I didn’t have to wait long to get back in the mountains again. They might not be quite as grand as the Swiss Alps, but the Matra mountains of Slovakia still take the breath away – especially if you live in as topographically monotonous a country as Hungary. My four-day trip spanned the country from east to west, taking in some gorgeous scenery en route.
Košice / Kassa
The first thing I saw when I stepped off the train was a sign welcoming me to the European Capital of Culture for 2013. I’m afraid this was news to me. I felt a bit guilty, actually. I suppose I really ought to have known, especially as my own home city did no end of bragging when it had its own chance to hold this title three years ago. I consoled myself with the fact that no-one else I know seemed to have heard about this accolade, either.
Prešov / Eperjes
The home town of my host, travelling companion and fellow trainer Roman Cancinov. Roman is a charismatic and entertaining speaker, but never more so than when he is on home turf and speaking to his ‘own’ teachers – often addressing them by name, in fact. There was a great rapport and I could tell that everyone enjoyed the seminar a lot.
My finest achievement was putting up ‘The Wall’ all by myself. This is a clever bit of promotional paraphernalia: a collapsible display board with magnetic strips and glossy poster rolls that clip on the front. It looks magnificent when it is up – and the whole thing fits inside a portable case. I’m a bit of a klutz around the house, so the mere fact that I was able to put this thing up and take it down again attests to the brilliance of its design. And oh, the warm glow of satisfaction it afforded…
Banská Bystrica / Besztercebánya
Nestled high up in the mountains, Banská Bystrica is simply a delight, with one of the most atmospheric main squares that I have seen in the region. The seminar was held in the city library, home to the town’s British Cultural Centre, formerly part of the British Council. Wandering around the beautiful building, I also chanced upon a children’s puppet performance and was shown around an exhibition of musical instruments by a Hungarian speaker.
Trenčín / Trencsén
The final seminar was held in the shadow of this magnificent fortress. Kind of. Well, it was in the same town, anyway. A great place to wrap things up.
My talk focused on drafting written work. This is one of those topics that it can be difficult to warm to, and indeed one of the things we looked at was why drafting and re-drafting written work can be problematic for both students and teacher.
One practical solution that we discussed was linked to correcting mistakes in written work.
Rather than correcting every single mistake in a piece of written work in red (or green 🙂 ) ink, why not specify what type of mistakes you are going to correct *before* you set the work? If, for example, you have noticed a conspicuous number of prepositions used incorrectly, tell the class that when you look at their drafts you are going to highlight problems with use of prepositions – but leave everything else uncorrected.
Most students can only focus on one aspect of language at a time. Trying to correct everything, every time is enormously time-consuming for the teacher and the result can be demoralising for the students. On the other hand, pre-specifying a correction focus can help students to monitor themselves, increasing the likelihood that they will catch themselves before making a slip. The other huge advantage is that teachers can save themselves time and effort.
If you would like to see the slides of the session in pdf format you are in luck.