Teaching Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice Issues

This is the summary of an #ELTchat which took place on 23 November 2016.  It is the first summary I have contributed for over two years. It was moderated, expertly as always, by @Marisa_C, @SueAnnan and @angelos_bollas.

The full topic wording, proposed by current IATEFL president, Marjorie Rosenberg (@MarjorieRosenbe), was ‘How can we discuss diversity, inclusivity and social justice in the classroom in times as these?  

Marjorie shared many examples of reasons for the topic proposal with me outside of the chat: Brexit (the UK’s vote to leave the EU), the refugee crisis in Europe, the election of Donald Trump in the US, general division in the UK and US, and the rise of far-right groups, especially in Austria, where she is based. Her family has a strong background in public service. Her cousin is in the Obama administration and his wife founded a charity in Washington for underprivileged teenagers.  Her mother volunteered for years for several casues and this is one of the reasons she originally got involved in IATEFL – in order to give something back. Marjorie also highlighted a  forthcoming plenary by JJ Wilson at the next IATEFL conference in Glasgow 2017 on this very topic.

@SueAnnan led the discussion by stating that she teaches diversity in her Business English class.  Both @angelos_bollas and myself (@teacherphili) stated that it was not something they explicitly taught and asked how Sue includes this in BE classes? She replied that she does scenarios for employment roles. We discuss black, women, different religious, disabled and LGBTQ applicants and such like, she stated.  It gets the class started. She suggested that dealing with diversity actually meant discussing inclusivity at the same time.   She stated that her classes are always mixed, [so] tolerance is an absolute must. She later added that she has been discussing the recent cryogenics case in the UK. She had a class of doctors who were dead against it.

@fionaljp felt diversity is, maybe, more about what you do. @GlynsHanson agreed before adding that it depends on age of the students too.  She didn’t assume that she knew more on these subjects than her mainly adult students. Except for preparing TOEFL etc, her students chose the subjects – almost never the ‘hot’ subjects.  She added that she hadn’t had enough time for discussing the ‘big’ questions [of social justice].

marjorie_rosenbe

@MarjorieRosenbe stated she had her students talk about things important to them. We had lots of refugees here in Austria, for example.  She covered these topics by talking about traditions, holidays, etc. My students opened up a lot and explained personal things.

@Chris_Myth said it can be hard. He sometimes get students with prejudiced views. ‘Do I argue with them for the sake of challenging prejudice’, he asked, ‘or do I take a teacher role where the teacher is not an authoritarian figure and students can speak without fear?’. @Angelos Bollas answered that it is very important for teachers to model what freedom of speech is – the teacher should monitor though and deal with sensitive issues. @Chris_Myth agreed and added that ‘if a student is being sexist/racist, then that could upset others, which shouldn’t be allowed to pass.’  Phil Bird (@pysproblem81) asked, that in some contexts, wouldn’t it be a legal requirement to challenge it?@Chris_Myth said that in the UK it is now a legal requirement to report potential terrorist sympathies. Whatever that means. @Angelos Bollas said that ‘also the opposite [applies] … some countries/institutions would not allow any discussions on these topics – sad. I think it boils down to what each thinks important: doing as said or what one thinks is right,’ he added. Fortunately, for @Chris_Myth, whenever this [prejudice] has happened, usually sexism, other students have argued against the prejudice.  If a student is being sexist/racist, then that could upset others, which shouldn’t be allowed to pass.

@TesolMatthew emphasised that, in his opinion, diversity, inclusivity and social justice are ON THE TABLE in all classrooms.

tesolmatthew

@Marisa_C agreed with this but, playing devil’s advocate,  said that some teachers think it is not their job to take care of such issues.  Maybe it’s more about promoting, offered @fionaljp.   @GlenysHanson tried to stoke a political fire by saying that she adored playing devil’s advocate, offering the suggestion that ‘I voted for Trump because of his hairstyle’. 😇 Something that neither @SueAnnan nor @angelos_bollas  could manage to say, even on a good day.  A role play with Trump, however, would be fab, according to @Marisa_C.

@MarjorieRosenbe pointed out that, in respect of the US election, TESOL has a statement about it on their website. It could be discussed with students or trainees. @SueAnnan thought that IATEFL did something similar. However, IATEFL is not an advocacy organisation the way that TESOL is, added Marjorie. We wrote to members after BREXIT about our goals.  Marjorie also referred participants (trainees) to the recent joint IATEFL-TESOL web conference where ‘we walked the talk’.

@Marisa_C proposed that some people think modelling these behaviours is better than preaching and asked if the participants agreed. Does this work with all kinds of contexts? To which @angelos_bollas answered ‘Absolutely. [It’s] still important to highlight them in class, isn’t it?  Especially now? Given [the election of] Trump and extreme right wing parties.’  @fionaljp thought it was good to include authentic material -news items for sure. To which Angelos replied that it opens up some room for learners to express their ideas re current events.

@Marisa_C later added that she thinks tolerance, justice, empathy, inclusion are won with knowledge, not the lack of it. To which, @MarjorieRosenbe agreed totally. Marisa added that she was inspired to do this by one idea Mario Rinvolucri used to do – called absent observations. In which one teacher taught the lesson but a DIFFerent teacher took and answered feedback on this lesson. She thought it was crazy at first but it really works in a TP group.

chris_myth

@Chris_Myth believed that ELT materials were very good for some diversity issues but not for LGTB inclusivity.  @angelos_bollas said that there are no LGBTW (sic) references in global coursebooks – only in Germany.  Chris responded that it is our duty, therefore, to talk about LGBTW issues in class or use texts with people from those backgrounds, or to make additional material, according to @SueAnnan.  Angelos replied that we should push publishers to start including all people equally.   @TesolMatthew said all of these, and confessed that he had teared up at the sight of Ellen DeGeneres receiving a medal of honor.  @MarjorieRosenbe said that advanced students can talk about news they hear or read and give opinions. They have to stay polite to all. @Chris_Myth concurred, but at lower levels it is easy to miss the mark from a lack of language and say bigoted sounding things.

