Monday, July 31, 2006

Help with pronounciation


One of the characteristics that Greek learners have when speaking English is their use of "ahhh" as a filler. Basically, a filler is a sound or phrase that a speaker uses to "fill in" gaps in his/her speech so as to show their listener that they haven't finished speaking yet and so keep their turn going. In English we use things such as "uhmm", "you know", "well" etc. to do this. In Greek people often use "ahhh" either on its own or attached to to the end of the last word spoken. An extreme example of this would sound like this,

Iahh wouldahh likahh to ahhh talkahhh about ahhh the ahhh exam.

This can make their English hard to understand (as the individual words tend to merge together) and, of course, it makes it hard to figure out when they've actually finished speaking and so when it is ok to speak yourself.

The problem is that the vast majority of students have no idea that they are doing this and so continue to make the same mistake. Whilst endless hours are spent working on grammar and vocabulary, little, if any time is spent on pronounciation practice in most lessons.

Here is an exercise that helps students tackle this by making them aware of their own voice.

Lesson plan

1 Explain to students that we're going to play a speaking game. All they have to do is speak for a long as they can about an everyday subject e.g.

food etc.

2 Choose a volunteer (preferably somebody who is not shy about talking in front of the others).

3 Tell them that this game has just one rule; that they must speak as long as they can without saying "ahhh". You may need to demonstrate what you mean as most students are unaware that they even use this expression in their speech.

4 Time the student and allow them to speak. On average most students doing this for the first time last less than 10 seconds. It may even be a good idea to record them (using, say a mobile phone) as often the students will vehemently deny that they used "ahhh". The use of the sound is so deeply ingrained that we fail to register it as unusual or wrong. It is only when they hear the recording that they realise they've been using it.

5 Now explain to the students what a filler is and how in English the same job is carried out by other sounds or expressions e.g. "uhmm", "you know" etc. Show them how to use the English fillers.

6 Now ask the student who volunteered to have another go at the game, this time using English rather than Greek fillers. You should see a marked improvement.

7 Students play the game in pairs, each one timing (and, if possible, recording) the other.

8 Swop roles a few times.

You need to explain to the students that such deeply ingrained mistakes do not disappear overnight. However, as they have realised that there is a problem, solving it becomes much, much easier. Also make sure they understand that just by substituting a couple of sounds their English will be much more natural.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

V for Vendetta

I saw this film over the weekend and though it is based on a comic strip it has a lot of themes that made me think as a grown - up about the nature of power and the role of the State. What it also made me do is look more carefully at the role of TV and especially that of hate TV. In the movie the regime uses Talk TV as effective tool to inspire hate and fear and thus unquestioning obedience.

The unnerving thing was how close in form and content were the the programmes shown in the film and the programmes broadcast regularly on the smaller channels here in Thessaloniki. They promote national chauvanism, hatred of other groups and endless ranting just like in the movie and God help us if they ever get into any position of power.

See here for lesson plan

Great PR home goals

Blogging, it seems, can be dangerous for your professional health. One of the blogs I read from time to time is La Petite Anglaise and I was astonished to hear that she has been fired because of her blogging activities. According to her employers, the blog, "brought the firm into disrepute", which is very strange as I had no idea what company she worked for, even the fact that it was British, not French - so much for that accusation.

In addition she was accused of the terrible crime of using the company's computer for personal business. Shock, horror. This is unprecedented. Somebody using their PC for extracurricular activities!!!!! Just as well they still don't have the birch for such outrageous abuses of our gallant employer's system.

Of course, what the company (Dixon Wilson Chartered Accountants) has done is generate the kind of bad publicity (see here) that its rivals could only dream of. Feel free to do as I did and send them an email which said that with management decisions such as these I wouldn't trust them to audit my daughter's piggy bank, let alone manage a business account.

See here for contact details

As PR a home goal it's up there with the McLibel case in the 90's.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boring, maybe. Bored, no.

