Claire has had a busy couple of weeks. She paid a return visit to Rabat to work with the same group of Middle and High school English teachers on the LearnEnglish Teens (http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/) mapping project. During the two-day workshop they finalised mapping the content from Teens to their Year 9 & 10 coursebooks. The teachers also created lesson plans to accompany the Teens content that they will pilot with their students later this month. They designed some excellent lessons and Claire wishes them every success with the trial.
After Rabat Claire travelled to Liverpool to attend the 53rd International IATEFL Conference (https://conference.iatefl.org/). She focused her attention on sessions related to teaching with technology and trainer development and came away with a couple of ideas to pursue! Best of all she caught up with a number of former colleagues and friends. She was especially delighted to meet the Cuban team, who she had worked with last year with her colleague Alan Pulverness, TransformELT namely, Yailet Landrove, British Council, Dr Santiago Rivera Pérez, Ministry of Higher Education, Dr Eduardo Garbey, University of La Habana, and Zoe Dominguez, University of Matanzas.
Claire has recently returned from Uzbekistan, her third trip in six months, where she had been running the fifth in a series of NILE led workshops for teachers at the National Guard Institute, as part of a British Council managed teacher development project. This time her focus was developmental lesson observations designed to support the teachers in their work with Campaign, which was introduced in November. She was delighted to observe them in action and to see first-hand how well they are coping with the coursebook. Claire was really impressed by the amount of preparation they put into their lessons, their openness to constructive feedback, and their willingness to act upon it immediately, adapting their techniques by the very next observation.
She would like to thank the National Guard Institute for their warmth and hospitality, and the teachers for their friendship and generosity. Last, but not least, she would like to thank the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Mr Christopher Allan, for presenting the certificates on the final day, and the British Defence Attaché, Wing Commander Andrew Strefford for accompanying him.
Rob was also out and about last week. He was back in Skopje, Macedonia, working with the STANAG Testing Team, writing and moderating Listening items for Levels 2 and 3.
We’ve updated our publications on the McIlwraith Education website. It now has the thirteen books we have had published, a range of over twenty articles in books and journals and samples of our conference presentations. The books include Rob’s latest in The English Ideas Project series and Claire’s co-authored book on Blended Learning in ELT. Apart from the books I’ve edited, I have also included research that our former colleague, Alistair Fortune, now retired, and I carried out into the Primary and Secondary education systems in Egypt as well as two non-ELT books. The first of these is an oral history of the crofting community in North Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland and my self-help book, Coping with Bereavement.
The articles range from the use of the e-Delphi technique in ELT research to Language-in-Education planning in Tunisia and the Common European Framework.
The presentations include investigations into Blended Learning and English Language Policy Implementation in Egypt and Colombia.
Congratulations to Claire and Rob for successfully completing the Professional Certificate in Human Capital Investment Planning course, which they studied online with abdi Ltd. This means they are now accredited ‘in the leading methodology for planning, measuring and reporting the performance and impact of projects, programme and activities of all kinds tracked through human effort and performance’ (www.abdi.eu.com/services-overview/). They would like to thank their tutors Jeremy Harrison and Jane Massey for their excellent sessions and support, and are looking forward to putting their new found skills into practice.
Claire recently paid a flying visit to the beautiful and fascinating city of Rabat, Morocco’s capital. She was there to run a two-day workshop for English and subject teachers from Middle and High schools on the British Council’s LearnEnglish Teens website (http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/). The aims of the workshop were to familiarise the participants with the website’s extensive content and to present a template for them to map, in a principled way, this content against their English language coursebooks for Years 9 and 10. The teachers also had the opportunity to practise mapping the digital content, a task that they will complete post workshop in readiness for a short pilot study during which they will use LearnEnglish Teens with their students.
Claire would like to thank the participants for their hard work and insightful input during the workshop and to wish them every success with the pilot study.
Congratulations to North Macedonia on the signing of the NATO accession agreement in Brussels yesterday. This is the first step towards full NATO membership, and now all NATO countries need to ratify the agreement. Greece will go first.
Coincidentally, Rob is in Skopje this week working with the STANAG Testing Team on their level 2 and 3 speaking and writing tests, as reliable STANAG tests scores are a key component for interoperability within NATO at all levels, and for selecting the right personnel to take part in multinational peace support operations worldwide.
Rob spent last week in Belarus delivering a Masterclass in Teaching course for 14 Military Academy teachers at the Central Officer’s Club in Minsk. The course was jointly organised by the Military Academy, the Belarus MOD, the Defence Section of the British Embassy and the British Council in Ukraine. The revised British Council Certificate in Vocational English Language Teaching (CiVELT) course was used as the core of the programme, supplemented with McIlwraith Education materials.
The course considered all aspects of ESP teaching and the teachers were introduced to new ideas and activities for skills based lessons, and vocabulary and grammar teaching. The event was closed by HM Ambassador to Belarus, Ms Fiona Gibb, and Colonel Susha, Deputy Commandant for International Co-operation at the Military Academy.
Rob spent this last week in Novi Sad in Serbia training a group of military English teachers from Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro on behalf of the British Embassy in Belgrade. Nine teachers spent the week looking at planning different kinds of lessons, considering new ideas for reading skills lessons (the Deep Text and Dual Text approaches), developing listening and video lessons, and thinking about how to create better information gaps. At the end of the week, the participants worked in groups to develop lesson plans and materials based on the ideas explored in the seminar. These will now be polished, trialled and shared.
Rob spent last week in Skopje, Macedonia working with the Centre for Foreign Languages teaching team as they started the revision of their English language course curricula. The team looked through the current STANAG descriptors and identified what tasks and topics were not currently included in the curriculum and added these. Then all the course curricula were reviewed and revised in detail, the course length and number of hours were reconsidered, and the placement testing process was revised. The teachers now have to complete the revision process ready for the new curricula to be introduced in January 2020. Skopje is currently enjoying a lovely golden autumn and was beautiful in the warm sunshine.