Thursday, 10th  November (Richmond)

1. Harry Kuchah Kuchah is giving the next webinar in the Universitas Negeri Jakarta
Graduate School ‘Language, Society, Education’ monthly programme, Silence and Silencing: English Medium Education and the Exclusion of Girls in an African Basic Education Context, at 08:30 UK time next Wednesday, 16th November.

Zoom link here

and Harry’s blurb here: “There is very limited evidence globally of the impact that learning in an unfamiliar language has on girls’ educational outcomes. In this presentation, I start by mapping the emergence of a gender gap in English in Rwandan primary and secondary schools and describe a research study which built on these differences to investigate in- and out-of-school factors that might account for this gap. By focusing on data collected through classroom observations of teachers’ pedagogic practices and the ways in which girls interact in the classrooms, I provide evidence of how experiences of exclusion intersect with other mechanisms of marginalisation related to gendered norms and expected behaviours.”

(I’ll check that Zoom link before next Tuesday.)

2. A new TeachingEnglish course, Climate Action in Language Education starts next Tuesday, 15th November, running for twelve hours in total over four weeks It’s described as “a practical course designed to help English language teachers integrate environmental issues into English language teaching, through the exploration of language, principles and projects.  It aims to equip teachers and learners with the skills they need to take and sustain meaningful and impactful action to protect the environment in their local contexts”.

 Much more to explore on the TeachingEnglish site here

3. Here’s the recording of Sarah Mercer and Chris Farrell’s webinar for OUP ELT earlier this week on the new Oxford paper on Self-Directed Professional Development that they wrote together with Donald Freeman The paper presents a “step-by-step approach to realistic, personalised, and effective professional development (PD)” and its key messages are that:

• Self-directed PD is typically relevant and sustainable over time and impacts positively on teachers’ wellbeing, motivation, and confidence.

• Each teacher has different PD needs, depending on their own preferences, the context they work in, their personal circumstances, and the opportunities available to them.

• The potential for self-directed PD emerges from teachers’ motivation and curiosity to learn, knowledge of the learning opportunities available, access to these opportunities, and support to engage with them.

• Teachers can draw on the seven-step PD framework provided in this paper to guide their self-directed PD.

• Employers have an important role to play in ensuring teachers have the practical support they need to engage with opportunities for self-directed PD.

It’s a good paper. My sense is that Sarah and Chris’s intended audience, with their talk of ‘crafting’ the PD available to the teacher’s own needs, is one of teachers who are already reasonably confident and self-aware and just need a little extra encouragement. PDF of the paper below.

4. And, finally, here’s an LRB diary piece about teaching in the suburbs of Paris by Madeleine SchwartzTeaching in the Banlieue PDF below, just in case.

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Tuesday, 8th November (Richmond)

1. From a newspaper ‘down under’ – from a UK perspective, at least! – for a change, the Sydney Morning Herald: University students caught paying others to do their work at record levels

I wonder if ‘the war on cheating’ isn’t going to turn into something similar to ‘the war on drugs’ that will never be won without radical thinking?

2. More evidence, from the BBC, of the extensive (and expensive) impact of the pandemic on child development, Child speech delays increase following lockdowns

“Covid restrictions affected some children’s development by limiting socialising and new experiences, which helps them learn new words.”

3. More good sense from Alexandra Mihai, You want your students back in the classroom? Give them a good reason!

‘Teacher presence’ and ‘peer presence’ are the two key assets she identifies.

4. And, finally, I came across The University of Oxford Style Guide (PDFs below of whole thing and one-page version)

and this BBC Bitesize guide for Key Stage 3 students, How to punctuate quotations in an essay

while reminding myself how to punctuate direct speech. The former was fun but the latter more useful!

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Thursday, 3rd November (Cambridge)

An accidental focus on listening today.

1. I’ve never felt able to take out full membership of the Stephen Fry fan club, which says more about me than it does about him, I’m sure. Nonetheless, Cross prejudice notwithstanding, here’s the Babel lecture he gave earlier this year on language, ‘What we have here is a failure to communicate’

2. The T S Eliot Prize is the UK’s biggest poetry prize, and in the build-up to this year’s prize being awarded, interviews, readings and reading notes from all ten poets shortlisted are being posted on their website

Videos of poets reading their poems can also be found on their YouTube channel

and here’s three poems by Victoria Adukwei Bulley that haven’t made it to the website just yet:

‘Dreaming is a Form of Knowledge Production’,

‘Whose Name Means Honey’

and – my favourite – ‘The Ultra-Black Fish’

And here’s Victoria talking about her work

3. Here’s ‘Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and the timely pleasures of reading’ from Andrew King of the University of Greenwich

“This video,” says Andrew, “discusses Agatha Christie’s first major success The Murder of Roger Ackroyd through the methodology outlined elsewhere in  the Greenwich Detective Fiction series on YouTube. Rather than repeat the usual kinds of readings that are so easy to find elsewhere, I cover a lot of unexpected ground starting with how the novel and Christie’s work in general is locked into the business of making money (and before you get enraged, no, I’m not criticising her), to the relevance of opera (especially Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande)  and WW1 and changing conceptions of masculinity and femininity. Above all though, I’m concerned to explore how time works in reading this novel, and also  Agatha Christie’s own interest in how time might be conceived.”

