Six subtitled films

In addition to writing materials and teaching, some of you may already be familiar with my subtitling work. Around a year or so ago I discovered Overstream, a great site which allows you to add subtitles to any video you want. Of course, there are good pedagogical uses you could put this to. You could also use this medium to create funny little videos about what goes on in English language teaching and the ELT blogosphere. Here then, are my six subtitled “masterpieces” as one kind critic called them. 😉

Settle down with some colleagues, grab a cup of tea and enjoy! Curtain up…

You are probably wondering what the football uniforms have to do with Dogme…

1. ANY GIVEN DOGME

  • Based on: Any Given Sunday (German dubbed)
  • The context: This was my debut tribute to Scott Thornbury and Dogme methodology. Someone told me they used this video as an introduction to dogme in a workshop, which I loved! Here Al Pacino plays Thornbury, giving a dogme class to a group of football players.

Click here to see the film.

In 2010, a young DOS went to a conference on a battleship...

2. BATTLESHIP ELT

  • Based on: Yamoto (Japanese film)
  • The context: In early 2010, International House held its annual DOS conference on board HMS Belfast, a warship docked in London. This was just too good a chance to pass up for a bit of satire…

Click here to see the film.

I am Guardian of the Tweets...

3.THE SEVENTH TWEET

  • Based on: The Seventh Seal (Swedish film)
  • The context: Gavin Dudeney wrote a blogpost about how we should be careful what we tweet, retweet and so on. Couldn’t resist spoofing it…

Click here to see the film.

"Language is like ecosystem. Not McNuggets."

4.HARROTAR

  • Based on: Avatar (Russian dubbed trailer)
  • The context: IATEFL 2010 was notable for the large number of talks on technology. This trailer follows an undercover teacher working for the evil EduCorp. They want to destroy the gentle and pure Dogm’ee, who are resisting technology in education.

Click here to see the film.

Prepare for a humanistic sacrifice...

5.ASH CLOUD ELT

  • Based on: The Mist (Russian dubbed trailer)
  • The context: When the ash cloud hit Europe it threw everyone into turmoil and anxiety. Would we ever travel by air again? This trailer tells the story of a Saturday morning training session gone terribly wrong.

Click here to see the film.

"I think some crazy anti-coursebook bloggers put me here!"

6. BURIED ELT

  • Based on:  (Russian dubbed trailer)
  • The context: Ryan Reynolds plays… erm, me! Buried in a coffin underground and being forced to burn my books. But is this really an anti-coursebook plot or a cruel marketing trick from my publisher?

Click here to see the film.

Published in: on December 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm  Comments (15)  
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Six weeks left…

The end of an era... (by the way, the lack of the apostrophe is NOT my fault, the programme did not let me!)

The title of this post is Six weeks left. Until… what? Christmas? New Year? 2011? Not entirely. Hold onto your cups of tea or coffee dear readers because this is a special announcement…

Six weeks left until the Six Things blog project finishes.

Gasp! Shock! Horror! Yes, you did read correctly, I will be stopping this blog at the end of the year so I thought I’d better give you all a bit of a warning. I fully realise some explanation is in order so here are six things to know about my decision to close up shop.

1 I never intended this to last forever. I guess that’s why I called it a project. I never wanted this to be an endless project. I hadn’t thought about how long really it was to last (six months was too short, six hundred posts felt too long, six years way too long). I’ve been blogging now for two years and I think it’s had a very good run. Time to move on.

2. The blogosphere has grown. When I started blogging it felt a lot emptier out here in cyberspace. I took a look at a few “big” blogs (ones like Kalinago English and TEFLtastic) and started to follow a couple of others. A year later I had to install Google reader to keep track of the thirty plus blogs I subscribe to. It’s getting hard to keep up meaningfully with everyone else while delivering my own posts.

3. I’m tired. During the past two years I’ve been keeping up with this blog while writing almost three levels of  Global (and the teacher’s books), co-writing a book for teachers (Teaching Online), being a series editor for Delta Publishing, going to lots of conferences, keeping up a blog of my travels, teaching online courses, teaching twice a week when I got the chance and trying to be a husband and father. Something has got to give!

4. Better to burn out than fade away. I love the format of my blog, I’ve become really comfortable with it. People refer to me as Six things guy, or Global guy. Maybe that’s a good reason to move on. I’ve had guest posts from many great people in ELT, legends and newcomers. The stats on the blog (number of visits, hits, unique visitors, time on site) have steadily gone up and up.  I passed 210,000 views a little while back, have around 145 posts and over 2000 comments. A far cry from the likes of some of my colleagues (like English Raven and Kalinago English who routinely top the Onestopblogs list and probably leave this one in the dust) but it feels like a lot to me. I’d prefer to stop now than hear one day someone say “What, Six Things? That old blog is still going?!?”

