Alpha Grove Reunion

Alpha Grove Reunion DVD 2018-01-14_23-21-05

Another flashback post! This one has got nothing at all to do with English Language Teaching and is a much more personal post, which comes out of a chance meeting that I had the other day.  It highlights one of my hobbies of making short films.  But is also ties in with one of my current roles – teaching at a Methodist church – which I will write about at a later date.

Alpha Grove Reunion DVD Front Cover 2018-01-27_16-33-47

Back in April 2009, inbetween completing my CELTA and working for Bell Educational Trust in Cambridge, I returned to my childhood home on the Isle of Dogs, in London, with my mum, dad and brother, Pete.  The reason for our trip was a reunion of members of a youth club that my mum and dad set up and ran for 5 years in the late 1970s – early 1980s, before we moved to North Norfolk in 1982.  My dad bought this old Methodist church building for £8250 and they called it the Alpha Grove community centre on the run down, working-class Barkatine estate.  The old church building had been totally redeveloped and was undergoing some more building work when we visited. The whole island dramatically changed, of course, in the 1980s with (primer Minister) Margaret Thatcher’s Docklands development programme, which included Canary Wharf, a.k.a. 1 Canada Square.  It is now virtually unrecognisable from the desolate waste ground I grew up and played in as a kid.  I used to break into this area from our back garden, confronted by security guards protecting this empty space – akin to David Thewlis’ character, Johnny, a motor-mouthed intellectual and conspiracy theorist, and his prophesies in Mike Leigh’s brilliant and existentialist rumination film, ‘Naked’.  What were they actually protecting, I ask you? Anyway, I digress.

Tony Scott ITV News at Ten 2018-01-15_14-46-48

Tony Scott at the ITV NEWS at TEN studio

I made a fly-on-the-wall documentary film and a DVD of the trip back to London.  The film is interspersed with original, low quality footage found on an old VHS cassette, filmed by Tony Scott, in 1983.  He was a frequent visitor to the Alpha Grove youth club and filming was Tony’s hobby.  In fact, this was the first thing he ever filmed.  He later got hired by ITN news, in 1985, and was a sound recordist for many years.  In 1998 he became one of their main cameraman. He has now worked with ITN for 33 years.  There is a day in the life of a cameraman film recorded last June about what he does and all the technology he uses. He is seen talking about his job whilst covering last year’s Grenfell Tower inquest for ITV news.  He can be a bit of name dropper, even more then me!  I couldn’t give you a list of all the famous people he has met in his long time working for ITN, but it has included Prime Ministers, filming The Queen’s Christmas broadcast and international missions like Charles and Camilla’s trip to Nepal and covering three UEFA Champions League finals – including 2012 when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich. He won a Royal Television Society award for his coverage from Beirut.  Not surprisingly he has lots of stories to tell and is currently writing an autobiography, although he admits his English isn’t great and might need a ‘ghostwriter’..

Scott Beckham

Tony with David Beckham

On Sun 14 Jan, Tony unexpectedly popped into our home in North Norfolk. It was the first time either my Dad or myself had seen him for 30-odd years – the last time he came to our house was for a party.  This was back in the day when we used to have anywhere between 100 and 200 people visiting the house after pub closing time.  On one occasion, Robbie Coltrane, of Cracker and Harry Potter fame, – told you I was a name dropper – turned up. At that time he starring in a little remembered BBC2 comedy called ‘Laugh?? I nearly paid my licence fee’.  He happened to be filming the poorly reviewed, ‘Revolution’ with Al Pacino in King’s Lynn. Oh. I have digressed again.

Here is Tony Scott below, posing for a photo with that DVD, and being reunited with his own Alpha Grove footage, which had been misplaced. Tony, for once, being on the other side of the camera!  I rewatched the film with my Dad that evening and it holds a lot of memories for us all as a family.  I’m going to stay in touch with Tony and see if he needs any help with writing his book…


Dad, Tony and me

The full reunion film (with music intact) can be seen below.  Click on full screen to get the full viewing experience.

