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  • timothyhampson 7:10 am on October 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chuck Sandy, , KOTESOL,   

    An Interview with Chuck Sandy (Part 2) 

    Chuck Sandy at KOTESOL 2015

    Chuck Sandy presenting at KOTESOL 2015

    For the second part of my interview I wanted to talk to Chuck Sandy about ITDI, the teacher development organisation he helped found and is a spokesperson for. I won’t say too much here because I think Chuck says it much better than I could:

    (More …)

  • timothyhampson 12:02 pm on October 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , KOTESOL   

    An Interview with Chuck Sandy (Part 1) 

    In a talk about finding your  teaching ‘superpower’ Chuck Sandy tells the audience his is ‘Bringing the right people together.’ Interviewing Chuck I can see why people might be drawn to help out: throughout the fifteen minutes we speak he is always modest, gregarious and ready to credit his successes to others. This traits matched with his message of empowering any and every teacher who will let him must be a mix that draws people towards him and together.

    Chuck Sandy

    Chuck mid plenary at KOTESOL International Conference 2015

    In the short time we got to talk at the KOTESOL 2015 International Conference I asked him about his five (!) talks at the conference, teachers getting along, having a can do attitude, and his work at ITDI. He was very easy to interview, often answering my questions before I had a chance to even ask them. You can find the results after the jump.

    (More …)

  • timothyhampson 1:50 pm on February 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: KOTESOL   

    A questionnaire for TEFL bloggers 

    I’m running a workshop on TEFL blogging next month. I thought it might be interesting and helpful to get some views of TEFL bloggers on how blogging has been helpful for them. It would be really nice if any bloggers reading this could take five minutes to answer a few questions on your experiences. It might be a chance to give some helpful advice or inspiration to new bloggers.

    There will also be a lot of thanks and love for anyone who tweets/shares the link.

    Thank you ^.^


  • timothyhampson 2:01 am on December 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: KOTESOL,   

    English Expo 2014: Questioning Towards Learner Autonomy 

    Today I presented at English Expo on the theme of questions. Here you can find the slides and the question card sheet from that presentation here.

    If you want to continue the conversation on twitter see the #KOTESOL hashtag on twitter, I’ll be posting some questions up there from my account.

    Question cards

    Questioning presentation

  • timothyhampson 10:30 am on December 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , KOTESOL   

    English Expo 2014 Preview 

    I’m really sure that I read somewhere that starting a blog post with a bunch of excuses about why you haven’t blogged in ages is really boring. That said I’m sorry for not blogging in ages, this time it is sort of interesting why (to me at least).

    Next Saturday (the 13th) KOTESOL are having a conference at the English Expo in COEX. I’m going to be giving my very first conference workshop there. The theme of the conference is all about questions. It’s a really good topic and I was very interested to see all of the different directions the presenters have taken on it.

    Just before my talk, Mike Griffin will be looking at Scott Thornbury’s ‘Big Questions in ELT’. Mike is one of my favourite ELT bloggers and it seems he’s gathered an Avengersesque team of other ELT superbloggers to help him out. I’m really excited for it.

    I’m going to be looking at how to encourage autonomous questioning. It’s been quite difficult to do. I had a plan but I’ve rewritten it; A talk on autonomous questioning probably ought to have lots of chances for people to ask lots of autonomous questions in it. I’ve tried to work in lots of opportunities for that to happen and will try and organise a twitter chat for afterwards so people can continue to ask and answer questions.

    This is a preview so I’ve attached one of the resources from the workshop below. It’s a set of question frame cards that can be used for conversations in the classroom. There are a few different ways to use them but I’ll leave it to you to, if you’re interested and you have some free class time, see what you can do with them.

    Question cards

    • mikecorea 8:30 am on December 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I am looking forward to your presentation, Tim.
      Thanks for the kind words! It should be a fun day.

      Best of luck and I am sure you will not need it. 🙂


  • timothyhampson 1:00 am on October 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: KOTESOL   

    KOTESOL double presentation special: Mahboob and Evans 

    This will be the last of the presentation write-ups from KOTESOL 2014. I’m planning on doing a personal write-up about the main themes from it and then that’ll be it till next time! Because I’ve been so busy recently, I wanted to do two speeches in one go before I completely forget what was said.

    Ahmar Mahoob

    This presentation was maybe the most ‘applied linguisticsey’ one I saw all weekend. It was really illuminating because it changed some of the ways I had thought about language. At the start he gave a very eloquent description of what grammar is. Science works by looking at how things work in the world and then tries to make rules that describe that behaviour, grammar looks at how people use language and then tries to make rules to explain that usage.

    He also talked about different ways of communication. Communication varies in three different ways, when you combine the three variations you get 8 types of communication:

    1. language varies based on if we are speaking to people locally or globally
    2 language varies based on if we are speaking or writing
    3  language varies based on if we are engaged in everyday or specialised discourse.

