And just to prove it, I tried to “translate” a conference preparation list into images (+ some words, all right). However, it’s not just a random exercise. I went to THATCamp Lausanne in November 2011 and have been a huge fan of this format of organizing conferences ever since. To this day I’m pretty sure that I was the only participant whose work was not connected to digital humanities at all – at that time I was still working as alumni coordinator at my university.
However, it did not matter. It was fun – as the “outsider” I didn’t need to impress anyone, so I could ask all the potentially stupid questions about things I was interested in. Another extremely fine memory from THATCamp Lausanne was the evening reception – I do not remember having had better food in my life. It was a huge selection of appetizers, most of which I had no idea what they were, besides being absolutely divine-tasting.
Ahem… pardon my digression into salivating…
As the start of another school year is fast approaching, a quick look back to the last one ought to be useful. Last year I made my debut as an English teacher with the association Piso Thrania. This group of volunteer language teachers has been teaching Greek and English to refugees and other immigrants for years now and they are rather well-known in the neighbourhood. In the first classes people were sandwiched in the rooms. They were so many.
I remember giving examples about things that are nice to do and ‘going to the beach’ was among them as far as I remember. And then an Afghan man, from deep inside the Eurasian continent, asked: “What is this “beach”? We tried to explain in other ways, noting sand, sun, sea, swimming, lying in the sand… The man’s face remained politely blank until he asked: “What does “sea” mean?”.
We said it’s a lot of water and retreated. Neither of our languages had an overlap in this particular niche. For me it somehow pinpointed the difficulty of teaching with images – either mental or real – our mental landscapes look different and sometimes they might be too different. Nevertheless, despite their shortcomings, images can be very useful in explaining grammatical concepts.
Gathering all the tenses on one page and one timeline for instance turned out rather nicely. It was difficult to say, whether the students directly benefited from it or not, but it was helpful to use, their two teachers in terms of getting a quick overview over the material.