Here in France the computer-based TOEFL (CBT) is being replaced by the internet-based TOEFL (iBT) on 22 October. The main differnece is that the iBT contains a speaking section. For more details, visit the official TOEFL site.
Listal is a new site which allows you to create online catalogues for your DVDs, books and games. There are some really neat features such as tags and Amazon reviews. I've created a list of the DVDs we have here at the ESC Le Havre.
Getting into a French business school like the ESC Le Havre is a real 'parcours du combattant', as they say here in France. First of all, candidates sit a series of written exams. They are then interviewed in French (l'entretien) and do an oral test in English and another foreign language. Many candidates (so-called 'prépa' students) will have spent two years preparing specifically for this entrance exam. I've been doing English orals all this week (very tiring!) The candidates have to listen to a dialogue on CD lasting around four minutes based on a current affairs topic. They then give a summary and answer questions from the examiner (that's me!) Hopefully, we'll be seeing some of the better candidates again in September.
I've been in Toulouse for the last few days recording dialogues for the ESC entrance exam. This is something I've done for longer than I care to remember (OK, about fifteen years, if you really must know). The dialogues are written by teachers from the ESCs and usually based on news stories from the past year. When they come for their English oral exam in June/July, students have to summarise the dialogue and answer questions from the examiner. Each dialogue lasts around three and a half minutes and we recorded around 80 in four days. The 'actors' were all English teachers from Toulouse (apart from me, that is). It was good fun but after four days in the recording studio, I was ready to return to Le Havre.
April 1st is April Fool's Day when people in many countries play jokes on each other. In my English for Marketing class, we looked at some of the ways in which companies have fooled their customers. For instance, in 1998 Burger King announced it was introducing a left-handed Whopper. BMW has a tradition of producing April Fool's Day ads. These appear in the press on April 1st only. You can find some examples of these on the BMW website. The Museum of Hoaxes has a list of the Top 100 April Fool's Day hoaxes. BBC Online, has some good stuff on the origins of April Fool's Day and a video of the famous spaghetti harvest hoax.
No, the ESC Le Havre has not transformed itself into an agricultural school. This is just the latest in a series of stunts dreamed up by students hoping to get their team elected at the 'Corpos' (student elections) in April. Every day, a team has the task of decorating and 'animating' the school's 'rue couverte' (covered street). This is often accompanied by loud music. Still, it's good to see such inventiveness being displayed. And don't worry, the animals were safely returned to the farm at the end of the day! Just as well they weren't around yesterday when the students organised a lunchtime barbecue!
I did a lesson about tobacco marketing with my English for Marketing class yesterday. I got the students to analyse some tobacco ads. It's surprising what the tobacco companies used to get away with. One ad had the slogan "More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette." (!) A good source of tobacco ads is The Tobacco Advertising Gallery where you can search for ads by company, country, brand and ad type. Another excellent ad resource is AdFlip, which lets you search by keyword and by year. Unfortunately, access is restricted unless you become a (paying) member.
I've got two groups of second-year students doing my English for Marketing option. They are going to do a project which involves creating a blog on a marketing theme of their choice. I introduced the project this morning and I must admit it wasn't a great surprise to discover that hardly anyone knew what a blog was. We're using Blogger for this project and by the end of the lesson all the students had made their first post introducing themselves and giving details of their choice of subject. I was amazed when one of them told me later in the day that she had already received a comment from someone in India. That just goes to show the power of the blog as a medium of communication!
Today and tomorrow we're receiving over 100 potential candidates for entry to the ESC Le Havre in September. These are students currently studying in 'IUTs' (polytechnics), 'lycées' or universities and planning to take the Passerelle entrance exam next month. The idea is to help prepare them for the exam by giving a series of presentations about the various tests. My contribution was a presentation on the English oral test. The complete presentation on the written and oral English tests can be downloaded here: Download Passerelle.ppt
Today our first year students had the second session in their Cultural Issues module. Visiting professor Raya Nuñez, who is Indonesian and teaches at the University of Utrecht in Holland, explained why culture is like an onion and how to cope with culture shock. Raya and her Columbian husband Carlos have also been teaching on the EBGS course this week. It's great to have such a wealth of multicultural experience to draw on.
As an introduction to the European Business Graduate Semester, we were pleased to welcome the His Excellency Rolands Lappuke, the Latvian ambassador to France, to talk about his country and its role within Europe. Students on the EBGS course come from countries as far apart as Australia, China and Bolivia, so this was an excellent opportunity for them to find out more about the history of one of the newest members of the EU and the challenges it now faces.
I recently made my annual pilgrimage to Expolangues in Paris. We're looking to replace our ageing cassette-based Revox language laboratory (see pic below) with something a bit more up-to-date, so I was interested to have a demonstration of a digital lab with a server which can store up to 240 hours of audio material. Now all we need to do is to find 30 thousand euros. All donations will be gratefully accepted!
A couple of weeks ago our First Year students had the first session in a new Cultural Issues module which I'm organising. Erika Marsillac, a Texan now living in Nantes, came over to run the Barnga Game and give her thoughts on Franco-American relations. Barnga is a card game designed to increase the participants' level of cultural awareness. The students seemed to enjoy it (thanks Erika!) and it's been very interesting to read the reflections they have made in their follow-up written assignment - even if it's taking me ages to mark the 160 papers! Here's a typical comment:
"I think that this game was a very good example of how people react when they are confronted with foreign cultures. It also reminds me that you have to be open-minded to adapt to another culture."