Hello world!


Welcome to Teacher Talking Time.

This is a blog for teachers interested in teacher education, teacher training and development, teaching and learning and related topics. We will be inviting a variety of  people to share their experiences on a regular basis – so keep coming back!.

The latest post is by Galina an ITI DELTA student working in Samara, Russia. She describes the three-day ITI Master Classes held at her University. Liz and I had a wonderful time and thank Galina for inviting us and also writing it up for our blog. 

I have written the first two posts to get the ball rolling. My first post is about ‘whole person learning’ and explains my personal philosophy that learning should utilise the whole person in terms of stimulating the mind, body and emotions.

My second post is also personal and describes my experiences over the last two years facing cancer. Like staring down from a precipice, confronting our fragile mortality is terrifying, and yet, at the same time by confronting the inevitable, it provides a unique opportunity to perceive from a new and sharper perspective and to learn valuable lessons about the nature of learning and life.

I hope you enjoy these postings and future ones.

Best wishes

Tom Godfrey (Director of ITI)

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What is TEFL?

‘I am an EFL teacher and trainer’. A typical retort to this comment is: ‘What’s that?’

For the uninitiated EFL means English as a Foreign Language. EFL therefore describes the situation where learners are learning English in a context where the official language is not English. In other words, Spaniards learning English in Spain or Japanese learning English in Japan.

My profession, ELT (English Language Teaching) adores abbreviations. These acronyms are a shorthand that are easy to bandy around if you are ‘in the know’ but what if you do not know what the letters stand for. TEFL, for example, is an acronym that describes the subject – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. However, unlike other subjects such as Maths or History there are other acronyms that describe variations such as TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) amongst others. TESOL is primarily used in the US where obviously English is the main language and not a ‘foreign’ language.

In order to enter the TEFL profession you need qualifications (initially a TEFL Certificate). This is where the confusion often arises. The question I am mostly frequently asked is: ‘What is the difference between a TEFL Certificate and CELTA?’ This is not a straightforwardOhhh an invitation question to answer because CELTA is a TEFL Certificate. CELTA (accredited by Cambridge) is the most widely known and internationally recognised initial TEFL qualification. I would recommend doing a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) if you are serious about teaching EFL. There are centres worldwide offering full-time, part-time and online / blended options such as my centre in Istanbul (www.iti-istanbul.com). iti-logo-med-large-37a71d4b7c54d91468d35691cd0f8759

When choosing a TEFL course it is important to check that it includes at least 6 hours teaching practice (TP). A TEFL course without teaching practice is going to be of limited value as training to teach has to include time spend planning and practising in a real classroom situation and getting feedback on your performance. Beware of courses that only include ‘micro-teaching’ as this means teaching your colleagues which is not the same as teaching real learners at all.

So to sum up, if you are interested in a career in ELT and want to teach EFL then the first step is to get a TEFL qualification. I would recommend a CELTA course as it includes TP. When you complete the CELTA I guarantee you will be armed with many more acronyms!

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Cheating Lale: A Psychological Dilemma.

Using ‘Storydrama’ in ELT.


This is one of my favourite lesson plans. ‘Cheating Lale is about a young  girl who cheats in her University final examinations and the lesson explores learners’ reactions and interpretations of  the events and characters that are involved. The lesson works on several levels: it is an integrated skills lesson that practises the receptive skills of reading and listening but primarily focuses on developing speaking skills, discussion, and turn-taking techniques. On a psychological level the lesson demonstrates how we all interpret events in our own way according to our own value system. The lesson incorporates a psychological test, in which learners can evaluate their own ‘value’ system by discussing  how they interpret the characters and events in the story.

The lesson consists of 5 stages although as with any lesson these are a flexible outline and need to be adapted to the level and needs of the group.

  • Setting the scene: arousing learners interest and personalising the topic of ‘cheating’.
  • Prediction: introducing the characters and some lines of dialogue to allow learners to predict and create their own story.
  • Reception: learners listen to the story comparing their story to the real one.
  • Analysis and dramatisation: learners use the story to focus on the language (lexical collocations) and to improvise scenes to ‘bring the story to life’.
  • Psychological test and discussion: learners evaluate the characters and events discussing their behaviour and conduct a psychological test exploring their own values.


