adult learners, Films, Fun Learning, language, learning, life, music

My Language Learning Part 1 – Lights, Camera, Action!

(Image taken from erbilfilmfestival.org)
(Image taken from erbilfilmfestival.org)

I have mentioned in previous blog posts that ever since I came to Switzerland, I have been learning German – I love languages, and I think that being able to communicate in the language of the country you live in is great, makes your life easier, and opens new doors for reading more and understanding films, taking part in discussions and so on. Plus, it is respectful to the country and people who have welcomed us.

After my very first visit to Istanbul in late 2012, I totally fell in love with the people, the country and the language so I thought about starting to learn Turkish as well. I must admit, it is one of the most difficult languages I have undertaken, but I love the sound, the poetic meanings words and expressions can take, so I am going to continue and I really want to learn!

I would never have done it without the help of my good friend and teacher, Dinçer Demir, who very patiently teaches me on Skype once a week. I also try to listen to songs on YouTube, make out the words and sounds that the language has. Sometimes, it gets really hard and I think of the usual I-don’t-live-in-the-country-so-my-exposure-is-low excuse. I have decided to stop that, and get as much exposure as possible.

Last Sunday, I was listening to a beautiful Turkish song a good friend, Esra Aydın, had posted on Facebook, and now YouTube has a new (at least I have just discovered it) function called AutoPlay, which immediately starts a new song of the same genre you were listening to before. So, another song came up, a beautiful one, and I saw that is was part of the soundtrack of a film, called Evim Sensin (You Are My Home). I thought, hey great idea, why don’t I try to watch this film and see what I get from it language-wise? It is the typical girl-meets-boy storyline, so it cannot be so difficult to start with. Oh my, I had so many difficulties but I am happy I watched it for various reasons.

  • I realised that I understand much more than I thought – even though my speaking still needs a lot of work, but that is the last stage of a language that we can reach proficiency in, I believe and I always see it in my students as well.
  • The typical girl-meets-boy storyline proved to be even harder than I thought, because the story was so complicated and had ups and downs. Of course, the actors’ body language helps a lot, but very often I found myself wondering, what they had just said and the man was deep in thought, while the girl was still happy and smiling, or why the girl had gone to the hotel – was that her husband’s mother she was going to find there?
  • It really helped that the movie did not have subtitles, as I was under pressure, let’s say, to comprehend on my own. I guess if I do this often, I will improve. This first time, though, was very difficult – but I learned a lot of new words, connecting them to the looks on their faces, gestures or if they were pointing at something or holding it.
  • I learned a lot of new things about the culture, like a great singer called Sezen Aksu, who sings one of the songs in the soundtrack. She is a living legend in Turkey and it was great to get to know more about her and her work! Dinçer also does that in our lessons – he teaches me a lot about the culture as well, and I really appreciate that, as I believe culture is an integral part of language learning and I do the same with my own students, whether I am teaching them English, or Greek.

I will be blogging about German and Turkish language learning throughout the year, different methods I will be trying out, the successes (I hope) and the problems I will be facing along the way. Are you learning a language? Feel free to share your experiences and ideas with me and our community of educators and students!

Here is the beautiful song that led me to the film, which in turn led me to a new part of language learning! A great film by the way, produced, written, music composed for and sung by another new to me Turkish actor/singer, Özcan Deniz.

 

 

30 Goals, life, music, special moments

Goal 3: What’s Your Personal Theme Song? #30GoalsEdu

I was talking about this with Shelly Terrell the other day – and we both agreed that we have special songs for ever kind of moment in our lives…but I will try to keep it short here!

One of the songs that amazed me when I first heard it! I thought, they know me, they know my life – Paradise by Coldplay:

This one by the Stereophonics reminds me that there is always tomorrow to do new things and dream about, never despair or give up – and find my way home.

I get excited very easily, be it about a new idea, project, even the mention of simple things like cake! And because I use Wooohooo! or Whoop whoop! a lot, I think this one is appropriate – it also uplifts my spirits when I need it:

The last one is a bit nostalgic and a bit funny too, come to think of it. In those old times when not every home had a VCR, my dad used to rent us one (the machine) every Christmas and two videotapes: one was always Annie (we loved it and have seen it numerous times!), the other one my dad would choose (so happy he didn’t go into gender stereotyping with us 🙂 ). Once it was Superman, once it was Rocky ; ) This movie and theme song reminds me of when we would watch this movie – dad would always point out: “Look, he keeps on trying no matter what. He is a fighter and so are my girls!” It gives me a lot of motivation and strength when I need it – what a memory can do, right? I loved how he wouldn’t stop running in this movie scene!

edtech, education, ELTChat, iTDi, language, learning, lesson plans, music, teaching, TESOL France, writing, young learners

TESOL France 30th Colloquium – Day Two (#TESOLFr)

And after the excitement of Day One…Day Two came along for all of us to learn, connect and have fun!

Mike Harrison

I started my day with Mike Harrison’s super session Before Words: Ideas for Using Images and Sound in the Classroom. It was the first time I had attended Mike’s session and I loved it! I got so many ideas about what you can do with pictures and sound effects in class. We even did a visual poem. I teamed up with Deniz Atesok, a great educator from Turkey in the activities that Mike showed us and we came up with some great ideas! I will definitely be using his ideas with my students – and I will definitely be attending more of his sessions in the future. You can find a plethora of ideas on his great blog! A big thank you to Mike!

Anna Musielak

Right after Mike – the drama specialist and enthusiastic presenter (and very good friend – I am so happy to know her!) Anna Musielak! Ania’s presentation was called Break the Ice with Drama. I had seen Ania last year as well and I could not wait to attend her session this year either!

