Friday, 28 October 2011

Half term catch-up!

This has proved to be quite a busy but incredibly stimulating half term 'break'!

On Saturday and Sunday I attended the Language show in London, giving a talk on ICT on Saturday, hosting a show and tell alongside Joe Dale and ALL London committee stalwarts in the afternoon, enjoying a social with many language people in the evening 'Down the Albion' and giving a talk on Second Life on the Sunday. ALL London website has an account and pictures here, and my flickr account has downloadable pics here. I really enjoyed the talks I managed to attend and having the chance to 'catch up' with so many friends.

On Monday I was delighted to be invited to the French Institute by Dr Anne Preston and Professor Paul Seedhouse of Newcastle University to learn about the Digital French Kitchen. A bonus was to hear Graham Davies' thoughtful and succinct presentation on CALL over the past 30 years. See my account and pictures here. Main intended message: those who do not look into history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. Overwhelming evidence that there was a lot of good in the past which seems to have been 'forgotten'. We need to lead a campaign to 'Bring Back Granville!'

In the afternoon I attended the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) which is convened by Baroness Jean Coussins and meets at the House of Lords every two months to discuss issues relating to languages in the UK. Ann Carlisle spoke to us about how language skills are identified, developed and put into use by the London Metropolitan Police. Language skills are clearly a real 'plus' for police when dealing with such a multicultural community. The Lords posed some good questions (e.g. are applicants required to state language skills on application forms? Is there renumeration for those with extra language skills?)and I could not help thinking of ways in which the context could be used for the mutual benefit of school learners, the community and the police ...(cluedo .. Second Life simulations ... opportunity for communities to 'teach' the police?)

On Tuesday I arranged our third 'Passegitaliano' which took place in the evening in Second Life: a lovely get together of people who want to practise their Italian skills, meet real Italians, and explore interesting places in thee magical virtual 3D world. We went to a wonderful Halloween build created by the talented Dabici of the University of Washington. Karelia Kondor has written a blog post about it here.

Sadly my colleagues who put such a great deal of time into leading an excellent Duke of Edinbugh Award Scheme at school (over half of year 10 are doing the bronze award)were away over half term and could not take up the offer of accompanying 6 of our Gold Award students to St James' Palace. I was really privileged to be asked to go in their place, and I just felt so proud of these young people who had committed their own energy and skills to completing the award. The Earl of Wessex and the DofE volunteers created a very special event for the young people, their parents and others. A bonus was to meet and hear Simon Callow who hosted our room.

In the afternoon I went over to the LanguageLab / English City offices near Chancery Lane to see how they operate. I receieved a really friendly welcome, I was videoed for the student blog, and treated to a lovely coffee and chat. Pictures here.

Thursday I up-dated the ALL London website where you can now follow links and read about the first ALL London committee meeting at Linguascope offices, the PGCE event at the Institute of London (thanks to Cat for arranging this)and my latest reference sheet about Second Life. In the evening, I attended the regular staff meeting in English City in the form of my English teacher avatar, Kara Ashland. She is /I am (!) planning to host a games show along the lines of 'Celebrity Squares' in English City in the near future.

On Friday I continued to prepare for the forthcoming ALL events in January and June. They are going to be fantastic! Saturday January 21st: Joe Dale, Greg Horton and Sara Sullivan at The French Institute ... Saturday June 16th 2012, well-known speaker and writer in the English teaching world Jeremy Harmer, alongside the ever-popular Rachel Hawkes and James Stubbs at the European Commission. We are going to be spoilt!

It's Saturday, and I look forward to a day of being sorted out by my parents before I go to Karelia's fourth birthday party in Second Life (she is sooo excited!!!! .. there is an open invitation to anyone! ...)then on Sunday I just might start practising the 'cello part for the forthcoming school production of 'The Wizard of Oz'. Hope you are impressed, Dr Taylor!

Phew. Not long to Christmas ....!

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