Sadeqa Ghazal (@sadeqaghazal) asked how do we handle it if a text in a coursebook is biased? Both @fionaljp and @Chris_Myth said ‘don’t use it’, but, unfortunately for her there is no choice. @Chris_Myth added that you can get students to notice it as a critical thinking exercise. @MarjorieRosenbe stated that she likes the idea of this. Her Austrian students learned so much about different cultures from the others, it was eye-opening, she added.

@sadeqaghazal also asked if any of [the participants] teach classes where all the students are of the same community or background?  To which @angelos_bollas replied that he used to.  What can be some of the ways to make these students aware of a diverse world? asked @sadeqaghazal.  I used – a) role play, b) reading or watching about different cultures, followed by c) discussions among the students. Angelos replied that role-plays are always good for that matter. @MarjorieRosenbe commented that role plays with students taking opposite opinion from what they really believe can build tolerance. @GlenysHanson thought that Jesuits invented arguing for what one doesn’t believe. She was not sure that their aim was to build tolerance, however.

There was only one comment – a screenshot – left in the 24 hour slow burn, from @TesolMatthew, who said this was somewhat relevant:

tesolmatthew-cambridge-elt

This was a very interesting and topical #ELTchat, which demanded opinions.  As Wilson’s plenary next year will seemingly argue – teaching is never neutral.  Teachers advocate certain values. These values depend on one’s beliefs, conception of education and the teacher’s role. Some believe that all teachers should use their creativity and passion to bring about social change.

I hope I have done this chat (ahem!) justice. As I often find with these kinds of summaries there is a risk of decoupling – that is taking a reply out of context or to dissociate it from the original question asked. Please add a comment if you think this is the case or if you have been misquoted and want to clarify what you said.

Links shared during the chat as follows:

@SueAnnan – The No Project https://t.co/4aVaIUxgQo

@fionaljp shared this on using awareness raising activities on initial teacher training courses to tackle ‘native speakerism‘: http://bit.ly/2fxx29L

@Marisa_C shared two readings:

(1) Developing Teachers As Agents Of Social Justice Nataša Pantić & Lani Florian http://www.education-inquiry.net/index.php/edui/article/view/27311 https://t.co/EvDe0yTlUt

(2) This British Columbia booklet called ‘Making space : teaching for diversity and social justice throughout the K-12 curriculum’ has a great questionnaire on pages 13 & 14 bit.ly/2fGfFBc

@MarjorieRosenbe shared a book – Thirty Games for Social Change by  Dorothy Zemach | Wayzgoose Press http://wayzgoosepress.com/books/thirty-games-for-social-change/

The joint IATEFL-TESOL web conference: 2016: http://conference.iatefl.org/webconference/index.html  (note: recordings only available to members after 30 November)

Greetings from Bahrain

 

20160926_052109775_ios

Bahrain City Centre Mall, viewed from 27th floor of S Hotel, Manama.

Greetings from Bahrain, where I arrived on Saturday 24 September.

This is my first proper blog post for over two years.  OK, I did post briefly about the 50th IATEFL conference in April this year but have since deleted it.  Since then I have taught Chinese students online, mostly IELTS speaking test preparation.  This was an interesting experience but not one I wrote about on here.  I can see myself teaching again online in the not to distant future.  But I had the urge to go abroad again as I have not retired from being in the classroom or travelling to work.

So now I’m ready for my next adventure in ELT, at an esg vocational college in Al-Quaiwaiyyah, right in the centre of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  I was interviewed for the position on 16 August and accepted an offer three days later.  This relatively new college was built as part of the ‘colleges of excellence’ initiative in the Kingdom, and the parent company is Interserve, a large UK-based FTSE250 construction company, support services and facilities management provider.  There is a large requirement for a rigorous, comprehensive set of ESL lesson plans and scheme of work, in collaboration with colleagues, with a western testing system (Cambridge) and inspection by Ofsted (or equivalent).  The students are relatively low level. It will be a challenge for sure. I hope to post more about it when I get settled, subject to the terms of my contract.

I have been looking into a return to KSA since last December. I taught at King Saud University in Riyadh in 2010 and 2011. I was inspired by Kim Chibou and Luke Phillips, two great friends I first met at the Barron hotel in Riyadh and who returned to work in the country this year, both for around three months.

esg  (Interserve) Al-Q is not the original position I was interviewed for at the Hilton, Park Lane, back in January and had a medical for in April. It took too long, however, for the University of Dammam to organise my mobilisation and I, therefore, sought alternative employment.

On Saturday, I felt jet lagged, not having slept at all on the overnight flight from Heathrow.  I checked in to a hotel in Manama and later met up at Bahrain city centre mall with British Council Bahrain teacher, self-proclaimed ICT specialist and games-based learning enthusiast, David Dodgson.  It was the first time we had met in the flesh after four years of online friendship.  I left my passport at reception for collection the next day.

On Sunday, I met up with a guy who worked for Interserve for 21 years and was getting a visitor visa to work in Riyadh.  I also thankfully met Andrew, a Glaswegian, who is the other new recruit for esg at Al-Quaiwaiyyah. He has been teaching most recently in Seville, and was only interviewed for the role on 5 September.  He arrived in Bahrain one day later than me, via Glasgow and Dubai, so while I was experiencing jet lag on the Saturday, he was going through it on the day we visited the embassy to sort out documentation. We both had our stay in Bahrain extended to allow time for the visa agent to return our passports.

On Monday, I had a swim, went to the mall one last time for lunch and waited for my passport to be returned  It finally came, via the agent, at 8pm local time, leaving me all clear to board a Saudia Airline direct flight to Riyadh the next day.

How to get Copyright Free Images

Following the news that Getty Images have just taken the decision to allow images (1) on its site available for bloggers to use for free, I thought it would be timely to look at the issue of digital image copyright on the Internet and where you can find copyright free photos and images that you can use to illustrate your blog or other online material which can be seen by anyone.