Note: The film has never previously been released publicly, partly because it uses copyrighted music, mostly by the Sting / The Police.  UMG owns the rights to The Police’s recorded music and have labelled it as such on the video but has, so far, allowed the music to be included.  I sang ‘Message in A Bottle’ during the Reunion Karaoke but, thankfully, this wasn’t recorded. The Alpha Grove had a jukebox and my father would regularly purchase the latest 7″ singles with the holes cut out. When it was time to replace some, my brother and I used to share the dividends, helping me to build up my vinyl record collection. I still have the two of the three Police 7″ singles used in the main film.

I’ve done a basic screen capture from the the DVD as, for some unknown reason, converting the video to a format for YouTube didn’t work.

Reflective Practice (Time to Talk)

Time to Talk Day 2018 2018-01-23_13-34-34

Ahead of Time to Talk Day 2018 and following a recent short survey I completed on reflective practice, I have uploaded an archive video below for the first time.  I talk once more about my own mental health and how it has affected my teaching.  I will be spending part of the Time To Talk day volunteering with the Time to Change campaign team at The Forum in Norwich city centre on 1 February.

This is an edited version of a 30 minute experimental co-operative development group session recording during my first semester at the University of Warwick.  So it dates from October 2011. It’s called ‘THE PERSONAL AND THE PROFESSIONAL’ – and came ahead of doing Steve Mann and Annamaria Pinter’s second semester module, ‘Teacher Education and Development’ (course ref: ET977).  I submitted this video broken down into transcribed extracts for the assignment.  I am student 1163612 and the focus is on me, not the other people in the room. Those ‘understanders’ (off camera) include fellow student at the time, Jo Gakonga and three others, who had their turns later.

Some background to this video and why the ‘understanders’ don’t act like normal interviewers (or counsellors) comes from an extract from my essay which was later submitted the following April, after attending my first IATEFL conference:

“Co-operative Development (CD) is an exploratory spoken discourse practice of dialogic character, which provides a space for teachers, MA and doctoral students (Edge, 2011) to reflect on their teaching/learning experiences as the basis for self-development. Teachers, particularly, ‘can look back on events, make judgments about them, and alter their teaching, behaviours in light craft, research and ethical knowledge.’  (Valli in Farrell, 2008:1)

According to Farrell (2007:123-4), there are different kinds of teacher development groups, which he describes as school peer groups, district-level teacher groups and virtual teacher groups. The latter are becoming more commonplace with online support groups, such as the new Twitter based #ELTchat group.  Whatever the construction, a group requires four ingredients, according to Richardson (in Farrell, 2007:125).  In summary, these are:

  • The feeling of safety, allowing each participant to be able to open up and discover who they are personally and professionally.

  • A connection with others in the group.

  • An agreed passion about what the group is trying to achieve and that it will make a difference.

  • A gratitude for the group’s existence and a solidarity which binds the above features.”

Now I don’t reflect much about my actual teaching here.  I am bringing in my personal reflections and trying to understand why things happen the way they do, all in a supportive group setting. I talk about ‘perfectionism’, anxiety and reflect on my time in Saudi.  Towards the end, I make a reference to an ELT journal article by the late Stephen Bax about putting ‘context’ at the heart of the profession. Uploading this video might come across as self-indulgent but what I am doing here is focusing on my own psychology as a language teacher and how I felt the personal and professional entwine.

I did actually write about this experimental group in a post called ‘Mental Indigestion’ on my older Blogger account on 30 October 2011, whilst I was a student at Warwick, sharing a single photograph.  Here’s an extract from that post:

“CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT GROUP:   Being a reflective professional is something that has already come up and with the help of Steve Mann, mentioned above, a 5 person group has been set up.  This includes Joanna, Christine (the 2 other Brits), a teacher and fluent French speaker from Trinidad and Tobago, and one from India.   It could lead into Steve’s optional module on Teacher Education and Development in Term 2.   Although there are very interesting modules on Literature and Drama, Professional and Academic Discourse and Language Testing to choose from, I think this is likely to be the module I pick for Term 2.  It leads into my long-term goal of being a teacher training (sic).   I recorded a 30 minute video in the first session, during which I took the chair and spoke at length about how I came to be at Warwick and how my ‘personal’ and my ‘professional’ entwine themselves.  The others generally listened and gave reflective responses only as ‘understanders’.  Much like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, their role was not to add their opinions, advice or ask too many questions, but instead they would gently prompt me.  I went into knowing what I wanted to reveal and this seemed like the perfect, safe place to do it.  I didn’t write a script, however and I didn’t write any notes down beforehand.”

