Thursday, 20th May

1. Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and marks the tenth year of a campaign to raise awareness of the need to ensure digital content is accessible to disabled people and those with additional access needs My colleague Andrew Skinner has produced a really useful set of guidelines for accessibility based around the mnemonic SCULPT:

S: Structure (heading styles): Use heading styles in your document 

C: Colour contrast: Use a strong colour contrast between any text and background colour

U: Use of images: Use alternative (alt) text on images

L: Links: hyperlinks should be embedded in text which in isolation would describe what the link was to. Avoid nondescriptive text for links, such as “click here”

P: Plain English: Use clear uncomplicated language, keeping jargon to a minimum

T: Table structure: Use simple tables without merged or split cells.

I’ve attached a copy of Andrew’s presentation below and clearly need to read it carefully myself!

2. Here’s a bit more on reflective practice from the two Steves, Walsh and Mann, this time their open-access article from ELTJ on Doing reflective practice: a data-led way forward. We all wholeheartedly agree that reflective practice is the only possible practice – but on what evidence base? PDF below. Here’s a link to their webinar last November, in case you missed it first time round

3. IH World – the International House World organisation – brings together all the IH schools around the world, 136 of them last time I looked Here’s a link to the most recent issue of their journal and there’s plenty of other issues to explore.

Here’s a piece from Issue 47 on Teaching people to tie their laces

and here’s a piece on Getting Teacher Educators to Practice what we Preach from Issue 40

4. And, finally, a reminder that this year’s Hay Festival starts on 26th May. All the live events are free, and nearly all events are then available for free replay for 24 hours after the start time of the event – but you need to sign up in advance for the event to be able to watch the recording free

Click the ‘Quick View’ radio button for a quick (obviously!) and convenient way to view the programme; hover your mouse over or tap on individual events for more detail. I’ve booked for several events, including number 75 and number 77!

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Wednesday, 19th May

1. This one, recommended by my colleague Adam, won’t be around for ever, he says: the Association for Learning Technology‘s 12th annual conference for Open Education research, practice and policy

Adam recommends you click on whatever takes your fancy in the programme here and follow your nose. If, like me, you’re a bit less of a digital native than Adam and find the home page doesn’t behave as you’re expecting it to when you click repeatedly on the picture of the TV, the menu’s in the top right-hand corner and it will take you here and here Be sure to scroll across – the programme covers more than two screens’ worth breadth-wise.

There’s probably another, simpler word for ‘breadth-wise’ that I’ve forgotten – maybe ‘across’? I’m enjoying listening to Rajiv Jhangiani’s closing plenary right now.

2. We’re now bang in the middle of the Cambridge English ‘Insights on Demand’ event which runs from 18th to 20th May. Here’s the very rich library of resources for the event and here’s the programme, just in case you get chance to pop in today or tomorrow

3. More than thirty million people worldwide have watched this short talk on ‘A Counterculture of Commitment’ by Pete Davis; I’m hoping some of you haven’t yet. This page has both video and transcript Are you stuck in what Pete calls Infinite Browsing Mode? His claim is that the defining characteristic of our generation is keeping our options open (and avoiding commitment).

4. And, finally, look away now if you suffer from turophobia. If you don’t, you’ll enjoy these two short films and

More of the same here

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Tuesday, 18th May

1. Very early notice of this OUP series on Top Tips for Motivation and Engagement on June 8th, 9th and 10th, as they book up very early:

2. A series of four short videos on Who Needs Dictionaries?, each one just the right length for the bus or train ride home (but not for your drive home)

The results of this search seem to vary a little each time round, but at present it’s the four videos with Martin Rundell that come out on top!

3. Following on from yesterday’s BBC piece on When males are not needed, here’s a Royal Society of Arts (RSA) event at 13:00 UK time on Thursday 27th May on How women can save the planet

I’ll see if I can find a piece for tomorrow on Why men still matter (a little)

4. And, finally, a surprise: something completely different, from the Tate

Here’s the Tate website

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Monday, 17th May

1. The first of two that I was prompted to include by a colleague from Japan, Gary Robert, this morning: BBC English’s 6 Minute English Lead story at present? ‘When males are not needed’!

Programme archives back to 2008 here

Gary and his colleagues have also produced a really good guide to using the site for teachers and students: PDF below.

3. And here’s the second of Gary’s tips: newsela. You’ll need to sign up for free here first Once you’ve done so, there’s a wealth of extensive reading material at all levels available to you – or your students, who can sign up for themselves, which might make setting homework a lot easier?

