Saturday, May 11, 2013

Scrivener - Learning Teaching

Learning Teaching attempts to kill two birds with one stone - it aims to be an initial training handbook and also a guide to continuing teacher development - and it manages to do both better than many single-focussed books. The key to its success is its focus on practical advice. Throughout the different sections, it offers clear practical tips and hints on getting through a language teaching class with confidence. Highly recommended for anyone starting a certificate course in TEFL/TESOL as well as new and practising teachers. Everyone will find something of value in these pages, which are likely to become the most well-worn in any teacher's library. The newest edition (not pictured) is enhanced with samples of language classes on the accompanying DVD.

Be lazy! Copy & Paste your Goodreads reviews into your blog. I do!

BALEAP Competency Framework

BALEAP (formerly British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes) is the self-professed "Global Forum for EAP Professionals." The BALEAP competency framework was published in August 2008. (As usual with me, this is not news!) That has given the world (or at least the UK) of EAP a good 5 years to demonstrate the usefulness of the document and show how it has been used as per the aims of the document which are:
  • An agreed description of good practice
  • A reference document acting as a basis for:
    • supporting the professional development of EAP teachers within institutions
    • self-monitoring of professional development for freelance teachers
    • accreditation of individual teacher portfolios as evidence of professional achievement
    • EAP teacher recruitment and selection
    • course design for teacher training in EAP
    • course accreditation for teacher training in EAP
  • A means of raising the profile of the profession within institutions and the further and higher education sector
You would think someone had given it a thorough road-test by now, wouldn't you? Well, apart from a few plucky individuals at recent BALEAP conferences, that does not seem to be the case. I have no doubt that the TEAP Working Party (probably the following:  Olwyn Alexander, Douglas Bell, Sandra Cardew, Julie King, Anne Pallant, Mary Scott, Desmond Thomas, Magdalen Ward Goodbody) did their very best to identify best working practices based on the most up to date information. However, that is not the same as empirically validating the document. It is about time someone did. Watch this space!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

O'Toole - The Language of Displayed Art. Second Edition

This book is astonishing in so many ways, but let's stick with perhaps the most significant. Michael O'Toole's aim in this book is to offer everyone the chance to say what a piece of art means to them. To achieve this, none of us need to spend decades studying the history of art, the influences of different movements on different painters, the changing techniques and tools, or the personal stories, triumphs and tragedies of individual artists so often considered the mainstay of academic art "appreciation." All we need is a framework to translate what we already know into something that we can say. Fortunately, that framework is available to us all, by virtue of having language. O'Toole has taken Halliday's social semiotic framework for language and applied it to visual art, sculpture and architecture. The application works because these art forms have meaning for us all - they are social and semiotic - and so the three 'metafunctions' that work for language also work for art. Halliday has continuously claimed that language simultaneously enacts meaning between people (the interpersonal metafunction) and represents meanings of the world around us (the ideational metafunction) within the bounds of a social context and a textual co-text (the textual metafunction), and has spent many years showing exactly how these meanings are achieved in language. What O'Toole has managed so well is to take the three metafunctions and demonstrate how interpersonal, representational and textual meanings are realised in non-linguistic messages and artifacts. He presents a highly-practical framework of analysis that anyone can use and then demonstrates what an analysis might look like for very different forms and examples of art. The "proof of the pudding" are his highly perceptive but instantly recognisable interpretations of a wide variety of works of art.

Also available as a Goodreads review.