An Interview with Thomas Farrell from darren elliott on Vimeo.

Reflective practice is a way for professionals (in education, social work, medicine and many other fields) to assess their work and manage their own development. Even if you don’t know it by name you may well have engaged in a form of reflective practice in formal or informal training programmes. In this interview we discussed reflective practice, what it is, what it isn’t, and where it’s going.

I’ve done quite a lot of these interviews now, and everyone I have spoken to has been gracious and thoughtful. Some of the interviewees I knew little about before I spoke to them but in preparing for, and then conducting, the interview I have become interested in their work. On the other hand, Thomas Farrell is someone whose work I have been interested in for a long time. What would he be like in real life, I wondered? I enjoyed a long conversation with the charming Dr. Farrell at the JALT conference in Tsukuba, Japan last autumn. Both his plenary and his workshop demonstrated that academics do not have to be dry to be rigorous.

Dr. Farrell hosts an excellent website, where you can read more of his work. If you are looking for a book to start with, I think ‘Reflective Language Teaching: From Research to Practice’ published by Continuum is a very accessible introduction. His latest book is on my list when the next budget allocation arrives in April….

If you enjoy this interview please share it with your colleagues. You can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

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What is haiku?

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form. Traditional haiku has a number of rules relating to both form and content.

Each poem consists of three lines, made up of five, seven and five syllables. The entire poem is seventeen syllables long, and can be recited in a single breath.
The first line should end in a ‘cutting’ word.
Every poem contains at least one proscribed seasonal word. These connect the poem to the natural world.
Haiku should relate personal experience and conjure up a visual image. Emotions and moods should be invoked rather than directly stated.

In modern Japanese haiku, and English language haiku, these rules may be ignored or adapted to serve the poet and his / her poetry. For example, urban haiku may not allude to nature at all. International poets may select different words to indicate the seasons.

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

(Richard Wright, 1998)

Translations of Japanese haiku into English often capture the mood better if the translator is not required to stick to the syllable structure too rigidly. You may agree that the second translation here is more elegant, even though it breaks the syllable rule. The writer should leave some room for the reader to develop his or her own interpretation.

furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

(Matsuo Bashô, 1686)

an ancient green pond
a frog leaps in from above
splash! the sound of water

an old pond
a frog jumps
the sound of water

Haiku for Accuracy

There are a greater variety of possible syllable patterns in English than in some other languages, including Japanese and Nepali.

Syllable Formation-2

In English, a syllable can be fronted by as many as three opening consonants.

/triː/

onset – nucleus
ccc – v

Many English syllables also include a coda.

/bɜːd/

onset – nucleus – coda
c – v – c

Japanese does not allow this, and in fact almost all Japanese syllables consist of a consonant onset and a vowel nucleus. This leads Japanese speakers to add extra vowel sounds between consonants. Thus tree becomes to-ree. Speakers of languages which lack consonant clusters can benefit from the tight focus on phonology required for English haiku writing.

This tight focus can also be beneficial for both teachers and learners when working on grammatical accuracy. In a long form essay, the extent and variety of error correction is often overwhelming for students – receiving two pages of written work covered in red pen is demotivating, and most of the feedback is unlikely to lead to greater accuracy in subsequent work. Working on three line / seventeen syllable poem, however, learners can focus on prepositions, articles and auxiliary verbs within a very tight framework.

Haiku for Creativity

Traditional haiku writers may use a saijiki – a seasonal lexicon. Creating a saijiki in English is a useful activity for learners to review and recycle the English they already know before they create their own poems. Of course, teachers can ask their haiku writers to stick to a particular theme or to utilise vocabulary from a particular lexical set.

One traditional form of haiku is the haibun, a narrative broken up with haiku. Iida (2010) outlines a process from reading and interpreting the haiku of others to writing one’s own which takes a narrative / free-writing to haiku direction. Learners are asked to write freely about a moment they remember (perhaps on a particular day, to help them focus). They use these notes to create their haiku.