It’s a massive change of direction from the company, which had previously developed a reputation for being litigious about unlicensed use of its photography, suing small organisations for infringement.  Getty has not been able to stop people using and redistributing its images without permission, so it is adopting a more pragmatic approach to the question of how to make money from its images.

Using Getty’s new embed feature, bloggers can now take a photo from the world’s largest stock photo agency’s collection, such as the one of Usain Bolt above, and include it free of charge on social media.  This can be done without fear of litigation, provided it is for non-commercial use. Users can choose from art-directed creative images or editorial images which includes sports events, fashion shows and celebrity gatherings like the Oscars.  The company has made somewhere in the region of 59 million images, of which over half – 32,739,741 – have been made available through the new tool.  Images can now be shared on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  Not all of these images can be downloaded by right-clicking on the image, without the watermark, and the intention may that editing and remixing is not being encouraged.  For more information on the how to use Getty’s embed code click here and for a link to those 32,739,741 images* which can be embedded click here.

Getty Embed Icon  means it can be used

Getty Embed Icon </> means it can be used for free

While this is good news for bloggers, it is not a universally loved decision because of the large number of photographers who have already submitted their photos and make a living out of selling their snaps to the agency.  According to Getty Images executive Craig Peters:

“The principle is to turn what’s infringing use with good intentions, turning that into something that’s valid licensed use with some benefits going back to the photographer” (2)

Some pay-for image sites, such as Shutterstockrequire a subscription to get the best deal or have time limits applied to the images, such as with Cartoon Stock.  Another site, an image marketplace called Picfair, charges variable amounts for each photo depending on whatever their contributors has asked for, with a small commission (20%) each time. Sites like Picfair have lovely, straightforward licensing agreements, with clear instructions on what you can and can’t do with the images.  They are reasonable and ‘fair’ to both parties. But they are not free and are often for single use only.

Benji Lanyado, Picfair’s founder, says Getty’s motivation is clear:

“People who were previously not paying for Getty images, and were never going to… now do not need to pay for Getty images. Instead of chasing infringers, Getty is offering them a deal.” (3)

All images are effectively owned by someone.  At some point they have all been created. Nearly all creative works are copyrighted. Many photographers deliberately take pictures for sale, in the same way that an artist paints pictures in order to make a living.  So how do you respect a photographer’s work?

In theory you have to ask the owner, or producer of the original image, and would need to ask for permission to use it.  But this is often not feasible or practical.  Quite often, we do not need to know who produced the original image and there appears to be no copyright warning attached to it.  We might think it is ‘fair game’ to use an unattributed image.  ‘Fair game’ has no legal weight behind it, however, and this differs from ‘fair use’, which does cover a limited set of legitimate uses. ‘Fair Use’ covers the use of images where there is a necessity to be able to use an image to complement or illustrate something such as, for example, a critique or review.  Wikipedia operates under a fair use policy for its reproduction of otherwise copyrighted images, often low resolution ones.  Correct interpretation of ‘fair use’ would state that permission does not have to be sought for reproduction of small sections or for limited distribution.

There are a number of misconceptions or myths about both copyright and fair use, which have already been thoroughly analysed and debunked in this post by Sue Lyon-Jones of The EdTech Hub. Take this myth, for example about educational purposes and ‘fair use’:

Sue Lyon-Jones on the EdTech Hub - http://bit.ly/1cENfEH

Sue Lyon-Jones on The EdTech Hub – http://bit.ly/1cENfEH (4)

Another common mistaken belief is that if the user is not making any money out of using the image then it is OK to do whatever they want with it.  That does not, in theory at least, prevent a potential claim for copyright.  Organisations have been sued where images have been re-used without permission.

Another common mistaken practice is to use the image and simply to credit the source. Quite often this source is neither the original source nor the owner or copyright holder.  Just doing a Google Image search for an ‘open door’ will bring up a lot of lovely images which have been ‘borrowed’, for use on numerous blogs, seemingly without permission.

So what if you want a free, non-copyrighted image, as most individuals do, for a blog, which you can re-use how you want to, without any worry about restrictions and without the hassle of taking the photo yourself?  You need to use images which are already copyright free or where permission to re-use has already been granted, which will normally cover use for non-commercial purposes.

There are a number of sites available and a selection are mentioned below. Each have their own particular licencing terms. If the photos have a Creative Commons license, the original creator specifically designates what they want to be done with their original work, and they’ll choose the right license to let you know what you can do with it.  Most of these sites have a download option, although a simple right-click on any image and ‘save image as’ will usually be sufficient:

  • As I stated in my previous post, the Flickr-based #ELTpics is a great resource for original photographs, with over 17,000 uploaded. It is mostly used by language teachers to offer free-to-use photos to other language teachers around the world.  All the photos have an attribution non-commercial licence. You can use the photos provided you acknowledge or attribute the source.  I have just recorded some screencasts for Teacher Training Videos and here is the link.

eltpics banner

  • Compfight is a Flickr search tool but is not affiliated with the Yahoo-owned site. It has access to millions of images from Flickr, although many are restricted. You can search by all types of licence, by creative commons or by commercial licence. Central to the Compfight experience is the number of filters and options available to search with. You can search by ‘tag’, ‘all text’, ‘licence’, ‘creative commons’, ‘commercial’, ‘safe search’ and ‘show/hide originals’.   Clicking on an image shows the specific CC licence.  You can copy and paste an embed code which will show the correct attribution. It contains a sponsored link to Shutterstock.
  • Photo Credit: Konstantin Lazorkin via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: Konstantin Lazorkin via Compfight cc

  • FreeFoto.com is made up of 132549 images with 183 sections organized into 3640 categories. Non-commercial users may download their web size images to used off-line. Basically if your off-line use is not commercial you can download their web size images for free. Each photo comes with an option to either download, licence (unrestricted paid-for) or share (embed). Each image is catergorised – for example, strawberries (see below) comes under ‘fruit 1’ and shown alongside similar categories, for example, other types of food. It also contains sponsored links to Shutterstock and many of the better, more professional photos come from there. Anyone, by which they mean commercial and non-commercial alike, can use the images in an online setting, providing they provide attribution to the image and a link back to FreeFoto.com.  Online use is covered by the Creative Commons license for non-commercial, no derivatives, attribution license.

