Literature Strikes Back! – Guest Post by Dimitris Primalis and Chryssanthe Sotiriou #iatefl13

Dimitris Primalis

Dimitris Primalis

Dimitris has been teaching EFL for 20 years. His experience covers a wide range of groups including young learners, teenagers, adults, exam prep classes and Business English. He has also written 5 test booklets for Macmillan and is a freelance materials designer. He also served as TESOL Chair and very successfully ran this year’s TESOL Greece Convention.

Chryssanthe has obtained a BA in English Literature from the English Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and a postgraduate diploma with distinction  in Translation from the University of Mons-Hainaut in Belgium, being a scholar of the ‘Alexander Onassis’ Foundation.chryssanthe

They will also be presenting Literature strikes back! The return of a vanishing art or how to teach literature with technology at IATEFL Conference on Wednesday , 10th April at 15:05 (Hall 11b).

Thought that literature is dead with the advent of technology?  Shouldn’t books be permanently exhibited in history museums next to dinosaurs and other fossils? Can a computer whiz kid be persuaded to read a romantic novel written by Daphne du Maurier?

For those of us who thought that literature had been wiped out by the invasion of technology in our daily teaching, the answer is : literature is too hard to die!!!

Web 2.0 tools, YouTube clips and social media/collaborative platforms seem to have become powerful allies of books in teachers’ efforts to stimulate learners ‘  interest and initiate them in the magical world of words.

Brought up in a world that gadgets are deified, teenagers  only find it natural to spend more time tapping or clicking; browsing webpages rather than reading the masterpieces their parents and parents once loved. Is mere exposure to genres found on the internet enough to help our learners enrich their vocabulary and use proficiently a wide range of linguistic features that will need later on in their personal and professional life? Let’s compare a typical story on Facebook and one in a book. They may both narrate a similar story but they employ different means of illustrating the story line. The former may feature videos or photos, emoticons and chunks of language whereas the latter uses  a wide range of words to convey feelings, describe actions and background and convey messages. Students can benefit from both worlds provided that teachers adopt a clearly structured methodology. It is pedagogy that makes the difference and technology is its most powerful ally.

Apart from enriching lexis, literature can also serve as a stimulus for discussing ideas and morals while provoking heated debates on eternal dilemmas. Love, friendship, struggle for  wealth and power, leadership, corruption, ethics are only a few of the issues that  are raised through literary texts and our students cannot afford to miss them.

Literature empowers, enlightens and broadens horizons … it simply allows you to dream and use your critical thinking instead of reacting mechanically.

Thank you so much, Chryssanthe and Dimitris!

A Traveller’s Journal – A Poem Read by Mieke Kenis (@mkofab)

Local station – photo taken by @sandymillin (from #eltpics)

It is time on the blog for another poem, read by the fantastic Mieke Kenis. Thank you so much, Mieke, for giving it exactly the emotion I wanted it to have!

I wrote this one in 1999, when I was twenty years old.

A Traveller’s Journal

Gypsy – A Poem Read by Brad Patterson (@brad5patterson)

Brad Patterson, originally from the US and located in France, is a fantastic person I have the honour to call a friend and a great educator. Brad writes a blog where he shares a lot of his love for etymology and writes about many topics which make us all think.Brad and his company Edulang have started a great initiative called Pay What You Want. Definitely worth looking at and contributing to!

I am very fortunate to have Brad read this poem, which I wrote when I was 20 years old. He has rendered it so beautifully…but enough from me – over to Brad! Thank you so so much!

Gypsy – Read by Brad Patterson

Hair – A Poem Read by Mieke Kenis (@mkofab)

Mieke Kenis

It all started last night when Mieke Kenis, a super person and educator from Belgium, and I were chatting about how we both love poetry – Mieke told me she reads poems sometimes and records them on Audioboo. I love her voice and the way she reads. So then I told her that I (think I) write poems, so I recorded my poem Hair on Audioboo. Mieke listened to it and returned me the nicest present ever – herself reading Hair, in the absolutely most beautiful way. She gave such life to my poem, it really moved me and I thank her so very much for that. Here is the recording of Mieke reading it so beautifully:

Hair - Read by Mieke Kenis, Written by Vicky Loras

Thank you so much, Mieke!