Give Andrew’s ‘unexpected ground’ a go?

4. And, finally and athletically, a new podcast on leading Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk as they compete against the world’s best teams despite being unable to play at home in their own stadium. Here’s the trailer Not just for football fans!

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Tuesday, 1st November (Cambridge)

1. The Green English language teaching page on the Green Action ELT website is a very rich resource

Scroll right down for a video on Green ELT for lower language levels from Carol Samlal

Green Action ELT is the new name for ELT Footprint UK.

2. Eaquals and Clara Wildschütz are offering us a chance to practise our French at 10:00 UK time this Thursday, 3rd November: Du plaisir au Bonheur d’enseigner le français dans un contexte dynamisant et motivant! (That capital B ‘Bonheur’ is puzzling me a bit, though.)

You’ll find other Eaquals events – en Anglais! – here

Scroll down a little for more details on David Bish on Combining Video Enhanced Observation with a strong rubric framework for teacher and school development at 10:00 UK time next Monday, 8th November

and Dalia Ashraf on How to Maximize students’ Speaking Opportunities in Online Classes at 10:00 UK time the following Monday, 15th November.

3. The current crop of articles on The Conversation website is as wide-ranging as ever

Try this one about the longevity of language learning (certainly true of my own French)

this one about Ouija boards (many spooky-sceptical evenings were spent this way at my boarding school)

or this one about Shakespeare and contemporary UK politics (Shakespeare comes out of the comparison better).

4. And, finally and agriculturally, a piece on maslins from Atlas Obscura – not something I’d ever heard of!

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Thursday, 27th October (Richmond)

1. Two free online courses from Alison – a company, not a person! An introductory one on Digital and Cyber Security Awareness and another, a diploma level course, Diploma in Global Digital Literacy

Another 3,293 free online courses (and a few adverts in passing) here

2. ‘Managing the madness: Strategies to promote and protect language teacher well-being is the (slightly ominous) title of a very watchable and informative webinar Sarah Mercer recently gave for Macmillan Education ELT Also on YouTube here

“This webinar makes us realize that to teach to the best of our abilities we need to be in the best physical and mental shape possible. We look briefly at why teacher well-being is not an indulgent luxury but the foundation of good practice. Then the main part of the workshop considers practical strategies for teachers to use to manage their negative emotions and stress, promote positive emotions, and regulate their time and work-life balance.”

More Macmillan ELT videos here

3. I’m always a little wary of titles like this one, Student Preference for Online Learning Up 220% Since Pre-Pandemic – 220% of what, exactly? But the increased readiness of students to engage with online learning post-pandemic is nonetheless clear

Here’s the full Educause report that the article is based on, 2022 Students and Technology Report: Rebalancing the Student Experience

4. A thoughtful piece by Jay Caspian Kang on Chinese-language-immersion schools for The New Yorker, Why Oakland Parents Are Flocking to a Chinese-Immersion School

Let me know if you can’t access this one or the next one, please.

5. And, finally, a mock-plaintive (I think) piece from James Heale, Will anyone buy my Liz Truss book?

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Tuesday, 25th October (Richmond)

1. Another good piece from the New York Times on Artificial Intelligence, A.I.-Generated Art Is Already Transforming Creative Work “I typed in ‘carrot parrot,’ and it spit back a perfect image of a parrot made of carrots,” said Collin Waldoch, a Brooklyn game designer. “That was the immediate ‘aha’ moment.”

2. The education of children in the United States may have been more damaged by the Covid pandemic than in other countries or less damaged, I don’t know. In the States, though, the impact of the pandemic was profound, as a recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report shows

3. Supporting Survivors of Modern Slavery is a short video from The Salvation Army about a surprisingly widespread problem in the UK (and other countries) today One of those where I’d claim there’s a lesson in there somewhere if you sit down with a good cup of coffee and think it through!

4. And, finally, a piece from Words Without Borders by Elin Anna Labba, The Deportation of the Northern Sámi The migratory reindeer-herding Sami people’s problems began, it seems, with Norwegian independence in 1905.

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Thursday, 20th October (Cambridge)

1. Zoom evidently have an interest in this collection from the Harvard Business Review, Reimagining Work, which they claim will offer us “ways to reinvent how, where, and when we work; find more passion, purpose, and meaning in (our) work; develop personal and organizational resilience; create successful team dynamics in a hybrid work world; and more!” See what you think! PDF below.

