Teaching English with Art: Winslow Homer


Teaching English with Art: Winslow Homer.  This eighth volume of our successful series of eBooks combining ENGLISH TEACHING AND ART is a wonderful supplement to any coursebook or extra materials your students may already be using in the English class. It contains 30 vocabulary,  speaking and writing activities for classroom use, based on some of the most striking works by the best American artist of the XIX century.

The objective of the eBook is to expose the students to art while teaching English, fulfilling therefore one of the tenets of effective language acquisition: providing a realistic context for the language to be learned and practiced as a means to an end. Your students will love to exercise their English discussing the works of Winslow Homer. This is a proven way to make language acquisition fun and effective by creating in the classroom an atmosphere of interest, motivation and emotion. Each activity is clearly correlated to the COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE (CEFR), and the level is stated next to it.

IMPORTANT NOTE. CUSTOMIZATION: if you wish to change the cover of any of the ebooks, add your school logo, negotiate a special price for a determined number of students, or make other suggestions of customization, do not hesitate to talk to us. We are VERY FLEXIBLE. Make your ebook UNIQUE!

Click on the image below to download the ebook:

Click on the image above to get your copy from the Kindle Store.

Click on the image above to get your copy from the Kindle Store.

Check out the video clip on the ebook TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: WINSLOW HOMER: https://vimeo.com/142028606

For other books of our series, click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

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Teaching English with Art: Vincent van Gogh


Teaching English with Art: Vincent van Gogh.  This seventh volume of our successful series of eBooks combining ENGLISH TEACHING AND ART is a wonderful supplement to any coursebook or extra materials your students may already be using in the English class. It contains 30 speaking and writing activities (now including specific vocabulary exercises) for classroom use, based on some of the most striking works by one of the most beloved  and controversial  artists of Western Culture, VINCENT VAN GOGH.

The objective of the eBook is to expose the students to art while teaching English, fulfilling therefore one of the tenets of effective language acquisition: providing a realistic context for the language to be learned and practiced as a means to an end. Your students will love to exercise their English discussing the works of van Gogh. This is a proven way to make language acquisition fun and effective by creating in the classroom an atmosphere of interest, motivation and emotion. Each activity is clearly correlated to the COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE (CEFR), and the level is stated next to it.

Click on the image below to download the ebook:

Click on the image above to get your copy from the KINDLE STO

Click on the image above to get your copy from the KINDLE STORE.

Check out the video clip on the ebook TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: VINCENT VAN GOGH

For other books of our series, click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with art

Teaching English with art

Start your blog today: what are you waiting for?


I have some 2000 friends on Facebook.  Of course not all of them are close friends, but also family and business peers. Most of all are in ELT (ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING)  one way or another: as teachers, publishers, writers, distributors or students. Of course, our news feeds are packed with info about methodologies, new materials, suggestions on lessons, and self-congratulatory posts on how great it is to be a teacher. The latter, I must confess, are not among my favorite posts: you didn’t see Steve Jobs talking about how great it was to be a brilliant marketer all the time. He presented us the results of his work in terms of concrete products. Of course, with teaching, not all products are tangible, customers are more likely to talk about the quality of our service. However, if we are teachers, we should be teaching on the Internet: not only languages  – our main job – but other stuff we have fun with, things we like, activities we are good at and we can share with other people.

Sharing your interests and expertise with the world.

Sharing your interests and expertise with the world.

We live in a fascinating age where we can show our work on as many and varied platforms as we care to look for: photos on Instagram; videos on YouTube and Vimeo; pictorial suggestions and ideas on Pinterest; snippets of your expertise on Twitter; blogs on WordPress…. to name just the most common. I’m surprised you guys – the experts in inparting knowledge and sharing strategies in meaningful and structured ways –  are not doing that more often online. Most of you keep posting cat pictures and your latest dinner photo on Facebook. That’s fine: some of the cats are even cute, but you can do so much more.

Everytime I go through my news feed I’m fascinated to find out how my friends know about so many different and interesting things:  pets and how to treat them, unusual recipes, places to go to on vacation, art, suggestions on movies to watch, you name it. Most times, however, they just share a copy of something written by another person they might have come across online and expand  a little bit on that.

Well, do more.

