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Case Stories

Madhavi photo-resized

Madhavi Padullaparty


A two-time participant of TPLT, Madhavi Padullaparty, is a classroom teacher at Colwill School in Henderson Auckland.

She completed the programme in 2012 while studying and teaching Mandarin and again in 2017 with Spanish.

Madhavi is an enthusiastic proponent for the programme:

“The in-class support complemented both my language learning at Unitec and the pedagogy course. I could always depend on the support provided by the facilitators from TPLT. It is well supported and helped me to take risks with my language teaching.”

The three-pronged approach of TPLT – language learning, pedagogical study and in-school support - allowed Madhavi to build her confidence and improve her teaching.

“I enjoyed my meetings with other teachers and exchange of views. I also liked the support given by TPLT to do my level 1 exam. This is the first time that I have received help from a university professor with my exam preparations. I enjoyed my skype sessions because I could do it at my convenient time.”

Madhavi has now gone further by undertaking a Ministry of Education Language Immersion Award to Argentina in 2018. This has allowed her to gain more language and cultural knowledge of Spanish to help her successfully apply strategies that she learned in the TPLT year.

Jo Hawes

Secondary school - Japanese​
For Jo Hawes, teacher of Japanese at Upper Hutt College, TPLT prompted the discovery of a new language interest.
Jo’s only regret about TPLT is that she hadn’t done it earlier. Jo maintains that the programme “should be compulsory” for all language teachers. Jo not only gained a great deal from the pedagogy and in-school support components of TPLT, but also took full advantage of the language study component.

Because she was already a highly proficient speaker of Japanese, Jo chose to learn French at the Alliance Française. Maybe because she had had to miss the first two lessons, Jo felt initially frustrated by the high proportion of French the teacher used. But it wasn’t long before she felt like it was ‘starting to click’.

That was a valuable experience for Jo whose goals were to increase her own use of target language (Japanese) in her teaching and to translate less, without putting her students off.

Jo began to use more Japanese in class. The in-school support component of TPLT encouraged her to keep reflecting on what impact it might be having. By the final in-school support visit, Jo was using minimal English. Jo realised that even the lower ability students could cope with this environment as long as they had the relevant support. During Jo’s final observation, students spent half of a 60-minute lesson speaking, listening, reading and writing Japanese without the need for the lesson to be teacher-centred at all. Evidence showed that students were able to use long phrases to negotiate meaning while interacting with each other and they could write long sentences. A lower level student showed genuine pride as she showed her 100% accurate work to Jo.

Jo loved her French classes and found she never wanted to miss one. She sat the DELF A1 exam in October of the TPLT year. She passed the exam with flying colours and has continued to learn French beyond the completion of TPLT.
Jo Hawes photo-new
Kevin Grounds photo sent Feb2015 - cropped-663

Kevin Grounds

Year 10 Chinese
”After living in Japan for seven years, I started teaching Japanese when I returned to New Zealand.

Then, in 2013, a growing interest from parents and students motivated me to take up teaching Chinese too.

Although I had previously studied Chinese full time at GuiZhou University in China for a year, I had not had specific training in teaching either Japanese or Mandarin. Originally trained as a teacher of Music and English, it was post-university study and life experience that had led me to become a language teacher. Seeking professional development in teaching languages, I enrolled in TPDL in 2014.

The most important outcome of TPDL that year was to see my Year 10 students evolve to using Chinese amongst themselves. I had introduced a system of a red light over the whiteboard to indicate ‘we communicate in Chinese only’ and the students responded enthusiastically. If students spoke English, a classmate often reprimanded them in Chinese and pointed out (in Chinese) that the red light was on. The red light eventually proved to be a transitional strategy only; in Term 4 the use of Chinese among students had become so embedded that they did not need a reminder.

Prior to TPDL, I never used a lot of Chinese myself through the lesson; rather I tended to teach a grammar point and let the students practise it. Through TPDL I became a staunch convert to task-supported teaching. This made such a difference to my teaching and my students’ learning.

Since TPDL, I have accompanied some of my students on a very motivating school trip to Wuhan, China. The students were able to study Chinese for one week at the university, before traveling on to Beijing and Shanghai for sightseeing and further immersion. In 2013, I also took part in an ILEP programme for teachers to study at a university in Beijing for three weeks. From February to July 2016, I had the fantastic experience of participating in a Ministry of Education Language Immersion in China.

