Literature Summer 2015

What is self-development? Does this only mean attending conferences, participating in seminars, reading professional books on teaching? Absolutely not! Thanks to British Council in Moscow there are more opportunities for that, for sure. And one of them I was lucky to attend: Literature Summer Festival in Moscow.

The program was astonishing and the event itself as well, and it was obviously worth visiting: English novelists and poets along with Russian writers were presenting their talks on various topics: literature tricks, literature and theatre, modern and contempropary literature in Russian and in Britain, the art of book publishing and advice for those who write and dream about their books to be published someday…

The weather was awful. It was pouring hard all day long. Organizers were mentioning the weather quite a lot of time during the talks: it was really London-like and time was worth spending with a good book and a cup of tea. Nothing could spoil the atmosphere of the event. One of the sponsors was a famous tea-company and that’s why there was nothing to do with catching cold if you were having a cup of hot tea in your hands. “There’s no summer without a good book”, as organizers say, was one of the leitmotivs of the event.

One of the lectures I attended was a talk of British poet and novelist Adam Foulds. This talk was aimed very much to those writing books themselves: he was describing ways of creating weird characters, for instance, a genious or a man from the mental asylum. With his examples of characters from his numerous books, author’s feelings towards his characters were obvious. No matter how positive your characters are, the author in any case feels sympathy for them, they are the product of his imagination. Like people who surround you, characters must be complicated and open. I found the talk very informative and useful. Someday I´ll be creating my characters, who knows.

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Along with English writers, participants could listen to Russian writers, publishers and film-makers, whose talks were gathering thos interested in Russian literature and theatre performances. I was happy to listen to Kirill Serebryanikov and was lucky to ask a question during Q/A session. Personally, I believe, his films and theatre performances are quite provocative for modern Russian society, but as he said, everything new one day could be provocative, like many years ago, for instance, paintings of Salvador Dahli or Kazimir Malevich. One of the positive reasons of attending such events is an ability to meet a famous person, who, as it can turn out, is a sublte artist, sentient and intelligent.

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One of the most brilliant talks of the festival was a talk given by John Mullan. He is a professor at Univercity College London, a specialist in the eighteenth-century literature, the best of the Booker Judge in 2008. He’s currently writing a 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. His presentation was about tricks in contemprorary English literature, how authors attract readears. The idea of the presentation was to give the listeners lots of quotations from English books, letting them to analyze, to reflect and to be sure to want to read this or that book as soon as possible. That was John’s talk! After the session some of the highly excited participants, including yours truly, were really lucky to ask John questions in private. He spent more that 40 (!) minutes talking to us, answering our questions about our favourite books and discussing our literature interests in Russia. Of course, he could not avoid talking about “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. By they way, we could know one interesting fact. John Mullan is the author of What Matters in Jane Austen? which is very popular among those who are interested in English classical literature. John agreed to send me some of his articles and notes on literature, so I’m really looking forward to hearing from him soon…

There were lots of other attractive things to do: taking a picture with Mad Hatter, or in Alice’s costume, also there were interesting performances for children. And evidently, there were lots of opportunities to make friends or get useful contacts. I made some, I´m happy about it.

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Also I´m ready to share a list of books, to be read soon (they were mentioned by John Mullan):

1. Ian McEwan “Atonement”, “Sweet Tooth”.

2. Jane Austen “The Northanger Abbey”.

3. David Mitchell “Cloud Atlas”.

Despite the bad weather, this event lifted my spirits up. I love reading and I was happy to be surrounded by people who also find it exciting to become utterly absorbed by a new book. And summer is nice time for doing it. I’ll no longer be waiting and I’m going to start right now.

Thanks for reading!

Continue doing activities from #FlashMobELT…

flashmobSource: http://trinityaos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/logo.gif

Hi there!

Today my short post is about Peter O’Connor’s activity suggested for #FlashMobELT (my first experience is posted here).