Finally, here’s another extract from the corresponding essay, where I needed to write in third person.  The whole essay can also be found under presentations and documents.

“This Speaker went into the session ‘metaphorically naked’ without having prepared anything for the session.  He confessed from the outset that he suffers from depression, anxiety attacks and a perceived polarised behaviour.  He admitted to being a perfectionist and that he had high (professional) standards.  He often compared current performance with previous better performances and suggested this was a possible reason for becoming anxious.”




Edge, J. 2011. The Reflexive Teacher Educator in TESOL: Roots and Wings. New York, London: Routledge.

Farrell, T. S. C. 2007. Reflective Language Teaching: From Research to Practice London: Continuum 

Farrell, T. S. C. 2008. Reflective Practice in the Professional Development of Teachers of Adult English Language Learners. CAELA Network Brief. Ontario: Brock University found at: accessed 1 March 2012.

Resilience of English Language Teachers

EVO Blog Post Image

In a current Electronic Village Online course that I am enroled on, the topic of resilience came up.  In fact, it was the main theme of Helen Waldron’s opening webinar, ‘How to develop better resilience’ on the ‘Business English for Better World’ moodle course.

Our homework for week one was to record a 5 minute video introducing ourselves, talk about resilience – giving examples – and comment on others’ videos. I didn’t have much luck uploading my screencast video to the Moodle site, so instead uploaded it to YouTube and set it to unlisted. It was then embedded by Julie K on Moodle.

My mental health survey was mentioned in the presentation, so I though this would be an opportunity to not only talk about resilience but my current research into the mental health of English Language Teachers.

If you don’t know much about me, then here’s an introduction.

Volunteer Africa


Eyes on Tanzania

Habari Gani.  Jana Langu Phil.

I have just watched the latest episode of BBC Click – actually a ‘best bits’ review of 2017.  It featured a report on using tablets in northern Tanzania, written in Swahili – see a short clip here.  The Global Learning XPrize is a challenge to teams around the world to develop software and apps for tablets that could help youngsters learn basic skills. The use of tech in a remote part of a poor country like this connects what I do now as part of the IATEFL Learning Technologies Special Interest Group and where I started out as a teacher using very limited resources.  I also have a new student who speaks Swahili.

Tanzania Fundraising Montage HDR

Fundraising for Tanzania

It is 11 years since I started off my teaching career in Tanzania.  I didn’t really acknowledge the 10 year anniversary with a blog post, so this is a year late.  The background to 3 months spent in a mud hut village called Buswelu, near Mwanza, was a couple of fundraising activities in my hometown of Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.  The first was sitting up the Albatros mast for seven hours, dressed as a pirate. The second was an all-you-can-eat-buffet prepared by my brother, Peter, with live music from The Rainmen, who used to frequent the Corner House, where I worked as a front-of-house barman for 18 months.  I eventually flew out to the country in October 2006, along with Jacky (a Canadian, aged 18), Michelle (UK, 21), Tom (UK, 21), Adrienne (Aus, 25), Jenny (US, 26).  The company I went with was called Volunteer Africa, run by a woman based in New Zealand.  It was the classic ‘gap year’ experience, even though I had long graduated from university, and the original blog posts from that time reflect that kind of narrative.


Swahili lessons

My arrival in Dar Es Salaam is documented here. Here’s an extract below:

“We found our accommodation at Kilwa Road, Salvation Army Hostel, to be very basic.  Now, i’ve done Glastonbury, but i found this even more basic.  A bed with mosquito net, a wobbly fan, a very basic toilet and a shower which didn’t really work.  Not being able to drink or get the general water into our bodies, i was very cautious.  We were given given bottled water at dinner, but then we a had a power cut and had to go back into town for a pizza, by teksi (taxi).  The general tiredness showed on everyone’s faces, which had taken over from the excitement, anticipation and general concentration needed to arrive in one piece.”

