Saturday, 28 April 2012

Project #366 Week 17

This week the weather has been atrocious and lovely by turns. On Wednesday there was such a storm that some of the island's trees were lost. Each day has been different, but the overwhelming need to be dry and indoors has coloured my photos each day :-)
Sunday 22nd April

I was still enjoying the VRT and didn't want to be far from my computer, so I made the usual Sunday soup and decided to try my hand at some home-made bread, which I haven't made for ages. I made a carrot and walnut loaf, which tastes fantastic with golden Jersey butter.
Monday 23rd April
 Thank goodness that I only work until lunchtime on a Monday!  When the weather is foul, there is nothing nicer than being at home. My sitting room is always pleasant and made more comfortable by the sleeping cats. Maisie is asleep on the windowsill and Ebony is on top of the cupboard.
Tuesday 24th
This was probably the nicest day of the week. The wind dropped and the temperature rose. Sunday was too wet to go out for the usual flowers, so I picked some up today.  All the Spring flowers have finished so I got some pinks. I like to put some in front of the mirror as the reflection helps it look like a much larger bunch:-) They also smell delicious.

Wednesday 25th

One of my favourite days of the week, as I enjoy #ELTchat in the evening. I took my 1-2-1 student for a walk through the fish market this afternoon. It is a Victorian covered market, like the fruit and veg one on the other side of the road.
Thursday 26th

Jersey is divided into 12 Parishes, and I live in St Saviour. Each Parish is separated by water, most often the streams are underground these days. A few doors away is the beginning of the Parish of St Helier, which is the island's  town.

At the end of the road, the Catholic church of St Thomas stands majestic. The church is a favourite with all Catholics and holds separate services for the Polish, Portuguese and French communities on the island.  St Thomas's can be seen on the skyline from almost every part of town.

Friday 27th
Every time a new building or public space is designed, there has to be a percentage given over to Art. The new town park was no exception and has lots of quirky statues and water features. One of my favourites is a beautiful sculpture of polished rose granite, which is the local stone.

Saturday 28th
Disaster! I decided to clean my kitchen, including the clock which looked a bit dusty. On putting it in hot soapy water I discovered, to my chagrin,that the numerals and decoration of musical notes were stuck on the back, and were slowly disappearing into the bowl of water!!
Nothing daunted, I went to the local art shop, which I  pass everyday and always look in the window at the interesting things they sell. I had always fancied one of their fun clocks and now had the perfect opportunity to buy one. It was more difficult than I had expected, as the choice was large! I finally left with one which had a cat chasing its dinner. I have an interesting collection of cat things, so it was a logical choice really:-)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

project #366 week 16

It's been an interesting week weather-wise, full of sunshine and April showers. This has meant that the island is really starting to come to life. There are flowers everywhere now. I managed to get out a bit, although I got soaked a few times. I'll be glad when April comes to an end:-)

Sunday 15th April
Today was cold and miserable- a day for staying home and keeping dry. I had a glut of carrots, as my neighbour brought me some from his allotment, and I had already had my organic veg box delivered- which included carrots! I decided to try some carrot and orange soup, with herbs from the garden. It was very nice, although sweeter than I'd expected it would be.

Monday 16th April

 For those who don't know- I live on a little island in the English Channel, close to France. I have twice been asked this week for information about the USA, to which I had to explain that they were confusing Old Jersey, with New Jersey, the clue being in the name:-). Here is a small map giving you a picture of the place. Today I finished at lunchtime and decided to go for a walk on the North coast.

Tuesday 17th April
My neighbours are having their roof repaired and when I look out of my window I can see the scaffolding. This is a buzz word in the ELT profession too. These Victorian semi-detached houses opposite me give you an idea of what mine looks like. Although mine, and my neighbour's have beautiful glass in the front doors.

Wednesday 18th 
Many thanks to one of the moderators of #ELTchat on twitter for sending me a couple of t-shirts, which arrived today. These were on sale at  the IATEFL conference, which I missed, so I was delighted that he saved me a couple:-). I wonder when I will get the chance to wear it. I might have to wait for the Tesol France conference in Paris later in the year!

