Day two began with an interview with Victoria Boobyer, one of the founders of eltpics. This is a fantastic resource for classroom use. Teachers around the world share their photos under a creative commons license. The photos are shared on Twitter (using the #eltpics hashtag) and then uploaded to Flickr by a dedicated team of volunteers. They are organised into themed sets so that they can be easily accessed and utilised by teachers. I have both shared photos with eltpics and made use of the resource myself in the classroom and recommend it to all teachers. At IATEFL this week, Victoria presented on 'teaching with hand-held devices'.
The next interview was with David Crystal, the opening plenary speaker. I'll hold off on writing about his interview, or indeed the next one with Deniz Kurtoglu Eken here, as I intend to summarise their presentations later.
There followed an interview with Katie Quartano and Paul Shaw talking about DAF, Disabled Access Friendly. Their aim is to teach EFL and raise awareness of disability issues at the same time. Their website, which has been live for just over a year and already attracts 10,000 hits a month from over 100 countries, has free teaching resources to use in the classroom. They currently have 60 graded reader texts and lesson plans, all of which are free to use with no registration required. They have plans to expand and are always looking for new ideas. Teachers are welcome to send materials to the site for consideration. The goal is to raise awareness in students who have no knowledge or experience of disabled people, but the material also challenges teachers. Does the teacher have the confidence to question his own preconceptions and stereotypes?
Chia Suan Chong, Ken Wilson and Caroline Moore were interviewed next about the thinking behind the 'Failure Fest' that was coming up later in the week. 'Out of disaster comes success'.
Next up were Eryl Griffiths and Laxman Gnawali. Eryl is on the IATEFL committee which co-ordinates the scholarships which allow participants to attend the conference. Laxman, from Nepal, was one of this years' scholarship winners. There are currently 28 scholarships on offer for each conference, though the hope is to increase that number for the 2016 50th anniversary IATEFL. Applications for scholarships to attend next year's conference in Harrogate will open on 20th April and close on 22nd August. Details will be available on the IATEFL website.
Mark Hancock was next, talking about a pronunciation SIG pre-conference event on English as a lingua franca. The idea was put forward that we should look at the sounds of English that students have in their L1 rather than the ones they don't. He also previewed his presentation on the problems of connected speech with this example:
- Watch or a dress?
- What's your address?
- Yes, today. Old mens' doubles teams so far away........ :-)
There followed two interviews with representatives from the British Council, Anna Searle and Martin Peacock before Philip Prowse came in to talk about the Extensive Reading Foundation, a non-profit organisation which runs the Language Learner Literature Awards. Philip pointed out the use of the word 'literature' in the title of the awards, saying that just because a learner is a beginner at a language doesn't mean that he is a beginner at life and so he deserves to read something of quality. Extensive reading is lots of reading at an appropriate level. This has been proven to improve all skills, leading to better exam results. The right level is deemed to be 95 - 98% comprehension. Simply by reading, students improve their language ability, but material for graded readers needs to be interesting and appropriate.
Mark Walker was interviewed next. He talked about the IELTS test and its global reach with 1.9 million tests now taken every year. China and India are important markets for the test with the results being used for study, employment and emigration purposes. The Take IELTS and Road to IELTS websites from the British Council provide free practice materials for students, as well as tips for teachers. The most important factor though, in Mark's opinion, is that students have a good grounding in general English before they even think about preparing for the IELTS test.
- Am I challenging my students as much as I could?
- What more could I do?
Go to Jim's 'demand high' website to download some observation tasks for peer or self observations. These will help us to look at how much we demand of our students.
Next came an interesting interview with Philida Schellekens who was talking about work-based language learning, trying to prepare students for the language they'll need in the workplace and using the medium of English to teach concepts, a little like CLIL for adults. Based on her work with immigrant workers, particularly in the construction industry, Philida suggests that the best way we can help our students is to really understand the job they are going to do by shadowing a worker who does the job already. Record what they say in order to get a real understanding of the language a student will need. If possible, leave the recorder running and walk away - this way you'll get a more accurate picture. For example, when it comes to swearing, you may well need to teach your students not only meaning, but appropriacy in context. When you see what English is really needed and compare it with English syllabi we teach from, even ESP ones, the two don't match very well!!
Shaun Wilden gave the penultimate interview of the day. His theme was 'autonomous CPD begins at home', a topic which is close to my heart and which usually involves me in a weekly 'meet-up' with Shaun for #eltchat.
So, those were day two's interviews..... and the answer to the song lyrics - 'Yesterday' by the Beatles - as if there's anyone reading this who didn't get that!! :-)