Showing posts from 2009

Language Teaching in Second Life - A Review

Time for a review of language teaching in Second Life. This post was prompted by a request from someone who wanted to observe a class in SL. This is the best place to ask for a Second Life class observation opportunity: As for observing classes, I was very impressed with the observations that I did while undertaking a teacher training course for language educators in Second Life, run by . They are a serious language school, with a sizable city in Second Life, employing highly trained teachers and teacher trainers and material designers and are doing the most when it comes to really using Second Life well for language teaching. I suggest contacting them - they may not be running another teacher training course for a while, but you could always sign up to take Spanish or Italian and get to observe teachers in action Avatar Languages is another language school that is also active, but the cla

Digital Play - a new blog

I've started a new blog with a colleague and friend, Kyle Mawer , called Digital Play, which you can find here: / The blog will specialise in collecting news, information and ideas for teachers who want to use computer games and other digital toys to help language learners in and out of class. This is something that we both have been involved in for several years now, especially in our jobs as teachers of young learners. During this time, we have tried out different ideas of exploiting digital games with young learners of English and teenagers, and have introduced a lot of our colleagues to using these too. The interest has grown and now many of our colleagues turn to lesson plans and worksheets featuring online games when they have a computer room slot. Of course, we have presented our ideas about using digital games at various conferences and have had articles and ideas published in various places too. The next, natural step seemed to be to set up

Interesting Talk on Teaching English in Second Life

Nik Peachey spoke to Dennis Newson about Teaching English in Second Life last night Among other things, he spoke about the Strengths , Weaknesses , Opportunities and Threats according to him. Here's a summary of what was talked about: WEAKNESSES * lack of established social norms The talk soon turned into a discussion with different participants agreeing / disagreeing with Nik. Talk mentioned the backchannel of the text chat sometimes interrupting the flow during meetings. * no eye contact * gestures and body language makes it difficult Nik wondered about the effect of the lack of body language, gestures, etc have on students and the Teacher-Student relationship. Participants who have experience teaching online mentioned the fact that the more experience you have teaching online the better: you can pick things up in other ways (tone of voice, etc) One participant, however, stated evidence has found that some students are more forthcoming because of

Paper vs Digital ELT materials

There is currently a debate going on in the IATEFL Young Learner SIG Yahoo Group about the the pros and cons of publishing digital ELT materials/resources as compared to paper-based ones (i.e. books). I have been reading the posts on this thread with a great deal of interest, and can't help thinking that those defending the paper model echo what many in the music industry were saying about digital downloading when the first effective model ( Napster ) came on the scene. There was a time some years ago when the music industry had a real chance to utilise the emerging technology to provide a new business model for the industry. Instead, they chose to ignore the change implied by the new technology. As we all know now, this has led to widespread adoption of illegal file-sharing and huge losses by record companies all over the globe. Despite efforts to stop this ( DRM , court cases, legal file-sharing through iTunes, etc), most people feel the battle has been lost and musicians are st

To Blog or not to Blog?

Why blog? Getting started - my experience Recently, I've been thinking about blogging and why people do it. I've been encouraged by the nomination for an award I mentioned in my last post, and by Karenne Sylvester 's call for entries to the blog carnival she has organised to help newbie EFL bloggers . So, what makes someone sit down and write something and publish it on the Internet for all to see? In particular what makes an EFL teacher do this. The main reasons I suppose are self-expression, to communicate with other teachers, to share ideas, reflect on practice. Of course there's also the teacher who wants to try it out because you want your learners to blog and you don't think you should ask them to do something that you wouldn't do or haven't tried . That's why I started. Let me start with some statistics - I've been blogging at for six years (since July 9th 2003), have written 553 posts so far and over 60,000 word

BLOG-EFL nominated as one of the 100 Best Blogs (Language Technology)

Are awards important for bloggers? The reason I ask is because I recently found out I've been nominated for one (from Anna, whose excellent blog about her experiences in Second Life has also been nominated). The Top 100 Language Blogs 2009 Awards have been organised by LexioPhiles and there are four categories: Language Learning, Language Teaching, Language Technology and Language Professionals. I was surprised to hear that I'd been nominated, because I haven't been blogging here much recently (much of what I used to use my blog for has been taken over by Twitter or Facebook or Delicous ). Surprised and also chuffed. And then I wondered why. Thinking about it, I realised I'd been wanting to get back into blogging, but needed a good reason for doing so. Browsing the other nominated blogs (for me - this is the most important reason for such awards - you can find out about bloggers you weren't previously aware of, or people you haven't looked at in a while), I

SLanguages 2009

This year's SLanguages conference promises to be the best ever - it starts later today at 20.00 Central European time and continues for the next 24 hours. I'm excited to be speaking several times, first as part of the AVALON project , a European Union funded initiative, with 26 partners in 8 European countries. AVALON stands for Access to Virtual Learning live ONline, and our goal is to explore the potential for scenario-based language learning. This (tonight and then again tomorrow morning - see schedule for details ) will be the first time we've spoken about it in public together - looking forward to it. I'm also speaking as part of the panel discussion plenary on language teacher training in Second Life, with Nergiz Kern , Nick Noakes and Dennis Newson , although I think Dennis can't make it after all. We'll be talking about our experience organising the TESOL Electronic Village Online session on Virtual Worlds & Language Learning . The social network

IATEFL double whammy: Milan & Cardiff

I count myself among the lucky few who are going to attend in-person both of the upcoming events hosted by  and the . IATEFL 43rd Annual Conference - Cardiff Starting on 31st March and running until 4th April, the 43rd annual IATEFL conference promises to be the best yet. The range and quality of the speakers at the IATEFL conference always poses a challenge when you're flipping through the programme deciding who to go to hear speak, although little does it matter, as rarely, in my experience are you disappointed. The great news for those who can't be there in person is you'll be able to get more than a flavour of the conference by registering at IATEFL Cardiff Online: Last year, there were 1600 participants at the conference and 5000 participating online. This year promises to be even better, with far more activity going on online to bring those not at the conference closer to th

Seven Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

Happy New Year everyone. I'm not even going to say that one of my New Year's resolutions is to start blogging regularly again, as I think I said that last year (and it didn't work out - probably because I was so busy elsewhere). This year, however...well, this year it'll be a different story... So, wondering how to start the year off, I was going to post more resolutions, but Lindsay Clandfield asked me if I'd write six New Year Web 2 Resolutions for his blog , so I needed something else. Then I found I'd been tagged by Gavin Dudeney for the ‘ Seven Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me ’ , which will make a perfect start to the year. Here are the rules: Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog Share 7 facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird Tag seven people at the end of your post Let them know they’ve been tagged Well, here goes nothing... 1. Before becoming a teacher, I worked in London for a number of archite