How often do you use your mobile phone?

As part of an effort to monitor my phone usage and become more productive during the day, I decided to install not one, but three apps that monitor mobile phone usage. The three apps I downloaded were:

1)     Checky,

2)     MyAddictonmeter and,

3)     Mobile addiction meter.

Just to clarify, in no way am I recommending these apps. As it happened I just came across these. There are a lot of other similar apps too.

My phone usage primarily revolves around messaging. This includes emails (I have 3 email accounts), as well as social media, basically WhatsApp. I rarely use twitter and Facebook. In terms of other usage, I search the net when required, as well as watch the odd YouTube video. I do not play games. Having said this, there are plenty of other links, suggestions  and adverts based on our profiles which try hard to distract our attention, in the hope that we spend even more time on the net. At times, these do result in more phone usage.

The statistics that were produced by these apps were surprising. I was going to show a table of the statistics accumulated over the week, but decided not to. Let’s just say that that data is best kept with me and whoever is collecting my surfing and phone usage habits.

However, you may be interested in knowing what kinds of statistics these apps produce.

  • How many times used daily
  • Daily Average use in hours
  • On average usage per minute
  • Max duration
  • Last used duration
  • Times checked per hour
  • Maximum distraction period
  • Least distraction period
  • Distraction free period

In addition to the above, there are also a variety of graphics too, and you can also get a history of usage. However, I found some inconsistencies when comparing usage data between the apps, so it’s difficult to ascertain why these differences are there, for apparently similar measures.

However, I thoroughly recommend you checking out these apps. Mobile phones are seriously disrupting our lives, and there seems to be a tendency to check the phone frequently. If you keep your notifications on silent you may keep checking your phone more often just to see if you have received anything. There is also the tendency to immediately check the phone when notifications are on.

My experience of having used these usage apps for about a week, is that they reveal the real danger of spending too much time on the phone checking messages, and then being distracted by other media. We may not realise it, but we are all fundamentally distracted for long periods of time on additional unplanned activities. The more time we spend on accessing messages and the internet, the more money someone is making. That is the ultimate purpose of all of this technology. If there was no money in it, no one would be interested.

Distraction technologies are in demand. The more distracted we are, the higher some company’s profits or share price. Perhaps more importantly, we need to start thinking seriously about how we can make better use of our time, and reduce phone usage.

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How to ‘cut-up’ & creatively use the IATEFL 2017 conference programme

When we attend conferences, it’s quite normal to receive a lot of paraphernalia. Typically, the conference programme or schedule is part of that.

The chances are, that you’ll feverishly look through the list of presentations to see what might be of interest and worth watching. In fact you may not even look at it again. This does happen. However, there’s a lot of useful information in these publications that have taken hours to put together.

As a blogger who is in fact ‘attending’ the conference remotely, I’ve been thinking about how I can use the pdf version I’ve downloaded perhaps in a different way.

Just to let you know, that I do have nerdish tendencies, but by no means am I going to be reading all 250 pages of the programme! My reading strategy is going to be strictly ‘skimming and scanning’!

So here are a few tips on how to use the conference programme:

1) Networking: 

There are a lot of people in the EFL/ESL field who have a vast array of interests. Many of us may have similar and common interests, and there’s a lot we can learn from others. So what I do, is note down names of people who might be presenting something that I have a passion for and try to connect with them later. It’s a great way to exchange ideas and motivate ourselves by connecting with others.

2) Presentation ideas: 

There are literally tons of presentations during IATEFL 2017. What I tend to do is quickly scan through the topics being presented (hopefully the title will tell me what the presentation is about), and then collect ideas from these to help me perhaps present something in my own context, or at least have a list of ideas for potential future presentations. There is by no means anything wrong with this. I use these to give me ideas. These act as ‘take-off’ points for me to develop something later. You could discover an idea that could be presented next year at IATEFL 2018.

3) Research ideas: 

I often have people coming to me asking me about research ideas for their project proposals. I usually shrug my shoulders. I fervently believe that people need to decide for themselves what they want to research, after all, at least in my experience, passion is a necessary ingredient before plunging into the ‘research pool’. Just by scanning through the list of presentations, plenaries, or even  topics presented by various SIGs (Special Interest Groups), or organisations, there’s plenty to help you on your way to starting your research project. By the way, a research project can be something that will end up with something to discuss with your colleagues at work, a presentation in your own context, perhaps an article for an ELT magazine, or if you’re more ambitious, and academically minded, perhaps something relating to a course you are doing, for example an MA or a PhD, or even something for a journal article.

4) New knowledge:

There is a high probability that you are an experienced individual who has a lot to offer, In fact, it’s possible that you feel you should be presenting something, yet you aren’t. May be it’s worth thinking about IATEFL 2018.

