GRETA Granada (Spain): Review of conference

GRETA Granada (Spain): Review of conference - hancockmcdonald.com/blog/greta-granada-spain-review-conference

DIGESTED READ

A conference truly focused on the pressing current concerns of local teachers, particularly the implementation of CLIL/bilingual programmes in schools.

THE EVENT

GRETA is a regional ELT association in Eastern Andalucía, Spain. Its 26th annual conference took place at the University of Granada 18-20th October 2012. The theme was “Tips of the Trade for Challenges ahead in ELT and Bilingualism”.  The event lasted two-and-a-half days, with 6 sessions on each of the full days and 4 on the half day. There were three or four slots in each of the workshop/talk sessions, plus three plenaries, a round table and a theatre session. Of the total 43 slots on the programme, more than half were presented by teachers working in infant, primary, secondary or higher education, mainly in Andalucía. There was a strong sense of this being an event of colleagues attending presentations by their peers - experts at local, national and international level on issues of mutual concern - about issues of mutual concern, rather than presentations by “experts” on the international conference circuit.

PARTICIPANTS

Judging from the conference programme, the expected audience was mainly from primary or secondary education, and a few from further education and the adult sector. Attendees were able to sign as proof of attendance in each session in order to receive accreditation.

SITE

The conference occupied one faculty wing with four large lecture halls. These all opened onto a wide corridor with a publisher’s exhibition. Two of the “big four” ELT publishers were conspicuous by their absence. This may have been because of the conference theme, with its strong focus on bilingualism/CLIL – perhaps a sector which publishers find it difficult to cater for.

FOCUS THEME: BILINGUALISM

At least half of the presentations on the programme were related to bilingualism/CLIL. Among the topics were teacher training via virtual learning environments, studies of the effectiveness of CLIL, the practicalities and challenges of application of CLIL principles, the politics surrounding bilingual programmes, the integration of mother tongue, the development of thinking skills, and the specification of exactly what CLIL is and isn’t. There seemed to be consensus among various presenters on the importance of the letter I in CLIL – that is, integration, and, in particular, the integration of L1 and L2, with a deliberate and principled integration of L1 being the main feature distinguishing CLIL from L2 immersion programmes. Three of the plenary speakers presented on CLIL/bilingualism related topics and also took part in the round table on bilingualism.

OTHER PRESENTATIONS

Other topics on the programme included practical classroom tasks such as storytelling and games, skills, grammar/vocabulary/pronunciation, classroom management (discipline), trinity exams for teachers and developments in ELT theory. Only one talk had an exclusively technological tools theme, although reference was made to ICT in a few talks. We, the authors of this review, presented on pronunciation for Spanish speakers and making authentic listening materials.

OVERALL FEEL

GRETA conferences always feel that they truly exist to serve the needs of very a close professional community, and this year`s event was no different. It was wonderful to return to GRETA after a break of a few years, to be met and helped on arrival by Charo Reyes, the current president, catch up with old hands and meet new members. The challenges might change, but the hospitality, helpfulness and professionalism of the members and volunteers remains as warm as ever. Thank you to all at GRETA.

Click on the links below for reports on specific presentations.

Diana Hicks on developing thinking skills

Chris Roland on discipline

Round Table on Bilingualism

Victor Pavón on mother tongue in CLIL

Simon Andrewes on new needs in general English

Maria Martínez Lirola on genre for writing

Maria Jesús Páramo and Anthony Bruton on vocabulary through reading

And downloads for our talks:

Annie McDonald on making authentic listening materials

Mark Hancock on pronunciation games for Spanish speakers

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PDF icon Conference Timetable.pdf91.43 KB

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