At last some good news about being a teacher. It seems that we are less likely, at least in the UK, to be bored with our jobs. I remember when I finished university and started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life as I went for various interviews with large companies. After each one I felt a sense of dread that this would be my life for the next 40 years, toiling away in some drab, beige office, shuffling bits of paper from one place to another. (I saw The Office last Christmas and shuddered at the memory of working in places like this during summer holidays and immediately after college).

Eventually, I realised that I was far better off teaching, even if the pay is lousy. At least I get to think for myself, create new ideas and use my brain for something other than figuring out ways not to work. If I do get bored then the only person to blame is me, since I have the means to do something else in the classroom, to try something different.

Teaching 'the least boring job'

pupils and teacher
Most teachers said 'no two days were the same'
Graduates who choose a career in teaching are least likely to be bored in their job, a survey suggests.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools questioned more than 2,000 graduates aged 21 to 45, finding more than half were regularly bored at work.

Those in administrative and manufacturing jobs were the most frustrated, followed by marketing and sales employees.

Teachers and healthcare workers were the least bored.

See here for the rest of the story

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Infection - Scott Sigler

As well as catching up on my reading I've been listening to some audio books over the last few weeks. If you like scf-fi/horror then I would definitely recommend Infection by Scott Sigler
which can be downloaded for free. I've also listened to Earthcore and Ancestor by Scott which were also great fun. As well as being interesting stories (with more twists than a goat trail over the Alps) he gives a great performance which makes the books all the more addictive.

Just be warned Scott's books are not for the faint-hearted.

I have also given Kostas, my new student The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Archer as an alternative to a traditional book. The idea is that he listens to a chapter a week and then we discuss it. I chose it as he love sci-fi fantasy and the main character is about his age. Also all the students I gave it to last year loved it.

Another random thought

As I was digging out my camping stuff from the cupboard last week I came across Focus On Proficiency by Sue O'Connell. Anyone who taught advanced level English here in Greece during the 90's will be familiar with the book as it was used by half the schools here. Looking at it once more I was appalled by the thought of how little has changed in EFL/ESL over the last 15 years.

We still use the same awful approaches with their stodgy subject matter and worn out ways of teaching. With the exception of the introduction of colour illustrations I can't see any real difference between this book and the ones I'm obliged to use now in school. I have tried repeatedly over the last few years to persuade the school to abandon the idea of a set book at advanced levels (the range of language and skills means that no one book will ever be enough) and yet the idea has always been rejected as impractical.

Luckily, I am free to do what I like when it comes to private students which means they get a far richer language experience which includes blogging, podcasts, audio books and all the tech goodies which we now have at our disposal, as well as literature, films and other more traditional materials.

Over the years I have moved further and further away from the mass produced, globally orientated pap that the publishing houses pump out every year. This is not snobbery on my part but rather the realisation that materials designed to please everyone, do nothing of the sort.

However, I do feel somewhat of a fraud sometimes when I post ideas for using technology in the class even though I don't often get chance to try them out in real life.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The pen is mightier than the sword

And the digital camera comes a near third. The drilling has been going on all day. It got to 9.30pm when I decided that this is enough and so rather than shout at them (they wouldn't have heard me anyway, the noise fron the drill was way too loud) I walked up to them with the digital camera and videoed them and told them I was off to the police station and local council to make an official complaint.

I'm not sure if they heard any of that, but the fact that someone was filming then seemed to freak them out. I didn't stick around to debate the matter as one of the builders, who looked as if he could bench press an elephant, was doing a pretty good impression of De Niro in Taxi driver, you know,

" You looking at me ?, You looking AT ME!"

Still, it worked, as within ten minutes they'd stopped and packed up their stuff.

What really annoys me is that, once again, everyone complains but nobody does anything

camping, camping, camping

First full day back in the city and boy is it hot. I made the mistake of going into the centre, which is like a cauldron, or perhaps more accurately, like being in a sauna with a blanket over your head since the humidity makes the 35c heat seem much worse. Still, anything was better than listening to a pneumatic drill for eight hours non-stop.

