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Jim Scrivener’s back in Moscow

There he was, slowly coming up the stage. Over 15 years later, he was back to Moscow for only one day to give talks on issues he is presently concerned with at the annual Macmillan Conference in June, 2012.

He addressed the public with the poem by Philip Larkin:

Days

What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over.

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question

Brings the priests and the doctors

In their long coats

Running over the fields.

This is how Jim Scrivener elegantly advanced his cause of bringing literature back into the classroom.

All at once, the whole audience was grasped by Jim’s and poem’s charm. All usual hums and noises subsided instantly; everybody was tuned in and eager for more.

Jim didn’t fail to meet the audience’s expectations. He gave a highly inspirational talk on how literature can be easily integrated into modern communicative teaching.

First of all, Jim pointed out that literature has been unjustly thrown out of the language classroom in the sake of the communicative techniques. However, a book, Jim claimed, can and has to be a social experience, which means a shared experience.

Literature allows us to communicate through time and space: we can learn about the past and predict possible futures; it can take us to places we have never been to. Books address our emotions and integrate with our own lives. In fact, literature IS communication and language in use. If you look at books from this perspective, you will easily see how greatly they can contribute to the communication between the language learners and to learning languages as well.

Jim quoted Alan Maley’s 7 reasons why literature should be more widely used in language teaching, they are: literature’s universality, non-triviality, personal relevance, variety, interest it generates, economy and suggestive power, and ambiguity.

Then, Jim went to speak about how to introduce literature to learners without putting them off it but instead by wetting their appetite for it. The prime questions here are “How can teachers get learners to enjoy a text?” and “How can teacher get them to “swim around” and take pleasure from it?” Jim admits that there are no easy answers to these questions but he believes that anything that involves learners and brings them to literature will definitely help.

To the traditional “predict and then pre-teach vocabulary” way of introducing texts, Jim offers an alternative of getting students into the meaning before they meet the text. One way to do so is to set up a discussion around the topic raised in the text or to put learners into a situation described in the text and to ask them to perform some tasks or to solve some problems arising from the situation. In this way learners will live though the situation and when they are reading the text they will easily get the meaning without stumbling over unknown words.

Jim suggested some other ways to introduce a text. There could be a picture dictation, a comic based on the original book, or a word cloud with the words from the text so that learners could predict what the text they are going to read is about.

To make reading even more powerful tool in language learning, it can be accompanied with some writing activities which will help learners to develop their language production skills. During his presentation, Jim mentioned some creative writing activities which, in my opinion, will undoubtedly be welcomed by learners. Among many other activities there were a six word story, acrostic and spine poems, using a metaphor or a simile from the text for learners to complete with their own ideas and many other.

Jim also offered some amusing activities that can be used while reading longer texts, such as Talk Show, The News issues, a Fakebook and others.

All in all, I should hardly think that after Jim Scrivener’s inspiring talk there was anyone left unconvinced that it’s high time for literature to make its victorious comeback into language classrooms.

Jim Scrivener’s second presentation that day had an intriguing title: Can teachers teach?

Certainly, Jim didn’t question our teaching skills, but the point he was about to make had a solid footing. I can’t agree more with Jim that a lot of teaching is going on but it is leading to relatively little learning. No doubt teachers are doing their job well but the result of their hard work isn’t the one that they would expect. Jim claims that neither teachers nor methods are inadequate but the lack of demand and challenge learners face is to blame here.

According to Jim, in the modern classroom, “generalized encouragement replaced the feedback on what students can do better”, which doesn’t lead to upgrading learners’ language. “The teacher is somehow satisfied with less.” That’s why we can see a large undemand in the language classroom where learners are underchallenged. “Somehow teachers tend to step back and vanish into the wallpaper or perform too much of entertaining”. As the result the learning goals are lost and unachieved.

To tackle this problem, Jim Scrivener and his colleague and friend Adrian Underhill came up with the idea of Demand-High Teaching. Here is their manifesto:

  1. It is OK to teach.
  2. We need to focus on where the learning is.
  3. You have permission to be active interventionist teacher.
  4. Learn the classroom management techniques that make a difference.
  5. Risk working hands-on with language.
  6. Expect more – demand high.

