Dear HLT Readers,
Welcome to the January issue, the first issue in 2007. May this New Year bring you joy, happiness and satisfaction - in your private lives, your professional lives, may it bring good fortune to your town or village, to your country, to your continent, to all of us, everywhere…
In this issue we have a wealth of articles, and it is a bit more jam packed than usual. Perhaps we could treat it as a New Year bonus as clearly this has been the time of year which has induced the flow of creative juices and inspired many contributors.
One of the areas covered in this issue is the teacher and her/his role in educational system or systems. In major article 1: Developing Foreign Language Education through Transformative Teacher Growth, Viljo Kohonen offers us a new perspective and insight into creating an educational system in which learners take the learning process into their own hands, a system in which learning is self directed and is an ongoing process in the form of life long learning. The article takes a look at implementing the key features of humanism within the European structures and frameworks. The new shift in focus Kohonen describes relates to changes in our educational teacher training practices and teacher education where the teacher's individual growth is put in the very centre of the transformations we want to trigger. In her article The Development of Language Skills in a Little Polish Primary School in Olsztyn, Poland, Dorota Klus-Stanska describes an educational project run in 1994 - 2002 in which an educational vision was implemented, a pedagogical dream came true, and a new type of school was set up. The author outlines the role of English in this school, a school where education and learning were holistic; we learn about the place of English classes in this educational venture. It is a major humanistic project described in a few words. However, no educational system can function without assessment and testing. Craig Stevens in major article 3: Facing the Oral Examiner with Confidence introduces us to the world of ESOL exams, such as FCE and IAELTS outlining how teachers can develop the candidates' confidence and positive self-esteem before and during the exam. Making the students familiar with the exam, offering insight and strategies for the exam are some of the ways of humanizing the exam in general.
In Teaching as an Art (major article 5), Peter Lutzker develops one of the areas Viljo Kohonen also writes about, and takes a closer look at teacher-student relationships, and the role of these relationships. Clearly teaching is an art and like in art there are masterpieces we try to copy and masters we look up to, admire and follow. Another, in some sense, contrasting voice on teacher's role comes from Jay Schwartz who in his article: In Search of Quality: Teachers as Service Providers and other Tales of Conspiracy, shows the teaching profession from a very different angle and sees it as one in the Service Sector, a profession in which productivity, outcome and efficiency are combined with the intricate pattern of relationships. In his The Heart of the Matter series, Lou Spaventa describes to us The Way, a case history, the way one teacher took on his journey of personal, professional and inner growth.
The second major topic area in this issue is the learner. In our educational practice we need to keep thinking about our students, keep seeking to understand them better. In major article A Didactic Activity: Humour as a Problem-solving Strategy in an Intercultural Perspective, Giampaolo Poletto touches upon drama, humour and culture in the teaching process. The article offers a good balance between theoretical considerations and practical applications. Creating the right atmosphere and enviroment for learning is of paramount importance but sometimes we are limted by the institution and its system. In major article 4 What is Intelligence - EQ or IQ ? Rising to the Next Level by Managing and Increasing your Emotional Budget, Judy Churchill takes on board issues related to Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ), Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and the Theory Multiple Intelligences (MI). If Judy Churchill's article is on a slightly more theoretical side, the next two contributions have a more practical dimension. In the Publications section Mario Rinvolucri introduces us to a book by Tessa Woodward, the editor of our sister magazine TTTJ. Headstrong: A book of Thinking Frames for Mental Exercise offers a big selection of activities and strategies which help make sense of the world, strategies which have their roots in drama training, NLP, Transactional Analysis just to name a few. Then in the Preview section we are introduced to Imagine That! Mental Imagery in the EFL Classroom by Jane Arnold, Herbert Puchta and Mario Rinvolucri, to be published in 2007 by Helbling Languages. The book is devoted to imagery, and how imagery can make a significant contribution to all aspects of language learning, such as improving listening and reading skills or motivating the learners to speak or write. Both Headstrong and Imagine That! point towards new inspirations for ELT teachers. Talking of inspirations with this issue we are hopefully launching a new series of articles: Off the Beaten Path by Hall Houston. These short articles will offer an overview of various alternative trends in education and the readers are encouraged to make their own explorations; the article in the current issue is devoted to: Values Clarification.
