Friday, 1 December 2017

Congratulations to the Lake School of English!


In 2018 the Lake School of English will proudly be celebrating its 40th year as a hugely successful English language school in Oxford.  This is an enormous achievement, and a glowing testimony to the two dedicated directors, Carmel and Susan, and each and every single member of the hardworking members of staff.


In recognition of this incredible landmark number of years, there is currently a special promotional offer for earlybird bookings!

Link to Lake School page with more details of this special limited offer is here


Also, for the recent British Council Inspection in August 2017, the school achieved 14 points of strength out of a possible total of 15.  Again this is great cause for celebration and congratulations.

Below a screenshot of the Instagram page with news of the outstanding success:


In addition, the Lake School has been nominated yet again by the EL Gazette as one of the UK's Top 100 British Council accredited English Language Centres in 2017, and it is currently in third position.

You can read more information on the Lake School of English News page here

A personal message of congratulations was sent to the school using one of my favourite comic tools.

I am proud to be associated with the Lake School, and I wish the whole team all the very best for the future.  May it continue to provide an excellent and outstanding teaching service for many more years to come!!

If you wish to read more about the school and all it has to offer the discerning EFL student / teacher, then the website offers a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know.

Link: https://www.englishinoxford.com/


You can follow and read all the latest news from the Lake School on Twitter and on Facebook!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Castle in The Sky: Roccascalegna



A visit to Abruzzo should include a special trip to the medieval Castle of Roccascalegna, perched precariously high up on a steep rock cliff.

I first read about it in Life in Abruzzo's post here.

 Image above courtesy of KRB

The article and images inspired us to see this beautiful castle for ourselves. So one bright sunny Sunday in mid October, we set off with great anticipation, and we weren't disappointed!


Below a view of the village from one of the open windows:


The castle was the dramatic location for some of the scenes from the movie 'Tale of Tales'.
Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tale_of_Tales_(2015_film)

You need a pair of sturdy walking boots to access the castle and its internal areas and you will not be disappointed when you see the stupendous views of the Abruzzo countryside from the top.


A little rest was needed after all the walking, and the seat below on the way down from the castle provided a pleasant moment of respite, despite a few wooden slats missing!!


After a leisurely walk around the ramparts, we followed the steps down and passed a few colourful paintings on gas covers such as the one below.



We had a lovely lunch at the nearby  Il Corvo Restaurant.  The gnocchi were excellent and the beautifully presented cheesecake was to die for!

All in all, a pleasant morning was spent in this location!

During the winter months the castle is open on a Sunday.



Monday, 20 November 2017

Summer Teaching at the Lake!

I think I am now .........



regarding blogging for the moment!

This rather belated post is going to be about my teaching at the Lake School of English during the summer months from July through to October this year.


Comic tool used: http://www.professorgarfield.org/pgf_comics_lab.html

I had the great pleasure to teach a variety of levels ranging from AO (Complete Beginner) to B2+ (Upper Intermediate).  All the learners were wonderfully receptive and I enjoyed teaching each individual class.  It was also as usual, fantastic to be back in the staffroom and be an active member of the dynamic teaching team.

If you are on Facebook, you can see the many social activities that are organized by the school, and it is plain to see that all the students are happy with their studies and with the school in general.

Lake School Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/TheLakeSchoolofEnglishOxford/

Never Stop Learning
Not having taught in a physical classroom for a number of months, I was pleased to see that I slipped straight back in as if I had never been away.  This was encouraging, and over the nine weeks I challenged myself to be creative and try out new lessons whenever possible.

Whilst in Oxford, in September, I quietly celebrated my 38th year of being an EFL teacher / Teacher Trainer.  Looking back on my very first day of teachng at the Briam Institute in Madrid in 1979, I was able to reflect on how things have changed since those early days when I was a novice teacher. I guess the most important  point I have learned along the way is to always strive to develop as a teacher, and to never stop learning.

I will outline some of the tools I used in my lessons. They are tried and tested ones, and I have used them time and again to create colourful visual aids to help motivate my learners.

The Joy of Teaching Teens

I taught classes mostly consisting of adult learners but also included a lot of Under 18s.  I particularly enjoyed teaching a group of Teens from Switzerland, who really kept me on my toes and forced me to think quickly during the lessons.

I hadn't taught a specific teenager class for a little while and with a 40 year+ age difference, I asked myself this pertinent question:

 'How can I motivate these lively teens and hold their interest, and how on earth can I gain an insight into their psyche and interests in a short period of time?'

Well, the lessons worked out fine and I found the learners to be very knowledgeable with a good level of English and keen to communicate.  The age gap did not make any difference to how I felt about teaching them and I really enjoyed the buzz from their collective energy. 

The following articles make for interesting reading:

  • Teaching Teenagers, English Teaching Professional, Issue 23, 2002 
  • Teen Power,  English Teaching Professional, Issue 39, July 2005
  • Teenagers! Motivating the teenage brain, MET, Vol 13, No 4, 2004
  • Motivating Teens to Use English (and not L1) in Class, ELT Chat summary, 19/01/2011 
  • How to motivate teens to extend their speaking activities, ELT Chat summary, March 15, 2011
This article written by Tiziana Angiolini , outlines a summary of a presentation she attended called Motivating Teens and Youngsters

I have bookmarked it as essential reading for my next class of teens in the future.  Thanks Tiziana!