I left Thessaloniki last week to get to the beach and camp under pine trees next to the sea which has really mellowed me out, I needed a break from the noise and fumes of the city. The whole trip was made even better by the fact that I got to hang out with friends, some of whom I haven't seen for a long time. The place where we camped is near Platanitsi, Halkidiki, a huge camp site that you can sneak into and set up your tent and they don't even know you're there, especially if you go there by bike through the woods. Just don't tell them you heard it from me, LOL.

I also spent a night at Armenistis camp site, (no sneaking in, alas) which was fun. They have a really good beach bar and on Saturday night the place was full of people having a great time dancing and listening to the DJ's excellent choice of music. Unlike most bars they seem to have realised the the 80's are over and that listening to the same music for 20 years is not cool. It was fun to listen to new stuff.

On the other hand, Platinitsi beach seemed to hosting a Spinal Tap talent lookalike contest. I thought that the band playing was into some serious parody until I realised with horror that it was just plain serious. Still, if you're into late 70's haircuts and air guitaring then this was ground zero.

I also bumped into a couple of my ex-students there, one whose name I won't mention (yes Savvas, I mean you) was the worse for wear and as well as doing figures of eight decided at midnight that it was the perfect time to go for a swim, fully clothed. Luckily, for him, there with a bunch of his friends to make sure he got back to his tent in one piece, if a little chilly. I wouldn't have liked to have rented space in his skull the following morning.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm back

I got back from the beach today. I feel very chilled out after having spent the last few days camping under the stars next to a gorgeous beach. The city seems very hot and sticky, there is no hint of a breeze. Still, as wonderful as the beach was it's nice to have a hot shower, soft bed and the comforts of civilisation.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Angry old men

I'm off to the beach. It's just too noisy here to think as they're drilling from 7am to 3pm every day. A new apartment is being built, which means they're digging foundations through 5m of bedrock, hence the incessent pounding.

If they were not enough the neigbourhood bigot/human megaphone has taken it upon himself to hold court every evening on what ails Greece (basically, all these bloody foreigners, according to him). He is however, an equal opportunity racist which means that everyone is inferior to Greeks, regardless of creed, race or origin. Though he does have a particularly venomous hatred of Albanians and Americans.

Now this may sound a little quaint but after a four hour rant (the guy has only two modes of communication; shouting and ranting) it gets very annoying. I finally lost my rag with him last night and told that he could shove his racist crap up his a## and give the rest a break from his endless foul - mouthed meanderings. A little later there was a knock on the door. It was some of the other people in the building (Greek, by the way) who wanted to thank me for saying something to the idiot.

Anyway I'm out here later on today, I'll take the Vespa and set up my tent with some friends by the sea in Halkidiki.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

a new student

I've started doing lessons with a new student, Kostas, who wants to take the FCE exams this December and as part of our lessons I've helped him set up his own blog. Also I'm trying to bring him up to speed with stuff such as MP3s.

I hope to take advantage of all this technology in the coming months to help him prepare for the exams. I think blogs really give students a sense of audience which is missing if they think that only their teacher will see their work. If they believe that the rest of the world is watching then they make that extra effort to be correct, which pays off in better writing in the exams.

Anyway why don't you check out his site. I think he's made a great start.

The Dialectiser strikes again

In keeping with my stated goal of keeping in touch with ordinary folks, I've included the latest BBC report in cockney.

YerTube 'its 100m videos per day

YerTube 'as launched a video clip cultureInternet video site YerTube 'as said its users are now wotchin' more than 100 million videos per day. YerTube is the chuffin' leadin' net video dahnOld Kent Road site in the US, right, wiv 29% of the country's multimedia market, accordin' ter traffic monitor 'itwise.

