Saturday 26 October 2013

RSCON never sleeps...

For most people RSCON has come and gone. The weekend of 11-13th October 2013 might have been a mind-opener for some, a disappointment for others, but there can be no denying that it was a special event. It was completely online, completely free, and completely run by a group of dedicated unpaid volunteers. Unpaid in kind, but paid  in the knowledge that someone somewhere in the world would have been inspired enough to start the reform ball rolling in their community, their network.

I'd played a small part in helping the team in RSCON3, but as circumstances would have it, I found myself involved in a far greater scale than the previous event. Even while RSCON4 was still going on, we were already discussing the improvements we would like to see for the next event. Those who have continued to follow us in the social network would have noticed some of the groundwork being laid for RSCON5.

Here are some of the things that have been going on:

RSCON on Flipboard

RSCON4 on Flipboard

We have created a magazine on Flipboard to display posts that RSCONers have written regarding their experience of RSCON4.

If you wish to be included, fill in the form here: I want to be included!

When's the next RSCON?

The Reform Symposium has always been for the people, so we want to make that even truer by inviting everyone to have a say as to when they would like to have the next conference. Each day, it gets more complicated as more and more organizations (especially the professional ones with a significant budget as opposed to volunteer organizations such as ours with zero budget) jump into the bandwagon with the result that on any one day, you are bound to find a free webinar of one form or another.

Since a party is useless if no-one comes, we want the biggest audience possible, and we want to know which month gets the majority of votes. Have your say here: I want to vote!

I want to help!

We have started collecting names of people who wish to be part of the Reform Symposium community. Experience is not necessary; passion is! That's our motto. There are many ways in which you can be of help: design, promotion, presenting, moderating, training, etc. So, if you can spare some time to help others help themselves, fill in this form: I want to help!

RSCON on Facebook

RSCON on Facebook

Since we want to reach the maximum number of people possible and even the most non-techie person is using Facebook, we decided that it is the best platform for us to use to keep our followers up to date. So, if you want the latest juiciest information, be sure to "like" us!

In addition, we have also created an RSCON group as groups seem to be more user-friendly than pages! Join us:

I would like to propose a presenter

Now you can! Just fill in this form: propose a presenter. Remember passion is more important to experience for us!

Thanks for sharing our passion!

Saturday 28 September 2013

#RSCON4 Reform Symposium 11-13 Oct 2013: Useful links

I won't say much as I'm sure you must have read plenty about RSCON, the Reform Symposium. Instead, I'll place some useful links here because I know how, sometimes, it's difficult to find what you're looking for. If you are still in doubt regarding any aspect of this incredible e-conference, just get in touch with me.


Twitter Lists

Apart from following the hashtag #RSCON4, you may like to follow the people who are making it all possible. Subscribing to the lists is best because names may be added from time to time.

Spread the Word

Write about it in your blog. Wear a badge. Tweet it. Tell everyone in the social media scene.

If you've written a blog post, have it included here:

If you're a presenter or an EdInspire nominee, you should have got a personal message about where to get the badge. Otherwise, get in touch with me.

If you know someone who deserves to be nominated for the EdInspire award, here's the form.

Main website: 

Prezi (courtesy of Chris Smith @shamblesguru): 



Join up as a volunteer. Help us moderate. To make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible, we need more MODERATORS from all the time zones! Go here for more details:

Remember that even though you're a presenter, you can still moderate the other sessions!


You can practise by signing up for a free WeCollaborate room:

Training sessions

The 2 official training sessions are over, but you can watch the recordings.

There are two - they are similar. The links are given at the end of this post.

When you click on either link, you'll be asked to save a file called nativeplayback.jnlp
Save it where you can find it easily, on your desktop, for example.
When it's finished saving, open it.
This will start the recording. It may take a few minutes to load.
Click on play to begin the playback.

The whole recording lasts for 76 minutes although you can fast forward or rewind it.

If you're still unsure about participating in webinars and need extra training, feel free to contact me for a private session.

Bookmark this page. If there's anything else that I think may be useful, I'll come back here and edit.

I look forward to meeting you all in a week's time!


Scroll down and click on your time zone.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Punctuation..? A review

A review of Thomas Bohm's Punctuation..?


Macmillan defines it as “the use of marks such as full stops or commas in order to write in a clear style”.

Oxford's definition is slightly wordier:  “the marks, such as full stop, comma, and brackets, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning”.

