Long in Montevideo

30 11 2011

Long in Montevideo by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

Another late entry and unfortunately it’s going to stop here as far as running roads is concerned for a couple of weeks.  It was a hot, hot afternoon as I plodded up and down the lovely promenade of Montevideo after my morning exertions for Macmillan (Feedback Fiesta and Correction Celebration at IH Montevideo). 

Little did I know that there was a 10km race planned for 5pm so I was surprised to see few if anyone out sharing my run with me and then the police closed the coast road for me to run on.  Having laughed at all the people running last Sunday in Puerto Madero after the Nike 10km (why didn’t they join the rest of us in the race?) I found myself unwittingly in the same boat.  I wanted to be wearing a t-shirt that said ‘I’m flying out of here in an hour otherwise I’d be running with the rest of you’.  

And unfortunately I felt a twinge in my right calf in the last of the 8km which I forgot about as soon as I stopped running but remembered as soon as I tried to go out again the following Tuesday – after a single KM I had to stop for the tightness.  Hopefully I stopped quickly enough and I won’t be resting for long, but I won’t try again until I get back from Sao Paulo to ensure I have a good rest of it before I go again.  Got to keep fit for the summer and make the most of the time I’m going to have to run as well as trying to keep the Christmas kilos at bay.  

The Easy After

30 11 2011

Post-race Easy by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

I’ve got a tad behind with my running blogs since the ‘glory’ of the WeRunBuenosAires 10km.  Probably because there wasn;t much to say about this run, just that I went with Mer and we both struggled terribly with leggy legs and lack of zest.  A definitely race hangover, but a very necessary run to keep the muscles honest.  Need to pick it up again soon – looking forward to a long run on Saturday in Montevideo. 

Comment on Scott Thornbury’s blog post ‘G is for Gist’

30 11 2011
mcneilmahon (02:57:04) :

Hi all,
Fascinating reading throughout and I find particular resonance in Wily, Simon and Rob’s posts.

The related question that I’ve been meaning to explore recently and haven’t got around to yet, which is part of Patrick’s question, is whether training our CELTA trainees or asking our own students ourselves to approach texts through gist and then detailed tasks (as I do everyday at the moment) is a valid way of teaching reading.

I have long advocated authentic tasks as being more important and relevant than ‘authentic’ texts, but would like to question further how authentic gist tasks are/can be and ditto detailed reading tasks. Shouldn’t we be encouraging our trainees and students to be approaching texts in the way we do in our L1s? And how practical is this within the confines of a course book driven syllabus or a pre-service training course.

Reading the first paragraph of a course book article to decide whether or not we want to read the whole thing would be an authentic gist task (but what do we do when the answer is no?). But reading an article and choosing which is the best title for it wouldn’t be.

The problem with authenticity seems to be the lack of text quantity and therefore choice in course books, which surely leads to the need for more student-selected texts – i.e. they do the gist reading before they come to class, through choosing texts they want to read as a class and deciding what to do with them. This just leaves the other students in the class with an authentic task to do to engage with that text once it’s been selected. But it also creates many problems for training courses such as CELTA. Can anyone help me with my conundrum?


Scott Thornbury (08:36:55) :

Hi Neil, don’t start me on coursebooks (!) but one reason why skimming and scanning tasks are so favoured may be that the texts in textbooks are NOT self-selected, and hence the only way to make them accessible and/or palatable is to treat them in a fairly superficial manner. And, after all, since many coursebook texts are superficial in terms of their content, the most logical approach to them might be that of the reader of the inflight magazine (to which coursebook texts bear an uncanny resemblance), i.e. the most cursory skim and flick.

As for your final question – maybe I’ll leave that one to the many pre-service trainers more experienced than I am who read this blog.

Comment on English Raven’s blog post ‘Mourning the Missing Makers’

28 11 2011


Jason, I don’t think your words are fairly said.

Simple reason being, as you summise yourself, is that the majority of the people you are attacking (do you have a list of who these gurus are BTW, I’d be interested to see how much we coincide)simply won’t have read your blog post and so won’t have had the chance to rise to your Halloween challenge.

And even if they did, I imagine Halloween is one of the least inspiring subjects for most teachers when it comes to developing new materials, there are already so many materials out there from the stimulating to the trite that it’s not particularly inspiring to be challenged to come up with a trick or treat jazz chant which practises unreal present conditionals, not that we can presume that that’ll be the emergent language coming out of our ‘Have you ever heard of Halloween?’ lead-in.

As far as I’m concerned, the gurus of EFL are more accessible and accountable and approachable than they ever have been and at the same time they didn’t actually achieve their guru status through creating lesson resources in the first place (which is perhaps why I’m still in the ‘average language teacher’ category) but through their contributions to methodology (e.g. Jeremy Harmer’s The Practice of English Language Teaching) and they are still very much sharing and contributing in this field on a regular (if not daily) basis (e.g. Jeremy’s contribution to IH TOC last Friday, or Scott’s weekly blog post (am I allowed to mention those names in the same sentence these days?)).

