(Photo: Greta president Charo Reyes - right - introduces Diana Hicks) Diana began her thought-provoking session with the observation that, although education involves preparing people for the future, many pronouncements on the topic of education are dressed in nostalgic references to golden times past – phrases like “Back to Basics”, a reference to a British programme of putting more e
Simon posited that, by comparing traditional and ‘newer’ course book series, we can identify a tangible shift from what he termed ‘classical communicative language teaching’ to ‘post-communicative language teaching’.
Christopher opened the session by imploring management to make sure that the spirit of an institution is behind its teachers so they know they have supported when it comes to issues of discipline. He then gave an entertaining and thought-provoking plenary on how to deal with challenging teaching situations and defuse tension in classrooms with primary, teenager or adult students.
Victor began by projecting articles from the press highlighting the benefits of multilingualism. Articles quoting research showing that bilinguals are smarter, for example. He pointed out that the benefits can be classified into two kinds: a. social advantages, b. cognitive advantages. Victor went on to list 8 types/models of bilingual education, one of which was called “Transitional”.
This was very much a participative workshop session, based on classroom research material being developed by Mª Jesús. We began with group discussions on the importance of vocabulary and the most effective methods of learning it. Suggestions included relevance and motivation, repeated exposure, visual support, richness of context and test washback.
Éva Illés of ELTE in Budapest, began by explaining how English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) differs from pidgin: 1. Pidgin is limited, for example to one trade hub, while ELF is global; 2. Pidgin is limited to a trading domain, while ELF is used in all domains, and 3. Pidgin doesn’t have native speakers while ELF does.
Annie began the workshop with a snippet taken from a BBC studio interview and participants listened and brainstormed the problems the text would present for a student approaching a B2 level in English.
One huge problem faced by Professor Reima Al-Jarf and her colleagues at the King Saudi University is that freshman students on translations course have very limited access to English outside the classroom.
Mark began with a guessing game. Participants had to guess the word "attention" by seeing phrases and collocations with which it occurs. He then went on to point out the importance of attention for learning, and defined the job of a teacher as a "sculptor of learners' attention". He then compared two different was of manipulating attention - directing it and attracting it.
Scott began by looking at some of the reasons that teachers might get to feel jaded as their career progresses. He revealed his own pet peeve as being the rampant commoditization of ELT, with words from the world of business being drafted in, such as ‘outcomes’, ‘solutions’, ‘value-added’, ‘accountability’ and so on.
As well as her plenary on teacher development, Margit Szesztay presented this very practical, classroom-focussed workshop on harnessing the power of questions. First of all, she asked participants to simply formulate one question we would like to ask, and then ask it to as many other participants as possible.
In the second plenary of the day, Steve Oakes invited us to consider whether or not teachers and learners had ‘boxed themselves in’ when it came to attitudes towards the use of authentic materials in the classroom. It was apparent that this session would get us thinking out of the box in terms of difficulty levels and what it means to understand an authentic text.
In this plenary, Ken Wilson did precisely what it said on the tin (aka, the programme) – he gave us 10 of his favourite quotes, which when applied to language teaching, had the potential to get us reflecting on what we do, and even become inspired to make some changes.
Michael began by pointing out the now overwhelming reasons people have for learning English. Statistically, it’s proven that increased English means increased income (except perhaps for English teachers, as one member of the audience pointed out, to much laughter!). He went on to point out that more and more, academic programmes are conducted through English.
This opening plenary from one of IATEFL Hungary’s ex-presidents aimed to get the conference goers into a reflective mood. To have us reflecting back to the beginnings of our teaching careers. To consider whether the stages in our careers matched hers. And the stages she described were:
‘No-one actually talks about drilling much anymore (but it still goes on everywhere). Two questions: does it work, and how best is it done?’ After a very smooth room change to a 300-capacity auditorium that would accommodate us all comfortably, Jeremy Harmer set about answering these questions.