Sunday, 15 September 2013

A walk on the pastoral side

I'm so excited!!
I'm a form tutor this year at college as well as teaching ESOL to the 6th formers and adults. This is the first time I've done any pastoral work for 12 years so it will be a different challenge and I am definitely up for that.
I've had 2 sessions with my form already and started to get to know them a little. I have 21 Level 2 students, of whom approximately half are from overseas and taking ESOL. I have already had 1-1 sessions with a couple who are going to need a lot of monitoring and spent a good deal of time sorting out their timetable issues. Hopefully if I get it right now at the start of the year, I'll set up high expectations for the rest of the year.
Of course, data protection concerns means I cannot name any young person here, so I apologise now if "one boy" and "another boy" is stylistically a bit cumbersome to read.
Any experience and suggestions will be gratefully received.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Happy New Year

2nd September - can you believe it?

We had a fantastic summer holiday in France. I am lucky enough to a)have a holiday home in Normandy and b)be married to another teacher so we can spend 5 weeks there. Rest, adventure, good food and good company. What more can one ask for in a holiday? Oh yes, sun. We actually had a lot of that too this year!

Unfortunately though, it already feels like a distant memory after 3 days of enrolment at college. We have about 30 6th Form students needing ESOL support this year. I will be teaching the Entry3/Level1 students again but I have decided to do without a course book.

It took some soul-searching - could I manage without the crutch of a book telling me to do p54 on Friday? But there just isn't an ESOL coursebook on the market which is suitable for 16-18 year olds studying here with English speakers and taking Skills for Life Exams (or not one I can find, please, please correct me if you know better.) So I am going to create my own curriculum and pick and choose from all the available material to make it more personally relevant to the students.

Wish me luck with this - I'll keep you posted.

Have a good beginning of term

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Have a Great Summer

Just in case you were wondering.
Yes! I am on holiday. France, here I come.
Hope you have a lovely summer too.
See you in September.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Colourless green ideas sleep furiously

I'm sure you're familiar with this quote by Noam Chomsky. As I recall from my linguistics studies, he used it to demonstrate his theory of innate grammar. We are happy to accept the legitimacy of the sentence despite the fact that it makes no sense at all. However we do not accept 'Green colourless furiously ideas sleep' or ' Sleep ideas furiously colourless green' because these are not 'grammatical.'

Anyway, I took my Entry 1 ESOL class on a trip to a local art gallery this week and we saw this. It is titled 'Colourless green ideas sleep furiously':

It was part of an exhibition called Pandamonium, commissioned by WWF, but unfortunately I didn't make a note of the designer's name. Sorry - blame the bronchitis which has been plaguing me all week!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Can you interpret??

Any idea what my Thai student eats for dinner? She wrote "snake panty"!!
Or what fruit my Pakistani learner likes? "kari".

To be fair - those are the only 2 indecipherable words in the 18 Entry 1 Skills for Life Writing scripts I have marked today,!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The (alternative) Easter Story

To teach the Christian beliefs or not to teach them? That is the Question.
Especially at Easter and Christmas.

My personal feeling (and I am a Christian) is that if the students are living Great Britain, whatever their religion it is helpful for them to understand some of the background to the otherwise bizarre rituals they see here during the major Christian festivals.

I always takes pains to emphasise that not everybody in Britain is a practising Christian (far from it) but that everybody knows the basic facts. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and Easter his crucifixion and resurrection. I have never had any trouble with this approach. On the contrary, I receive more Christmas cards from my Muslim students every year than from any other group. Anyway, it ticks off that 'Citizenship' box on my Scheme of Work very nicely!

This year, as usual, I taught Easter traditions to all my classes. If you haven't discovered this website, it's brilliant for lessons themed around special days, and I used several of the resources. I've just revisited the site to check the link for you and found work on World Penguin Day. It's today! What a shame it's my day off!

The lesson I have in mind was with my Sixth Form class. (I currently have 3 groups- Entry 1 adults, CAE au pairs and Entry3/Level 1 Sixth Formers so you can imagine my approach had to be different for each class).

I wanted to teach both the Christian and the 'secular' traditions so I started by describing in brief what Christians believe happened on each day from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. It was a student who used the phrase "He died for our sins", not me so I asked this student to explain what it meant. (Cop out, I know, but I didn't feel up to a full theological explanation) Well, she was doing very well, although the young Nepali she was debating with ewas having none of it, when another girl interjected
"So, where does the Bunny fit in?"

What's the difference between Yours Faithfully and Yours Sincerely?

How many times have you been asked this question?
Recently, I was asked by a 6th form student from West Africa. I repeated for the nth time my standard answer; "Sincerely is when you know the recepient's name. Faithfully is when you start your formal letter with Dear Sir/Madam"
I added my not-very-useful way of remembering it "You cannot write SIR and SINCERELY in the same letter" Does anyone know a better mnemonic?
Anyway, this African boy responded unexpectedly; "In Africa we use Yours Faithfully in a polite formal letter and Yours Sincerely in an angry complaining letter."
I didn't know that. I found it interesting. I can imagine this confusion resulting in a lot of tribal/colonial lashes in the past!

Welcome to my world.

Hi! Welcome to my brand new ESOL blog.
I have been blogging as a hobby for about 4 years (check out my personal blog dedicated to my crafting and family life here) and I have been thinking for a while about creating one about my work.

So here goes nothing. I'm planning to keep this running for the remainder of the current academic year and then see how I feel. Whether I continue will depend on the response I get and whether it feels too much like extra work! So please comment, positively or negatively. I love reading your comments

Pictures may be thin on the ground - it's not really done to whip your camera phone out mid-lesson - but this is one of our students collecting their certificates fromt he Mayor of Woking last September

This is not a 'teaching blog'. It is a blog about teaching. I am no guru. I am not going to tell you how to teach. I'm just someone who has been doing this teaching thing for 20 years and still enjoys it. I consider myself lucky to have a job where I meet so many interesting people and do something different every day. Rarely does a week go by without me learning something new, so that is what I plan to share. If you pick up some ideas for your own classes along the way, that's fab. Please let me know how they went.

I'm assuming most of you are also teachers, but that may not be the case. Please leave a comment to introduce yourselves, and I'll see you soon with my first 'ESOL Experiences'.