So while I admire your ‘opinion’ I think it’s much easier to criticise than it is to create and I’ll just remind you that I’ve never used any of your resources in my classroom…

Jason Renshaw dijo en respuesta a Amuseamuses.wordpress.com

Hi Neil,

Thanks for the contribution here, though I would like to stress:

– The Halloween activity was a lead-in example, not the central thrust (which was: Why don’t established materials writers experiment and share their craft across their ‘PLN’s? Is it possible they’re missing something important?). If you have examples of well-known commercial materials writers who do this, I’ll be very happily proved wrong! 🙂

– Please don’t confuse the notion of materials writers with resource/methodology writers (the latter I have found to be enormously approachable and sharing online — especially folks like Jeremy Harmer, Scott Thornbury, Gavin Dudeney, Nicky Hockly, etc.)

– I haven’t once used the word ‘gurus’ and I have expressed questions, not attacks

– I agree that it is easier to criticise than create, which is why I dedicate 98% of this blog to being creative and 2% to being (potentially) critical

– Not sure what your final reminder was for… Was it to encourage me to work harder? 🙂


Comment on Ceri Jones guest post on PaulinBCN’s blog – grading your school

28 11 2011


You hit the nail on the head Ceri in the sentence ‘We can take the first steps…’ it seems obvious to me that the recurring theme throughout your posts is that strong students take responsibility for their learning and weak students don’t. As teachers we need to be aware of ignorance and immaturity and insecurity and strive to turn them into awareness and maturity and confidence and so create more strong students and less weak students. But not to necessarily hold ourselves accountable if students fail even if they and their parents do.

Comment on West Brom 1 Spurs 3 on Spurs Community

27 11 2011


Before the game I was so excited because I saw this match as a real litmus test of how much better we are this season than in the last few. We hadn’t beaten West Brom in our last four attempts and it was always going to be a tough game and I could see myself trying to be content with a point if that was all we came away with. 

When I saw Luka wasn’t playing (even though I love Sandro) it obviously became even tougher. When we let the first goal in and it was clear that Younes was blipping and the SAS combo in midfield was taking it’s time to gel I also thought back to last season and thought this might be one of those days. It actually occurred to me at one point before the equaliser when we were being bossed about a little a bit and the crowd was massively in the game that perhaps we were on our way to our third defeat of the season and it may even be another heavy one. 

But what happened. This season’s Spurs started to play. We had some possession, slowed their momentum and eeked out some chances. We had some luck. Not the penalty decision, but the result of the miss. It was an awful penalty, but it didn’t matter. And suddenly it was clear that the most likely result was a come from behind ninth victory in ten and a virtual second place in the table. 

As David has said, SAS and Harry worked out a more effective way for them to play together (was it just my love for Sandro that made me think he was very harshly booked?). Lennon really got into the game and needled away at West Brom’s confidence on the back of winning the pen. And Jermain and Ade started to feel their way into a partnership, playing each other into space with some sublime touches.

While it wasn’t a foregone conclusion by any means, we had the experience of Fulham and Blackburn to give us the confidence to keep plugging away until the second goal came. 

And how Jermain took his chance. He is a different player to last season, it’s plain for all to see. Last year he was begging for a run in the team to help him restore his confidence after injury. This year shows it’s not so much about playing as who you play with. Ade makes both VDV and JD look better players. He’s not perfect by a long chalk (I doubt he’d make Peter Crouch look a better player and some of his shooting yesterday was Crouch-esque in its flimsiness) but he’s created a vast improvement in our striking department which is clearly seen in the amount of goals we’re scoring. 

We were building ourselves up before the game and we lived up to the billing during the game. Last year we’d have lost this game and perhaps some bad luck would have played it’s part. This year luck seems to be going our way. But you make your own luck and the winning mentality of Ade and Scotty as much as their footballing skills combined with Harry’s continued magic weaving and Levy’s incredible masterplan are what makes this team look like the first Tottenham team I can remember EVER watching (i.e. since 1978) that actually has that winning mentality. A great example of this is the football we now play when in the lead. We play a possession football up there with the best of them. We’re taking the ball down the channels and providing options behind to sweep it out to the other flank and repeat the process ad nauseum if we want to. There’s nothing better for the confidence (and Harry’s ticker) than to be able to play that kind of football when you’re winning. It’s been a weakness for a few years now and it’s something Harry has obviously worked on in training. 

Long may the winning mentality and the winning streak continue. I believe we can challenge at least one of the Manchester’s (the other may need some Tevez-inspired imploding in order to help us) and it’s blatantly obvious from the way the team is playing the game that so do the players, the manager and the chairman. I love them all.

I love you

26 11 2011

Funny that this song is probably about 20 years old, but I’ve just added the last verse this evening – let me know if you think it’s an improvement or not  :).

I love you

It’s gotta be said

Want you lying in my bed.

Rains all night, awake in the dark

Knowing you’re going to break my heart.


I love you

What else can I say

Want to know you every day.

I need you, it’s just this way

It’s the gorgeous look upon your face.


I love you

Don’t make me wait

Nothing but my heart to take

I need you, to decide my fate

Just say that you will stay to play!


I love you,

You know it’s true,

I’d do anything you want me to.

Sun comes up, the sky is blue,

Tell me that you love me too.