    The main argument was that we spend lots of time on global everyday speaking and global everyday writing styles of English but lots of pupils do badly when they get to university because they can’t use the specialised discourse necessary to write good essays. It’s possibly true that this could be a problem for them but most of my pupils are too young to do be doing this. I have two middle school classes who might be ready for something like this and interesting they don’t do that much writing. Most of their exams are multiple choice, so they don’t have much need for it exam wise. It might put them in good stead to do some longer pieces of writing so I might consider it in the future.

    Dan Evans

    Pronunciation isn’t something I teach explicitly in class asides from correcting individual words (apparently this is quite common). Dan Evans’ presentation was on a ‘right side up’ approach to presentation and has since got me started on teaching pronunciation more explicitly. A ‘wrong side up’ approach to teaching pronunciation is one that, like mine, focuses on the smallest units of speech and then works its way up. What he wanted teachers to move towards was an approach where they focused on the largest units of speech: T groups, pauses and stresses within a sentence. I didn’t get a lot of the theory about why this was a good thing (my fault not his) but I think the gist was that as long as the larger elements are in order we can still understand what is said (I have lots of American friends who mispronounce words pronounce words differently but I can still understand them so maybe this is true). Either way there were also lots of cool ways to teach pronunciation that focuses on these larger groups.

    The first of these was getting pupils to read annotated writing. The teacher makes, or gets students to help make, annotated scripts. Each line is a T group and has it’s stress underlined. There should also be arrows to show end of sentence inflection. I thought this would be easy to do, however when I tried last week it worked well for most of the lines but some of them came out wrong when I got Koreans to say them. When they weren’t reading badly annotated English everything sounded good so I’d consider this approach.

    The second and third approach involved getting students to overdub TV programs and movies they liked. There were variations on whether the students accurately copied or made up their own dialogue, whether they spoke over video from another source or created video of their own acting out a scene. These looked really fun to do and worthwhile. Some of the students had lots of fun with this activity. Someone had overdubbed a TED talk and changed it to a talk about ‘why sex is really really fun’. (Dan Evans’ presentation got far fewer laughs than it deserved, some of the jokes were really good and were met with silence, I guess people were tired).


    I’d like to blog about teaching pronunciation when I’ve done a bit more. I might even upload some worksheets once I’ve made sure they’re not awful. If anyone has any feedback about how explicitly they teach pronunciation in the classroom or how they go about it, feel free to leave a comment below.

  • timothyhampson 4:31 pm on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gamification, KOTESOL   

    KOTESOL: Part 5 – Peadar Callaghan on Gamification 

    I am a bit wary about gamification and education. What I’ve seen before has seemed a bit ‘oh I’ve made an app for teaching so we don’t have to worry about pedagogy anymore’. Because I’m so not sure about it that I almost didn’t go to this talk but my gut feeling was that it’d be good. I was right, it was one of my favourite sessions of the conference. (Actually my gut feeling was right about most of the presentations I went to. I went to some and my gut was saying ‘this will be bad’, but the book was saying otherwise; I was always right. If someone want’s to hire me to pick good talks for them I’m happy to do it.)

    There was no talk of fancy apps, the talk was actually about how we can use the criteria we use to analyse games to analyse our classes (investigative gamification). For something to be a game it needs four things:

    1. Goals – you need to know what you’re trying to do for something to be a game.
    2. Rules – there should be restrictions on how you try to achieve the goal.
    3. Feedback – points, goals, home runs, checkmates and also just being able to see what’s happening in the game are all types of feedback. Games would be really boring if you just did things and didn’t find out what happened as a result. A class where students worked really hard then didn’t find out how they did would also be awful for many reasons.
    4. Voluntary participation – this one was contentious because it seems you almost always have some kind of choice. Peadar gave the example of someone putting a gun to your head and making you play golf (he joked that that’s the only way he’d play golf). Even if you’re playing golf with a gun to your head you’re still making a choice. It’s probably true that the more voluntary participation is, the more something feels like a game.

    He also spoke about goals. It’s important to remember that from a game theory perspective the teacher’s goals and the students’ goals are different. The teacher’s goals might be to get the pupils to learn the past perfect tense, but the pupils might just want to get a lot of As on their test. When we design activities we should try to make them so that when our students work towards their goals they end up fulfilling our goals for them. Also in Korea it might be that pupils’ first goal might be to save face, we should be trying to accommodate this as much as possible.

    The cool bit of the presentation was applying this to our classes. If you think of your activities in these terms it gives you easy things to tweak. If we take an exam (n.b. exams fully meet the criteria of a game laid out above) as an example we can think of lots of ways to change it. Not all of these changes might be good but they’re changes that are there to consider.