PDF of another very useful site guide from Gary and his colleagues below.


3. Next, three recordings of sessions at this year’s online TESOL conference by British Council colleagues from round the world: Pandemic Challenges: Accessibility, Inclusion and Engagement with John Shackleton, Gemma Bellhouse and Paul Muir Pandemic Challenges: Pedagogical Skills, Technological Awareness, and Student Interaction with Graham Stanley and Ruth Horsfall The Pandemic Challenge: From Crisis Response to New Normality? with Richard Spiby, Hala Ahmed, Jenny Simms and Tim Phillips

4. And, finally, I mentioned Bob Dylan’s own radio show on Friday. A new five-part series about him began on BBC Radio 4 today: ‘It Ain’t Me You’re Looking For: Bob Dylan at 80’ I enjoyed the first one!

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Friday, 14th May

1. Chris Farrell from the Centre of English Studies is offering a month’s free trial of the online learning programme they developed as part of the PRELIM project in exchange for a little feedback. Visit their platform and choose the course(s) that interest you most. The coupon code ‘BC’ will give you free access to all the courses for one month, until June 14th.

There are language courses from A2 to C1 and a range of teacher development courses, each made up of six half-hour lessons, including teaching the four skills, CLIL and Hybrid Learning. Chris would be delighted if you arranged to take a course together with colleagues from your school or district or teachers association.

Full details in the PDF below and link to feedback survey here (I’ll repost that survey link in three weeks’ time.)

2. Another good, free FutureLearn course has just started, on Communicating across Cultures Twelve hours, spread over three weeks – perhaps the sort of thing that your more ambitious older students might like to try? The course itself, with participants drawn from all over the globe, will be a chance to practise the theory they’re learning.

3. A friend who works in a museum, Henrietta Lidchi, has thought and written a lot over the years about the colonial past of many museum collections, and she introduced me earlier this week to this short video, First Contact, by Stephen Paul Judd about the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in the not-yet-united-or-even-invented states of America

If you have more than a passing interest in the issues of colonialism, collections and return, you might like to read the wide-ranging afterword to Henrie’s book, Dividing the Spoils: Perspectives on military collections and the British empire, that she kindly agreed I could share with you – PDFs of afterword and book flyer below. I don’t think Henrie’s expecting too many of us to buy it at £80, though!

4. And, finally, I’d always thought my colleague Michael was a bit of an Abba fan. Not true! Try this wonderful Bob Dylan series that he’s just recommended

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Thursday, 13th May

1. Next Monday, 17th May, at 12:00 UK time, hosted by the University of East Anglia: Social interaction in language teacher education: What a corpus can and can’t tell us by Fiona Farr from the University of Limerick. More info and a registration link here: From the blurb: “… it is still true to say that although language teacher education is much done, it is little studied.” The talk will look at “specific evidence-based accounts of the spoken and written discourse of experienced language teacher educators and student teachers”. Can’t quite express why, but this one intrigues me!

2. Next Tuesday, 18th May, at 15:00 UK time is the third in the OECD ‘Ask an Expert’ series: Why play is so important for child learning and development will explore will “explore the important role play and risk-taking has in children’s lives, and how digital play is changing the game”. More info and registration here Good that risk hasn’t been banned completely!

3. If crime fiction’s your bag, you’ll easily spend an hour or three exploring the Crime Reads site Here’s a piece on a film that Alfred Hitchcock never made about George Blake’s escape from Wormwood Scrubs Prison in 1966 and here’s an interview with one of my current favourites, Jane Harper

4. And, finally, an NTS ‘In Focus’ session on Gil Scott-Heron Love it! None of that grime/garage/ jungle stuff ….

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Wednesday, 12th May

1. First out of the traps today, the first episode of the new Climate Connection podcast series You can stream it or download it, and there’s notes on each episode and a transcript.

Direct link to first episode here  You’ll recognise the voice talking at the beginning, I’m sure!

2. More climate discussion (but no hot air): Green ELT opportunities & obstacles: savings and costs is the title of the next ELT Footprint UK online meeting at 16:00 UK time next Wednesday, 19th May. UK-focussed but travels well. More info here and a registration link here

3. Just started, the latest edition of the FutureLearn course on Teaching Languages in Primary Schools: Putting Research into Practice Three hours a week for three weeks in which to explore how children learn languages and how to support their linguistic development.

4. A reminder that Reallyenglish are offering thirty days free access to their online IELTS course, which offers 180 hours of IELTS-focused English language self-study Six hours a day for the next thirty days – we’ll all be C2!

