On the Road with Gary in…Moscow


Talks to teachers, university students and VIPs—plus a (short) presentation technique/tip

Spent a week in winter-y Moscow at the end of last month before coming home to spring-y Paris for a week before heading off to, hopefully, summer-y Opatija on the Adriatic coast of Croatia for the national HUPE conference there.

I always like going to Russia because, for one reason, my colleagues there in addition to having me speak to teachers also always seem to organise a couple of presentations to university students and it reminds me of when I was teaching at UMKC (University of Missouri at Kansas City) in the States and at one of the elite engineering grandes écoles here in Paris, ESIEE (but I won’t bother you with the French that those letters stand for).

Anyway, this time in Moscow I was presenting to students—and their teachers—at both the prestigious Financial Academy and equally prestigious Russian Economics Academy on ‘Teaching and Learning English in(to) the Digital Age’ and on ‘B2 or not B2? Is that the question?: Balancing professional and academic exam preparation with real learner needs’ on preparing and taking Cambridge ESOL exams such as BEC, ICFE and IELTS.

Let’s see, I also did a talk to university and PLS teachers on ‘Teaching adults ‘real’ English’ with English Unlimited at the British Council on the left bank of the Moscova and near one of the 49 bridges that cross that river in Moscow and as well two talks to secondary teachers at a special Cambridge English Day in collaboration with our sister organisation Cambridge ESOL.

But the big event was at MISiS, the National University of Science and Technology, where last spring I had done an initial training for their teachers on using Touchstone. This time was for the launch of the ‘Touchstone @ MISiS’ partnership project to an audience of 100 university teachers from around Moscow and Russia and invited VIP guests who, before champagne and cake and my talk on ‘Profiling English Profile’, gathered to hear short, simultaneously translated speeches by first the Russian Minister of Education (!) and the Rector of MISiS, and then representatives of the US and UK Embassies, the Director of the British Council in Russia, Natasha Bochorishvili, Cambridge ELT Sales Manager for Russia, and, finally, yours truly also representing the Press.

I don’t often speak at such high profile events and was a little nervous beforehand about what to say in my five-minute talk. So I used a technique taught to me by my old Parisian friend Richard Cooper who worked for Pilgrims and NILE and is now based in Bombay from where he does presentation and communication training around the world to high-flying international business people and government, UN and NGO officials. Rick’s coaches them that when they have only a few minutes for a talk or, say, are going to be interviewed for the radio or television to make sure that all their main points, ’sound bites’ if you will, fit on the back of their business card. So I made sure my main points (highlighted) fit on the back of my business card:

  • Honoured to represent Cambridge University Press, the oldest continuously publishing house in the world, which has published Newton (think Gravity), Darwin (think Evolution), Chomsky (think Language Acquisition Device), Murphy (think Grammar) and now McCarthy, McCarten and Sandiford (think Touchstone).
  • ‘Touchstone ‘the word means an established standard by which something is judged, like a benchmark.
  • Touchtone the course offers a total blended learning solution of print material and online independent practice and self-study so teachers and students can spend valuable face-to-face class time on the all-important skills of speaking and listening…
  • …especially the unique ‘Conversation Strategies’ strand of the course to help learners prepare to communicate in English and interact successfully…
  • …so that they can help all of us ‘Live, thrive and survive’ in our world where English (for the moment) is the International Language.

Voilà. Rick’s technique/tip worked for me! You might try it if you ever have to make a short formal speech or the next time you want to make sure your remarks at an upcoming teachers’ meeting, community event etc. are clear and succinct. And if you don’t have a business card, well, just jot down your main points on a Post It.

P.S. If you read Russian and/or just want to see some pictures of the ‘Touchstone @ MISiS’ event, have a look at http://www.misis.ru/ru/ctl/Details/mid/3539/ItemID/5205 And if you’d like to see some video clips of me presenting in Moscow, you can go to http://www.youtube.com/CambridgeUPELT.

Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer


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