Create a blog on the topic and let us learn from you. I have no idea how to cook, and would love to read a simple cooking blog written by any of my friends and would be glad to share with her the results of my efforts, for example. If, for some reason, you don’t like to write, use pictures, videos, cartoons. The important thing is to come up with a story. Create a thread that can lead us to what you are trying to teach us, the goal you wish us to reach. Make it didactic and systematic, set exercises, answer our questions, help us. Who knows, you may even make money out of it, if it gets great readership.

I myself started a blog (LINGUAGEM: jorgesette.com) a year ago just for fun, discussing not only language, my favorite topic, but other themes I enjoyed (movies, art, books, culture, TV shows,  marketing, sales),  but now the blog is becoming more and more professional, as it’s helping me promote the language eBooks I publish on Amazon.com. As I write in English, I’m easily read all over the world, and it’s really gratifying the sense of pride and accomplishment you get when  I see my humble stuff being read in the US, India, Pakistan, France, etc.  This year (2015) we’ve been getting more than 3000 views per month,  and getting stronger.

So, my recommendation is don’t think about the money first: publish something on the Internet for fun: gather an audience, build a network,  and make new friends. Then, if it works out, turn it into a business.

Don’t waste time: start teaching us today! It’s fun.

On the other hand, for those interested in reading how a professional blog for customers should be written, please refer to my previous article: Should you have a blog as a marketer:

 http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1bv

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

 

 

 

Rockwell…well…rocks!


Norman Rockwell was born in New York City in 1894. Growing up in a middle-class family in the Upper West side of Manhattan, Rockwell was never comfortable being a city boy. Although he spent the first years of his life in this urban environment, he thrived whenever he and his brother were allowed to spend some time in the countryside.

From a very early age, Norman knew he wanted to be an illustrator. He was hired as art director of Boy’s Life, the scouts’ official magazine, when he was still in his teens. However, he became nationally known after he started his 47-seven-year collaboration with The Saturday Evening Post, having painted more than 300 illustrations mostly for the cover of that popular magazine.

Triple Self-Portrait, 1960.

Triple Self-Portrait, 1960.

Rockwell can be considered a family man in the sense that he was married 3 times and had 3 kids from his second wife, but most of his time he was dedicated to his work: 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. There was never much time for his wives and kids. Many say he was a detached and distant husband and father. He also travelled a lot, within the US and all over the world, always carrying on painting during these trips.

Rockwell never considered himself an artist, but an illustrator, specializing in genre scenes, depicting life in small-town America. His illustrations always have an element of humor, but you never fail to sense the pathos injected in the narrative as well. He was one of few popular realists in the world of modernist art of the XX century, where abstract painting ruled.

Before painting his models, he tended to have them photographed by a professional in the specific positions he wanted them to pose. His studio was full of props and costumes available to the models in the sessions. He was very particular about the way he wanted people to pose for him. In New York he used professional models, but when he moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts (from Arlington, Virginia) he started to choose models from the members of his own community: his relatives, friends and neighbors. He always had a photographer with him. He would paint afterwards based on these photos.

The paintings of Rockwell are usually regarded as the best representation of simple, pure and strong American values. As a matter of fact, he helped create these values and the American identity itself, in a land packed with immigrants from the most different cultural backgrounds and without much cohesion among themselves in the early 1900s. His illustrations – although not always depicting scenes of an accompanying written narrative – are one-frame stories in themselves. His art is all about visual storytelling. You can infer a whole narrative just by looking at one of his illustrations. No wonder, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg – two of the most popular storytellers of the last decades of XX century American cinema – are among his greatest admirers and owners of important collections of his works.

Rockwell was the opposite of the common stereotype of a bohemian Greenwich Village artist. His friends say he was polite, funny and meticulous. Some claim he was a neat freak, who would spend hours cleaning his studio and washing his brushes many times a day. He was a bit of a loner as well.

Together with Walt Disney, Rockwell is the most beloved American artist of the twentieth century. Of course, their work had a lot in common: they were both visual storytellers, capable of charming and mesmerizing their viewers with wonderful drawings, colors and movement. The animation in Rockwell’s work was obviously only suggested, as he dealt in illustrations, but they are never static. His brush lent them an inner life and dynamism that completely won over his audience. The triple self-portrait illustration (1960) we see above is an example of the charismatic paintings he could produce.