2. Echo chambers are bad for you! Relational diversity in social portfolios predicts well-being is the title of this open access research article from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) “Assessing the social interactions and happiness of over 50,000 people reveals that interacting with a more diverse set of relationship types predicts higher well-being.” PDF below.

3. And sleep is good for you! Here’s a BBC podcast, Sleep Well, from Michael Mosley  Maybe not one to listen to in bed, though?

4. And, finally, the title of Bob Dylan’s new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song, says the New York Times, “is, in a sense, misleading. A collection of brief essays on 65 songs (and one poem), it is less a rigorous study of craft than a series of rhapsodic observations on what gives great songs their power to fascinate us”. Review and recordings here

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Tuesday, 18th October (Cambridge)

1. Had AI (Artificial Intelligence) been available when you were at university, would you have used it for your least favourite subjects? Students Are Using AI to Write Their Papers, Because Of Course They Are is the title of this article by Claire Woodcock in Vice magazine:

“I still do my homework on things I need to learn to pass, I just use AI to handle the things I don’t want to do or find meaningless,” says one of the students interviewed for the article.

One of the lecturers interviewed “worries that products like OpenAI’s text generator will make essay writing a moot point. ‘We lose the journey of learning (..) We might know more things but we never learned how we got there. We’ve said forever that the process is the best part and we know that. The satisfaction is the best part. That might be the thing that’s nixed from all of this.’”

2. Sticking with AI, here’s a thought-provoking piece by Michael Feldstein on his blog, eLiterate, Seeing the Future: Developing Intuitions About Artificial Intelligence, in which he recounts the fun he had asking – literally – the DALL-E 2 AI programme to interpret Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Thinker, from various perspectives, including that of a third grader, an artistic eight grader, Van Gogh and Salvador Dali

Here’s DALL-E 2’s own site

Now that’s a programme I would have used for my school art homework!

3. Why are Brookings Institution articles like London buses? Because you wait for ages for one and then two come along one after the other! Here’s another Brookings Institution piece, Reading with a caregiver trumps reading an e-book alone

I’m delighted they come to the conclusions they do. (Is that a sentence?)

4. And, finally, I’ve just read with huge enjoyment Tim Cornwell’s selection of his father David Cornwell’s (aka as John le Carre) letters. Here’s a Guardian piece about them

Reading them had additional poignancy for me as I knew Tim when I lived in Edinburgh and had pre-ordered the book several months ago, only to discover a fortnight ago that he’d died in May this year from a pulmonary embolism, the same thing I was lucky enough to survive two years ago.

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Thursday, 13th October (Richmond)

1. Teachers can change the world: scaling quality teacher professional development is the title of a recent Brookings Institution blog post which raises a number of the issues to do with teacher impact, cost and supply and includes some useful links

like this Rand Corporation report, Teachers Matter: Understanding Teachers’ Impact on Student Achievement (PDF below as well)

and this very comprehensive World Bank piece, Teachers Be sure to click on the Strategy, Activities, Impact/Projects and Resources tabs at the beginning, too.

2. The October issue of HLT (Humanising Language Teaching) is out It includes

TESTING TIMES – A Special Boris Johnson Resignation Edition: The Boris Johnson Taxonomy of Failure Excuses from Geoff Tranter and

The Didactic Usefulness of Proverbs in ELT Classes from Azzeddine Bencherab & Cigdem Cetiner

One of my own all-time favourite lessons involved the comparison of English and Croatian proverbs: ‘Don’t prepare the barbecue while the rabbit is still in the forest’ in Croatian becomes ‘Don’t count your chickens till they’re hatched’ in English, and whereas ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer’ in English, in Croatian the appearance of a single swallow doesn’t mean it’s spring!

3. I’m not on Facebook, so don’t always spot stuff there very quickly (or at all). Here’s a page of short and lively TeachingEnglish videos covering a wide range of professional development for teachers of English

4. And, finally, here’s Bernardine Evaristo’s Read Your Way Through London from yesterday’s New York Times

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Tuesday, 11th October (Richmond)

1. It’s The International Day of the Girl Child today. Here’s an UKFIET blog post which usefully brings together a number of the posts on the UKFIET blog on girl’s education

Lots of other topics covered here

2. The OECD have just published their 2022 ‘Education at a Glance’ report. You can search it online here and there’s a (big) PDF copy of the whole report below, plus a copy of the Executive Summary only.

It’s not yet very comprehensive geographically: pretty much all the European countries are there and there’s good representation from The Americas (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica & Mexico), but coverage of the rest of the world is patchy.

[file x1]

3. The French writer Annie Ernaux just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Here’s two articles about her from The New York Times (that I think I’m allowed to share): an interview and a collection of articles and commentary which includes – scroll halfway down – a guide to her most essential work

Someone please let me know that these links are working?

4. And, finally, an engaging, short and sad (25”) documentary film from The Guardian about the mining boom in Mongolia, Lady of the Gobi

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