Jazz Chants

What the class above seemed to enjoy most of all was doing Jazz Chants.  This was a good way of drilling them on stress patterns in a fun way.  I asked them to create their own jazz / rap chants to recycle some phrasal verbs I had taught them and then to recite them in front of the class.  It helped that one of the students was a keen rapper, so he offered to keep the dialogues flowing in a rap style by beating the rhythm on the desk to keep the flow moving smoothly.  They did really well on this activity and although they had protested at the beginning that they didn't really like studying phrasal verbs, it was amazing how many verbs came up in their rap chants and all were used in a great context.  I wish I had recorded a few of them!

The Wonderful World of Word Clouds

I used word clouds very often in my lessons for recycling / revision purposes, as lesson summaries and as vocabulary pre-teaching.

Below a selection of lesson ideas using WordArt

A summary of one of my classes.  The umbrella shape was chosen because it had rained during some of the lessons and I had asked the students if they had all brought their brollies with them!

Here is a summary of the Green Room class I taught.  The bike represents my cycling to work every day!  The cloud shows what topics we covered in one of the weeks and some adjectives about the group, who were receptive and hardworking!!


Below a summary of a 1-1 lesson, where we had a cup of tea whilst discussing a wide variety of social topics around the world...

Below a smiley word cloud to recycle phrasal verbs with 'OFF' particle:

Below a word cloud used with my AO class to review family vocabulary relevant to them:

Reviewing some classroom language with this Beginner group:



I asked B2 students to create a dialogue / short story using some of these verbs in the cloud as prompts:

In the example word cloud below, you can see some informal English expressions which were included in a lesson from OK 4 book.  I simply added them into a word cloud and used it for revision and recycling purposes.  The students were given a copy to refer to.



The general feedback I received was that learbers liked the word clouds very much as it / they helped them to remember the expressions in a memorable and visual manner.

 Using Comics to Motivate Learners

I love using comics in my classes as they can be powerful learning tools for learners. My scoop it site contains many links to comic creation sites and information on how comics can be used in a challenging, creative, and pedagogical manner:

https://www.scoop.it/t/comics-and-cartoons

Here is a comic I created a while back and I always use it when presenting phrasal verbs. 


Asking questions about the weekend using informal expressions:


Some sentences my students created with 'OFF' phrasal verbs transfered into comic form:

Mind Mapping Introduction!

I used Popplet mind map to create a simple introduction to myself, and students had to ask me questions to find out more information.  They were then invited to do the same.


Quizlet

I used this tool for revision and recycling of colloquial expressions with one of my groups.  I invited  members of the class to go to the computer and then the rest of the class had to help them complete the tasks.

                                        
This was great fun and the students were invited to create their own flashcard sets if they wanted to.

Newspaper Info



Summary

The time spent teaching face to face during the summer months went by too quickly. Teaching is in my blood, and I guess it is one of the most satisfying jobs one can ever do.  Of course it all depends on the students, the staff, and the working environment.

All three aspects and many others were absolutely .........

Another post about the Lake School will be written soon. I will include a mention of a very special landmark event for the school in 2018!!


Friday, 17 November 2017

Janet's Abruzzo Edublog is 9 years old!

Image source:  Razzle.com

Janet's Abruzzo Edublog is now officially 9 years old!  My very first post was on November 8th 2008.  It was a short and simple introduction.  I remember feeling a bit nervous yet at the same time, very excited about taking such an enormous step in publishing to the world for the first time.

Back in those days I was a technophobe and did not possess much confidence in using the web.  That all changed when I took an informative and excellent course on Blogs with The Consultants-e.  I had a knowledgeable, friendly and sympathetic tutor, and my coursemates were all in the same boat as me.  This was a huge confidence booster and I loved every moment of the course.  It opened up new possibilities and awakened a passion for writing which had long been dormant.

I clearly remember pressing the 'Post' button on that life-changing day on 8th November 2008 and the feeling of exhilaration when the deed was done. It was a definite 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' kind of moment, and I have no regrets!

Thanks so much to my blog readers and for all the comments thoughout the years which have encouraged me to keep going.  I have learned so much from everyone!

A special mention goes to my dear friend and fellow blogger Natasa, who left me a message on my previous post.  That has inspired me to write this post today, so I would like to say a personal thanks to you!!  I hope we both carry on blogging for many years to come!

Image created with Keep-calm-o-matic


Thursday, 16 November 2017

It's been a while......


.........since I last posted, and I am now going to set thngs right, before even more time passes.

The honest reason for my recent lack of posts is that I simply lost 'the flow'.  I have discovered over the years that writing blog posts is a special art form and you need to be creative and be in the right frame of mind.


I have decided to reignite this lost 'flow' by planning to write 5 special posts, over the coming weeks, on topics which have inspired me recently.

  • Summer school teaching at the Lake School of English, Oxford
  • Lake School of English successful BC Inspection result, and 40th Anniversary in 2018
  • Bumper Olive picking harvest November 2017
  • Little Free Library of Abruzzo Initiative
  • Roccascalegna Castle, Abruzzo
Watch this space!!