We spend a week in the coastal city, where we had daily Swahili classes using the book shown above.  My whole Tanzanian adventure is archived on this site, which used to belong to STA travel and is now called OffExploring.   Some of my photos are stored on this old flickr site. Footage of me teaching at Hisani can be seen in this montage of clips, while footage of the kids dancing and goofing around to a popular Bongo Flava soundtrack can be seen in this edited clip from my DVD film of the trip.

Highlights of my whole trip, set to a live version of Toto’s Africa can be found here.  It includes footage of me on Safari, in hospital in Mwanza, flying from Mwanza to Arusha and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I spent ages lying awake at night, thinking about this track and the various shots I would need to complete it!  It was a relief to finally put it together, but I only uploaded it to YouTube in August 2015.  It forms the final chapter of my DVD, which is why there are credits at the end.


Teaching Standard 3

Looking back, teaching at Hisani Orphanage wasn’t exactly the best preparation for teaching English as a Foreign Language.  For starters, it wasn’t explicitly English that I taught, but there were daily classes under mango trees. Often it was a bit of geography.  There were so many external factors to contend with, not least how the kids were treated by the owners.  It was, however,  invaluable experience in terms of ‘classroom’ management and teaching with limited resources – there were basically none.  One of us had to be the coordinator, deciding who would teach which class or ‘standard’ – which ranged from standard ‘zero’ – ages 4 or 5 – up to standard ‘seven’ – the high school kids – around 15 or 16.  I used to visit the local Gedelli school and see what it was like teaching to large classes, but I was only ever an observer.  It was also social care – such as raising enough money to pay for HIV tests for all the kids – and taking them to the Pizzeria afterwards – or one trip we made to Tunza beach.  My fondest memories of the actual teaching were doing a quiz called ‘runaround’ and a treasure hunt followed by a Pinyata party put together by Mexican volunteer, Georgina.   I also learned the ways of the massai – one guarded our compound – and how to jump like them.


With Tom and the Massai

I documented everything with a written diary. An extract shown is below.  It details how I tried to recover from getting Malaria and staying in the Hindu hospital in Mwanza. I have never been as bored in my life waiting for the doctor to pay me a visit that I checked myself out and into a nearby hotel. I got malaria despite taking regular supplies of  Doxycycline. Protecting myself with anti-malaria spray and sleeping under a mosquito net had proved in vain.  At one point I was on 6 different types of medication and lost a stone in weight.  The children at Hisani were far worse off than me and more resilient for it.  They frequently got malaria. As common as getting a cold for them.  One boy, Marwa, had polio and needed constant attention and daily help with his exercises.


Diary Entry – Tue 5 Dec 2006


Thomas Cook!

Tom Rogers is a weekly columnist for TES online and founder of He can be seen in the photo above cooking Ugali with me at the orphanage.  He also kept a written diary and wrote about his own experience in his own reflective blogpost – focusing on the children – in 2015.  Here’s an extract:

“My most painful experience of leaving anywhere was my departure from a group of children I will never forget; a long walk sobbing along a dirt track in the dark knowing I would never see many of them again.

In October 2006, I embarked on what would be one of the best experiences of my life, working for the charity Volunteer Africa teaching orphans in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Following a myriad of painful injections (including the 3 stage rabies jabs – ouch), research about different mosquito sprays and purchasing lonely planet (it was my gap year yah), I was ready to go.”

My relationship with Tom grew very strong, even though we were very different characters.  His passions were strong, especially when it came to how the children were being treated disgracefully at Hisani. One unforgettable experience was getting stranded on an island in Lake Victoria. An extract is below and the whole post about that bizarre day is here.

“On Saturday, I went on the most bizarre boat trip, off the coast at Igombe, a village infested with lake flies. We set sail on a rickety fisherman’s boat, out onto Lake Victoria, and headed for an island straight ahead. Everything was lovely, until we realised that the inhabitants of said island were not used to white visitors and wanted to see documentation and ask the purpose of our visit. It all got very heated and a diplomatic row was brewing, fuelled by the locals being out of their faces on either drink or dope – paranoia was high, as were they!”