The bleedin' site specialises in short, right, home-made, comic videos but a growin' number of pirated clips from mainstream broadcasters can be found also. Last monff 2.5 billion videos were wotched on YerTube, the bloody company said.

YerTube said that its videos account for 60% of all videos wotched online in the bloomin' US, right? It 'as almost 20 million visitors ter the site each monff, accordin' ter Nielsen/NetRatings.

See here for the original report

And here for a cockney slang dictionary.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Dialectizer

I think that this blog has been getting a tad high-brow for some readers liking. So with the aid of the Dialectizer I've decided to reach out to the masses, starting with North America. Here is my previous post in redneck.

Usin' songs in yer EFL/ESL lessons

ah knows ah said I'd leave off th' ideas fo' a spell but this hyar came t'me on th' bus ride back fum th' centre of Thessaloniki an' it seemed too fine t'waste. This hyar exercise is a fine way fo' students t'express opinions an' express diffrunt degrees of sartinty an' unsartinty, i.e. modal vahbs etc.

Lesson plan

1 Explain t'th' students thet yer a-gonna play a song an' all yer hankerin' them t'do is write down ten wo'ds thet come t'mind when they hear it.

2 Play Yer Purdy by James Blunt. (Yo' c'd try To'rentspy, but yo' didn't hear thet fum me, ok?)

3 Students then wawk togither in pairs o' groups, explainin' which wo'ds they choose an' whuffo'.

4 Han' out th' lyrics t'th' song an' explain t'th' students thet they is a-gonna write down four columns;

-Whut in tarnation we knows fo' sho'nuff about him
-Whut in tarnation we kin guess about him
-Whut in tarnation we knows fo' sho'nuff about her
-Whut in tarnation we kin guess about her


"Yer Purdy"

Mah life is brilliant.

Mah life is brilliant.
Mah love is pure.
ah sar an angel, ah reckon.
Of thet ah's sho'nuff.
She smiled at me on th' subway.
She was wif t'other man, as enny fool kin plainly see.
But ah won't lose no sleep on thet,
'Cause I've got a plan, as enny fool kin plainly see.

Yer right purdy. Yer right purdy.
Yer right purdy, it's true.
ah sar yer face in a crowded place,
An' ah doesn't knows whut t'do,
'Cause I'll nevah be wif yo'.

Yeah, she caught mah eye,
As we walked on by.
She c'd see fum mah face thet ah was,
Flyin' high, [ - video/radio edited vahshun]
F##kin' high, [ - CD vahshun]
An' ah doesn't reckon thet I'll see her agin,
But we shared a moment thet will last till th' end, cuss it all t' tarnation.

Yer right purdy. Yer right purdy.
Yer right purdy, it's true.
ah sar yer face in a crowded place,
An' ah doesn't knows whut t'do,
'Cause I'll nevah be wif yo'.

Yer right purdy. Yer right purdy.
Yer right purdy, it's true.
Thar muss be an angel wif a smile on her face,
When she thunk up thet ah sh'd be wif yo'.
But it's time t'face th' truth,
ah will nevah be wif yo'

This hyar might be a fine point t'go on over modal vahbs sech as might be, c'd be, etc. an' other ways of expressin' sartinty/unsartinty sech as perhaps, it seems thet etc.

5 Play th' song agin an' student.

6 Etch student fills in their four columns an' then compares their answers wif their partner.

7 Elicit answers fum th' whole class.

8 As a foller up exercise, student write a sho't dialogue, imagin' thet th' two varmints meet gain in a cafe of bar. Yo' c'd even ax them t'ack it out an' reco'd it usin' a video camera. Th' class c'd then vote on th' bess perfo'mance.

Using songs in your EFL/ESL lessons

I know I said I'd leave off the ideas for a while but this came to me on the bus ride back from the centre of Thessaloniki and it seemed too good to waste. This exercise is a good way for students to express opinions and different degrees of certainty and uncertainty, i.e. modal verbs etc.