I think it’s pointless to describe all the principles of the Demand-High Teaching in great detail here. It’s better to learn about it firsthand by visiting Jim and Adrian’s blog specifically devoted to the approach. There, one can find the detailed explanation of principles, lots of articles and other materials. I highly recommend visiting the blog and taking part in the discussions.

http://demandhighelt.wordpress.com/

The only thing I would like to add here is the way out suggested by Jim which is to try to increase the doable demand on students’ performance. Surely this is a little shift that can lead to considerable improvements in learners’ performance and language acquisition.

To sum up, I’d like to say that those who came to the conference that day were happy not only to listen to two (not just only one as it’s usually the case at any conference) talks by Jim Scrivener but also to socialize informally with him during the break.

It was such a pleasure to see Jim Scrivener in person here in Moscow! I wish Jim could come to Russia much more often. I’m looking forward to seeing him back as soon as possible.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in ELT Conferences

 

Who to ask?(2) or What do students want?

I believe in coincidences. When two events happen at the same time, they enhance each other and the connection between them becomes strikingly obvious. A coincidence gives you an unprecedented chance to have a broader view of the events.

Such an eye-opening coincidence occurred when I was doing a survey with my Moscow State University students at the Physics faculty this spring. (For the general overview of the survey, please see https://eltdiary.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/who-to-ask/ ) The survey coincided with the arrival of the parcel with Teaching Unplugged.  The ideas in the book and the survey results were so much in line with each other! Both the authors of the book and the students expressed one and the same idea – COMMUNICATION is central to language learning.

This idea is concisely expressed in the quotation from the Common European Framework of Reference for Modern Languages: language learning should “satisfy …communicative needs”, enabling learners to “exchange information and ideas … and communicate their thoughts and feelings.” (I came across this quotation in Luke Medding’s story in the Introduction to Teaching Unplugged)

I believe this is a key point in teaching and learning languages because, as stated in Teaching Unplugged, “conversation is the fundamental, universal and default form of language. For this reason, most language learners feel cheated if their course includes little or no conversation practice.” (Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury, 2009) Unfortunately, this is so much common a case in Russian Post-Soviet schools and Universities where conversation isn’t given much priority. However, students are eager to socialize with, learn from and exchange their experiences with each other. As you will see from the detailed description of survey results below, most students expressed the wish to speak and interact with each other more. Moreover, learners would like to talk about things that are most relevant to them and what they can engage with.  One of my students said that the discussions in class shouldn’t necessarily be about physics (my students’ main subject at the faculty). This once again confirms that teachers should unplug from time to time to give room for students’ initiative and creativity.

All this became so clear to me after I looked through the responses my students had given in the survey.

So now it’s right time for me to step back and give floor to my students  🙂

Below I comment each question of the survey and provide some quotations from students’ feedback sheets.

Q#1 – What is your general impression of the lesson today?

In general, this question is an indicator of the efficiency of your teaching. If your teaching meets your students’ needs and interests, most of the answers to this question will be favourable. If favourable comments constitute only half of the responses, it’s time for a teacher to revise their methods.

I’m happy to say that almost all of my students are unanimous in their opinion of my lessons. Here is what they say:

  • “I think it was very interesting and useful”
  • “I really liked it! There was a comfortable atmosphere (as usual)”
  • “It was interesting. I had slept about 3 hours last night but it wasn’t a problem. Great job!’
  • “Sunny time” /The day was really sunny and bright! /
  • “I think it was very funny and interesting.”
  • “It was incredible.”
  • ”I liked the lesson! On the one hand we didn’t do much, so I’m not very tired after the lesson. But on the other, I realize that I’ve learnt some new facts about the language.”
  • “It’s always interesting. I really like the atmosphere in the classroom. It’s positive and friendly.”
  • “I don’t know how to describe it, but I think all your lessons are great!”

(Dear students, believe me, I always try to do my best 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy my lessons! 🙂 )

Q#2 – What have you learnt today?

First of all, I’d like to give a brief description of the lesson we had that day. It was a grammar revision lesson on verbs followed by Gerund or Infinitives.

  1. Warming-up speaking activity on what students had seen, felt, heard, smelt or noticed on their way to the University: S-S/T-CL (10 min)
  2. Oral drill of verbs in the form of peer check in pairs. Before the pair check, I checked each student individually. (15 min)
  3. Homework check: students were given their classmates’ home tasks that they had prepared for that lesson. They checked them individually then with those whose homework they had checked. Then there was the whole class check. (15 min)
  4. Controlled practice on Gerund: S/S-S/T-CL (20-25 min)
  5. Freer practice on Gerund: discussion of questions that included some verbs with gerund. Students were arranged in two rows. Over some time one row of students moved forming new pairs of students. (15 min)
  6. Feedback survey (7-10 min)

On the whole, the students found it easy to recall what they had learnt during the lesson. I’m not going to give students comments on this question because they were almost the same, stating that they “learnt new rules on gerund after certain verbs and what [their] friends had been doing in the morning, [their] feelings and other.”