The lesson methodology is strongly influenced by David Booth (1994) and his work using ‘storydrama’. Essentially storydrama uses a story as a stimulus to allow learners to bring their minds and bodies together to co-construct through mutual agreement and re-create a fictitious event: to bring the story to life. The principal features of storydrama are:

  • Learners focus on issues, characters, mood, conflict and dilemmas in a story as a stimulus for learning.
  • Learners respond personally drawing on their own psychology and values.
  • Learning occurs as learners explore the issues and dilemmas symbolised in the story
  • Learners bring the story to life through improvisation and discussion

I was first introduced to Lucy’s Story by Graham Workman at IH London in 1985 (almost 30 years ago) and I have since taught it countless times in a storydrama format. It has cropped up in many forms (usually referred to as Gary’s or Kate’s etc lesson) and appears to have achieved a ‘urban legend’ status in the ELT world.  This lesson is directly adapted from a lesson that has achieved folklore status in the ELT world and is a lesson I know as Lucy’s Story. It is the story of a young girl (Lucy) who meets and falls in love with a notorious young  philanderer (Peter) and despite warnings from friends and family (Uncle William) rashly pursues Peter across the river in a boat (rowed by David). Lucy is seduced by Peter and realises that her feelings of love are not mutual. Distraught, she seeks help from potential fiance (Michael) who throws her out appalled by her debauchery. She drowns in the river. Simulating  a psychological test the learners have to order the characters according to who they like from most to least and then compare their results with the values the characters represent.

  • Lucy = Love
  • Peter = Passion
  • William = Wisdom
  • David = Duty
  • Michael = Moralty

As I teach in Istanbul my main character is Lale in deference to the influence of Lucy. As in many educational contexts,  cheating is an issue where I teach.  When I devised the lesson, I needed a vehicle that allowed learners to reflect on their attitudes and behaviour , particularly as plagiarism seemed to be commonplace and almost acceptable. This particular story adolescent students find particularly memorable and fun. Many students have innovative methods of cheating they are willing, often eager, to discuss.

The power of storydrama.

Stories have been exploited for educational purposes and used to stimulate  language acquisition for centuries – and with good reason! Stories stimulate imagination, develop intellect, clarify emotions, identify anxieties, problems and aspirations, and fulfill the need for ‘magic’ in a world that often seems to lack it. I create stories for the language class for three reasons: psychological, linguistic and pedagogic.

Psychologically stories can represent a part of human consciousness that exists in all cultures. They fulfill a human need to listen to and tell stories and invariably evoke a personal response. This story of Cheating Lale was written in order to get my students to consider the importance of taking responsibility for their learning and to discuss issues related to cheating. Each learner will respond differently as their relationship with the story depends on their own interpretation of the world. Not only does the cultural, social, sexual and physiological make up of the classroom impact on learners’ responses, but also each individual learners struggle with contradictory viewpoints of the world. Paulo Freire (1970) claims that at the heart of education is an ability to help learners (and teachers) to reflect and act upon the world, and through that transform it into a better place.

Linguistically the language of stories can be manipulated to include language aimed at the comprehension level of your students. If this story is told by the teacher the language can be graded appropriately to fit the level. Equally the teacher can elicit questions and responses from the students as the story is told. Lale’s Story  is simple in basic structure but the meanings generated by the learners’ imaginations are evocative and many layered. This is an integrated skills lesson practicing receptive skills and speaking discussion skills based on a story about a young student teacher called Lale. By the end of the lesson students will have had the opportunity to practice their receptive skills and practiced controlled and less guided speaking practice leading into a discussion and then a dramatization of scenes of the story for presentation.


Sts will have been introduced to and practiced the target lexis related to the story of ‘Cheating Lale’. Particularly they will be exposed to the following common collocations: to go / come out with someone; to make a sacrifice for something; to look after; to pass an exam; to catch someone cheating; to expel someone from college; to refuse to have anything to do with someone.

