Don’t forget that IATEFL 2017 is online

 

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.

You will be able to watch live coverage throughout the day statring at 09.00 (UK time).
You will be able to watch over 40 conference sessions. These session videos will be published throughout the conference.

Please see details of the live schedule below.

LIVE SCHEDULE

Tuesday 4th April

0900-1020 OPENING PLENARY BY GABRIEL DIAZ MAGGIOLI
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Gabriel Diaz MaggioliEmpowering 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 ResilienceLanguage 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

Sarah MercerConnecting 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
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JJ WilsonELT 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
CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME

Silvana RichardsonWhere 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

Imtiaz DharkerOver 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.

 

 

Attending IATEFL 2017 in pyjamas

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:

http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017

Happy conferencing!!

Why I love the month of Ramadan

Ramadan,
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…

…Ramadan..,
Oh how I’ll miss it when it goes.

Saudi performance on the IELTS and TOEFL iBT

According to publicly available information on the Cambridge Esol and ETS websites, Saudi’s seem to perform best in the speaking skill.

In both exams, listening comes second, though a little behind on average compared to speaking.

In IELTS, Saudi’s do worst in writing, but in the TOEFL iBT they do worst in reading.

So basically, reading and writing are the weakest skills.

What’s odd (in my opinion), is that I thought that as the TOEFL iBT is online, typing might be an issue. It seem’s not based on the statistics available.

Fundamentally, what the figures (for 2014) show, is that speaking is way ahead in terms of average performance, whereas listening, reading and writing are clustered closely together.

It’s difficult to read too much into these numbers, but one thing that policy makers should start focussing on, is the development of reading and writing abilities in the long-run, especially for those who are planning to travel overseas for further study or work.

 

 

You’re a scholar. You just don’t know it.

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.

Blackberry Passport Silver Edition – Saudi Arabia

With virtually everyone in the world carrying around Samsung’s and iPhone’s, and getting caught up in the world of games, social networking and attractive new apps, I’ve always felt that these devices represent a kind of fashion that many get caught up in.

Blackberry Passport Silver Edition

Blackberry Passport Silver Edition

IMG-20151011-WA007 IMG-20151011-WA008 IMG-20151011-WA009 IMG-20151011-WA010 IMG-20151011-WA011 IMG-20151011-WA012

I don’t mind playing games and experimenting with the odd app, but at times it feels like the world is busy playing games, and that acquiring these gadgets is a form of conforming to the new norm.

I could also be accused of the same. Am I also a victim of these great mobile phone empires that want to suck all of our blood (aka money!!) every couple of years? May be I am.

I recently bought the Blackberry Passport Silver from STC, the local major telecoms company. When I went to get mine, even the customer services rep didn’t know which phone I was talking about even though it was in the latest promotional brochure. He had to ask one of his colleagues. It seems that I was the only one interested in this device. Everyone else was busy with buying the other makes (see first line).

I’m not going to say too much about the phone, except to say that I have had surprisingly good reactions from colleagues. Initially it was a case of “What’s that?”. Interestingly, my Samsung and iPhone owning colleagues have been very complementary.

The phone has a rock solid silvery quality look and beautiful finish. It exudes quality, and does not suffer from the plastic look that so many phones seem to have about them. The square screen is great for watching videos, it has a great calendar, and what is probably the most interesting aspect for me, is the keyboard. You can move up and down applications by swiping the keyboard. No need to touch the screen all the time.

I’m not going to pretend I’m a professional reviewer. I’m pretty much a lay person when it comes to these things. As mass consumers of these products, they reflect who we are and what we feel. For a moment, some of us Blackberry users can feel that we’re not following the crowd, that we have more important things to do than get caught up in the constant stream of messages via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and that we’re different or more independent in the way we think.

Hope you like the photos. As a typical amateur, I’ve kept the original screen cover on the Blackberry until I buy a new one, and the order of the photos is questionable. Peace.

To teachers: You can use mobile phones as a great way to produce English. Nothing better than learning language through an interesting subject.