IATEFL BESIG World Blog


Welcome to the BESIG World Blog. Each month we’ve got a different guest author lined up who will be sharing thoughts and experiences on teaching business English from countries around the globe.

  • Motivation: Teachers need it too

    Claire Hart

    Motivating Business English learners is often a challenge. Interrupting the work you need to get done by the end of the day to come to class, having to get to work two hours before your shift starts for class or coming to class because your boss has told you that you have to: these are among the circumstances which can have a negative effect on our learners´ motivation. As Business English teachers, however, we are very understanding of these circumstances. We do everything in our power to motivate: we negotiate clear and achievable learning goals with our course participants and then give them indicators of the progress they are making toward these goals. We vary the types of activities we give them, bring in some new technology- “Did you know that you can download this vocabulary app on your smartphone and use it to practice your English while you´re commuting to work?”  

    Don´t get me wrong, as far as I´m concerned, motivating our learners to learn is one of the most important parts of our job. If they´re not motivated to attend our courses, then we have no courses, essentially.  My point is rather this: that in the midst of all this talk of learner motivation, we might have forgotten that our own motivation to teach is equally important. In fact, learner motivation and teacher motivation co-exist symbiotically. If the teacher isn´t motivated to teach, then why should the learners be motivated to learn?

    Unfortunately though, many of our number are de-motivated. They´re fed up with Mr. X,  who frequently sends them an email half an hour before the planned lesson to cancel it, by which point they were already on the underground travelling to his office. They don´t appreciate the fact that they have to spend additional (unpaid) time preparing tests for their learners so that the Human Resources department can say to the top team: “Look, the money you´re spending on English training is money well-spent.” What can we do to motivate ourselves as Business English teachers? This is the question I would like to pose and go some way toward answering.

    I teach in-companies in Southern Germany and I also have my Mr. X and moments of de-motivation: none of us are immune to them, I think. I would, nevertheless, describe myself as a highly motivated teacher, overall.  Why? Well, here are some of the things which I have found to be effective boosts to my motivation:

    1.  Talk to other teachers who are passionate about what they´re doing and love their jobs. Let them inspire you with their infectious enthusiasm and also ask them practical questions like: so, how do you deal with this situation? How do you cope with this? If you don´t have the opportunity to talk face-to-face or email passionate teachers, you can find them on Twitter. Some of the tweeting teachers who motivate me the most and also give me a lot of practical teaching ideas and interesting links are those whose tweets you´ll find if you search for #BESIG or #besig. I´m often at my most motivated on my return from a workshop or conference though, having spent time exchanging ideas and experiences with other teachers over a coffee or a cocktail and learning useful tips and techniques in the sessions I´ve attended that I can then take home with me and use in my classroom.

    2.  Innovate in the classroom. Don´t be afraid to try out the new ideas you´ve gotten from others, use a new course book or try a different error correction technique. However big or small, make a change to the way you teach and it´s bound to stimulate you and help you get out of any ruts you may have gotten into. You´ll also no longer feel like you´re just running on auto-pilot when you´re in the classroom.

    3. Create your own content which is personalized to your participants´ learning needs, their jobs, their companies and their industries, or adapt the materials you already have to achieve the same effect. I know it takes time, but the positive feedback you´ll get from your learners if you do, does wonders for your motivation levels. It also gives you the feeling that you´re not just some photocopying robot but someone who is actually creating something.

    There are, of course, many other ways in which you can boost your motivation. If anyone has any tips they´d like to share on this question, please leave a comment below and join the discussion.

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  • Copier Quake

    Damian O’Donovan

    You know the scene, the daily queue for the photocopier. Someone is making endless copies of some dull course book. Your first thoughts are of long walks on short piers, but, with a descending tone and just a touch of a fortis obstruent, you utter the ubiquitous photocopier barge-in phrase: ‘Um…Can I just…?

    I’m sick of photocopiers, they should all be scrapped, thrown out of every English teaching and training establishment, whether you teach English for aviation or finance, for packet soup producers or chicken farmers. The buzz, the grunt, the nauseating, noxious fumes, the breakdowns and the sweaty engineer all instil a wild panic in the teacher whose lesson starts in 2 minutes, so hurried that the copy they make of the latest course book page they select at random comes out looking a dog-eared mess of wonky, blurred text. Stay away from the creature in the corner, regard it, like Morrissey does the wardrobe, as a beast of prey.

