The venue for this year’s conference is a step up from previous years . Not that there was anything really wrong with SookMyung Women’s University, but it’s nice to be in a proper convention centre where everything is conveniently laid out and nearby. Everything was well organised and signposted right from the beginning in terms of collecting the name badge and figuring out where to go.

The rooms are generally a good size although with no windows it did tend to get a little stuffy inside. The main hall where the plenaries and keynote took place was sufficiently large enough, although big columns throughout the room made it difficult for some (I guess) to see the presenter well. KOTESOL might also have liked to have people waiting outside the hall door especially at the end of sessions. As David mundane Nunan (oops, damn autocorrect – I was writing this on my phone) was concluding his session, people were already filling in to see Scott Thornbury from the back of the room with little regard to the session that was still going on.

THE SESSIONS

The opening ceremony, scheduled for 10, started around 10.20, and consisted of the usual Chair and Presidents’ (plural as KOTESOL had joined forces with KAFLE  to host the conference this year) opening remarks.

Opening Ceremony - KoTESOL 2014

While no-one attends a conference for the opening ceremony itself, I got the feeling that this year, any real sense of event was lacking. A feeling that stuck through for other parts of the conference – that’s not to say that it was disorganised in any way, but rather not as much was made of the plenary speakers as had been done so in previous years. Scott Thornbury’s presentation was the last thing of the day at 5pm on Saturday, and the two Sunday plenaries were scheduled alongside each other – surely a contradiction to the term ‘plenary‘?

MIKE LONG

Interaction, creativity, and acquisition in the L2 classroom

Next up was Mike Long, most notable for his interaction hypothesis. I was looking forward to seeing Mike Long because maximising student interaction and encouraging students to participate in tasks through negotiating meaning is something I have been attempting to do for a few years. Mike Long is also the educational advisor for the company at which I work, so naturally a lot of his ideas have made their way into our curriculum.

I really don’t think 50 minutes was enough for Long to get through everything he had wanted to say and large parts of his talk seemed rushed.

His talk was nothing groundbreaking, starting off by talking about IRF (Initiation-Response-Feedback), and just how little students actually get to speak in teacher fronted classes. By his estimates, a student in an IRF class will be lucky to have spent more than an hour speaking the L2 during a year-long course. Reason enough for him to push for encouraging more group work in classes.

In mentioning IRF, Long talked about teachers’ reluctance to admit that is what their classes were like, and that for some teachers, it’s only after watching themselves teach or seeing a transcript of their lesson that they were actually able to get a better picture of the interaction in their classes.

Long also touched on feedback arguing that overt feedback might best be used for non salient language errors. He gave the example of an American speaker using the prefix un- when in- was in fact correct. This error, Long says, needs pointing out because when pronounced it is unstressed and not usually noticeable.

While Long gave some advice to teachers, he did stress that they were merely suggestions and a teacher in his or her local context was ultimately the expert on what needs to be done in their own classroom.

He concluded his session with a look at a section of a transcript between a teacher and student where the teacher had to negotiate the meaning from what the student was trying to say which provided much longer and varied turns on the students part.

He also talked about approaches and methods saying that while they were prevalent on teacher trainer courses, teachers rarely thought about them while planning and teaching actual lessons. He suggested that perhaps they don’t really exist.

MICHAEL GRIFFIN & ANN(A) LOSEVA

Stealing your way to creativity

Mike Griffin and Anna Loseva joined forces once again to talk about stealing your way to creativity. The focus of the talk was on activities, something which Mike has made his feelings quite clear about, for example here. The main gist of the talk was on promoting the idea and encouraging teachers to share and use activities, it’s okay to use another person’s activity, and as Anna said: “Students don’t care where you get the ideas from.” However, the pair made it clear that teachers should not just be activity collectors and that it’s up to you, as a teacher, to use what’s available and adapt it for your context. Being adaptable is in fact one of the criteria put forward by Mike and Anna for the suggestions posted on #FlashMobELT.

The session finished with attendees contributing and sharing their own activity ideas. You can see all of the suggestions that were made during the session here.

Activities - KoTESOL 2014

ANN(A) LOSEVA

Social media to change English learning experience

Anna went solo for her second presentation of the day (third overall) on using social media in the classroom. Talking about how she had used social media in her classroom, and facilitating a group discussion in the intimate presentation space, Anna did a great job of encouraging us to think about just how powerful social media can be in the classroom. And her ‘top tip’ for teachers: Find out what social media your students already use and capitalise on that.