Lesson plan

1 Explain to the students that you are going to play a song and all you want them to do is write down ten words that come to mind when they hear it.

2 Play Your Beautiful by James Blunt. (You could try Torrentspy, but you didn't hear that from me, ok?)

3 Students then work together in pairs or groups, explaining which words they choose and why.

4 Hand out the lyrics to the song and explain to the students that they are going to write down four columns;

-What we know for sure about him
-What we can guess about him
-What we know for sure about her
-What we can guess about her


"You're Beautiful"

My life is brilliant.

My life is brilliant.
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I'm sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won't lose no sleep on that,
'Cause I've got a plan.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

Yeah, she caught my eye,
As we walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,
Flying high, [ - video/radio edited version]
F##king high, [ - CD version]
And I don't think that I'll see her again,
But we shared a moment that will last till the end.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face,
When she thought up that I should be with you.
But it's time to face the truth,
I will never be with you

This might be a good point to go over modal verbs such as might be, could be, will have been etc. and other ways of expressing certainty/uncertainty such as perhaps, it seems that etc.

5 Play the song again and student.

6 Each student fills in their four columns and then compares their answers with their partner.

7 Elicit answers from the whole class.

8 As a follow up exercise, student write a short dialogue, imagining that the two people meet again in a cafe or bar. The class could then vote on the best performance.

You could even ask them to act it out and record it using a video camera then post it on YouTube.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gulag Orkestar - Beirut

Flipping through my ipod I found Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) from the album Gulag Orkestar by Beirut ( which has got to be a cool name) and it has really put the hook in me. It's a little like Goran Bregovic,but a little slower and not quite so manic. A sad, meloncholic confusion of sounds and instruments, created by a 19 year old guy from Albuquerque which is about as awe inspiring as it gets. If you check out his site you can hear some of his music.

Thank God for bad TV

There is an old quote by Grouch Marx;

"I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book."

I guess I'm starting to understand exactly what he meant. Since I got back to Greece I've been reading like crazy and I think part of the reason is that the TV channels have decided that as it is summer anyone with an IQ higher than room temperature is not sitting in front of their TV. If this isn't a self-fulfilling prophesy then I need to look up the definition.

Yep, we have a fine of choice of quality entertainment at our disposal, which ranges from dire Brazilian soaps, badly dubbed into Greek to endless hours of people trying to sell you rugs crafted by the simple, hard - working, indigenous peoples of ... wherever. After zapping through all this trash you just want to switch off. Well, their loss is literature's gain.

By the way I've finished The Handmaid's Tale. Now, there's a great read. If anyone in Thessaloniki feels like reading it in English, email me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Notes from another world

I used to think that childhoods were like aircraft landings - anyone you walk away from in one piece is a good one. However, when you read about some of the terrible things people have done to children, even their own you start to realise that this is not true, that many don't just walk away, a little battered but basically intact.

I found a extremely well-written blog today and was alternatively moved and shocked by a Kristina's fight to come to terms with the terrible time she suffered at the hands of her parents. I didn't know which emotion to feel, alternating between anger, pity and admiration as I read Kristina's account of growing up with an abusive father and deeply flawed mother.

Despite all the crap she went through she has gone on to get an MBA and is doing her CPA. Not exactly a happy ending I guess, as in these cases there is no such thing, but a wonderful story about someone overcoming the past, rather than letting it destroy her.

I'm not sure what the netiquette is about linking to blogs in cases like this, but I assume that since Kristina has used her real name I'm not revealing anything she would want kept private.

Lightning Rod Girl

However, I must warn you that some of the things she talks about in her blog are raw and sometimes harrowing.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stray thoughts, like bullets can be dangerous

The problem with books is that they make you think. Really good books make you think more than is comfortable. They stay in you head, dogging your thought, intruding on everyday life in a way that makes you see thing differently, whether you like it or not. They stray from their boundaries into how you see the world and people around you. It is very disconcerting, almost like a dream, or even nightmare that doesn't stop once you wake up.

