Write up about TESOL Grenoble Swap Shop Oct 2011

TESOL Grenoble kicked off the year with a very lively swapshop hosted by IUT 2. Four speakers gave us insight into different areas of competence and the audience, as usual, participated actively with their own interesting contributions.

Elizabeth Anne (UJF)

Elizabeth Anne (UJF), our Grenoble tech expert, presented Todaysmeet, a convivial site for classroom chats. You create a room for as long as you want and name it. Then your students type in todaysmeet, slash and the name you have given to your group to access the virtual classroom (cf. http://todaysmeet.com).

Elizabeth went on to present Google Docs. For a good introduction in cartoon style for neophytes see “Google Docs in Plain English” (www.commoncraft.com/video/rss).
Google Docs enable you to access, with your class, software such Excel and PowerPoint. Elizabeth showed us how to make up an Excel sheet for scientific vocabulary where all the students contribute definitions. She suggested you open the Longman dictionary on a second tab for the students’ use. Another of the Google Docs called ‘forms’ can make up a nice looking questionnaire, which can be embedded into wikis or sent via email and used either in class or at home.

After reading several texts chosen by the teacher, Elizabeth’s students select one, and instead of being interrogated on it by the teacher, they write their own questions for the class. Their peers read the texts and answer the questions. If you don’t want to go online for this question/answer student interactivity, you can use a rather old fashioned but still very useful technique: transparencies on an OHP. Elizabeth showed us a funny clip with her washing off the plastics to recycle them—an ecological way of teaching!

Finally Elizabeth showed us Voxopop where you can create a ‘talkgroup’ for your classroom (cf. http://www.voxopop.com), and she demonstrated how to use a Flipcam, a very light and inexpensive camera with a USB entry. You film the students and then plug the camera directly into your computer. We all wanted our schools to purchase these cameras!

Marianne Raynaud, QualityTime-ESL

I led this swapshop, so I intervened at several points to fill in the gaps or wait for arriving speakers. To answer a request by a participant I showed how to get your students to compose survey questions, write out the collected data and present the results in four different graphs. This is a way to work on the interrogative form and indirect discourse while training students to use graph language.

I also showed the teachers how to take an ordinary written multiple-choice exercise and turn it into a listening comprehension and speaking activity. I had them work on an example in pairs. We also turned ourselves into students guessing Twitter abbreviations and reading off figures such as long numbers, dates, fractions, etc. We ended with snappy debates, 5-minute long discussions in groups of 3 where students have to tick off phrases as they use them. The participants laughed a lot during these activities. That was the aim, as the topic was “Laughter: The Best Medicine in the ESL Classroom”. After the swapshop I sent all the participants DOC files with the exercises and activities I had demonstrated for them to use directly in class. More information is found on my website www.qualitytime-esl.com.

Sandrine Chapon (UPMF)

Sandrine Chapon (UPMF) described her work with TV series to teach English to law students. She incites her students to continue studying English outside of her class by asking them to bring in a judiciary problem encountered by one of their favourite characters. Sandrine explained that TV fictions such as L.A. Law include just as much specialized vocabulary as authentic written documents. The advantage lies in the fact the students enjoy studying TV series they are already familiar with and have already seen. She showed us how subtitles can often be misleading or totally erroneous when translated by non-experts, which is often the case. She suggested using the very popular series Madmen for business students.

Sandrine finished her presentation by describing an end of term activity. She gives each pair of students a ‘crime scene bag’ with various clues such as a knife, a train ticket, a dirty handkerchief. She fills up their bags with numerous real objects. Their job is to think of a plot, come up with a coronary report, a suspect, and the police report asking for an arrest warrant. Sandrine corrects the report, and then they act out the scene in front of the judge. The following week the plots and roles are swapped. Thus they become the lawyers of other suspects and have to ask for their clients’ release. We were all fascinated by the talk and suggested Sandrine have her students film these same scenes out of class and upload the clips onto YouTube.

Csilla Benn, Business English Services

Csilla Benn, who runs the school Business English Services, chose to give us some very interesting ideas about how to communicate with 2.0 web technologies. She first demonstrated Mindmapping, free software, which is excellent for brainstorming (cf.http://imindmap.softonic.fr/telecharger). Then she went onto Present.me, a video-sharing platform on which you can upload your PowerPoint slides and have them run in the right-hand part of the screen alongside the video of you presenting. This makes for a much more dynamic and interesting clip than just a person speaking. Csilla played for us some clips made by her students. It was an excellent way of introducing us to this tool. She also showed the use of Mailvu for videos and Prezi.com for more innovative presentations.

Finally Csilla explained how she gives her students feedback. Csilla sends them oral feedback by email, using www.jing.com. You correct your students’ work orally by simply highlighting the mistakes in the text and speaking the corrections. Then you send each student a link by email. For a hands-on demonstration by Russell Stannard go to www.teachertrainingvideos.com.

To conclude I’ll proudly say all of the participants wrote me to express their thanks for organizing a very ‘inspiring’ meeting. They thought all the presentations were excellent, and they enjoyed speaking in English and sharing both their problems and above all their positive experiences with their students. It was a wonderful group of devoted, enthusiastic teachers, so I hope we can schedule our next swapshop in spring of 2012.

Marianne Raynaud

Our next workshop, again hosted by IUT2 – Grenoble, will be in March on “Using Games in ESL Teaching” led by Marianne Raynaud.

Sandrine Trigeassou, IUT2

This article is based on extensive notes by Sandrine Trigeassou, the head of the Tech de Co Department of Business and Marketing and the international coordinator at IUT2, Grenoble. She has provided the venue for many of our workshops, and this time she made a wonderful chocolate cake!

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