At first sight this question might look unnecessary. Why to ask an obvious thing? But I find this particular question very beneficial for the development of students’ learning autonomy. By looking back at what they have studied during a lesson, students will learn over some time to set clear learning goals and revise them and also their achievement on a regular basis. I think it could be a good practice to include this question in our lessons plans, making students get used to such summarizing and revision.

Q#3 – What part of the lesson did you like in the class today? Why?

The answers to this question led me to the following conclusion about what students really like to do in class.

Firstly, students like to act as teachers and check each other’s knowledge or homework:

  • “I liked the part when I was like a teacher and checked homework of my classmate…”
  • “I liked checking the verbs in pairs.”

Needless to say how beneficial the peer check is. It never fails to raise students’ awareness and concentration on the task. This leads to a better class work efficiency and students’ better performance and quicker progress.

Secondly, the students like cooperation:

  • “I liked when we did exercises and then checked them together but first in pairs.”
  • “I like to compare our results.”
  • “I like when we worked in pairs, because I have terrible English speaking skills and don’t feel stressed when I work in a pair.”

This once again reminds us how important the pair work is. It reduces stress, fosters cooperation and increases students’ speaking time.

Next, students like competitions:

  • “I like the spirit of competition, it makes me work better.”
  • “I liked the part of the lesson when we had a some kind of gerund battle.”

Well, yes, people do like to compete! This is natural after all! So why to neglect this sort of activity? Even a traditional grammar exercise check can be turned into a competition. The competition takes the boredom away and brings fun and joy into the classroom. Competitions can be made even more enjoyable if the winners get some small prizes such as a sweet, an eraser, etc.

Finally, students like communicating with each other:

  • “It is interesting to talk with classmates.”
  • “I like to chat with my classmates.”
  • “I like the part when we speak with each other.”
  • “I like intercourse with the friends. I think it is very interesting to know something new about people who are round you.”

Well, it’s all about communication 🙂 We are humans because we communicate. And we communicate because we are humans. It’s in the human nature to speak, to share and to interact. Languages were invented for this purpose. However, when it comes to teaching a foreign language, speaking turns out to be the most disregarded part of the learning process. At least it’s true for Russian Post-Soviet educational traditions, according to which learners of foreign languages have mainly been taught reading and writing as if they have been trained for the roles of scanners or printers.

So, the teacher’s duty is to allocate as much class time as possible to developing speaking skills through conversation. To quote from Luke Meddings and Scott Thornbury , “there are at least five reasons why conversation should occupy a key role in language learning. These are:

  • Conversation is language at work
  • Conversation is discourse.
  • Conversation is interactive, dialogic and communicative.
  • Conversation scaffolds learning.
  • Conversation promotes socialization.” (Teaching Unplugged, 2009)

But how to increase students’ speaking time in the classroom if teachers are often forced to meet the deadlines and tight schedules? In my opinion, the best way out is to try to turn each task or activity into a conversation.

The students’ responses to this question naturally take me to the last fifth question of the survey.

Q#4 – What part of the lesson did you dislike in the class today? Why?

We can’t avoid criticism, can we? 🙂 So, here is the point of the survey where the students were asked to express their criticism and ideas how my lessons can be improved.

I was really glad to find out that a lot of respondents had left this section blank or said something like “I don’t have anything to say here” or “There wasn’t anything I disliked about the lesson.”

However, this question is one of the most important in the survey because it provides the teacher with invaluable information about what is going wrong or what the students are not happy with. This is a sort of a diagnosis of what should be immediately dealt with and improved.

Some students expressed their worries about being publicly tested. They felt nervous and even frightened. I understand those students’ concerns and next time I probably change the order of the activities. I’ll first ask students to check each other in pairs and then I’ll quickly test each student individually. This order will help less confident students to get better prepared for the test and might reduce their tension.

However, I think that a bit of nervousness is healthy: tests shake students up a bit 🙂

There was one more comment to this question. The student said that s/he didn’t like the part of the lesson when the lesson was over and they had to leave the classroom 🙂

I hope that this will be the only regret our students express about our lessons! I also hope that the questionnaire will help you to achieve this.

