Around the World in an English Lesson

and my year of inspirational Professional Development

Hello! I’m back to the blogging again after a wonderful year of ELT Professional Development. As always there’s an offering of fresh new resources free for you to download, this time a selection of 16 great activities you can do with a YouTube Live WorldCam video, graded from A1-B2 level. More on that later, first I just want to catch you up on my amazing year of Professional Development. So, here’s a brief overview of 3 amazing courses I did over the last year. But, if you’re not interested in PD you can skip straight to the free resources section if you must…

Creative Materials Writing with John Hughes

After all the nightmares and anxiety of dealing with COVID lockdowns and making all the adjustments to keep everyone safe, by summer 2021 like many I was feeling rather worn down and really fed up. I’d lost confidence both as a teacher and also with my writing. When I heard on LinkedIn that the legendary John Hughes was offering a Creative Materials Writing course online (via Oxford University) I realised this might be exactly the thing I needed to pick myself out of the rut and get inspired. It really worked! John Hughes has such a wealth of experience and expertise on writing materials and the publishing business. The way he structured the course was brilliant so that by the end we had each compiled a comprehensive checklist of criteria for writing effective ELT materials and had the know-how to create quality worksheets, and how to promote our work/get published. It wasn’t just his teaching and guidance, but the cohort of students I was in was also truly inspiring. I plan to add a new page to my website with links to the great resource sites and blogs of all the brilliant people who I’ve come across in my studies and research.

My last blog post I did – Simple Pleasures – was the final task from the course to produce a work sheet, which John then gave feedback on.

I’m not sure if/when the course is running again, but if you’re interested I thoroughly recommend John Hughes’ YouTube channel. It has loads of short videos with brilliant tips and ideas for teaching and materials writing.

Russell Stannard’s TABHOT

So I came away from that 5 week course feeling a real boost in confidence and full of ideas, but I’d also caught a bug. No, not that one, I’d got the Professional Development bug. I was inspired but I also felt I needed to focus more on my teaching skills too and because all my teaching had gone online by then, I wanted to catch up a bit with technology, so I signed up for Russell Stannard’s Technologies & Approaches to Blended, Hybrid and Online Teaching course through NILE.

I have to congratulate myself on another excellent choice! If you teach online it’s quite likely you’ve come across Russell’s YouTube channel, where he’s done tutorials on pretty much everything that’s out there in terms of online teaching and learning tools. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the endless updates and new gizmos available, so Russell’s course focused on the fundamentals of online, hybrid and blended approaches as well as introducing us to some of the most useful tools out there, without exploding our minds with too many different choices. We made our own “portfolios” using Google Sites where we could then write our course notes, homework and reflections, upload and embed all the useful pages and sites and we even did our own Screencasts, which wasn’t nearly as awful an experience as I thought it would be. So watch this space. I may yet produce some of my own videos…

Take Your Time DELTA Module 1 with Sandy Millin

The NILE course hadn’t even finished when I started Sandy Millin’s Take Your Time Delta Module One course, and for anyone considering doing DELTA, I can’t recommend Sandy’s course strongly enough. Instead of the insane cramming of the usual 10/12 week courses out there, you can spend 30 weeks getting to grips with the exam tasks and how to approach them, but more importantly with understanding language teaching, the grammar, second language acquisition, phonology, methodology, the whole lot. It’s far more feasible for anyone who is also working on a busy schedule. I was in the very first cohort, and it was another excellent group of teachers that I joined.

If you haven’t already discovered it, Sandy’s website is a goldmine of information on everything to do with ELT, she’s pretty much got everything covered. Even though we were the guinea pigs for the course, it was brilliant, covering all aspects required for the module and supplying us with oodles of really useful links, book recommendations, webinars etc. Because it was over the best part of a year long, there was time to explore things and try out stuff in our own teaching. Perfect! Sandy is now also running a Module 3 course, which I’m sure will be equally excellent.

At Last! More free Express Yourself in English resources!

So after all this studying, I hope my own materials, as well as my teaching, will be all the better for it, I certainly feel far better equipped. There’s a lot to take in to be honest, so I’m easing myself in with this set of video-inspired ideas. I’ve simply come up with 16 different activities you could do using one YouTube video. I was inspired by Pete Clements’ (ELT Planning) great ideas on activities you could do using the “Daily Dose of Internet” YouTube videos which compile a selection of very short crazy viral videos into 3 minutes of random, entertaining clips, with lots of OMG! moments and cats. Of course, there are many cats… It’s a perfect resource to activate curiosity or just stimulate tired minds towards the end of a lesson and he offers loads of ideas of short tasks and fun activities from the videos.

For my part I happened to come across a World Live Webcam YouTube video which randomly takes you to over 90 different locations all over the planet where you can see what is happening live. I felt that for students, the sense of being transported to random locations and seeing what’s going on right now, would be particularly engaging because it’s in real time and the closest most of us can get to teletransportation, for now. Unlike the Daily Dose of Internet it’s also quite serene, with gentle music in the background.

So I thought I’d see how many ideas I could come up with and here’s 16, for starters that I thought would work either being incorporated into existing lesson plans or some could easily fill a whole lesson: They range from 5-minute A1 vocab warmers to 45-minute+ B2 level discussions. This particular World Webcam Live video (and there are others like it) is great because below the video they include every individual link for each webcam. Obviously these activities are ideal for online classes and classrooms where internet and tech are in place, however if not then I think all of them could work with a selection of photos as hand outs.

I’ve used a Canva presentation to compile this list, as one of my materials writing objectives is to create materials that are more pleasing to the eye. As always, your feedback on this and anything else is always appreciated.

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