Lessons from Finland

There is a strong movement in ELT that tries to move away from a fixation on “building blocks” which need to be taught at every lesson. This movement places a stronger focus on the emerging language that learners naturally produce – that should be a teacher´s main criteria when choosing what to teach.

Interestingly, in Finland, which has one of the world´s highest educational standards, the goverment has recently decided to ban “subjects” as we know them. Instead, they are centering the school curriculum on topics, arguing that in this way the “subjects” will be taught in a more natural way.

I can´t help thinking both these movements are the result of the same school of thought, which is centred around a simple idea: the objective of education is learning, not teaching.

Here´s a recent article from The Independent which explains the details of the Finland School Project – I hope you will find this interesting to read:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/finland-schools-subjects-are-out-and-topics-are-in-as-country-reforms-its-education-system-10123911.html

(published by Steve Barlow)

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Self-awareness Activity

download-1

Dear TESOLers,

Here’s an activity that’s extremely fun you can use on a rainy day when half of the students turn up, and you´re looking for a flexible fluency activity.

Imagine you are performing a military drill in a jungle that’s 100 KM from base, and you’re naked. Your mission is to return to base, and you are given a backpack containing these items:

9 R$ 100 notes 
4 bars of chocolate
20 litres of water
An oil lamp
A box of matches
A hammock
A compass
A map
A dagger
Insect repelent

Students have to negotiate with each other in a scale from 1-10 which is the most important (1) to the least important (10).

First they negotiate in pairs, then in small groups and then compare their answers with the experts on jungle survival (see attachment for key).

It´s a useful self-awareness activity to help you discover how persuasive you are when in an argument.

If you like this type of activity, there is a similar one (apparently created by NASA) called “Survival on the moon”:

https://www.humber.ca/centreforteachingandlearning/assets/files/pdfs/MoonExercise.pdf

If you use it, please post comments on how well (or badly) it went.

 

Best wishes,

Steve Barlow
Advisor

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger

P.S. Answer key:

9 R$ 100 notes (10)
4 bars of chocolate (2)
20 litres of water (1)
An oil lamp (8)
A box of matches (7)
A hammock (9)
A compass (3)
A map (4)
A dagger (5)
Insect repelent (6)
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As iron sharpens iron, so one teacher sharpens another

symposium 1

The BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter (BTRN) was founded in early 2010 without a very definite idea of what difference we would effectively make. We all just felt we needed to do something to make the ELT community more connected  and professionalised while having fun in the process. Six years on, we can gladly look back and see what impact BTRN has made. We have provided colleagues with countless opportunities to develop their talents and become better teachers, managers, trainers. We have held seminars, conferences, courses and, very recently our first-ever symposium with over 150 participants, 4 plenary talks, 14 concurrent sessions, 2 drama sketches, 6 Pecha Kuchas, raffles and so much more. Quite an achievement for an association that started so very unambitiously!

Now in the wake of the symposium I reflect on what it is that we have really attained – and the two words that most aptly describe my feelings are togetherness and mutuality. As important as all the things mentioned above are (talks, courses, etc.), they are probably not what ultimately brings about change in teachers’ lives. It is the intense contact between teachers, between human beings that does. Repeatedly in my experience going to conferences I have attended sessions which had apparently, as Morrissey (1986) sings, “said nothing to me about my life”. However, while talking to a fellow ELTer during the break, I have often been given fresh perspectives and managed to make sense of what the presenter had imparted. There are many reasons for that, especially the fact that we are more open and prone to really listen to people we know, are comfortable with and like.