It was often quite a scary experience.  Riding the Toyota Hi-Ace Daladala’s back and forth between Buswelu and Mwanza required some amount of ‘faith’.  At one point I even declared myself to have a faith, possibly because I felt I needed some protection on the dangerous roads.  It was also a very humbling experience.  The kids at the orphanage were relatively fortunate by comparison to the street kids who slept by day and begged on the streets of Mwanza at night.  The conditions, at times, were difficult to cope with and I admit checking into a couple of hotels at different times to get a decent shower or a good nights sleep.

I still get newsletters from one of the UK-based charities involved, Kids Aid Tanzania.  Other than that, I no longer have any connections with the orphanage and haven’t seen any of the children since.

Although it was the first time anyone in my immediate family had visited Africa, my brother subsequently won a safari trip to Kenya. My mum, whose second husband sadly died while I was in Tanzania, went on to volunteer at the Christian-based Kenyan Children’s Project and, later, made a couple of trips for Aid Africa – a charity based in Holt, Norfolk, to the more southerly country of Malawi, in Blantye, flying into the capital of Lilongwe – which is not far off an anagram of my surname 🙂

Do Your Revision - compound pic taken by Tom Rogers

Do Your Revision – compound pic taken by Tom Rogers


Mental Health and ELT #3


Brain_Tree_Roots_Psychology 2 (Pixabay)

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Following my request on 1 December for people working in English Language Teaching to complete a survey, I received over 500 responses from around the world.  The response was so overwhelming – but in a good way – that I closed the survey after three weeks, in order to take stock and to begin to analyse the information shared.  It’s going to take a while, so please bear with me.

A full report of my findings will follow in 2018 ahead of a confirmed conference talk in Brighton on 10 April.  In the meantime, I thought I would share some of the public blog posts on this or similar topics.  I have previously linked to the first three from this blog and these ones contain links to other blog posts. Some of the links below were offered in the survey responses.  Several people wanted to share something that they have written but felt that doing so would compromise their anonymity so those have not been shared here. The remaining links were collated by me this year and were not part of the responses.  I’ve made them all user-friendly links, thanks to a suggestion I received.

If you took part in the survey and submitted a link but it is not listed here it might be unavailable or I couldn’t find the exact link to a relevant post on mental health or wellbeing from the information provided. If that is the case you could leave a comment with a direct link at the end.

Lizzie Pinard – Mental Health in ELT

Sandy MillinUseful links on mental health in ELT

Elly Setterfield – A-Z of self-care for Teachers

+ How to Stay Sane

+ What to do when you can’t stop criticising yourself

Katherine Bilsborough – Self-development as a way to tackle low self-esteem

+ Winning the battle against low self-esteem

coperebecca – How many times do you have to start Again, Again, Again

Tyson Seburn – ELT ratio: your path to burnout

Clare Maas (Fielder) – Stress Awareness Discussion – teacher 5 a day

+ Beating burnout and avoiding stress – Top Tips

Roseli Serra – Burnout in ELT

Phil Nash – Five great ways to boost Language Teacher Wellbeing (BESIG)

Lama Obeid  – What do they know about Depression

Danny McNeive – Living with Depression

Kieran O’Driscoll – Bullying, harrassment and Workplace Abuses

Laura Patsko – Mental Health (in ELT)

Conferencing for Introverts

Paul Walsh (TaWSIG) – Interview with Phil Longwell about mental health

Parisa Mehran – I am More than a Stereotype

Teachers are Gold project (Australia)

Fiona Oates / ELTjam / Mental Health Friendly Initiative – Why mental health matters

Marie Delaney – Managing our own wellbeing (The Learning Harbour)

Denise Cowle – How should i deal with workplace anxiety

The Secret DOS – You don’t have to be mad to work here

Neil Millington – Be Kind to Yourself 

Mind – Supporting workplaces to be mentally healthy

One of the respondents, Helen Waldron, has written a book on Teacher Identity

Not ELT but this, from the Secret Teacher, is relevant – Class, I wish I had told you about my mental health

Again, not ELT but relevant – Kevin McLaughlin – The Depressed Teacher

Again, not ELT but relevant – Daisy Buchanan – How to support a friend who is struggling with their mental health

That’s it for now and that’s it for 2017!  Happy New Year!  Do look after yourself.