SCOTT THORNBURY

The Michael Griffin Appreciation Plenary (Part 2)

Embracing change – One step at a time

Thornbury - KoTESOL 2014

Scott Thornbury’s plenary, as expected, was a polished talk that spoke to the theme of the conference. Speaking in The English Connection (KoTESOL’s own quarterly publication), Thornbury says: “Change need not be threatening, and, in fact, can be effected through a few simple practices, at least some of which are easily integrated into the teacher’s routine.” Taking his inspiration from Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul GawandeThornbury suggested 5 ways in which teachers can embrace change.

The second piece of advice mirrored the suggestion earlier in the day by Mike Long that essentially reminds us that display questions are not the only ones at our disposal, and our job is to go off script, speak to the students as individuals, and find out about them. Give them a chance to use English to really communicate.

Suggestion number 3 was to count something. Thornbury suggested a number of things that teachers could count, and by doing so, you should learn something about your practice. You can count the number of times a student speaks, the number of times you say ‘good’ to a student (or the number of times you touch your nose). This really spoke to me from a reflective practice point of view, and is a helpful reminder of how important it is for us to look at our own classes. As Mike Long said, many teachers are often amazed at how little their students actually get to speak when re-watching a class.

Number 4 was to write something. Recording your thoughts and feelings is a good way to think about your practice and as Thornbury said, blogs, as an example, are a great way to create a sense of community. In my last post on CPD, I quoted Keith Harding who says one of the essential elements of continuing professional development is to make CPD activities evaluative and not just descriptive. Blogging gives you the opportunity to share experiences with others, receive feedback and gain new perspectives on your teaching.

And the final suggestion was to go out and embrace change. After all “there is no development without change” (Thornbury 2014).

AHMAR MAHBOOB

Understanding language variation for language teaching

Mahboob started off his talk by asking the attendees to consider what the words ‘language’ and ‘grammar’ meant. Guessing that those present would offer up answers along the lines of ‘a way to communicate’ and ‘the rules of the language’, Mahboob challenged this definitions by arguing that language is certainly a tool for communication, but that’s not what it is, and that grammar despite what many language teachers might think, is not a set of rules.

But the focus of the talk was on language variation, and Mahboob described a language variation framework that consists of 3 different dimensions. This model allows us to then identify eight, what Mahboob calls, domains.

Language Variation Framework - KoTESOL 2014

Mahboob, A. 2014

The eight domains that Mahboob identifies are:

  1. Local, written, everyday/casual – things such as emails shared between friends fit into this domain.
  2. Local, oral, everyday/casual – which may include chats between friends and people of a close relationship.
  3. Local, written, specialised purposes – in this domain, Mahboob includes people writing within a specialised field, and gave the example of farmers using written guidelines.
  4. Local, oral, specialised purposes – like domain 3, Mahboob have the example again of farmers talking together about crops or other topics related to farming.
  5. Global, written, everyday – Mahboob says that this domain differs from domain 1 because it includes people who are using language to communicate with others outside their community, giving the example of the text found in newspapers, which he says avoid expressions that are not widely found outside of specific communities.
  6. Global, oral, everyday – this domain includes the types of casual conversations held between two or more people who come from different parts of the world.
  7. Global, written, specialised purposes – the type of academic text found in articles, for, as an example, the ELT community would fall into this domain.
  8. Global, oral, specialised purposes – this domain includes the language used typically by, again as an example, academics talking at an ELT conference.

Mahboob suggested that when it came to language teaching, domains 5 and 6 were used as the ‘standard’. This, according to Mahboob was not acceptable. He gave the example of non-native English speaking students coming to study at his university (University of Sydney) with their 7.0 IELTS score, which in his view did not prepare them well enough for the type of academic writing that they would be required to do on the course.

I don’t think that it’s a secret that despite the name Academic IELTS, there’s not really all that much academic about the test. So it is understandable that Mahboob felt that there needed to be a change. But rather than suggesting that the IELTS test itself needed changing, he seemed to suggest that teachers needed to change their classes to suit the needs of their students and that in fact we should be assisting our students to learn the English required for domains 7 and 8, and that a shift was needed. While I agree that undoubtedly, there are some students who do need the level of language on the final two domains, I don’t think that all students do. And anyway, isn’t that the purpose of EAP classes? Was he suggesting that all of our classes should become more like EAP classes?