For 2017 I have been appointed Lead Teacher of Mandarin. This role will not only include teaching Year 9 and 10 classes but also designing a programme of Chinese learning from Years 4 to 8 at five of our largest feeder primary and intermediate schools. This is a most exciting opportunity to develop a Chinese course at the South Island’s largest school in a community with a high number of families from the Asian region.”

Chris Oversluizen

Secondary school - Spanish​

“I am doing TPDL in 2016, my second year of teaching. When I started teaching last year, both my colleagues in the department had already trained in TPDL. They both kept on emphasising how much they enjoyed it, how much they had got out of it and told me that I just had to do it next year. So I did get enrolled, and now that I am more than half way through the training, I can do nothing but agree with them. TPDL is all about the best way to teach languages and how to do so in a way that is meaningful to the students. Since I have started TPDL, my learners have become much more engaged and the amount of Spanish spoken in my classrooms has just skyrocketed.

With two TPDL-trained colleagues I have received a lot of input and I now recognize several activities I have been taught by them as originated from TPDL. Doing tasks really makes my students think and transfer their knowledge into action.

The TPDL programme combines language study, SLA pedagogy and in-school support as equally important components. I chose to study Japanese for my
language study. Taking classes at Unitec one evening per week is possibly my favourite component of the programme. I do not find it very difficult as I have already learnt Spanish which has provided me with a good understanding of how languages work but I truly admire my fellow teachers who learn a language at the same time as they teach it.

After this year, the whole department at my school will have been trained in TPDL. This provides a great common basis to swap ideas and exchange views. I believe that any school’s language department would benefit from TPDL, even if it was only possible for just one person to participate.

While you can benefit from doing TPDL at any point during your teaching career, it has certainly given me a bit of a head start at the beginning of my career. I can’t deny that it is a lot of work but it is all worth it. For me personally, it is the best professional development that I have done.”

Sue Pommarède

Secondary school - French & Spanish
Sue Pommarède is a 2016 TPDL participant

I can thoroughly recommend this course to anyone thinking about doing it. I would consider it a MUST for new teachers and a real bonus for those who have a lot of experience.

Having heard from many other teaching colleagues how much they enjoyed doing the TPDL course and how useful it was, I decided to enrol in the course myself this year. It has been a PD opportunity not to be missed and one of the few which has actually changed my teaching techniques. I have done a lot of PD over the years, but this course is different in that it has a three-pronged approach which is extremely effective: namely a theoretical base (Edprof studies – a 3rd year university paper), classroom observations each term with baseline data drawn from student participation in the target language, which you have to improve on each term and finally a personal learning opportunity, to further your second language knowledge. I’ve chosen Spanish, which is my 4th language and it has provided the necessary pressure for me to visit a native speaker regularly for chats to improve my spoken fluency. I will sit a DELE examination in November, which will give me a benchmark qualification I can build on. In fact it has given me the necessary confidence to teach a Year 11 class next year, which is not something I have done before in Spanish.

My last formal theoretical study of second language learning and teaching was over 20 years ago, when I completed a Diploma in Second Language Teaching. It has been really interesting to see how the researchers have moved well beyond the Communicative approach to the Task-Based or TaskSupported approach and to read of convincing reasons about why not to do so much grammar and why to teach as much in the target language as possible. I have seen the effects of this approach particularly in my Year 10 Spanish class, which is the one I’ve focussed on for the in-school visits and
they have been amazing as they have gained in fluency and confidence to speak as much in Spanish as possible. I have learnt to let go and work more collaboratively with them, accepting that I don’tneed to know everything and that we can learn together when we need to. The result is a much better classroom relationship and fun exploring new language together.

I have gained a much deeper appreciation of Ellis’ Ten Principles, which I was familiar with previously, but now can really articulate each principle and try to incorporate them into each lesson. They have become a lot more ‘real’ and useful, because I understand them better and have been able to observe the difference first-hand when I apply them with my students.

I haven’t found the course arduous or too time-consuming, which is the biggest concern when you are a busy full-time teacher and it has been really great to learn new things, then to try them out on the students, experimenting and improving practice all the time. I can thoroughly recommend this
course to anyone thinking about doing it. I would consider it a MUST for new teachers and a real bonus for those who have a lot of experience.

