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Umbrella Newsletter # 45


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Umbrella Newsletter # 45

1. Umbrella Conference in Stavropol Bravo to STAVELTA!
While the Russian people were celebrating a national holiday The Day of Unity, about 300 English language teachers from 94 cities, towns and villages enjoyed a 3-day immersion in the English language environment at the Stavropol Umbrella Conference. Special thanks to Olga Schegoleva olga-shhegoleva@yandex.ru and Evgeniya Sotskaya zecya2010@gmail.com, STAVELTA leaders, and their team! Forty-five grantees from all over Russia came to Stavropol to share their unique experience with the teachers from the South of Russia. Two hundred fifty local teachers represented 39 districts of the North Caucasus region. According to the participants, the conference was a turning point and an eye-opener for them.  Thirty Access teachers were extremely popular; conference participants asked them numerous questions during and after their stellar presentations.  Access program success stories made a great impact on everyone.
On the eve of the Conference, ten opinion leaders had a brain storming session on language policy. The results of the discussions presented as three new projects should improve the present situation of English teaching at Universities. Priority will be given to the development of autonomous learning and use of new media in ELT. You can find a sample ESP Program, a thorough review ESP Challenges in Russia, descriptions of new Projects Promotion of autonomous learning in Russian universities, Professional Portfolio of an ESP teacher and Providing equal learning opportunities for university students with different educational backgrounds through English language self-access centers(with the focus on teaching ESP) at the site: http://www.eltrussia.ru/articles_52.html (please scroll down)

 2. Two Major November conferences: SPELTA and MSU Textbook, Student, Teacher
This autumn SPELTA experimented with a different format of the traditional The Open World of English Conference. It had a subtitle Teacher Training Sessions. The key American presenters at the conference were the English Language Officer in Moscow, Thomas Santos, and an English Language Specialist from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, Dr. Susan Barduhn, in addition to the Senior EFL Fellow, John Mark King. Other presenters included teachers from St. Petersburg, Smolensk and Syktyvkar. The organizers tried to have joint discussions of plenary presentations, panels, and workshops. Thanks to John Mark King for these glimpses of the first day of the Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeHBxbKLysQ
The 6th Biannual Textbook, Student, Teacher Conference was held in MSU on November 26-27th. The Department of Foreign Languages headed by Prof. Svetlana G. Ter-Minasova organized and hosted the Conference for about 300 participants from all over the country. The Conference once again proved that there are no borders between academics who teach Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication and ELT practitioners. Thus University and ELT school teachers together with their foreign colleagues were sharing their insights and experiences at numerous workshops and interest sections. Plenary presentations were given by outstanding professors on student- teacher relationships and gave a stimulus for further discussions. Special thanks to the main coordinator Prof. Ludmila Gorodetskaya lgorodet@mail.ru for a most gracious handling of all logistics issues. If you were lucky enough to take part in the Conference, please e-mail your comment to Prof. Gorodetskaya.

3. Surgut-ELTA hosted the second International Conference in Ugra
Severe Siberian frosts (-34C) couldn't stop 360 English language teachers who came to Surgut from Ugra, Urals area, Moscow, St.Petersburg, Volgograd and from 4 countries. The President of Surgut-ELTA Olga Simonova soa27@mail.ru  first studied all documents on How to Effectively Organize a Conference at  http://www.eltrussia.ru/articles_44.html and trained a team of teachers and students. As a result all participants noted that the Conference was organized perfectly and every need of participants was met. Kudos to Surgut-Elta! It was the first Conference where a special resolution was issued. Please share with the Conference organizers your comments on the resolution. Here is a link:

4. On-Line Opportunities
This is a reminder about 3 unique courses. Please share this information with your peers and colleagues.
I. Michael Krauss Courses Integrating the Internet into the Classroom (February) and Exploring Web 2.0 (June and October). Please complete the application form and e-mail your nominations to Nataliya Fomenko at fomenkonv@state.gov at your earliest convenience:
Contact information:
Mailing address:
Why you are the right person for the course:
What you will do after completing the course:
Are you a member of teachers association?  Please attach the recommendation, if available.
II. Christine Coombes On-line Course on Testing and Assessment
The deadline for submission requests has been extended. Please use the application form above and e-mail your application to Nataliya Fomenko before Dec 31st.  The course will last for two months (February-March). We are looking for a greater geographical diversity and would like to have representatives from all parts of Russia.
III. John Marks On-Line Course on Teaching Writing.
John Mark, A Senior EFL Fellow in St.Petersburg, is now accepting applications from English teachers who would like to participate in the online course "Teaching Writing: An Online Skills Course for Teachers of English in Russia." The course is open to all teachers of English in the Russian Federation who want to improve their skills as writing instructors. The course will run from December 15, 2010 to April 6, 2011 and will cover such topics as syllabus design, lesson planning, writing tasks, integrating reading and writing, using the Internet in writing classes, feedback and assessment. There will also be activities for teachers to improve their own writing in English. This course is a joint effort between the English Language Fellow in St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg Academy of Pedagogical Mastery. Those who complete the course successfully will receive a certificate from John Mark and Ministry of Education credit from the Academy. Please note that the deadline for application is December 10, 2010.
The official Academy course costs only 3000 RUR, as John Marks part is for free. Please e-mail your requests to appodistant@yandex.ru elf@jorabek.com

V. Podcasts in English

In a new series on Goods, Michelle Schusterman takes a look at language learning podcasts and which might be best for your situation.

VI. The Best ESL Podcasts for Your iPod

I hesitated when adding the word "Best" to the title of this article, 1) Because the best method of learning language is not the same from person to person, and 2) Because there are approximately eleventy jillion podcasts available, and I can't claim to have tried them all.

As a former ESL teacher and a person who tried several methods when learning Portuguese, from Rosetta Stone to private instruction to full immersion, I know every student has their own goal in mind when they set out to learn a language. Some of my students wanted to open the doors at work for jobs in English-speaking countries by focusing on business English. Some needed to pass a proficiency test at school, and some wanted to feel confident striking up a conversation. Some just wanted to understand what Chandler was saying on Friends.  With that in mind, I dove into the world of ESL podcasts. While archived podcasts are useful, the topics (and slang) can be outdated, so I only included those that are currently being updated.

ESL Pod (English as a Second Language Podcast)
What Level is it?
I would have recommended this podcast to my intermediate and advanced ESL students in a heartbeat. Dr. Jeff speaks slowly and articulately, and each episode covers something different and interesting, from Area 51 to suggesting a nightcap.
What's the Focus?
I'd say this is one for those who want to work on their listening skills. Dr. Jeff is very careful about speaking English normally, but the way he incorporates difficult concepts like prepositions, idioms and phrasal verbs makes it clear to the student what those words or phrases mean. Students learn based on context, not definition, which from my experience results in better understanding. I really can't emphasize enough just how impressed I am with both the website and the podcast - both somehow manage to be articulate, educational and interesting.
How Frequently is it Updated?
At least three times a week - both the podcasts and blog (which is also helpful, and offers transcriptions) are quite reliable.
Just Vocabulary
What Level is it?
Mostly advanced, although some intermediate students could benefit from these as well. The vocabulary words introduced include preempt, quotidian, and scintillate - not exactly everyday English, but good words to know.
What's the Focus?
As the title suggests, it's all about vocabulary. Each podcast is around five minutes and introduces two new vocabulary words. You'll hear the word repeated frequently, listen to several sample sentences, then get the spelling, definition, synonyms and antonyms.
At the end of each podcast, there's a review of words from the previous podcast. Because of the repetitiveness, this is a great one for students interested in expanding their English vocabulary.
In all honesty, this one appears to be intended more toward students studying for their SATs rather than actual ESL students. But I've had several dedicated ESL students who would be all over this podcast. And with so many schools abroad pushing "real" English (aka "what's up" and "wanna"), I'd love it if real English were taught, too. An ESL student who correctly uses "propagate" in a sentence would earn a panegyric from me.
How Frequently is it Updated?
It looks like twice a week, although the last podcast I see was early September 2010. However, there are literally hundreds of episodes, so I'd recommend starting from the beginning. Their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts are active, so hopefully they'll be updating more soon.
Business English Pod
What Level is it?
Advanced, with a specific focus on phrases and concepts frequently used in the business world. The host (who varies per episode) speaks at a medium speed, and articulately. You'll hear a variety of accents as well.
What's the Focus?
Business. Topics covered include networking, interview tips, marketing and dealing with angry customers. A few of the episodes include video, which basically shows a real-time transcription as the lesson moves along. You can also find transcriptions, ebooks and other helpful resources on the website.
How Frequently is it Updated?
It averages about once a week, sometimes closer to a week and a half.
What Level is it?
On their website, the podcasts are split into levels, with episodes for beginning through advanced learners. They also have a section just for business English students, and a collection of videos that focus specifically on pronouncing words found in the episodes.
What's the Focus?
The episodes are very personable and conversational. Each is fairly short - just a few minutes long - and comes with a transcript, worksheets and answers, and other extra assignments. This podcast is excellent for students who want well-rounded lessons; a little listening, a little reading, a little writing.
How Frequently is it Updated?
About once a week. I love that the website tells you when the next update will be - it's on the right, beneath the subscription option.
Culips ESL Podcast
What Level is it?
Intermediate, although many advanced students could benefit from their episodes that focus on idioms.
What's the Focus?
I'd say "real" English - in other words, the type of English you use in everyday conversation. Recent episodes include everything from discussions about superstitions to slang terms for money. Beneath each episode is a list of important expressions used in the chat, and members have access to full transcripts, more detailed explanations about phrases used and quizzes.
How Frequently is it Updated?
They average around four to five podcasts per month, each of which is between ten and fifteen minutes long.
ESL Aloud
What Level is it?
Beginner to intermediate, depending on the episode. Some cover things as basic as spelling words aloud in English, while others work on slightly more advanced topics.
What's the Focus?
Many of the episodes choose one phonetical sound - short A, long E, etc - and provides a lesson on pronouncing those words. This podcast is ideal for students who thrive with heavy repetition. Each episode runs between ten and twenty minutes (occasionally longer), and encourages the student to repeat words and phrases several times after the host.
How Frequently is it Updated?
Until recently, only once a month. There were three new podcasts in September of 2010 - hopefully a sign of more updates to come.
What did I miss? Do you have any great ESL podcast recommendations? Let me know in the comments so I can add them to the list!