While I found the first part about language variation interesting, and it was a new perspective on language variation for me, I feel that the implications for language teaching were just not applicable for a large majority of language teachers. In fact, I would say that the a significant number of my students are learning English with the purpose of using it within domains 5 & 6. That being said, I look forward to reading more from Mahboob when I have time in the future, and his talk is by far the one I’ve come away from thinking about the most. A number of his articles are available for download on his academia page.

MEETING TWEEPS

In addition to the presentations, I also managed to meet quite a few people from Twitter for the first time, including:

@breathyvowel, @bryanteacher, @RhettTeacher, @AnnLoseva, @barbsaka, @tanaebaugh, @MichaelChestnut2, @timhampson, @timknowsefl and maybe one or two more I’m forgetting (sorry).

References

Mahboob, A. (2014). Language variation and education: A focus on Pakistan in Buschfeld, S., Hoffmann, T., Huber, M. and Kautzsch, A. (Eds.), The evolution of Englishes: The Dynamic Model and beyond (pp. 267-281) Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Thornbury, S. (2014). Interview: Prof. Scott Thornbury The English Connection 18/3

CPD through Webinars/Seminars

Continuing Professional Development or CPD is essential for language teachers if they want to improve their abilities and performance in the classroom. This post is complementary to a talk that I gave today at the Busan-Gyeongnam KoTESOL chapter meeting. It will essentially be a list of resources and links.

The video below is from the British Council by Keith Harding, in which he essentially outlines a few characteristics of CPD.

CPD is, according to Keith Harding:

  • Continuous and always ongoing. It should always be in the back of the teacher’s mind.
  • Responsibility for CPD lies with teachers. Teachers have a responsibility to know what their needs are and find take part in CPD activities that address those needs.
  • Evaluative rather than descriptive. It’s not really enough to just describe what you have done, but you need to evaluate the experience.

CPD Links

Webinars

The focus of my talk was on webinars and how they can be used for CPD. A webinar is an web-based seminar, that typically uses video conferencing technology. Webinars are designed to be interactive and there is usually communication throughout between the audience and presenter, which really sets them apart from online seminars or webcasts, where interaction is just one-way.

There are a lot of ELT companies and organizations out there that offer webinars and online seminars. Most of them are free, although for some of them, you do have to be a paid member.

Webinar Providers

Free
  • British Council TeachingEnglish – The British Council TeachingEnglish site doesn’t have any webinars coming up in the near future, although they do offer some webinars regularly at other times of the year. Nevertheless, you can still see all of their past webinars by clicking on the Recorded Webinars tab.
  • Macmillan Education – Macmillan typically hold a webinar each month, and then offer ‘skills days’ or online conferences once or twice a year.
  • OUP ELT – Oxford University Press’s ELT department, offers by far the largest number of free webinars. Many of their webinars are offered on different days and times to suit a large number of people around the world. A lot of the webinars are aimed at people who are using Oxford coursebooks, although occasionally they will have someone speak about ELT in general.
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment – Cambridge English Language Assessment offer free webinars for teachers who need to prepare their students for exams. Most of the webinars are offered twice, which is good if you miss the first one. All of the recordings of the webinars are also made available on YouTube.
  • British Council EnglishAgenda – This is another of the British Council’s websites. There seem to be fewer webinars available than on the TeachingEnglish website, and there are currently no webinars scheduled for the near future, but you can still access recordings of all of their previous webinars.
  • BELTA – BELTA is an ELT organization out of Belgium. They usually have one webinar a month, and this year was also the first year that they ran an online conference. The Belta webinars cover a wide range of topics.
  • British Council Seminars – The British Council run a seminar series each year (currently on a break). The seminars are live talks that you can attend in the UK, but are also streamed live online on YouTube. The British Council does a really good job of trying to get the virtual members involved, and most of the talks I have watched live encourage people to take part on Twitter / YouTube comments, and then the presenter refers to comments and questions as the seminar progresses. Again, all of the recordings are available freely online. Just click on the Past Events tab. The next series is scheduled to begin sometime early next year (as far as I know). Unfortunately for people in Korea, the timing is not great, as the seminars are held in the evening UK time, which is when most of us are sleeping.
  • IATEFL – IATEFL offers a free webinar once a month. These are usually pretty popular and led by some of the ‘Big names’ in ELT. Recordings of webinars are also made available, but unfortunately only to paid members of IATEFL. The live webinars are free to everyone though, with no registration required to attend. In addition to  the main, webinars, many of the IATEFL SIGs also run their own webinars:
    • IATEFL SIG webinars – Just like the main IATEFL webinars, the SIG webinars are free to watch live, but you need to be a member of each SIG if you want to watch the recordings later on.
  • International House – International House also have lots of recorded webinars that they have made available on their YouTube page. In addition to the full length webinars on YouTube, there’s also this page which features sixty 10-minute talks from various teachers around the world. (Thanks to Sandy Millin for the IH suggestion. Do check out her blog, especially if you’re thinking about doing the Delta).

