An excellent free video in which Jo Gakonga talks about giving teachers skills in terms of mentoring and teacher training.
As many of you know, either giving or receiving feedback has it’s challenges.
Receiving feedback can be very difficult for the best of us. Many teachers are confident about their skills, and external feedback can at times be taken negatively, even though the giver of the feedback may try to be as diplomatic or as empathetic as possible.
For those who give feedback, it can arguably be more challenging. We want to provide feedback that helps and encourages, and is developmental, yet how do we do it?
Jo Gakonga gives us some insight into her thinking on the matter. You can watch her interview by following this link:
IATEFL Online Live Schedule 2017
[Content is from the IATEFL online website who own all rights to this content]
Join IATEFL at 09.00 (UK time) each day for all the latest from IATEFL 2017.
Please see details of the live schedule below.
Tuesday 4th April
0900-1020 OPENING PLENARY BY GABRIEL DIAZ MAGGIOLI
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME
Empowering teachers through continued professional development: frameworks, practices and promises
The notion that language teachers need ongoing professional development opportunities should be considered a harmless platitude. Yet, as the field stands now, most of our colleagues are not provided with such opportunities as parts of their jobs. How is it then that we hear so many wonderful tales of exploration and discovery? Teachers have taken upon themselves to build these growth opportunities. In this plenary I will share some stories, and weave the plots of new stories to come by presenting a “state of the art” hawk eye view of professional development and recommending potential ways in which colleagues can help colleagues learn and develop.
17:25 – 18:30 BRITISH COUNCIL SIGNATURE EVENT
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME
Language for Resilience
Speakers: Syrian Refugee Stakeholders. Moderated by Mike Solly.
The British Council has the pleasure of inviting you to attend the follow up to our report launch of ‘Language for Resilience’. The report examines the role that language can play in enhancing the resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities. The ‘Language for Resilience’ report was commissioned in response to the unprecedented effects of the Syrian refugee crisis and brings together information gathered though interviews with refugees, host communities and those working to support them, with lessons learned from past and on-going British Council language programming in conflict and post-conflict areas. Key practitioners and Syrian refugee stakeholders will share their thoughts on the role of language in enhancing the resilience of individuals and communities affected by crisis.
Wednesday 5th April
0900-1000 OPENING PLENARY BY SARAH MERCER
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME
Connecting minds: language learner and teacher psychologies
Language learning is a deeply social and emotional undertaking for both teachers and learners. In this talk, I wish to reflect on the fundamental role played by psychology in the learning and teaching of foreign languages. Far from being an optional extra in the teaching and learning debate, we will see just how crucial an understanding of psychology is, given that people and their relationships lie at the heart of the teaching/learning interaction. While teaching materials and specific methodologies remain vitally important, it is impossible to reap the full benefits offered by such resources without those involved being psychologically in a facilitative frame of mind.
Together we will consider some of the foundations of a healthy psychology in the language classroom for both teachers and learners. We will assume a socially situated understanding of psychology that challenges the division between cognition and emotion as well as the emphasis on the individual in isolation. We will focus on the centrality of social relationships, especially the connection between teachers and learners, and the role of perception in engagement with contextual opportunities. We will cover diverse aspects of psychology such as beliefs, emotions, sense of self, agency and engagement. Specifically, we will consider how we can help learners to connect mentally and emotionally to their language learning and how we can support teachers to ensure a positive level of professional well-being in their jobs. In sum, this talk aims to focus our minds on what matters most in language education: The people.
Thursday 6th April
0900-1000 OPENING PLENARY BY JJ WILSON
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME
ELT and social justice: opportunities in a time of chaos
In this plenary, I will look at the arguments for including social justice issues in ELT classrooms. I will summarise the literature, referencing major theorists such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, and bell hooks. I will also examine relevant ideas and movements: critical pedagogy and conscientização; participatory teaching/learning; problem-posing and dialogic methods; “poor man’s pedagogy”; service learning; and “the banking method” versus education as the practice of freedom. Moving from theory to practice, I will then show ways in which teachers can include social justice issues in the classroom. These activities include drama, poetry, images, community projects, and so on. I will conclude with some remarks about professional development and the concept of education for social justice. I will stress that the ideas in this talk are not a methodology or a recipe for becoming a better teacher. They are a “way of being”. Each idea, each activity must be made afresh, re-created every time the teacher steps into the classroom.
Friday 7th April
0900-1000 OPENING PLENARY BY JANE SETTER
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Where angels fear to tread: intonation in English language teaching
Intonation is one of the earliest acquired aspects of speech; the crymelodies of infants are influenced by the intonation of their mothers, and very small toddlers are able to use intonation to indicate turn taking patterns in play conversations before they can form words. It plays a vital role in successful communication in English, as it does in other languages. If this is true, why is intonation neglected in English language pronunciation teaching, and how can it be taught effectively?
This presentation takes the audience into the seldom-navigated region of intonation in English language teaching, focusing on the role of three main elements: tonality, tonicity and tone. Drawing on material from a number of different sources, we explore the role of intonation in English, and look at which elements are teachable, which are learnable, what resources are available to the teacher and the learner, and how intonation might be approached in the English language classroom and as a self-access learning activity. Expect a multimedia, audience participation experience.