Start / stop reading.

 I like doing this activity as it kind of uses the ‘whole’ student. Reading, speaking, listening, and paying attention are the main elements applied. Break the students into pairs and have them sit facing each other. One student holds the text book so that the other student cannot see. When the teacher says ‘start’ the student holding the text starts reading. When the teacher says ‘stop’ the student stops reading and hands the book to the other student. No pointing or prompting. When the teacher says ‘start’ again, the other students pick up from where the last student finished. This continues until the text is finished.

 Peter O’Connor

I was looking for an activity to help my Intermediate students to revise the previous vocabulary taken from the small text. Seek and ye shall find! I broke students into pairs and let them read the text one by one according to the instruction. After the whole text was finished they easily could remember all necessary vocabulary for further lesson goals. It was a nice lesson starter, rather modest, non-striking and very logical.

I was lucky to have the most memorable feedback. Students noticed that it was the first time in our classroom, it was intriguing at first sight and as a result successful in the framework of revising of material.

Many thanks go to Peter O’Connor and Anna Loseva for such an attractive resource with entirely useful activities.

Thanks for reading! Hope to hear from you soon!

What I like and what I dislike

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Source: http://easysketchproreview.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/thumbs02.gif

About two days ago I was reading a book for my son before going to bed. Very famous Russian ‘Denis’s stories’ by V. Dragunskiy. I absolutely adore this kind of stories for children, because they are full of emotions and there are so many good things to show to my son: how to behave oneself, how to be fair and honest, how to love people and respect their labor and work. This is very Sovietic book, but despite this fact it is very actual for nowadays.

Among many thought-provoking short stories are two ones with simple titles: ‘What I like’ and ‘What I don’t like’. They are definitely very sincere and touching from the point of view of a boy aged 6-7, who simply explains things or people which surround him and why he likes them or not.

My Intermediate students now are learning how to talk about work-life balance and their leisure time. As for the material in the textbook, it goes without saying that they are introduced with vocabulary about interests and hobbies, and verbs and collocations helping them to express their likes and dislikes. I wrote about likes and dislikes here, and personally I enjoy working with this vocabulary, and it was time to introduce this useful vocabulary to Intermediates to talk about their leisure time. Moreover, I decided to give them a written assignment for hometask. My post today is going to be an example of how to write about likes and dislikes, I’ll send them a link to my blog and after reading and analyzing they are going to write on their own. So…

Today I’m going to write about things that make me happy and things I’m not crazy about.

As you may know, I’m a very artistic person and I prefer doing unusual things. To begin with, I love trying new styles. Today I’m a sporty lady with white sketchers on my feet, tomorrow I’m a romantic woman in pink. Also I absolutely adore different accessories like bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces. I sometimes order them from trade-masters from abroad, for example, from Israel or from India. These things are gorgeous and nice to use.

I love singing. I’ve been taking part in a choir since 2010. There are 8 ladies (4 of them are Annas :)) and we’ve participated in many concerts so far. I can’t say that our rehearsals are very frequent, but I simply can’t help admiring all the girls in the choir who always encourage me. We are happy to sing, we are united with one idea – to bring warmth and love to people’s hearts. We are winners of many festivals and song contests and for me it is not easy to say whether I like it or not. On the one hand, it is time-consuming and rather demanding thing, because we all have our children and families and can’t leave them for a long period of time, but on the other hand, is is very rewarding thing to participate and I love it very much.

I enjoy travelling. I should say I haven’t visited many foreign countries, but I’m fond of travelling, that’s true. My number one place is the Crimea. I’ve started going there since 2002 and now every year I try to find time for going there with my family. I’m pleased with the fact that my little son Yaroslav is also fond of travelling and he shares my interests. Among places in Russia, I prefer vising Saint Petersburg, this city is incredible. I would love to live there someday…

As for things that don’t make me happy… To begin with, I hate boring weekends. Of course, that depends on me whether to consider a weekend boring or not, but I hate just sitting at home when the sun is shining and the weather is fine for walking and for visiting some interesting places.