Other organizations that provide webinars include iTDi.pro and The New School, although these are more infrequent. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, it’s a good idea to follow these two so that you will hear when they offer a webinar.

Paid / Membership required
  • Cambridge English Teacher – This is a paid membership site for English teachers that offers regular webinars, self-access online courses and resources. Yearly membership is around $45 and includes access to all live and recorded webinars.
  • TESOL.org – TESOL offers an online seminar usually once a month. The seminars are webcasts of talks, and are free to members of TESOL or $45 each for non-members. If you want to watch these seminars, you need to register a few days in advance.

Sketchnotes

I also briefly talked about sketchnotes as a great way to keep a record and summarise your attendance at a webinar. Christina Rebuffet-Broadus was kind enough to let me use some of the images from her blog iLoveTEFL.wordpress.com which really are great, and I suggest you visit her blog to see what they are all about.

My Recommendations

There are absolutely loads of webinars that have been recorded and are available online, and can be found through the links above. I think once a webinar becomes available as a recording it is much more (although not exactly) like a webcast. So four of my favourite are:

And there is a lot coming up over the next few months too. I’m especially looking forward to:

Finding Webinars

You can find webinars by going directly to the providers’ pages, some of which are mentioned above. You can also find out about upcoming webinars on the webinars pages on my blog, which I try to keep updated fairly often, and is essentially just a collated list from all of the providers above.

There is also a Facebook group called Webinars for English teachers – although admittedly I’m not a member (it’s a closed group) because I’m not on Facebook.

Recording CPD

My talk finished with a (very) brief look at ways to record your CPD, and I mentioned the development log sheets that are available on the British Council EnglishAgenda page. The sheets help you not only describe what you have done, but help you to evaluate it. You can download the development log sheets from the side bar on the right of the page or by clicking this link directly.

Twitter

I may have mentioned Twitter once or twice too as a great way to get involved during webinars. I can be found on Twitter @DavidHarbinsonand you can see how I use Twitter for PD here.

Books and Resources for Delta Module 1 Exam

I recently completed the Delta module 1 exam and thought I’d share some of the books and resources that I found useful. I took the exam in June 2014 and got a pass with distinction. Before the exam, I took the Distance Delta module 1 preparation course, which I would highly recommend and will probably write more about at a later date.

The exam consists of 2 papers, and currently includes a total of nine tasks (five in paper 1 and four in paper 2). I’ll outline the books and resources that I used for each task in order, but many of the books and resources will be applicable for a number of the tasks.

In case you haven’t heard, the Delta module 1 exam will be changing slightly from June 2015, however, most of the changes will be superficial, such as changing the order of questions, combining questions and adjusting the allocation of points for each task. It looks like the content will still pretty much be the same as the current exam, and therefore the resources in this post should still be relevant. For a full list of changes and updated, you should check out the Cambridge English website.

LINKS: Most of the links for books are affiliate links to the Book Depository.

Paper One, Tasks 1 & 2

These two tasks are all about terminology. In Task 1, you are given 6 definitions and have to write down the correct term for each definition. Task 2, is almost the opposite, you are given 6 terms and have to define 4 of them, giving one example and a piece of further information for each one. The range of terminology is quite broad, and can include topics such as methodology, testing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. You should pick up a lot of terminology from your preparation of the other tasks, but there are a few resources that can help you with the terminology:

1. Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (2011) by Jack C. Richards and Richard W. Schmidt – $48.91 on Book Depository

Dictionary of Applied Linguistics and ELTThis is a very comprehensive dictionary and was my go-to source when I wanted to find out the meaning of a term. It’s around 600 pages long, but the paperback version is still small enough to fit in a bag and carry around with you.

