#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: http://padlet.com/hofhansl/newsproject
  • Need to be aware of e-safety
  • development of relevant vocabulary
  • useful tools: http://cueprompter.com/, http://www.voki.com/
  • 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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Scholarship #blogjune

And we are back to the definition of scholarship, research and continuing professional development (CPD), as this has been a topic that has shaped the past week at work.

As discussed a few weeks ago, scholarship can be defined as ‘seeking of knowledge’, while research could be classed as ‘generation of knowledge’. So where does CPD fit into this? I think that CPD is perhaps more practical than scholarship, meaning that CPD is about maintaining and developing skills and ‘tangible’ results such as changed practices, whereas scholarship is more about developing and maintaining knowledge that can be used to improve your own working and how it affects others but without actually applying it. And is it different for different roles/jobs? More questions.

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TV & Dummheitssteuer #blogjune

I have finally ‘solved’ my problem of getting German tv working at home. I downloaded some apps (the main one is actually called ‘German TV’) onto my laptop and now connect this to the tv set with the aid of an HDMI cable. Turns out that buying the cable from the £1 shop is not enough, and I had to order another one online. In effect, the £1 I spent could be classed as ‘Dummheitssteuer’ (stupidity tax) for trying to get something very cheap that evidently needs some money spending on it (ok, so I only spent another £4.85 but still…). Dummheitssteuer also applies if you spend money because you made a stupid mistake that could have easily been avoided and that costs you additional money.

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Black Books #blogjune

I have started watching one of my favourite tv shows again: ‘Black Books‘. And realised that it was first broadcast nearly 15 (fifteen!!) years ago. And that I know people who have never seen it. So, here’s a link to 4oD (may not work outside UK) to help you share the joy of this programme. It’s all about bookshops, relationships and people, so if you like any of these you’ll probably enjoy it.

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Cult of Done #blogjune

This manifesto is very much along the lines of how I work. At the moment especially point 7 seems to make sense.

Cult of Done

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Webinar: “Super Charge Your Learning” #blogjune

Earlier today I attended a webinar offered by CMI. It was advertised as a session about digital technologies and the way they may change learning, but actually turned out to be mainly about different leadership styles (transformational or task or both) and how to tailor your development to the one you want, or need, to use.

The main messages were:

  • you are the one in charge of your own leadership development: decide what your priorities are and why, evaluate the available tools, make sure you receive recognition as leader
  • need to know what enthuses the people you are leading – and be enthusiastic and motivated yourself
  • you can’t rely on your organisation to develop you – look out for experiences and learn by doing, learn from others, learn by teaching/mentoring
  • leadership is personal – face-to-face is still best
  • look for help when you need it: curated knowledge, specific apps such as time management apps, on-demand e-learning

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Junk food café #blogjune

Here’s a feel good story from Leeds: Armley junk food café future is secured.

I think these cafés and attached food banks can be very valuable resources in the community, if run well and accepted by the community. Hopefully they will bring together people who wouldn’t normally meet, and give them all sorts of opportunities, while offering a friendly space.

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Reading #blogjune

I have handed in my latest assignment at the weekend and finally have time to read some fiction books that have been piling up next to my bed. It feels nice to know that I have some time to read whatever takes my fancy for a couple of months, and that I can also choose not to read something if it bores me. Usually I spend a lot of time reading journal articles and websites (and social media postings) but this summer I want to concentrate on reading longer pieces for longer periods of time, to get back into the habit of unplugging and getting way from the computer more (although I may still use my Kindle to read some books). I also want to cut down on brainless tv consumption (yes, when you catch yourself watching certain programmes (insert yours here) you know you need to stop).

A couple of years ago I started using Goodreads to record my reading and find new things to add to my reading list, and while it is still interesting to see what other people read I don’t use it much anymore. This has taken some pressure off as I don’t try to read every ‘valuable’ book going, but collect books as they come along, either through personal recommendations or in a shop/flea market.

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A day in my language learning library #blogjune

For anyone who isn’t sure what it’s like to work in a library that supports language learners in Higher Education, here’s a quick list of what we do in my library in a ‘normal’ day:

  • staffing the counter (including issue/return, and giving directions)
  • dealing with enquiries in person, by phone and email
  • transcribing and uploading the BBC news, maintaining the library’s VLE areas and social media presence
  • working with technicians and teaching staff on what we can provide and how
  • researching, creating, ordering materials and office supplies
  • giving user and language learning advice, guidance and pastoral support
  • signing people up to the Language Exchange Scheme that’s in place for members of the university
  • maintenance tasks, such as shelving and tidying, book covering, creating publicity materials, cataloguing, collecting and collating statistics, dealing with overdues, admin such as creating DVD covers for off-air copies, and fighting with the photocopier
  • liaising with tutors and other staff
  • attending meetings, fairs and training
  • delivering tours and training
  • running and developing activities or hosting them
  • and of course whatever else comes up.
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