Ania presented so many ideas, you definitely have to catch her at a conference – her enthusiasm is amazing and so are her ideas, which work with all ages. We took part in many activities and could see in practice how great these ideas are. I loved how Ania’s ideas made everyone so enthusiastic, lots of people volunteered to take part in the activities. Lots and lots of ideas. Ania is also star guest blogger on many blogs, including mine. Her posts are definitely worth reading! Thanks so much, Ania!

Cecilia Lemos

After our lunch break, it was time to see Cecilia Lemos in action in her session, Ideas for Improving Studentsʼ Writing Skills: My Experience. Ceci gave us amazing ideas of how to integrate writing actively in our classes – a skill that has been often disliked by students for the reason that (we have all heard it and Ceci pointed it out as well) they have nothing to write. She introduced us to some nice tips for writing, such as motivating the students into writing the essay paragraph by paragraph wothout even realising it, and then putting them all together to make their very own writing piece – and prove to themselves that they can write! I also like how Ceci told us how she motivates her kids to read – they all read the same book, which she has chosen carefully to be apporopriate for all tastes and for both genders. She has also done a webinar on the same topic which you can see, along with other super posts, on her blog.

Luke Meddings

Right after, it was time for the one and only Luke Meddings and his plenary Dogme and the City.

I really liked how Luke paralleled language learning and teaching and exploring the city of Paris. It was a really great pleasure to listen to Luke and talk to him afterwards – we also enjoyed his Greta Garbo impersonation!

Thanks for a great plenary, Luke! Truly enlightening and I look forward to attending more talks from Luke in the future.

 

Marisa Constantinidis

Then it was time for Marisa Constantinidis – her session was The Reading Challenge: Motivation & creativity in reading lessons. Lots of educators heistate to use reading texts in their classes because they think the students may get bored. Marisa showed us so many ways to utilise texts in class successfuly, and get lots of things from them! She weaved reading texts into so many activities and extended them to speaking as well. I loved Marisa’s ways of motivating students to read – it counts to a great extent on how teachers present a reading text for the students to approach it! A great presentation form a wonderful person and educator! Read Marisa’s excellent blog  for more great ideas – I am giving a link to her very imimportant challenge for people with disabilities, which she pointed out in Paris as well and I believe is a very important issue for all educators to keep in mind.

Ceri Jones

Right after Marisa, the last session of the day I attended was Ceri Jones’s, You’ve Got Mail. She gave us very interesting ideas on how to use e-mail in class, as a means of communication with our students (letting them know what has happened in case of absence, for instance, but also as an exchange of language between the teacher and students). Ceri and her students did an excellent job in extending their linguistic abiltites and improving significantly in writing – something I found very interesting, as I communicate a lot with my students via e-mail, almost on a daily basis. I am definitely taking a lot of ideas from Ceri’s session! Read her super blog Close Up – great work there!

Then we had the Open Mic Night, which was a huge success and so much fun! Lots of singing, juggling, poetry reading – you name it : )

education, ELTChat, language, life, music, teaching, TESOL France

TESOL France 30th Colloquium – Day One (#TESOLFr)

Last year was the first time I attended TESOL France – it was a huge success from many aspects. First of all, the plenaries, workshops and talks were all fantastic and I learned so much. I met a lot of people I had only been interacting with online on Twitter and learned what the face-to-face meetings are really like: a lot of squealing, hugging and “Oh wow! It´s really you!!!!” among ourselves.

Beth Cagnol, TESOL France President (aka Wonderwoman!)

This year, I decided to do the same (well, actually, I had already decided after last year´s colloquium was finished!). I arrived in Paris last Thursday, on a rainy day…but I was so happy to be in Paris! I was positive that Beth Cagnol, the President of TESOL France and a wonderful person and educator, and her great team would prepare three great days for all of us who decided to attend. Which was exactly how things went! Beth opened the conference with a very emotional speech – I think we all had a lump in our throat just listening to her speak. Everyone at TESOL France made us feel so good there and enjoy a fantastic conference! This year I felt like I was returning to a very familiar place where I feel very welcome. Mille merci to everyone at TESOL France!

DAY ONE

Stephen Brewer, Plenary Speaker

On Friday we had the chance to listen to Stephen Brewer´s plenary on  It was the first time I was attending Stephen´s talk – Beth told us a lot of great things that Stephen has done in his career before he started his talk.

I especially liked what Stephen said about language being like music (as he is an amazing pianist himself) – for instance, that in language, as in music, we always have doubts as to how skilled we are, even if we are good at it.

What I also liked were the notions of human agency that Stephen mentioned – the great ability to exercise intentional influence and make choices. Then the inner game came into play – checking http://www.theinnergame.com, I found this definition:

What is The Inner Game?
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure.” -Tim Gallwey
FRIDAY SESSION
Dale Coulter

After Stephen’s plenary, I decided to attend Dale Coulter‘s session and was I ever happy to attend that one! Dale’s talk was Reflective Teacher Practice for Newly Qualified Teachers  – he told us so many things he does daily in his teaching and my aha! moment was when he said he keeps a journal, a normal pencil-and-paper journal. As I told hm after his talk (and I was very fortunate to discuss quite extensively with him), this is my 12th year teaching and I have never ever kept a journal! Dale reassured me it is never too late and I am going to use this idea, for the reason that I am always rather critical of myself when something goes wrong in lessons and I immediately dismiss my ideas. Dale said something amazing in his session: focus on the positive points and what went well and also on what you can improve. The best kind of reflection in my opinion! Read his blog here: http://languagemoments.wordpress.com for more ideas. Thanks so much for a great session, Dale!

education, learning, lesson plans, music, teaching, Teaching with Songs

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!