In addition they practise language of discussion:

Stating opinions: I think that ….. is the best character…. because…

Agreeing / disagreeing: I agree / disagree and supporting opinions with reasons.. because…

As in any activity developing oral fluency learners need to have the ability to effectively manage an interaction. There are many features of oral interaction that a teacher can focus on but one useful area is that of turn-taking as highlighted in the table:

Strategies to be taught Example
1.      Taking a turn ·        I agree with you but….·        You are right but….·        I would like to add something here

·        Sorry to interrupt but….

2.      Keeping a turn ·        If you could just let me finish,·        If I could just finish,·        Let me finish please before you interrupt.
3.      Inviting someone to take a turn ·        What do you think about that?·        Do you agree with me?

The teacher can introduce these exponents in a previous lesson and monitor how effectively learners use them in this lesson. Alternatively at the end of this lesson (especially if the discussion can be video recorded) learners can reflect on their turn-taking strategies and self evaluate.

Pedagogically, stories provide an opportunity to develop and practice receptive skills (listening) as well as provide a rich context for language input. Once students are familiar with the story outline and content, the story provides a model to focus on structure, lexis and phonology and provides a ready context for follow-up writing and speaking activities. Most importantly for me, a story with a variety of characters can be dramatized within a double lesson period! Stories are a powerful stimulus when they raise questions or moral dilemmas. Learners explore issues, events and relationships through improvised exploration and discussion. Typically texts are presented in course materials in a static and lifeless manner, as content to be absorbed; however every effective teacher understands that  real learning is not generated by the materials but is generated by co-construction and negotiation between teachers and learners in a lived experience which is why every lesson is unique and learning outcomes unpredictable.

The advantages of storydrama.

  1. Driven by inquiry. Stories create an imaginary fictitious world but at the same time they can explore authentic and emotive dilemmas. Stories arouse genuine passion and strong and emotive learner responses.
  2. Meaning is ‘learner generated’ through their responses to the story and not transmitted from an external source.
  3. The lesson stages are logically sequenced and yet the structure is flexible as it depends on unpredictable learner responses. The method is powered by risk-taking as the process relies on challenging learners to respond and engage with the materials and issues raised

Lale’s Story_LESSON PLAN

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Let’s RAP Bro. Respect!

A learner-centred lesson.

Many teachers claim to follow a learner-centred approach but what does a learner-centred approach actually mean in practice? I hope to show what it means by describing a lesson that contains, in my opinion, 12 key principles of a learner-centred lesson. The lesson plan and materials are included at the end.

This is one of my favourite lessons. The task is for learners to write and perform a Rap Song. The lesson focuses on how a sound (phonemes such as the monophthongs/u:/ /I:/ /ɑ:/ and diphthongs /eı/ /ɔı/ /ɑı/ /əʊ/) can be used as a stimulus to build the foundations for a poem or song. The lesson starts by eliciting single phonemes and then builds to create words with those sounds for example from /u:/ we can make blue, shoe, true (rhyming words) and then sentences (‘I’m feeling blue’) and finally students write and perform a rap song.

  1. Learners generate the language.

The language generated in the lesson comes from the learners knowledge and imagination. The teacher inputs sounds for example /ɔı/  but the learners generate the actual language of the lesson: first brainstorming words with this vowel sound (boy, toy, joy) and then creating sentences with these words (I want joy). The great advantage of language input coming from the learners is that the language is graded to the learners’ level naturally. This means that a lesson  can be adapted to any level (beginners to advanced) as the learners’ themselves generate the target language.

  1. Authentic task.

The lesson has an authentic task: to write and perform a Rap Song. This is a real-life task, people do write songs. Admittedly learners may  protest that they are unlikely  to ever write a Rap Song. However it is a far more authentic writing task than multiple choice or gap-filling exercises which learners do frequently in a classroom context but would never do in real-life. Besides Rap Songs are essentially speaking sentences in a rhythmical manner ( etymologically ‘to rap’  means ‘to say)’. The advantage of Rap songs is that aside from having a definite rhythm,  there are no specific rules of structure, anything goes!