 

2. An A-Z of ELT (2006) by Scott Thornbury – $33.77 on Book Depository

An A-Z of ELTThis is another great resource for looking up terminology. It perhaps focuses more on terms that the practicing language teacher needs to know, which is perfect for Delta candidates, rather than the more comprehensive variety of entries in the Longman Dictionary. I found that the explanations in A-Z were often more in depth than the Longman dictionary.

3. An A-Z of ELT (Online) Scott Thornbury – FREE

A-Z ELT Web

Following on from the success of his A-Z book, Scott Thornbury also set up a blog of the same title at scottthornbury.wordpress.com. Thornbury stopped updating the blog in 2013, but all of the entries are still there. There are a total of 151 posts on the site, and you can see the entire list by clicking on index on the top menu. Each post goes into quite some depth about each topic, and there are also lots of good comments below each post that Thornbury has responded to.

4. Quizlet (Online) – FREE

If you’ve never heard about Quizlet, you’ve been missing out. While it is not a resource for Delta itself, it’s a great tool for Delta candidates (as well as for teachers to use in their own class with students). Essentially Quizlet is a free online flashcard/learning tool to help people learn words, phrases, terms etc. This makes it great for memorizing the terminology needed for P1T1&2. You can either create your own flashcards, or search for those that have been created by others. I found one set already on the site that was particularly helpful, by a user named mcgwart. Just type in Delta module 1 to find more sets.

Quizlet

In addition I created my own during my preparation for the course, using the notes provided by the Distance Delta course. Every time I came across a term that I didn’t know the meaning of, I added it to my set of words, and then tried to review the words every couple of days. Quizlet also has an Android app (and I assume iPhone app) so that you can get some practice in while you’re on the way to work.

Paper One, Task 3

For task 3, you will be shown either a speaking or writing (i.e. production) activity for students. You then have to identify five language features that learners at a given level will need to know in order to complete the task successfully. This task tests your knowledge of language, and you are expected to know about things such as register, cohesion, organization and grammar & lexis. I found that I was able to draw on my experience as a teacher quite a bit for this task. Afterall the Delta is designed for teachers who have at least 2 years’ experience.

5. About Language (1997) by Scott Thornbury – $40.02 on Book Depository

About LanguageIt’s quite difficult to find a book that is directly relevant to this task, but Scott Thornbury’s About Language is a good start. The book contains several short chapters that are full of activities designed to raise teachers’ awareness of language. Each chapter is fairly short and it includes a full answer key at the back. The book covers a number of topics, such as word types, clauses and discourse. This is also a good book for Paper One, Task 4.

Paper One, Task 4

(Note: This task will become task 5 of paper one from June 2015)

Task 4 is one of the tasks that you probably want to devote quite a bit of time to. It’s currently worth 40 marks (out of 100 for paper 1), and can be quite an easy place to score heavily because you get a mark for every relevant point that you make – from 2015, the allocation of marks will increase to 50, which means even more of an incentive to prepare well for this question. In this task, you are shown a piece of authentic material, such as a newspaper article, website, leaflet etc. and you have to analyse certain features of the text and explain the formmeaning, use, pronunciation and problems for students. Here, you really need to be up on your knowledge of pedagogic grammar and phonology (although to a lesser extent for the latter).

6. An ELT Notebook (Online) Sue Swift – FREE

Sue Swift is a Delta trainer and examiner, and in fact, her whole series of posts on the Delta exam is an excellent resource for Delta candidates. However, I found her post on P1T4 particularly very helpful, as she explains what is meant by form, meaning, use, pronunciation and problems for students and what you should (and shouldn’t) write for each part.

7. Explaining English Grammar (1999) by George Yule – $43.28 on Book Depository

Explaining English GrammarFirst off, I love this book. I mean really love it. I’d even go as far to say that it might quite possibly be my favourite book ever. I don’t know what it is about it, but I just find it so easy to read and understand. While Thornbury’s About Language does have a lot of good activities, it lacks any real in depth explanation of the language. Explaining English Grammar however does exactly what it says on the tin. George Yule takes 10 areas of grammar, and thoroughly explains them along with activities and an answer key so that you can check your understanding as you go along. Most of the topics that are covered, such as relative clauses, seem to come up quite regularly in task 4.

