My first Webinar was Wonderfully Weird
Early last month before leaving on my summer holiday (BR)/vacation (US) I did my first-ever webinar—on the Cambridge English Teacher website. It was entitled CLIL: Won’t Kill (I & II): Au contraire! I had about 200 people from all around the world—South America, the Gulf, China, Russia, Eastern Europe etc.—listening and writing in comments and questions and participating in polls and activities. It was interesting interacting with the participants both during the webinar and also afterwards in the follow-up Discussion on that professional development website. I was even invited by one of the participants to join the Network he has set up.
However, although I had done a similar talk face-to-face several times before, it was challenging to do it as distance training without an audience in front of me. For example, a definition of CLIL from CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning uses the very nice word ‘interwoven’, as in the content and language being interwoven in CLIL lessons and classes. Now when I use that in face-to-face training, as a kinaesthetic/visual aid I always ask the participants to put the fingers of their two hands together, i.e. to ‘interweave’ them. But in the webinar, for some reason, I didn’t—probably simply because I didn’t have the audience in front of me and didn’t (yet) have the reflex to dare doing it by distance.
It sort of reminded me of when I used to give telephone lessons in France (i.e., teaching via the telephone; NB: this was before computers) and I would fax the learner a worksheet, article or something and then we would have a 30-minute lesson over the telephone. That was also a little frustrating because, well, for example, I often wanted to have the person with me so I could help her/him work on, say, the pronunciation of long *ee* vs. short *i* (think sheep vs. ship etc.) which is a problem for native French speakers.
Anyway, my maiden webinar voyage was fairly smooth sailing, but after the webinar that reoccurring phrase from the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Johnny Depp version, not the original Gene Wilder one) when Charlie/Johnny says, ‘That’s weird’ kept coming to my mind. Yes, wonderfully weird.
I don’t have a lot of experience teaching and training online, but do look forward to doing my second Cambridge English Teacher webinar (scheduled for December 19). Maybe some of you more experienced distance trainers have some pointers for me beforehand? Looking forward to hearing from you.
(To watch a recording of Gary’s first webinar, sign up for a free account at Cambridge English Teacher and visit the Resources section.)