Recent talk topics


Learning to speak ‘merican

Ask an American to explain the rules of baseball and they’ll begin ‘Oh, it’s really very simple…’ Then they’ll give some of the most complex instructions you’ve ever heard. Ask a Brit to explain the rules of cricket and they’ll start with ‘Oh, it’s rather complicated I’m afraid…’ Then they’ll launch into rules of equal complexity. Both are being polite and friendly in their different ways: the American aiming to include and the Brit apologizing for imposition.

Welcome to my world. I’m a British English teacher who’s learning to speak ‘merican and it’s this structuring of the discourse that’s been my biggest learning challenge. To function well, I have to frame my thoughts differently in the two varieties, paying attention to two contrasting linguistic politeness styles. It’s taken me more than a decade to begin to understand the difference between things like compliments, sarcasm and humour in British and American English, but my friends at work say I’ve now reached intermediate. Yay! So now it’s time to share…

Business English as a Lingua Franca

We’re living in an age of unprecedented language contact and hence, language change. At least 1bn people in the world speak English, but only 330m are native speakers. Most business conversations take place between non-native speakers English and the world’s major business lingua franca is no longer owned by native speakers. So how is successful communication achieved in business contexts when many or all of the people involved aren’t native English speakers? And what implications does this have for what and how we should be teaching in our business English lessons?

This talk will focus on bridging links between the research and the classroom and include practical classroom tips and suggestions. This is a must attend event for course developers and teachers whose students need to communicate in international contexts.

Technical English teaching and interpersonal language

Surely our technical English students need to focus on unambiguous, factual communication and they have no need for relational language? Drawing on speech data, and with a particular focus on Crew Resource Management (CRM), Vicki Hollett will question this assumption. CRM is a management system which makes optimum use of all available resources (equipment, procedures and people) to promote safety and enhance the efficiency of operations. CRM originated in the aviation industry and has since been adopted in many other fields such as medicine, marine and shipping and rail transportation.

This talk will explore the role rapport building and interpersonal language plays in decision making and the avoidance of errors in technical communication.

Taking the blindfolds off – using video in the classroom

ELT course books tend to be populated with characters that live and die in the space of a dialogue. But how much our students can learn from them has to be limited when they can’t actually see them. Using videos takes off the blindfolds. Suddenly we can see facial expressions, stance, gestures, and very importantly, context.

This talk will explore ways teachers can use video in the English Language classroom to improve understanding, increase motivation and bring the real world into our classes. Vicki will demonstrate a variety of practical techniques for employing videos in lessons including video story telling. She’ll address the issue of copyright and describe some legal ways we can use free video materials. And she’ll share lots of freely available videos and demonstrate how teachers might use them to enhance learning.

21st Century Skills for English Language Training

The 21st Century skills movement believes that to be successful in today’s fast moving and interconnected world, learning needs to be focused around three core skills areas:

  • Career and life skills
  • Digital literacies
  • The four C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

This talk will focus on the four C’s and the crucial role in they play in ‘making things happen’ in the workplace. Employees who can’t get along cost money and impact employer’s bottom lines. When relationships work, projects take off, things happen and get done.

With the benefit of conversational research and intercultural studies, Vicki will demonstrate how we can upgrade our teaching practices to provide our students with the skills they need to be successful in today’s world of work.

 Posted by at 1:56 am

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