We ever so often hear that teachers should join a teachers’ association and go to events because it makes them better professionals. It does indeed. However, I personally feel too much focus is put on the technical aspects of the profession only: you will become better able to present new language, give feedback and so on, while other equally (or even more important) aspects are left aside, namely the connection between people. How invigorating is it to go to a conference and hug a dear friend you have not seen for ages?  How transforming is it to hear from a colleague about their successful experience teaching English to at-risk children in a favela? How mind-opening is it to have your established ideas respectfully challenged by a fellow practitioner? The effects of such elements are hard to gauge, but they are a vital part of teachers’ gathering at ELT events.

symposium 2

An ancient book teaches: “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (The Bible, Proverbs 27.17). So it is when teachers get together, because it is through other people’s eyes that we get to know ourselves better. It is from genuine interaction with colleagues that we hone our skills, sharpen our teaching techniques, find solutions to common problems, encourage one another and ultimately become happier human beings. Engaging with colleagues through teachers’ associations and ELT events has become a quasi-religious activity to me and, in many ways, transformed me into the professional and human being I am. For that reason, I can only but encourage anyone who takes the profession seriously to join the movement, get involved, get committed. After all, “life is about the people you meet – and the things you create with them.” (Holstee, 2009)

Fernando Guarany
President

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger

References:

  1. Morrissey, S. P. (1986) Panic. London, Rough Trade Records, Ltd.
  2. The Bible: New International Version, 2011. New York, Biblica.
  3. The Holstee Manifesto: Lifecycle Video. (2009). The Holstee Manifesto. [Online Video]. 29 October 2011. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDmt_t6umoY. [Accessed: 28 August 2016].

Photo Credits: Marcelo de Cristo

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BTRN Symposium Booklet

Dear TESOLer,

Today is the day we meet for the I BRAZ-TESOL RN Symposium and we have carefully prepared a booklet which you can download from here.

booklet

It contains the symposium schedule, speakers bios, session abstracts and more. I have personally also included a special message on becoming stronger together. We offer the booklet as a token of appreciation of your support and a memento of this important English Language Teaching event in Rio Grande do Norte.

Wishing you an enjoyable day!

Fernando Guarany
President

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger

 

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Timetable | I BRAZ-TESOL RN Symposium

Dear TESOLer,

We are pleased to share with you the timetable for the I BRAZ-TESOL RN Symposium – English in a changing world: Keeping up with the millennials – which takes place at IFRN (Instituto Federal do Rio Grande do Norte), Campus Natal Central, this Saturday (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.).

timetable

ATTENTION: On the day of the event, please make sure you arrive on time. Registrations open at 8.00 as the event starts at 9.00. Those who arrive later than 9.30 a.m. might find out that their seat has been offered to early/punctual participants. As the event approaches, it seems very likely that we will have a waiting list. Please be advised that we now have fewer than 10% of seats available and that FREE registration ends tomorrow (18th August, Thursday) noon.

3 days to go. See you there!😀

Fernando Guarany
President

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter #btrn
Together we are stronger

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Thank you, sponsors!

banner sponsors BTRN.jpg

The I BRAZ-TESOL RN Symposium would not have become a reality without the decisive support of the sponsors above. Thank you!

Best wishes,

Fernando Guarany

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Timetable | I BRAZ-TESOL SYMPOSIUM

Dear TESOLer,

Here’s what this Saturday’s event looks like in a bird’s-eye view:

I BRAZ-TESOL SYMPOSIUM | English in a changing world – keeping up with the millennials

20 August 2016 – 8 AM to 7 PM

IFRN – Instituto Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (CNAT – Campus Natal Central)

Plenaries take place in the mini-auditorium (130 people) and concurrent workshops in classrooms 20 (twenty) participants each. Plenary: 45 minutes – Auditorium | Concurrent sessions: 45 minutes – Bloco C Classrooms

08.00 to 09.00 – Registrations

09.00 to 09.15 – Opening

09.15 to 10.00 – Plenary 1: Higor Cavalcante (BRAZ-TESOL)

10.00 to 10.45 – Concurrent sessions morning

10:45 to 11:30 – Plenary 2: Jennifer Cooper (UFRN)

11:30 to 13.30 – Lunch

13.30 to 14:00 – Sketches – Quasi Actors Quartet

14:00 to 14.45 – Plenary 3: Luis Rose (Cambridge)

14:45 to 15.30 – Concurrent Sessions afternoon

15:30 to 16:00 – Coffee Break sponsored by FUNCERN

16.00 to 16.15 – Announcements

16.15 to 17.00 – Plenary 4: Stephanie Hanson (American Embassy)

17.00 to 17.30 – Closing and Raffle

18.00 to 19.00 – Pecha Kucha!