  1. Scaffolded.

The lesson follows a logical order that is transparent for the learners and provides effective scaffolding as each stage needs to be effectively completed and checked before proceeding to the next stage. This ensures both understanding and a successful outcome. The lesson consists of 3 main stages:

  1. Introduction and setting the scene. This stage needs to arouse interest in the topic by the use of visuals, brainstorming what students know about rapping and rappers and to personalise the topic: Do you like rap? Teachers could play samples of Rap music but the disadvantage of this can be that it sets an ambitious target (model) at the beginning of the lesson when we are more interested in the writing processes than a polished final performance.
  2. Input and practice. There are three stages that build on each other: 1) Introduction and practice of sounds; 2) Sounds used to create words; 3) Words used to create sentences.
  3. Creation, performance and reflection. Learners collaboratively write and perform their rap songs while other learners (replicating the X factor judges panel) reflect and provide feedback.
  1. Sense of achievement.

The performance of the rap songs provides a sense of success and task achievement. The teacher can encourage applause after each short performance giving learners a sense of well-being and heightened self-esteem while promoting a positive group dynamic.

  1. Learners are the main resource.

Apart from an optional visual of a Rapper and strips of paper with a phoneme at the top, there are no materials for the teacher to prepare. The main resource is the learners: they provide the language, the creativity and imagination. A learner-centred approach necessitates that the lesson is not ‘content driven’, in other words the course book or syllabus should not dictate the target language but in contrast the language is emergent through the lesson activities.

  1. Collaborative learning.

The majority of the lesson (70%) involves learners working collaboratively in pairs or groups. This collaboration and interaction between learners provides an acquisition rich environment for learners to practise the target language. It also provides opportunities for peer teaching of lexis, for example a learner may come up with the word ‘joy’ (or at a higher level ‘coy’) as a rhyming word for /ɔı/ and other learners ask what it means. In the learner centred classroom the teacher recognises that learners, in contrast to the teacher or course book, are an important source of input and this can only be accessed when learners are interacting and communicating with each other.

  1. Appropriate aims and integrated skills.


This is an integrated skills lesson focus. There is intensive listening to individual sounds and rhyming words as well as public speaking practice in the performance of the rap songs and a high degree of collaborative speaking in pairs and groups as learners work on the lesson tasks. The main skill aim is to collaboratively write and perform a ‘rap’ song. Many learners find writing activities boring, lonely, difficult and time-consuming. Often learners are not effective writers in their L1 and are unaware of effective writing processes. For this reason this lesson aims to provide a fun, collaborative task that is scaffolded to ensure that students are sufficiently challenged but also achieve success and a sense of achievement.


Learners are introduced to and practise specific sounds (i.e. /i:/, /U:/). In addition they raise their awareness of the sound – spelling relationship in English. The lesson also aims to raise awareness of words that rhyme and to practice the features of sentence stress and rhythm in a song.

  1. Movement and energy

Learners stand in a circle and produce the sounds chorally, then they mingle around the classroom writing words, finally in groups they write their rap songs before the class becomes a studio and songs are performed. Each stage involves movement which generates energy. The learners are physically active in the lesson and involvement and engagement is high.

  1. Novelty and fun.

Writing a rap song is novel. It represents a break from routine. The focus on sounds, rhythm and rhyme highlights pronunciation which is typically an area learners prioritize but teachers neglect. A learner centred approach depends on active and enthusiastic participation of the learners in a stress-free environment which encourages  laughter, spontaneity, a large quantity and variety of learner to learner interaction and a sense of fun.

  1. Risk

As the teacher, we cannot know the content or quality of the final rap songs nor the learners response to the topic or activities, there is therefore an element of risk. However a teacher locked into a risk free routine will not develop as a teacher and will not find rewards in his lessons or the learners’ progress. Without taking risks the teacher and learners never expose themselves to the possibility of failure nor to the rich learning opportunities that imagination and creativity can offer.

