Tag Archives: EFL

Teaching grammar lexically

A week or so ago, I posted up my first experiment with narrating Powerpoint presentations, as i tried to run through a talk I did at our inaugural University of Westminster Lexical Conference. As promised back then, I’ve managed to make another similar kind of thing, this time using Camtasia and then uploading it directly onto YouTube, which this blogging platform then allows me to embed here!

Anyway, this was the closing plenary to the one-day conference, and is really a condensation of many of the thoughts I’ve had over the last twelve to fifteen years about why the way I was taught to teach grammar isn’t particularly useful or efficient – and how we might start to redress this and do things better henceforth.

It seems stupid to spend too long giving much of a preamble to a video where I get to talk for myself at, I’m sure some might say, considerable length, so I’ll cut to the chase and leave you to watch this yourselves. Hope you enjoy it – and I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments.

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Does my head look big in this?

As anyone who knows me will testify, I’ve long been very ambivalent about blogs and blogging. In an otherwise fairly awful movie I watched out of boredom on a plane last year, Contagion, there was one great line: Blogging? It’s just graffiti with punctuation. And let’s face it, the punctuation is only if you’re lucky!

Blogging has long struck me as being a kind of vanity publishing, and has led – at least in my line of work – not to a democratization of thought and opinion, but rather to a kind of tyranny of the loudest and most prolific. I’ve worried about what kind of lives people who blog regularly have – or are running from; I’ve worried about what kind of life I might end up with if I ever allowed myself to get talked into setting one up; I’ve worried about the fact that the last time I did actually try to do a blog I had no real ideas about what function it was to serve other than as a kind of store cupboard for talks I’d given at conferences; I worried too about the fact that hardly anyone seemed to read it!

As if that wasn’t enough, I worry too about the fact I seldom seem to have time or energy to bother reading many of the blogs of the people out there in the ELT community that I know or have met in various contexts. Finally, I fear that this may all make me ill-suited to setting up and running another of these ego-propagating, time-consuming monsters.

And yet here I am, on a school night, writing this to an imagined audience, daring to dream there might be people out there who give a toss about my thoughts and opinions. What gives, I hear you ask?

Well, if I’m honest, there’s partly a touch of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’. There’s the ever-present frustration with the medium of facebook, where I help to run a fairly busy little page which works well within its own limited parameters, but which doesn’t really allow much room to spread out and talk at any great length, and which is geared towards fast turnover of posts and constant status updates. Then there’s the fact that I have been asked – repeatedly – if I have a blog by teachers that I’ve been lucky enough to meet or work with over the years. And finally, there’s something Jimmie Hill said to me many moons ago, and which has stayed with and almost haunted me down the years: every generation of language teachers has a responsibility to write down what it is they do, what they believe in and how they work.

What I hope – and aim – to do here is to post a lengthy post at best weekly, or else simply when the mood and inspiration strike, exploring things that have been on my mind, considering talks or books I’ve encountered – or given. There may occasionally be guest posts, I may sometimes go off on a lengthy rant and I may also sometimes heap praise where I feel that it’s due.

Looking forward to interacting with whoever may be out that curious to see where all this will lead. And if and when my head does look big in this, I’m trusting you all to tell me.

Deal?