Understanding Film Soundtracks

English teachers teaching film

There are at least three standard tracks in any film soundtrack. The dialogue is the backbone of the story. If the writing is not good or the dialogue is not delivered well it really doesn’t matter what else is good. There has been some very interesting data coming out recently in the field of digital marketing. It seems that customers do not get overly concerned with poor quality video but … Read More

The Value of Storyboards in the English classroom

English teachers teaching film

In the early 1930s, when Disney was at the height of its creativity in cartoon animation, it was common practice for the artists working at the studio to pin their rough sketches onto bulletin boards. They would do this in order to visually structure the storyline and provide a visual framework for the animators and production team. Because there were so many artists working on each project it was the … Read More

Why are Archetypes Important in Film?

English teachers teaching film

An archetype is an original model of something, what we may call a prototype. According to television producer Aaron Spelling there are only 5 stories and they have all been told. The job of the modern producer or filmmaker is to find new ways of telling them. These 5 stories are: Whichever system you follow it is universally accepted that most texts are re-workings of stories that have been told … Read More

A Confession, an Apology and Bright Shiny Objects

Teaching focus

Bright Shiny Objects (BSO):  Any new, interesting, intriguing, colourful idea, strategy or possibility. Designed to excite, stimulate, side-track, deviate and beguile. Guaranteed to deflect focus. Long before it was diagnosed many of my students labelled me ADHD. I would argue that I was just passionate. As it turns out I am both and I have fallen into the trap of BSOs with this blog. Time to get back on track. … Read More

What my Naughty Dog taught me about Students.

Building relationships with students

I have a very naughty dog. He was adopted from the SPCA in Singapore when I was teaching there and was about 2 years old at the time. For the first few days he was quite tentative and unsure of me, but that did not last long. By the end of the first week he would race gleefully to the door to meet me when I got home in the … Read More

For Teachers -The Times They Are A Changin.

Teachers and change

Why teachers didn’t get a mention in Bob Dylan’s 1964 hit song is a mystery to me. Writers, parents and politicians are mentioned and of course they are important, but surely great teachers are significant instruments of change. That teaching as a profession has changed in the decades since the tumultuous 60s is undeniable. Like all change, some has been good, some not so much. Some change even seems contradictory. … Read More

Why Do Passionate People Teach?

Passionate English teachers

There are a stack of different reasons why people go into teaching, especially teaching English. Between 1950 and 1978 in Australia, Secondary Teaching was one of the few things you could get government funding for to go to University. It was competitive. You sat for the studentship exam and if you scored well enough the government paid for your studies. In exchange you agreed to teach for three years  in government … Read More

Why Teach English?

Teaching Literature

The second greatest surprise of my life came when I realised that I loved teaching teenagers. Seriously, I was 35 years old and had spent the previous 20 years actively avoiding it. Where I grew up teaching and nursing were the only two options for clever, nice girls and I was determined not to be one of them. I didn’t have any clear idea of what I wanted to do … Read More