I have always been very interested in the association between Art and Learning. Teaching with art. In my workshops and presentations as a teacher and sales trainer, I usually try to illustrate my sessions with slides containing pictures of famous paintings or sculptures to make a point. The reaction of the audience is invariably positive. I started then to think about the power of the pedagogy or andragogy (training adults) that incorporates art works as some form of context in the specific field of English language teaching. These are some of the reasons to expose learners to art I came up with. The list is by no means exhaustive, and I would appreciate your help in adding your ideas to this blog in the comments section at the bottom.
1. Fun: art is fun. Fun makes learning easier. We all know that whenever leaners are enjoying an activity their level of engagement rises and, therefore, they spend longer stretches of time focusing on the topic. Considering the goldfish-like attention span of most people today, due to the overwhelming amount of information they are bombarded with from all sides, this is already a victory in and of itself.
2. CLIL: most teachers are familiar with this acronym that means Content and Language Integrated Learning. It’s been around for some time now. It only means that language should be taught within a specific context, as a means to an end, rather than as a metalinguistic process. Learners acquire a second language more effectively if they come across real or contextualized uses of it: in a text, a listening passage or a video clip, for example, so they can concentrate on the message as much as on the medium. The length of exposure to the topic may vary: the longer the better. This means that if you teach, for example, history or math in English for a whole term, the learners might develop a better grasp of the language than if you had used fragments or decontextualized sentences to focus only on the language itself. Art, therefore, lends itself perfectly to the job, as it provides a wonderful canvas (pun intended) to design innumerable language activities on.
3. Emotions: Krashen, the linguist, warned us against psychological barriers that, when up, prevent the linguistic input from reaching our innate language acquisition device. The classroom environment must be as free as possible of pressures and inhibiting factors to be more conducive to learning. Art can be a great help in creating this atmosphere of calm and relaxation learners need to internalize input. But it also keeps them alert, due to its positively emotional impact, which is also a necessary condition for language acquisition. Besides, beauty makes the language more memorable.
4. Flexibility: teaching English based on paintings and sculptures lends itself to all kinds of activities across language levels, catering for different kinds of learning styles. Of course the impact is huge for the more visually oriented learners. But if you add a listening comprehension task about the piece of art or aesthetic movement you are discussing, or have, for example, learners work on some kind of hands-on activity as a follow-up – such as putting the pieces of a puzzle together, producing their own art work, or making a collage on the theme – you will be equally catering for the auditory and kinesthetic learners.
5. Personalization: learning is all about personalization. People have individual learning paces, varied kinds of intelligences, diverse learning styles and interests. Art and its many manifestations allow for different meanings and interpretations. The same work of art fosters different reactions and emotions in different people. Teachers can tap into this. Allowing open-ended responses to a speaking or writing activity based on a painting makes for solid and effective methodology.
Both teachers and students profit enormously from the inclusion of art in their English lessons. Most people are not really exposed to fine art, despite all the technological means to reach it we have at out disposal today. So, in addition to all the reasons listed before, we, as teachers and educators, will be refining the learners’ aesthetic taste, opening up a whole world of discovery and instilling a wish for self-improvement in them.
If you want to see some practical examples of English lessons using art, we have some ready-made plans on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/jorgesetteelt
For those of you who are English Teachers and love art in general, we offer a wonderful collection of supplementary eBooks for the students to practice vocabulary, speaking and writing, based on the works of famous painters: TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART. The series is comprised of 8 books so far, and features works by Matisse, Picasso, Caravaggio, Monet, Norman Rockwell, Vincent van Gogh and Winslow Homer. For further information on how to download the materials, please click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS
Check out this brief video on the material on TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MONET:
Webinars have been around for a while now, and, therefore, they’re not considered the sexiest media by marketers any longer. It comes as a surprise, though, that, among the social media available, they are demonstrably the one that brings in the most number of conversions and sales. Pretty sexy, in my opinion, huh?
Webinars are a social medium, because, just like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, they boost the creation of a community and generate a lot of interaction between the participants. The sessions themselves have a limited length of time– 75 min is the usual – but, just like a live in-person event, they bring people together who can then sign up for your company’s website or Facebook fan page and become a member of a community just like any other.
Most webinars are done live, although, depending on the software or service you choose to use, the session can and should be recorded for later viewing, in case some of the participants cannot make it at a certain time of the day.
