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

    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 2:00 am on October 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Scott Thornbury   

    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 1:12 am on October 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scott Thornbury   


    This weekend I’m going to KOTESOL. It’s going to be my first conference and I’m a bit excited and a bit apprehensive. Scott Thornbury is going to be there, which is really exciting as he’s one of my favourite TEFLers. I’m the sort of person to meet someone famous and make a really awkward joke so having Scott there could end up really badly.

    I’m going to be blogging and tweeting though the whole thing, letting you know what I’ve seen and learned and if I’ve horrible embarrassed myself yet.

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