In the Short Articles section Stefan Rathert in his article Trapped in Grammar looks at teaching grammar in general, offers an overview of various models and approaches to structuring a grammar lesson, looks at them from student's and teacher's perspective and finally analyses and evaluates methodologies which do not travel. In the article The Use of the Internet in ESL Learning: Problems, Advantages and Disadvantages, Selami Aydin writes about the role of the Internet as a source and shows yet some more of its uses in second language acquisition and in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) lessons. In the next article An Adventurous Multiple-Persona Experience in Foreign Language Learning through Authentic Materials Caroline C. Hwang looks at the area of authentic materials and explores the advantages of using authentic materials: 'they bring excitement in offering new perspectives in other cultures and peoples, encourage active, reflective and independent thinking, develop cognitive as well as affective sensitivity, establish broader/subtler visions and in-depth interpretations'. In Teaching Culture and Civilization by Role-Play and Drama. Cristina Nechifor shares with us her success story of lessons she has taught in Romania using Shakespeare plays, or rather quotations from them, to offer her students a unique experience and to motivate them. Another inspiration for using literature in class or seeing literature as an eye opener for teachers comes from Jonathan Marks who in his article Literature on Language - Swimming and Drowning shows how in fiction we can find a document of the role of certain language methods, in this case Audiolingualism (even if the novel was originally in Polish) . He invites us to a not so fictional reality of learning English with LG Alexander.
In the Corpora Ideas section in Witnessing an Assault on Vagueness, by Simon Marshall, like Jonathan Marks shares with us an observation he has made. It is a fact that the world around us is a huge language corpus which is awash with various examples of features of Spoken Grammar ( in the definition of Carter and McCarthy) which we only need to start noticing. Simon has observed the phenomenon of vagueness and describes his experience with great erudition. In the same section Jamie Keddie shares with us a practical idea how to use the SARA simple search for a song based lesson: Put on the Red Light. At this point I have to clarify that the very promising series on the use of the Corpus for language classes by Piotr Steinbrich has been temporarily discontinued, due to external factors, and I hope will be resumed in March.
The issue is also rich in practical ideas for the classroom and recipes for all age groups and levels. In the Lesson Outlines section Henk van Ort presents a lovely activity for the little ones: Hats: Choral Speaking in Primary Education and Juan Ráez Padilla in PowerPoint Presentation no. 3: English vocabulary: animals, shares with us his ideas on using the PowerPoint as a source of visual materials for the classroom. This is the third and last article in the series. Anna Turula takes us on a field trip in English Through Orienteering which uses elements of Total Physical Response (TPR) and points us towards the Old Exercise section and the second article on using mazes: Maze: The Accidental Pregnancy by Marge Berer.
More inspiring ideas come from Claire Ozel in Signing into English: a Single-session Therapy with a Fearful Starter in which she shows us the benefits of signing in a language class, which confirms some research into language learning and promises interesting results when it comes to memorizing. We even have a lesson outline for university students in Using Technology in Designing a Children's Literature Course for Postgraduate Students by Eduardo Encabo and Juan Varela Tembra. In the article we find out how an academic course was structured, a course which used an on-line project, funded by the European Commission in which the European experts drew up criteria for selecting books and ways in which they might be used in primary schools.
Finally for your entertainment there are jokes, graffiti and funny language mistakes sent in by Ken Wilson (Jokes section) and poems by Annamaria Mandoliti ( Poems section) and by Maciej Sienkiewicz (Student Voices section). The latter is a poem called Evolution of Language and was written by Maciej as his presentation about the evolution of language. A different student's voice from a student who did not choose a power point presentation, and unlike the rest of the group turned in a more romantic fashion to verse.
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