Sue Pommarède
HOD Languages, Woodford House
Havelock North

Marty Hantz

Primary school - French​
“I have been a principal since 1999 and while I do not get to teach as much as my colleagues in this role, I still like to keep pedagogically relevant. This means that I assist in classes, am fully involved in all professional learning and I teach French, science and technology.

Out of a passion and desire to provide something different for my learners and also because we needed a point of difference as we traditionally lost pupils to private schools, I started teaching French during my first principalship. Since then, I have always continued to teach French but only recently when I participated in TPDL in 2015, have I taken it to a much higher level, challenging the learners as well as myself.

The three components of TPDL provide a really clever blend of theory and practicality. We believe in the cross-curricular concept of Task Based Learning,
which is the pedagogy behind TPDL, and use it at length at my school. By participating in TPDL, I have advanced at putting it into practice. Since TPDL, my learners have picked up a great deal more language, are far more motivated and there is a lot of fun in all that we do. It also has had a positive impact on me as a learner of French myself – I have had to work that much harder to stay ahead of the learners.

With TPDL, languages are being taught in a way that excites the learner, they want to learn more. To be able to cement this as part of our school’s culture is ever so important. Personally, the programme has given me the chance to continue to challenge myself to learn more and more. I find that the more confident I am, the more I know and the more fluent I become, the better the learners will be. To have one of my ex-pupils taking me out for coffee and jabbering away with me in French when I finally hang up my boots, that would be an achievement to my liking.

I see myself as an unabashed Francophile - I love the language, I love the challenge that learning French has given me and the opportunities that are now opening up since signing up for TPDL.

If you want to add quality to your teaching, add value to your pedagogy and are open to being challenged, then TPDL is a course that you should harangue your principal or Board to support!”
Jimmy Wang-957

Jimmy Wang

Secondary school - Chinese
”When I applied for my current position, the school was keen to appoint someone to initiate their Chinese curriculum.

While I have been trained in a different curriculum area, Arts, with a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts, the school has been very supportive and assured me that I would be able to participate in TPDL as professional development for my Chinese teaching. Although Chinese is my first language - I was born and raised in Taiwan - I have never taught it before.

The high demand from the school community led my school to introduce Mandarin Chinese as an optional subject in July 2015. Now I am teaching nearly 50 students in the most widely spoken language in the world. Becoming a teacher of Art and Chinese has expanded my teaching practice and I embrace the opportunity to share my cultural knowledge and my language with others.

Since I started TPDL this year, I have understood the importance of increasing my own use of Mandarin in the classroom, especially for classroom management. The students have become more engaged with the language and are beginning to take more ownership. I have noticed that they are becoming more inventive and ‘playful’ with the language and generally enjoying the subject more. TPDL has helped me to create a language acquisition-rich classroom by motivating students to interact in Chinese.

As one of the three fundamental components of TPDL, each participant learns a new language. I am taking Beginners French lessons at the Alliance Française where I not only learn French but also pick up ideas for my own language teaching and have learnt to better scaffold student learning. In those classes, I experience the same learning challenges most Kiwi students are facing in my classroom when they try to learn an Asian language. It made me more sympathetic to my students’ struggles.

Since I started TPDL I have become more relaxed and confident in the way I instruct students – both in Chinese and in Art classes. TPDL has given me invaluable support in my teaching practice. It encourages student ownership and sustains students’ own use of the language in authentic communication.”

Chloe McDonald-Nairn

Primary & secondary - German​
“When I first finished my teacher training in 2011, I was a History and Social Sciences teacher but when, for my first job, I was asked if I would teach German, I leapt at the opportunity and became a language teacher too.

Although I studied German at High School, spent time living in Germany and completed some German papers at university, I had never trained as a language teacher and was very eager to participate in professional development in the field. I first heard of TPDL through the German Language Advisor and when a friend of mine who teaches Spanish also very enthusiastically recommended the programme, I decided I should apply to be in TPDL.

As I live and teach in a remote area of New Zealand, the language component of TPDL was taught online through the Goethe-Institut. While it was great to be able to improve my German and while the workshops and assignments during TPDL helped me understand the pedagogy behind language teaching, the part of the programme that meant the most to me was the In-School Support component which offered extremely valuable support and feedback.

