Archive for May, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Dear

DorothyZemachBy Dorothy Zemach
ESL Materials Writer, Editor, Teacher Trainer
Eugene, Oregon
Email: zemach at comcast dot net

If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest one on earth (see exact stats from January 2015 here). That’s a lot of people… and some days, it feels like most of them are sending me chat messages on Facebook.

Now, there is much that I value about Facebook, and much benefit that I derive from it specifically as an English teacher and textbook writer. That is perhaps a post for another day. Today I want to look specifically at the chat function, and why it causes me so many problems—even with other English teachers. (I should note here that I do accept friend requests from ELT teachers I don’t know, because I figure we have a profession in common; and conversations on my main page, which are often about some aspect of English or language or teaching or reading and writing, are richer with more participants.)

For one thing, I find chat in general (not just Facebook’s) invasive and demanding. Email I can respond to at my leisure—chat is pressure. I answer, and instantly there’s another prompt I have to respond to. Now, if it’s important, I don’t mind that—in fact, I want that speed and immediacy. I use chat then with people I work with, who need a fast answer to something pressing. I also use it with my son, because that’s the fastest way to reach him—although even then, I use it when we need to discuss something urgent. If I’m just checking in, I send a text message.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Who’s the expert?

David-BarkerBy David Barker
Author and Publisher of Materials for Japanese Learners of English

At every ELT conference, there are plenary speakers. At major conferences, these are often “big” names who are well known in the field. The reason for their fame is normally either that they have published a lot of books or done a lot of research on language learning, language teaching, or both. They are acknowledged “experts” in the field, which is, of course, why they get invited to be plenary speakers in the first place.

Over the years, I have noticed a couple of things about plenary speakers. The first, I’m afraid to say, is that a great many of them turn out to be a major disappointment. In some cases, they are poorly prepared; in others, they have nothing new or of interest to say. In a surprising number of cases, they are simply very bad at public speaking!

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