The Laughnlearn Website
Danny Singh, Italy
Danny Singh, born and raised in London, but now based in Rome, gives creative English language lessons and teacher training courses all over Italy and abroad. He often attends Pilgrims TT summer courses as a Guest Speaker. His interests include; high-quality cinema, wine tasting and long distance walking. Website: www.laughnlearn.net
Why Create a Website?
The End or the Beginning?
Courses and Appointments
The idea of creating a website came about for a variety of reasons. Before the current economic and banking crisis came upon us, I had often created and taught a wide range of courses, however, they were generally held at my home and advertised via word of mouth and e-mail lists. With the advent of the crisis, organising all my group activities at home was no longer feasible. The excuses that give people a reason not to do something emerged from the recession. It’s too far to travel, I can’t afford lessons, I don’t like your furniture, there’s nowhere to park near your home etc.
One of the measures that I used to deal with the crisis was to advertise my work to cultural associations and bookshops. This had certain advantages, a readymade location and the basis of a group ready to learn, while at the same time giving me the opportunity to advertise to the public. Although there were naturally difficulties which occurred from time to time, on the whole I enjoyed this sense of offering creative lessons, laughter yoga sessions and other such things at a fairly low price, thereby allowing as many people as possible to sample these delights. Once this began to take off, I noticed how much of my time was spent on advertising, networking, sending e-mails etc and the idea of a website which would take care of that aspect and leave me time for my own pleasures seemed a very attractive proposition. The other point which convinced me to create a website was that my details were already on another site with another fifty or so people, and from this I received an average of two calls a month requesting information. Just imagine my own personal website in my name and how much publicity that could produce!
What you originally plan to do with a website and what you effectively do may change over time, so it remains to see how much I do eventually follow what I’m preaching here.
It seems to me that creating a website is like getting married. You think the most important thing is the wedding day, the ring, the dress, the speech, the guests, the food, then when you are left alone with the bride/bridegroom, you realise that this is only the beginning. Readers may be interested to know that despite this comparison, I have never in fact been married. So it was when the website was finally ready. Initially I thought there was something to celebrate, until I realised that the hard work was still to be done. Websites, especially dynamic ones are a constantly evolving, work in progress that need time and attention and the more time and effort you invest, the higher the rewards should be.
Now that the web designer has explained how to manage the site, inserting new information and deleting old information, I am gradually beginning to discover what and how much I can and can’t do.
The original idea of the website was quite simply to advertise the courses that I offered. However, once I realised the variety of options available, I saw the huge potential for other ideas. First and foremost, the site promotes creativity and positivity and is available in both English and Italian.
As with most websites, the homepage is the most important. It is imperative that it captures the interest of the reader. There is a short description of my philosophy on teaching and learning. It publicises the newest courses on offer to the public.
It may advertise a recently published article or an idea I have for the near future. It also has a list of useful sites, which is increasing day by day. Initially, my plan was to insert a group of about eight sites for two or three days, then exchanging them for another eight and so on. That way they all got a certain amount of attention. However, I have been advised to put all the sites on together, simply changing the order in which they appear, thereby saving myself a great deal of time and ensuring that the sites themselves are always available to the reader. The websites are carefully selected according to what they offer, education and learning, culture, music, gastronomy and health.
The second most important and dynamic page on the site is the courses and appointments page. This advertises not only the courses currently being offered and potential new ones, but even old ones, which gives the reader an idea of the variety of courses on offer. Anyone reading about a particular course may decide they’d like to have that in their particular environment and can easily request it. In addition, this page advertises international group meetings where I intend to be present, meetings which allow anyone the opportunity to interact and network with people from all over the world, as well as practice their English. The information provided on this page is also more detailed, compared to the homepage, which has limited space. As there is indeed, an almost unlimited space in this section, my idea for the future is not only to advertise my own courses and meetings, but other creative and stimulating courses offered by like-minded people.
This page obviously contains articles which I have had published on-line. Most of them are concerned with teaching and learning methodologies, thereby giving the reader an idea of what to expect from my courses. This section expands as new articles are published.
This page contains three subpages, which explain some of my ideas on teaching and learning. The first section, memory and learning looks at how I use emotion, humour and music to aid memory. At the end of this section, there is a list of seven songs which inspire me. Readers can obviously listen to any that they don’t know and are encouraged to send in their own favourite songs. In the Italian version of this page, there are seven equally inspiring songs.
The second section deals with the link between laughter and learning. The reason for the name of this site stems in fact from my idea of the link between laughing and learning. When you laugh, it’s easier to learn and when you learn, it’s easier to laugh. They both facilitate each other. To create laughter, I use humour.
The third section deals with laughter yoga. This is laughter without humour, laughter for no reason. It explains briefly what it is and the link with learning.
Aside from these pages, there are some photos, which will be added to and changed over time. I also expect to insert some film clips in the near future.
This page is a short presentation of who I am and an explanation of how some of my ideas have developed. The remaining two pages, contact and map are self-explanatory.
Although I initially thought that the map page was a waste of space, my web designer insists that readers can get lost in the minefield of a website. Commuters on the London Underground have been known to get lost, while travelling on the circle line, so I suppose anything is possible!
This website as previously mentioned, is in its early stages, but there have already been some notable benefits. The first is that readers have the opportunity to get a real idea of what to expect from a lesson before they decide to attend. In this way, there should be fewer disappointed students, such as those who refuse to observe any connection between laughing and learning, or those who expect me to give a lecture, while they passively take notes. Some learners have discovered the website themselves while surfing the net, which of course is one of its principal aims. What about that great benefit of timesaving and efficiency which was one of the original reasons for creating the website? It has manifested itself in two ways. Firstly, I need to spend far less time explaining the theory and logic behind every activity I do, as students can read about it for themselves on the website and similarly, when advertising to cultural associations and bookshops, they can get a far better impression of what it all means in practice, instead of being left with a vague and inaccurate idea as often happened previously.
Please check the How to Use Technology in the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.