In haiga, poets illustrate their haiku. Either the illustration or the haiku can come first. In the classroom you may ask learners to write haiku for one another’s illustrations, or to bring a photograph from home to use as a prompt for a poem. There are many other ways in which a creative teacher can exploit the rich mental images conjured up by haiku.

Conclusions and Advice

You can choose which rules to follow and which ones to disregard, it all depends on your goal. If you want to work on pronunciation, focusing on syllable patterns seems more important. If you are more interested in working on vocabulary, then it may be better to allow more freedom.

Not every student can write an essay or a short story in English, but a three line poem is certainly achievable. What is surprising is how expressive such short poems can be.

Further Reading

Donegan, P. (2003). Haiku. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.

Higginson, W. J., & Harter, P. (1985). The haiku handbook: How to write, share, and teach haiku. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hunke, M. (2014). Spoken language in motion: Acquiring German basic rhythm and dynamic stress through haiku and tanka. ことばの世界: 愛知県立大学高等言語教育研究所年報, (6), 111-120.

Iida, A. (2008). Poetry writing as expressive pedagogy in an EFL context: Identifying possible assessment tools for haiku poetry in EFL freshman college writing. Assessing Writing 13, 171-179.

Iida, A. (2010). Developing voice by composing haiku: A social-expressivist approach for teaching haiku writing in EFL contexts. English Teaching Forum, 48(1), 28-34.

Iida, A. (2012). Writing haiku in a second language: Perceptions, attitude, and emotions of second language learners. SINO-US English Teaching 9, 1472-1485.

Lee, B. Y. (2011). The Practice of Haiku Writing in Second Language Classrooms. Komaba Journal of English Education, 2, 23-44.

Yasuda, K. (1973). The Japanese haiku: lts essential nature, history, and possibilities in English with selected examples. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.

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a class with no teacher from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I don’t blog about my classroom practice as often as I used to, but I still have a great interest in reflective practice. One difficulty in maintaining meaningful reflection is that your reflective needs change over time. A worthwhile exercise, then, is to revisit past practice. I have a blog, and a stack of notebooks from several years in the classroom. I like to look at what I’ve done and see how it fits with my current practice. How would I do this differently now? Have I changed, and if so have I changed for the better? Does this connect to anything I have read, seen or experienced since it happened?

I’m trying to piece together the genesis of this piece. About five years ago, I had a lovely class who I thought could do even better. To shake things up, I decided to opt out of my responsibilities for a week, and the blog post I wrote about that (and more importantly, the second post about the students interpretations of the experiment) generated a lot of discussion. A little after that I reviewed a book called ‘The Developing Language Learner‘, a book which made a tremendous impact on me. When I was involved in planning the PanSIG conference in 2013, I was keen to bring Judith Hanks, one of the authors, to Japan as a speaker.

This video is my presentation for the joint TED / CUE forum at JALT 2015 (if you don’t know the acronyms, don’t worry… I’m too far gone to pick them apart here). I always enjoy these events because you can see so many different ideas around a theme, but I particularly wanted to attend this forum because it was to be chaired by Thomas Farrell, someone whose work I have admired for a long time. The conceit was to present ten slides for thirty seconds each, but I just made a five minute movie and narrated it live.

I can now reframe what happened in this class through my subsequent reading into Exploratory Practice and Reflective Practice. As an experiment, I don’t think I’d be able to do this now. What is really interesting is to see myself as a younger teacher, and not necessarily a worse one. I’m very satisfied with my teaching these days, and that’s not good. Maybe I was a little less slick and a little less polished in those days, with a little less book learning, but I was probably a little more daring and possibly a little more engaged. Time to shake things up again?

 

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I spoke to Dr. Folse at the 2013 JALT conference shortly after a very engaging plenary. We discussed writing and vocabulary, teacher development, and his extensive experience of both teaching and learning languages around the world. You can read more about Dr. Folse and his work at his own website. This interview is audio only.

