Becoming Denglisch: UK missing you, well kinda!

Like a lot of ex-pats I see England as my vacation land now, but lots of the locals here ask me if I miss home. Not oddles, but here be a few things I do find it hard to replace after over a decade in the Europe of the East.

With the youtube age my music input has changed so much since my early screamager years. Jools Holland and Jo Wiley were my musical sources for years in the UK. I knew I could rely on them to bring me a least one toptune or band every week or two, and a dodgy tone deaf one or two as well. Of course I watched Top of the Pops, but at college/ Uni more Top of the Pops 2 as this was my phase of getting into music older than my jeans. Good ole Jools and Joe I miss in Germany. And to be honest the lack of music diversity on the radio kinda sucks here. But this variety for all I know may also have disappeared on the airwaves in the UK.

Yes in Germany, I have gone through my phases of Uncut music mag, and now the Mahogany/Balcony/ Black Cab sessions. But “Later with Jools Holland” was one of those weekend things I looked forward to, or catching up on an episode or two through the mystical medium of VHS. Number one!

 Starsailor was one of my very first Jools gems. A great Wigan band that really only did two good albums in my honest opinion. And took their name from a great Tim Buckley album.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 For awhile I thought I missed the beer. But tastes change, and I am now a full convert to Hefeweisen, Schwartzbier and Czech/Polish pils or lager. Working in pubs in the North West and having frequented often with the O’erish I do miss a good Guiness or even stout. Murphys I can drink in Germany, but Guiness is my snobby thing. In that once ya have drunk the good shit ya cannie stomach poor imitations. Guess it is a bit like once ya have drunk good coffee ya have a hard time getting ya taste buds round weasel water Nescafe or Muckefuck.

 

A game of pool in a pub, sometimes for a few quid. As a boy I was a snooker guy, living in the East Midlands and growing up in the time when Stephen Hendry was just hitting a dominance similar to that Vettel had in F1 for awhile, it was kinda cool. Also a badge of honour was to be a honrary member of the working mens club in my local town, where they had the good tables. This all changed when I moved to the North West, where the smaller and lighter cue, and different tactics played out. It was a bit like going from chess to draughts (checkers). Going to a pub to meet friends, or just a pick up game was my life for neigh on half a dozen years.

 

A good butchers. There are some here, if you look. But often I lived in the UK where I could have a butchers (pun intended) at the different meat other than pork the local cleaver wielder was offering.

 

Second hand English book shops. Before Waterstones became the beast that it is, these were a dime and a dozen. I could spend hours in them, browsing and discovering new authors. I was almost like the Cheshire cat from the Japser Fforde books. A cheeky quite content cat grin from ear to ear.

 

On the flip of these five and to keep some of you curious cats happy, I will write about the 5 things I imagine I might miss if I were ever to go back to blighty.

Create 5 challenges – duet to trio or more

We all need new challenges and sources of inspiration. When it comes to art and performance and business I luv collaboration. With the right partners you bounce off their ideas, they bounce back. You ride the wave of great vibes. So far I have done duets with the wonderfully polemically passionate Rima and surging back to Renaissance Maeshelle. They have contained some of the best moments to treasure.

Next up I would like to do a trio. Inspired by these guys, and I would like to big them up. Admirable poetical passion -

My fav line from this vid is -

 

“this is an apology in the form of an unsung telegram, I sometimes watch too much TV and screen go save, but one day this world will turn fast food chains into second hand book stores, and finally we will be well read.”

Still working out the collaborations. Lets see what avenues of expression this fosters. Exciting times.

Bring em on!

 

Geek or Nerd? How obsurd!: Teachers are boring and old fashioned. Rap battlers?

The more I delve into this profession of mine the more this adage is a smelly old sausage.

Most peeps into the slam and TED scene will know Taylor Mali. But just as good, and someone I wanna BIG up today is Mark Grist. Last night I went back to the Don’t Flop stuff .

For those not street enough it is a ballsy beattastic underground rap battle network where rappers, hip hoppers, slam poets and lyrical hobbyists fight it out in solo or two tag team clashes.

I stumbled across Mark Grist awhile back and thought maybe he was just doing this as a novelty factor. But no he has stuck with it, and made himself a name with MCs in a very cut- throat scene.

