My dissertation

Sharing my recent MA dissertation for general interest. I say ‘general interest’, but I imagine the interest will be extremely specific! Here’s the title:

Pronunciation materials in an A2/B1 level British Council Adult General English course in Thailand – do they meet the needs of the learners?

The main reason I chose this topic is because it is applicable to my context and my own learners. I wanted to analyse our current resources and affect some kind of change, if any was needed. Alas, it has had very little impact.

In hindsight, I really regret choosing this topic. I enjoyed a lot of the reading, and the research has informed my own practice. However, I knew there were institutional constraints from the start. The sample size is so limited, it serves only to have an impact on my immediate context and nothing beyond that really. Plus, if I’m honest, there are a billion other topics in ELT I’m more interested in!

I don’t want to completely put you off, but the literature review is sparse, there are assumptions made about the value of the Lingua Franca Core, and some of the questioning methods are leading. Still, ya know, I’m accountable for that – my tutor was great and really pulled this study into line. Alan Pulverness, kudos!

If you find it useful, it’s there!

Evaluating course books – checklists

I’m currently studying a module in Materials Development through NILE online. It’s a really worthwhile course so far!

Unit two talked about evaluating materials, specifically course books. We were introduced to a range of checklists that could be used for evaluating a course book, and discussed the pros and cons of each. I can’t imagine everyone would find this topic interesting, but it was really topical for me – in the same week I was given a checklist to evaluate our new course book for teen classes. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on our own evaluation process and suggest some changes if necessary…

What makes a good checklist?

We looked at about six different checklists that were listed in McGrath (2002). In some of my jobs I’ve completed evaluations like this one from Harmer (1991:281) (more…)

Distance learning for teachers – is it right for you?

It’s a pleasure to introduce this guest post from Phil Wade. He shares some useful advice for teachers thinking of undertaking distance study.

I did my first TEFL course with i-to-i about 18 years ago and as a follow-up, I took a distance course. At that time, it was by mail so they sent me some books and tasks and I sent them back in a rather heavy envelope.

10 years later I started hearing about MOOCs and the Khan academy and looked into online TEFL MAs. It was tough as the idea of ‘distance study’ seemed to vary a lot between universities. There were some with residentials and others with weekend attendance but bolstered by ‘online modules’. This started changing so I jumped at the chance of taking what came to be called a ‘fully online course’. After that, I took the DELTA module 3 online, some LearnDash MOOCs, participated in the EVO sessions, completed 2 online coaching courses and recently started a fully online postgrad. I also moved to the other side of the screen, teaching online for a bit and tutoring the Cert iBET course.

I have learned a lot from studying online, and for a teacher who cannot relocate for a month or a year just to study it provides me access to the best of PD from my laptop. However, it does not suit everyone. Many classmates have fallen for one reason or another. The ‘motivation’ issue is not to be underestimated and the workload too. I’d like to share some questions you can ask yourself to see if distance study is for you. (more…)