8. The English Verb (1986) by Michael Lewis – $44.54 on Book Depository

English VerbMichael Lewis is probably best known for his promotion of the Lexical Approach, but 7 years before his book on the approach was published, he wrote the English Verb. In the book, he essentially argues that the English verb system is not as complicated as it might seem at first, and each chapter covers a different area of the verb system, such as modality, semi-modality, tense and aspect. This book really gave me a much clearer understanding of the verb system and is highly recommended. It’s not really that long, and if there’s only one book you have time to read before your course begins, this should be pretty high on the top of the list.

9. Sound Foundations (2005) by Adrian Underhill – $33.10 on Book Depository

Sound FoundationsWhile you probably need to know more about grammar for this task, the chances are you will be asked about pronunciation as well. If you are, you need to know about phonemic script and use it. Pronunciation might also come up in the terminology questions (P1T1&2), and in Paper One, Task 5, if you have to analyse a piece of spoken language. Sound Foundations really is an excellent introduction to pronunciation, and really helps you to get to grips with what language teachers need to know.

10. Introduction to Teaching Pronunciation Workshop (Online) Adrian Underhill – FREE

As a way to help promote the aforementioned book on pronunciation, Macmillan Education ELT have made a 1-hour recording of a workshop by Adrian Underhill available on YouTube. This really is a great video and complements the book perfectly, by giving you a brief taster of the topic.

11. English Phonetics and Phonology (2009) by Peter Roach – $45.54 on Book Depository

English phonetics and phonologyIf you’re still looking for more on phonology, English Phonetics and Phonology is a really great book. I had it left over from my MA, and it probably goes into a bit more depth than is necessary for the Delta, but because of the way it is structured – as a practical course – it is really easy to work through. That being said, if you’re just about to start your course, you won’t have that much time for reading, so Sound Foundations should be enough for the Delta, but if you’re still a way off from starting a course for module 1, and want to do some reading, then this is a good book to help give you a really solid understanding of phonology.

 Paper One, Task 5

(Note: This task will become task 4 of paper one from June 2015)

In this task, you have to analyse a learner-produced text. This will either be a piece of writing or a piece of transcribed spoken text. The aim of the task is to identify three areas that the student uses well and three areas that the student needs to improve on. There are no additional books that I haven’t already mentioned above that I used to help me prepare for this task, although there is one resource that every practicing language teacher should have access to…

12. Your Learners

I found that the best way to prepare for this task was simply by correcting my students’s work. This may of course be something that you already do, but by providing my students with feedback at the end of their work on three things they did well and three things that they could improve on, it really gave me a lot of practice. The areas that you have to focus on are similar to those for Task 3 (register, cohesion, organisation, range and complexity of grammarrange and complexity of lexis and pronunciation if you have to analyse a spoken text), so it’s probably a good idea to try to focus on these areas when you are checking your students’ work.

Paper Two, Task 1

In this task, you are given a language test and have to evaluate the effectiveness of the test. I found this task quite difficult at first because I’ve never really done language testing. However, after doing a couple of practice activities you can use a bit of common sense. I didn’t use a book to help me prepare for this part of the exam, so I can’t comment about any titles with authority, but Testing for Language Teachers by Arthur Hughes seems to be quite popular, and I’ve heard good things about it from people who have used it (For my Delta module 3 assignment, I am focusing on teaching for exams, and it is one of the books that I have just ordered).

13. Language Moments Blog (Online) Dale Coulter – FREE

This is another good blog for Delta candidates by Dale Coulter. I found it particularly useful for P2T1 because about a quarter way down the page there is a document that lists around 20 of the key terms for language testing. You are expected to use testing terminology in the task, and by knowing it, I found that it really helped me to think of ideas for this task. The document embedded on the blog is a matching activity with a key at the end.