Photo: Strawberries by Ian Britton – cc FreeFoto.com

  • Morgue File – Images are not only free in this excellent resource but often do not require full attribution. You can do a quick search with this resource and bring up information about each photo quickly.  The  images are provided with free usage rights. A search for ‘piano’ (see below) is typical of what is available.  The image can be copied, distributed, and adapted. You are prohibited using the images in a stand alone manner, for example, exhibiting the image as if it is your own. The photographer is credited along with the date when the image was uploaded.  You can easily search for other images by that photographer or by keyword.  The image URL is also clearly shown and there are links to posting directly onto social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).  There are links to i Stock / Getty Images, which may have been very recently added. Either way, these images work the same as the Getty Images above.  There are also links to paid-for stock image services, Dreamstime and Fotolia. It also has a section called ‘ops’ which, similar to #ELTpics, are uploads using a particular hashtagged theme, plus there is a community and instructional lessons on taking good photos.
Piano #49 Whale Song

Piano #49 Whale Song by Earl53 cc Morgue File

  • Open Photo has a clear display with ‘photo of the day’ and some featured pictures. Items can be searched for by subject or by keyword.  Opening up a set will also display other keyword search options.  Each photo has the uploader’s name clearly shown below, as well as very clear information on what creative commons rights have been granted and what you are allowed to do.  You need to right-click and save image as to get a copy.  For the image below, which is a typical example, an attribution non-commercial NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licence applies, which means you must attribute the source, it must be non-commercial purposes, but it cannot be used if it is remixed or transformed.  The licence code usually needs to be copied as well as proper attribution shown.
Untitled Flower by Antonello Michele Mastinu

Untitled by Antonello Michele Mastinu for openphoto.net

  • Image*After is not just about photos.  It also includes textures.   The image sizes are quite large.  There are numerous ways to search, via subject, texture or keyword. Although, initially, it does not appear as user-friendly, the quality of the images and the comparative freedoms to do what you like with the images marks this resource out as an excellent option.  You do not have to attribute, such as with the ‘glass’ textured image below.  In fact, there is no creator named.  Under its terms of use you can actually modify the images and textures, can use them for commercial purposes and can redistribute or sell the images as part of printed work. There are adverts for Shutterstock but these are clearly marked above and below the free images.
  • b19glass010

There are already some screencasts by Russell Stannard on Teacher Training Videos, about the last three, along with his own discussion about copyright and creative commons, as well as two further sources, Public Domain Pictures and Wikimedia Commons.

Of course, if you are ever in doubt and want to really illustrate your blog with an original photo then you could always use one which have gone and taken yourself.

Beach Road (28) - Sepia edit

‘Seagulls taking off’ by Phil Longwell. Taken 8 March 2014.

*as of 10 March 2014.

References:

(1) BBC News, 2014. Getty makes 35m photos free to use. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26463886. Accessed 8 March 2014.

(2) Brandom, Russell, 2014. The world’s largest photo service just made its pictures free to use. The Verge. Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/5/5475202/getty-images-made-its-pictures-free-to-use. Accessed 8 March 2014.

(3) Hern, A. 2014. Photographers warn of ‘cynical’ move by Getty to provide free pictures. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/07/photographers-getty-images. Accessed 8 March 2014.

(4) Lyon-Jones, S. 2012. Copyrights or Copy Wrongs? Available at: http://www.edtech-hub.com/index.php/copyrights-or-copy-wrongs/. Accessed 8 March 2014.

#ELTpics – 100 Up!

#ELTpics has just turned 100. Not years, but sets.  The current set or theme is ‘Spot The Difference’ (16 Feb-1 Mar), in which contributors are being asked to send in two similar photos which have slight differences. Previous sets include adjectives, bookshelves, contrasts and ‘Things I see every day’.  For the latest set, photos should ideally be positioned together as one image for ease of future use in the classroom, although this is not essential.  It is proving to be very popular, giving contributors the chance to be creative with their imagery.  Some are taking pictures which are seconds apart, while others are taking images from the same place on entirely different days.

Flickr Sets – 21 out of 100

#ELTpics, the Flickr-based photo sharing ready-made resource for language teachers, was launched in October 2010 when three teachers, Victoria Boobyer (at that time a teacher in Vietnam), Carol Goodey (Adult Literacies & ESOL Worker in Community Learning and Development with a local authority in Scotland) and Vicky Loras (a teacher in Switzerland and co-founder of The Loras Network) decided to start tweeting pictures to each other theme on a given theme.  In Spring 2011, two more curators, Fiona Mauchline and Sandy Millin, joined the team. As of today’s date, 20 February 2014, there are well over 16,000 collected photos, which are grouped by sets.  Any one photo might be placed in more than one set.  Every two weeks teachers and other folks in ELT are invited to take and share photos on a given theme.  This theme is publicised on Facebook and Twitter by the curators, which are now Victoria – @elt_pics, Fiona – @fionamau, @JulieRaikou and @mkofab – using the hashtag #eltpics.

The conditions placed on photos being uploaded and shared were – and continue to be – that photos must be the photographers’ own, they must be ‘live’ rather than computer graphics, and any recognisable person appearing as the subject in a photo must have given their consent.  All of the photos are free to use under a creative commons licence.  That is, you must give appropriate credit and it needs to be for non-commercial purposes, such as for use in the classroom.  If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same licence as the original.