Thanks

I would like to address to all of my students and to thank them for taking part in the survey and sharing their impressions and observations with me.

My dear students, I also thank you all for attending my lessons, for doing all your home tasks and for contributing to our lessons.

I apologize for not quoting all the responses here. It was done to save time and post space. But it no way means that some of your responses are more important than others. Let me assure you that each and every comment of yours has been taken into consideration.

I wish you every luck and success in your studies and life. It’s been pleasure to work with you! 🙂

I also would like to thank everyone who has read my post to this point 😉 Thank you for taking time and reading my post. I hope it wasn’t a waste of time for you and you have found something useful in it.

Thank you!


P.S.

Here are the beautiful flowers my students gave to me at the end of the semester 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Young Adults

 

Who to ask?

Two University Teachers of English are talking:

T1: You know, I’ve been teaching here for quite a long time – almost five years. But now I’ve got a feeling that I mightn’t be doing everything I could do. And I doubt that my students are happy with my lessons. What do you think I should do?

T2: I can come and observe your lesson, if you like…

T1: Oh, that’ll be good. Thank you!

T2: But you know what?

T1: ?

T2: Why not to ask your students?

T1: What do you mean?

T2: I mean to ask the students if they’re enjoying your lessons and what they would like to improve about them.

T1: Hmmm. Do you think it’s appropriate? Well, I must think about it.

If you’ve come to the point as Teacher 1 in the above dialogue when you aren’t sure that your lessons meet the interests of your students, why not to ask the students themselves what they think about your teaching? It takes courage but it pays off. The only prerequisite is open-mindedness, the ability to take criticism and to be ready to change.

About a month ago I decided to give this idea a go and did a survey among my University students on their impression of the lesson they’d just had. The students were invited to give feedback by answering the following five questions:

  1. What is your general impression of the lesson today?
  2. What have you learnt today?
  3. What part of the lesson did you like in the class today? Why?
  4. What part of the lesson did you dislike in the class today? Why?
  5. What would you like to do in class next week?

I owe this idea to Chiew who suggested using such feedback questions for sparkling students’ motivation and getting them involved in what actually happens at the lessons. http://itdi.pro/blog/2012/03/05/how-important-is-homework-scott-thornbury/

I slightly modified the original questions and turned the homework task into a classroom activity. I decided to ask students to complete the questionnaire right at the end of the lesson for two reasons: first, to ensure that everyone present gives the feedback; second, to strike while the iron is hot and the students remember the lesson clearly.

The students were given 7 minutes at the end of the lesson to answer the five questions of the survey.

I should say that my students were pleased and slightly surprised at the fact that a teacher gave them an opportunity to express their opinions and wishes about the lesson. The students’ surprise was quite understandable as it isn’t common here in Russia for students to be asked to give their opinion on what their teacher is doing and what is more to suggest any improvements.

To make this survey more attractive for the students, I prepared colourful answer sheets. Here we can see a photo of them.

The students could choose an answer sheet by the colour they liked. This didn’t fail to add even more fun to the activity.

I must admit that on the whole my students liked the activity. And though there were some students who were doubtful about what to write, which I attribute to the novelty of the task, most students had so much to say that 7 minutes seemed too short for them.

In fact, I enjoyed doing the survey. For me it’s been very tempting and exciting to find out what other people think about what I’m doing, especially if these people are the target audience of my activity. After all, if you’re confident in what you’re doing you have nothing to be afraid of. Students aren’t going to pan you. Rather, they’ll be pleased with the chance to be heard and with the understanding that their opinion is valued and trusted by their teacher.

On the whole, it was a very positive experience. In my opinion, such survey can be a really useful thing. For a teacher, the survey gives immediate feedback on their lessons and teaching methods. Thanks to the survey, a teacher can quickly adjust the content of the lessons and/or the style of teaching to the needs of a particular group of learners. Moreover, learners’ responses may prompt some fresh ideas to be used in the classroom and may trigger the teacher’s professional self-evaluation and self-reflection. The survey could be an indispensable help for a teacher who wishes to be (or become) a flexible, open-minded and sensitive to learners’ needs professional.

On the other hand, learners can benefit from the survey too. First of all, such questionnaires give learners the opportunity to be an active part of the learning process and influence to some extent what goes into the lesson and the way the lessons are conducted. But what is more, the survey may help learners to develop their autonomy in a way that they become more aware of their needs and what they can take from lessons.

