Lynn Durrant and Gerard McLoughlin are teacher trainers at International House Barcelona, and the focus of their presentation was on how we can nurture engagement and higher order thinking skills in the classroom. Lynn began with five top tips for creating a better classroom environment: 1. Give students choices; 2. Short and sweet activities eg 2-4 minutes; 3. Plenty of movement; 4.
Noureddine began by describing his teaching context in Morocco. The students he is working with already have a high level of English, but needed to develop their intercultural understanding, and in particular, openness to new ideas. He went on to explain the perspective transformation theoretical framework, as developed by Jack Mezirow.
Tim Murphey began what was a very feelgood session by recommending an action log at the start of each lesson. You put up on the board a list of all the activities you're going to be doing, and as the lesson progresses, the learners write how they felt about each activity. The teacher may go further by collecting and 'publishing' these logs so students can see each other's comments.
A balanced, pragmatic point of view is all very well, but an extreme, polar position is so much more noticeable! There have been plenty of polar positions in the history of ELT, and for every polar position, there is the polar opposite.
I've recently been drawn to articles and blog posts with (amongst others) a common thread on the nature and potential of teacher feedback. Giving feedback is something we do, almost as a reflex action, but how might we make it more effective so it plays a significant role in driving learning forward?
ELT these days has so many diverse regions that it is difficult to find your way among them. In this talk at the APAC conference in Barcelona, I'm presenting a bird's-eye view of the field to help navigate through all of the currents of thought and acronyms in the field. More about this here.
Mark Hancock: I will be presenting a workshop entitled "Pronunciation for listeners: making sense of connected speech" at the conference on the Tuesday. I'm also speaking at the pronunciation sig pre-conference event.
Hakan Senturk began his presentation with a contextualization of his ideas within the development of the Dogme movement. He traced the origin of Dogme to Scott Thornbury’s call for a more conversation-driven materials-light approach to teaching which focuses on language that naturally emerges in the lesson rather than a pre-conceived syllabus as laid down by a coursebook.
The main thrust of this very lively, participative and practical session was to stimulate and provide us with opportunities to take a step back from our role as teachers in the classroom, and reflect on and explore the ‘self’ – who we are outside the classroom.
Christina’s presentation incorporated feedback from 25 students who had followed a one-semester course of dogme classes as part of classroom-based research. Students were surveyed about their willingness to take part in their teachers’ professional development, and after a first day’s dogme class, were asked to give their initial impressions of the approach.
Jemma began her presentation by explaining that she would be dealing with the ‘hows’ rather than ‘whys’ in her ‘teaching unplugged’ or dogme-based presentation. She started by explaining the three main pillars of the approach: it is context-driven, materials-light and it focusses on emergent classroom language (spoken or written and can involve any language at any time).
Leo Selivan’s presentation was founded on the insight that synonymy in English can usually be traced to the hybrid history of the language. In most synonymous pairs, one member of the pair can trace its history to Germanic influence, and the other, to Latinate influence. An example of the might be ‘buy’ and ‘purchase’.
The closing plenary from Chia Suan Chong was a brightly delivered and entertaining history of ELT methodology, from rote learning through grammar translation, the direct method, the audio-lingual method, the ‘designer methods’ (suggestopoedia, etc), communicative approaches and task based learning.
The mid-conference plenary from Tom Farrell was a reflection on reflective practice. To begin with, Tom distinguished reflection-in-action – split second reflections made during the course of an activity; reflection-on-action – evaluating an action after the fact, and reflection-for-action – evaluating options for possible future improvements.
The thrust of the opening plenary from Gabriel Diaz Maggioli was neatly summed up in his title, 'Change is Good: You go first'. In other words, while most teachers will agree that there is room for improvement or change, it's easier said than done.