    And what about that notice from the CLA, ‘No more than 5% of any book can be copied,’ in most cases that’s 5 – 10 pages maximum and the course book is no solution, you need to start and finish one to feel the benefit. Who has a class that stays the same for long enough to do so?

    It doesn’t reflect well on your teaching when you hand out someone else’s out-dated ideas hoping they meet all your students’ needs and fit the perfectly crafted learning programme you may have spent weeks on? It sure wouldn’t impress me, if I were a student returning home with a file crammed with slap-dash, cut and paste exercises. ‘Yes’, I hear you troll: ‘…what about paid preparation time then?’ Yes, what about it, indeed? I have never experienced it in the private sector.

    There comes a time when you have to rely on your training and experience and deny the call of the course book and any paper at all. It’s time to get back to the resource book, what you picked up in your training and to the veritable Niagara of free, up-to-date and copyright free materials online and in your head. Maybe try a little teaching unplugged from time to time. This won’t really happen until the rumbling elephant in the room is taken away; however, for the time being: ‘there is a light that never goes out’.

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  • Channeling

    What's the difference between an air passenger and a BE learner?

    Having spent a fair amount of time flying this summer, I found myself comparing our two services.

    The lead-in times for both are long and wearisome.

    In both the seats are hard in economy and soft in business.

    And in both the food is all-important.

    No, really.

    It is hard to conceive of an environment less conducive to preparing and eating food than an aeroplane.

    It is cramped and airless and devoid of the kind of cooking utensils usually found in a decent kitchen.

    From a culinary point of view it makes no sense to eat on a plane.

    Everybody knows this, of course, and yet, still everybody does it.

    The reasons for this may be manyfold but the one that struck me after a number of consecutive flights this summer was food's narrative function.

    First, we have the safety drill, then, when the plane is airborne, the steward delivers a prolepsis, followed by the pre-prandial drinks, the meal, the post-prandial  refreshments, and the duty-free libation.

    Even on a medium-length flight of 4-5 hours, all of this refection amply fills up the flight narrative, making a distracting filling to the beginning and ending of take-off and landing.

    And distraction is the key, I think.

    In the world of service design, this is called channelling - directing our attention onto a specific focus and away from other distractions.

    Cooped up in a little metal tube, 35,000 feet in the air, with your neighbour's elbow in your ear, and the seat in front wedging you deep into a grimy headrest, there is no escape, and to take your mind off it, the crew tell you a story with food.

    I suspect there may be something similar to the way in which a learner studies a language.

    The main dish used in teaching English is the Grammar McNugget, a digestible little morsel that takes the learners' minds off the vertiginous affair of mastering a language - a process which, when seen in its entirety, can appear extremely daunting.

    Grammar McNuggets are no more cordon bleu than airline food, but then, they don't pretend to be.

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  • Hello from Andrea

     by Andreas Sintas

    Hi everybody! How great to have the opportunity to share thoughts and experiences with all of you. I’ve been designing courses and training business people in companies for more than 20 years. During all these years I have seen many different kinds of learners, but based on my experience, all of them fall into two well defined groups clearly distinguishable in terms of fluency in oral production and effectiveness in communication:

    1. The ones who work for companies in which most of the communication is in English. Those businesspeople make/receive telephone calls every day, participate in conference calls, write e-mails all the time, read and write reports and have meetings in English very often. They also have to negotiate as well as make presentations in English.
    2. The other group, the largest here in Uruguay, is made up of business people who do not use English very often. They make a phone call once a month; sometimes they participate in a negotiation or a meeting. Maybe once a year they have to give a presentation. So, what happens when they need to perform in English? Let me tell you this story of one of my students who belong to this group. His level of English is B1 according to the CEF. He had to give a presentation of his company to a panel at Endeavor.org in L.A, California. The room was crowded. He started and everything was going great up to the point in which he forgot everything. No single word came out of his mouth. There was a moment of hesitation. An awkward silence filled the room. He panicked. However, he managed to open a folder and he found his notes. He read some words, his memory reacted and he kept going as if nothing had happened. In the end it worked out but it could have been a complete failure. He had memorized everything he wanted to say because he was not used to speaking in English.  And that is what many learners in this group do.
    As a consequence, the learners in the first group move forward, learn fast, use every single word, structure, function of the language that are presented in class or the ones they listen on TV, radio, movies, podcasts or the Internet. The learners in the second group don´t need it right now, cannot think of a situation in which they might use the vocabulary or the expression they are being exposed to, therefore they don´t acquire it or it takes longer for them to use the vocabulary or expressions or even the functions of the language.