Many of the books I've read lately have fallen into this category, but none more than The Handmaid's Tale. Reading it today I couldn't help but remember The Education of Frederic Douglass, an American Slave by Frederic Douglass(click here for an excellent reading) when the main character realises the she is now totally dependent on her husband economically. It reminded me of the chapter in Douglass's book which charts the awful change that a women who becomes a slave owner for the first time goes through.


Feeding the mind

The one good thing about doing nothing is that it allows you to do all kinds of interesting stuff such as reading books you might never have read otherwise. One of the books I aim to read, if I can find it here, is The Joy of Laziness. Although I haven't managed to get my hands on it yet, I have been keeping in practice with some light laziness over the last month, including ;

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
(but you know that already, don't you).
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Tourism by Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal
Little Children by Tom Perrotta
Neuromancer by William Gibson
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Actually, the last two were audio books so, I guess that's not reading per se. Next on my list is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I'd forgotten how well-written it was.

Also, on a less high-brow note, I've been making my way through the Firefly box set, which is a 360 degree geekorama. Really great fun.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A change of mind

I've decided that I'm not really in a teaching mood, the summer has taken hold and the last thing on my mind is thinking of new ideas. So I've decided that I need a break from the serious stuff, at least. My brain has turned to mush it seems, so I'll take the hint and leave the creative side of the blog till autumn.I have sat in front of the screen waiting for inspiration and have come up blank.

I will be posting odd tidbits and thoughts though.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bringing it all back

While shuffling through some of the music I got back home I came across America by Simon and Garfunkel( see here for the lyrics) on my ipod and suddenly, I'm on the hard shoulder of a motorway slip road thumb out, waiting to get a lift to god knows where.

The song was one of a compilation (along with Jimi Hendrix, The Smiths and The Velvet underground - deeply uncool I know but it was the 80's so I wasn't the only one) I had made, just for the hitchhiking "adventure" I had decided to embark upon during my first summer break as a university student. I didn't have any money so I decided to hitch around the UK visiting various friends I had made during my first year at college.

I guess waiting for a lift just outside Birminghman doesn't quite have the same romantic ring to it that Simon and Garfunkel's New Jersey turnpike has and Liverpool isn't Pittsburg. Got to see a lot of Britain though and talk with people I never would have met otherwise and have a lot of coversations that you don't usually have, at least not with complete strangers.

Lesson ideas

I'll be creating a listening and speaking course for advanced level students. The aim of these lessons is to help students practice the language they already have at their disposal. As a result it will not involve teaching much new in the way of vocabulary and grammar. The vast majority of the language needed will come from the students themsleves.

I'll be using DVDs, podcasts, songs, as well as more traditional materials such as photocopies and good old fashioned imagination. Unlike most of the stuff I've talked about in this blog it will be done completely without the aid of the internet, at least in the classroom. Not as glamourous the web 2.0 applications I've mentioned, but necessary given the technological limitations of my teaching situation. Looking on the bright side the lessons are great fun and have worked pretty well in the past.

Here is a taste.

Writing an accident report


a video/dvd with an accident scene e.g. Pulp Fiction, The Bourne supremacy or The Witness


1 Ask students if they have ever been involved in or seen a car accident.

2 Ask students to think of words connected with accidents (in Greek or English).

3 Divide words into verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs. If necessary add more to the lists.

4 Explain to students that some of them are going to see video of a car crash.

5 Divide the class into two groups. One group will be police officers investigating the crash, the other group eye witnesses.

6 The police officers leave the class and write down a list of six to eight questions that they should ask the eye witnesses.

e.g. What did you see ?
When did the acident happen?
Who was to blame ?

