Apple pie

To de-stress after along week, I spent some of yesterday baking. I used apples from my own tree to make a pie, using a recipe from the Internet.



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Technology in my field

Today I was invited to be a plenary speaker at an event for English language students. Brief: to talk about the influence of technology in my field.

My initial thoughts on this evolved around social media and how these have enabled me to become a part of the wider professional community and to be able to find and share information, ideas, etc. more easily. But going further back, I realised that technology has enabled (or forced?) the profession to change throughout its existence, really: going from scrolls to codices, to computers and tablets; from card catalogue to OPAC to QR codes and RFID. So where to start and where to end? Which technologies have changed your professional life the most and why?

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Back to study

After a summer of reading novels I am now back to reading MA-type literature, and probably not much else (I already miss snuggling up and reading about Wilt‘s life…). This year I am also tackling my Masters thesis, which will probably be about supporting blogs for language learning. There’s a lot to be packed in, so I can imagine that blogging will fall a bit by the wayside. I’ll try and keep writing about events I have attended though.

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Blackberry Pie

This weekend I made a pie, using handpicked blackberries.

I used a recipe from the internet and ready-made pastry. Just mix 500g berries with 120g sugar, put in pastry case, cover, bake for approximately half an hour. Add ice cream. Happy tummies.

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Useful things

Things that have excited me today:

  • EDpuzzle: a new tool to use with videos – you can add tasks, comments, etc.
  • lingro: dictionary that can be used on any website
  • Screencastify: record your screen, including audio
  • slowing videos down in YouTube: go to ‘settings’ and use the drop-down menu ‘speed’ to change the speed of the videoUntitled

Here’s a link to Chris Harte’s webinar from this morning, which introduced more interesting and useful tools.

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Too much stuff?

After a few weeks of clearing actual paperwork in the office and at home, I have tried to get my virtual paperwork in order today, partly to start new projects with a clean slate and partly because it really needed doing! Also, I am trying to get a head start on literature searches for my MA and how to best keep on top of what I am reading or marking as ‘to read’. I still haven’t got my head around referencing tools such as EndNote or Mendeley, and because I am constantly using different PCs and storage solutions I can’t decide which solution might be best. Looking back, I should also give Evernote a go, but at the moment I am still lured in by an alphabetical Word list, which seems so simple – but once it becomes more than five pages long it will most probably start to get a bit complicated. I’ll attend a referencing workshop next week, so hopefully things will become a bit clearer.

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Digital projects

Here are some interesting links I have come across this week:

BALEAP: EAP and blended learning

CILIP: What is instructional design and technology

Digital literacy or digital competence?

Digital literacies pack

Digital skills – staff training examples

Digital skills, literacy and libraries

Jisc: Developing Digital Literacies: Institutional Audit Tool

Open University: Being digital

Social media student guidance

The 7 characteristics of a digitally competent teacher

This week I have spent quite a bit of time talking about digital projects and what we can do to improve the use of technology at work. This has of course made me think about the Critical Study I have to write as part of my masters next summer, and which direction I might go with that. At the moment I can see myself writing about digital literacy but I’m also interested in technology in relation to language learning generally – hopefully I can somehow combine the two, and, ideally, even come out with something that I can apply to my daily work.

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Lunch or dinner or what?

We are having an ongoing discussion at work about what certain meal times are called and at what time they take place… of course we realise that differences occur because of background, class, region, context, etc.  – but what do you call yours?

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#Innoconf15 #blogjune

Last week I attended Innoconf15, a conference about innovative language teaching and learning at university. This year’s theme was the enhancement of participation and collaboration. Here are my notes:

  • The day was envisaged to be a day of celebration and sharing.
  • The importance of diversity, community and love of language was highlighted.
  • Flexibility and openness as the main outcomes of language learning
  • It’s important to be aware of enthusiasm and fears around language learning, e.g. fear of failure, making mistakes, being seen as stupid.

