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leslie simonfalvi

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  1. leslie simonfalvi

    Why Women are Poor at Science

    Mike Toliver wrote: Hello Mike I'm Leslie Simonfalvi, director of the International Teacher Training & Development College in Budapest, Hungary. We teach English as a Foreign / Second Language, as well as different subjects in English. Girls / women are consistently at the top of my classes, too, and the 'only thing' they need for that is a different kind of explanation all the way through. To examplify what I mean please find pasted here the links to the related blogs we use as optional extras after a similar kind of verbal explanation in a speech-class. http://ilsgroup.blogspot.com/ http://ilsgroup2.blogspot.com/ http://ilsgroup3.blogspot.com/ Best regards Leslie
  2. leslie simonfalvi

    ICT in the Classroom: Current Good Practice

    David Wilson writes Att David Wilson Please consult a case study http://www.ilsgroup.hu/ilsgroup.php?in=ittdc/ldc re the use of Dilemmatic Grammar with LD. Best regards Leslie
  3. leslie simonfalvi

    ICT in the Classroom: Current Good Practice

    Hello I’m Leslie Simonfalvi, a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages and a teacher trainer for the same. I’m also the director of the International Language School Group and the International Teacher Training & Development College in Budapest, Hungary. The whole thing, i. e. flirting with computers and IT and ITC, started back in 1982 at that time Hungary, along with other ‘communist countries’, was under a very strict technological blocade and the COCOM – list [acrynom for Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls] still applied. We [and by ‘we’ I will understand my brother Louis representing the LOGOS Foundation and the LOGOS Language School, and myself representing the International Language School Group and our training agent the International Teacher Training & Development College, all in Budapest, Hungary,] teach persons through English. For this we use the Communicative Approach to teaching, and the Humanistic Approach – Person-Centred Approach to people. It also means that technology and technical devices, including CALL, and IT , and ITC, can only come to the second place. To the extremely important second place right after interpersonal relationships. I was educated for my present profession in England and elsewhere in Europe, so I knew about the existence of certain technical possibilities, but these possibilities were strictly limited by the COCOM – list and politics. We knew what others might aim at doing and we had to do the same or better within very strict technological limits. We were invited to Rome in 1983 on a CALL Conference and there we showed our CATS program [Computer Aided Testing System - a sophisticated educational software offering step-by-step feedback to the student by telling him whether or not his answer was correct, displaying the correct answer, calculating the score and the reading speed, measuring the time and giving a printed certificate of achievement]. We also showed LOOK SHARP [a series of printed booklets that contained the language material in a HARDWARE – SOFTWARE – PAPERWARE tripartite system; altogether some 10,000 tests], and we called CATS and LOOK SHARP together as RED FISH . We made tests of Grammar, Vocabulary, Language Functions, Reading Comprehension, as well as General Knowledge, Science, History, Geography, Literature, Fine Arts, various fields of Engineering, Human Relations, Management, and Business. The test format varied from True – False, through Multiple Choice, and Matching – Relationship Analysis, to Find-the-Odd-Man-Out. It was great success and for our students the horror of traditional exams and testing periods was transformed into the joy of achievement and new discoveries. We did the LOOK SHARP material as speechwork in cooperative – helping groups and we sent the computer aided work into the self-access centre or home. This system worked with Commodore 64. or ZX 81, or Enterprise 128, or even with a Sharp KA –160 pocket-computer. This is what bus drivers used to print tickets on ‘Pay-the-driver’ buses … All this would have been totally impossible without IT and ITC and without the creativity induced by our primitive conditions, many thanks to COCOM. Please do not forget that we live in the country of John Neumann … At about 1989 John and Muriel Higgins from the UK offered a series of educational software for the English teachers of the ex-communist countries free of charge. One of them is called Sequitur and it is a story-reconstruction program, normally based on Listening Comprehension. Since it does not accept anything but perfect syntax, it helps composition skills, both oral and written, a lot. Students do it again and again up till the result is 100% and the time is below 1 minute. Another program is called Eclipse and it reconstructs stories in a bottom-up approach. The whole text appears as a series of dots, as many as the number of letters in the words, and we have to type in words 1 by 1 up till the text is complete. Since it does not take anything but perfect spelling, it helps an otherwise much feared skill a lot. There are five such programs altogether and they are editable by the teacher. We pumped something like 50,000 pages into these programs, and the same text appeared in different test formats. It made the students practice-time totally tailor-made and all students could work on materials that had top-priority according to the needs-analysis, or client-mapping, or a Pareto Analysis. All these would have been totally impossible without IT, and ITC, and John and Muriel Higgins. Now I will list the more recent IT – ITC ventures more briefly. If anyone is interested in any one of these, I would be willing to detail them later. We have a Chatty Class running all the year round, really non-stop, every morning for 90 minutes. There are 5 to 