Paper Two, Tasks 2 & 3

(Note: Tasks 2 and 3 will be combined into just task 2 from June 2015)

Tasks 2 & 3 of paper two are closely connected and task 2 leads in to task 3, which is why the two tasks will be combined into one from 2015. For me, these were the most difficult tasks of the exam because they focus on coursebooks, and I have hardly ever used coursebooks. For the task, you have to look at an excerpt from a published coursebook and in task 2 talk about the purpose of each activity and the underlying assumptions that the author had in mind. In task 3 you have to talk about how the activities combine together. Essentially this activity is assessing your knowledge of approaches and methodologies.

14. Oxford University Press ELT Webinars (Online) – FREE

OUP Web

OUP ELT holds regular webinars (online seminars) aimed at language teachers. Many of the webinars are based around some of their coursebooks and are often presented by the authors themselves, so it is a great way to get a different perspective on the activities in coursebooks. Most webinars also allow you to interact with the presenter by asking questions. Cambridge University Press also holds webinars, although at the time of writing there aren’t any scheduled. The webinars are a great way to understand the author’s point of view, which can help with answering the part about assumptions.

15. Teacher’s Books

Most coursebooks also come with complementary teacher’s books, which usually contain guidance and hints for the teacher, which can also give you an idea of how the activities fit together.

Paper Two, Task 4

(Note: This task will become task 3 from June 2015)

This task is the most difficult to prepare for simply because it is the most open. Typically you will see an extract related to ELT, such as an activity, an excerpt from a methodology book, a lesson plan etc. along with 2 or 3 questions. You then have to make as many points as possible in answer to the questions. The questions might be based on methodology, SLA, approaches, teacher and learner roles or anything else ELT related. From June 2015, the way the question needs to be answered will change slightly, but the knowledge you need will remain the same. Again this is another chance to score many marks so it’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible.

16. How Languages are Learned (2006) by Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada – $35.48 on Book Depository

How Languages are LearnedThis is a really accessible book that is a great introduction to second language acquisition. The book is written with language teachers in mind, which makes it very relevant for Delta candidates. This is another book that would be great to read through before the beginning of the course if you have access to it. There is a newer edition available, although I had the 2006 edition lying around, but a look at the contents page of the newer version suggests that the structure is the same, so if you can get the newer version, it’s probably a good idea.

17. Big Questions in ELT (2013) by Scott Thornbury – $8.25 on the-round.com

Big Questions in ELTThis is another of Scott Thornbury’s books, and is based on his A-Z blog. The book is only available as an e-book from the-round.com and is very reasonably priced. In it, Thornbury builds on some of the ideas he talked about on his blog and poses a number of questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to think about. Each chapter is really short and easy to digest. I actually only bought this a couple of days before the exam and read most of it on the train up to Seoul to take the exam, but am really glad I did because in the June 2014 exam, the topic was PPP, which was one of the chapters.

18. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (2001) by Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers – $33.87 on Book Depository

Approaches and Methods in Language TeachingApproaches and Methods in Language Teaching is a really good introduction that takes a chronological look at the different methods/approaches that have shaped the ELT world over the last 40 or 50 years. Each chapter takes a look at a different method by looking at the approach, design and procedure that make up the method. The authors attempt to take an unbiased view and present the methods as they see them. There is also a newer version that was released a couple of months ago, so if you are going to buy the book, it’s probably a good idea to go for the newer version again.

19. A Trip Down the Memory Lane of Methodology Webinar (Online) Chia Suan Chong / British Council: TeachingEnglish – FREE

This is a really enjoyable webinar from 2012 by Chia Suan Chong in which she takes a look at the major methods and approaches from the beginning of ELT right up to what we’re ‘supposed to be doing’ now: principled eclecticism. It’s just over an hour long, but will definitely give you a good overview of the history of ELT. She also did another version of this webinar earlier this year over at 4c in ELT.

While there is no sure fire way to get a distinction on the Delta module 1 exam, the best thing to do is be as prepared as possible. If you decide to do a course through the likes of Distance Delta or Bell, which you really should, it’s a good idea to get as much of the reading done before the course as possible. If your experience is anything like mine, once the course begins, there is so much to learn about the exam itself and exam technique that you won’t have as much time for reading.

Note on prices: All of the prices (except for Thornbury’s Big Questions in ELT) are taken from the Book Depository, which offers free shipping worldwide, so the price you see is the price of the book delivered. The Book Depository uses a special algorithm to calculate its prices, so the price you see on their website might be slightly different to the price in the post. All links to the Book Depository are affiliate links.