    Clearly, the learners in the second group need as much help as we can give them to bridge that gap with the other learners.

    At 4D, the company I founded and run, we carry out different kinds of activities to create the need to use and practice the language:
    • Each student has an e-mail account and the communication with the trainers is either via mail or sms or both. Always in English!
    • For every group of students we create a virtual group on Windows Live where the trainer posts classes, links, videos, articles, so that the students have the chance to be in contact with the language all the time.
    • We developed a Moodle platform for our students
    • There´s always a teacher on line, ready to clarify doubts to students.
    • We carry out in-company simulations and/or workshops so that students can practice the language in a safe environment.
    • We hold Intercompany meetings at our premises, in which people from different companies can attend and participate actively. It doesn´t matter the level of English they have. The experience is very rich and people usually love it!
    • We have virtual meetings once a month, so that students have the chance to discuss a business topic. People like it as they don’t have to reveal their identity (this is very important in a small country where everybody knows everybody and in general we are afraid of making a fool of ourselves)

    The idea is to generate activities that make learners feel the need to use English in the situations they will have to face sometime in their business life.

    I would love to know what other teachers do around the globe with this kind of students who do not have a chance to practice outside the class and if the students who do have a chance to use English at work pose any particular difficulty.

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  • New Technologies. Wow!

    by Luciana Garimaldi Garcia

    When I look back I see myself teaching in a class full of adult learners that had only books, pen, paper and a teacher writing on a chalk board using a cassette player as its only aid. At that time I would have never thought that I could be able to use new technologies to improve my students’ learning process and provide   them with tools to become independent and able to pace their own progress; let alone that I would be able to continue teaching one of my students who was temporarily transferred from Spain to South America.


    How did all this transformation start? Last year, my business partner Kelly Hayes was recommended a course in International business English teaching applying new technologies. I have to confess that even though I had surfed the net and visited websites to keep my classes updated and interesting, this course opened a whole new world of possibilities. To my surprise, most tools, programmes, activities we were taught and used as learners were motivating and creative.  They were a fantastic way of collaborating and interacting with both students and other teachers in various ways.

    I have to say that when I first started using new technologies in class and for homework in Murcia, Spain some students didn’t feel at all comfortable with them. Nevertheless, those who got used to them showed great improvement and progressed faster than the rest. For example, the student I’ve mentioned above was getting promoted and his final destination was Bristol. Last year, when he was going to live in Brazil for a couple of months, the company decided to continue his English classes on-line.  We used skype and vyew, for oral practice and wikis or e-mails for homework and additional exercises, activities, feedback, etc. I couldn’t believe it, having classes with someone that was located so far from Spain. I could talk to him, share content in-real time, and check his written progress as well. It was a revelling experience for both of us.  He could keep up with his English improvement and the only real problem was the difference in time.

    In February I attended a  webminar on ‘3 simple teaching tools to increase student motivation and performance’ given by Russell Stannard. One of the tools was quite interesting and I’ve been using it since then. Vocaroo is a site where learners can record their voice for a short time and then send it to any person via e-mail. This is a fantastic way to give students the opportunity to have some extra oral practice and a complete different way of giving tasks for homework. So far, I could say that adult learners like this and could be very creative in some cases.

    What has worked really well with intermediate students and higher levels are classes combined with an online course of controlled learning. At the moment, one of the companies we collaborate with is using this b-learning system. It is very demotivating for beginners to pre-intermediate levels though. If I compare student’s reaction to structured  platform/on-line system  and  wikis, I have to say that the former works better than the latter in Murcia, Spain. In my opinion, people are more used to follow a structure and do some drilling rather than collaborating with others in a more creative way.  I often wonder why all the motivating, user friendly and in most cases, free tools aren’t used by learners?  Does this also happen to you? Maybe it depends on people´s personality or culture; I like trying new things if I think they can work but not all of them seem to catch people’s attention. In Spain, when I ask why students don’t use them, in 90% of the cases the answer is lack of time. They are really busy at work and when they get home, they want to be with their families.

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  • On Myths

    by Evan Frendo

    I have just returned from the IATEFL Brighton conference. As always, some really good stuff. Have a look at the recordings of the sessions if you haven’t already done so – they are an incredible resource.  But as always, lots of myths about how we operate as business English teachers. Here are some of the ones I picked up on. What do you think? Do you agree that these are myths?