7 triples in the classroom and the groups are formed on the ‘find your relative stranger’ – basis. It is very similar to the principle widely used in management: ‘work on the relationship with the least favoured co-worker’. Each triplet has a topic that is different from, but closely related to the other topics in the room. As if they were different segments of a jigsaw puzzle. In about 30 to 45 minutes the triplets process their topic till full understanding. After a global understanding, they can use dictionaries, printed or electronic, computer encyclopedias [Encarta, Webster, Encyclopedia Britannica, Guinness, Eyewitness, Genie, Cambridge, etc.], the Internet, and as a matter of course they can ask the trainer – teacher. When they are ready, they change partners, tell their topics and listen to the others’. In four or five rounds they complete the jigsaw: they learn their own stories by telling, and they learn the others’ stories by listening. If one group is ready but the others are not yet, they have time-killer exercises handy to work on. It is all intensive speechwork and after such a high level of fluency in the topic they feel the urge to read more and write something about it. For this end, they can take home all the topics built into computer programs, their own as well as the others’. The analyses of the time needed and of the mistakes will show the successful communication, as well as the blocks in the communication, within the class. All this would be totally impossible without IT and ITC. Now, something completely different. I’m a very busy man and besides teaching and training I have a managerial job, too. I run a paperless office and my home computer is linked to the computers in the office, in the multimedia classroom, and in my educational planning – production room. The whole thing would be totally impossible without IT and ITC. Last year I translated Carl Rogers’ ‘On becoming a Person’ into Hungarian. It’s a massive job partly because it’s 400 pages, and partly because it’s a sort of English that was too difficult for many Americans to read back in the 50s. I scanned the English version and simply wrote the Hungarian version between the lines. I sent it to the editor like that chapter by chapter attached to emails and both the publisher’s reader and the editor had relatively easy jobs with that arrangement of the material. The use of IT and ITC made the whole job possible at all. We are the local training agents for the EDEXCEL – University of London Diploma in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages project. Something like 100 of my students have entered for this program and they live in more than 80 different places all over Hungary. Candidates / trainees collect all study materials through email messages and on CDs, and they turn in all their work the same way. We have formed a learning community and we keep in touch through the email on a daily basis. If any one of them writes anything, they will send it to all the other members of the group. We have a classroom too, and candidates / trainees can organize Special Interest Groups and turn up in the classroom to work in cooperative groups. All this is self-directed peer-learning. It would be totally impossible without the proper use of IT and ITC. The International Teacher Training & Development College is the total opposite of many other existing colleges http://www.ilsgroup.hu/ilsgroup.php?in=ittdc/index . For example there is no entrance examination. Instead, we have a 300-hour pedagogical live-in arrangement during which both parties can decide whether they want the other or not. We show potential trainees what the teacher’s job would entail and they can decide whether they still want to be teachers or not. During the same time they show us how they learn and through their learning capacities we can extrapolate to their future teaching capacities. The six semesters are seen as one extended conversation and this kind of work-mode needs a very flexible organization of study-materials. Through the use of the Internet and CDs and DVDs and the rest the material is extended and / or polished each and every day. If a student or trainee asks a good question, I write both the question and the answer into the material within a minute. It would be totally impossible without the clever use of IT and ITC. If anyone is interested in it in more details, I would be quite happy to write a rigmarole on a lesson we learned about Wickham. For the last three years I’ve been working on a huge program called Dilemmatic Grammar. http://ilsgroup.blogspot.com/2005/02/project-summary.html It helps LD students [Learning Disabled – Learning Difficulty – Learning Difference], as well as Asperger Syndrome and Semantic – Pragmatic Disorder students in their comprehension and in their meaningful memorization. If / when it is ready, it might be about 60,000 frames [PowerPoint and similar arrangement]. It would be totally impossible to handle without the expert use of IT and ITC and Blogs http://ilsgroup.blogspot.com/2005/02/project-summary.html The International Language School Group Cheese Test is something really unique. It shows on the screen with the help of [Flash] whether a certain answer to a test question was correct or not, as well as the hierarchical position of a certain mistake as related to our 12 grades from Total Beginner up to Proficiency and above. With the help of this test we can do the level-testing on the basis of the next logical step in a student’s learning rather than on the basis of the percentage of the test score. It is very important since students with the same percentage / score may or may not work together very well, but students having the same urgent problem to solve most definitely will. It would be totally impossible without an expert use of IT and ITC. Last but not least, participating in FORUMS like this would be totally out of the question without the clever use of IT and ITC. Thank you. Leslie
  4. leslie simonfalvi