However, I’m one of those people who’s hungry to learn more. There is too much happening to just bury my head in the sand and rest on my laurels. I find that quite often, reading through the presentation abstracts (this is after I’ve scanned, skimmed and located what really takes my fancy!) I come across new ideas or areas that I had never thought of. Perhaps I’m comfortable with the knowledge I have, but it’s still worth taking a step out of my comfort zone. Be adventurous, and consider visiting a presentation about something you’ve never looked at closely. Perhaps this could ignite a new interest, or lead to something even better. Even if you’re at a distance, it’s worth googling the net and finding out more about newer topics. Who knows, you could become the next guru of an area just by taking that brave step into the unknown.

5) Cutting up the IATEFL 2017 programme

This may seem rather odd, but I mean it. Depending on how advanced your class is, there is the possibility of using the programme as a basis for some classroom material (of course after the conference is over!).

My judgement is that we’re looking at mid level to advanced student who could benefit from the materials in some way. How could we use the content to make learning more interesting in the classroom?

I’m sure that people are thinking that we can create materials for lower level learners too. Yes, you could probably use the pictures and illustrations for a variety of activities, but then you’re the expert. You probably have zillions of ideas that are worth doing and even sharing. I’m just trying to facilitate a brain storming exercise here.

Other stuff?

Knowing that this blog has become somewhat lengthy, I’ll stop here.

That’s my brief list of ideas. Perhaps you can think of other creative ways to use the IATEFL 2017 programme in addition to just using it during the conference. May be you could suggest them below?

To download the programme you can go to the following link:

http://conference.iatefl.org/programme.html

All the best!

 

 

 

 

Video on giving effective feedback to teachers – IATEFL 2017

An excellent free video in which Jo Gakonga talks about giving teachers skills in terms of mentoring and teacher training.

As many of you know, either giving or receiving feedback has it’s challenges.

Receiving feedback can be very difficult for the best of us. Many teachers are confident about their skills, and external feedback can at times be taken negatively, even though the giver of the feedback may try to be as diplomatic or as empathetic as possible.

For those who give feedback, it can arguably be more challenging. We want to provide feedback that helps and encourages, and is developmental, yet how do we do it?

Jo Gakonga gives us some insight into her thinking on the matter. You can watch her interview by following this link:

https://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/interview/interview-jo-gakonga

Enjoy!!

 

 

Don’t forget that IATEFL 2017 is online

 

IATEFL Online Live Schedule 2017

[Content is from the IATEFL online website who own all rights to this content]

Join IATEFL at 09.00 (UK time) each day for all the latest from IATEFL 2017.

You will be able to watch live coverage throughout the day statring at 09.00 (UK time).
You will be able to watch over 40 conference sessions. These session videos will be published throughout the conference.

Please see details of the live schedule below.

LIVE SCHEDULE

Tuesday 4th April

0900-1020 OPENING PLENARY BY GABRIEL DIAZ MAGGIOLI
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Gabriel Diaz MaggioliEmpowering teachers through continued professional development: frameworks, practices and promises

The notion that language teachers need ongoing professional development opportunities should be considered a harmless platitude. Yet, as the field stands now, most of our colleagues are not provided with such opportunities as parts of their jobs. How is it then that we hear so many wonderful tales of exploration and discovery? Teachers have taken upon themselves to build these growth opportunities. In this plenary I will share some stories, and weave the plots of new stories to come by presenting a “state of the art” hawk eye view of professional development and recommending potential ways in which colleagues can help colleagues learn and develop.

 

17:25 – 18:30 BRITISH COUNCIL SIGNATURE EVENT
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Language for ResilienceLanguage for Resilience

Speakers: Syrian Refugee Stakeholders. Moderated by Mike Solly.
The British Council has the pleasure of inviting you to attend the follow up to our report launch of ‘Language for Resilience’. The report examines the role that language can play in enhancing the resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities. The ‘Language for Resilience’ report was commissioned in response to the unprecedented effects of the Syrian refugee crisis and brings together information gathered though interviews with refugees, host communities and those working to support them, with lessons learned from past and on-going British Council language programming in conflict and post-conflict areas. Key practitioners and Syrian refugee stakeholders will share their thoughts on the role of language in enhancing the resilience of individuals and communities affected by crisis.

Wednesday 5th April

0900-1000 OPENING PLENARY BY SARAH MERCER
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Sarah MercerConnecting minds: language learner and teacher psychologies

Language learning is a deeply social and emotional undertaking for both teachers and learners. In this talk, I wish to reflect on the fundamental role played by psychology in the learning and teaching of foreign languages. Far from being an optional extra in the teaching and learning debate, we will see just how crucial an understanding of psychology is, given that people and their relationships lie at the heart of the teaching/learning interaction. While teaching materials and specific methodologies remain vitally important, it is impossible to reap the full benefits offered by such resources without those involved being psychologically in a facilitative frame of mind.