  1. Creativity.

Writing a rap song provides learners with the opportunity to be creative and express themselves freely. This encourages learners to experiment with the language, to be creative and to challenge themselves to express themselves imaginatively.  Learners need the freedom to experiment with the language. They need opportunities to be creative with their production and the time and space to make errors. The aim is to challenge and encourage learners to produce language rather than structuring in advance what will be achieved.

  1. Whole person learning.

The most important principle is to remember that a learner is a thinking, feeling and acting person. Learning is a process internal to the learner, it can not be transmitted from an external source (no matter how good the coursebook or teacher). Put in another way we can say that all learning has a mental, emotional or physical manifestation and in the context of this lesson a combination of all three.


The vast majority of lessons are not learner centred. Opportunities for learners to participate are structured and freedom  for learner creativity limited. The majority of teachers are compelled to follow a traditional approach driven by content prescribed by the syllabus or course book (whether this is grammar based, lexical or a communicative approach). This contrasts with widely accepted beliefs that for effective learning to occur a learner needs the freedom to experiment with the language, to be creative with their production and to have the space to express themselves and make errors. In a learner centred approach language is learner generated. The primary concern is based on what the learners do in the lesson such as decision-making, discussion, critical thinking, co-operating and negotiating their needs with the teacher. A learner centred approach therefore prioritizes learning over content knowledge. The syllabus and lesson aims in this scenario derive from the learning and teaching process and the negotiating of individual learner needs rather than being prescribed or pre-determined in a content driven syllabus. The main source of language is the learner, their experiences, ideas and feelings.

Rap Song LESSON PLAN front page

Rap Song Lesson plan


If you try this lesson or adapt the ideas to your context, I would really appreciate feedback on how it went for you.

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THE NEW WAY: ‘HOLISM’ a paradigm to replace orthodoxy.

Humanity is marching off the edge of precipice. Can teachers do anything about it?


Are you as frustrated as I am when, attempting to relax in front of the TV evening news, the somber reporters incessantly exhort imminent calamity? Last night for example, there was the financial collapse of Europe, the extinction of the Black rhino (yet another species eliminated by human greed and lack of responsibility) and natural disasters as Mother Earth’s tears flood parts of Europe and Asia while her uncontrollable sobbing causes more earthquakes and hurricanes around the world. One crisis after another and yet here I am sitting apathetically in my armchair sipping tea as humankind relentlessly marches forward banging the same old drumbeat to the edge of the precipice. On the television the economic analyst is reinforcing the mantra that the only way out of the economic crisis is ‘growth’. I nod sagely but know in my heart, as we all do, that unremitting growth, chronic rape of Mother Earth’s resources and unrelenting consumption is precisely what has brought us to the brink and continuing this orthodoxy will push us over the edge. Economic growth is a dead-end street. We know more medicine does not make us healthier, more weapons do not lead to peace, and greater consumption does not lead to happiness: in fact the opposite. We desperately need a new paradigm, a change from the fundamental beliefs of scientific orthodoxy if we are not to plunge into the abyss. I believe teachers and educators have to lead the way.

Our fate need not be inevitable destruction if we are able to expose the falsehoods of orthodox beliefs and open our minds to a more holistic perspective of human development and learning. Conventional wisdom is largely based on the three main principles of materialism, reductionism and determinism. These principles in various forms have been ingrained into our subconscious over the last 300 years. We need to expose their limitations and be open to new beliefs and perspectives.


Materialism is based on the premise that ‘only matter matters’ and implies that life is a constant battle of survival of the fittest and the only way to progress is by exploiting and consuming resources provided by nature. Quantum physics refutes this perception stating that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are not physical ‘matter’ at all but an invisible energy field that shapes and connects ‘matter’. While the principle of survival of the fittest has enabled a small percentage of business entrepreneurs, bankers and the corporate elite to do very well, survival of the individual at the expense of the whole now threatens humanity. A holistic paradigm advocates living in balance and harmony with nature and recognizing the interconnectedness of all things. As teachers we already recognize that focusing solely on the high achievers is not conducive to a coherent classroom and fulfillment in our own lives synergies with the achievement and aspirations of others.