    Advice for New Education Secretary

    ... and bring England into line with her European neighbours by starting teaching modern foreign languages to children all through their school-age through those foreign languages. A modern foreign language is not the translation of English into that modern foreign language. It is a modern foreign language in its own right, with an equally valid culture to go with it.
  5. leslie simonfalvi

    Stimulating the reading process of children

    Hello Michael I'm Leslie Simonfalvi, director of the International Teacher Training & Development College in Budapest, Hungary. I'm very interested both in helping you make the program more perfect, and in trying it with my students and giving you feedback on how it works. Leslie
  6. leslie simonfalvi

    Ofsted

    Provoked by this debate I would like to add a few points from a Hungarian context: 1 We have our own Ofsted, and we call it Spanish Inquisition. Their Inspectors are ex-teachers who - can never show in their own classes what exactly they mean by quality, - can never see what is happening in any class they visit when they do not happen to be there, - have clean forgotten most of the limitations within which we all have to operate, - want to measure the unmeasurable, and express in quantuums the unquantifiable, i. e. the helping relations in classes, the horizontal learning – acquisition between peers, the students’ learning trends, and the changes in attitudes. 2 Quality is either in the training of the teachers, and then it should be managed in schools, or it is nowhere, and then no specification of standards, and no amount of inquisition can squeeze it out of the teachers. 3 A somewhat higher quality of our education can only be assured by a great deal higher quality of our teacher training. 4 A great deal higher quality teacher training is not possible through the reform of the existing teacher training institutes. A quantuum leap is not the sum of small steps. 5 A classroom observation without a helping intent before the visit, and without a helping attitude during the visit, is an educational peepshow.
  7. leslie simonfalvi