After working for almost 50 years as the main illustrator for the conservative Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell transitioned to the more liberal Life Magazine, where he could explore themes more relevant to the tumultuous times he was living in: the sixties. There, he could produce illustrations that talked to the main issues of the era: racial segregation, women’s liberation and the spacial program. In this post, we show one his most important works of this period: The Problem We All Live With, from 1964, where he depicts the first Afro-American child – a girl – to go to a desegregated school in New Orleans in 1961, facing all kinds of bullying, mainly from white mothers and teenagers on her way to class. She needed to be escorted by US marshals to be able to get into the school. Her name was Ruby Bridges and Rockwell’s illustration became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Problem with All Live with, 1964.

The Problem with All Live with, 1964.

On November 8th, 1978, at the age of 84, Norman Rockwell died peacefully in his sleep, due to emphysema. He had already begun to show symptoms of dementia in his final years.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 1969 and houses the world’s largest collection of his works.

Norman Rockwell is the 5th volume of our successful series of eBooks TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART. If you wish to know more about the series, please click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Take a moment to watch the video clip of TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: NORMAN ROCKWELL

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

How to improve language learning materials


Having just watched the wonderful documentary Africa on Netflix, I realized it’s both worrying and marvelous to find out how little I know about my own planet. The advantage is this means I will be learning until I die. No chance of running out of subjects. Besides, I don’t even need to be concerned about getting to quantum physics or the theory of relativity, which I’m sure would exert a brutal amount of effort on my limited brain: there’s much more basic stuff for me to absorb and immerse myself into before crossing the great divide.

How wonderful learning is. Especially with the tools we have today: millions of video clips on YouTube, Khan Academy lessons , all the info available on Google, MOOCs, all the ebooks you can instantly download from the Internet for next to nothing, blogs on all kinds of topics, apps, podcasts, to say nothing of the huge amounts of info shared by your friends on social media sites (including the cute cat videos!).

Knowledge Is Power by Rockwell, Norman

Knowledge Is Power by Rockwell, Norman

It saddens me that today’s kids will take all this wealth of knowledge and its tools for granted, and many times will prefer to settle for the silliest and most irrelevant games on the Internet. I consider myself lucky to live in this exciting era where we have all this info at our fingertips. All this change has been happening in the last 25 years and it’s hard to believe how different life was in the 1980s. It’s a blessing that those who want to self-educate and choose their own paths through the intricate jungle of information are able to do so. Of course, guides (teachers, tutors, mentors, collaborators) will always be helpful, but it’s liberating to know you can discard them and plan your own journey of discovery if you wish to.

Considering all these tools available, I started thinking what it is that language learning materials are lacking and how these new tools could help us, publishers and teachers, improve them. I have been in this field for more than 20 years now and it’s undeniable that books and other didactic materials evolved a lot throughout these years. However, they are progressively going in the same direction, looking more and more like one another, to the extent of becoming almost a commodity. You can’t tell significant differences between them on the shelves of a bookstore.

One of the main things that print course books cannot do is personalize the lesson to the extent it should be done to meet the different students’ needs, forms of intelligence, learning styles, and paces of language learning. A simple example is a student should be given the right to pick the genre of text he wants to read for the contextualization of the language point he’s been studying. A course book cannot do that. It would make it clunky and extremely expensive to offer in print alternative choices for all the texts they should comprise. An ebook, on the other hand, could offer this variety of choices in a much simpler and affordable way.

A student, now and then, should also be able to choose how to practice the language of the lesson: does he want to follow up doing a writing exercise, a listening comprehension or a reading activity? Does he want to translate a piece of work? Is he allowed to speak to someone from another country through Skype to practice? We can’t offer that range of choices yet in a coordinated and organized way.

Therefore personalization – or lack thereof – is the main problem of print course books or other more traditional materials for language learning. Some digital platforms are already dealing with this. A lot of personalization can be done as homework and be monitored by the teacher through a number of LMSs (learning managing systems) already available. But a lot more is needed. It would be necessary, for instance, to flip the classroom in a radical way, using the time in class for more relevant and interpersonal activities that would be done better involving a real teacher and a group of learners, while the students would deal with the information acquisition on their own time online, outside the classroom.