    1. Goals – we could change how the exam is marked. It could be more based on long or short form answers; the questions could be spoken rather than read; the answers could be written or spoken by the pupil. There are many ways to give an exam.
    2. Rules – Are pupils allowed a dictionary? How long do they have to complete the test? Can they help each other?
    3. Feedback – This one was maybe the most interesting. What would happen if we gave pupils feedback during the test? They might find out if they got a question right or wrong straight away. It might stop them making the same mistake over and over again and might change who does well in tests.
    4. Voluntary participation – Students usually only get one chance to take a test. A change could be to let them opt into taking the test whenever they feel like it.

    As I said above some of these ideas might be really bad, but thinking about why ideas are bad still helps us improve. This is a technique that it might be interesting to apply to a lesson plan in the future and I imagine there might be a follow-up blog on this at some point in the future.

    • peadar 4:54 am on October 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the great write up be sure to check out my blog for more of my thoughts on gamification.


  • timothyhampson 2:00 am on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , KOTESOL,   

    KOTESOL part 4: Scott Thornbury 

    It’s no secret that Scott Thornbury is one of my favourite TEFLers, so I was pretty excited for his plenary on Saturday evening. I actually met Scott afterwards and managed not to say anything too silly (I realised recently that my earlier paranoia about saying silly things came from this blog post).

    I told him I really enjoyed his talk and he said, in an almost disparaging way, that it was a light feel good presentation. The focus on the talk was about embracing change and near the start he said that anyone who had come to a conference had already embraced change. I think that, possibly, it’s one thing to ’embrace change’ and another to actually change. I also think being encouraged to change might be more useful than knowing what to change. I know quite a few ways I could change in class but they’re scary and different to what my classes are used to and might go down like a lead balloon.

    At the heart of Scott’s talk were 5 principles that he’d borrowed from a book about professional development for doctors (note to self, read more weird and random books). The five principles were:
    Don’t complain. Lots of teachers (and most people) complain about their jobs, but it’s not really helpful and it’s pretty annoying. He suggested #KELTchat for people in Korea as a forum where TEFL discussion happens in a positive way. I really like the sound of KELTchat and I’m going to be taking part this month.

    Ask an unscripted question. It’s important to have real conversations with pupils and ask questions from a place of genuine curiosity. If we do this then we can learn about their interests and give classes that really matter for them. We can also ask questions like ‘When did you use English?’, ‘What’s easy and what’s hard about English?’ and ‘What do you want to say in English that you can’t?’ that give really obvious ways to change our classes to make them better.

    Count something you find interesting. At the end of the day research just comes down to counting something ‘Count something’ sounds less scary to do. There are so many aspects to TEFL that there are an overwhelming number of things a teacher could research. Scott talked about counting the number of times he used certain mannerisms and how this made him stop. I know I say ‘so…’ all the time, if I counted it, it would probably make me stop to. One could also count the number of ‘real’ questions asked, how often the students spoke or how often names were used.
    Write something. Scott talked about how writing a blog, tweeting or something of that ilk can be really useful. If you write something down you can clarify what you mean and think it through properly. You can also get help from other people by doing it. Writing up these KOTESOL blog posts has helped me consider what I heard and I’d recommend it for other teachers.

    Change. The last point was to just change. The phrase “Recognise your inadequacy and seek solutions.” stuck out for me because it’s blunt and positive at the same time.

    I’d be interested in knowing what other people thought about the talk. I really enjoyed it. I think the five points he mentioned are something I could come back to again and again if I ever feel stuck in a rut.

    • David Harbinson 3:24 am on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I think you did a really good job of summarising Thornbury’s talk – a much better job than I did! You’re right that the talk was a light one, but with 50 minutes, I think that’s just about right. He did a talk at KoTESOL a couple of years back on the Secret History of Methods (you can find it on YouTube) which was really funny too.

      I really like what you say about embracing change being one thing and actually changing being another, and I agree that the latter is much more difficult. That’s why I think Thornbury’s talk was good, because the ideas are not exactly new, but a nice reminder of what we can/should do. It’s been a while since I’ve ‘counted something’, but something that I plan to do over the next few weeks.

      I look forward to seeing you at the next #KELTchat.


    • ashowski 6:00 am on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      This reminded me of the motto “be the change you want to see”

      I really like it when someone finds something from a different area and applies it to ELT.

      Nice blog post 🙂


      • timothyhampson 4:56 pm on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the kind comments. It’s really hard to know which area to apply from but when it works it can be great. Apparently obscure Scandinavian filmmakers and doctors are working out for Scott though so…


    • Nicola 7:26 am on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      ooooo the power of influence! 🙂 That sounded like a good talk, well summarized.