1310-1410 CLOSING PLENARY BY IMTIAZ DHARKER
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME
Over the moon
Imtiaz Dharker will read from her new Glasgow poems as well as Over the Moon. These are poems about music and feet, church bells, beds, café tables, bad language and sudden silence. In contrast with her previous work written amidst the hubbub of India, these new poems are mostly set in Britain, where she has built a new life with – and since the death of – her husband Simon Powell.
Next week, I’m planning to attend a conference in pyjamas.
Odd as this might sound, it’s true, and it’s because IATEFL have an online format for those who cannot attend their conference which begins from the 3rd of April.
I can already imagine it. Watching an online talk,presentation or plenary, whilst sipping Arabic coffee, and chewing traditional luxury Madinah Ajwa dates (I work in Saudi). I’ll hopefully also be learning something new about teaching English in the EFL ESL world. Why not?
Yes, it’s an opportunity to develop myself. I don’t know about you, but professional development is an absolute necessity for me. There are always new things to learn. My experience is that learning motivates, and provides much needed energy to do even better in the classroom. Yes, our students are demanding, and trying to meet their individual demands in order to help them on to a successful trajectory does require hard work.
I always plan to go to conferences, but the biggest problem is that often, these conferences occur during the academic year, and then of course there’s the little matter of paying for flights and hotels. Not really something a modestly paid teacher like me can easily afford. In that sense, IATEFL online is a blessing in disguise.
In effect, it’s free PD and an opportunity to get to perhaps learn something new.
I’d encourage fellow teflers who can’t make it to the conference to take out time to attend online, wherever you are in the world.
If you’re interested in knowing more, click on the link below:
I adore it,
indeed it’s a blessed month,
it teaches me to be patient,
it brings discipline back into my life,
it makes me remember that there’s more to life than eating,
most importantly, it brings me closer to God (Allah),
it re-ignites my interest in the Qur’an,
it reminds me of what I’m so fortunate to have,
it makes me think of those less fortunate than me,
it helps me clear my mind,
it’s a time to contemplate,
on matters more spiritual,
more closer to the soul,
time to reflect on ones role,
to rectify oneself,
to be more in control,
not to fall for fruitless desires
but to do what really matters,
to help those less fortunate,
to be an example to society,
to show what life is really about,
self-sacrifice and service to others,
to bring hope to others,
to be a force for good,
the ultimate aim of course,
is to please the One and Only Almighty.
Thank you God (Allah) for giving us this beautiful month of…
Oh how I’ll miss it when it goes.
Very often, many of us, no matter what our field of specialism, read articles, books, watch documentaries, and hope that we might learn something from them.
There is probably someone well known in your field, someone who is respected, and considered an authority, whom you admire and look up to. For some of us, we’re in awe of these people. Their thinking, their ideas, their creativity. It seems that they’re a million miles away from us in terms of achievement. We’ll probably never hit those dizzying heights, you might think. In reality though, they’re just as human as the rest of us, the only difference being that someone gave them the idea of writing about what they know.
But, what if I said to you, that you probably had something more valuable to add. An angle that has never been explored before, something in your context, that an authority thousands of miles away does not know about? An experience that can’t be had anywhere else, may be an experience or situation that makes a difference?
When I think of my colleagues and the many educational professionals I’ve met over the years, I often wonder what it would be like if they wrote about everything they did. What if they reproduced every lesson plan or every activity they ever did. How successful was it? Was it a total failure? What could others learn from it? I’m sure that you’ve read books and articles where you thought that something wasn’t quite right, may be there was a mistake, or you were left wondering that something didn’t make sense. The reality is, that you can do better. All of your knowledge and experience, is locked away in your brain, destined to disappear with you. That’s a waste. But what if you decided to write it up, imagine all of those things that you’ve done. It could probably turn into something the size of an encyclopedia. It would have worth and value, because others could learn from it.
I once met Krashen, a well known linguist from the US. He came to talk to us about the problems of over assessment and how it had a detrimental affect on learners and learning. He had (has) a real issue with standardised assessment. Although I could agree with what he said in principle, in the context I worked in, standardised assessment was a godsend. It was an independent measure, that allowed everyone to be assessed on an equal footing. It added credibility to a system that was still going through developmental and growing pains. It added fairness to the system, something that was in total contrast to what Krashen was saying. We can talk about this issue some other time, but the point is, that he did not take into account the context he found himself in. He was in effect repeating what he had been saying, back home. Great idea, wrong context. YOU know more about your context.
Apologies for going on a bit. You have knowledge and you have experience. These are all valid. Your knowledge and experience is worth sharing. As we continue through life, we accumulate knowledge, to which we constantly make adjustments in order to improve on an idea. Something didn’t work before, we discard it. If something did, we use it again, and modify it if necessary. I’m sure everyone’s doing this in their daily lives.