Edgar Allan Poe, the 19th century American poet and writer has been quoted as saying “The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood.... For the want of merely a comma, it often occurs that an axiom appears a paradox, or that a sarcasm is converted into a sermonoid.” (Source:

Yet, punctuation has caused endless debates over the years, and one of the main culprits is the apostrophe.


Serious “apostrophers” walk around with a marker, correcting signs and notices; websites and organisations, such as TheApostrophe Protection Society and Kill the apostrophe have been created; and in 2009, Birmingham City Council removed apostrophes from all its signs! (Source: TheTelegraph)

Do you know that there is even an International Apostrophe Day (18th Aug)?

So, when I was asked to review a little book on punctuation, it didn't take much to convince me.

Simply titled, “Punctuation..?”, it is written by Thomas Bohm, who also did the childlike illustrations, adding a touch of wit to the otherwise dryish but clear explanations. The book is available in Central Books, Waterstones and Amazon.

“Punctuation..?” seeks to explain the functions and correct uses of 21 of the most used punctuation marks in alphabetical order, starting from the controversial apostrophe and ends with one of the most confusing for a lot of people – the semicolon.

Why does the apostrophe cause so much distress? Bohm says that the most common use of an apostrophe is to indicate possession although he didn't cite his source for such a conclusion. He's probably right but I can't help but think that it might be a close call with its use to show omission, eg can't, doesn't, etc.

What is more important, however, is Bohm's failure to mention what happens when the name of the person ends with an s, such as Dickens or Frances, or when talking about a singular noun which ends in s, eg class.
On the other hand, it is interesting that Bohm should mention “the apostrophe has largely vanished from company names”. Waterstones, for example, removed their apostrophe as recent as 2012!


Bohm mentions the round, curly and square brackets. Apparently, there are rules attached to them. Most of us, me included, use only the round brackets, but I sometimes use a different one if I need brackets within brackets and I also use the square brackets to denote if a verb is transitive or intransitive, or if a noun is countable or uncountable, as in the dictionaries. The curly brackets are supposedly for showing “a series of equal choices” whatever that means and square brackets are for showing a different tone or to clarify information.

The rest... 

Aside from the use of brackets, Bohm insists that the dash, the em dash and hyphen are all different. There is also something called interpunct, which is a small dot vertically centred between words. I don't know where to find this on my keyboard.

Bohm also states that the double quotation marks are reserved for quotes within quotes and the single are now mainly used.

I'm not too sure about this because I still see double quotes everywhere.


As you notice, there are bits of interesting information scattered about in this booklet; some, you may know while others may come as a surprise. Rules about the usage of punctuation are readily available on the Net, but if you are one of those who prefer a hard copy at hand, I can heartily recommend this book. It's handy and small (35 pages) and does well what it sets out to do. I can't help but think, however, that an e-book version would serve as a better vehicle.

Thursday 18 April 2013

How do you teach English?

Kaplan surveyed more than 500 ESL teachers from around the world to discover what tools they use to enhance their lessons. Here's an infographic they created to show the results.

Which do you use?

elt efl ell esl clil How to teach English

Saturday 13 April 2013

Confusing words: Whether or if?

"Police are probing WHETHER the deaths of a woman, 107, and her daughter are a murder and suicide." (The Mirror, 12 Apr 2013)

" 'I didn't know WHETHER to laugh or cry'- Twitter responds to Lindsay Lohan on Charlie Sheen's Anger Management." (The Independent, 12 Apr 2013)

Image by Chiew Pang. Copyright 2012
I don't know whether or not I should...
There are often doubts regarding the use of "whether", especially among learners up to B1 level.

WHETHER /ˈwɛðə/ is a conjunction used when we're expressing a doubt or choice between alternatives.

In indirect questions which expect a yes/no answer, we can either use whether or if.

I asked them whether/if they were going to take the exams in June.

If or appears later in the sentence, we generally prefer whether, although if is also possible.

They weren't sure whether/if she was telling the truth or not.  

Whether and not if is used in the following conditions:

Before an infinitive 

They can't decide whether to take the exams in June.

After a preposition

The students were unsure about whether the teacher's explanation was helpful. 

Immediately before "or not"

I'm not sure whether or not the students are ready.  

Contrast with: I'm not sure whether/if the students are ready or not. 


Don't confuse the spelling of the conjunction whether with the noun weather. 

Both are pronounced the same: /ˈwɛðə/