5. And, finally, this week’s phobia: thermophobia – something we may all have to learn to live with if we don’t get our collective climate act together soon.

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Tuesday, 11th May

1. The latest report from Oxford University Press (OUP), Education: The journey towards a digital revolution, draws on insights from OUP staff from 7 countries—the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Spain, and Turkey – as well as from hundreds of teachers globally, and extensive secondary research. One of the report’s recommendations is that ‘Governments should actively collaborate and learn from teachers and students and use their recent experiences to inform future policy and curriculum development’ – one can only hope! PDF below.

2. eLearning Africa’s ‘Primary & Secondary Education Virtual Exchange’ is free to attend if you work in education in Africa,: more info and registration here Plenty of notice to allow you to register.

eLearning Africa’s website is here

3. The next TeachingEnglish ‘Education Exchange’ webinar, on Careers education in a pandemic, is tomorrow, Wednesday 12th July, at 16:00 UK time The panel – from a wide range of educational and cultural backgrounds – will look at the impact of the pandemic on young people’s career plans and hopes. You need to register.

4. I hope today’s message will not be an exercise in frustration for many of you, with #2 free for Africa only, and this item addressed (in part) only to A. S. Hornby Educational Trust UK (ASHET) university MA course alumni.

Over the years, since A. S. Hornby founded ASHET in 1961, over five hundred ELT professionals from around the world have benefited from an MA scholarship at a UK university. Until recently, those alumni came together in a Yahoo Group, but Yahoo groups became defunct last December, alas. ASHET is now consulting alumni on a possible successor to the Yahoo Group and invites them to complete the following short survey by 31st May Alumni only, please!

However, ASHET’S Teacher Association Project Awards are open to all associations, and more info can be found here Copies of the information sheet and the application form below. More information on ASHET here

5. And, finally, prompted by the behaviour of the birds on our balcony since we started putting out ‘fat balls’ for them recently, here’s last summer’s National Theatre of Scotland short play about the war that develops between one man and the jackdaws in his back garden when he changes the bird food he gives them Switch on the subtitles if Peter Mullan’s accent is a challenge!

All the Scenes for Survival plays here

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Monday, 10th May

1. Lots of good stuff on the IATEFL events page, where the large majority of events are still free to non-members Coming up this week is a TEA (Testing, Evaluation & Assessment) SIG & ESP (English for Specific Purposes) SIG event: ‘Content or Language: Do you Know Which One You’re Assessing?’ I suspect the answer to that question is – or would often be, if we asked ourselves the question – ‘No, now that I stop to think about it!”

More info here and registration link here

2. The UKFIET blog is well worth an occasional visit Featured on the front page at present are a piece by Emma Wagner of Save the Children on their new report, Action Towards Increased Quality Education for Internally Displaced Children – PDF below;

a piece by a UK-Ethiopia team on the widening of the education divide in Ethiopia caused by the pandemic;

and two thought-provoking pieces on diversity and the notion of ‘building back better’ by Yvette Hutchinson and Ruth Naylor, respectively.

3. What is to be Done About Fake News in Politics? is the title of an LSE event this Wednesday, 12th May at 17:00 UK time: “fake news is widely believed to have played a major role in the election of President Donald Trump, the outcome of the Brexit Referendum, and in general threatens the healthy functioning of news media in modern democracy”, says the event blurb. What can we do about it? More info and registration link here

4. And, finally, from the archives of Cambridge Assessment, a glimpse of exam board activity in 1938 in the months leading up to the start of the Second World War when an exam pass was literally a matter of life and death for some people PDF below and link to the Research Matters home page here

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Friday, May 7th

1. NILE’s report on ‘hybrid learning’ – will all learning be hybrid in future, I wonder? If you want to watch the recording of the discussion, which is good, you’ll need to register – but that’s free. PDF below.

2. Maybe not all for everyone, but something here for nearly everybody? The Queen’s University Belfast BAAL/CUP Seminar on Research Synthesis

3. Some recent pieces from The Conversation:

i) Artificial Intelligence’s best chat up lines

ii) how companies are spying on home workers

iii) has the human race reached peak intelligence?

4. If I could have made the link work, I’d have included some rather good British Council Nepal radio programmes, but I couldn’t, so please forgive me a piece of self-indulgence: me – 1’28” in – and my daughter Emily – 59’15” in – talking about living between two cultures, Britain and Croatia

5. And, finally, Dive into some Scottish Ballet

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