My expectations of TPDL were high but they have clearly been surpassed. Learning the pedagogical approach for language teaching was inspiring and I felt very much supported in my own implementation of effective language teaching practices. The focus on the importance of student use of the target language has inspired me to create opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions with one another in German, using the language they have. Even for the other subjects I teach I am trying to incorporate opportunities in lessons for students to have meaningful interactions using the knowledge they have.

Since my participation in TPDL, I have noticed that the learners’ confidence has advanced dramatically just as they are becoming intrinsically motivated. They have begun to actively look for opportunities to communicate in German – just for the fun of it. Now, students occasionally use German with me outside of the classroom, in the school grounds or in other classes. My Social Science class, who I have also taught for German, came in one day asking if we could do the lesson in German. It was fantastic to see their enthusiasm for the language but also the confidence with which they now approach it.

TPDL has provided an immense inspiration for me as a language teacher and ultimately, it has helped me to inspire my students in return.”
Chloe Mc-399

Janet Tavui

Primary school - Samoan
”As a Samoan born in New Zealand, I am very proud of my Samoan identity and consider myself most fortunate to be teaching Samoan to my students. When I signed up for TPDL I hoped and expected myself to become a fluent Samoan speaker, so that I would be able to enhance my students’ learning and understanding of their first language (Samoan) which I feel is very important.

My school’s vision is to acknowledge, value, and foster the diversity of our school community. In 2012, the year after I finished TPDL, I moved up to become the Senior Leader for our O Le Taiala Samoan Bilingual Unit, where we use the Dual Medium Model. All curriculum subjects and also Inquiry Learning are taught in both Samoan and English for Years 1-8.

Even though my home language when growing up was Samoan, I struggled speaking Samoan fluently and chose to speak English instead. When I started my professional teaching journey in the Samoan Bi-lingual Unit I felt that this created learning gaps for my students, which I hoped TPDL would help me close. Five years after I finished the programme I can say without any reservation that those expectations have most definitely been met. I have made huge progress towards achieving my goals as a language teacher, mainly by focussing on authentic language based tasks, a strategy that continues to strongly empower my students’ learning, but also by learning a lot about new theories that have given me a broader perspective during my professional language teaching journey.

Not only have I myself grown more confident in speaking and teaching the Samoan academic language, so have also my language teaching colleagues who followed my enthusiastic recommendations and participated in TPDL. But ultimately it is our students who profit the most of the professional development their teachers chose. We are extremely proud of our successful bi-lingual literates who are achieving high academically within the NZ education system. We are truly blessed with bi-lingual brains.

I am very grateful for the input I could absorb during TPDL and I cherish the impact it has had on the progress and success I have achieved as a language teacher. TPDL is a professional development programme which I would urge all New Zealand professional language teachers across all sectors to participate in, because it will benefit not only them, but our students’ education.”

Paula Kasper

Primary school - Japanese
”My participation in TPDL in 2014 as a teacher of Japanese was invaluable to study current language learning knowledge and strategies, after a period away from language teaching.

Because I already had studied Japanese at tertiary level, I started learning French for my Language Study component of TPDL. My students and I both liked the fact that I was on a learning journey just like them and I felt a strong emotional connection to new language learners.

I love how learning languages is excellently supported and encouraged by TPDL. Not only did I learn French, it also invigorated my passion for language teaching.

The In-School Support was extremely beneficial, and the instructions on task-supported learning have proven to be valuable beyond my language lessons. As a primary teacher, I found that the concept could easily be transferred to other areas of the curriculum too – and continued to enthuse my students there.

My students felt very special learning Japanese. Japanese became their secret code that boosted morale and made a big difference to their academic focus. Their confidence grew exponentially and this in turn affected other academic subjects through a renewed focus on learning. The difference that learning Japanese has made to these students has had a huge impact on their desire to continue learning languages.