    Peer/Self Assessment

    Hello Dan I come from a different world [i. e. TESOL, Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages, and training teachers for the same], but you might be able to use some of your associations on my experiences. Here are some points I would like to make: 1 We use a great deal of peer-assessment, and it works very well. It is the most important kind of feedback in peer-learning groups. 2 We never use peer-assessment in teacher-centred groups. There, the full rights and responsibilities are with the teacher, and he assesses his own class on the basis of ’A Teacher’s Credo’. It is a list of statements, explaining why we do things in the ways we do them, and what other possibilities might be open. In a teacher-centred class the teacher is not one of the members of the group. There, he is a trained, and paid professional, facing untrained, and paying amateurs. 3 Both the peer-assessment and the teacher’s [as one of the group] assessment that follows are done on the basis of what we call a ’Crit-Sheet’. It is a list of criteria, well discussed and accepted by all concerned. The discussion includes tons of examples for each and every point, both for the positive, idealistic extreme, and for the negative, in Hungary somewhat more realistic extreme. Both students and the teacher try to define a well balanced mid-path for themselves. 4 Without a pre-set criteria, watching each other critically is no help at all for either parties. It is like an educational peepshow. 5 We use a great deal of self-assessment and it works very well. It is the most important kind of SWOT-analysis in the later stages of micro-teaching. We use this important tool on a mutual – symmetrical basis, using equal time, and between persons who have not seen each other’s ’performance’. 6 The self-assessment is done on the basis of what we call ’Self-Assessment Check List’. It is a list of criteria, more detailed than the ’Crit-Sheet’, well discussed and accepted by all concerned. The discussion includes tons of examples for each and every point, both for the positive, idealistic extreme, and for the negative, in Hungary somewhat more realistic extreme. Both students and the teacher try to define a well balanced mid-path for themselves. 7 Without a pre-set criteria, self-assessment and listening to each other’s rigmarole is no help at all for either parties. It is either like a boasting game, or a confession. 8 Both peer-assessment and self-assessment need a very highly developed skill of credulous listening, and suspended judgement. 9 We consider peer-assessment and self-assessment as very important developmental stages of self-awareness towards self-monitoring. 10 We use these techniques with students as well, in a simplified form, as part of their ’learning how to learn’.
  8. leslie simonfalvi

    Changes in Society: Divorce

    Hello Everybody and an aside to Andy: please go ahead; I would feel privileged if you did. Hello Jean Well, actually, I am a counsellor. From a distance I look like an English teacher, but inside my student - teacher, or trainee - trainer relationships I have lots of counselling jobs to attend to. I think I can do it only because I'm trained, I'm not interested in teaching dogmata [i. e. I never follow the routine idiotism such as 'now it is in present simple tense, put it into future perfect continuous passive negative interrogative.'], and when teaching persons, I indirectly teach myself and create a learning environment for the students to learn themselves. If / when the teaching is partly counselling, the students feel safe in a warm and accepting environment, and open up more easily. This is when the students start to learn for the teacher rather than from him. If / when they open up, it's only the question of time to bring in otherwise taboo topics, divorce among them. If the students are kiddies or teenagers, that's why. If they are adults, that's why. In a caring and sharing learning environment they will talk about their problems, try to get rid of some of their faceless anger, distil some of their irrational fright, and actually they free their amygdala for joys. They read the experience as joyful learning, but really it is the joy of a better being being better. Towards the end of these courses many of them are closer to the state 'It's good to be ME.' Women open up more easily [at least for me] and very often it is very clear that their fright of divorce actually might become a 'give-a-dog-a-bad-name' kind of self-fulfilling prophesy if they keep on flogging themselves. It is quite common in a certain period in their life - for simplicity, I call it 'withering beauty' period. They don't love themselves enough, but they want others, including the husband, to love them. They don't love their own bodies enough, but they expect others, including the husband, to admire them. The group can help a great deal. It is very liberating when some group members, who came in through the lower entry, are able to leave through the upper exit, and boast of being expectant [mind you, not pregnant] with a new baby.
  9. leslie simonfalvi