Check out one of my fav battles if his:

The memorable lines for me were, one disin his Auke’s rural background

” most Sundays your sipping Chianti slow mo, wrapped in a Kimono ,  yanking ya meat Oboe, as you watch Antiques Roadshow”.

A nice dis at the standard of his opponents art form -

” to you boys the phrase ‘anything goes’ is a quality control statement”.

And he even gets a  hint of that typical British trait of self deprecation in there -

“I would still rather watch any other station. I would rather sort out my loft insulation. I would rather be made to re-watch Lost in translation. I would rather go to my bathroom, and throw up in my basin”.

In some American shows he has been criticized for not being the “norm”, but I luv his twist on this supposed street art form. Turning up in a suit, using his knowledge of English stanza and form to create lyrical flips and punchy prose poetry hits.

 

 

 

Create5 cooking! Home made bread, und Bäckerei!

Back in the day my Mum made her own bread, and a nose memory that lingers to this day is the kitchen and corridor filling with the smell of fresh loaves, wafting through the family home. 

Bread making is someat that we have lost in that fight for time, & money. Losing what is a foundation of family, & the basics of our cultural heritage.

Why bother when we can rely on Warbutons or Wendel?

There is an urge in me to go back to many lost skills I once had, or rekindle dearly held memories.

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me bread making brings joy, relaxation, & breaks many myths I have held about this art form.

  • Bread making is a science of measures & patience.

The latter is true in my limited experience; never rush a bread. But I do not keep to recipes, or to the ounces/ grams of ingredients. It is more about the texture, the feel of the mixture, the dough, the time you take to kneed, & the willingness to change the heat in the oven.

But being experimental goes back to my mentor. As a Padawin I learned how to cook at the wheels of an amazing man who was paralysed & not happy with his care givers. As he loved his food, & they in his eyes failed in cooking , feeding him & therefore giving him a simple pleasure. So he made a deal with an American,  & a French colleague of mine & me. Stay two hours longer than your shift ( we were his assistants come carers), & he would teach us to cook. From that day to now I have learned how to have the feel for the food, how to take a risk with the taste.

I have mixed yoghurt in with bread when I have not had honey or some other ingredient. I have replaced the basics of Focaccia; rosemary & sea salt for garlic, leaving the basil and the toms. At the mo I am learning the nutmeg, ginger & cloves you have in flat breads of Afghanistan, India, & Turkey adds something with a nice twist.

  • Keep to your ingredients & the tradition.

For an old Ma & Pa recipe this could be true. But I as of yet I do not have one in my repertoire. My Mum gave up bread making in my early youth. And I have not so far had the guts to pry the trade secrets out of the lightly floured hands of those peeps I know make good bread. My learning has come from the many, only until recently, mainly unused cookbooks collecting dust & crumbs in our kitchen.

 

But also one new thing I have learned in this last few months is to really have a feel for the texture of doughs or any other mixes. I think this could come from my tactile nature as a lapsed sculptor & oil painter. Even adding how to turn that planned bread dough into a dessert or an English style flapjack. Switching around flour, oats, oat bran a& flax. More of that in a later blog.

I think this desire has been hidden in me for too long. This could come from changing my diet from cereals to the typical Brötchen of Germany. And also a luv for the way a Georgian friend of mine spoke about her bread making. She also happened to be one of my first guest bloggers here.

800px-Shoti_gorgian_breadhttp://www.goodopenenglish.com/2010/05/holy-bread-guest-blog/ Holy Bread

Mainly as I have done quick/ flat breads, except Gypsy Bread (with cranberries and dried plums) with a Nutella topping, this apron wearer’s Meisterstucke are only a fresh behind the ears clone.

As a tactile person, the kneading is very enjoyable, but one thing I am so surprised at is how bread making is a great work out, & mood changer.

Try it out, & let me know if it breaks the loaf of your Warbutons & Wendel traditions.

 

Geek or Nerd? How absurd! Going back to school.

I have run this task a lot recently in Technical English courses. And I am not surprised how my techie students really get their teeth into it. As well as enjoy trying to explain how comparative systems work.

The task is split into two different levels of language, that I refer to as pitch level. Using the document below as a starter:

tech jargon starter

It focuses on explaining technical jargon in such a way that the recipient understands a summaritive overview, and the crucial factors to understand the comparative systems.

As an example statement I show the comparison of the language teaching jargon terms of ESL & EFL, and what they respectively mean.