Lots of opportunities have opened up for my professional development after I completed the programme in 2014. Not only have I continued to consolidate my language teaching but I have also completed a Post Grad Dip in Second Language Teaching through Distance Education at Massey University and am currently working on a Masters of Applied Linguistics. Earlier this year, we had a visitor from Japan who team-taught Karuta in Education- a focus on intercultural communicative language teaching, and for next year I am excited to have been awarded a 3-month Language Immersion Award to Japan. My dream is to be able to offer my students the experience of taking them to Japan one day.

TPDL has proven to be such an enjoyable and rewarding PD journey for me. The effect it has had on my teaching and eventually student engagement, social behaviour and academic achievement has been immense. The support, continued guidance and understated value of TPDL needs to be conveyed to all teachers, so that they may experience and develop their foreign language teaching capabilities. Thank you for this relevant PD opportunity for myself, my students, and my school.”
Paula Nov2016-858
Sonya Van Schaijik-988

Sonya Van Schaijik

Primary school - Chinese

As a novice to the language, Sonya enthusiastically dived headfirst into not only learning but also teaching Mandarin this year. It was a proud moment at the celebration ceremony to end TPDL 2016, when Peter Sun, Deputy Director at the Confucius Institute, presented Sonya with the certificate for HSK 1 international examination in Chinese.

After Sonya’s name was called out to receive her TPDL certificate, the principal and deputy from Newmarket School, rushed to the stage to throw an ‘ula lole’ around Sonya’s neck. This gesture of appreciation for the work she did left Sonya very proud and touched. She herself expresses great appreciation for the support she received from the different people within the school community, and particularly Principal Wendy Kofoed and Deputy Principal, Virginia Kung. 

Newmarket School is committed to the Chinese students at the school retaining their Chinese language skills and (for all students) developing literacy skills in both Chinese and English, while also valuing the learning of te reo Maori. Having had language assistants from the Confucius Institute for several years, the school aimed for continued sustainability with Sonya taking over the role of ALLiS (Asian Language Learning in Schools programme) Lead teacher, giving support to the classroom teachers as they increasingly take over more of the teaching of Chinese.

With the TPDL certificate, a particularly successful and exciting year has ended for Sonya. Highlights included the launch of “SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners - making second language learning visible”, a book she co-authored with Pam Hook, and her presentation “Ten principles of Successful Mandarin Instruction - our journey learning and teaching Mandarin at Newmarket School” at the New Zealand Association of Language Teachers conference and the Chinese Language Teacher’s Conference.

As Sonya is Samoan-English bilingual, has early stage proficiency in four other languages and has considerable background in bilingual education and ESOL, she knows the importance of speaking other languages and the benefits it brings. Taking up Mandarin under the guidance of TPDL and returning to become a language learner herself has opened her eyes to how effective she is as a language teacher. TPDL training and the in-school support offered during the programme have helped her to recognise the importance of using the target language and of ‘across grouping’ her Year 1 students of various abilities to motivate students to learn with and from each other.

Sonya tweets, blogs and presents regularly on connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating in education and also shares her thoughts and professional experiences on her website https://sonyavanschaijik.com/

Soreta Felise & Elaine Skelton

Primary school - Samoan

Soreta Felise’s and Elaine Skelton’s colleagues from Finlayson Park School added a touch of Fa’a Samoa to the northern region celebration of TPDL 2016. With a Sei in their hair, an Ula ’Lole around their neck, an ‘Ie Tōga in their arms and a proud, broad smile on their faces, the two teachers of Samoan received their TPDL certificates.

A very exciting, challenging, successful and rewarding year saw two teachers from Finlayson Park school follow in the footsteps of their colleague Janet Tavui, who participated in TPDL in 2011 and became senior teacher for the O Le Taiala Samoan Bi-lingual Unit the year after.

Soreta and Elaine both teach at the bilingual unit at Finlayson Park, situated in Manurewa, a rapidly growing southern suburb of Auckland. They use the Dual Medium Model in this unit, an additive programme to foster bilingualism and biliteracy in the Samoan and English Language by Year 8.

Soreta, whose first language is Samoan, is a Year 3 and 4 teacher at the junior unit of O Le Taiala. She sees language as “a person’s identity”. To encourage students to use their language is one of the main objectives of her teaching.

Elaine teaches at Year 7 and 8 in the senior unit. TPDL has given her the opportunity to enrich and deepen her understanding in Samoan, which is her second language. To learn about task-based activity in comparison to grammar-based teaching, has added great value to her teaching.