As well as the Flickr resource, there is a blog called ‘Take a photo and…”, maintained by #ELTpics’ gatekeeper, Fiona.  This is an ideas site for how to use the uploaded images.  For example, this post is about creating #ELTpics mosaics, possibilities and modal auxiliary verbs.  It also suggests ways of using two similar, but slightly different photos, which is useful for the 100th theme/set, ‘Spot the Difference’. Another blog which focuses on a series of interviews with contributors and ran for one year is here.

Image: @HanaTicha

Image: @HanaTicha

The resource was the topic of two #ELTchat discussions on 30 May 2012, for which Shaun Wilden wrote a summary and one year later – 29 May 2013, with a summary written by Lizzie Pinard.

Fiona and Victoria take turns in doing promotional stuff for the resource, including a 30 minute session given in May 2013 at the 6th Virtual Web Conference. You can view that session here.

#ELTpics was also shortlisted for an ELTons award for innovation in teacher resources in 2013.  It was previously nominated for best group blog and best Twitter hashtag in the 2011 Edublog awards.

Wait - Spot The Difference - by @harrisonmike

‘Wait’ – Spot The Difference – by @harrisonmike, remixed by @teacherphili

To date, I have mostly used #ELTpics when I want to illustrate something I have written about for a blog post or #ELTchat summary.  For the summary on ‘How to teach Spelling’, for example, I used eight images from the ‘Things that look like letters’ set – see below.  I have, so far, only used #ELTpics once in my own teaching, on a pre-sessional course last summer, when I created a mosaic of buildings in different parts of the world, from the ‘Important Buildings’ set.  I know that the resource is a wonderful place to get interesting, copyright-free images from fellow professionals, which can be used, adapted or remixed as needed.

Spelling Montage Remixed

Spelling Montage Remixed – originals by @sandymillin @mk_elt @Senicko @gemmateaches

Interview with Victoria Boobyer

To mark the appearance of the 100th set, Fiona Mauchline suggested I write this post and that I contact Victoria Boobyer, the only original founder still actively involved, for an interview about this ongoing resource, now in its fourth year.

  • Why did you start #ELTpics along with Carol and Vicky?

Well, we were sending each other photos of everyday things from Vietnam, Scotland and Switzerland via Twitter anyway… and it soon became clear that we had the makings of a really nice resource for teachers.  The next logical step was to involve other teachers via the hashtag #eltpics

  • The project seems to be an all-girl thing – the ‘#ELTpics chicks’ I have heard it called.  Is there a deliberate policy or reason behind that?

‘Chicks’ really?  It’s just happened that way.  We put out a call for volunteers when it was becoming too much for me to manage as I was taking my Delta. It so happened women replied. Then as others have become busy for short periods (i.e. Sandy volunteering at the Olympics and doing her own Delta) further women volunteers stepped in.

  • How many photos have now been uploaded in total to the #ELTpics Flickr page?

I’ve just uploaded the 16,894th.  Which was one of yours, Phil. 🙂

  • What is your favourite set and why?

This is one of those tricky questions.  I’ll always like ‘Water’ as it was our first set, but I think in terms of a teaching resource, I love ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’. Each picture is an instant activity really because teachers have taken the pictures and have seen the potential and this potential will be seen by other teachers.  Even if you start by asking, ‘What story does this picture tell?’ it’s a great language producing activity.

  • Is there a set idea that you have had but have so far not used for practical or other logistical reasons?

We started but have had to be really careful with the PARSNIPS (things you wouldn’t usually find in ELT course books) set.

  • Are there any legal issues when publishing images of people, for example your class of students?  Is permission all that is required usually?

Yes, there are legal restrictions regarding portraits but also we want to be responsible.  This means that we ask that permission is sought for recognisable images of people and from parents of children. Also check with the school policy on this.

  • What is your favourite activity you know about that uses or can use #ELTpics in the classroom?

I really like Ceri Jones’ ‘An open door…?’ micro writing activity that she wrote for the ‘take a photo and…’ blog. http://takeaphotoand.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/an-open-door/  I like this activity because it takes an everyday object – a door – and results in a lot of classroom language.

  • Who do you think has contributed the most photos, other than those directly involved in running it?

I wouldn’t like to name anyone in particular as some folks send lots of photos in short periods whereas others have been steady regulars.  Also, some of the more recent contributors are quite prolific but joined later.  Every single photo is gratefully received.  🙂

  • Who is the most famous ELT person(s) that has/have so far contributed an image?

I have to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Gavin Dudeney, Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury who are the big ELT names that gave us support right from the very beginning.  I still think quite a lot of the ‘Food’ set is made up of Scott’s photos.  😉  Since then, many luminaries have come on board the #ELTpics train.

  • Were you disappointed not to win an ELTon award last year?

Am I supposed to say ‘no’ here?  No but really… we were very chuffed to reach the shortlisted stage because is meant that Carol, Fiona and myself finally got to meet each other.

  • How do you see the future of #ELTpics?  Are there any changes planned or is it more of the same?

Why change something that is working so splendidly?

  • Is there anything you would like to add or make clear about #ELTpics that has not already been said?

Just that we would love to hear on twitter and the Facebook page how people use #ELTpics in their classes because then we can then share this with other teachers.

That’s it!  My thanks to Victoria for taking the time to reply.

100 Sets

#ELTpics’ 100 Sets – click to see full size

References and further sources for how to use #ELTpics:

Mauchline, F, 2011: #ELTpics – How Does It Work. Available at: http://www.eltpics.com/howdoesitwork.html. Accessed 17 February 2014.

Mauchline, F. 2011-13. Take a photo and… http://takeaphotoand.wordpress.com/about/ Accessed 16 February 2014.

Millin, S. 2011. How to join in with eltpics. http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/how-to-join-in-with-eltpics/ Accessed 16 February 2014.

Pinard, L. 2013. How to use a great resource like eltpics for your teaching-  a summary. http://bit.ly/1bd7pEJ. Accessed 17 February 2014.