Together we will consider some of the foundations of a healthy psychology in the language classroom for both teachers and learners. We will assume a socially situated understanding of psychology that challenges the division between cognition and emotion as well as the emphasis on the individual in isolation. We will focus on the centrality of social relationships, especially the connection between teachers and learners, and the role of perception in engagement with contextual opportunities. We will cover diverse aspects of psychology such as beliefs, emotions, sense of self, agency and engagement. Specifically, we will consider how we can help learners to connect mentally and emotionally to their language learning and how we can support teachers to ensure a positive level of professional well-being in their jobs. In sum, this talk aims to focus our minds on what matters most in language education: The people.

Thursday 6th April

0900-1000 OPENING PLENARY BY JJ WILSON
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

JJ WilsonELT and social justice: opportunities in a time of chaos

In this plenary, I will look at the arguments for including social justice issues in ELT classrooms. I will summarise the literature, referencing major theorists such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, and bell hooks. I will also examine relevant ideas and movements: critical pedagogy and conscientização; participatory teaching/learning; problem-posing and dialogic methods; “poor man’s pedagogy”; service learning; and “the banking method” versus education as the practice of freedom. Moving from theory to practice, I will then show ways in which teachers can include social justice issues in the classroom. These activities include drama, poetry, images, community projects, and so on. I will conclude with some remarks about professional development and the concept of education for social justice. I will stress that the ideas in this talk are not a methodology or a recipe for becoming a better teacher. They are a “way of being”. Each idea, each activity must be made afresh, re-created every time the teacher steps into the classroom.

Friday 7th April

0900-1000 OPENING PLENARY BY JANE SETTER
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Silvana RichardsonWhere angels fear to tread: intonation in English language teaching

Intonation is one of the earliest acquired aspects of speech; the crymelodies of infants are influenced by the intonation of their mothers, and very small toddlers are able to use intonation to indicate turn taking patterns in play conversations before they can form words. It plays a vital role in successful communication in English, as it does in other languages. If this is true, why is intonation neglected in English language pronunciation teaching, and how can it be taught effectively?

This presentation takes the audience into the seldom-navigated region of intonation in English language teaching, focusing on the role of three main elements: tonality, tonicity and tone. Drawing on material from a number of different sources, we explore the role of intonation in English, and look at which elements are teachable, which are learnable, what resources are available to the teacher and the learner, and how intonation might be approached in the English language classroom and as a self-access learning activity. Expect a multimedia, audience participation experience.

1310-1410 CLOSING PLENARY BY IMTIAZ DHARKER
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Imtiaz DharkerOver the moon

Imtiaz Dharker will read from her new Glasgow poems as well as Over the Moon. These are poems about music and feet, church bells, beds, café tables, bad language and sudden silence. In contrast with her previous work written amidst the hubbub of India, these new poems are mostly set in Britain, where she has built a new life with – and since the death of – her husband Simon Powell.

 

 

Attending IATEFL 2017 in pyjamas

Next week, I’m planning to attend a conference in pyjamas.

Odd as this might sound, it’s true, and it’s because IATEFL have an online format for those who cannot attend their conference which begins from the 3rd of April.

I can already imagine it. Watching an online talk,presentation or plenary, whilst sipping Arabic coffee, and chewing traditional luxury Madinah Ajwa dates (I work in Saudi). I’ll hopefully also be learning something new about teaching English in the EFL ESL world. Why not?

Yes, it’s an opportunity to develop myself. I don’t know about you, but professional development is an absolute necessity for me. There are always new things to learn. My experience is that learning motivates, and provides much needed energy to do even better in the classroom. Yes, our students are demanding, and trying to meet their individual demands in order to help them on to a successful trajectory does require hard work.

I always plan to go to conferences, but the biggest problem is that often, these conferences occur during the academic year, and then of course there’s the little matter of paying for flights and hotels. Not really something a modestly paid teacher like me can easily afford. In that sense, IATEFL online is a blessing in disguise.

In effect, it’s free PD and an opportunity to get to perhaps learn something new.

I’d encourage fellow teflers who can’t make it to the conference to take out time to attend online, wherever you are in the world.

If you’re interested in knowing more, click on the link below:

http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017

Happy conferencing!!

Why I love the month of Ramadan

Ramadan,
I adore it,
indeed it’s a blessed month,
it teaches me to be patient,
it brings discipline back into my life,
it makes me remember that there’s more to life than eating,
most importantly, it brings me closer to God (Allah),
it re-ignites my interest in the Qur’an,
it reminds me of what I’m so fortunate to have,
it makes me think of those less fortunate than me,
it helps me clear my mind,
it’s a time to contemplate,
on matters more spiritual,
more closer to the soul,
time to reflect on ones role,
to rectify oneself,
to be more in control,
not to fall for fruitless desires
but to do what really matters,
to help those less fortunate,
to be an example to society,
to show what life is really about,
self-sacrifice and service to others,
to bring hope to others,
to be a force for good,
the ultimate aim of course,
is to please the One and Only Almighty.

Thank you God (Allah) for giving us this beautiful month of…

…Ramadan..,
Oh how I’ll miss it when it goes.