5. I feel like I’ve joined a community. I’ve given talks to teachers in more than five countries encouraging them to read lots of the blogs you can see on my blogroll. I’ve participated in many of the “challenges” (vale la pena, whiteboard challenge etc) I’ve met people via this blog who I then had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face. I’ve had a great laugh at some of the discussions that happened here. I had a lot of help at the beginning from people like Karenne Sylvester and Alex Case and was happy to help others (like Carol Read and Scott Thornbury) when they started their blogs. This has made my own work much more meaningful to me, and really given me a new lease on my writing and teaching career. Thank you!

6. I’m closing the blog, not my internet connection. While this blog project will be stopping (as well as Dispatches, the Global blog), I will still be out there reading and commenting on other blogs and sending out tweets of all sorts. I aim to stay connected to the community. I’m going to take a bit of an extended break, but I already have some pretty exciting ideas of what I want to do next in terms of blogging and other online stuff. And who knows, in a few years time I might start all over again with a blog called Six More Things!

So, there you have it. We’re into the final stretch here. I’ve got a couple of guest posts still up my sleeve, and will also be sharing (giving away) some of the favourite activities and lesson ideas I’ve written in other places. From 2011 onwards this site will remain online for people to wander through (like a museum) but will not be regularly updated. Enjoy what’s left while you can! 🙂

Published in: on November 19, 2010 at 12:33 pm  Comments (32)  
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Six ideas to brighten up your staff room

A few years ago, I wrote an article for the magazine It’s for Teachers about Surviving the staff room. It was based on my experience at a private language school that suffered from low staff morale (a familiar story for many private language school teachers). A colleague of mine and I managed to turn things around considerably, and one of the first places we started was the staff room. I won’t go into all the details here, but I would like to share six little ideas on making your staff room (if you have one, I know many of you don’t!) a better place to be and hopefully have some of this goodness rub off on the staff itself!

1. Plants and posters

Decorate the staff room with posters (and not just the publisher’s free giveaway posters of irregular verbs and maps of Britain etc) and, more importantly, plants. Plants in a room help lighten the atmosphere a lot. Make sure there is good lighting, and room to move – so even in a small space don’t pack it with too many tables, bookshelves etc.

2. Ideas

Have a corkboard on the wall where you can stick not just official announcements but teaching ideas, activities and so on. In one school I worked at we called it the Sharing board. It worked really well, there was always something interesting you could grab off it for class. Also perhaps have a “lesson idea of the week” section or “website of the week”. Staff members take turns suggesting things for those slots.

3. Food and drink

An electric kettle, fresh water, tea and biscuits can do wonders to a staff room and for the staff’s morale. Ideally paying for this should be the management’s job but I’ve worked in environments where we all took turns bringing things in. Warning: make sure you put in place a system of cleaning up. Dirty mugs and crumbs everywhere can have a very negative effect!

4. Fun and games

In one staff room I worked in I would put up the Guardian quick crossword every couple of days. We made it a competition on how fast we could solve it together. I think the record was just over 2 minutes by a group of three teachers. It was lots of fun. You could do something similar, or put up word games or puzzles. Another thing we did was top ten lists, where people had to write up their top ten films, activities, books, places they had been etc.

5 Photos

I’ve seen staff rooms which have a nice wall of photos of the various teachers and administrative staff. Photos of people at work, at the end-of-year party, on excursions etc. It always makes the place look more welcoming to see that. A nice idea would be for the school to invest in a digital photo frame and have a series of photos on a continual loop. These kinds of things can really help a sense of community.

6 Resources

I think the saddest thing in a school is when every teacher is hoarding their own resources (activities, lesson plans etc). It’s a sign of mutual trust and respect to have a series of shared things that teachers can dip into. This could be a filing cabinet (or folders on a computer) full of activities that everyone can use. It could be a plastic box full of whiteboard markers, dice, pointers, cuisinaire rods or whatever. If you’re in a good school with some money and management who care about professional development I’d say there should be several resource books for teachers on a shelf which can be borrowed by the staff. These aren’t frills. They’re necessary for your job.

What about you? Do you have a staffroom? How good is it? What is the best staff room you’ve been in? Post a comment!

Note: this blogpost is based in part on ideas that appeared in the Language Teacher’s Survival Handbook (written by myself with Duncan Foord) and an article on Humanising Language Teaching also by Duncan Foord and I.

Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 11:58 am  Comments (4)  
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Six utterly random laws

Clandfield's Law of Procrastination clearly states that...