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There are more interviews to follow, and if you like this please visit the archive for more. You can subscribe via iTunes, and I would appreciate reviews there if you have time. You can also find us on Facebook and twitter.

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An Interview with Rubina Khan from darren elliott on Vimeo.

Rubina Khan is Professor of English Language Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Dhaka, and joined us at the JALT National conference in 2013 as general secretary of the Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA). We talked about her work with the association, and about English language education in Bangladesh, as well as the many joint regional projects BELTA is involved in. JALT’s connection, through the Teacher Helping Teachers SIG, is a very worthwhile long term project.

There are more interviews to follow, and if you like this please visit the archive for more. You can subscribe via iTunes, and I would appreciate reviews there if you have time. You can also find us on Facebook and twitter.

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An Interview with Regine Hampel from darren elliott on Vimeo.

This interview took place in June 2014 at the JALTCALL conference in Nagoya, Japan. I was joined by Professor Regine Hampel of the Open University, and we discussed CALL, distance learning and blend learning.

There are more interviews to follow, and if you like this please visit the archive for more. You can subscribe via iTunes, and I would appreciate reviews there if you have time. You can also find us on Facebook and twitter.

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An Interview with Glenn Stockwell from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I talked to Dr. Glenn Stockwell from Waseda University, Tokyo, at the 2014 JALT CALL conference, held in Nagoya, Japan. In fact, this interview takes place in my own personal office!

Dr. Stockwell had just given an excellent plenary talk, and we discuss his ideas about teaching and technology here.

There are more interviews to follow, and if you like this please visit the archive for more. You can subscribe via iTunes, and I would appreciate reviews there if you have time. You can also find us on Facebook and twitter.

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New technologies provide wonderful opportunities for language learning, yet teachers and learners alike should be aware of the potential pitfalls. When implementing educational technology, the fundamental question is whether the tool is an efficient way of achieving the pedagogical aims. In this workshop the presenter will outline some considerations for good practice, illustrated with examples from his own classroom. Amongst other things we will discuss mobile learning, the relationship between autonomy and technology, inclusivity, ethics and security.

What do we mean by ‘technology’?

“A process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants” (Selwyn, 2011, p.6)

Technology is not tools alone, but the knowledge and skills necessary to utilise them. Technology is also associated with ‘improvement’ – doing things cheaper, better and faster. It’s important to remember that devices themselves have no intrinsic values. Technology is situated in culture and society.

Do you and your students perceive technology in the same ways?

Digital Natives (see Prensky, 2001), in contrast with digital immigrants, have grown up in a multimedia, web-enabled world. Prensky’s original metaphor was compelling enough to take hold and has had an impact on educational policy. More recent research (see Bennett et al., 2008,  Hargittai, 2010, Jones, 2011) has uncovered a far more nuanced picture. Nonetheless, there may be some generational differences in how digital technology is viewed by students and teachers.

 

traditional modern
professional(spreadsheets, word processing) leisure(YouTube, Social Networking)
archival and searchable(email) transitory and ephemeral(snapchat, line)
situated(desktop, CD’s) mobile(smartphone, streaming)

Why use technology?

There are a number of things which digital technologies may help you do better, faster or more efficiently (although probably not cheaper)

Out of class collaboration, learner autonomy, learning management, portfolio building, reflection, learner ownership, engagement with authentic materials, ‘real world’ language use, curation and collation of learning resources, testing and assessment etc.

Case Study One – Digital video for reflection and creativity.

More details available at my previous post ‘Creating and Using Digital Video with Learners’

Case Study Two – Google Forms and QR codes for classroom management. 

I use Kaywa to create QR codes, and QRafter to read them. Google forms are a very simple and paperless way for teachers to assess and track students.

Case Study Three – Prezi, Diigo and Google Drive for out-of-class collaboration 

Prezi is an online presentation tool. Instead of a series of slides, the presentation is one big slide which the user navigates. The final product is not to everyone’s taste, but it has a couple of pedagogical strengths. Firstly, I like that it encourages non-linear thinking in a brainstorming style. (unlike PowerPoint, which is a very linear process). Secondly, it is easy for several students to work on one slide at the same time, even if they are in different places.

