Charles Browne and the New General Service List

Vocabulary is the key to language

charlie brown

Yeah, not this Charlie Brown. Or this one.

I saw this great TEDx talk by Charles Browne the other day. I know his work, have heard him speak several times at conferences, and have even had a chat a few times, but this talk pulled everything together for me. You may know his work at Word Engine, English Central, or ER-Central (all very close to my heart). He’s talking about the importance of vocabulary and his new New General Service List of common English words for learners.

Well worth twelve minutes of your time!

OTWS Sendai Presentation Summary and Slides

I really enjoyed my presentation yesterday on the 30th floor of the AER Building in Sendai. The views were amazing and I am kicking myself for not getting some photos.

OTWS 2016 Sendai group photo

To make it up for you, here is a photo of the four presenters

I talked about starting reading programs, specifically:

  1. My dream, which is to see decent English ER programs in public schools
  2. Reasons for starting a program: some students love it, effectiveness as language study, can be a USP for a school
  3. Foundations of a reading program: songs and chants, phonics, good communication with parents, and reading in class
  4. Overview of a reading program: goals, money, materials, methods, and administration
  5. Some advice: have students read in class, get a wide range of books, don’t compare students to each other, don’t ask if students understood a book but whether they enjoyed it, and don’t expect quick results
  6. Further reading: Kunihide Sakai and Akio Furukawa

You can see my slides here:[Sendai OTWS reading program for young learners] and get in touch by email or with a comment below.

I’ll be doing this presentation in Omiya on March 6th, then that will be my last teaching presentation for a while.

Too comfortable? The need for challenge and stress.

hamster sleepy

Happy New Year! Yesterday someone told me that it’s okay to say that in English until the end of January, and I’ve been here too long to be able to tell if that is true or not.

I did a public lecture yesterday in Sendai about language learning. It was a fairly new topic for me, an unknown audience, a lot of time (90 minutes), and just to round things off, it was all in Japanese.

For the first time in quite a while (I think that last time was when I did a plenary in Vietnam) I was stressed to the point of discomfort. I procrastinated horribly, only really starting to get ready in a concrete form on Thursday and being unpleasant to everyone around me as the deadline ticked closer.

Then of course, the lecture went really well, people seemed happy, and I felt great (as well as very tired).

This made me think a bit. It seems to confirm that the best opportunities for growth are the things that are scary or put you under stress. Yesterday’s talk allowed me to take a bunch of concepts I had been thinking about and put them together into a (hopefully) coherent presentation.

Perhaps my life is becoming a bit too comfortable, and this may be one reason why I feel I am hurtling into a mid-life zone of mediocrity. Perhaps I need to seek out more of these slightly challenging experiences in order to keep growing. Something to think about.

Writing this post also reminded me that I haven’t done my usual roundup of goals and achievements for last year and this year. I will post that sometime next week. Maybe.


20 Dec 2015, 11:57am


Upcoming presentations


Just a quick update on some upcoming presentations. I’ll be speaking in Sendai on personal finance in January, then again on children’s reading programs in February and March (Sendai and Omiya). More details nearer the time, but for now here are the dates:

January 31st, Sendai 14:00-17:00, Personal Finance 101 at Sendai JALT. This is a RetireJapan workshop.

February 14th, Sendai 10:30-11:20, Starting a Reading Program for Young Learners at Oxford Teaching Workshop Series.

March 6th, Omiya 11:40-12:30, Starting a Reading Program for Young Learners at Oxford Teaching Workshop Series.

Hope to see some of you there!

22 Nov 2015, 1:51pm

1 comment

PRESENTATION: Sendai ETJ December 6th 11:15

Teaching Presenting Skills

hands gesturing

I’m very happy to announce that I will be doing a session on ‘Teaching Presentation Skills’ at the Tohoku ETJ Expo on December 6th. You can see the full schedule here, and register to attend at this page.

I’m very much looking forward to the event and have a few presentations I definitely want to see.

My own presentation will provide a fast-moving list of concepts and tips for teaching presenting skills. Most suitable for teachers at high schools and universities. Hope to see you there!

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