Monday 22 October 2012

Language Show Live 2012: Saturday

I stayed at Language Show Live until about 2pm on Saturday.  I called it a day then partly because I knew I was going to be returning on Sunday with my sister and I wanted to have some stands left to visit, and partly because it was going to be the only opportunity I would have to spend some time in my home town, which I don't get to do very often.

I began the day with Blurring the Boundaries...-Languages beyond the classroom, Rachel Hawkes's first talk of the day.  Rachel spoke about initiatives such as Spanglovision, Language Beatz and Language Leaders.  You can read about all of them on Rachel's website.  I won't say any more about them here but recommend instead that you read Sally-Jane Braisby's excellent blogpost about the same seminar.

It was during this seminar that I caught up with a large number of #MFLTwitterati.  Great to see them all in the flesh again!

The next seminar I attended had an intriguing title: GramMAGICal structures, and an even more intriguing description: "Amaze your students with magic and get them to learn, practise and perform tricks while using various grammar structures in a way they will never forget!"  It was given by James Stubbs, about whom I have heard good things on Twitter, and so I thought I would give it a try.  And it was actually about proper magic - James is a member of the Magic Circle and was mentored by the late Ali Bongo.  

I made the mistake of sitting near the back, and soon lots of taller people were sitting in front of me (not difficult to be taller than me) so I couldn't see most of what James was doing.  However I could hear how useful magic tricks are for repeating language and for introducing grammar like the imperative and pronoun objects, which are not the easiest things to teach.  The main thing that I took away from the seminar was the importance of using language for real purposes.  You could show the students a trick, or a 'make', or a piece of writing, or a picture, and then give them the instruction sheet - they then have a reason for reading, to see how to do what you have shown them.  Another idea I got from James was to have students learning how to do something and then demonstrating it to other students.  This has given me an idea for how to approach the next 'make' that I do.

The third and final seminar that I saw on Saturday was Top 10 tips to give a fabulous speech, by Morwenna Rowe from Speak Easily.  I was particularly interested in this one because public speaking is something that I am doing more and more, and I wanted to make sure I was on the right track.  

Morwenna began by talking about the impact that being a non-native speaker of English can have on giving a presentation in English.  She demonstrated the stress patterns of French and Spanish and the tonal nature of some Asian languages and how it can be difficult for speakers of these (and other) languages to give correct emphasis to English.  She then talked about the effects that nerves can have on the body and on the way that you speak.  I have experienced many of the 'symptoms' that she mentioned - tight voice, butterflies and blushing for example, and it was reassuring to find out that these are all a result of stress hormones produced by being nervous.  She stressed that it is important to stand properly - more on your toes than on your heels - and to breathe from deep in your belly not from your upper chest. It is vital to make good eye contact with your audience so as to really connect with them.  Your eyes should be parallel with the eyes of the audience.

The most interesting part for me was the section about PowerPoint.  Morwenna suggests writing your speech or presentation first, then creating the PowerPoint slides after that.  The slides should add visual interest with photos, diagrams or keywords, but never lists of bullet points and large amounts of text.  In that case the audience will switch from listening to you to reading the screen.  My PowerPoint slides now are usually an image and a couple of words.  When I post my presentations to Slideshare I like to slidecast them simply because people looking at the slides after the event won't get much detail from them.

I brought away some excellent handouts from Speak Easily, and also took some for my husband, who does a lot of speaking as well.

*Images by the brilliant Bev Evans

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recommendation :-) Thanks also for sharing your thoughts on some of the other presentations. I wanted to go to both of them, but couldn't because they clashed with other things, so it's been great to be able to pick up tips secondhand from your blog.