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Let it be….it is as it is….

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…or so I keep telling myself. Since IATEFL, I have had some time to think and reflect and although I join heartily in the chorus of everyone who has blogged about how inspiring, exhilirating, edifying, rewarding and also marvellously manic it all was, I have to look at the other side: what I should have done and what I could have done better.

I should have stayed for the Tuesday sessions – I shall next time.

I should have gone to a lot more talks – I shall plan better next time.

I have agonised over these two thing so much. All that wasted opportunity and all those beautifully crafted talks that I missed.

I should have thanked and said goodbye to so many people, but I’m sure they will forgive me and we will see each other again on the circuit, no doubt.

And then there’s my talk. Solipsistic though this verbalisation may be, I am so exasperated with myself for not delivering everything I had planned and doing it too fast and South Africanising too much (it happens when I get excited). I’ve watched me on a video taken by Willy Cardoso and an urgent amount of focussed self-reflection is to be undertaken.

I’m also not a little abashed at having inadvertently stolen the ever-accommodating Anthony’s warmer. *’_’*

I was SUPPOSED to start by singing a song, but my best advisor said, in obvious emotional pain, “PLEASE don’t embarrass your audience; it’s really not recommended.  I’m BEGGING you not to sing. Say you would like to, but then don’t – please.” So I didn’t. Probably for the best, really!

But then I forgot the bit about African story-telling and how in Swaziland – where I grew up – it is the old people who tell the stories. They tell the story through, pausing after each rhythmic phrasing, and asking the children to repeat what they have just heard. At the end, the children are asked to retell the entire story and are corrected for any errors of fact, language or expression. This is done until the story, and the lesson, is learned sufficiently well.

And then there was all that stuff about my classroom being like a rehearsal studio. I think it is like that, because the students bring to the rehearsal stuff  they are able to do and demonstrate how well they do it. In that designated practice space, they begin to build on those skills and experiment with what they think they may like to be able to do. As a group we then refine and hone and maybe reform that and practise it until it is as good as it can be and they leave the rehearsal studio better able than when they arrived.

I forgot to say all that. And I didn’t sing……but I’ll let it be just now.


5 responses »

  1. Pingback: Setting up a framework to investigate Dogme in practice with ESOL learners —

  2. Anthony Gaughan

    If we did everything we intended to the first time we had a chance, we would lose a reason to to go back to people and places we enjoyed being with and live with them again.

    For this reason, I am glad you still have stories to tell when you head up to Glasgow come March next year. I’ll be all ears (and you can test me afterwards 😉 )

  3. Well, others are rarely ever as critical of us as we are of ourselves.

    For my part I loved your talk, as did the audience judging from their reaction. I also remember those African stories! My grandparents had a gardener when I was a boy and when I lived with them in Bulawayo. I used to follow him around the garden trying to be of help and he would teach me some Ndebele and tell me all those stories.

    On a seperate note,the other day I watched another talk you did online – it was the BESIG 2010 one in Germany. You talked about using a “You mean xxxx, don’t you?” technique to recast what a student had said. Well, I used it today when my student said “My son was very exciting to see his present” and I said “You mean your son was very excited, don’t you?” It worked like a dream. She paused, thought about it, smiled and said “Yes, I do mean that, he was very excited!”. I just wanted to say ‘thanks’.

    • Chris
      You have no idea how much I needed this today! Many many thanks for your comment. So good to hear from a fellow African ex-pat – so much common knowledge and shared experiences. Do you miss it?
      I am also just so chuffed that you used that technique and it worked! You of course can broaden and widen and deepen the process by asking many more related questions – changing both the lexis and the grammar. Answering a question makes it purposeful and uncovers the underlying structures.
      Please stop by any time and many thanks again.


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