On the other hand, I hate this situation when I should create something for every weekend. Why not just relax and find something interesting in this meditating practice? Why run somewhere and spend time on things that don’t interest or bother me? Perhaps, it is just that I can’t relax and keep quite. That’s a thing I would like to change someday. I believe, it’s better to feel internal harmony even with such a dissonance in your soul J

As for my job, I sometimes can’t stand minutes when I’m empty and no idea springs in my mind, especially it relates to preparation for lessons. Just imagine a situation when I ‘m sitting at my desk at work, with a pen in a hand and a blank sheet of paper ready to be competed with some fine ideas… but nothing happens and I just sit and wait. It’s awful! But I try to change methods of doing this, and I’ve achieved some results here: I gave up waiting and started doing something very different. For instance, I call somebody or visit a social network page or talk to someone on the phone for a very short period of time, and the ideas visit me. Not that fast, I should admit, but they are ready to come when I’m relaxed and keep calm.

God Almighty! It turned out to be challenging to write about my likes and dislikes. But at least I tried to be in my students’ shoes when they are supposed to provide me with a well-done written assignment and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon…

Pajamas Library

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Source: http://www.actualorganics.com/a-good-nights-sleep/reading-in-bed/

Modern students do not like to read. They are too busy liking photos in Facebook and instagramming. Some of them don’t read at all, not in their mother language, not in English. At least in my teaching practice I encountered such students, to tell the truth. But every teacher knows and realizes that reading is one of the most important parts of the language from the point of view of knowing new vocabulary, new ways of saying different things and express new ideas. How to make students read more?

This idea seems to me very amazing for using it with your students. I have recently heard one story about Israeli children, living in Tel-Aviv having so called Pajamas Library Program at schools. What is the essence of the program? Government-paid, this program turns out to be the most popular among pupils and their children. How to make children read more books? The same questions I am always asking when I am giving classes to adults. I guess, this idea was created for such teachers as me to help them to encourage students to read more. Now I would like to tell you how it works.

  1. The first thing you should decide as a teacher is what book you are going to read with students. My tip is to read classical English literature: short stories, humor stories by famous authors. Sometimes there are books for students with exercises, or you can create exercises yourself. In my English classroom I usually use “Select Readings”. It is a series of books meant for different levels. They are stuffed with lots of practice: pre-reading and post-reading tasks, ideas for communication, written tasks (essays, letters, presentations, etc.) and more tasks created for development of English skills. As soon as you personally choose the book, move on to the next step.
  2. You tell your students about a special program called “Pajamas Library”, and now you are going to realize this program in your classroom.
  3. Make sure your students understand ideas of this program. It depends on your specific needs and purposes of your group. If they do not read at all, except what is provided for them in the regular textbook, I would recommend to start reading once a week. If you have classes twice a week, in the framework of this program you should spend the whole lesson discussing the short story you have chosen.
  4. Imagine, tomorrow you are having a regular class. You give your students a story and tell them to read it just before going to bed the day before the class. That’s Pajamas Library! Also tell your students you are going to discuss their story the next day.
  5. During the lesson you come with materials and exercises and you do them together.
  6. Make sure your students give you feedback about the story and about the program itself. It can be conducted in a written form, you can make it with the help of using post-it notes, you can simply ask them to share in pairs and write down their ideas and suggestions.

It is supposed that during the lesson your students have a nice opportunity to talk, to discuss, to find new ideas and skills for writing essays, for instance. What’s next? After you are given a feedback from students, you continue suggest new stories for students and conduct such lessons, and ask for a feedback each time. Try at least 5 classes in the framework of the program. After that you can analyze and reflect on the program and decide whether to continue realizing it or not. I would be very happy if you write your ideas and suggestion in comments.

Hope to hear from you soon!