    1 “We know the language and they know the content”.

    Our learners want to become effective members of discourse communities which we as teachers are not necessarily members of. We are not engineers, or stockbrokers, or accountants. This means that our main task as teachers is to analyse the target discourse and make it accessible to our learners. It is too simple to say that the people in the classroom are enough. We need outside help.

    2 “Newspaper articles are great for practicing BE”.

    Yes, if your learner’s job is to read newspaper articles. But no if the aim is to learn and practise the sort of English people use in the workplace. There are much better resources to use in the classroom.

    3 “Words only account for 7% of the message – the rest is tone and body language”.

    Mehrabian’s research, which is often cited in defence of this claim, looked at very specific contexts. It was never meant to be used as an overall description of how communication works.

    4 ““ELF” is a variety of English”.

    ELF is not a variety, but a way of thinking about language. ELF says that it is not possible to decide what is “correct” and what is appropriate without knowing the context. We need to move away from a model that says language is right or wrong – that is too simple. This is not to say that we know how to teach ELF. But we shouldn’t dismiss it either.

    5 “Coursebooks are bad”.

    Coursebooks are not bad. They are merely a tool, a resource which can be used by trainers and learners to help in the learning process. Nothing more.

    6 “IT is wonderful”.

    Yes, but not always.  See number 5 above.

    7 “Texts not written specifically for language teaching are authentic, and therefore better for teaching”.


    Not necessarily. What is important is how the texts are used, not whether or not they were created for the classroom. See numbers 2 and 5 above.

    ------

    Evan Frendo

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  • Teaching working practices the British way

    by Sue Annan

    I really love my job. I live on a small island; 9 miles long and only 5 miles wide. To go to work I follow the coastline round to the college where I work, and as our students come for anything from two weeks to a year, I have plenty of variety each week. We are an attractive destination for students who want to have a holiday while studying and I work mainly with students from the European mainland.

    I’ve just spent the last few weeks teaching BE to a lovely mixed class. Today while exploring the topic of job interviews, which the class had requested, I asked them to create a list of interview questions, from the perspective of the employer. On sharing their work, some interesting points of contrast arose.

    The Italian software consultant was horrified that anyone would expect her to put her age on her CV, much less ask her to email a recent photograph to a prospective employer. The human resources manager was adamant that this was standard practice in Spain. Even my Czech and Slovakian students (both head-hunters) disagreed about what was acceptable, and they are geographically-close neighbours!

    Each of my students will be interviewed in their own country, except for the young Frenchman looking for a placement in Australia.

    The discussion led to a genuine interest in the working practices of the other countries and a grammar mcnugget of the language used for comparing and contrasting, so the afternoon wasn’t unproductive.

    My question for you is -What benefit is there, other than for the discussion value, in teaching these things the British way? Is our linguistic and cultural imperialism still acceptable in the classroom via the British BE course book?

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  • Doing the Needful in Sri Lanka

    by Tom Kral and Shannon Smith

    There has been a lot of talk about Global English in recent years.  The British Council has been leading the discussion, funding research and commissioning reports on the topic.  In the Business English classroom, however, the British Council has given far less thought to the issue in the material it produces.


    In Sri Lanka, the British Council’s Professional Training Centre offers popular training courses in writing emails, letters and reports.  But the material is dogmatically prescriptive about the rules of writing, giving no consideration to local cultural expectations.  For example, the Effective Writing Skills course gives learners the following rule:  “When the greeting is Dear Sir or Madam the closing must be Yours faithfully.  These are only used if the writer does not know the reader.”  The problem is that in Sri Lanka, the hierarchical system demands that bosses and anyone more senior than the writer be called Sir (or on rare occasion, Madam).  This means a lot of letters and emails, even between people who have known each other for years, start with Dear Sir.

    In addition to formal designations, Sri Lankan English is full of archaic phrases.  Letters and reports are peppered with gems like for your kind perusal, please furnish me with the information, kindly revert soonest, your goodself and my personal favourite, I will do the needful.  The British Council’s material trains participants to do away with these phrases and use more standard ones.

    The question is what is our role as Business English teachers when learners use this kind of language?  I believe we have three choices.

    The first is to teach standard writing phrases and encourage the learners to de-formalise their writing.   This is the approach the British Council’s courses in Sri Lanka take and it could help propel a trend which rids the region of its archaic writing.  Furthermore, using plain English would make writing clearer and easier for everyone to understand.  The problem is that learners feel uncomfortable being so informal and, worse, could offend their readers who are accustomed to a highly formal register.