Thursday 19th 
All the rain and sunshine has brought on all the shrubs outside my classroom. While my students were working I took a quick shot of the mock orange under the window. The smell is absolutely fantastic.

Friday 20th 

 I've been looking forward to this day as it sees the start of the Virtual Round Table weekend conference, which I plan to see as much as possible of. My black cat, Ebony, decided to help-or hinder! She attacked me every time I tried to move the mouse:-( Eventually I managed to coax her away and settled in for a good evening. We went down to the pub for a couple of hours during the evening, and returned in time to continue where I left off. My luck was in - and I enjoyed Janet talking about this project - and how to use the pictures in class, which was excellent.

Saturday 21st
Yuk- but necessary
Ebony's loo

 More VRT, almost as soon as I got up. I then caught up with my social media... and tried to put off the moment when I had to change the cat litter:-(. As it had been raining on and off all week, the two little treasures had decided to keep their feet dry! It's not my favourite job, but eventually I did it. Now I feel quite smug- and I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't rain this week!!!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

project#366 week 15

The weather has been typical of April this week- sunshine and showers.  My students have all been very hard-working and interesting. This has been a week for me to get the house, garden, and me into shape.

Sunday 8th April 2012
 Easter Sunday. Cairis is safely back in London, and Miles is on holiday, so there are just the two of us for dinner. Malcolm likes to have lamb at Easter, and we had the first Jersey Royals of the year. My veg box had some interesting aubergines- white striped- so I decided to accompany the lamb with a ratatouille-type dish.

Monday 9th April 
Much to many people's amazement, I had to go to work. We don't close on bank holidays or religious festivals, except for Christmas. Driving to work took almost no time at all, as the roads were deserted at that time of the morning. Some new students didn't all turn up, thinking that it was a holiday, so the Tuesday was slightly bizarre!

Tuesday 10th April 
After all the chocolate eggs at the weekend I decided that it would be a great idea to get back to the gym round the corner. It is for ladies only, and has a policy of No mirrors, No men and No Lycra, so I feel at ease there and the staff are really well-trained and supportive. I suffered from it the next day, but it was good to get back to some form of exercise after the last month when I had no time whatsoever.

Wednesday 11th April
Staying with the health kick- I went off to the weight watchers' meeting where I help out as a clerk. It was nice to have been missed, as they hadn't seen me for 5 weeks. Lizzie is an amazing leader and makes everyone want to do their best. She is running the London marathon soon for charity, and really deserves our support.

Thursday 12th April 

 Having a very domestic day today. First of all I had to go shopping after work. This took ages, as everyone else seemed to be having the same idea. I like the system where you scan your own shopping and bag it as you go, which is one reason that I use this particular supermarket.

 I also received a new dustbin which I had ordered online. I wanted a bright red one to match my kitchen and the only one I could find locally was monstrously expensive. This one has sensors which open it automatically when you get near. You can imagine my cat's shock when she jumped over it and was bashed by the lid flying open:-) I don't think she'll do that again in a hurry.

Friday 13th April
Buds on the birch
Honeysuckle, and the grapevine
Grape Hyacinth

Today I stayed home as I had a bit of a dickey tummy. I spent a little time in the garden, enjoying the colour which has started to appear everywhere. 

Saturday 14th April

Mint and chive 
Visit to the gym, and some work on the herb garden, which is growing by the day. I love cooking and there is nothing nicer than using things that you have grown yourself in your garden. My herbs are in a raised bed just outside the kitchen, and it is easy to pop out and gather what is needed for a meal. My favourites are Basil and thyme, but it is a little too early  to see them, as they need a bit more warmth. The greenery is wonderful to look at too.

Friday, 13 April 2012

How the global recession is affecting/ has affected the ELT profession

How the global recession is affecting/ has affected the ELT profession
#ELTchat summary for the 2nd chat 11th April

Tonight we were joined by ELT professionals from around the world, including a couple of new members: @RebuffetBroadus from France and @MellynEducation from Canada.
It appears that the recession is having an effect, although it depends on the sector and the options offered to students.
@ljp2010, in Argentina, and @MrChrisJWilson, in Ukraine, said that student numbers were down. Others are finding that the market has changed. In France, Italy, the Ukraine and Spain, corporate clients appear jittery and companies are holding back on supplying language courses for their staff. Part of the problem is falling training budgets, but increasing prices everywhere else. @vmorgana said that in the state sector where she works the recession equates to fewer English courses and no IWBs.
Many more people are signing up to do TT courses.