One More Week Of School And Then by Rockwell, Norma

One More Week Of School And Then by Rockwell, Norma

Moreover, despite the fact that we all agree that language is more effectively learned embedded in content (CLIL – content and language integrated learning), books for children and teenagers do not normally cover the important areas of personal finance, politics, or economy – a growing need in the diverse and complex society they’re entering. I haven’t seen any language books focusing on Emotional Intelligence as part of the curriculum either. If we all agree that teaching through content is the best way for the students to internalize a language, why not offer them this kind of very useful training: recognition of feelings, how to deal with anger, how to negotiate conflict with their classmates, strategies for incorporating diversity, how to delay or postpone gratification? We already teach social values, which is a great step forward, but we don’t focus on interpersonal relationships as content, an area that could be beautifully and effectively covered through language teaching materials.

Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponesus by Rockwell, Norman

Dealing with conflict. (Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponesus by Rockwell, Norman)

Another ideal way of adapting course books would be to cater more intensely for the students’ different learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic. It would be amazing if the presentation of a language point and the activities following it could be personalized according to the strongest style of each student: do they wish to see a video explaining the point, do they want to read about it, would they rather engage in a hands-on discovery activity and find out the solution for themselves? The new tools of technology all make these options possible. All they need is to be presented in a more coordinated way by teachers and publishers so the students are guided through their personal journey towards learning. In summary, language learning materials need to provide a much more flexible structure and remain the backbone of a process that requires individualization.

You are more than welcome to share your ideas on how to improve language learning materials in the comments section of this blog.

NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks available  from AMAZON.COM . Click here to know more about our series TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

 

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

 

Let’s corrupt the youth!


They were right after all. We are seeing a comeback (were they ever really gone anywhere?) of some of the old theories about learning and how teachers should conduct their lessons. Edtech is making possible the practical application of the Socratic method, of Paulo Freire’s pedagogy, of Vygostky’s studies and experiments. All the other pedagogues who have advocated more direct involvement and participation from the students in their own learning are being vindicated and having their theories confirmed and validated.

Some of the methodologies we see in use today are becoming possible because of the realization of individualized learning. It boils down to a student facing her app alone in her bedroom to start with. And from there we can exploit the use of questions (Socrates) to lead that student further and further on the path to the right answer, or, even better, to her own answer in the case of a more abstract problem (such as moral, ethical or political issues); we can personalize teaching to make the context more relevant for each of the students, and therefore resonate with them (Paulo Freire); and we can flip our lessons, having students reconvene in class afterwards to cooperate in solving problems (Vygotsky), after having spent time alone in their homes doing research, reading, watching TEDs or other relevant videos on YouTube.

The Death of Socrates. Rosa, Salvator.

The Death of Socrates. Rosa, Salvator.

We have always known that personalization, cooperation and inductive approaches worked fine.  They have the power of grabbing the students’ interest and attention, keeping the findings longer in their memory. We’re clever teachers after all, we do our homework as well, we went to college and were fascinated by Plato and his dialogues, we felt invigorated by the potential and possibilities of the pedagogy of Freire; and we could easily see that pairing off weaker students with strong ones who would pull them along zones of proximal development made total sense.

But we lacked the means to make it happen. How to apply these exciting methods to classes of more than 30 students (or even more sometimes)? How can a single teacher dedicate enough time to the needs of individual students in these conditions? How much time is there outside the class for teachers to mark essays and homework, to create interesting lessons, to prepare the long  – and possibly very boring (for the students) – lecture to present on the following day?

The good news is things are changing. More and more, the new technology being created will allow us to go back to the masters and make the most of their wise insights and theories. Few teachers doubt that learning is up to the student. It’s their direct responsibility. Teachers are important channels and organizers of the different methods students will have to use actively themselves on their way to discoveries.

Let’s not be afraid of using apps, audience response systems, flipped classrooms and LMSs  in our schools to recreate the necessary conditions to hand learning back to where it belongs: the students! Socrates was sentenced to death for doing exactly that. They called it “corrupting the youth” back then. Well, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we are not in Kansas any more”. Let’s corrupt them!

NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks available  from AMAZON.COM: 

TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE.    Click here for more info: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1kP

TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: PICASSO.    Click here for more info: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lA

Au revoir,

Jorge Sette.