By jonhird, Aug 20 2015 07:35PM
It has been a busy summer. Busier than usual.
First, I was once again one of the tutors on the University of Oxford’s two-week Summer Seminar for English Language Teachers, which is held at Exeter College every year at the end of July. Exeter is one of Oxford's oldest colleges, situated right in the very heart of the city. It is a lovely, compact college, making it the perfect location for the seminar and great for everyone on the course to get to know each other. The teachers live in college and we have our meals together in Hall. There are also a number of informal afternoon and evening actvities such as Shakespeare in Wadham College garden, a pub evening or two and a stroll along the Thames. As for the course, the teachers choose four five-session workshops over the two weeks and have a plenary lecture most mornings. The workshops this year covered such topics as Promoting Speaking Skills, Exploring Grammar (my ones), Integrating Pronunciation and Blending Technology into the Classroom. The plenary lectures included topics such as CLIL, Contemporary English, Using Literature and Critical Thinking. A key aspect of the course is that we have a truly international learning community in which the teachers have the rare opportunity to meet, share experiences with and learn from colleagues from a wide range of teaching contexts, countries and cultures. This year, the 60 or so teachers came from over 30 countries, a record for the course. As always, this was for me a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring two weeks and a great learning experience too. I must also mention my fellow tutors Adrian Underhill, Ed Dudley, Hania Kryszewska, Julie Moore and John Hughes - a great team. As well as my 'Exploring Grammar' workshops I also gave two lectures: ‘Aspects of Contemporary English’ and ‘Reaching Every Student in the Classroom: Dyslexia and Learning English’.
After a week away from Oxford and a short rest, I then started teaching a four-week EAP course at the University’s Worcester College. Each of Oxford's colleges has its own unique character and atmosphere and Worcester's is to me rather sedate and elegant. This is my first time teaching there. The course participants are all students from Kyoto University in Japan, who are here to get a taste of an academic environment outside their own, brush up their English and in particular develop their academic English skills. The students are a mix of undergraduates and post-graduates from a range of disciplines and in the afternoons they have lectures on an academic subject related to their studies and interests. The course is very usefully giving me the opportunity to try out for the first time the brand new Oxford EAP B1 level coursebook that I co-wrote and which was published just a few months ago. We are now one week in and so far so good.
The teaching at Worcester College is in quite some contrast to the teacher training at Exeter, but it's great to have the variety. And as my year-round teaching at the university is with mixed nationality classes, it's very useful to be able to keep my hand in at teaching a mono-lingual and mono-cultural group.
I’ll be taking a few days break from the course in a couple of weeks for a short visit to Romania to talk about grammar. But more about that later.
And here are a few of my favourite images from the summer so far.