This blog is about teaching languages. Although it’s in English, and probably most of the posts, contributions, comments etc will be written by English Language teachers, the aim is for it to be applicable to other languages too.

What’s the focus?

It is mainly for teachers teaching teenagers, a much maligned bunch, and by extension adults, but more than about teaching them, it’s about reaching into their imaginations, their creativity and using that and their own lives and passions as the basis for memorable, motivating lessons. It’s about Unplugged Teaching and dogme, teaching approaches that use very little or no technology and very few or no external materials such as coursebooks. Teaching that is all about the student, the people in the room. Teaching where the teacher is part of the team, another piece in the jigsaw, another voice, not THE voice. Which brings me to….

Why macappella?

According to the dictionaries, a cappella means without instrumental accompaniment. It also means harmony created by  several distinct, different, individual voices, those voices singing to create a layered whole, a textured piece, and (with any luck) a creation of beauty. Every voice however quiet is needed, none is surplus, none superior to any other. A cappella.  And the ‘m’? Well, apart from having a passion for language and a deep-rooted love of music, I’m from Glasgow…. and if fellow Glaswegian Billy Connolly can get away with a monologue about Genghis McCann, and dogme mentor Scott Thornburycan create (and decry) Grammar McNuggets, I can start a blog called macappella.

How does it work?

I aim to have at least six pages: apart from the home page and the about pages (the blog and me), there may be a news page later on, about conferences, books etc, and I’d like to divide the posts into two: Chalkface purely practical, hands-on classroom-ideas-driven posts  and Mind’s Ear. This will be theoretical or thoughtful but NOT of the ‘According to’ ilk. And any ‘according tos’ will be there to expand on or provide the launchpad for personal musings, either my own or a guest’s. More of a ‘what I think…‘, ‘what fascinates/puzzles me…‘ ‘what I believe to be true because…’ section than ‘what I’ve read….’, where experience, common sense and the teacher & his/her students prevail over bibliographies and statistics. They have their place, true, but their place isn’t here.

And finally

Who took  the photograph used as a header?

The fireworks – an idea blatantly pinched (and admired) from a combination of singer Katy Perry and teacher Mark Andrews (@marekandrews) encouraging all people to shine and sparkle while being who they really are regardless of all possible -isms and a few -ilities – were photographed by teacher and obviously artist Phil Bird (@pysproblem81). Many many thanks.

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