To cut a long story short, wherever you are in the world, whatever your field, whatever your language, your experience and knowledge has worth and value. You don’t need to have an amazing, ground breaking idea, it can be something simple. Whatever it is, what you have to say counts. YES, you are a scholar, and don’t let anyone else make you think otherwise.
Please share your ideas with the world, and make it a better place.
As someone who is from Britain and takes pride in UK education and it’s reputation, it’s disconcerting to see some of the UK’s top universities announcing joint collaborations with organisations that may not necessarily meet the same high standards. This is not to suggest that ‘we’ should not be trying to help elevate or help institutions around the world in their pursuit to join the ‘upper tier’ of universities, or to give them a helping hand in elevating their research status, however, in a world where there is obviously a great deal of pressure to earn ‘big bucks’ and compete with universities in the USA, Canada and Australia to name but a few places, the UK needs to stand back and look at what it see’s as it’s future.
We can’t keep harking back to ‘Great Britain’ and expect people to blindly accept that the UK is the place to study. Potential students around the world are much more savvy about these matters. Many institutions around the world are ‘catching-up’, and rightly so. Their hard work is paying off, and the world is noticing. As China, Singapore and others gradually climb up the academic ladder as a result of, no doubt academic blood, sweat and tears, the UK is in danger of compromising for the sake of another dollar.
On a related note, there are a lot of students coming into the UK after having taken a language proficiency test, very often the IELTS. Is getting a 4.5 (or even a 6) on IELTS sufficient enough to allow these people (after a year of English) to go on to do a basic degree, a masters or even a PhD?
How strict are UK universities in enforcing plagiarism rules? What checks exist? Are we going soft on candidates who pay a foreign fee? There is a view that some students have ‘writing advisors’ who are helping them complete their work. Do UK universities give preference to foreign candidates to local ones, because they can rake in more money? I’d like to suggest that we start researching these questions, or more immediately there is some kind of quality audit process in place.
Although this blog sounds somewhat alarmist and potentially damaging, in reality, it is a wake-up call. Historically, the British brand has been exceedingly valuable, and still is. However, if someone somewhere, with the powers that be does not start taking a closer look at UK Plc (the higher education sector), there is a danger that the value and expertise that exists in the UK, will take second place to the new up and coming universities, simply because some over-exuberant decision makers are looking a little short-term.
The British higher education sector is a strong player internationally, a place that I would encourage people to go to, to further their education. However, if Britains’ educational mandarins are seeing dollar signs, and that is what’s driving them, then I for one will have to think again about recommending the UK to those I know.
I was recently speaking to someone at a well known organisation that also acts as an examination centre for international proficiency exams. He made a very interesting comment, that certainly got my attention, and that was that students may shy away from computer based tests, simply because they may perceive that having to use a keyboard may impact on their chance of passing a proficiency test. Issues of concern may include potential candidates typing speeds, and computer literacy skills. Okay, we are in the internet age, and the kids may eat, sleep and dream social networks and cyberspace, but when it comes to high-stakes exams, people may shy away. I think there is something worth noting in this observation. So whilst the exam format for the TOEFL ibt and Pearson Academic may be all computer based, may be people at IDP/Cambridge Esol should think hard about whether turning IELTS into a computer based format exam is not necessarily the next logical step. Your view?
When we think of testing, we often think of TOEFL or IELTS. These high stakes exams, with their potential to help make or break futures, are what many think of as the typical exam.
In classes across the world, teachers emulate these exams by using the same question types e.g. multiple choice questions (MCQs).
Often, testing, assessment or evaluation is reduced to a quiz of some kind. Students get a mark, and that’s the end of the story.
At the same time, people in the testing industry, who are mainly involved with the big examination bodies, cannot understand why teachers cannot grasp the ideas of validity and reliability.
I think that unless ‘testing people’ are not teaching themselves, they will never be able to understand class dynamics, and thus why there is such a gap or disconnect between those with testing knowledge, and people who want to assess in the classroom. But is it really up to people who are testers? What about teachers? What’s their take on this? Are they worried? Are they also unhappy about testing in their contexts?
In the Middle East, there is a tendency to reduce the role of teachers to just receiving centrally written quizzes and tests. In reality this reflects the lack of confidence in teacher testing ability.
There are a lot of issues.
I think we need to simplify things and create a take-off point, from which teachers can move forward in terms of their testing knowledge. Let’s keep the testing and assessment jargon to one side.
What I’m proposing, is that we start off with a simple question. The question being. “What is the purpose of classroom testing, assessment and evaluation?”
Once we have the answer to this, we can then take the discussion further. I have my own answers, but if you are a teacher, who teaches a language, what in your view is the purpose of a test?
Once you have an idea of this, it’ll open doors, and hopefully result in an innovative movement in testing, although it’ll be a tough job to convince those who see testing as merely a score producing exercise. But the point is, that we need to look at the classroom as a different context, and study it’s dynamics. The classroom is a learning environment. The role of testing has to be seen as something that contributes to this. Unless we start looking at testing in this sense, it is difficult to see how large numbers of teachers will see tests as anything beyond the merely producing a score.
Lastly, we mustn’t forget our most important stakeholder, the student. After all, they are the ones directly affected by all of this.
Until next time..