Time to put your thinking caps on readers! One of the things I enjoy watching are the TED Talks (I’m sure many of you know them, but in case you don’t then be sure to check them out here). One of the latest I saw was Dan Cobley talk about everything physics had taught him about marketing. It was an ingenious little talk about theories of physics and how they could be applied to marketing.
It got me wondering, could we not do the same with ELT? I seem to remember fellow blogger Alex Case writing once that anything, absolutely anything, could be made to relate to ELT if you were ingenious enough. So here’s my idea. Below are six utterly random laws from various fields. Can you take one and form it into a law relating to ELT? For example, Murphy’s Law states “If anything can go wrong, it will”. So I could change this to be Clandfield’s Law of lesson observation: “If anything can go wrong in an observed lesson it will”. Get the idea? That was the easy one. How about the following laws?

1 Newton’s First Law. Every body remains in a state of rest or uniform motion unless it is acted upon by an external force.

2. The Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a system, a process that occurs will tend to increase the total entropy (disorder) of the universe.

3. Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle. It’s impossible to measure the position and the momentum of a particle because the act of measuring it, by definition, changes it.

4. Parkinson’s Law. Work expands so as to fill the time available.

5. The Peter Principle. In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.

6. Tobler’s First Law of Geography. Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.

Try it out with your colleagues. Can you make one or more of these relate to English teaching? Or perhaps another law of your own invention? Post a comment – you may assure yourself a place in ELT stardom!

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm  Comments (9)  
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Six merchandising gimmicks for Dogme ELT

The "Dogme Circle" - a very nice image but is it now time to expand to more tie-ins and collectibles?

The other day I was going through and clearning up some old folders on the computer when I came across a document called Teaching Unplugged Marketing ideas. It was a very short document, and had a few notes for marketing the well-known book by Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings. As it turned out, Delta publishing had no marketing department (or budget really) at the time and so nothing came of it. But judging from the furore around Dogme and Teaching Unplugged (for example, here) I thought it was time to unleash some more ideas. I can see that this movement has some legs, so I figure why not try and make some money off it? Here are six bits of merchandise, with suggested list prices, to help Dogme reach a much wider audience and make me a wealthy marketing guru in the process!

1. Dogme Chastity Rings

The dogme ELT movement was launched ten years ago with a Vow of Chastity regarding materials. If you have taken the vow and are a confirmed Dogmeist then why not show the world? These little rings will identify you immediately as an unplugged teacher and come in a range of attractive colours.

Suggested price: 29.99 euros

2. Doggmie bags

All that focusing on emergent language generates a certain amount of detrius in the form of hastily scribbled notes, post-its and so on. Keep it all together with these ecological Doggmie bags! Made out of 100% recycled coursebooks.

Suggested price: 1.99 euros

3. Limited edition action figures

The Limited Edition Luke Meddings doll, without glasses version

You now can have a miniature Scott Thornbury or Luke Meddings with you at all times! These customized action dolls come with two changes of clothes (formal and informal) and, when you pull the string in their backs, they will utter classic phrases like “No more grammar mcnuggets!” or “I don’t believe in learner-as-consumer methodology”

(footnote: I actually found a site (here) that will make an action figure of you, and suggested it to Luke and Scott when we were about to publish Teaching Unplugged; I am still waiting for an answer)

Suggested price: 289.00 euros (they ARE limited edition after all)

4. Collectible Dogmemon cards

The very rare Karenne Sylvester trading card - with full Dogme challenge powers!

If you have children you may have heard of the Pokemon card-collecting craze. Now unplugged teachers can collect Karenne Sylvester, Jason Renshaw, Diarmuid Fogarty, Gavin Dudeney, Vicki Samuell, Jeremy Harmer and many other beloved characters from the Dogme universe. Play with them, frame them or trade them! Each pack comes with ten cards and instructions for gameplay. I’ve got a rare Lindsay Clandfield card to trade that I just can’t seem to get rid of by the way…

Suggested price: 9.99 for the starter pack, and 1.99 for individual packs of 5 cards.

5. The Official Unplugged coursebook

This attractive blank notebook is a must for any teacher. All you really need to teach any level, any length of course or any number of students is contained inside. You can also get the special Englishraven edition with the blank pages written by Jason Renshaw himself for 2 euros extra.

(footnote: I nearly did convince DELTA publishing to do this as a marketing giveaway to coincide with the launch of Teaching Unplugged, but it never happened in the end)

Suggested price: 4.99 (6.99 for Jason Renshaw authored version)

6. Pack of “Materials light” safety matches (discontinued)

This pack of safety matches comes in an attractive box with the Vow of Chastity engraved on the back of it and instructions on how to hold a “coursebook bonfire night” inside. This item was the product of an overeager marketing department that seized on a quip about burning books. Since Thornbury and Meddings have clarified that they are not really in favour of book-burning the item was quickly shelved. However, some copies are still in existence. Only for the most die-hard extremist dogmeist.

Suggested price: 499.99 euros (only 5 left in stock)

Please place your orders in the comments box.

Published in: on October 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm  Comments (27)  
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