I believe, such brief questionnaires can provide a lot of motivational stimuli to learners and make them feel that their opinion and needs really matter.

I’m sure I’m going to use this sort of feedback activity with my other groups too.

I thank Chiew for suggesting such a brilliant idea. And I also thank my students for taking part in the survey and being honest with their evaluation of my lesson.

So, why not to ask your students? 🙂 Do try this survey out and see how it’ll work for you. I would be very much pleased if you share your results and ideas how this survey could be improved.

P.S. If you got interested in the survey, you may find it interesting to read my next post on the same survey which gives a more detailed description of the activity (see https://eltdiary.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/who-to-ask2-or-what-do-students-want/).

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Young Adults

 

“Save ya drama for ya mama” ;)

Today was the first time I had a drama lesson. This doesn’t mean that I had a lesson on drama but that my student and I did a sort of theatrical performance of a book.

My student’s name is Yasya. She’s a nine-year-old beginner who’s studied English for about six months.

Recently, we read a book “Colin’s colours” by Carol Read and Ana Soberon.

It’s a funny colourful book that teaches colours and, more importantly, useful phrases to express your sympathy such as “Oh no!”, “Oh dear!” and “Poor …”.

Firstly, I used this book to teach the names of “garden gang” members (caterpillar, bee, snail, butterfly and ladybird) and the names of some natural phenomena (rain, sun and rainbow). We did some vocabulary activities such as a wordsearch, crosswords and matching games. Then we had an extensive reading practice.

Usually, I stop at this point and go on to another book. But this time I felt that what we had done was somewhat insufficient. Quite out of the blue came the idea to make a play out of the book, which I thought would be a crowning final touch to reading the book.

So, this is how I found myself making a stage scenery for our puppet theatre. Here you can see different stages of the process.

 

Then, I made the puppets on sticks. The tricky thing about the play was that the characters’ emotions change throughout the performance: they are happy, then they are sad, then happy again. That’s why my puppets are two-sided: if you turn them you’ll change the puppets’ facial expression. Here are the smiling and sad sides of our characters.

At the lesson today, Yasya and I elaborated the original book by extending dialogues with greeting phrases and making the dialogues more personalised, i.e. we made each character repeat the same set of phrases while in the book the phrases are pronounced only twice by pairs of characters. This alteration helped my student (who acted out three roles while I did only two) to repeat the functional phrases over and over again until she knew them by heart. This technique proves to be very beneficial! 🙂

The final stage of our rehearsal was the performance itself. We invited Yasya’s mum and sister to attend our show. We arranged the chairs and distributed the tickets. We veiled the stage scenery with a curtain (which was just a piece of papar towel). And then, with the rise of the curtain and me whistling a tune, the performance started.

I was pleased that Yasya managed not only to remember her lines but to act them out very creatively. Both the spectators and the actors enjoyed the performance very much. By the end of the show the actors received almost the standing ovation! 🙂

Needless to say that this was a very positive and motivating experience for both parts – my student and her family and for me as a teacher. I realized what a powerful tool drama can be. It doesn’t only help learn the language but also provides a really strong motivational boost. There’s no any doubt that I’ll be using drama in my classroom in future.

Drama. Strongly recommended! 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Kids

 

Surpr@ise Day in Kosice – How it all started for me

A great day in history, or a personal account of events.

I don’t clearly remember the very first time I learnt about the event. But somehow it was quite a quick and natural decision – “I’m going there.”  And there it all started.

Miraculously, my registration for the event coincided with the awakening of a pleasant feeling of spring inside of me. This was a wonderful feeling, almost a thrill, of something grand and new coming up my way. This feeling, the upcoming spring and the anticipation of the conference reinforced each other, becoming stronger and stronger every day.

There came the day of my departure.  Though it was almost the mid of March, it was a surprisingly lovely winter day. The rays of the rising sun glittered in the snow.  Millions and millions of sparkles danced in the frosty air, sweet and intoxicating. The vast blue sky and the infinite snow-bound earth looked calm and sublime. It was the day that makes you feel energized and invigorated! What a good start of the journey!

And what a surprise it was when I stepped out of my plane in Budapest to find myself in the mid of spring. The warm air and brightly shining sun! The snow-free ground! Everything ready to blossom!