More soon!

Fernando Guarany
President

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger

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A teacher’s account

Flavio de Ávila is a state sector teacher in Paraiba. He attended our BRAZ-TESOL RN event last may (and also the recent international conference in Brasilia). Flavio emailed us to share a bit of his experience at the Natal event (and he even recorded a video!), which we now gladly share with you:

I really enjoyed taking part in the last BRAZ-TESOL event, because we learned about the IELTS and CELTA  and attended lectures by professor Mariana Perez (about the Efopli Project and extension courses at UFPB). Additionally, Professor Janaina Weissheimer showed us brilliantly how to deal with twenty-first century students and displayed some wonderful slides leading teachers to renewed insights into English Language Teaching

It was a great experience, because the BRAZ-TESOL RN chapter was reactivated and I could witness Fernando Guarany‘s happiness as he gathered so many teachers in that state and encouraged them continuously develop personally and professionally.

Therefore, I strongly advise Rio Grande do Norte teachers to become members of BRAZ-TESOL RN chapter and take part in this professional journey leading teachers to become better and better.

(Flávio de Ávila Lins Teixeira |  Public school Teacher in Paraíba)

 

 

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Fanfic frenzy and other millennial genres in English Language Teaching

cooper fernando guarany UFRN BRAZ-TESOL

We are delighted to announce Jennifer Sarah Cooper as a plenary speaker.  Jennifer is a Professor of English at the Department of Foreign Modern Languages and Literatures at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN). She has a PhD in Applied Linguistics from UFRN, a Master’s degree in World and Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University (SFSU) – emphasis, literary translation. She is also a technical and literary translator and is originally from California.

Jennifer says, “Changes in modes of communication in the millennium offer new and thrilling possibilities for English Language Teaching (ELT), and specifically with regard to writing, as multiple media platforms allow readers/users/spectators to engage with traditional narrative genres as producers of new, complimentary genres rather than merely consumers. Such is the phenomenon of fanfics – original narratives written by fans of movies, books, anime/manga, tv series, cartoons, even wrestling. Fanfic writers use the characters and settings of their source to create new scenes and plots in chapters that are published online. Jenkins (2006) refers to this flow of content as convergence culture: ‘[…] the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.’ But fanfics are just one product of this convergence culture, twitterature, which reduces the narrativeto a mere 140 characters, is another byproduct of this process. Keeping apace with the dizzying speed at which these new genres emerge, and having the flexibility and creativity to design ways of using them in ELT presents an exciting challenge to teachers of millenials, which will be discussed.”

Such an interesting topic for a plenary talk. Not to be missed!

Fernando Guarany
President

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger

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Embracing Technology Inside and Outside the Classroom

Cambrige ELT Fernando Guarany Luiz Rose

BRAZ-TESOL RN would like to thank Andrea Souza, Anderson Leite and Endrigo Ramos of Cambridge University Press for their support in sponsoring Luiz Henrique Rose as one of our plenary speakers. Luiz has been working in the ELT field for over 25 years. He has worked for several English schools and publishers and currently works as business development manager for Cambridge University Press where he is also a Digital Products champion. He is also the author of some English vocabulary books and graded readers.

In his talk, the Luiz will show how we can use technology inside and outside the classroom to enhance teaching and learning. He will also explore some of the vast digital resources that are available today for all kinds of teachers (from technophobic to tech-savvy). For schools, there is also a wide range of alternatives in terms of technology from zero-cost options to highly sophisticated devices and systems.

Come interact with Luiz and other game-changers at the I BRAZ-TESOL RN Symposium at IFRN (Campus Natal Central) on the 20th of August. It’s FREE if you register by the 18th of August.

See you there!

Fernando Guarany
President

BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger

 

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