    The second choice is to encourage the diversity of Sri Lankan learners’ writing style. This is the culturally sensitive thing to do and it promotes a language similar to Indian English.  After all isn’t Indian English a more useful model than any other, as it is Sri Lanka’s neighbour and home to more English speakers than the UK.  Also India will surely play a far greater role in shaping the style of English in the future.  However, choosing this approach does not expose learners to the style of English used elsewhere and leaves them vulnerable to sounding foolish when exchanging correspondence with people outside of South Asia.

    The third and perhaps most enlightened option is to raise our learners’ awareness of their “out-dated” phrases and offer them more modern alternatives when they write internationally.  Writing workshops could also focus on register, connotation and English as a lingua franca, thereby exposing learners to different varieties of native and non-native speaker English.  Business English teachers would then give learners the tools to make informed decisions when they write.

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  • Welcome Nicolas

    by Nicolas Celedon

    Hi everybody! What a pleasure to read Andreas’ blog and all the posts. It’s true that every English speaking region has its own way of expressing itself in English. Many times that difference stems from the various linguistic origins the groups of people previously had. And it’s also true that the various linguistic backgrounds today affect the way our EFL students learn. I remember a story one of my students once told me:

    Mariella (Spanish speaker-B2 CEF level), a director of well-known international company, was on a business trip in London. She had some free time and decided to go shopping. She managed to buy clothes and toys for her kids so well that she needed more travel space for all her shopping. While visiting a department store she wanted to buy a suitcase and she ended up in a candy store, where a clerk kindly showed her sweet cases.

    So why did this happen to her?

    English doesn’t have a phonemic orthography (the representation in writing of the English language is not one sound-one letter). The English spelling system is the result of a development process that has been going on for over 1,000 years, ever since some missionaries attempted to use the 23-letter Latin alphabet to represent the more than 35 phonemes of Old English.

    This prominent feature of English makes it difficult not only for EFL students, but also for native speakers to learn. It is hard for the latter to avoid “rediculous” spellings and children who read a great deal often produce spelling pronunciations, as they have no way of knowing other than the spelling how the rare words they encounter are correctly pronounced.

    That is one of the difficulties EFL students face when learning the language. Most of our Uruguayan business English students are adults who read a lot and just interact orally in English now and again. They are likewise vulnerable to producing spelling pronunciations.

    This is aggravated by the fact that many words have a Latin origin in both Spanish and English and as a result they have similar spellings. In addition to that, Spanish, despite not having a perfect one-to-one correspondence between the written symbols and the sounds, it is pretty close. So, Uruguayan students are prone to pronounce every single consonant of English as if it were Spanish.

    Latins used to say “Verba volant scripta manent” (Spoken words fly away, written ones stay).That is what happens to our students when they learn a word first in writing. The spelling image of the word is so powerful that even if they hear the word pronounced correctly and recognize it later they don’t reproduce what they hear but continue producing the spelling pronunciation.

    That’s why you will hear Spanish speaker saying lounge instead of launch, row (quarrel) instead of raw, Iceland instead of island, soap instead of soup, and many others.

    Another consequence of having a non-phonetic spelling is that sometimes there are groups of letters that have more than one pronunciation. Let’s take the letters “ough” and we’ll see that these four letters represent five different pronunciations (though, tough, trough, through, thought)

    So, my fellow colleagues, how do you tackle this situation where eyes are stronger than ears? As I have found in my own experience with teaching most of the time is not enough to correct the pronunciation mistake and we have to do something concrete about it.

    One thing I do when there is a word that contains a silent letter is crossing it out. For instance: b in debt, g in sign, etc.

    Sometimes I resort to special spellings like thru, EZ, K9, so that students can remember the phonemic spelling of a word.

    In addition to that, I usually vocalize words that may present pronunciation problems for students, so they hear and say them in context several times before they see them in writing.

    So I would like to know what you think about this topic, if that is also a problem when teaching English to people with other mother tongues than Spanish and if so, how you try to solve it.

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  • Back to the future

    Let me take you to the south of Spain. I’m working as a freelancer in Algeciras, the biggest port on the Mediterranean and the nearest town to Africa. It’s mid-January and I have my first lesson of the new year with Manolo – an insurance salesman who wants to speak to the expat community. Manolo has lessons during his short lunch hour and usually runs to my house. Today is no exception and, when he arrives at my door, he’s out of breath. A pearl of sweat drops from his brow. He comes inside and I start my lesson.

