Halloween Extra

Hello everyone!

It’s been a long time since I posted something useful. Today here comes my new post about extracurricular activity with my students involved.

You know, I’m fond of having fun and that’s why extras are my favourite activities considering all of my students to be very fond of them too and since they are very creative and talented. I´ve already written blog-posts about some extras in the office where I work as a Business English Teacher, including Skype Status Activity, English Day and Poetry Day. This time it was Halloween as one of the ideas of an extracurricular activity, so I just gave it a shot. And my blog-post today is how I managed to prepare it, discuss it with my fellow teachers and conduct it.

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At the preparation stage I had been looking for some activities which the participants could use to speak out, to discuss. So I had chosen mingling activity with coloured slips of paper to form pairs. I projected a question:

Do you think it is okay to celebrate Halloween in such institutions as kindergartens, schools and universities in Russia?

Coloured slips of paper helped to form pairs and I let the participants to discuss the question above in pairs.

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Then the participants who answered ‘yes’ formed a team, and those who said ‘no’ formed another team. So we had 2 teams ready for the further activities. There were about 20 people involved.

Halloween is a very popular celebration, but I had not been sure that my students knew its traditions, so I asked the teams to recall all associations with Halloween celebration. After 3 minutes the lists were ready and we could compare them and then I projected Halloween vocabulary slide so that the teams could add some words to their lists and ask questions. There were not many questions, but this activity helped some of them to be more confident. For the majority of them such extras in English happened for the first time. I would like to thank Olya Sergeeva, my colleague from St.Pete for her advice during our chat at the preparation stage.

I also would like to thank Tekhnologik for an awesome idea of ‘Trick or Treat‘ quiz. My colleague from St.Pete Liudmila Vasileva created a wonderful Halloween quiz using ideas posted at Tekhnologik. So I just had to use it and be grateful to her! This activity turned out to be the most stimulating and appealing with an educational twist.

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Though it was the last activity of the Party, now I want to share some materials that I did not manage to use because of time restrictions.

  1. Spooky Idioms. Olya suggested playing ‘Call My Bluff‘ using those idioms and I absolutely liked the idea. I’m fond of idioms and this time it might have been a nice opportunity to introduce some of them. I’ll definitely try them out with my students in a form of a warm-up.
  2. Halloween Tongue Twisters. They always involve a lot of fun, but this time due to time restrictions I did not manage to use them. It’s one of the ideas I want to realize later.

The tastiest moment of the Party was prepared and created by our HR manager Natalya and I would like to thank her for making this idea real and tasty.

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On the whole, it was my first experience of such an activity in the office and I liked it.
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I’d like to thank my students and my colleagues for making this Party incredible and memorable.

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a wonderful working week!

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Travel, learn, make friends

Hi everyone!

Yesterday after reading a lovely post by Sandy Millin with wonderful pictures of the Crimea that I love soooo much I decided to post about my favourite place of visiting, but to add some self-development flavor and somehow things connected to language learning. And here goes. Today my post is not related to ELT, but who told I was going to post only about those things? 🙂

I love Saint Petersburg very much, or simply, I am crazy about that. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, let alone Russia and places I’ve ever visited. I’m not really into quoting phrases from guidebooks, but it is true that this place is incredibly awesome and just gorgeous. My love for it is very old, I visited this city for the first time when I was a schoolgirl. Then I worked for several years (or it’s better to say “summers” for a tour agency, so I travelled there almost every weekend as a part of my working project during summer holidays when I was a student). Now I travel to St.Pete every 2-3 months and this city deserves the prize for the most popular place of the year where I can just walk along Nevskiy avenue for about 3-5 hours on foot, enjoying the views, taking photos of cathedrals and palaces, eating ice-cream, visiting small and cozy coffee shops, sitting on benches in the embankments of the Neva river and feeling myself like a St.Pete citizen who enjoys walking there every single day.

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One more thing I found out in St.Pete a year ago is a speaking club of the company World Language Café. All meetings take place in a café where the organizers invite a native speaker. So every Sunday there’s a Spanish Breakfast meeting where a native speaker from Spain or Latin America comes to talk to those who want to improve their Spanish skills. In my case it is Spanish, I use it as my second foreign language and I’m quite fluent in it. And World Language Café organizes meetings with native speakers of other popular foreign languages: English, French, Italian, German and even Finnish.

I found my first experience very inviting to keep on attending those meetings and I do it regularly (when coming to the city) and what I really like about it is that I know that however busy I am during my visit, I am always free on Sunday for the Spanish meeting. I know I’ll have 2 hours of speaking and listening, and discussing and socializing, but also I’ll have a hometask (usually consisting of an article to be read or a survey to be completed). That really does not matter I won’t come the next weekend, the point is a follow-up task that needs to be done and I always enjoy doing it.

I love socializing and those Spanish meetings were very nice place to do it. When I’m going to visit, I usually write to 3-4 people I really want to see and they always come. Because they love to see me. It’s just amazing and almost unbelievable. They know I live far from them and they want to see me my every visit. There are quite a few people who are English teachers, so we always have common topics for discussion. Despite the fact that we live far from each other, we are very glad to meet again and share the news.

So to conclude… Looking back, I wanted to make this post informative and pleasant for reading and I wanted to focus on something important: things that make me happy and people who make me smile 🙂 I don’t know if anybody is going to like this post, but I’d say I enjoyed writing it and it turned to be very personal and… today I’m leaving for St.Pete and I’m attending my favourite Spanish Breakfast on Sunday with my friends.

Have a nice weekend and thanks for reading!

Me and my son Yaroslav on a very cold June day (2015). St. Petersburg 🙂IMG_0844

xxx

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!