About Alex Grevett (Breathyvowel)

Semi-retired ELT blogger

#KELTchat Slowburn – Getting the most out of conferences (Tuesday, September 23rd 10 am-10 pm)

Photo by Rodd Lucier used under Creative Commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/thecleversheep/3165592302/

Photo by Rodd Lucier used under Creative Commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/thecleversheep/3165592302/

Hello again. #KELTChat’s fall/autumn activities continue with a return to our Slowburn™ chats. The topic is “Getting the most out of conferences,” and the chat will take place via the medium of Twitter on the 23rd September 2014 between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm, Seoul time.

The Slowburn chat is intended to be a more relaxed and less involved alternative to our intensive one hour chats. Spacing it out over twelve hours means that you have time to dip in and out as you wish, and topics have time to rise, fall, be resurrected and fully explored over the course of the day. We hope that this will better suit people with busy weekday schedules.

With at least two large East Asian conferences upcoming (the KOTESOL and JALT international conferences) we thought it would be a good time to look at how we can best use these opportunities to learn and connect with other teachers. Therefore, some of the questions we will discuss are:

How do we choose which sessions to attend?
What are we looking for when we attend conferences?
Learning, presenting, networking: what is the best balance?

How can we cope with getting so much information at once?
How can we take notes in a useful way?
How can we use social media to improve our conference experience?
How can we reflect on what we’re hearing about?

How can we communicate and connect with other participants? How can we engage with the conference playfully? Can it sometimes help to move “outside” the design and flow of the conference, and how can we do that?
How can we cope with fatigue over two or three day conferences?
What do we do after conferences? How can we carry the “buzz” back into the classroom? How do we apply what we learned?

Should we think about setting goals for conferences? What kind of goals?
What should we do the week/ the day/ the morning before the conference?
Do you have any essential conference going equipment?
What are some of the best conference sessions that you have attended? Why were they so good? Did you expect them to be so good beforehand?

Of course, you should also feel free to bring and ask your own questions during the chat.

If you would like to take part in the chat, you will need a Twitter account. There are some excellent how-to guides at the top of the page (not written by us!). If you would like a more personal explanation, ask on the Facebook group and we’ll be happy to help. We’d also point out that while we are Korean centered, we’re by no means exclusive, and you should feel free to join us from anywhere in the world. We’d welcome the international perspective.

We hope to see you on Tuesday .

The #KELTChat team

 

This article from ELT Journal written by Simon Borg (and discussed further on his blog here)  was shared by David Harbinson on Twitter recently and might be of interest for those thinking about topic.

#KELTChat 14th September 2014 (8pm KT) – Making the most of reading materials

Good morning, afternoon or evening and welcome back to this season of #KELTChat. After our summer break and a public holiday, we are back with a one hour Twitter chat on Sunday 14th September 2014 at 8pm Korean time.

As voted for on our Facebook group, the topic for this chat is “Making the most of reading materials.” As ever, we have racked our brains for some questions that might prompt discussion, though we would point out that the chat is by no means limited to these, and should you have questions of your own to ask we would very much like to read and discuss them. One clarification is that we are thinking about textbook style reading texts, as opposed to graded readers and extensive reading.  Here are the questions:

  • What do we hope to achieve by using reading texts in class?
  • Ok you have a text that you need to use. You have been told students need to read it. What can you do with it?
  • What are different ways you can spice things up and move beyond read for gist and read for detail?
  • What are the best ways to exploit texts? How can you encourage students to revisit the text? Do you “mine the text’ for language points? If so, when and how?
  • Are there any follow up activities you have found to be effective?
  • How/ when/ why would you adapt a text for mixed level classes?
  • What would you do with a boring text?
  • How do we best work with fast and slow readers?
  • Why do people insist on giving students a reading text but no task other than “read this?”
  • Are there ways to move beyond the lockstep classes that can tend to happen when reading in class?

If you would like to take part in the chat, you will need a Twitter account. There are some excellent how-to guides at the top of the page (not written by us!). If you would like a more personal explanation, ask on the Facebook group and we’ll be happy to help. We’d also point out that while we are Korean centered, we’re by no means exclusive, and you should feel free to join us from anywhere in the world. We’d welcome the international perspective.

