About Alex Grevett (Breathyvowel)

Semi-retired ELT blogger

#KELTChat Slowburn: Challenging Assumptions. (Tuesday, March 15th. 11am-6pm KST)

#KELTChat returns on Tuesday with seven hour Slowburn™ chat. One of the reasons we’re a little late starting this semester is that #keltchat organizer @timothyhampson (along with #keltchat regulars @hallg and @languageonion) has been terribly busy organizing the ExcitELT conference. In order to prepare ourselves for the conference, we are adopting the conference theme — challenging assumptions — for this Slowburn™.

You can’t really avoid teaching by assumptions: Not everything is researched or researchable. And then there are the unconscious assumptions that we are not even aware of. In this chat, we invite you to discuss some of the common assumptions below, and share your own.

  1. If students are speaking the target language, then they are learning.
  2. If students are smiling and laughing the teacher is doing a good job.
  3. Students in Korea feel nervous about speaking in English (or another language that they are learning).
  4. The nervousness mentioned above in point 2 above is an inevitable result of Korean culture.
  5. Students in Korea have poor critical thinking skills.
  6. Korean high school English is simply a series of grammar lectures conducted in Korean.
  7. Students and admin expect lots of grammar focused instruction.

This chat is a Slowburn™ chat, meaning that it takes place over a much longer time than regular Twitter chats. We hope people will dip in and out of the chat throughout the day as their schedules allow; we don’t expect anyone to be involved for the whole 7 hours.The chat will run from 11am to 6pm Korea Standard Time.

If you would like to take part, but you are unsure how to go about it, check out the How-to section at the top of the page, or get in touch with us here or on Facebook.

We hope to see you on Tuesday!

Advertisements

#KELTChat 1st November 2015, 8-9pm KST: Using holidays in the classroom

This post is a preview for the upcoming #keltchat one hour Tweet chat on Sunday evening from 8 until 9pm KST. The topic of the chat is using holidays in the classroom.

A teacher doesn’t need to look far too find a lesson based on a holiday at this time of year. And those holidays are more often than not Western ones. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that all this holidaying in ELT classrooms the world over is done with a great deal of critical examination.

So here is #keltchat to step into the breach and ponder aloud why and how we can best bring seasonal good cheer into our classrooms. This pondering will be conducted along the following lines:

Do you use holidays in class? Why? How? Which ones?
Is using holidays really as popular as Breathy thinks it is it seems? Why?
Culture is probably important here, but what are the important cultural insights that holidays give us?
Are holidays popular because they give us an opportunity to have fun with students? How important is this? How does it compare to other kinds of fun?
Are there any downsides or things to be cautious of in using holidays in the classroom?
If we want to connect holiday themed lessons to specific language items, what would those items be?

The questions above are a guideline only, and diversions, distractions and tangents are most welcome.

We hope to see you on Sunday. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

The #KELTChat Team

Alex (@breathyvowel)
Anne (@annehendler)
David (@davidharbinson)
Dayle (@daylemajor)
Michael (@michaelegriffin)
Tim (@timhampson)

#KELTChat Slowburn: “Reflecting on the KOTESOL International Conference (and others)” (Tuesday, October 20th, 11am-6pm KST)

Apologies for the lack of #KELTChat Twitter chat action recently. This was largely due to the fact that #KELTChat folks have been out and about in the real world doing some live #KELTChat sessions. One of these sessions was at the KOTESOL International Conference at COEX on the 10th and 11th October. This conference is also the subject of Tuesday’s chat. We’d like to know if you went, what you saw, what you learned and how you felt about it all. If you didn’t go, this chat might also be a good place to catch up on anything that you missed, and to share any other recent conference going experiences.

This chat is a Slowburn chat, meaning that it takes place over a much longer time than regular Twitter chats. We hope people will dip in and out of the chat throughout the day as their schedules allow; we don’t expect anyone to be involved for the whole 7 hours.

Some general questions to consider: 

  • What were some of the sessions that you enjoyed?
  • What are the three most important things that you learned?
  • Did you do anything different the following Monday?
  • What other aspects of the conference (aside from the sessions) did you enjoy?
  • What would you say to someone attending the conference for the first time?
  • Do you feel different about conference going as you get more experienced?
  • What are good ways to get to know other teachers at conferences?
  • What makes a good session in general?
  • If you presented, what advice would you give to future presenters?

We hope to see you in the chat on Tuesday.

#KELTChat: “Building rapport with students” (Sunday 6th September, 8-9pm KST)

After a summer off to gather its thoughts and give those niggling injuries a chance to heal, #KELTChat is back to take once more to the lush fields of Twitter and do battle with the ELT issues of the moment.

If you have never encountered #KELTChat before, here is a short introduction. #KELTChat is a space on the internet (and increasingly in “real life” too) for teachers in Korea and further afield to talk about issues that affect us in the classroom and the industry as a whole. We have a Facebook group but the greater part of teacher interaction takes place in our regular Twitter chats (lots of good information in that link).

The first such chat takes place on Sunday 6th September from 8 until 9pm Korea time (click here for the time in your part of the world). The topic will be “Building rapport with students”. Most teachers would agree that rapport is important, but it may mean different things to different people, and the ways that it is created will vary in each case. This chat is an opportunity to explore our own and others’ approaches to building rapport.