* Mieke has started a blog.

Interview with Timo Ilomäki

It is a great honour to have Timo Ilomaki on my blog. He is an educator and student counselor from Finland and Coordinator of Entrepreneurship and Social Media Network. He also writes a very interesting blog on the use of technology in education http://educationtechnology-theoryandpractice.blogspot.com/ Timo is very active on Twitter and is one of the people who started #finnedchat, a weekly discussion on Finnish education. He and his partner Aki Puustinen are doing amazing things for education, so stay tuned and follow them on Twitter and their blogs!

Kiitos, Timo!

#MoreThan140 – Meet Aviva Dunsiger

Meet Aviva Dunsiger, an educator from Ontario, Canada and share her passion and enthusiasm for education! Listen to the amazing things she does with her kids in class.

To receive updates about other “More than 140″ interviews, make sure you follow Matt Ray (@mrmatthewray) and Vicky Loras (@vickyloras), follow the hashtag #MoreThan140 and watch this blog.

#MoreThan140 – Meet Sue Annan

Get to know more about Sue Annan, a fantastic teacher of English as a Foreign Language and teacher trainer, who lives on Jersey Island, an island between England and France. Sue talks about her work, social media and music…enjoy her interview!

To receive updates about other “More than 140″ interviews, make sure you follow Matt Ray (@mrmatthewray) and Vicky Loras (@vickyloras), follow the hashtag #MoreThan140 and watch this blog.

My Contribution to Eva Büyüksimkeşyan’s Blog Carnival #24 – Warmers and Fillers

Eva Büyüksimkeşyan, English teacher and good friend!

I am delighted to be asked to take part in the 24th Blog Carnival on Warmers and Fillers for the first days back at school, hosted by Eva Büyüksimkeşyan, an English teacher based in Istanbul, and since last November, a dear friend! Eva teaches at Esayan High School and does a lot of great projects with her students. She also collaborates internationally with other teachers around the world. Eva writes the most amazing posts on her blog, A Journey in TEFL. Thanks so much for this opportunity, Eva!

I am very happy to teach English as a Foreign Language both to children and adults. I enjoy working with both age groups and in this post I will share my ideas, which I hope you will find useful and like! I try to come up with new activities every year, but these are our favourites and as an educator, I see that they help both children and adults make a great start to their lessons.

Young Learners:

  • As I like to incorporate culture in my classes and I am fortunate to have multicultural classes, I begin by asking them where they are from and if they can tell us a greeting in their language, sing a small song or tell us a small poem or rhyme. For the reason that on first days young learners can be very shy, I start by demonstrating the task myself! That can help the kids a lot and keep the activity going.
  • We make posters on A3 paper. They can write their name, if they are able to, and around it make little drawings of things they like, their families, their hobbies and so on. When they are finished, they can make a small presentation to the whole class so we can all get to know them!
  • My name is Vicky and I like basketball! We can all sit down in a circle and take turns, rolling a ball or giving each other a stuffed toy and introduce ourselves – our names and our favourite thing or activity. That way they can hear each other and learn names – perhaps even find out common things they like!

Adult Learners:

  • Incorporating culture again, I make a little introduction of myself (My name is Vicky Loras, I was born in Canada of Greek parents and I am an English teacher) – it welcomes them to the first lesson and they can feel more comfortable. They can even start asking me or even better each other questions. Plus, they like this small talk for the first lesson – we can start talking stock markets and hedge funds in the following lessons!
  • Then taking some questions from a book I absolutely adore, Cambridge Business English Activities, we start talking (culture is in here too and the questions can lead to some interesting and sometimes funny discussions!). This kind of discussion loosens them up in the first lesson, because they can be nervous as well and serves as a great introduction to fantastic lessons to follow. The questions are of the kind: If you were at a reception, would you take the last piece of cake? or Do you work on a problem by analysing it or using your instinct? or How would you react if a colleague got the job you wanted? and so on.
  • What I have noticed is that they love talking about their work and working environment, their position in the company and perhaps what they did before, so I just let them talk to us about it. If they are from the same company, they can fill in for each other when they remember something, so everyone gets a chance to talk – or if they have not see each other before, they can learn more about the people in their class.

