Stencil: Hi Tom. Your friendly DoS just checking in. We have a good Skype connection, for once.
Tom: Hi Stencil.
Stencil: Who’s in the picture behind you?
Tom: Rosa Luxemburg.
Stencil: One of your lefty heroes?
Tom: She was shot and thrown into a Berlin canal in 1919 for saying the wrong thing.
Stencil: Wow. What did she say?
Tom: She said “Today we can seriously set about destroying capitalism once and for all. Nay, more; not merely are we today in a position to perform this task, nor merely is its performance a duty toward the proletariat, but our solution offers the only means of saving human society from destruction”.
Stencil: What? Well, anyway, how did the Zoom session go?
Stencil: Did everybody turn up?
Tom: At one point there were eight students, plus kids, servants, cats and dogs.
Stencil: Not bad. First impressions?
Tom: Cats really don’t give a shit, do they?
Stencil: I mean the lesson. How did it go? Did you manage to get thru the whole Unit?
Stencil: Unit 4, Watchwords; Not Quite Intermediate, you know. We’re nearly half way thru the course now, Tom, and the second test looms.
Tom: Well actually, the dog ate my copy of the book yesterday.
Stencil: You have a dog?
Tom: The neighbour’s dog.
Stencil: Jeez. So what did you do?
Tom: We just sort of shot the breeze, you know. Living in lockdown, new stuff on Netflix, …
Stencil: You shot the breeze? You’re supposed to do reported speech in this unit.
Stencil: Reported speech, Tom, for pity’s sake. A key component in the course. I mean, you know how many of our students want to get jobs in admin.
Tom: He told me that if I turned left, right, then left again I would find the coffee machine?
Stencil: That’s not in the text. It’s ‘Hi! My name is Boonsri. I’m from Bangkok. She told me that her name was Boonsri and that she came from Bangkok’. Important to positively bias female gender, you know, and foreign places.
Stencil: Any technical problems?
Tom: We didn’t really get the hang of the mute button, so there was a lot of kind of extraneous stuff. I heard somebody say “Joder! Donde esta mi cripy tio?”
Stencil: Great! That’s a really good opportunity for some negotiation of meaning work, Tom. No problem with a bit of L1 in the mix, right? Step in when that happens, reformulate, recast, clarification routines, you know?
Tom: Yeah. I think she found her stash in the sofa.
Stencil: Right. Did the video recording from Unit 4 go OK?
Tom: I tried to play it but the share screen showed rather personal bits of my emails.
Tom: Montse asked “What does ‘cottaging’ mean?”
Stencil: Great! Perfect opportunity to use the 3 minute ‘Expand vocabulary and collocations’ slot. Charming cottage; typical semi-detached house, nice flat, neat loft, yeah? And how did the break out groups go?
Tom: I’m not sure. What are break out groups?
Stencil: Oh come on Tom. Break out groups. Group work. After the Marker Sentence ‘She told me that her name was Boonsri’, you put them in groups, they ask “What’s your name? Where are you from?” and then report their replies to each other. It’s all in the Teacher’s book, you just have to adapt it to the online context man. Even allow a bit of free practice while you take notes, right?
Stencil: Well anyway, we’re all meeting up for a teachers ‘How’s it going?’ webinar tomorrow, 3 am Eastern States time, and we can take this further. We want to examine incorporating non native teacher awareness and social distancing into the supplementary online materials. OK?
Tom: Sorry, Stencil, my Mum’s on the phone.
Stencil: Tom? Can you hear me Tom?