A-Zzzzzzzz

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

flotilla

“Teaching is less about navigating the container ship of the class
through the narrow canal of the coursebook/syllabus
than about shepherding a motley flotilla of little boats,
in all weathers, across the open sea,
in whatever direction and at whatever speed
they’ve elected to go.”
Scott Thornbury

And so, the A-Z of ELT finally closes its eyes one last time and drifts to sleep.

At the British Council ELTons last year, Scott admitted how proud he was of the above quotation, which he’d conjured up for his post P is for Postmodern method, and which he saved till last in his latest, and last post, The End.

I had brought it up first that evening with him, saying how vivid an image it conjured up, and feeling his enthusiasm for it, I couldn’t resist making it into a language plant some time after.”Brilliant!”, he replied, when I sent it to him, so I post it now as a thank you from me for all the fascinating reads he has brought us all.

Sweet Dreams.

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Happy Christmas!

December 20, 2012 § 3 Comments

Christmas

It’s Christmas!
The season of peace
and goodwill to humankind;
a time to rest the body
and relax the mind.

The season when
there’s a nip in the air,
when temperatures drop,
when nature battens
down the hatches
and shuts up shop.

A time to look back with fondness,
to look forward with eagerness,
to know spring will soon be here;
and I’m sure winter wishes us
a happy and enjoyable Christmas
and a successful and rewarding New Year.

Tears of joy

July 10, 2012 § 4 Comments

So, it all started like this. Maria Alejandra Pinardi and I had been commenting on some of the lovely language plants that members of the Facebook group had made, and she said that she had been using the free resources with her daughter, and that they were really enjoying working together. I asked what her name was, it was Sofía, so I made the little plant above for her.

Here’s Maria’s response:

I´M REALLY HONORED BY THIS LOVELY PLANT! You’ve made me cry, David! thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m so glad we have met! I’ll show Sofía as soon as she comes back from school! BEAUTIFUL!

Tears of joy, I hope 🙂

Yes, David, tears of joy!!! My daughter has just seen your present: she’s clapping and saying: “This is FANTASTIC!” You’ve made our day, David! Thank you!!!!!!

Well, of course, it made my day too. And the good thing is, with the plant maker, she’s started to make language plants herself, like the one below, and loving it, as Maria describes again:

She is beginning with the Present Continuous. Working and playing with plants is a great way to learn spelling and to remember the meaning of verbs. She had to write the words a million times before publishing her plant as it had to be “perfect”! Amazing practice. Thank you!!!!!

Nice plants, Sofia 😉

Aha! hardworking student!!!!!lovely works! I love you Sofia…VIVA ARGENTINA!

well done Sofia, this is FANTASTIC!!! You are doing lots of things :))

So go on, make someone’s day by clicking here. Just make sure they’ve got a tissue to hand first 😉

Seek and Ye shall find

July 5, 2012 § 6 Comments

“What I am looking for is not out there.
It is in me.”
Helen Keller

Parallelism is one of my favourite words. Well, the idea of parallelism, what it signifies. Probably the two words I highlight most when I’m training teachers here in the UK are “collocation”, closely followed by “parallelism”.

It’s a feature of good writing, good rhetoric, and once you’re aware of it, you can’t help but notice it cropping up everywhere.

Not only that, in normal speech, we often repeat, rephrase and paraphrase, so here too, parallelism is very common.

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Here’s an example, an extract from Martin Luther King Junior’s famous “I have a dream” speech:

“I have a dream that
every mountain shall be made low
every valley shall be exalted
the rough places shall be made plain
and the crooked places shall be made straight
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all flesh shall see it together.”

Can you see how each line follows a similar pattern? That’s parallelism.

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Keep an ear out for it in speeches, or an eye out in writing, look for it in poetry especially, but also in everyday prose. Turn over a stone and you’ll find it lurking underneath, pull apart the branches and you’ll discover it hiding behind, peer up overhead and it’ll be hovering above, it’s everywhere!