I remember the first time I ran a webinar – facilitating the presentation of famous authors of a publisher I used to work for – with the objective of educating the participants on the new methodology of the English language teaching material we were launching, and, as a consequence, selling the material to the school or teacher who might feel it fit their needs. Being the first time on my own, I was kind of nervous, but then I relaxed and started to have a good time myself. The speakers, at first, were a bit stiff themselves, but then they got in the mood (of course, we all had rehearsed and had been carefully trained many times before) and the session was as a huge success.
There are basically three phases to a webinar: the promotion, the session itself, and the follow-up. If all these phases are implemented properly and carefully, the event will go as smoothly as it should, otherwise the session will flop, and the conversion rates and sales results will be disappointing. After all, a webinar is like any other marketing tool for collecting leads and selling the product. Some webinars are so powerful that the conversion from prospect to lead to buyer occurs during the session itself, and the client either makes the purchase online after the webinar or requests the visit of a rep to complete the process. Let’s talk a little bit about each of the phases of a webinar:
The Promotion: creating the buzz
After deciding on the best webinar provider for your company and having had extensive training on it, organize your first event. This does not differ much from how you promote your live in-person conferences, except for, in your communication with the customers – be it online (email, banners, Facebook posts); print collateral/invites that your sales people will hand out to VIP clients; or even phone calls – make sure to reinforce the main advantage of the webinar: the customer will be attending a high-quality session and interacting with people from all over the world from the comfort of their own home or the desk chairs in their office. Many clients still resist the concept of webinars initially, as they will have never taken part in one. Even the reps, if not properly trained, can damage your effort by not explaining to the customer the value of attending a session under these ideal conditions. All the clients need is a computer with an Internet connection. Remember to send out invitations to the event a least 30 days before the session, and be prepared to send two or three reminders afterwards if you feel the registration is low. By the way, make the registration process very simple (ask only for their names and email addresses). You can add more details about them later.
The session and its different parts
When the great day arrives, make sure you, as the facilitator, and the speakers, who will probably be in different parts of the world, get together online at least 30 min before the session starts in order to run some technical tests of sound and image and make sure everything is in fine. There are always some customers who arrive early, either because they are excited, or because they themselves want to make sure they can get in easily. Greet these people warmly, explain them that the session will start in X min (remember they might be in very different time zones) and ask them questions such as how they found out about the session, where they are watching it from, are they alone or with other people, etc., to warm them up. The webinar provider usually has a forum section (or chat room) where the participants can chat with each other by entering their questions, answers and comments in writing. So expect a lot of interaction among them even before the session starts.
When the time is right, introduce the speakers, present the agenda of the webinar (it is a great help for the audience to know what is going to happen, so show a slide with bullet points telling them the plan). In the phase of the preparation for the webinar, ask the speakers if they would feel comfortable telling a story related to the content they will be presenting to open the session. We love stories and this is a great way to break the ice. Of course, the story ideally tells of a problem and its solution – which will be the product/service you are promoting. The speakers mustn’t make it too long, as some attendees will want them to jump straight into the content itself.
Then the speakers start the session per se. If the speakers decide to make it more interactive – which I strongly recommend – they should ask questions during the presentation and teach the audience how to react by using the different buttons available on the dashboard on their end of the interface of the webinar provider: they can say YES/NO, they can insert emoticons in the chat section applauding a point the speakers made, or laughing at one of their jokes. They can also make comments in the chat section. They love it.
When you finish the content part of the session, you or your speaker need to put on your sales hat, and smoothly, transition to a sales close. Ask if they liked what they heard so far, if they have any questions and whether they are ready to purchase it. This is called CLOSING in sales, and you need to do that, if you are using the webinar for business. Afterwards, set up a quick Q&A slot: 15 min max. They can ask questions about anything: the content of the session or the product/service itself. Some will buy on the spot, others will need more time to think about it. Fair enough. For those who need more time, you will establish the third phase of the webinar:
Both live in-person events and webinars need to pull the prospects along the sales funnel leading them to make a purchase. After the even, you will hopefully have many converts, but they need to actually take the action of buying your offer. This third phase is essential: your reps could schedule a demo at their office to continue the conversation; you could set up an email marketing campaign highlighting the benefits of the product and expanding on what was not said during the webinar; you can send them more info via an ebook or brochure. However, don’t lose track of the participants of the webinar. Make sure they join your community (website, blog, Facebook fan page, etc). Otherwise, you will be just wasting your time as a business person.
There is a lot of info about webinars on the web and many tips on how to conduct them. The more you read about these sessions, the more confident you will become to start producing them. They are very effective. Don’t miss on this opportunity to close deals.