Keynote speech by Zoltán Dörnyei, about motivation and language learning

  • presentation slides
  • language learning is a long term process
  • a vision is needed: a vision empowers people to act
  • goals or not visions but visions need goals
  • motivation is influenced by possible selves (Markus and Nurius, 1986), especially the future self. These are ideas of what individuals
    • might become
    • would like to become
    • are afraid of becoming
  • conditions to motivate can be created as part of the teaching or teaching plan – need for a visionary programme and vision to be around learners all the time
  • learning experiences also influence motivation
  • English native speakers possibly need more motivation as there is not as much need to learn another language to express themselves in the world

Parallel session 1: Anna Motzo (Open University): Evaluating the effects of a student buddy initiative on student engagement and motivation

  • Initiative to address retention and progression issues in distance learning – has run for two years now.
  • Main difference in distance education is the lack of human presence in the classroom – sense of isolation, lack of opportunities to practise with others and share experiences. Perhaps more human contact/socialisation is needed – can depend on learner.
  • Student buddies were introduced for peer support.
  • Buddies have completed the module in the previous year.
  • Each buddy group decides what skills and traits are needed.
  • Buddy training is provided.
  • 82% found their buddy useful for practical information.
  • Communication between learners and buddies shows emotion, community building, bonding behaviours.
  • Surveys and statistics show that enthusiasm and support was retained.

Parallel session 2: Hanna Magedera (Liverpool): The Four Skills Project

  • Target group: Level C1/2 students of German and Business German
  • The four skills are: reading (including research skills), listening (including transcription skills), writing (including summarising skills), speaking (including recording/technical skills). Two additional skills could be added: interpreting and translating
  • Project page:
  • Need to be aware of e-safety
  • development of relevant vocabulary
  • useful tools:,
  • The results are used as online representation of the university, e.g. on YouTube
  • Assessment: portfolio, oral presentation

Parallel session 3: Insa Hartung (St Andrews), Sandra Reisenleutner
(Nottingham): “Show me where you study!”- An interactive project between German language students in Nottingham and St Andrews

  • Aimed at Level A2 students of German
  • Task: to compile a guidebook about your university town
  • action-oriented learning
  • The end product is used to show and celebrate achievement
  • very good student feedback
  • mainly learned: new vocabulary

Parallel session 4: Neil Hughes (Nottingham): Teaching Cultural Content in the Target Language

  • Due to globalisation, many students learn content through a non-native language.
  • Large growth of international student numbers mean that most teachers will teach non-native speakers at university. The challenges that come with this are not necessarily recognised or taken into account.
  • There is a need to use the language departments’ expertise across the university, e.g. in terms of pedagogy and CLIL.

Parallel session 5: Sabrina Wagner (Manchester): Would you please my text for me? Improving students’ writing and collaborative the help of the Assessment Blackboard

  • German is the biggest language taught at Manchester Language Centre. Their courses are open to everyone (students, staff and general public).
  • The project aimed to improve pass rates for the Goethe-Zertifikat B1.
  • It is important to have everyone participate in a project like this to ensure everyone has a peer marker.

Parallel session 6: Ania de Berg (Sheffield Hallam): Students as Producers
and Collaborators: Exploring the Use of Padlets and Videos in MFL Teaching

  • Use of padlet allowed for dialogue outside the classroom, making students ‘active participants in knowledge transfer’.
  • In this example, padlets are used for information about German films. Each cohort adds a different sort of information.
  • Another collaborative media project was about cultural differences, preparing students for studying in a different country.
  • Skills gained: padlet use, video editing skills
  • Not clear to students how these projects make them more employable – transferable skills need to be made more obvious.

Parallel session 7: Cathy Hampton (Warwick): From widening horizons to widening participation: transmitting the experience of global citizenship to the school classroom in a student as producer Year Abroad project

  • Projects that students worked on during their year aboard – formative experience
  • One aim: to see yourself and your country through a foreign lens
  • Routes into Languages: virtual class exchange, authentic teaching resources, blog during year abroad

Parallel session 8: Sandra López-Rocha (Bristol): Intercultural Communicative Competence: Creating Awareness and Promoting Skills in the Language Classroom

  • 5 Cs: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, communities
  • importance of self-awareness, openness, transformation
  • Byram’s ICC model
  • use non-authetic materials with caution: stereotypes, assumptions
  • Project: The Culture Box – exchange boxes with a class in another country

By the way, Nottingham University’s campus is very pretty.

And with this post, #blogjune ends for another year. Taking part did help with getting me back into the mindset of blogging, and although I didn’t comment on many posts or even wrote one every day, I am planning to carry on with regular posts and comments whenever possible. I enjoyed getting involved in conversations and remembered that these are why I stay on social media etc. Because these conversations matter and might just change someone’s outlook.

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Holidays #blogjune

I am on holiday this week and will probably not be online much, so I will blog as and when I am online.

Here are some links for German learning to keep you entertained in the meantime:

Padlet – a useful tool for collaboration

Quizlet – a tool for building vocabulary lists (with games included)

The German Professor – grammar

10 tips for improving your German

Free Open University course: Rundblick

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