The dominant Western world view of reductionism is based on making distinctions and seeing differences, and advocates that entities are a sum of their parts. This has led to a pattern of thinking that assumes that the best way to see if something works is to try it. We live in a culture where evidence or so-called ‘scientific proof’ has acquired supremacy. Logic is given precedence over intuition, rational argument defeats opinion and academic research out-weighs experience. However as teachers our skepticism of reductionism is justified, as we know that when something ‘works’ in class this rarely means it will always ‘work’ in the same way in future classes. A holistic view of learning, on the other hand, recognizes the interconnectedness and synergy of our physical, mental and spiritual dimensions. Only by adopting a whole person perspective to learning and development can we truly comprehend reality and achieve our potentials.


Finally the orthodox doctrine of determinism stipulates the role of causality. Knowledge is seen as a commodity that can be categorized and boxed and then transmitted from teachers to learners, doctors to patients and so on. Medical science is a process for example that looks for physical symptoms as evidence of an illness and then seeks to intervene to administer a cure. Teaching however questions assumptions of causality, apart from the obvious fact that the condition of being a learner is quite different from being a patient; teaching is not an intervention (like medicine) but a process of symbolically mediated interaction. If teaching is to have any effect on learning, it is because of the fact that learners interpret and try to make sense of what they are being taught on a range of levels. Far from being a causal technology, a push-pull process, teaching is an open and recursive exploration and indeed, ironically, it is the very impossibility of limiting teaching to a definable box that makes learning possible.



Orthodoxy has created a top-down perception of reality that dictates basic principles that have been ingrained into our subconscious through the hierarchy of science. Holism advocates a more bottom-up created view of creation; a view in which we learn and create our reality through the way we engage with our environment and interconnect with experience.

The process of teaching challenges many orthodox principles and can lead to a new, more inclusive and interconnected perception of existence. I believe teachers have an important role in exposing the limitations of current doctrine and leading the way forward to new holistic beliefs and perspectives.

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The Economic Crisis: A poem

The Crisis.

Economic growth

Increased production

Higher consumption

Rising employment


The relentless drumbeat of humanity

As it marches to the precipice


More medicine means less illness

More weapons means fewer wars

More prisons means less crime

More production means greater prosperity

More information means greater wisdom

More consumption means greater happiness


The mantra is repeated relentlessly

As we march forward

Convinced of the truth

Confident in the knowledge

Over the precipice

Into the abyss.

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Inspiring Teachers in Khartoum

On 26 July 2011 11:14, Gray, Ben (Sudan) <ben.gray@sd.britishcouncil.org> wrote:
Inspiring Teachers in Khartoum
Building on links made across the education sector in Sudan, the British Council is celebrating a recent forum held for English language teachers in Khartoum.  Titled ‘Inspiring our Students, How to Make them REALLY Want to Learn!’  the event was met with great acclaim from all who attended and has set the bar by which future events will be judged.  One attendee, Hala Mohammed, a teacher from a local high school said “I’m taking away some ideas on how to inspire my classes, and I’ve made some great contacts for the future”.  English lessons at both school and university in Sudan often have over 100 students in a single classroom.
So, what made this forum so different from the numerous other education events that occur each year?  As organiser for the British Council, Ben Gray, English Language Advisor, said prior to the event, “We want teachers to be inspired at the forum; not just to hear how they should be doing it”.    A choice was made to invite Dr. Tom Godfrey, a leading teacher training consultant with a reputation for involving the audience and demonstrating practical advice, whose all-involved activities and unconventional style had the 250+ audience up out of their seats clapping, dancing and moving around the University of Khartoum hall.  Nobody had expected an impromptu performance of Cinderella, but to the observers the usually reserved audience embraced the activity with gusto!