Where are the students coming from?
In Wiktor’s school in the UK some of the students are sponsored, which minimises the effect of the falling numbers to an extent. In France, the government allocated training means a number of the unemployed are choosing English lessons. Steve Muir and Shaun Wilden agreed that many students are using their redundancy money. It is apparent that a global crisis increases people’s interest in having qualifications, in which case English is seen as important. In Canada there seems to be a shift in sectors-fewer international study vacations, but more immigrants. In Italy there are plenty of individual students and many of us suggested that numbers are up for the moment, although not guaranteed long-term.  University student numbers haven’t really been affected- only the funding! @hartle suggested that some of the students are just looking for the ‘piece of paper’ and are not really motivated.

Do falling prices mean lessons are cheaper?
Do students want to pay for quality or make do with a cheap course? It seems, in many cases, that they want to save money.  In the Ukraine the more expensive language schools are having difficulty enrolling, but the cheaper ones are better off. Students are going to competitors who don’t offer the same quality. Private or company classes are demanding reduced fees too.

So does it mean more or less work for teachers?
Lack of funds makes it more difficult for teachers to do their jobs. It also means that they have to fund their own training. The situation differs  a little between teachers who are freelance and those who are salaried. Many new teachers are being employed on fixed term contracts.
In the UK ESOL context the pattern is for classes to be cut in accordance with the government cuts in Further Education.
In some cases schools are employing well-qualified teachers and paying them less. In some places there are new schools opening up, increasing the pressure and competition on the existing providers. In France permanent contracts for teachers are hard to come by; work is less stable and the teachers have to canvass for work for themselves, then finding that they are only paid for hours worked and not given the option of a guaranteed monthly salary .  The freelance solution is also common in Switzerland. Many schools are looking at education as a business and may look for cheap labour as opposed to qualification. And working patterns are changing…..
How does the online market affect the results?
Are online options contributing to fewer ‘bums on seats’? It was argued that online or blended learning should be included in the numbers overall, but that creates an inequality for schools who are not able to offer the same facility. One cause for concern was the possibility of students buying full, but not always good quality, courses on sites such as Groupon, which can offer massive discounts. Our new Canadian member teaches online by contract from the government. Blended courses are helping to cut teachers’ face-to-face time, and thereby, costs. A well-designed online course, using sound principles, was seen to be as good as, if not better than, a f2f one. It is also a possible way to reduce costs and can be used to deliver CPD, such as DELTA modules too. One problem for students is the sheer wealth of material available online, which could provide a niche for a consulting service to help them J

Are schools diversifying?
Some are and some aren’t! @jankenb2 said that her school’s mainstay is training students to pass university entrance exams- so no change. In Jersey we have been adding variety to our courses, which is fine as long as we continue to invest in the CPD of the teachers who deliver them. This gives us a competitive edge for the moment.  Other schools are delivering blended or online courses. Freelance teachers need to market themselves with quality/differentiated services to stand out from the crowd. Many of us are energised by the changes and enjoying mastering new models of delivery. If it leads to proper competition, investment and innovation, Shaun Wilden is all for it.

Will the Olympics have any effect on numbers in the UK this year?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many teachers are making projects out of the Olympics theme. Whether it will translate into increased numbers is less certain as it appears, to some schools, that fewer students are travelling for their lessons.

