Category Archives: MEd

Hornby Report: Final thoughts

This is my last report as a Hornby Scholar since my course is now officially over. 30th September was the last day of my journey in the Masters in Education – ELT Trainer Development which I started a year ago at the University College Plymouth St Mark and St John (Marjon) thanks to the scholarship granted by the Hornby Trust and the British Council.

Perhaps I can say that was the best year of my life –having the opportunity to study in the UK, meet other people from all over the world and devote all my time to my studies was a real privilege.

It is always nice to look back at the things we have done and I’d like to share with you what I think were the highlights of my Hornby Scholarship year.

  • Being chosen:  being selected to be a Hornby Scholar is not an easy thing to be achieved, but I imagine that my engagement with the Community and with Teachers Associations have helped me with it, so perhaps the lesson I take from this is that the time we devote to others in our profession one day will help us somehow. Heartfelt thanks to the friends and colleagues who supported my application.
  • My tutor: Marjon is the smallest of all universities which take part in the programme, however, it was the only one with a Masters in Teacher Training Degree and this was the thing that attracted me to Plymouth. I do believe I could not have made a better choice because I found here an extremely friendly and intellectually stimulating environment. Moreover, I was really lucky to have Professor Tony Wright as my tutor, for is one of the most knowledgeable, approachable and competent teachers I have ever met. He guided us with expertise and care throughout the process and if I have been able to produce as much as I did it was because of his help and guidance.
  • The Oxford Seminar: marvelous days and the opportunity to meet other scholars and British Council staff responsible for the Hornby programme. For me, Oxford will be always bound to the memories of our Hornby seminar there.
  • The IATEFL Conference in Cardiff: it goes without saying that if was just fantastic to be there and even if preparing the presentation demanded from all of us time, effort and caused a bit of stress, the result certainly paid off. Thanks to Rod Bolitho for his patience and support along the process.
  • My dissertation: usually people think of the dissertation as ‘the last thing you have to do to get your degree.’ For me, it was perhaps one of the most enjoyable things I have ever written because I really believed in it and Tony gave me space and confidence to spread my wings writing it.

Now it is time to say goodbye and this is always sad. My colleagues are all already back to their countries and teaching contexts. For me, my context is the cyberspace, which means that I hope to be back more frequently here in the Community and other British Council online spaces. It is also time to start sharing with teachers in Brazil a little bit of what I have learnt here.

Thanks BC Brazil!!

Thanks Ash!!

Originally published on the BC Brail ELT Online Community

Hornby Report: Spring in Britain

Time does fly! So many things happened since my last report, about two months ago, that I suppose now I have a couple of things to write to you about.

First of all, we were involved with the IATEFL Annual Conference in Cardiff. All Hornby Scholars attended the event and we had a special presentation about Classrooms Around the World. Five members of the group, representing colleagues in the five UK universities, presented to an international audience about different aspects involving classroom realities in our countries.  For many Hornbies it was a unique opportunity to get in contact with professionals from all over the world and attend presentations from well-known ELT names.

Apart from the Hornby Session, my own IATEFL highlights were:

  • the Literature, Media and Cultural SIG pre-conference event, where we discussed Teens Reading,
  • Bonny Norton’s plenary on ‘Identity, literacy and English language teaching’
  • Robert Hill’s session on ‘Intertextuality’
  • The ELT Journal debate on Research, with Rod Bolitho and Catharine Walter
  • The British Council Signature event on Equal Opportunities and Diversity
  • The Art and Artistry of ELT Symposium, where I had the honour to present with Alan Maley, Benjamin Russell and Joseph Guerra.
  • Claudia Ferradas, closing plenary on ‘Intercultural and intermedial encounters in ELT’ – simply superb!

Professional matters apart, Cardiff is a fantastic city. The venue of the event was the City Hall , a magnificent Edwardian building just next door to the 2000 year-old Cardiff Castle and to the impressive art collection housed in the National Museum of Wales . I confess I missed a couple of sessions one afternoon to visit the Sisley Exhibition and lose myself among the finest collection of paintings in the country, apart from the National Gallery.

After Cardiff, we had to go back to the reality of writing assignments. I have just handed in the last one and now we are already in Dissertation Time. This is the final work of our Masters programme and, here at Marjon, we are expected to write a 20,000 word study on a topic related to teacher education.

Summer has arrived in the country and we have been experiencing a spell of dry and hot weather which makes me wish to stay outdoors instead of in front of this computer. A couple of weeks ago my son and I went to Totnes, a picturesque, medieval little town with a Norman castle, just 30 minutes by train from Plymouth. Beautiful scenery and good pub food! The English countryside in the summer is just gorgeous; the whole country is now like a big garden: the little yellow and white flowers cover the grass of the lawns as a carpet and the bushes are painted in hues of yellow, pink, purple and white.

Originally published on the BC Brazil ELT Online Community

Hornby Report: Busy times

Many things have happened around here since my last report in January. One of them was… the snow! We had the heaviest snowfall in the country in 28 years and I was lucky to be in Bath with a friend on the day that the country woke up under 15 centimetres of snow. My colleagues who were in Plymouth were not so happy because it hardly ever gets that cold in the south-west as the hot Atlantic currents give to Plymouth one of the mildest micro-climates in the UK. It may sound trivial but many Hornby Scholars come from hot countries and many had never seen frost, let alone snow!

On the academic front we have been working hard, as usual, on our assignments and I would like to publicly thank Bruno Cesar, our Community member, who sent me a description of his classroom in Rio, which I used to develop a paper on some of the factors that affect classroom culture. Thanks a lot to Bruno and Ingrid for your help and maybe in this way we can make more people around the world listen to Brazilian teachers’ voices.

Another important event here as the Equal Opportunities & Diversity Seminar that happened in London on 20-21 February. All Hornby Scholars where invited and we had a fantastic time in London. The event was organised by the British Council and the IATEFL Global Issues SIG. Speakers were Fiona Bartels-Ellis OBE, Dr Catherine Walter, Adrian Underhill and myself, speaking about how the concepts of Equal Opportunities and Diversity connect with critical literacy and classroom practices. The whole event was filmed and will be soon available to everyone at the Cardiff Online website.

We are now getting ready for the IATEFL Annual Conference that will be in Cardiff in March/April.

Originally published on the BC Brazil ELT Online Community

Theory and practice

Someone said there is nothing as practical as a good theory and, in spite of this, from time to time you get yourself entangled in a discussion about which of them is more important.  I confess that I have grown weary of it. I don’t think we should put them in terms of bipolar opposition. Theory without practice is dead letter and practice without theory is just like running around like a headless chicken doing what others tell you to do, without a clue where you are going.

Good practice should be based on solid theory and solid theory should spring up from reflective practice. It is not just they should come together,  be bridged or co-exist like in a marriage. It is more than that: one cannot exist without the other.

That’s why when we were asked to create an image for either or both theory & practice I have chosen the ying yang. It apparently shows dichotomy because of the contrasting colours but a closer analysis will show you that the first impression is deceiving. The contrasting colours show that indeed, they are distinct but the waving line in the symbol is the graphic representation of the non-defined boundaries between them; otherwise the line would be straight. If we could make the image move, the dividing line would be waving all the time showing how the territories of both actually fluctuate. Moreover, the contrasting dots included in each field would not be static either, but grow until the whole field is taken by the opposite colour and then the whole process starts again, meaning that practice springs from theory and theory springs from practice in a perpetual cycle of giving birth to the ‘other’.