We hope to see you on Sunday.

The #KELTChat team

#KELTchat Slowburn – Promoting Learner Autonomy: Stories, Sites, Sources, and Strategies (Tuesday, June 10th 10 am-10 pm)

KELTCHAT SLOWBURN (™) Last chat one of the semester
One day only!

We all know that promoting learner autonomy is A GOOD THING and is something we *should* be doing. From there it might get a bit more hazy. Maybe for some, a variety of questions spring up. Some of these that might help guide the chat are:

  • What can we do to promote learner autonomy?
  • What would you say to a teacher who says promoting learner autonomy is not their job?
  • What strategies do you recommend for introducing and sustaining learner autonomy?
  • How can we help students to see their English as a lifelong project, rather than as preparation for a series of tests?
  • What websites or digital tools would you recommend?
  • Are there any blog posts or articles related to this topic you can recommend?
  • Do you have any stories related to challenges and successes you have had with this you’d like to share 140 characters at a time?
  • Does the Korean context figure into all this? How?
  • Do you have any questions about learner autonomy?

We will try to tackle all of this, and more, between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm Korea time on Tuesday, 10th June 2014. If you would like to take part but don’t know how, see the guides at the top of the page, or ask someone who looks like they know what’s up via Twitter or our Facebook group.

#KELTChat 1st June 2014 (8pm KT) – Recycling, Reviewing and Repeating

I have written before that taxi drivers in South Korea probably ascribe a much greater degree of Korean fluency to me than I actually possess. This is because I tend to take at least my fair share of taxis here, and the kind of small talk interaction that takes place in taxis is fairly predictable. Thus, I’ve had a good amount of repetition of “taxi Korean”, and I handle these situations much more confidently and fluently than other, less familiar interactions.

This is generally not lost on language teaching theory, where we know that vocabulary learning requires multiple reviews of and encounters with a word. The world of Task-based Teaching and Learning research abounds with studies into the effects of task repetition on accuracy, complexity and fluency. However, at least in my classroom, the pressures of the syllabus, exams and the need to be seen to be progressing sometimes means that I don’t spend as much time as I should going over old material.

If this also rings true for you, #KELTChat is here to help. During the chat we might look at any of the following questions, or any other questions that you bring:

  • How much repetition, reviewing and recycling do you do in your classroom? How do you go about it?
  • How can we carve out space for a little R&R(&R)?
  • How can we help students to see the benefit of repetition and review, when all they want to do is rush on to the next piece of language?
  • How much is repetition and review the job of the teacher, and how much is the student responsible for?
  • What techniques have you heard of for repetition and review that you’d like to try?
  • Is there any technology out there that could help teachers and students?
  • Is there anything about repetition and reviewing that we need to condsider that is particularly relevant to Korea?

We will try to tackle all of this, and more, at 8pm Korea time on Sunday 1st June 2014. If you would like to take part but don’t know how, see the guides at the top of the page, or ask someone who looks like they know what’s up via Twitter or our Facebook group.

 

 

#KELTChat – 6th April 2014 – Too much fluency?

Hello #KELTChatters,

Your favorite Korean online teacher development group (I’d call us an organization but I think it would be a contradiction in terms) offers you the chance to offer advice on a possible problem for teachers in Korea during our one hour chat on Sunday night at 8pm Korea time. We’d point out that you neither need to be involved for the whole hour, nor be in Korea to participate. Any and all contributions are welcome.

The problem is this*:

My classes are heavily fluency focused, with a lot of free talking, conversational tasks and role playing. We use a textbook, but students claim that they already know most of the language that it aims to teach. Therefore I try to focus on getting them to use the language that they already have. I also feel like this is what my administration expects of me. During activities I try to supply language at the point of need, which students appreciate, but if I try to use this to teach grammar or lexis past individual vocabulary words, then I sense attention starting to wane and boredom setting in. I wonder if there is more to be gained from fluency work than just fluency gains and incidental vocabulary.

* This is an imaginary scenario compiled from my experience and that of teachers that I have spoken to. I have left it deliberately vague in order that it can be adapted to different contexts. Feel free to invent or assume anything about this situation that is not given in the description.