    I want to see what Manolo remembers of the Present Perfect that we looked at briefly last year. I give him a handout with a cutting from a bumper book of twentieth-century history that I found in my local library. The cutting is an announcement from the first newspaper of 1900 and celebrates the coming of the new century. It speaks of the dawn of a new era, one of prosperity, opportunity and hope. Manolo struggles with the words. Next to the story there’s a picture of a woman who I think is Libertas, and around her in little clouds are a steam engine, a hot-air balloon and open volumes of an encyclopaedia.

    I photocopied the page of the book at the library. When I got it home I cut out the section that I wanted to use and sellotaped it to a blank sheet of A4. On this new copy, faint black lines appeared where the edges of the cutting had been, so I tippexed them out and made another copy. Then using my typewriter, I typed some examples of the Present Perfect, as well as some questions about things that have happened since the beginning of the century. ‘We’ve leant to fly’ is the example given. I made a typo so, before making my fourth generation photocopy, I pencilled in an ‘r’. The figure is now no longer Libertas and the things that surround her are barely recognisable. Yet I am proud of my handout.

    Manolo uses it to fan his face. He struggles with some of the words, so I get him to look them up in my dog-eared dictionary. As he does so, the centre pages fall out and he puts it down.

    ‘You know Andrea’, he says, ‘we are at the beginning of a new revolution!’ He holds his head high, proud of this sudden statement.
    ‘First came the industrial revolution, then medicine and science – we learnt to fly; heart transplantation – what do you think is next?’
    I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it.
    ‘Information!’ He then says. ‘The informatic revolution!’

    We sit silently reflecting on what this means. We have no idea of what’s to come. I prepare my listening comprehension, using my cassette from the Streamline English series.

    Fast forward 15 years and I’m in Hamburg, Germany. I’ve just given a workshop with Andi White on teaching with technology. The participants listen politely as we go through each item on our agenda – blogs and wikis, rss feeds and readers, websites and apps. We are so enthusiastic that our teacher talking time goes through the roof.

    Beside us on the desk are a Mac and a netbook, and the cable to a video projector passes between them as if in a game of tennis. We don’t have an IWB but we do make the board interactive using the projector, and I get to play with my latest toy – a powerpoint clicker.
    As Andi speaks, I remember Manolo and reflect on how technology and his ‘informatic revolution’ have completely transformed teaching as I knew it. Manolo was right. When I taught him, mobile phones – the black and white variety – were used for making phone calls only. People did have computers but internet was unknown. We did not scan documents or pictures, videos were VHS and even the CD was unrecordable.

    At the Besig Conference in November, I attended Pete Sharma’s workshop ‘Business English on the move: a critical analysis of mobile technologies’. In his session, Pete mentioned things I have yet to really discover. He also made a very important point that, even if we do not have all of these things ourselves, our students probably do. Instead of telling them to switch off their smartphones as a courtesy to their classmates, they should demonstrate the apps that they use and discuss how these apps can help with language learning – dictionaries do not fall apart any more! I’ve since followed Pete’s advice and had some excellent lessons as a consequence.

    When social networking first came out, it did not take me long to sign up for friendsreunited account and then, a little while later, I signed up for a Facebook account. Then I discovered pleaserobme.com. I read things I shouldn’t have, and I developed facebookphobia.
    That said, the very thing that has influenced my teaching most recently is Twitter. Used in a professional context, I can not only share my own ideas and materials but also follow what other teachers, trainers, and authors are doing. Stuck on a Sunday afternoon for inspiration for next week’s teaching, I now only need to switch on my tweetdeck and either an interesting article will pop up or someone might even share material that’s been tried and tested.

    When Andi and I planned our workshop, we tried hard not to squabble over who got to talk about what but, when our Assistant Manager suggested we do the workshop individually, he was sorry. We protested like spoilt brats, we waved our hands in the air and cried ‘never’, not on your Nellie! We both realised that we had important things to share – the wealth of technology we now have is so vast that it would be impossible for one person to cover everything in a three hour session.

    In our excitement to deliver the workshop, however, we did forget to ask the participants the burning question: What do you use? And if you were faced with going back to the days of sellotaping cut-outs, what single piece of technology would you want to take with you?

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