VII. eJournal USA
The latest edition of eJournal USA, "Living Legacy: Preserving Intangible Heritage," explores how the Cultural heritage of the United States is grounded in the contributions of many peoples, from Native Americans to the many immigrant groups that followed. Today's Americans preserve intangible aspects of this heritage - among them music, language, and dance, by performing them and by embedding them in their daily lives. The America.gov presentation of this eJournal, available at http://www.america.gov/cultural_heritage.html , features an interactive map linking to music streams from different parts of the world, as preserved by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

PDF and Internet versions are currently available in English on http://www.america.gov/ . Selected articles will also be available for comment and discussion on the eJournal USA Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ejournalUSA. The journal will be available in several other languages in the coming weeks. A listing of other issues of eJournal USA is available at http://www.america.gov/publications/ejournalusa.html

VIII. Do you want to improve your American English?
The best free learning tools to help you improve your American English speaking skills in a fun and effective way. VOA recently added Russian speakers to the target audiences for http://www.goenglish.me/.

IX. See you on Facebook!
We would like to draw your attention to the Embassys new Facebook page. The page is continuously updated with information for those interested in America and U.S. Embassy Moscow events.  We hope you will find it useful. The address is simple: http://www.facebook.com/russia.usembassy. And if you like our page, do click on that Like! button, become our fan, and start interacting with the community!
X. Mark Your Diary for NATE 2011!
The 17th NATE - Russia International Annual Conference
June 28-30, 2011
Call for Papers
Conference Content Areas:

Developing language policy in Russia: how ELT community can affect it;
New curriculum and syllabi for secondary and higher education;
Developing ELT resources;
Teacher training, development and professional assessment; 
Patterns and models of language assessment;
IT in ELT;
Raising learners autonomy inside and outside the classroom;
Bringing linguistic achievements into ELT classroom.
The conference will include plenary sessions, workshops, section meetings, round-table discussions, poster and electronic materials presentations, ELT resources exhibition and social events.
for Speaker Proposals - March 15, 2011;
for Registration - April 30, 2011.
E-mail: nate.kaliningrad.2011@gmail.com; Tel.: +7 4012 59 55 77
Fax: +7 4012 33 83 22

IX. Sing Out Loud Childrens Songs!




"Umbrella Newsletter # 45":

Second Winter linguacultural school "Key steps to successful business communication"(12-16 January, Smolensk)
Salavat ACCESSS Summer Camp 2013
English for Specific Purposes. Disc presentation

Would you like to join an EFL Teachers' Association?

 I am already an Association member

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