Category Archives: Teaching & Learning

Giving two workshops in Brno, Czech Republic

I’m quite excited about this: next week I’m invited to the Language Centre of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, to deliver two teacher training workshops.

This collaboration stemmed from meeting Masaryk University Language Centre director Libor Štěpánek some months ago. I was very interested in their provision in languages for specific purposes (LSP) – most of what MU language centre does is effectively LSP – since I organise the LSPHE conference here in the UK.

I’m really hoping that this will be an interesting exchange with MU colleagues, as I think there is a lot of learn from them – particularly having heard Libor Štěpánek present at #AULC2017 last week! They seem to be a pedagogically advanced and very creative language teaching centre.

In these two workshops (this one and that one), I will be talking about the medical language provision I was involved with at the University of Manchester until last September, and about the development of the LSPHE conference since 2015. I will also organise discussions around pedagogical issues in LSP, which I am hoping to learn a lot from.

I’ll try and report here when I’m back. Until then, don’t forget to look at the LSPHE2017 call for papers!

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Using DropBox ‘File request’ for collecting homework

I just started experimenting with this new way of digitally collecting  homework from my students. It eases the collection process, saves on emails and file management, and, in a word, it saves me a bit of time :)

So far, the homework submission process looked like this:

  • homework received by email
  • responde to email to acknowledge receipt
  • copy homework file into adequate folder, depending on level, etc.
  • rename homework to something identifiable
  • file away both sent and received emails
  • repeat all of the above each time a student submits work
  • once all have submitted, mark homework

This was a little long and created countless interruptions in my daily work, and of course took a lot of my time.

Luckily, DropBox (referring link) has recently introduced a feature called ‘file request’, which can be used to ease the process above. The idea is to have the homework going straight to the right folder in your DropBox, and by extension on your hard drive, without using email. This used to be possible with a third party DropBox plug-in called DropItToMe, but this wasn’t really working well enough in my opinion. Now, the official DropBox feature seems to do the job just right.

So, here’s how you set it up:

On your DropBox web account page, look out for the ‘File request’ feature on the left.

DropBox file request

 

 

 

 

Open it, click on the large ‘Request files’ icon, and fill in the information requested:

Creating a file request

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose which folder you would like the homework to go to, what you would like to call it (e.g. Beginners’ French homework submission), and, as I am discovering as I type this, you can add a deadline. Handy.

Click next and you will be presented with a web link, which you’ll need to share with your students. I chose to paste this link onto our VLE, with instructions explaining how students should name their files:

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 13.09.47

 

 

 

That’s, it, you’re all set up. Students will be able to submit their work using the link on the VLE, and the homework will simply appear on you hard drive, in the folder you chose (provided you are running the DropBox client on your computer, which I assume you are).

The only downside so far, for me anyway, is that you still get a notification email every time someone submits work. This cannot be turned off. A workaround is to create an inbox rule in your webmail or client to filter or delete incoming notifications.

Also, I imagine some of you may be using TurnItIn already, in which case this tip would be redundant. I think there are pros and cons to each method, but hopefully this one can suit some of you :)

 

Languages for Specific Purposes in HE 2015 – it’s happening!

So, happy days! I can now confirm that we are going ahead with the organisation of an event called Languages for Specific Purposes in Higher Education 2015. This will take place here in Manchester on 11th September. This is the event I talked about in my previous post (which goes back a while, yes).

As I explained previously, the idea of this event is to bring together colleagues from UK HEIs to discuss provisions and practices in LSP across the country. Think French for medics, German for engineers, and so on. It’s a very small scale event (20 attendees, for now anyway), and for this reason I won’t reproduce the call for registrations on this blog – the email was circulated earlier this week on the AULC mailing list. You can DM me if you are interested but missed the email.

I’m really excited about the idea that our event could make a very small contribution to the development of LSP provisions in this country. It’s been very interesting hearing about so many institutions who came back to us explaining what LSP courses they used to offer, and at the moment it certainly seems like the context is right for this type of courses to thrive again.

At some stage we’ll probably set a page, perhaps on this blog, to aggregate all slides from the event. More on this soon.