Wilden, S. 2012. How do/could you use a resource such as #ELTpics? http://bit.ly/1hpexAV. Accessed 17 February 2014.

Join Lizzie Pinard tomorrow – a webinar on Learner Autonomy

In this webinar http://goo.gl/YV3DgB we will be considering the topic of learner autonomy and suggesting practical methods that we can use to encourage our learners to move towards being genuinely autonomous outside the classroom.

– Use the World Clock http://goo.gl/QsNAQ8 to find what time the webinar is where you live.

#TeachingEnglish #Webinar #LearnerAutonomy.

The Benefits of Volunteering

Window on Norwich Market

Window on Norwich Market

I have just applied to be a volunteer with VSO .  It is only a general enquiry at this stage, no commitment.   I am already thinking ahead to what I might do after pre-sessional work this summer.  I would aim to leave the UK around 1 October and travel overseas to teach, possibly in Ethiopia.  I am not adverse to volunteering, having previously been a nightshelter worker on and off for four years in Cambridge and having started my teaching career by helping out at an orphanage in Tanzania.  Whilst I was a sabbatical officer at Anglia Polytechnic (Ruskin) University, I encouraged other students to volunteer in various ways and promoted the benefits of doing so, not least the ‘work’ experience that can be gained. This can look great on a CV, of course.  Other benefits of volunteering include the positive impact on those communities you work with, the positive feeling you get from doing good things and what it can do for personal confidence.

According to VSO’s Education Page:

You’ll be working alongside local colleagues, helping them develop their teaching methodologies and practices. That might mean helping teachers across several schools to build their confidence in the classroom. It could mean working with education authorities on curriculum development and school management. You might even work to make sure teachers are better valued, developed and supported.

http://www.vso.org.uk/volunteer/opportunities/teaching-and-education/english-language-teachers. Accessed 13.02.14.

Mind Office

Mind Office

I am currently volunteering  with Norfolk and Norwich Mind, the mental health charity, an area close to my heart, at The Forum, in Norwich.  It is more than just a stop-gap between jobs, as I wish to continue doing it once I am back in paid employment, if that is possible.  I am also helping out at a community church in the city’s King’s Street.  Both classes I would describe as informal and ESL/ESOL.  That is, they are free English classes for Speakers of other Languages who have found themselves by choice (being a full-time student at the University of East Anglia) or due to other factors living in the UK.  These other factors include coming to be with a spouse who is already living and working in the city or being migrant workers, refugees or asylum seekers. There is an overlap between the two classes as some of the students attend both, as well as there being one other volunteer who helps out at both.  We currently have a healthy number of Russians, a married couple from Syria, a couple of Iranians, a couple of Turks, a Lithuanian, a Pole and several from Taiwan and China, to mention just a few, but not by name.

If you do not know what the differences between ESL and EFL classes are, or why there might be a distinction, check out this summary of an #ELTchat from 27 February 2013.  It is not the first time I have taught lower levels, but (mostly) the Mind class is my first time to teach refugees/asylum seekers.  Their priorities and needs are different from your average university student.  They have more straightforward, day-to-day language needs.  They are not studying textbooks and are not being taught to test or to pass an exam.  Flashcards are something I have been using a lot of, so far, along with lots of gesture, mime and modelling the target language.  That is, when I am leading the lesson.  Pronunciation is also important at this level, especially for one student who is partially deaf.  It is certainly giving me back my slightly misplaced confidence, following my return from China last October.  In fact, I feel supremely confident once more.  The additional benefit is that it has provided a way back into ‘work’ – I will use this experience as a springboard to doing pre-sessional this summer, which will probably be at UEA INTO, thanks to the contacts I now have, although I am not ruling out Sheffield or other UK institutions.

If you have any experience of teaching refugees/asylum seekers, I would interested to know in the comments box below.

The Forum

The Forum

Pre-packaged, marketable language learning

#ELTchat, a weekly Twitter chat for English Language Teaching professionals, returned on 22 January 2014 after the Christmas/New Year break.  The chat is now held once per week, every Wednesday, alternating between 12 noon and 9pm GMT each week.  For the latest news on #ELTchat and the latest topics up for voting, click here.

image: @mkofab LicenseAttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by eltpics

Image: @mkofab License: Attribution Noncommercial Some rights reserved by eltpics

Proposal Topic

Proposed topic on the #ELTchat site – click to enlarge

Summary: Pre-packaged, marketable language learning

The first chat of 2014 was proposed by @cioccas (above) who, unfortunately, could not join in the actual chat due to its late timing – currently it is GMT+11 in Australia, where she lives. The topic title was distilled from @cioccas’ original lengthy proposal (above) which made reference to an abstract by Scott Thornbury for an upcoming #AusELT chat:

I would go further, though, and add that one of the unintended consequences of an uncritical commitment to educational technology might be the effective disempowering of teachers in the interests of servicing the neoliberal ‘knowledge economy’. As Lin (2013) warns: ‘Language teaching is increasingly prepackaged and delivered as if it were a standardised, marketable product […] This commodifying ideology of language teaching and learning has gradually penetrated into school practices, turning teachers into ‘service providers’. The invisible consequence is that language learning and teaching has become a transaction of teachers passing on a marketable set of standardised knowledge items and skills to students.’ This commodification process is, of course, massively expedited by digital technologies.  (emphasis added)

@cioccas was interested by the reference to Lin’s (2013) study and the notion therein of ‘prepackaged’ and ‘marketable’ language teaching.  The first thing that chat participants attempted to do was define what they understood this to mean.

For @harrisonmike it is the idea that one company provides all the material, such as all the coursebooks, learning materials and test sheets.  One body owns all the material from which lessons are planned. It is the monetisation of educational products across the board, he added later.  It has been called the ‘Pearsonization’ (or ‘Haussmannisation’ according to a post by Luke Meddings at TESOLFrance, referenced by @harrisonmike) after the largest education publisher in the world.  @Tefladventures wondered if a situation where schools provide all the materials that teachers are required to use, was an example, to which Marisa_C agreed, suggesting that ‘it could be printed or online pre-prepared lessons that teachers have to deliver in sync.’