Happy New YEar

Virtual Reality in Use

ELTchat Virtual-Reality header

On 22 Nov 2017 the #ELTchat was on the topic of ‘Virtual Reality In Use’.  This is a written summary of the chat, while an enhanced video showing some of the sites mentioned and a chat between the joint summary writers is at the end.

The question to kick start was about the VR headsets available in the market. One of the participants mentioned Google Cardboard Box, the affordable Google VR set for schools. As there were doubts because some participants were not familiar with this VR possibility, this site was suggested for quick research. Google Cardboard is a VR headset that you put your phone into. There are various VR apps which can be used on the phone and seen through the Cardboard headset, noted @carolrainbow. She pointed out that some other apps or sites related to school subjects as geography and biology could be found, but not specifically for ELT as far as she knows.  @fionaljp shared a link to some educational resources from Class Tech tips for using VR, as well as some tips for getting started with 360 photos. 

ELTchat newcomer, @paulinobrener said he hadn’t used VR in the classroom but would love to use VR in his online classes. He would meet students in virtual spaces such as this. Like we used to do in Second Life suggested @angelos_bollas, who added that it was better for online classes but maybe VR is better in face-to-face ones. @carolrainbow still meets people in Second Life.  You can’t get anything more immersive than a virtual world in her opinion.  Marisa_C agreed and felt @carolrainbow was a virtual worlds guru and mentor, with thousands of great SL photos of virtual trips, holodecks and more! @paulinobrener felt Facebook Spaces is arguably more immersive. It’s like SL but not in front of a monitor but with VR goggles in an immersive environment.

Carol Rainbow Tweet

Marisa Tweet

The chat moved on to what was actually the main purpose of the exchange, which was how to integrate the VR possibility to meaningful ELT classroom usage. @Marisa_C contributed with a blog on the theme of VR integration with elt syllabus from the LTSIG blog archive – here, written by @Rach_Ribeiro who was also taking part. @Angelos_bollas mentioned the possibility of ‘virtual trips’, while @fionaljp shared a link with some suggestions and asked about the 360° camera and VR headset. @Paulinobrener contributed with this link on VR integration and later on made his point that VR as entertaining as it is, doesn’t replace the teacher. @fionaljp brought up @Paul_Driver‘s idea of using VR for CELTA observation, as described in this link. She also shared Paul’s excellent presentation for Cambridge University Press – ‘A new perspective: Virtual Reality and Transmedia Spherical Video in Teacher Training.’ Paul later joined the chat. @Rach_Ribeiro shared more ideas from a blog post she wrote for Teaching English British Council.

Fiona Tweet

Another doubt had to do with what kind of video to use and where to find some options. @Marisa_C shared some YouTube samples which were recorded with a 360° camera. @fionaljp said she was interested in 360 filming for observation. @Rach_Ribeiro suggested that a ‘gopro camera ‘ or a mobile enabled to film 360° is necessary to create this – such as this one with elephants. You can use Google Street view to do 360° on a mobile device, offered @carolrainbow. The discussion later came back to the more technical aspect of using VR in relation to the equipment: smart phone, videos recorded in 360° or VR ready apps.  The need of some specialised training, as well as the fact it is just another tool, came up in the interaction between @paulinobrener and @angelos_bollas. The former shared a publication on the uses of mobile learning by @Shaunwilden, who was also present. Shaun mentioned one of his favourite 360° sites – Google Spotlight Stories

@Angelos_bollas asked whether a new teacher would need some specialised training to use VR?  @paulinobrener replied that all teachers have (or should have) a strong foundation for teaching languages. VR is just another tool.  @angelos_bollas was talking more about VR training. @paulinobrener added that like any new tool you want to you, you need to know the teacher very well before implementing.  Or an old teacher, suggested @sueannan or any teacher added @seburnt.  @sergiolm21 said from his point of view no, but I would recommend you to try some Apps, experience it and see for yourself.

