2014; cornishkylie.com in review

After a much needed break from the blog/work/Thailand over Christmas and New Year I am back and ready to hit 2015 smack bang in the face.  Once again I have a plethora of new year’s resolutions ranging from finally, actually doing some yoga to taking more photographs and blogging more, being more organised at work, doing more in my spare time… we’ll see which ones stay past the end of February.  I haven’t even picked up my yoga mat yet…

But before 2015 get rolling, it’s time to have a look at how great things went for this site over 2014.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.  I wanted one last year but I didn’t get offered – I must have been doing something right in 2014 I guess!

Yes, I realise that’s two infographic posts in a row… what can I say?  It’s a new found obsession.

Check it out for a sneak peek into some of my site stats, my most popular posts and most popular commenters (your little face may even be featured there if you’ve commented frequently enough…!)

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Teacher Tuesday: ReBeats NEW online learning resource

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ReBeats is an online game that aims to improve English language learning through listening to music.  Using a simple fill in the gaps format, users watch a music video and select the correct word from two options to complete the lyrics of the song.

Scores are awarded for choosing correctly, speed and streaks of correct answers.  Users can then enter a leader board or send a challenge to a friend’s email address.

At the moment the website is still in its early stages of development and they are asking for feedback.  I decided to give the website a test run, looking at its potential as a fun resource to be used in the classroom with students.

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Screenshot from ReBeats.tv

The website is very simple with minimal instructions but it all becomes self explanatory very quickly.  You have the choice of using the mouse of the left/right buttons on the keyboard to choose the correct word.  The latter is a lot quicker.  I would like to try it out on an interactive whiteboard, with students taking it in turn to be in control of the ‘magic’ pen (watch this space).  Students left to watch can shout out suggestions or sing along, karaoke style.  I would be singing regardless.

One missing feature that I immediately picked up on is that you are unable to select the song.  They are currently randomly generated, meaning that you don’t know if Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball video might pop up next to your class of 9 year old girls, or if the vocabulary in the next song might be too easy/hard for the group.  A representative from ReBeats has assured me that this is all due to the site still being in development and hinted at song choice and making your own playlists as developments in the near future.  An even bigger improvement could be to rank songs from easy through to hard, based on the language used.

The word choices offered give a good range of easily confused words, homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings/spellings), context specific choices and basic grammar rules.  Sometimes either word could be correct, requiring students to use their listening skills.  There is only one word missing for every few lines of the song and if a song is particularly high tempo or the class are struggling to choose the correct word there is the option to pause the video and go through the sentence with the students.

At the end of each game, points, accuracy percentage and reaction times are displayed, with the option to add this to a leader board or challenge a friend via email.  My students love competition so the fact that there are points and rankings is very important when trying to keep them engaged.

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End of game points review.

Also, once a song is completed you have the option to review all of the lyrics with the correct answers revealed.  This could be a great time to discuss why certain words wouldn’t work in certain sentences and to review any incorrect answers made.

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You can review incorrect answers at the end of each game.

During the time that I played, I had songs from artists ranging from Kings of Leon, Queen and Avril Lavigne to Olly Murs, Adele and Lana Del Rey.  Most of the songs are current and ‘cool’ enough to keep my students happy.

Overall I think it’s a good resource to use in the classroom as a bit of fun at the end of the lesson.  Personally I don’t think this is a tool for serious language learning, although the team at ReBeats are promoting it as a potential resource for making real improvements in English language learning.  The site has a slick, app-like appearance and is  ad free.  As it’s currently in the beta stages of development, expect further feature and game play developments to appear in the not too distant future.  I will definitely be checking back to see what improvements are made as they receive feedback.

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All reviews on this blog are my personal and honest review.  ReBeats is a product from Tonguesten, an education technology start-up based in London and currently incubated by Wayra UK and UnLtd.  I did not receive any payment, monetary or otherwise, to write this review.  If you have a product you would like me to review please get in touch – info@cornishkylie.com .

2013: A year in review

It’s that time of year again when we all look back on the year that is almost over, and look forward to the year coming up ahead.

Before I start thinking of what New Year’s Resolutions I am going to attempt to keep up next year, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at 2013 and all that I have got up to; I’ve added some links if you want to have a nose at the posts from that time of year…

We saw in the new year on beautiful Koh Samui.  It didn’t quite go to plan, with storms and cancelled speedboats throwing a spanner in the party plans, but we still managed to have a great time exploring all that the island has to offer.

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Sunset on Lamai beach, Koh Samui

We moved out of our Hat Yai city centre apartment and into our own Thai home in the village of Ban Pruh.  We got to know the locals, adjusted to the Thai way of living and welcomed a few unwanted snakes, scorpions and other delights into our home!

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Our humble abode.

We found and rescued a tiny, weak kitten from under the stairs in one of the school buildings.  Luckily, with a bit of attention and a lot of love she got fit and healthy and Cat is now a fully fledged member of the household.  Love her!

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The box that Cat called home for a short while.

It wasn’t long before we stumbled across another animal that we couldn’t help but take in.  Patches the puppy didn’t stay small forever and he’s now almost fully grown and has his own pack of street dog friends, but he still calls our front garden home.

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Patches the puppy.

We took part in the world’s biggest water fight at the Songkran festivities in Chiang Mai up in the north of Thailand, stopping off in Bangkok on the way where I developed a newly found hatred for ‘traveler’ types (sorry guys) and we also discovered a culinary gem of a place in Little India.

We’ve been caving, lived the traditional life on the river for the weekend, found the most beautiful waterfall in all of Thailand, visited a whole load of temples and discovered paradise on the island of Koh Lipe.

At school I’ve been dressed up like a Thai princess for the day, helped the students to perform for super important Malaysian visitors and tried out different lessons in my new English Writing class.

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I visited home and got to see all my family and friends, ate far too much western food and generally enjoyed the simplicity of home life for three weeks.

We’ve seen the protests (and there are more to come), a very wet rainy season and a very un-Christmassy Christmas period.

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Happy protester.

I’ve moaned about teaching in Thailand quite a bit, and the general annoyances that come along with it.  But once I  let those frustrations go, I can see that I’ve had a cracking year in Thailand and I really look forward to whatever the next year brings with it.  With no real plans with regards to staying put or moving, who knows what the next year has in store for us?

Finally, I’d like to say a big Happy New Year to all who have been kind enough to visit, follow, comment and like posts on the cornishkylie blog over the past year.  I’ve whizzed up to 16,000 + views and counting which I am truly grateful for and humbled by.  Here’s to another twelve months of whatever life may bring.  Enjoy it!