Luckily, my plane arrived earlier and I had a chance to make short yet wonderful trip around the majestic historical part of Budapest. I felt so happy and delighted that I couldn’t stop smiling. I just couldn’t believe my luck!

And then later I met all these wonderful people – Peter Koukol, Luke Meddings, Vladimira Michalkova, Chuck Sandy, Barbara Bujtas, Lenka Kroupova and Marian Steiner – all smiling, open and friendly! In fact, I’m lost for words to give them all the praise they rightfully deserve!

The next day, the day of the conference, turned out to be a sort of revelation to me. First, Luke Meddings’s presentation “Through other people’s eyes” opened my eyes.  Chuck Sandy’s last seminar that day warmed me and opened my mind and heart. And all the people who shared their knowledge and fascination with their profession that day let me look at what I’m doing from a new surprising perspective. They gave me a broader view of our profession showing me the way how to be an even more creative and motivating teacher.

Now looking back at that giant leap I made from winter into spring to meet those great people, I think that the notion of spring could be the best metaphor for what actually happened to me.

By the Surpr@ise Day, I’d lost the momentum in what I was doing. I was working too hard and, probably, too mechanical. I knew I was doing a good job but I’d stopped putting my soul into it. The whole job was just like never-ending household chores – necessary and right but boring, dull and repetitive. As the result, I’d had fewer moments when I felt pleased and happy with my lessons. Now, thanks to all the people I met in Kosice, I rediscovered creativity, freedom and perspective in my profession. I got the taste for my profession back.

The Supr@ise Day gave me a chance to re-examine my life too. When listening to Luke and Chuck, I felt so strongly how much I was missing on my life! All work and chores, no life, no joy, no free time – I’d been getting tired and jaded.  Now I felt motivated, inspired to change life and make more room for personal development, hobbies and joy.

There was another miraculous thing about that day in my life. I had a feeling of warmth and comfort in those people’s company. I can’t say that I’d felt lonely before I came to Kosice but, beyond any doubt, I’d been somewhat isolated. Now, being surrounded by the Supr@ise Day people, I wasn’t isolated any more but connected and valued.

Yes, it was spring, the Spring which is not just a time of year, but the time of life. It was the time of renovation and renaissance, the time of coming back to Life.  That’s why my badge, that said “Spring’s coming”, was about both the long-awaited season and the beginning of a new stage in my life.

Post Scriptum

I smile at the thought that there is a funny simile between me and Mr Mole from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, who was carried away by Spring’s all-conquering power out of his modest and quiet dwelling into the unknown enormous world to explore, discover, invent, meet, rejoice and open the brand new world of adventure!

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said “Bother! And “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

This is fine!” he said to himself. “This is better than whitewashing!” The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.” (Penguin, 1994)

How true this situation has been for me! Now I’m there, nearer to the sun and air, feeling elated with the joy of living and the delight of spring! 🙂

 

Post Post Scriptum

Thank you to all of you! You’re special! 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in General

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to start my blog by expressing my deepest gratitude and sending million thanks to the people who have changed my mode of thinking and set me developing both personally and professionally in a new fascinating direction. This direction has led me to a lot of wonderful discoveries and big achievements one of which is this blog.

First of all, I thank Anna Loseva, my MSU colleague, for unveiling the grand world of the Internet teaching community and introducing me to the prominent members of her PLN.

I thank Vladimira Michalkova for inviting me to the Surpr@ise Day in Kosice, Slovakia, and giving me a golden opportunity to meet such outstanding people like Chuck Sandy, Luke Meddings, Marian Steiner, Barbara Bujtas and Lenka Kroupova, the people that have become an integral and irreplaceable part of my personal and professional network.

I thank Chuck Sandy for inspiring me and helping me to break out of my circle of failure by sending me powerful vibes of positive energy and by making me believe that I matter.

I thank Luke Meddings for waking me up and tearing me out of my day-to-day monotonous routine in work and life and reminding me of my long-forgotten love for painting and art.

I thank Marian Steiner for his friendly and kind support I feel I can always rely on.

I thank Barbara Bujtas for sharing her world views and reflections on life and inviting me to take part in joint projects.

I thank all my friends in my buddy group on Facebook for always being there and always being ready to help, support and inspire me.

I thank Romano Rodriguez for his loving and genuine support, understanding, patience and appreciation, for always being a helping hand and a strong shoulder to cry on, and for changing my life in a miraculous way.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in General