7 Show the eye witnesses the video just once. Ask them to write down what happened.

8 The police officers come back in and interview the eye witnesses, making sure they write down their answers.

9 The two groups divide into groups of three or four then work on a group description of the accident.

10 Each group reads out their descrition and students discuss possible differences etc.

11 Explain to students that they are going to write an accident report for the insurance company. This is very useful if your students are doing the FCE exam

12 Go through the format of a report and how we are going to organise our information.

-What information does the company need to know ?
-How can we organise it in such a way as it is quick and easy to read?

13 Students write up a rough version of their report in 10 to 15 mins.

14 Take a quick look at the reports, then ask students to write up a final version of the reports for homework.

Weird but true, if you put "podcasts in the classroom" in Google this site ranks higher than Apple. Now what exactly are those Mac guys doing? Not much, by the looks of it, I'd say.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Back in Greece

I'm now back in Greece and back on my verrry sloooowwww dial-up connection. It's a little bit like handing in the keys to your sports car and being given a bus pass in return. Still, gripes aside, I'm signing up for a ADSL line sometime in the next week. When they'll get round to hooking me up is another thing.

Ironically, I left England in 32c heatwave only to arrive in a stormy, cool Greece where the temperature was just 20c. Now there is a strange reversal.

When I get organised I'll start on my Listening and Speaking course for CPE level in the next few days (I'll do it as a Wikispace page). As soon as I feel like doing some typing. I guess blogging is like exercise, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to get started again.

On the other hand I have an interview for a new private lesson today, so that means I should be working soon and so get back into a more productive routine.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Swag and booty

Well, my holiday is almost over, and being the conscientious traveller that I am I have already packed my bags, ready for departure tomorrow morning. Paranoid, moi? In the luggage are a load of cultural goodies that I'll be taking back to Greece with me.

First on my lists was books for myself and my daughter. Of course, there are bookshops in Thessaloniki which sell foreign language books but the choice is somewhat limited and the prices prohibitive. I suppose I could chose to read stuff in Greek, since most of the international best sellers are translated, but that's too much like work. I find it harder to lose myself in the reading experience.

However, access to my brother's high speed internet connection has allowed me to download loads of stuff which I be listening to over the next few months. Once again audio books were first on my list of things to get. I have also taken the opportunity to raid my brother's record collection and I think I've doubled it in size (basically, I grabbed anything that I hadn't heard of).

The audio books include,

HG Wells
George Orwell
Iain M. Banks
William Gibson
Lemony Snicket
Noam Chomsky
Ray Bradbury
Leon Trotsky
ER Burroughs
Jane Austin

(check out Librivox)

There is far too much music to list.

Anyone interested in a copy of the audio books, get in touch via my email on the site. They're a great alternative to traditional set books and since they are in mp3 format students can listen to them on a mp3 player or even their mobile phone i.e anytime or place they like. Not to mention the fact that listening to this stuff on your mobile phone is less likely to get you ridiculed than carrying around a school book.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I'm in the wrong line of business

Welcome to the home of the grill master. Yep, if you wish to learn the secrets of the perfect bbq then look no further. I am giving up my day job and going to set up a Zen school of outdoor cooking which will combine the mystic secrets I picked up while in a Shaolin monestery/burger joint in southern Tibet with the exotic air of British cooking, which as everyone knows, is almost as highly coveted as British dental work. LOL.

If you put "getting grills started" in Google, I'm number two on the list. Well, I'm open to any interesting business proposal!!!!

The end is near

My holiday in England is almost over and whilst I don't have to start back at school for a long while yet, I do have work to do. In a moment of rash bravado I told my boss that I'd design a course for listening and speaking skills at CPE level using just my own material. Me and my big mouth.

Still, I have most of the materials already laying around in dusty folders and since I'm at a loose end for the next month what I want to do is post the course on another wiki space (see my previous one, he says in a moment of shameless self-aggrandisement). With any luck I'll be able to find authentic listening materials which I can link directly to it. So, enough of my frivolous ramblings, it's back to the serious stuff next week.

Ohhhh stop your moaning there at the back.