Sergio Lorca Tweet

@sergiolm21 stated that students love to use Google Expeditions when they have to do a writing activities describing places.  But what do they do whilst exploring? asked @carolrainbow. After the tour every group describes the place and finally present their tour orally to rest of the class, replied @sergiolm21. It depends on the students’ levels, suggested @Rach_Ribeiro – you can ask students what they see. @Shaunwilden argued that this could be done just as well using video on a phone, the immersive element doesn’t add to the language activity. Marisa_C agreed, adding that immersion tends to generate descriptive language while Second Life interactions can generate more genuine social ones.  @sergiolm21 stated that with AR or VR you can get more info than with a video, students can walk around the class and ‘explore’ what they are watching. Another positive aspect is that AR & VR could increase motivation.  Experienced educational technologist, @Paul_Driver, pointed out that the current limitations in the use of VR in ELT are mostly down to a lack of imagination more than anything technological.  

Paul Driver Tweet

@Shaunwilden says there is a little on 360 videos in his book on mobile learning, which was mentioned in the chat, but he remains unconvinced of VR in language teaching.  @angelos_bollas asked why he was not sold on the idea.  Shaun stated that, at the moment, it is no more than a glorified video player for language classes.

Shaun tweet

@Marisa_C highlighted a key factor, that the teacher needs to scaffold and promote language use while the ‘trip’ is happening, which was strongly supported by many participants. Furthermore, in her wrap up note, @Marisa_C also reminded everyone of the LTSIG Pre conference event on 9 April 2018, which will be on the field of VR and AR researches applied to teaching EFL or ESL where both @Paul_Driver and @Rach_Ribeiro, along with other speakers will be sharing their experience and clarifying doubts the audience may have.


About the summary writers:

Raquel Ribeiro is already a keen advocate and experienced user of virtual reality in the classroom. She will be presenting at the Learning Technologies Special Interest Group PCE at the IATEFL Conference in Brighton.  She recently received a donation of 30 Google Cardboard boxes from Google London and will be bringing some along to the event.

Phil Longwell has just purchased his first VR headset, ahead of the LTSIG PCE. He hasn’t got much experience of virtual reality, but did attend Kevin Spiteri’s session on this at ELT Malta. A clip of that session is here.

Here is an enhanced video showing some of the sites mentioned above and a chat about the topic between the summary writers:


An extended version of the chat between the summary writers, which has a further discussion of the topic and the possible uses of VR in education, is here.


Header image:

Mental Health and ELT #2

Brain_Tree_Roots_Psychology_Mental_Health (Pixabay)

The roots of our mental health (photo credit: Pixabay)

I have just been accepted to give a talk at the IATEFL conference in Brighton next year. It will be my first proper conference talk having joined this organisation in 2012 and watched many others do so.  While being excited by the prospect, I also feel somewhat daunted by it – especially given the topic I want to discuss.  Earlier this year, I gave an interview about my own mental health issues in relation to working in the English Teaching profession and how it had affected my career.  I wasn’t sure if a conversation about mental health in ELT had already begun within this industry or to what extent other teachers had already written about it. I subsequently found that quite a few already have and more teaching professionals have added their voice this year. I have been collating blog posts but now comes the next stage.

I would be very grateful if people who work within English Language Teaching, whatever their role, could complete my survey.  This research will form part of my talk and I will also publish the results in April 2018, around the time of the talk.  I am not looking for statistics – just qualitative responses!  I give all assurances to confidentiality, anonymity and data protection in the survey.  Most of the questions are optional, including all that relate to personal information.  Furthermore, I will follow the British Association for Applied Linguistics’ recommendations on good practice at all stages before following-up and before any publication of the results.

Please see the preview below or click here to access the survey.   Then once you have completed it please share with colleagues, employers and other interested parties. Hopefully, it will generate some great responses on this important topic.

Below is the short link to the survey if you wish to copy and paste into your blog or social media:

Update: I will stop receiving new responses and close the survey on 21 December.

Thank you for visiting.