Questions and Answers
Q: So we discover ourselves in the mornings and Ireland in the afternoons?
A: That's it in a nutshell! Of course, our adventure includes expanding your knowledge of English and how to use it when you need it! In ancient Ireland, during the Golden Age, the monks called this discovery imrama, which is an old Irish language word for 'paddling about'; they would get into a currach (a west of Ireland boat - still used today!) and discover new places and things, while at the same time, discovering themselves. As in all pilgrimages, the journey was more important than the destination!
Q: Who are these Courses for?
A: Anybody and everybody who has a passion for discovery! Of course, it's also designed to help you expand your knowledge of English and enhance your accuracy when you use it. It will be of particular interest to businessmen and women, professional people such as doctors and teachers, etc. and university or third-level students, but in fact, it is a course which is ideally suited to all mature students of English who are looking for a more original, exciting, investigative and dynamic approach to improving their English but which also enables them to develop their own self-awareness and aspiration to a more joyful, successful and fulfilling life.
Q: What about young adults?
A: We would be delighted to organise a special course for a closed group of young adults with their teachers / leaders on demand. We would be happy to negotiate the details and costs to suit their budget!
Q: So, are you and your team experts in life-coaching and energising?
A: No, we are not. As language teachers, we simply provide the conditions for all of us to 'paddle about' and discover. The whole Course is based on the spirit of inquiry, of wonder, of personal development and the discovery and development of inner skills. Teachers and students ask questions and attempt to understand the answers. In doing so, the student is improving his or her English but we all benefit from the interaction and the flow of ideas. We like the idea of Beginner's Mind. To quote the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
Q: You use the term Mindfulness in your Course headings. What do you mean by Mindfulness?
A: This is a fashionable term for simply being present and aware, moment by moment, irrespective of distractions and external circumstances. A few years ago, The WEF - the World Economic Forum- discussed Mindfulness at their conference for the first time ever. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Apple, as well as the more traditional companies in the car and energy sectors, state-owned enterprises in China, UN organizations, governments, the World Bank...they all incorporate Mindfulness into their business or working models. We prefer to call it Presence, as Eckhart Tolle does. You could also call Presence experiential awareness, awareness as you experience life from moment to moment.
Q: Would your Course be suitable for companies looking for something different in the line of team-spirit or team-building?
A: Oh yes. We would also welcome any suggestions from a company or organisation of any kind interested in team-building or trust-building and, of course, brushing up their English at the same time! We'd be glad to organise a special Course for them!
Q: Can you tell us how you actually present the Courses?
A: Certainly. Bluefeather OM has created these tailor-made courses to optimise the learning experience and make it as interesting and as enjoyable as possible. The Energising Through English Course and the Irish Culture Course have the same approach; participants begin by sitting back and listening to the material in question.
Q: So they get practice in how to understand English just by listening?
A: Yes. Then they are asked to paraphrase it, bit by bit, applying some of the phrases they might remember from the listening exercise. This helps enhance their listening skills, long-term memory and language fluency. Then we look at the text.
Q: The photocopied handout?
A: No, the screen. We all look at the screen together and read. Participants read aloud and everybody learns from their pronunciation mistakes which we correct. We then mine the text to understand how it was constructed and we look over the vocabulary, the syntax, the grammar, and so on. You might describe the process as a kind of retro-engineering!
Q: What's the purpose of that approach?
A: First of all, we try to make everything as authentic as possible. We also try to prevent anything that will lead to isolation, routine or dependency, you know, dependency on a course-book or a handout. It's nicer to focus as a group on a shared document on the screen than to be struggling over a handout on your desk. When you are using English in the real world, in business or on holidays, you don't have a course-book, a handout, or even a dictionary, as a crutch. We also try to make everything new and fresh-looking all the time so that the you are like curious tourists or even those ancient monks, wide-eyed with curiosity! That's how children learn so fast; they are wide-eyed with curiosity and they love discovery!... So, what do we do then? Oh yes, then we then look at and talk about the visuals and the YouTube clips relating to the text!
Q : Is there homework?
A: We ask participants to write an e-mail, for example, based on what was covered - or discovered! - during the day. But back to the Course: after the visuals, we follow up with Q's & A's about the text, helping the participants to form questions and then answer them. So throughout a single session, we look at the text, at the material, from different angles, reiterating and consolidating vocabulary and grammar structures and using it all effectively within the group. This deeper approach to language learning ensures that the participant learns with extra focus- extra mindfulness!- and retains it in long-term memory. Whether it's the Energising through English Course or the Irish Culture Course, the depth of learning is not only in the language but in the content as well. As an interlude, participants have fun picking a random quotation from our archive and throwing it open for discussion. Not only do participants enjoy learning and discovery; they leave after one week with a deeper understanding of language and of content.
Q: You state that there's a maximum of 7 participants per Course. What is the minimum number?
A: There's no minimum! So, if you book a course with us, the course will always go ahead! Naturally, we have to make some modifications; for example, if there are fewer than 4 participants, i.e. 1,2 or 3, the Course would be mornings only, Energising Through English. However, the Irish Cultural experience would still be available to the students who are invited to the social/cultural events two evenings a week and, of course, we would also have our Saturday excursion into the countryside. Obviously, the benefit involved for those 1, 2 or 3 participants is that they receive even more personalised, VIP treatment in their tiny group while they're with us!
Q: Is Energising Through English for people at all levels of English?
A: No. Unfortunately. Course participants would have to have reached Level B1, or Intermediate Level, first. So, the courses are designed for students at that level and above. If any student is unsure about his or her level, we send another little test. Ideally, however, we ask the prospective student to arrange a little Skype chat with us so that we can confirm the level of English required.
Q: I am interested in the self-development aspect of your Course but I really need to improve my English in as short a time as possible. Will this work for me?
A: In its capacity as the Bluefeather School of Languages and, latterly, Bluefeather OM, thousands of adults and young adults from all over the world have come to us on short courses. We were appointed by Siemens as their sole representative in Ireland to offer short intensive courses to executives at our school in Monkstown and at the Siemens Training Centre in Dublin from 1987 to 2006, the year we closed our language school. (Check out some of our feedback on the Contacts Page of this website!) Not only people from the business world but from all professions and backgrounds came to us on intensive refresher courses. And students have not forgotten us; even after thirty years, we hear from them and their families! From the beginning, in 1984, our student-centred approach was unique. Furthermore, we have always felt that our work was more than just teaching a language; the fascinating cultural exchange involved in interacting with our students was always part of our life-long learning process as teachers. Energising Through English will work for you because we know how to optimise the conditions to enable you to make it work.
Q: How often do your courses run? Can I book at short notice?
A: Course 1 takes place on the first Monday of each month; Course 2 takes place on the second Monday of each month. In the third and fourth weeks, courses take place on demand. Check out the dates on the website!
Q: Last question: where does the Bluefeather name come from?
A: The blue feather is believed to be an ancient symbol of truth dating back to the lost continent of Lemuria, the Pacific equivalent of Atlantis. Lemuria was a beautiful society where people had finally learned how to live together in harmony. For me, the idea of the blue feather represents an aspiration to living in a world where people know who they are and what they are capable of. Truth, in my opinion, is the same as joy. And joy, our natural state, is the same as love.