As a pseudo tech head I have come across all these systems, and their lovely jargon, and had to get my head round them.

The task usually in class is to write an overview statement explaining the two comparable systems (see the document). Being a short and sweet task this is something easily done in the normal one and a half hour block.

As an additional task (I set this as homework) the students then take one of the pairs of systems and create a screencast, presentation as training, and handout suitable for secondary school IT students.

The screencast should be done in the style of a “quick starter guide”, like you often get with new out of the box devices.

The presentation as training is pitched at secondary/high school level, and therefore can be done as though it is an IT lesson at those educational institutions. I am sure it could also be run at Higher Education/Further education pitch level. Likewise the task is no doubt adaptable to any business field as all of them as we know have jargon that needs to be explained to the layperson.

Their is a great benefit to get students to reflect on how things work; in this case the inner workings of teaching basic tech.

A good Geek will use their tools to hand to enhance their understanding, my techie students are my technical playground. Where I can play in the sandbox, and pick up some grains of knowledge through them. I greatly appreciate this opportunity to widen my horizons and deepen my insights.

Tunetastic! Shooting from the hip about hip- hop

A lot of genres have their soul ripped out of them by the corporate machine, like a high street is destroyed by the chains of stores and their uniform mediocrity.

My issue tries to align itself with the fast spinning graves of Dirty Ol’ Bastard & Gill Scott Heron.

Cypress Hill were my first steps into this genre, through clubbing in Grunge/Rock clubs in the 90s. Too young, probably on the wrong island and too white to back then really see the influence of Universal Zulu Nation.  Who would have thunked it, but theLingoGuy is a fan of hip-hop and rap.

I like most genres, but have a real luv/ hate relationship with both Country Western music and hip-hop/rap.

Now, back in the day and ole skool, a lot of hip hop & rap was about sampling and protest music. It had a voice, and was shouting for change. The beats were breaking it down, and the lyrics were hitting the notes of your conscience.

Then the grubby hands of corporate slimeism got their dirty mitts on the genre, pulled it into the mainstream and made it about bitches, bling, bucks and could have been Buicks. But any ole pimped up car will do.

Now you may say, “ey, stop taking it so seriously”.

Mainstream rap and hip-hop should be left to wallow in their own juices. But still on the edges you have great stuff like the Welfare Poets, Atmosphere and  Asian Dub foundation (rap-core).

Any fresh newcomers to rap and hip hop, I do hope you take time to check out the roots, and not just blindly follow the route of where the mainstream will lead you.

But all good music, like literature needs to be wheedled out of the nooks and crannies it resides in. Thank goodness for the net and youtube, innit.

Never in my classroom: What no plan! revisited

“I luv it when a plan comes together”.

hannibal_a-team-jpeg

At the moment I have a group of Engineers that are a mix of Chinese and Russians. There are new challenges I face this semester ( more of that later), but keeps me on my toes.

Having a generic approach to my training of English means sometimes things happen that surprise me in how successful they are, contrary to expectation.

Classroom management is often a issue we have to deal with in lessons. Approaches may vary. During my last lesson with this group, 4 students were very lazy, and therefore I had to think on my toes. Now, not one for a strict reward and punishment system I decided on the spur of the moment to set two separate homework tasks. The first was in response to the need for a group vocab list, and a reaction of some kind to the lazy bones. So that was their task; to categorise lists of adjectives for materials, and prefixes used in the construction industry that we had brainstormed in lesson.

The  engaged students I set a homework to discover Leipzig. Since the English Summer School  in August this year I have been doing hood tours in different guises. The students I split into three groups, all received a blurb of a “hood” in Leipzig.

shapeimage_2tour blurbs

Their task was to go out, and come back this week with notes and pics to talk about the hood, and specifically common styles of construction, and architecture.

Lets see what the results are.

 

 

 

Geek or Nerd? How absurd! Windows 8, OS x 3

Out in the internet there is almost as much bumcum and loyalty to your OS as to footie teams, but I guess all is fair in PCs and Operating Systems .
As an Apple evangelist, then a Linux manipulator loon I moved away from Windows like it was a Betamax cassette. How things change!