Some questions that we might like to answer:

– What other learning oppportunities do conversation and tasks provide?
– How can we take advantage of these for learning?
– Can we structure tasks and conversations differently in order to provide language learning opportunities without explicitly focusing on language?
– How can we help students to achieve or set language goals within tasks?
– How can we create opportunities for students to use target language within freer speaking?

– Do you think that native speaking English teachers in Korea are expected to have more fluency based classes?
– If so, where does this expectation come from? Does it work against native speaking teachers? How can teachers counter it if they wish to?

If you have any answers to these questions, or any comments in general, we would be delighted to hear them during the chat. If this your first time, you can find a how- to guide on the tab above, or simply ask anyone in the Facebook group. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday night.

Cheers,

Alex (@breathyvowel)

#KELTChat 8th December 2013, 8pm.

Hi team!

Some important #KELTChat related dates for you all. As usual, #KELTChat will be retiring to a Balinese beach to get sunburn and sip pina coladas for the winter.  Thus, this Sunday, the 8th of December, will be our final one hour chat of 2013. Following that, we’ll have a final Slowburn on the 17th December, before we pack our little suitcases and see you all again in early March.

This week we’re trying out a “case study” style topic in a one hour chat. The situation is this:

You are teaching a general English class of twenty university freshmen three times a week. The class is generally conversational and fluency focused, and students are showing good gains in those areas, but you want to try to improve the students’ accuracy too, especially in lexical areas that may cause problems with intelligibility. However, the students, while happy to talk, find focusing on accuracy extremely difficult. Even in controlled practice situations they sometimes seem not to even try to take on board new language. Where gains in accuracy are made, they are often lost again a matter of days or weeks later. The situation is further complicated by the size of the class and students speaking quietly making monitoring difficult.

Some questions:

  • Is this a problem with accuracy, or a problem with motivation to learn?
  • How could we solve either of these problems?
  • How can we help students to retain language for longer?
  • How can we monitor and feedback to a large(ish) class?

The chat takes place on Twitter from 8pm on Sunday 8th December. Just run a search for #keltchat, and add the same hashtag to your own tweets in order to contribute. If you need any help, please send me a tweet or ask on the Facebook group.

See you on Twitter!

Alex G (@breathyvowel)

#KELTchat Slowburn 2 (Tuesday 26th November, 10am-10pm (GMT +9)

Hi team,

We at #keltchat towers thought that the last #KELTChat Slowburn was a bit of a success. Many of you dropped by to add their opinion throughout the day, and I hope that you all manged to take something away from it too. Whatever happened, we hope you’ll agree that it was good fun, and with that in mind, we hope you’ll join us for Slowburn 2! If you have no idea of what we’re talking about at this point, a recap of the Slowburn concept is below.

Slowburn 2 takes place on Tuesday 26th November, starting at 10am Korea time (GMT +9) and finishing at 10pm.

This week we’re going with a more ‘traditional’ topic:

“Why is there a gap between classroom learning and spontaneous conversation and what can we do about it inside or outside the classroom?” 
As a basic example: Students in Korea spend years learning grammar and sentence structure, but still produce sentences like “I park in play.” What can we do to help them practice and automatize correct (or at least comprehensible) English? 

Any thoughts, responses or opinions on the above topic are very welcome. Just throw them into the mix, or find a tweet that interests you and reply. If you get sidetracked that’s good! The advantage of Slowburn is that we have time to explore tangents. Any contributions are very much welcomed, whether you participate in the chat for one tweet or twelve hours (though we don’t recommend that you do all twelve hours for the sake of you and your loved ones’ sanity).

The concept

The concept of Slowburn is very similar to the original #KELTChat one hour Twitter chats. We will set a topic (see below) and encourage people to tweet their thoughts about it using the #KELTChat hashtag. This time, however, the chat will take place over 12 hours rather than one, allowing people to dip in and out, think and the discussion to diverge in more interesting ways. We also hope that this will allow more people in Korea to play a part, as well as taking in most other time zones.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, but you’re not really sure how to go about it, click the “about and how” tab above for a link to a handy guide. There is also a quick guide here. Friendly advice is also always available at the #KELTChat facebook group, or in the comments section below.

