A Post Before I Go

Today I’m getting on a plane and heading to New Zealand to present at the CLESOL conference.  I’m nervous.  I’ve checked to make sure I have my passport four times since I got to school.  I keep opening my bag to make sure the flash drive, and flash drive back-up of the flash drive are still in their respective pockets.  And I’ve driven my wife crazy asking her to listen to my presentation just one more time.  I wonder if this gets any easier?  I also spent the first 10 minutes of class today apologizing to my students because I will be gone for a week.  Well, not just apologizing, I also gave a mini-version of the presentation I will be doing in NZ.  It’s about some micro-activities to build English listening skills.  My blog is peppered with examples of the activities I’m going to talk about, so I won’t take up more space here going into detail.  But before I presented to a group of teachers across the ocean, I felt my students deserved to know that their hard work in class had helped change my ideas about how to teach listening.  Most of the content of the lecture they have heard in class as I was teaching them the past two months.  What they haven’t heard (or seen) is how their difficulties in listening for stress or their development helped to shape the activities we did in class.  They didn’t know that I only added a dictation component to the activities because they had gotten so adept at segmenting out separate words from speech.  They didn’t know that because they enjoyed identifying sense groups, I expanded the sense group activities.  And they didn’t know that, as a class, they went from being able to identify 46% of words in spoken conversation to identifying 96% of those same words.  I took a few minutes of class time to let them know that what they did in class was going to be shared with English teachers from around the world.  And one of the students, Y-kun started smiling.  When I finished, he said, “Kevin, is it true?  Is all of that really true?”  I assured him it was.  It was true.  More than that, without their help, it would never have been possible.  Then I said thank you.  I bowed low.  I counted to three.  When I stood up, I started the lesson proper.  I’m heading off to New Zealand to present at the CLESOL conference in a few hours.  I’m nervous.  But mostly I’m grateful to my students for helping me explore what this learning of English thing is all about.  And relieved to know that no matter what happens with my presentation, they will be waiting to keep exploring when I get back.
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11 thoughts on “A Post Before I Go

  1. What a beautiful and inspiring post. Good luck with your presentation, although I know you don't need it. You have inspired students and encouraged them to learn, and succeeded, and thats all a teacher can hope for at the end of the day 🙂 Congratulations!Ava

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  2. Hello Ava and thanks for such a lovely comment. I do hope my students have found inspiration in how there work has helped to make me a more effective teacher. And I can't wait to get back to school and report to them on what other teachers had to say. Over the past few months I've realized the writing and presenting, aside from bringing what happens in the classroom out of the classroom, can also serve as a way to invite the world into the classroom as well. I hope to make more use of it in this way in the future.kevin

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  3. Hi Leo,I still have a day until I present, so a bit more time to practice. I'd be thrilled if you checked out the other listening activities. Although I do seem to repeat myself in these posts. Thanks for the positive energy. And a rather late L'Shana Tova to you.And if anyone has failed to visit Leo's excellent blog focused on all things lexical, make sure to check it out at:http://leoxicon.blogspot.co.nz/

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  4. Sounds like it'll be a great presentation. Fantastic how you have really analysed your students listening needs, so many of us just focus on general listening skills without going any deeper. Will definitely give some of your activities a try. Good luck with the pres.Gemma Lunn.

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  5. Hi Gemma, Thanks for dropping in and commenting. Most of my ideas for how to help students develop more basic listening skills were inspired by Rachel Roberts over at her blog: http://elt-resourceful.com/And the ideas she didn't inspire were mostly from articles she recommended by John Field who has some fantastic free articles available on the internet and a very delicious looking book (http://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Listening_in_the_Language_Classroom.html?id=cSW5GAAACAAJ&redir_esc=y). But most of the implementation was determined by my students. I like to think part of that is based on my observation skills, but most of it is because my students are vocal about their needs and preferences. So I'm a lucky teacher all around.Kevin

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  6. What a lovely post! The presentation sounds really interesting, as do your classes! I'll be having a root around your blog for some of the activities soon. Hope all went well and that you enjoyed your time at CLESOL.Carol

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  7. Hi Carol,Thanks for the comment. Things went very well at CLESOL. Paul Nation gave the last keynote and packed hours worth of things to mull over into 60 minutes. One of my favorites, needs analysis in Paul's words: "Needs analysis in ESL is finding out what my learners know, understanding where they need to get to, and what, in their heart, they really want to learn."I've got one more day in NZ to observe some university courses and then back to Japan. Very happy to head home. And especially happy now that I've found my way to your blog. I'm surprised I've missed such a rich resource up to now. Kevin(Carol's blog: http://cgoodey.wordpress.com/)

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  8. Thanks, Kevin! 🙂 My blog hasn't been going very long yet so it's got a very select readership. Welcome to that group! I'm glad you've found it, and even more so that you liked it.It's good to hear that things went well at CLESOL – all that preparation was worth it! Great quote from Paul Nation. Thanks for passing that on.Carol

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  9. Hi Tyson,It was amazing. Thanks for the wishes. Just managed to drag myself back here. Put up a post of what I learned at the conference and will put together a web presentation of what I actually talked about at the conference this weekend. But now it's nap time.Kevin

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