LLP Dissemination

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

During 19.04-30.042010, I attended the teacher development course: Refresher Course in Practical, Creative Methodology for Overseas Language Teachers as part of a Grundtvig Mobility grant, in Oxford, UK. It was a rich and professionally rewarding experience. 

Beginnings 

 The course posed real initial challenges due to the bleak circumstances that had befallen Europe by  the Icelandic volcanic eruption, subsequent closure of the European airspace and cancellation of flights.  And there I was, embarked on a fully packed bus for a pilgrimage which lasted two nights and one day. England had became an island again. 

However, I am definitely positive that all these efforts were worthwhile, despite all the frustration and exhaustion. Ever since I boarded the London-Oxford coach, I felt that thrill of a unique experience towards the heart of knowledge.

During the first day

Oxford is the town with no less than 39 universities / colleges, with a rich academic life, dozens of bookshops and over 100 libraries. It is the city with one of the oldest world universities,  ivy-covered lime-stone and thatched-roofed buildings, with a clear and mellifluous English  language that has no specific local accent. I felt like descending into a fairy tale with fancy gardens, parks with swans, squirrels and peacocks; where hundreds of years of civilization  had their say even in the bus queuing and the incessant ‘good morning’ that every bus traveller utters when they get on the bus and their equally polite ‘thank you’ upon getting off, the courtesy and indirect questions in school, the streets where you can be yourself without any disapproving glance from the passers-by. 

 The Course 

 The course I attended targeted the teachers of English from higher education, secondary and vocational schools or other institutions involved in providing language services to adult students. The course provider was The Lake School of Oxford, UK, (presented in detail in the Grundtvig / Comenius database) which is accredited by the British Council and belongs to the network of Quality English Schools (http://www.quality-english.com). 

Organization, syllabus and delivery were excellent. There were 6 teacher-students (the force majeur situation preventing the rest of 6 applicants to attend): 1 Turkish, 1 Nigerian, two Germans and two  Romanias. Every day we learned in a challenging and collaborative way, hands-on, with enthusiastic, well organized and professional teachers, about communicative activities and state of the art techniques we can adopt and tailor to our students’ needs. The programme included training activities scheduled each week day from 9:00 am until 16:00 pm with one-hour lunch break and 10-15 minutes of coffee breaks in between (coffee and tea were included in the course fee!). 

At school with my colleagues and teachers - I'm down in the middle, with the white shirt

Syllabus

 

 The course syllabus was exhaustive and very attractively presented: introductory activities (ice-breakers), interactive grammar, collocations, writing skills, applications on authentic texts, pronunciation, phrasal verbs, blended learning and applying the new technologies in teaching/learning English, English colloquialisms, slang, exploitation of pictures and digital images, games and songs in teaching EFL. 

 Social/cultural activities 

 Each week included a rich range of social and cultural activities: city tours of Oxford, socializing in the pub (a real pub culture!), visit to Christ Church College (the famous place for producing 13 British prime ministers,  the filming of Harry Potter series and representing the home and setting of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, and definitely more than that!) as well as a visit to a local school.

Preparing th visit Christ Church College

Entering Christ Church meadow

A one-day weekend trip included a visit to the charming and unique English country side of Cotswold and Burford, as well as the Whispering knights ( a local version of the Stonhenge) – a land that is full of legends and history. The trip ended with a visit of Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s native place, with an inciting atmosphere of boisterous holidaymakers, wooden houses, troops of amateur actors in ancient costumes and minstrels  skilfully playing the bard’s tragedies and comedies on the streets. 

In Stratford upon Avon

 Accomodation 

 A strength of this course was the homestay accommodation. Staying  with a host family is a uniquely rewarding language experience as well as a cultural learning event. I was happy to stay with a family of teachers who organized a barbeque with friends and guests and evening meals were usually colleagues or friends were invited and so the language and cultural learning lessons continued till bed time. I learned from them the importance of a healthy lifestyle starting from food to hobbies (to be able to patiently observe the field butterflies and birds, to participate in bell ringing or other charities), waste recycling, hand sewing of wedding quilts (which I contributed myself), to mention just a few extremely important cultural learning lessons. 

 Acknowledgement 

 I learned a lot from all points of view. Oxford will remain a place that has enhanced me professionally, culturally and humanly. Here I consolidated my conviction that learning through application is sustainable, collaborative and cooperative, that learning in a group is memorable, and learning through cultural immersion is both memorable and sustainable. 

I highly and warmly recommend this course to those involved in teaching English as a foreign language. They will definitely not regret it. 

 My gratitude goes to all those who made this unique experience possible: the Grundtvig Commission, The  National Agency ANPCDEFP, Grundtvig experts: Florentina Anghel and Andreea Samoila, the teachers at Oxford Lake School, the Morgan Family, Cantemir University for agreement and my family for constant support. 

 Anisoara Pop 

Dimitrie Cantemir University of Targu Mures

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