My phone for over 2 years, has been equal parts semi smart, and semi stupid. Time for an upgrade. After surfing and searching around and discarding these:

Huewei (too large a leap for me, and price does not jusify lack of performance)

iPhones (too expensive)

JIAYU G3T (sturdy but ugly and too few reviews)

I caved in and got me a Samsung GT-I8750 Ativ S, with Windows 8.

What were some deciding factors and why did I upgrade?

Lets start with the latter. My work has changed a lot recently, and as a teacher/trainer my writing on the board and flip chart has improved, but my handwriting looks like a crab spider has walked across the page, leaving the remains of its bumble bee meal behind it.

So one factor was the need to write quick notes, or dictate them. Since first working with voice recognition software in 2000 it has leapt in development as much as from Do to Te on the music scale. The notes I need to write are for business, my NPO, and also for my creative writing. So a device and App that is with me at all times is just what the publicist ordered.

Creativity is becoming at last more a part of my life. However time constrains it somewhat. So to have a mobile with a half decent camera in my pocket allows me to take a pic, and then go, with my bulkier Pentax DSLR camera, back to the area I stumbled across .

I lumbered into Evernote/pad/webclipper while I was looking for resources for an Academic IT English course at a technical college (Hochschule) I train at . It replaced my xmarks account with more functionality, and is presently not only as an App on my phone, but also on my Mac Mini and my Acer Travelmate. It allows me to not only bookmark, but clip articles, and write notes. This is a multi-tasking dream. I discarded One Note after a few mishaps, and not wanting to have to learn the OS, and another new software. Plus it is far too much trouble to learn one software, when you can integrate an existing App you use, right.

There was a flip side to using the phone, and that was having Bing and Internet Explorer preinstalled. The former I still have to use for searching, even though I am a big fan of the open source Duck Duck go. However as Windows 8 has tiles on the home screen it means I installed a browser with a cute icon called UC browser, that is light weight and reminds me of Midori in that it is pretty light weight .

But the BIG decider was something of a Stewsday flavour, in that the tiles are customisable and have a very nice design to the home screen.

altAkrNuDMq2wzk1LDzp6aWwaqfWN4TgzZCyZ5D98A0rxMh_jpg

It took me awhile to learn how to integrate my accounts, and get used to the system. But this new flavour of phone has tickled the taste buds of this boy in the toy/candy store.

 

Becoming Denglisch: accents on the goggle box

The Brummie  accent  does not roll off the tongue, more like rolls around the mouth trying to get out. It is a challenge to comprehension, but not abuse of the ear.

The actors of a new series also found it a challenge to master the tongue of the coal face.

Now and again I try to find good drama on the goggle box (TV) from the old country, in this case the good old black country.

I have stumbled across a real treat for all Anglophiles, and peeps who wanna really prick up those ears. It is a really good character driven series, set in 20s Birmingham. A gritty drama that takes a look at gangster, family life and the tensions between the Unions and the Police.

863959_peaky_blinders__episode

The main character in Peaky blinders is played by an actor who is a little bit under the radar, but you may recognise him from the Dark Knight series of Batman as the Scarecrow.

 

Check it out, and also enjoy a really nice soundtrack as well.

Never in my classroom: Correction and discipline

“Will you just shut up”.

A comment I heard more than once this previous semester.

Should we as teachers be allowing students to make such comments?

As a pupil myself coming from a mainly authoritarian tutelage, I struggled with this notion of the role of the teacher in correction and discipline.

We all know peer correction can be a trusted tool, in my experience it causes mixed results. Depending on the method and the nationalities/ personalities involved.

Undertaking the correction via email, skype, wiki, or in front of the class. The former requires either trust or monitoring from the tutor. The latter on a black board, flip chart or more recently using office and tracking changes seen projected on to a wall, has many benefits. Namely:

However in my experience with Chinese higher education engineering students this was not at all possible regardless of a heavy handed or silk gloved approach. In most cases except, those who had prior exposure to this methodology, the students exposed became less confident and lost face in front of their peers.

Which brings me to the group dynamic of allowing class mates to discipline each other. On the flip side as a tutor, shouldn’t we be the authoritarian figure?

And looking back at the peer correction and loss of face. I firmly believe some of this occurs in this scenario as well. Witnessing students blushing, embarrassed apologies and even feedback at the end of the course supporting this method. Also from the culprit of the unwanted behaviour.

Should we be promoting peer correction, and what limitations dependent on nationalities, personalities and group dynamic should we impose?