      • timothyhampson 4:52 pm on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Nicola Prentis: Worldwide spreader of Scott Thornbury based paranoia.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nicola 7:28 pm on October 11, 2014 Permalink

          You know the best part? I’m meeting him next week. I have terrified myself of course. But, I’ll make sure to pass the recalibrated fear levels on afterwards. 🙂


    • Chewie (Gangwon Dispatches) 12:00 am on October 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Good summary! I was there and found his talk quite engaging. About complaining: Yes. It does get annoying. I do think that complaints can be legitimate, but it’s important not to push too hard on them. A good friend here has what he calls “the five minute rule,” in which if he complains, he goes for five minutes and stops flat. He figures that five minutes is enough to say whatever’s needed. Besides, what comes after complaining–more complaining, inaction, or seeking solutions? Seeking solutions–or at least noting them–is much better than whining.

      Side note: Sometimes stuff about teaching/stuff that applies to teaching comes from unlikely sources. I recently read this novel by Jose Rizal called “Touch Me Not” that had a brilliant discussion about how ineffective corporal punishment is in school. The novel had little to do with education, but it did sum things up better than many teaching texts I’ve read.

      Rock on.


  • timothyhampson 3:14 pm on October 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , KOTESOL, ,   

    KOTSESOL (part 3) Herbert Putcha on thinking and young learners 

    N.b. I’m going to make these write-ups slightly shorter than my last one as I realised just how long it would take to do otherwise. If I did a full write-up I’d forget what people said by the time I got to the end of Sundays talks. If you want more detail about anything drop a comment in the box below and I’ll try and help.

    Herbert Puchta – teaching young learners to think

    The next talk after Mike Long’s was Herbert Puchta on teaching young learners to think. I think I lucked out finding it because I wasn’t really sure what to see but it turned out to be very relevant to me  It was a really good presentation. He opened by saying that students are so bombarded by information that it can be very tempting to do the same to them in the classroom with all singing all dancing lessons. His perspective was that if young learners are engaged emotionally engaged they’ll enjoy classes. (He proved this by citing some studies that show that emotional engagement in class causes dopamine to be released. I’m pretty sure that you don’t need neuroscience to show that though.)

    To make lessons emotionally engaging you should make them meaningful. Lots of lessons aren’t meaningful, for example in the dialogues they use. If you ask ‘What colour is my tie? What colour is my suit?’ and so on, you’re not really having a meaningful conversation. He pointed out if you asked these questions on the street people would think you were really weird. Instead of asking about tie colours he suggested giving students blank CDs and ask them what colours they can see reflected (refracted?) when it’s held up to the light.

    Colours in a CD

    By engaging learners different thinking skills we also emotionally engage them, and so they can learn more in our classes.  He gave a list of all of the thinking skills he’d identified, but the one he spoke about most was imagination. We should, for example, set gap fills with lots of possible answers where they can be imaginative. He did give some more examples and you can have a look at them here.

    The talk was really good, even though the conclusion was make lessons emotionally engaging and let kids use their imagination which isn’t that controversial. It was nice to see it delivered from a neuroscience point of view. Afterwards I bought his Teaching Young Learners to Think book. I’ve used it a few times in the last week and it seems pretty good so far. I’m sure I’ll do a full review in the future.

    Questions to think about

    The talk wasn’t that contentious to be honest, although I’m not that sure how much of a ‘real thing’ neuroscience actually is. So, what was one time you really emotionally engaged learners in your class? How did you do it? What was the result?

  • timothyhampson 10:20 am on October 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: KOTESOL   

    KOTESOL (part one) 

    Meeting Herbert Putchta

    Meeting Herbert Putchta. He’s far more photogenic and better dressed than me. 

    Last weekend (the 4th and 5th of October) were KOTESOL. It was my first TEFL conference and I learned a lot, spent too much money on books, got a ton of free stuff. A few notes on the conference as a whole:

    1. Conferences are exhausting. I think I spent too much time trying to pack too much in. It would have been ok to just relax.

    2. I think I came out with more questions than I went in with. That’s a good thing, but my plan was to come back to school with a bunch of new cool ideas to use straight away. I’ve mostly been trying to process everything I heard.

    3. I really suck at tacking notes now. I used to be good at it when I was at university, and while I was taking them I thought I was doing a good job. Looking back they’re really confusing.

    4. Networking is hard. I thought I’d have a million new TESOL friends but I was too nervous for most of it to say hi to loads of people. Next time I should do a better job of saying hi. If I think about number one too I should have relaxed by the free coffee place and met more people.

    The plan try to write-up my notes from the conference. Hopefully this can help me with points two and three above. It might be useful for you too.

    • mikecorea 10:22 am on October 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi! I enjoyed your tweeting from the conference and this post. I’d hoped to have a chance to say hello at some point.


    • timothyhampson 4:06 pm on October 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      It’s very kind of you to say so.I’m a big fan of your blog and I was hoping to get a chance to say hi too. I’m sure we will get a chance soon.


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