@victorhugo

@victorhugor

Prefab Mats

It was generally agreed that prefabricated materials, or ‘prefab mats’, can bring benefits to newly qualified teachers.  It can ensure providers that all teachers are on the ‘same page’, even demanding it in one case. It can provide ‘a framework … but [we should] be encouraging a developing of teaching personality,’ stated @Innov8rEduc8r, who was not a fan of mandating the same textbook for every class, later suggesting that constraints might provide motivation for wickedly creative teachers and imagined many teachers disobeying. @tefladventures, who thought it easier for new teachers to have a syllabus but with freedoms, said that in her situation (Vietnam) there is a lot of ‘teaching to the test,’ instead on focusing on what students actually want to learn. This would probably mean ‘grammar’ according to @NikkiFortova.  @patrickelt wondered if learners can only express that they want to learn grammar. ‘The course program doesn’t usually leave time for what they [actually] want,” added @tefladventures.  When asked if this was an argument in favour of packaging, @nroberts said that she had found that ‘students’ parents are particularly in favour of testing and teaching to test.’  @nroberts88 suggested it sounded ‘Orwellian’. He also stated that there is so much pressure in Spain to pass exams such as the FCE before being able to graduate.  @tefladventures realised that a new law was coming in Spain before she left and found it interesting that it had been implemented. @Marisa_C believed that her experience of one big chain, in Greece, Eurognosi, elsewhere written as ‘Euro-Nosey’ was, in hindsight, somewhat Orwellian.

@Shaunwilden stated there is a difference between a syllabus and the whole package. @Shaunwilden wondered if the definition is any different from a school using a coursebook package.  In some senses, a coursebook is a pre-packaged set of materials, but the danger comes, according to @harrisonmike, when just one body owns it and everything else that is used in the classroom or the books become standardised across schools. @NikkiFortova did not think she had ever seen pre-packaged materials, unless we are talking about the rigidity of one coursebook.

Teachers could not create ‘Individualized programs for each student’ are just not possible where learning is ‘Pearsonali(s)ed,’ according to @victorhugor.    He thought the first decision by most language teachers is to select the textbook and workbook. It is a dream for publishers when [a textbook] goes global, he added, “because a dependant teacher will buy, buy, buy.”

Pearsonisation

click to enlarge

Pearsonisation 02

From @teacherphili’s own teaching beginnings, this was something he had experienced at Jungchul Hagwon, a franchise of cram schools in South Korea.  The concept is quite commonplace to those working in other Asian contexts.  Every franchise has the same material and there are set texts for each age group and level, which lay down the possible progression that can be made. The whole operation, including (not very hidden) CCTV in every classroom, as @BobK99 asked, was set up for the selling to and the ease of understanding by parents, who were performed to at scripted end-of-level presentations.  It was primarily a business first, a childminder second.  Learning authentic English came in third, at best.  

@patrickelt questioned whether the only possible ‘advantage’ in a cram school situation could be for the students’ parents. @teacherphili reiterated this so-called benefit, along with the possible benefit for the inexperienced, first time teacher who needs everything laid out for them. @NikkiFortova later rhetorically asked whether there were any large language schools in Asia that don’t force materials on teachers.

200 franchises, one syllabus

Jungchul Hagwons: 200+ franchises, one syllabus

Standardisation / Standard(ised) Environment

@Marisa_C asked why Directors of Studies and school owners do it [offer pre-packaged courses].  Is it to market better or because they don’t trust their teachers? @NikkiFortova wondered if it is done to help standardisation. ‘Of what?’, asked @Innov8rEduc8r. Not according to @Marisa_C, who claimed that “[standardisation] is a myth and a Utopian delusion. :-D”

@SueAnnan offered an example of a seemingly cost-ineffective Swedish school which sends students to a different environment [Jersey], provides all the material, employs local teachers and tells them what to teach.  @teacherphili thought this really was ‘the whole package.’ ‘It’s so soulless’, she said, before claryifying that the Swedish students, fortunately, do not come to her school, just the island.  The kids get a holiday, the company makes money.

@mitchefl thought pre-packaging to be more of a business ploy than about education. She once worked in a school which provided the whole course, although teachers could still ‘supplement’ the material, which was a word that @Innov8rEduc8r felt allowed scope for creativity.  There was still no room to ‘personalise’ the lessons … probably because of marketing, before sarcastically adding ‘that we should be wary of personalising … wouldn’t want teachers showing their own style … might engage the students!’ There seemed to be a slight confusion around this point between ‘pearsonalising’ as roughly defined above and ‘personalising’ – that is, bringing something of yourself to class.  They are, of course, distinctly different.

@harrisonmike used the phrase, ‘standard(-ised) environment’, which could mean a possible unified set of criteria, according to @NikkiFortova.  He felt that students in these settings were becoming less creative and imaginative. @Innov8rEduc8r questioned this, prompting @harrisonmike to reply that “Some students over the last few years [were] really not prepared to put the effort in.  Expecting it all on a plate.’  @patrickelt suspected students have imagination but do not express it, which was a possible factor, ‘especially when little … space for imagination [is] given in assessments,’ added @harrisonmike. @Innov8rEduc8r liked ‘finding out their passions, interests.  It’s a challenge,’ he stated.  This creative apathy was not an observation shared by @NikkiFortova.  Her students are amazingly creative, she felt, before adding that ‘as long as assessment carries on taking a bottom-up approach, it won’t get more creative.’  This creativity is more difficult in standardised environments, although maybe ‘we just have rethink our view of what testing and assessment looks like,’ she added.  ‘Rethink, re-shape, re-conceptualising,’ responded @Innov8rEduc8r. This could lead to ‘a more top-down rather than bottom-up approach to language learning,’ said @NikkiFortova.