The break from the norm didn’t stop there.  
Local English teacher Maie Hassan stated after “The event was different from anything I’ve been to before” and referring to the decidedly different approach “It left me with a real sense of connection to other teachers and a practical way to communicate with them in future”.
Most important to the organisers – the University of Khartoum English Language Institute, the Association of Sudanese Teachers of English Language, TESOL Sudan and the British Council English Team – is that the forum will have a lasting positive effect on English language teaching in Sudan.  
Three similar forums are planned between now and the end of March 2012, and Ben is keen both to increase the future number of participants and to use the forums as a platform to other professional development activities, and in particular linking with the large-scale teacher training programme the Council is currently planning with the Sudan Ministry of Education.

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Doing the DELTA on-line: is it effective?

 Ever wanted to get going on DELTA but felt you were working in a place too inaccessible to get started? Well, you can not possibly be in a more remote part of the world than the Falkland Islands. This is where Lesley lived when she applied to do our on-line DELTA Module One. 

Nowhere is as remote as the Falkland Islands

Since Cambridge introduced the Modular DELTA more centres are offering on-line options but are these effective? This is Lesley’s story of her on-line DELTA Module One.

Penguins and DELTA Module One

The Falkland Islands are more than 8000 miles from my home in England and from  Istanbul where I had very positive memories of doing my CELTA.  One day an online update about the DELTA Module One just starting at ITI, Istanbul arrived  and  I decided to enquire further.  A pre-course task and an interview later, I was on the course.

Feeling lonely?

A major worry was accessing research material since, in the Falklands, the internet  is frustratingly slow, expensive and unreliable.  As to  reading,   the Islands are great for books if you want to know about penguins or the South Pole but there are no others – indeed there is no bookshop. My solution was to order on-line from the bibliography, aware however,  that post is often very slow and that they might arrive after the assignments for which I needed them.  As it turned out, I was right!

Signing on to the Moodle for the first time, I was awed by how many people were on the course and the different cities or countries from which they were accessing it. This was reassuring, if they could do it, I could too.

It took a bit of time to get used to the way the course worked with input sessions a solitary affair via the internet,  weekly tests to upload, and tasks accomplished by group work via the Moodle.   Every week, brought a new task and different CP’s (course participants) to work with.  Some were proactive, dividing the task so we took on different parts of it and shared afterwards, other CPs were rarely heard from after the initial “Hello”.  I enjoyed my inbox filling up with enquiries, thoughts and additions over the week ready for the Friday morning assignment-upload.  It was helpful to read the research presented by all  the other groups.  This reduced the isolation factor of the Falkland Islands enormously.

After a while I got into the rhythm of the course.  Friday was the day for uploading assignments and downloading session notes, following links and saving any helpful articles .  Sunday was ‘test day’ when I timed and uploaded my test, wondering how important the midnight deadline was and indeed whose midnight – mine was 7  hours behind!  From the start I was impressed by my tutors Sally and Liz and reassured by their quick and positive  feedback.  Though my initial test results were low, I followed their recommendations and slowly things began to improve.

The downside of an online course is lack of human contact.  Sessions are so much more than just the taught material – which is dry in print – no asides, no fillers that help illustrate a point,  indeed, no body language or expression that makes a statement funny or memorable.  In a  taught session  CPs share activities, ask questions and add thoughts. I missed this.

An unexpected problem with my isolation was physically sitting the exam.  I was half the globe away from my exam centre in Istanbul.  Thanks to everyone at ITI who stepped in at this point and organised permission for my papers to be flown to Istanbul then on to the Falkland Islands (via Britain again, of course!).   However, an error in Cambridge at the last moment meant that the papers  were forgotten.  After much to-ing and fro-ing, the exams were faxed to my invigilator  at the Falkland Islands Community School just minutes  before I was due to sit them.  Whilst this added to my anxiety-factor at the time, it shows that anything is possible.

DELTA is hard work but in the long run, the major ingredients required to pass Module One are a lot of determination, a little diligence and a good on-line course like ITI Istanbul’s and these far outweigh the need for books and face to face contact.  If you think you are too far away – then think again!

Do you have experiences of studying on-line? Is it effective? Please send you comments.

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