Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Away for the Summer

My Apologies... I have not been blogging of late as it's the summer. I am in the UK until September, firstly looking after Summer schools, and later teaching at a Uni. But I doubt that you've missed me... there are no exams at the moment after all.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Times, it is a Changing...

It seems that the Economist magazine and now the (London) Times newspapers are charging for an increasing amount of online content. And fair enough too. It must cost a great deal to produce such publications. But I wonder at the business model. Far be it from me to question the mighty Rupert Murdoch, the man certainly knows business, but there are plenty of alternatives available online, most of which are free, gratis, for nothing and cost tipota (please excuse my attempt at Greek with the Roman alphabet Greek readers). Certainly he managed to turn a formerly free (by which I mean 'no fee') industry in to a fee paying one in Britain in the late 80s and early 90s with satellite television. He managed to do so by cornering the sports rights, most importantly the football of the Premiership, but the written word is a different media all together, a different 'ball game' as our American cousins might say.
The Economist has been free in its past and also pay to access, but its content is all together different. It's a weekly periodical, more highbrow, better written and serves a different purpose to the Times. And by changing back and forth between paid and free services I get the impression that they might have struggled with this model. Perhaps the traditional internet models of flash advertising are better. But the internet itself is such a game changer and no one can really tell. Who would have predicted Wikipedia ten years ago? Despite being biased occasionally, and less than authoritative in some area it remains a wonderful resource and a place I visit daily, just remembering the usual caveats that pertain to the internet as a whole. And look at those business that were slow to change their models. The producers of music and now films have had to take a long hard look at their industries, and the financing. It is not good enough in a digital age to enforce ancient business models rolling their product to different parts of the world at different times. Spotify, itunes and perhaps product placement will help them out.
I feel it's all going to be most interesting.
We can only watch an wait.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

New Ken Robinson Talk

Ken Robinson has another Ted talk which I have just come across. These are excellent talks about education and creativity, and I heartily recommend them to anyone.
If you are, by the way, unaware of Ted talks they are updated regularly and are interesting and inspiring talks by leaders in their fields, usually in Technology, Education and Design (TED, get it?).

By the way, they also make excellent Advanced and CPE listening practice and often have subtitles for concept checking. They can also be paused. Brilliant stuff!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Fingers Crossed

Back to talking about non-football related things now (and I'm not referring to the drubbing Australia handed England at rugby on Saturday morning). I was examining in a town near here on Sunday; The FCE Speaking. It was pretty well done and students were well prepared. Good. But there were some common traits that students should look out for.
1) It's 'depend on' (Not 'depend of'!!!) I heard this twenty times. Argh! It doesn-t effect your mark too badly at FCE, but getting dependent prepositions right is easy and will boost your Grammar and Vocab mark.

2) Part 2 was not as well done as it might have been. The two recurring errors were poor descriptive language and pointing with 'this' or 'that' picture. You are asked to compare the pictures (the script no longer asks you to contrast them, but you should anyway). Say what you see and showcase your vocabulary! It looks as if here they are...
Perhaps this is an image of a.... whereas here we can see....

3) The second questions of Parts 2 and 3 were often left unanswered. The question will be something like, 'Can you compare the 2 pictures and say which place you'd rather visit (and why if you have time.
Students would compare the pictures for a minute and that's it. Time up. Practice 40 seconds of comparison and then 20 on the question.
Part 3 was the same. The students neglected the second question. It will read something like, 'Discuss the advantages of the different activities on a summer camp and decide which two would be least suitable.' Everyone forgets the second part! Why? It is now printed clearly above the pictures!

Good luck to my CAE guys who have the exam on Wednesday. Fingers Crossed!

Ban the Vuvuzela

The drone of a billion bees is spoiling the World Cup? It may be the traditional African thing to do, I don't know. But the majority of fans are visitors, and it makes the games unbearable to watch on TV with the volume up.
Portugal play today. I live here, and I've drawn them in the sweepstake, yet still I am not bothered either way if they win or not. Why is this?