We hope you’ll enjoy #KELTChat slowburn. See you all on Tuesday.

The #KELTChat team

#KELTChat Preview – Sunday 17th November, 8pm (Korea time, GMT+9)

Hi team,

After Slowburn the week before last, we’re returning to our regular one hour Sunday chat this time. Don’t worry though, Slowburn will be back again on the 27th November.

This week’s topic carries on from a Facebook discussion – qualifications in Korea. Some questions that we might tackle:

  • Do/should we need qualifications to teach ESL here? What kind of qualifications should be necessary for Korean ESL jobs (Hagwon, Public School (Elem, Mid, High), University, Teacher Training)?
  • What kind of qualification might be most useful for getting a job?
  • What kind of qualifications might be best for those wishing to develop professionally?
  • What qualifications can you do in Korea?
  • (How) Do qualifications improve you as a teacher?
  • What are your experiences with getting qualifications?
  • How much teaching experience should one have for the positions listed above?
  • What other sources of continuous professional development for teachers are out there? How do we access them?

The chat takes place on Twitter from 8pm on Sunday 17th November. Just run a search for #keltchat, and add the same hashtag to your own tweets in order to contribute. If you need any help, please send me a tweet or ask on the Facebook group.

See you on Twitter!

Alex G (@breathyvowel)

Some help for participating in #KELTChat Slowburn™

This is a very short post with some information on how to take part in #KELTChat Slowburn. This is our new approach to Twitter chats, over a longer period of 12 hours. Here are some tips that may help you.

– We will be using the regular #keltchat hashtag for the chat. If you don’t already monitor it, go to the Twitter page and search for “#keltchat”. Alternatively, go to tweetchat.com and enter “#keltchat”. You will now be able to see everyone’s tweets.

– We will post the topic at the start of the chat and at regular intervals throughout the day. When you join the chat, scroll down and find the topic, or ask someone what we’re discussing.

– Remember to tag your tweets with #keltchat. That’s the only way to guarantee that participants will see them. Where possible, moderators will try to retweet hashtagless tweets, but due to the longer form we can’t promise to catch everything.

– If you need help at any time, the #keltchat team will be around. Just send a tweet to @breathyvowel, @michaelegriffin, @alexswalsh, @annehendler or @johnpfordresher.

Enjoy!

Introducing #KELTchat Slowburn (Tuesday 5th November, 10am (GMT +9)

Hi everyone.

We at #keltchat towers (think big, ivory, gold) have been doing some thinking recently. We’ve been wondering how well the one hour chats work, and trying to find a time that suits everyone including us. The result is a new, experimental approach, somewhere between a short chat and a discussion group. We’re calling it #keltchat slowburn.

The idea is very similar to the original chats. We will set a topic (see below) and encourage people to tweet their thoughts about it using the #keltchat hashtag. This time, however, the chat will take place over 12 hours rather than one, allowing people to dip in and out, think and the discussion to diverge in more interesting ways. We also hope that this will allow more people in Korea to play a part, as well as taking in most other time zones.

We’re going to trial this approach on Tuesday 5th November, starting at 10am Korea time (GMT +9) and finish at 10pm.

The topic this week is also a little different. We’re presenting a situation and asking you how you would respond. The situation is as follows:

You have recently taken over a class of students who are low level but being forced to work with intermediate materials. You have a difficult relationship with the class due to previous classroom management techniques like rearranging seating, and your colleagues report similar problems. Two questions:

1) What would you do about the materials?
2) How would you try to repair your relationship with the class?

We’re hoping for a lot of interesting ideas here on managing ‘challenging’ classes and helping students who are put in the wrong level. Any thoughts are very much welcomed, whether you participate in the chat for one tweet or twelve hours (though we don’t recommend that you do all twelve hours for the sake of you and your loved ones’ sanity).

If this sounds like your kind of thing, but you’re not really sure how to go about it, click the “about and how” tab above for a link to a handy guide. Friendly advice is also always available at the #keltchat facebook group, or in the comments section below.

We hope you’ll enjoy #keltchat slowburn. See you all on Tuesday.