I hope these tips have helped you. Stay tuned to Eva’s blog to read great ideas form other educators who are also taking part in the Blog Carnival. Thank you for reading!

#More than 140 – Get To Know Your PLN

A few days ago, I was very happy to be contacted by Matthew Ray, in order to start a great project we are calling “More than 140.” We hope you will follow the hashtag #MoreThan140, as well as our blogs and youtube channels (links are provided after the video).

Watch the video to find out more about our project:

***Update: We are working on figuring out how to upload wetoku/vodpod videos to youtube. In the meantime, the videos will be hosted on vodpod, which you can access by clicking here.

Vicky Loras
http://www.twitter.com/vickyloras
vickyloras.wordpress.com
http://www.youtube.com/vickyloras

1st collector for More than 140 – Welcome
Follow my videos on vodpod

The Day Coldplay Came To Our Classroom – A Lesson Plan on “Clocks”

Little do they know we have built entire lessons on their songs…! (Image taken from http://www.hollywoodgrind.com)

I love using different kinds of texts in my lessons, I have mentioned poetry and literature before – so now I will share with you a lesson plan I made about five years ago, using the song Clocks by British band Coldplay (which is also one of my favourite songs by them).

People who know me, know that they are one of my favourite bands – I love their music and the lyrics are great! (As a devoted fan I have all their CDs, but have not been to one of their concerts…yet!)

The students I have used this song with so far have really enjoyed it. (Depending on the group of students I may or may not use all of the activities. I usually use it for upper-intermediate or advanced students.)

Here are the lyrics:

Clocks by Coldplay

(from their CD A Rush of Blood to the Head)

The lights go out and I can’t be saved
Tides that I tried to swim against
Have brought me down upon my knees
Oh I beg, I beg and plead singing

Come out of things unsaid
Shoot an apple off my head
And a trouble that can’t be named
A tiger’s waiting to be tamed singing

You are
You are

Confusion never stops
Closing walls and ticking clocks
Gonna come back and take you home
I could not stop that you now know singing

Come out upon my seas
Cursed missed opportunities
Am I a part of the cure,
Or am I part of the disease? Singing

You are (x6)

And nothing else compares (x3)

You are
You are

Home, home where I wanted to go (x4)

These are the tasks I used with them and usually one thing leads to another and might not even be on the lesson plan, which makes things even more interesting! It is fantastic to see what the students come up with every time. As with poetry, each person perceives things differently – it gives rise to amazing discussions and excellent language circulates in the classroom!

1. What is the general feeling of the song, when you look at the lyrics? Does anything change when you listen to the music? (This can be a pre- and post- listening task.)

2. Why do you think the lights go out and he is swimming against tides? What do these symbolise?

3. Who do you think the you is when the singer says you are? Use your imagination to think what that person is and why the singer does not complete the sentence.

4. Explain these words and phrases from their context and/or find synonyms. (As a teacher, I love it when we play with vocabulary!)

a. to bring somebody down

b. to plead

c. to tame

5. What do these words symbolise in your opinion, and what feelings do they render?

a. the tiger

b. the apple

c. closing walls

d. ticking clocks

e. my seas

f. home

6. What do you think the singer means with …Am I a part of the cure, or am I part of the disease? (Here they can point out things like word contrast, allegory and so on.)

The things you can do in class with songs are countless. If you have any other ideas to add, please feel free to do so!

Here are the lesson ideas in a Word document: Clocks by Coldplay. Let me know how they worked, should you use them!

Enjoy the song!