Just like Janet, Soreta and Elaine found the combination of In-School Support, Pedagogy and Language Study to be an exceptionally successful support for their professional language teaching journey and both are very proud to see such success reflected in their students’ great achievements.

Elaine and Soreta are looking forward to continuing putting the value TPDL has added to their work into practice in their future careers in bilingual education. Soreta, who has become a rich source of resources for her fellow teachers in bilingual education, has been awarded a Ministry of Education Language Immersion Award and for three months in Samoa in 2017.

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Rachel Crellin

Primary school - Chinese

“TPDL has been the professional development that enabled me as a part-time Music teacher to offer another specialist subject to my school. I have worked in primary education for over two decades, most recently teaching music to whole classes throughout the primary age range. In the beginning of 2015, my school offered the opportunity to take part in the ILEP introductory course in combination with learning Mandarin. I loved languages when I was at school, so I knew it was a subject area I would be enthusiastic about.

During that introductory course time, I found out about TPDL and was really keen to take on this opportunity, which seemed a great way to widen my specialist skill set, in 2016. While in 2015 I took the approach of teaching Mandarin through general classroom instructions in combination with music teaching, I then focused on teaching Mandarin as a subject in its own right with one class during TPDL.

The three stands of TPDL, language study, pedagogy, and in-school support, all complement each other with equal importance. First and foremost TPDL enlightened me as to the power of directing students to use language for genuinely communicative purposes. To use appropriately designed tasks which have a goal other than the mere use of language, has proven highly engaging and motivating for my primary school students. TPDL also pushed me to improve my knowledge of classroom language so that I could conduct lessons entirely in Chinese. The intercultural component of TPDL influenced my thinking about the importance of developing intercultural attitudes and skills in the teaching of all subjects and indeed in our everyday lives.

Looking back at how my language teaching has changed with the programme, I can see that it has become more engaging and effective. Seeing students persevere in order to communicate and watching them succeed in drawing upon their knowledge to construct longer sentences have been deeply rewarding outcomes. TPDL really equips and empowers you to communicate your passion for learning languages to your students.

Thanks to a very supportive principal I will have continuing and even increased opportunities to teach Mandarin in the future. My TPDL year has given me vision and confidence for language teaching; now I look forward to collaborating with a fellow Mandarin teacher colleague to develop a cohesive and effective programme for teaching languages at our primary school.

Rebecca Armstrong

teaches French

For Rebecca “Becs” Armstrong of Hampden Street School in Nelson, completing TPLT was as if she had “opened a treasure box full of amazingness”.

In 2017, Becs, who had learned French at school, decided to take up the opportunity to teach French at her school. She was keen to learn how to teach the language and saw TPLT as the right form of professional development.
For the language study component of TPLT, Becs joined Alliance Française and enjoyed a fun course with other students. She was able to take some of her learning back into her classroom.

The pedagogy component of TPLT at first seemed daunting, but Becs found that the research, tasks, presentations and support from the knowledgeable lecturers was outstanding. It allowed her to feel confident in trying new things in the classroom.

The in-school facilitation component was another area of the programme that Becs particularly enjoyed and found beneficial. She found the facilitators non-threatening and encouraging. Guidelines for visits were very clear; she knew what the visits would focus on; discussions were reflective; feedback was data-driven and supportive.

“I really can’t speak highly enough of this PD Model! The face-to-face time with other teachers, the online study, the practical support, the readings and assignments were all very well thought out, well balanced, manageable and dare I say it enjoyable. I personally got a lot out of it - feeling very proud knowing my brain was in good working order for all the new learnings. My class really enjoyed the language learning experience too and it has been positive seeing the students choose to continue to learn French at intermediate.”

In 2018, Becs continued her French teaching journey by taking up more professional learning opportunities with immersion programmes in New Caledonia and France.

“I cannot recommend the course [TPLT] enough!!! The formula for this type of PD cannot be faulted - well balanced, up to date, supportive - you will not regret it. Your confidence will improve, your knowledge will improve, your teaching will improve, the relationship and abilities of the pupils in your class will improve, you will find out many things you may not even knew existed - amazing resources, fantastic modern ideas, an even opportunities for immersion programmes!!!”
Becs Armstrong-750
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