And fortunately, for language learners, it’s inspiring and perfect language to study.

The art of branching

July 2, 2012 § 8 Comments

I had a Skype chat earlier with an Italian teacher who came across Language Garden on Facebook just a few days ago, and immediately grasped the concept. She got it, intuitively, it appealed at an emotional level, but she wanted to understand the rationale, the theory, left-brain understanding.

So for her, and anyone else who likes the colourful bendy words and somewhere inside, you feel they make sense but you can’t quite put it into words, please watch this simple, two-minute video showing a couple of things.

It’s for learners of English, how to use “for” and “since” after the present perfect. As we teachers know, it often causes confusion. This language plant is for language learners, perhaps ones you teach. Secondly, it’s a typical language plant in the sense that words branch off from different nodes so, in my eyes, it really does look like a little tree made of words.

Branching reduces the repetition of unnecessary words, not when we say them, but when we write them. So instead of a list running down the page that I find uneasy on the eye, you get a bushy plant, and you can pick and choose your route as you go. That’s really the essence of language plants. Well, the ones I make 😉

The king is dead…

June 25, 2012 § 14 Comments


“The king is dead!
Long live the king!”

For quite a few years, I have been the world’s leading expert, some might say the king of language plants. It wasn’t difficult, seeing as the royal household consisted solely of me, with no apparent heirs to the throne. Behind the castle walls, whilst the garden was adorned with beauty and gave me immense satisfaction, it was an existence lived in solitude.

But my! how things have changed! Like a desert land, barren and forlorn, bursting into life at the first drop of rain, the language garden is starting to flourish, and it is with immense pleasure that I remove my crown and pass it on to others, as a mark of their skill, creativity and passion.

The Language Garden Facebook group is the perfect place for language gardeners to congregate. You can post your latest work of art, step back and watch the comments flood in, gushing with praise and friendship. Here is just a small selection of their work that has really made my eyes wide with excitement over the last few days. I hope they inspire you to join in with the fun. You are most welcome.

I want to make a language plant too!

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I really should see more of these beautiful works of art!

These are fantastic! Can I make one too, please!

Don’t you think these are wonderful? They’ve come from all over the world! And don’t forget, if you’d like some Free resources, you can get those too. Hope to see you soon 🙂

For Sylvia

June 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

“They must often change,
who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”
Confucius

“It’s my first time to be truly amazed by visual teaching since I discovered mind mapping ten years ago…!!”

This post is inspired by Sylvia Guinan, who wrote the line above on Facebook, about Language Garden.

Well, as you can imagine, such a comment sent tingles to my toes. I know how she feels though, because, by heavens! I remember to this day my first encounter with mind maps too.

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People coming to The Mind Map Book for the first time are, through perhaps years of study with solely linear texts, mostly unaware of non-linear representations of knowledge. The book does a clever thing: it makes you commit yourself to your old ways, ingrained habits, and then voilà! it reveals to you another, unexpected, and highly impressive, artistic, holistic alternative.

I fell for it. It said: “In two minutes, write down everything you can about Space Travel.”

I took up the challenge, my pen a blur, the words barely legible as I attempted to put down all I could summon up before the second-hand ticked round twice.

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I turned the page, as it said, and was presented with a mind map, another way of writing, presenting, flowing. With the main topics branching off from the central idea, you can jump back and forth between ideas, and build up a complete picture. This method smashed to smithereens the myth I had unwittingly adhered to that learning starts at the beginning and stops at the end.

I loved their organic nature, the way they grew and connected. I was smitten. Thence, via the Lexical Approach, which my new rap buddy Jason Levine loves too, to language plants. So how about making a mind map, using the plant maker if you wish (just click on the blank page and start typing), on a subject of your choosing? Here’s mine, retracing those original steps which changed my vision forever.

Make me a Mind Map

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