How well do TT programs address tech issues?
@pysproblems81- love the way teachers on twitter turn any discussion into a reason to use #edtech. I think that TT programs are slowly beginning to address the issues of technology in education, some perhaps faster than others. As @jankenb2 says- tech is no longer a tool, it’s a literacy and is changing teacher education entirely.
So apart from a growth in Tech, what else has changed?
  • ·        Fewer long term contracts/ less stability
  • ·        Stagnating teacher salaries
  • ·        Corporate clients slow to commit training budgets
  • ·        Redundancies
  • ·        Longer waiting lists for classes
  • ·        Teachers don’t invest as much with no hope of continued work
  • ·        Lack of continuity means lower quality
  • ·        More volatile and less forgiving environment
  • ·        Fees are rising
  • ·        Teachers having to pay for own CPD and buy own materials
  • ·        Teachers unable to access conferences due to cost
  • ·        Teachers working more than 1 job to make ends meet
  • ·        Schools going out of business

Does quality pay during a recession?
Are the schools which are going out of business the ones which are seen as providing less quality? So it would seem in a few cases.
Is quality overlooked for good marketing? It depends on the local market.
Students with different objectives will have differing ideas about the costs involved.
Students like a combination of low cost and reasonable quality, ‘the affordable luxury’- but can they judge?
Schools need to invest in standards=invest in teachers+ decent pay.
Don’t compromise!
@patjack67 puts his money on quality winning out, but the catch 22 situation is lower prices for students=lower returns for providers.
Does quality mean available for the few rather than the many?

And I’d like to finish with my favourite quote of the night @RebuffetBroadus-
Teachers have to learn to adapt and not look for 20th century work models in the 21st century.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Project #366 Week 14

With the Tesol course finished, I've had time to get my life back to normal. This week I've been out and about with my students, looking at lots of quirky things about the island. The weather has been bright and sunny, but much colder than last week, even if temperatures are more normal for the time of year. We haven't had the snow that has hit the North, luckily, as the sea is beginning to warm up.
Sunday April 1st 2012

This is an old water mill, the Moulin de Lecq. It has been around since the 13th century, and is now a decent pub and restaurant, where you can find a good Sunday lunch. Sometimes there is enough water to see the wheels turning, but at the moment they are dry. See the internal workings behind the bar.

Monday April 2nd 2012
After an interesting CPD session, we had the afternoon to ourselves. I took a couple of my students into town and we stopped en route to look at a couple of interesting Jersey things. The first is our yellow telephone box. There are not many left, as most people today have access to a mobile phone. What colour are the boxes where you are?

The second picture, of the toilet sign, was something I take for granted, but which shows the bilingual nature of the island.

Tuesday April 3rd

Greve de lecq
Jersey has many beaches,  all with their own character. Depending on the wind direction, there is always a sheltered spot. If you have a favourite water-sports pursuit, you would choose a particular beach. Some of the beaches have pebbles, some have sand and some have a mix. The beach at Greve de Lecq, on the North West coast, is red, because of the eroding rock faces. Further round is a beach covered in stones and then we have beautiful white sandy stretches.
Bouley bay

Wednesday April 4th

The path down to devil's Hole
 The other day I was here on my island tour. This is Devil's Hole. Credulous islanders were too afraid to go down to the water's edge because of the noise of the devil (actually the tide being forced through a hole in a rock). This made it easy for smugglers to use the bay for their trade. A large statue of the devil was placed at the bottom of the path and people used to go down to have a look. The newer incarnation is at the top of the path, in a pond. It is also enormous! This stops the idiots from being able to move it around.
The Devil statue
Thursday 5th April

A visit to Bonne Nuit Bay allowed me to take pictures of these hang-gliders. They were having a fantastic time above the cliffs. On the other side of the bay is Fort Leicester.

Friday 6th April 
Today is good Friday and I have to work as normal :-( My husband offered me a lift to work so that he could keep the car. We had some hot cross buns for breakfast before we set off. On arrival at work I had to dodge all the chocolate flying around. It was a colleague's birthday so he brought in chocolate, Good Friday produced chocolate cakes and eggs, and the Swiss students gave their teachers some chocolates as a farewell gift. Not a good place to test the will power of someone on a diet :-)

Saturday 7th April
 This morning I decorated our window for Easter. The  thing about having a bay window is that every tourist stops and looks in. Putting things in the window gives us a bit of privacy, and it looks fun too.

I have spent the afternoon trying to help my  young daughter. She is in Paris and has fallen foul of pickpockets. Unhappily, the British Embassy is closed for the holiday, and it is difficult to transfer money to her. She has managed to meet up with a friend who is able to help her get home, thank goodness. I was about to put out an SOS to my PLN!

An interesting week, all-in-all!