    Changes in Society: Divorce

    Good Morning Jean Having read your post I'm having lots and lots of associations Thank you. The topmost thought is that in the so called 'primitive societies' [that in a closer analysis are not primitive at all] intra-marital affairs are less of a taboo and the young can learn more from earlier generations. In our sophisticated societies it is quite the opposite; each and every generation will start afresh and re-invent the wheel or the spanish wax, and the building up of a bigger and bigger body of accumulated knowledge about human relations is almost totally out of the question. In Hungary it has always been a strict taboo and a father would not talk to his son as man to man about a man - woman relationship in general. If he did, with that he would call the boy's mother in, and mothers, as a general rule, are asexual beings in the eyes of the child. Other sources of information might do their best to educate the young with varying success. A priest, expecially one who has taken a religious vow of chastity, might be somebody we believe in, but might not be somebody we want to learn from when it comes to man - woman relationships and sexuality. Other 'sources', like doctors, or teachers can do an excellent job on the 'enlightenment element', in other words they can serve the young person's wants, but very few of them would concentrate on what makes a developing relationship of a man and a woman, i. e. on what the young person really needs. Because of this we end up having lots of men who live their whole life without realising what is good for a woman, as well as lots of women who live their whole life without realising that it is good. As a result, when the first exciting, hotskin period is over between them, and it is over pretty soon, there is nothing left behind to depend on, and to hold them together. This is when they want to escape into a similarly baseless next relationship. The root of all evil here, I think, is that a short-term love doesn't run parallel with a long-term respect, simply because many young couples are really strangers outside the bed. Most of them haven't had 'coalition talks' before uniting. Sex is important and beautiful but it should be a special element that makes the already rich and dependable relationship even more rich and even more dependable.
  10. leslie simonfalvi

    Changes in Society: Divorce

    Hello Everybody I teach English for all age-groups, from kindergarten kiddies up to their grandparents and above, in a society that is in a state of flux, and through this I have views on behaviours of a good cross-section of our society. All these quick changes have acted upon us, and as a result we have a lot fewer fix points in life than ever before in our modern history. This situation results in a great deal of escapes; sometimes escaping into a relationship or marriage, and other times excaping from a relationship or marriage. Hungary is in the top ten in divorces and the main reason is that we have neither the necessary knowledge of the self nor the necessary sensitivity towards the other. Very often two unhappy persons marry each other thinking that two unhappy persons could ever make a happy pair. If I compare our time with grandmother's time, I think that it's relatively easy to marry and very difficult not to divorce nowadays, and it was more difficult to marry and almost impossible to divorce in granny's time. I think that the main problem here is that this topic is full of taboos and we haven't learnt very much during the 100 years within which divorce has been legally possible at all.
  11. leslie simonfalvi

    Changes in Society: Introduction

    Hello Everybody I live and work in Hungary and we are experiencing more changes in all aspects of life than probably any other generation before us. All these changes bring out from people around here both the best of us and the worst of us. There is a great danger that with all these quick changes we may jump over absolutely necessary developmental stages, both individually and as a society, and our children would suffer from the consequences. We used to be fed up with the one-party 'system' and we have always wanted a choice in parties. Now the choices are there and we have to experience another big problem since we haven't learnt how to choose, and how to take the responsibility for our choice, and our fathers' generation have forgotten the same. We used to be fed up with 'socialism' and we have always wanted the impossible, i. e. 'clean' capitalism, or 'humanistic' capitalism. Whatever we are having now is neither clean nor humanistic, and most people around here are both hurt and surprised because it comes with unemployment, and homelessness, and globalisation, and the rest. We have always wanted to travel and now we can at last experience the great feeling that half our money is gone after buying the weekly pass at Heathrow. Earning money here and spending it over there means that your money doesn't go a long way, and it doesn't boost our self-esteem. I myself experience it as a kind of culture-shock and it's a pity that the 'west' can see and will focus on our worst qualities, and totally ignore the rest, and we are learning the worst of their 'culture' and practices, and cannot reach the rest.
  12. leslie simonfalvi

    Introduce yourself here

    Hello I'm Leslie Simonfalvi, director of the International Language School Group and the International Teacher Training & Development College in Budapest, Hungary. We teach English for Speakers of Other Languages [TESOL], a high number of subjects in English [including History], and we train teachers to do the same. We also teach LD students and of the three possible definitions of LD [i. e. Learning Disability, Learning Difficulty, and Learning Difference] we believe in the last, and the joyful learning of English, as well as the joyful learning of History in English are therapeutic for our students. I've been Course Director for the 'EDEXCEL - University of London Diploma in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages' training courses in Budapest since 1994. For the past three years I've been very busy writing an integrated program [Dilemmatic Grammar] that mainly focuses on the students' comprehension on top of their knowledge of facts and figures. Leslie Simonfalvi ittdc@mail.tvnet.hu www.ilsgroup.hu
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