Google Drive is a suite of tools in the cloud, including word and excel – like software, which can be edited, shared and accessed amongst users. Collaboration can be between students, or students and teachers.

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool, in which online research can be easily tagged and shared amongst a group.

Further Reading

Hargittai, E. (2010). Digital na (t) ives? Variation in internet skills and uses among members of the “net generation”*. Sociological Inquiry, 80(1), 92-113.

Jones, C. (2011). Students, the net generation, and digital natives. In Thomas, M. (Ed.). (2011). Deconstructing Digital Natives: Young people, technology, and the new literacies. Oxford: Taylor & Francis.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9 (5), 1-6.

Selwyn, N. (2011). Education and technology: Key issues and debates. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

JALT CALL has an excellent and regularly updated blog at DMLL with practical advice and ideas.

This post is a development of ideas first presented in this post five years ago. No doubt there is plenty more to do!

Some Questions – A Technology Checklist

Accessibility Do you need a password to access the site? Do you need to log in every time you access the site? What kind of internet access does your institution allow?What are the opening hours of your institutional computer rooms? Are students able to access institutional servers off “campus”? Is the equipment powerful enough to do what you want to do?
Mobility Is the material accessible from a mobile telephone? How much of it? Can students add or edit material by mobile phone?
Hardware BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or teacher supplied? Who will maintain and store the hardware? How long will it last?
Security Are the students going to upload or create their own work? Is the site searchable on search engines, or can it be hidden? Can anonymity be protected? How much information does a student need to give in order to register with or use the site? Are students comfortable with their work being published? Are the students aware of net security issues? Do the students have good security software at home? Is there a danger that your project could be damaged by viruses?
Navigation Is it easy to get from one place to another? Do hyperlinks pop up in new windows? Is the colour scheme readable? Is it well designed, for both aesthetics and utility? Does the interface change depending on the user (e.g. does it automatically set language based on the userʼs ISP?)
Usability Will the students require a demonstration? Is it simple to use, even for those who generally lack confidence or experience with computers? Is it easy to back up and save work, and are previous versions retained?
Management Will you be managing alone, or with others? How will you delegate management tasks? Who will have access to which parts of the tool? Will students be able to edit? Where will your site be hosted (if necessary)?
Cost Can you find a free version? Can you get an educators discount?If you pay a subscription, is your school willing to commit long-term? Will there be any other expenses? (equipment etc)
Stability Is the site still at a beta testing stage? Does it crash or freeze often?Does it work in the same way on different browsers, computers or networks? Does the look of the site change frequently? Are features and functions often added or removed?
Support Does your school have technical support staff? Are they aware of your project, and willing to help? Does the site have support? How does it operate?Is there a lot of other unofficial support available from the web, colleagues, etc?
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An Interview with Nicky Hockly from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I was very happy to talk to Nicky Hockly at the JALT National Conference in Nagoya, Japan in November 2010. She gave a fantastic plenary – well-paced, useful and pertinent – and if you get a chance, see her talk! If not, then this fifteen minute interview will have to do ; D

We talked about the online teacher training company Consulants-E, the obstacles teachers face in implementing technology, mobile learning and all manner of other geeky stuff.

You can follow Nicky on twitter at @TheConsultantsE , and I also recommend How to Teach English with Technology and Teaching Online

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An Interview with Michael Swan from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I was very happy to speak to Michael Swan at the JALT conference in Nagoya in November 2010, and now you can listen to what he had to say too! We discussed grammar and how it should be approached by teachers, ELF and errors, and changes in methodology over the years he has been involved in teaching.

I recommend Michael’s excellent website, which is well stocked with articles on these topics and many more. A particular favourite of mine is ‘The use of sensory deprivation in foreign language teaching’ from ELTJ in 1982… read it with an open mind.

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