The chat will be structured around the following questions, though tangents and diversions are very welcome.

  • What does rapport mean to you?
  • Are there any aspects of rapport that you think might be particularly important for Korean students?
  • Are there any aspects of rapport included in common definitions that you think are NOT important?
  • How explicitly do you try to build rapport between students, and between yourself and the class?
  • What activities to you find are effective at building rapport?
  • How do you act towards students in order to build rapport?
  • Is there anything else that you do to encourage rapport?
  • What kind of timescale do you have for building rapport?
  • Is there any value in assessing rapport between students?

We hope to see you on Sunday. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

The #KELTChat Team

 

#KELTChat Slowburn: “Participation: what is it, and (how) should we measure it?” 19th May 2015, 11am-7pm (KST)

Tuesday sees another longer form #keltchat Slowburn™, happening from 11 am to 7 pm KST (click here for times where you are). Slowburn™ chats are designed for people to drop in and out of the chat, and to allow topics to be developed in a little more depth than our one hour chats. You are not obliged or even expected to participate for the full eight hours. The topic for this chat is participation in class. As teachers in any context, this might be one of the ways in which we might judge a student. In fact, anecdotally speaking, a participation score seems to be a component of the grade in many university English courses in Korea, but less common in other contexts. Here is a link to one teacher’s participation rubric for you to read and which will form the basis for the chat: Participation Rubric. Here are some questions based on the rubric and the notion of assessing participation as a whole. These can form the basis for contributions to the chat and discussions, but input not based on these questions is welcomed.

  • What is your definition of participation? How does it differ from the rubric posted here? Would you like to share your own rubric?
  • Do you assess participation in your class? Is this something you would like to start or stop doing?
  • Does having a participation grade make it more likely that students will participate?
  • Are there any potential drawbacks from having a participation score?
  • Does a participation grade privilege naturally outgoing students? How could we compensate for this?
  • Should students be able to play a role in assessing their own participation, as suggested in the rubric here?

If you have never participated in a chat before but would like to start, there are some useful hints on the how-to tab above. Questions and contributions of any kind are also welcome at our Facebook page.

#KELTChat: Politeness, inter-cultural communication and ELF. Sunday 19th April 2015, 8pm (KST)

We’re having a one hour #keltchat this weekend, on the topic of politeness as it relates to communication between non-native speakers of English from different cultures. However, politeness itself is a slippery concept, and may not mean the same thing even to members of a culture or community of practice. Post-modern theories of politeness see the phenomenon as dynamic and requiring a bottom-up approach rather than imposing categories from above (Watts 2003). For teachers, it may be helpful to approach the topic of politeness in the same way. In light of this, here are some questions that might be useful to think about before the chat:

  • Do you agree that politeness must be approached from the bottom up?
  • How can this be done in an EFL classroom?
  • What kinds of strategies can we use to become aware of inter-cultural miscommunication?
  • What kinds of strategies can we teach students in noticing and navigating different norms of politeness?
  • What experiences have you had of trying to teach politeness in your classroom?
  • What have your students done in class that might be considered rude? Why so?
  • Where might we get the materials to discuss politeness?
  • Do you think that there are any universal or widespread notions of politeness that might be useful to teach students?
  • Have your students ever shared stories or experiences of inter-cultural miscommunication or politeness failings?
  • How can we start discussions with students about politeness in an inter-cultural sense?

If you have never participated in a chat before but would like to start, there are some useful hints on the how-to tab above. Questions and contributions of any kind are also welcome at our Facebook page. We hope you can join us for the chat.

References

Watts, R. J. (2003). Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

**UPDATE** Further Reading

Here are some free-to-view links related to politeness and intercultural communication that may be of interest to anyone interested in the topic.

#KELTChat Slowburn: “What role does translation have in the language classroom?” 7th April 2015, 11am-7pm (KST)

Tuesday sees another longer form #keltchat  Slowburn™, happening from 11 am to 7 pm. Slowburn™ chats are designed for people to drop in and out of the chat, and to allow topics to be developed in a little more depth than our one hour chats. You are not obliged or even expected to participate for the full eight hours.

The topic for this chat is the role of translation in teaching languages. Translation has in the past had somewhat of a bad reputation, particularly when collocated with “grammar”. However, almost all speakers of a second language seem to do some translation, some of the time. How often have you heard a fluent L2 speaker of English pause and say to themselves, “now how do you say that?”

As usual, here are some questions to act as prompts for the chat. Feel free to answer any or all of them during the chat. Tangents are also very much encouraged. However, when you first join the chat, you might want to consider sharing your thoughts on the first two questions as a way into the discussion.

  • What role do you think translation has in the language classroom?
  • Do you use any translation techniques in the language classroom?
  • What’s good to translate? What’s not good to translate?
  • Should we abandon the grammar translation approach entirely, or were there some benefits to it?
  • What are some useful spoken translation activities?
  • How about written ones?
  • How can native teachers use translation techniques even if they do not speak the students’ L1(s)?
  • How can teachers use translation with mixed L1 groups?

If you have never participated in a chat before but would like to start, there are some useful hints on the how-to tab above. Questions and contributions of any kind are also welcome at our Facebook page.