@Marisa_C summarised one general consensus that we need a set of clear objectives but have the freedom to supplement when appropriate.   But also to get creative, added @Innov8rEduc8r, while @SueAnnan agreed in part.  She said that teachers also need freedom to meet the needs of students, which is not true in a standardised environment.

Bethany-Greg Tweet

@bethcagnol popped in with a random thought – many of her clients had requested not to provide pre-packaged training, which appealed to @Innov8rEduc8r.  In France, many DoSs say they can provide the teacher [on business English classes] with packages to make planning easier, while companies are requesting more tailored courses, @bethcagnol added.  This was recognised by @Marisa_C from her own context at CELT Athens.  This was interesting for @patrickelt as many teacher training courses do seem to provide these materials.  ‘If many schools opt out of providing packages, will this then change the responsibilities of DOSs’, said @bethcagnol, before adding that she had recently hired a teacher who refused to plan.  ‘It’s a risk but it’s working so far,’ she said.  The lack of trust in the trainer is, also for her, a major factor in pre-packaging.  Many large language companies are run by non-teachers.  It is a general critique of education provision, not just ELT.

Marisa-Greg Tweet

click to enlarge

Individualisation

Moving the topic on, @Marisa_C subsequently asked if all teachers are good syllabus designers or have the ability to analyse students’ needs.  If not, then can this explain pre-packaging?    Clear objectives and a healthy library full of resources helps, responded @tefladventures. Teachers should be trained in this. ‘Talk to the students, see what they can [already] do,’ suggested @harrisonmike.  But if it is a large concern, with 300+ teachers, you can’t possibly hope to monitor them all, said @tefladventures. It may not be about the materials per se, ‘if teachers have the scope to deviate,’ pointed out @Innov8rEduc8r.  @harrisonmike asked whether language schools need an appealing gimmick.   @mitchefl thought that some kind of ‘gimmick’ might be needed ‘to help them stand out from the crowd.’

@patrickelt raised the point of distance learning materials.  Pre-packaged materials are not localised, interjected @Sookjhee. Although they could be, suggested @BobK99.  Although a number of participants thought this was a good point, it was not expanded upon.

Being aware of individuals in a group is important, but getting them to collaborate is key,’ for @NikkiFortova.  ‘I think some people confuse personalisation, mentioned earlier, with heavy individualisation,’ said @Marisa_C.  But, the individual is too easily forgotten, said @Innov8rEduc8r, who claimed that you can still have awful teaching with prefab materials. They do not help teacher development much. @SueAnnan added that “in many ways these are more difficult as they don’t always take loyalty into account.”

This thread lead to prompted @bethcagnol to ask a devil’s advocate question.  Do pre-packaged programmes cause awful teaching?  ‘Not with an experienced teacher,’ according to @SueAnnan. ‘Less likely to happen,’ believed @harrisonmike.  An awful teacher will always be an awful teacher, regardless of material used, believed @tefladventures.

@Marisa_C expressed this slightly differently.  Do students suffer from pre-packaging and in what way?  Can well-designed and taught prefab lessons work well?  Pre-packaged materials can be ‘a good model of they are well written and based on sound learning and teaching beliefs,’ replied @NikkiFortova.  ‘I guess it comes down to [students’] needs, interests and passions – are they developing life skills?’ asked @Innov8rEduc8r.  ‘Packages can suck the life out of teaching,’ however, thought @bethcagnol.

Language is not packaged up in real life, so it should not be in teaching or learning,’ affirmed @harrisonmike, before adding that ‘packaged learning materials promote [an] atomistic rather than [a] holistic view of language’.  To which @NikkiFortova replied,  I think the trend towards language learning, due I’d say to testing, is analytic rather than holistic, at least in the [Czech Republic].’

So packaging does not guarantee quality of instruction or learning!  Go tell industrially oriented school owners!!! shouted @Marisa_C towards the end.

At this point, the chat was wound up, with particpants, including some first-timers, thanked for their contributions.    It was a ‘highly energetic chat’ according to @Innov8rEduc8r and a great way to kick off #ELTchat in 2014.  People were reminded that the chats are now once a week at the alternating times of 12 noon and 9pm GMT. See #ELTchat for more.

Marisa_C - Tweet

Link referred to by @cioccas:

Lin, A. 2013. Toward paradigmatic change in TESOL methodologies: Building plurilingual pedagogies from the ground up. TESOL Quarterly, 47, 3

Thornbury, S. 2014. Abstract for upcoming #AusELT Twitter chat on ‘Ed Tech: The Mouse That Roared?’ Available at: http://bit.ly/1ayiEHR.

Links referred to by @harrisonmike:

Meddings, L., 30 Nov 2013. We Teach to Reach, they Test to Invest. Available at: http://bit.ly/1mWaFam. Accessed 22 January 2014.

Ravitch, D., 5 June 2012. The Pearsonizing of the American Mind. Available at: http://bit.ly/1d28h9D. Accessed 22 January 2014.

Chat Attendees

This chat’s attendees* by their Twitter handles in order of appearance:

@Marisa_C (moderator) @Innov8rEduc8r @teacherphili @Shaunwilden (moderator) @victorhugor @BobK99 @tefladventures @patrickelt @harrisonmike @Mashfaqka @NikkiFortova @nroberts88 @AlexandraKouk @SueAnnan @mitchefl @elawassell @bethcagnol @sookjhee @bigke

*not including lurkers or trolls, which the author would like to point out are definitely not the same thing.

Note: As with all #ELTchat summaries that I write I am aware that ideas can become ‘decoupled’ (a lovely concept I borrowed from Keith Richards – paper see here) from the original conversation and the potential is always there for misquoting someone.  Any decoupling is, therefore, unintended.  Although it is not helped when participants forget to use the #ELTchat hashtag, as responses can become effectively decoupled in the transcript. I would welcome feedback/comments, as well as an opportunity to correct any decoupling, if this is the case.