Learning how to learn | An infographic

A couple of months ago, I took the Learning How to Learn MOOC from the University of California San Diego on Coursera. This was a course on cognitive strategies for learning more effectively, and addressed issues like procrastination. While it wasn’t revolutionary, the lecture videos were quirky and endearing and there were a few useful tips. The final assignment asked participants to create some kind of artefact that summarised their learning and highlighted personal take-aways so I created an infographic. If you suspect that it all sounds a little self-helpish, you would be correct although to be fair to the professors, they did try to provide empirical evidence and research to back up their assertions. The pomodoro technique, which I hadn’t heard of before, is something that I found kind of helpful – it’s one of the reasons I’ve been cranking out more blog posts. You don’t need to have an actual pomodoro timer – I’ve been using a regular kitchen timer.

Learning how to learn mooc


Please feel free to use this infographic for your learners. Here’s a PDF version.

East meets West | An intercultural competence activity

I’ve been running a lot of workshops on intercultural competence lately with a focus on cross-cultural communication skills in a business context. Here’s an engaging little activity that can be used to lead in to the differences in cultural orientations underpinning behaviours or as the basis for a meatier discussion on cultural differences and their impact on business interactions.

The activity uses the simple but startlingly canny imagery created by Yang Liu for her infographic book, East Meets West. Through visuals like the following one on expressing opinions, Liu explores cultural differences between China, where she’s from and Germany, where she lives.


If you haven’t taught cross-cultural topics before, you may want to read up on Geert Hofstede and his work on how differences in values drive behaviours in a cultural context and internalize some of his classic dimensions about power distance and time. Another expert, Fons Trompenaars, also from the Netherlands is worth looking up for his dichotomies – universalistic vs. particularistic etc.


Unfortunately, Liu’s book isn’t available in India. I wish it was because I would cut it up and laminate it the way I’ve dismembered (but lovingly and purposefully) Istvan Banyai’s visual books. This site has quite a few images from the book and you don’t really need so many.

This is a group activity and you’ll need enough copies of each image for each group. Cut up each image so the German visual is separated from its Chinese partner. Shuffle the images and clip them together to create a set.

I don’t use the images that deal with the ‘visible part of the cultural iceberg’ like differences in food but you can choose which images you’d like to use based on the discussion you want to facilitate.

Cross-culture 1


  • Divide Ss into groups of three or four.
  • Lead into the activity by demonstrating how a pair of images belong together, explaining that one represents Germany while the other one is China.

Step 1: Match the images 

  • Ask Ss to work with their group to match the images.
  • Ask early finishers to go around the room and compare their pairs with others.

Step 2: What do the images represent? 

  • Ask groups to work together to identify what behaviour or communication trait each pair is referring to e.g., how people express opinions or how people perceive time, and what the actual difference is e.g, Germans tend to be very direct whereas the Chinese are more indirect.
  • Ask each group to compare their understanding with another group before opening up to a whole class discussion.

Step 3: How do these relate to business interactions? 

  • Now assign images to each group and ask them to consider the impact of this cultural difference in business interactions. For example, in a meeting where each side is sharing its perspective on a proposal, how might they view each other?
  • Take whole class feedback.

Step 4: Can you relate these cultural orientations to your own cultures? 

  • Ask Ss to consider which cultural orientation their own culture might be closer to. For example, does India have a fixed notion of time as in Germany or is it more fluid as in China?

Step 5: Wrap-up

  • Ask Ss if they they think all Germans are extremely direct when expressing opinions or whether all Chinese are indirect. Caution Ss about the danger of stereotyping and the limits of generalizations in intercultural competence.

Cross-culture 2

Eleven things – a blog challenge

I’ve not been very regular with this blog of late. I’ve also not been on top of all the awesome professional development activities that my PLN has been chirping away about. I’ve been a bit preoccupied with lots of things that are happening in and around my life. However in this new year, I’m going to try to cut down on the gap between my posts (not a resolution!). I’ve come to the Eleven things blog challenge really late but it’s a great opportunity for me to get back into action. I’m strongly visual as you’ve probably realized if you’ve looked through some of my other posts. So, I’ve responded like I usually do in the form of an infographic.

I’ve been tagged by my PLNer from Serbia, Ljiljana Havran and the task involves:

  • Acknowledging the nominating blogger.
  • Sharing 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answering the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • Listing 11 bloggers.
  • Posting 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

I’m going to skip the last two steps for now because I still need to answer Ratna’s questions and I don’t want to end up having to tag 22 people 😉 this late in the game.

If JPEGs make you nauseous, here’s a link to a PDF version.

11 Things Blog Challenge

印度字 – A Chindian Script

Inchin Closer

Inchin Closer, the company with whom I started learning Chinese is celebrating the completion of 20 batches by asking its students to create a blended script that combines Chinese and Devanagiri (the script used by Hindi, Nepali and Marathi) characters. Submissions will help sponsor disadvantaged students to learn Chinese. Here is my attempt. It’s an interesting looking script that would be highly impractical in reality 🙂

印度字 infographic
印度字 infographic

How to create your own ELT infographic

Thank you for all the appreciative comments and tweets about the Course book authors fight back #ELTchat summary.  Some of you wanted to know more about creating infographics. It’s actually really simple and you don’t require any special skills. As long as you have an inbuilt sense of visual balance, you should be able to produce fairly compelling results. Professional designers use Adobe Illustrator which lets you work on vector graphics (vectors never lose quality no matter how big or small you make them). However, the application is expensive and quite complicated.

I used PowerPoint to create the visual for the summary. It’s all just basic circles, lines and bloated triangles. PowerPoint can be really versatile and I’ve picked up a host of tricks from The Rapid eLearning Blog to make the most of ordinary shapes and effects. But, creating an infographic in PowerPoint can be slow-going if you don’t already have a design in mind.

Nik Peachey lists some ideas for exploiting infographics on his blog. He looks at incorporating existing infographics into a lesson to replace text based activities or tasks where students make infographics. You could also make your own. I tend to create a lot of “takeaway” sheets because my learners want a record of key concepts from a course. I think infographics could be a good substitute for these sorts of handouts. Additionally, the flexibility of creating your own can give you the freedom to adapt existing lessons, choose topics that don’t have infographics and avoid copyright issues.

I took about 20 minutes to plan this infographic on a sheet of paper and then about 45 minutes creating it on the tool. It was my first time on Piktochart so I reckon if you have the content ready in some form and choose canned templates without fiddling around with the layout and colours, you should be able to create a decent infographic within 30 minutes. The other infographic creation sites I liked are easel.ly and infogr.am; visual.ly has attractive layouts but their design tool forces you to give access to your Twitter and FB accounts so I didn’t bother exploring it further.

You can access the html version of this infographic here and download a PDF here. Happy infographing!

How to create your own ELT infographic
Hyperlinks won’t work because this is an image file. Access the HTML version to grab the links.