Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Posts tagged ‘IATEFL 2013’

Teaching English British Council interview – IATEFL 2013

Just before IATEFL started I was interviewed by Ann Foreman and Paul Braddock for the TeachingEnglish British Council facebook page as part of a series of interviews with those of us who have been awarded ‘Blog of the Month‘ (the blue badge at the top of the blog). Each of us will be asked three or four questions suggested by members of the TeachingEnglish British Council facebook page. Here is my interview, talking about IATEFL, building and retaining vocabulary and helping students learn to love English:

Of course! Using the coursebook AND engaging with emergent language – Rachael Roberts (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Rachael Roberts’ talk, taken from my tweets.

Coursebooks and emergent language don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Learning is located in the interactivity between teachers and learners, and between learners themselves. (Teaching Unplugged). To counter Dogme, @jimscriv say it is fairly drastic to dump materials and syllabus and wander naked through the Dogme forest. But Rachael also says you don’t need to go in like a tank either, with so many materials you don’t connect with students. Materials should not be the tail that wags the dog says @thornburyscott, but doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Structure can be very helpful though – we like to have an idea of a series of steps. We might have a vision of a series of steps leading upwards, but students may not feel this. Might wander off/tunnel vision

Emergent language is the idea that a system can emerge from a lot of smaller interactions, like flocks of birds or snowflakes. Sorry…that was emergence, not emergent language! #iatefl @teflerinha says it’s about having a framework, with interaction between CB/EL. These are key ingredients, which could come from people in the room or materials.


‘Freeing the classroom from third party imported materials empowers both teachers and learners.’ is a quote from Teaching Unplugged. @teflerinha disagrees with the slavery language here.

The first key is in engaging the learners. What is between the learners and the materials? What is in that gap? .@teflerinha showing us an excellent video from her blog from StoryCorps with an interview between a child with Asperger’s and his mum. She says the video is an example of something that isn’t just going to turn up in the classroom, but students can still relate to it. Materials can help students grow and see new things in a different way, in a way that materials-free perhaps can’t. Teachers should mediate the materials, not be mediated by them. We need to make the materials relevant to the students. For example, when monolingual groups are reading about different cultures, they get something they might not with materials-free.
Get students to write letters to themselves in the future using – it will be emailed to them.

The second point is noticing and restructuring. Coursebooks often have lots of them, but you can do more with them. For example, you can turn a coursebook text into a dictogloss/translation. They can see the gap between what they produced/Eng. After listening, students can be asked to notice language which has been used by looking at the transcript. Students could also try some self-recording and transcription tasks. Helps them notice. T can reformulate.

The third point is repeating and recycling. People often complain that coursebooks don’t do enough of this, but impossible to do. To recycle activities, repeat them in different ways, with a different audience/purpose. Listening to a model after doing a task for example. There’s a site called Textivate, which allows you to break up a text. Great for repetition, though not perfect. You can return to the same text later, and do something different with it.

Coursebooks are like recipe books – some people follow them, and some people learn from them and run with it. Rachael Roberts/teflerinha’s website is if you want to see some of her resources.

.@chiasuan now clarifying that she respects coursebook writers and that she learnt a lot from them as a newly-qualified teacher. There are extremes of people who don’t understand how coursebooks/dogme actually work. @irishmikeh says that’s not how writers write: Coursebooks are a tool not a result – that’s not how writers write. As @irishmikeh and @MarjorieRosenbe clarify that. .@hughdellar emphasising recipe idea, that it’s difficult to get to the stage of being a good cook without having internalised recipes. .@elawassell @hughdellar said this means we need to be training people to use materials on their initial courses, not reinvent the wheel

Mark Hancock on the same presentation

Creative pedagogy, language learning and technology – Graham Stanley (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Graham Stanley’s talk, taken from my tweets.

How many people do you see? It’s a creativity test!

Creativity should be a cental part of what you do, not an add-on.

@grahamstanley is focussing on the activity IWB Island in ‘Language Learning with Technology’ from CUP. Learners created their own islands on paper, and @grahamstanley asked them to add e.g. mountains. @grahamstanley scanned them, then traced over them on the computer, so you can then create something like this.

Students created a tourist guide for their own islands. The central island is @grahamstanley’s, which SS travelled too and explored. Students had a copy of a picture of their island, decided on style of government, elected a president and ministers, and chose a currency.
The central island was the location for a lot of fluency games, like ‘werewolf’. Werewolf can be played with 7+ students. The villagers have to eliminate the werewolves, the werewolves eat the villagers. During the day,the werewolves have to pretend to be a villager too. Demonstrates it’s difficult to lie over an extended time. There’s a day phase and a night phase. Everyone closes their eyes. 6 people chosen as werewolves secretly. WWs open eyes. WWs identify other WWs, then choose a victim. Everyone opens eyes, narrator/T points out victims. Villagers identify WWs. While they’re playing, the teacher has to be storyteller. Also notes lang SS using to identify werewolves. To identify WWs, students use sounds they heard to help, and ask questions. Students can produce role cards as villagers. It can be used with many levels – adaptable, language can be changed. You play the game until all of the villagers or all of the werewolves are dead. You can find the rules by searching for ‘werewolf:the game’ on the net.
Rory’s Story Cubes can be used too. There is an app, or you can take the set around the room, ask students to take a photo, then move the dice to the next group. By situating the games in the island, there is an ongoing narrative, and it makes them more real. There’s a continuity.
Graham emphasises that even though he’s written books on technology, he regularly teaches tech-free too. Not always necessary!


Graham subsequently did a workshop for Cambridge English Teacher on the same topic. Andrea Wade wrote a summary of it on her blog.

Bridging the gap: preparing lower-level students for IELTS – Louis Harrison (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Louis Harrison’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Can you match the bridges to their names and identify their countries?


Louis is introducing the ‘Bridge to IELTS’ course to help lower-level learners. Is there an intermediary stage between general English and test preparation? Is it possible to give lower level SS pre-prep? The course fits in with students needs and goals in ‘English for test preparation’.
The course is also designed to help SS to prepare for living and working in academic environment. Most of the students Harrison asked didn’t know that IELTS is based on Western academic situations, so couldn’t engage. They asked students what they needed, and decidedd to include these in the lower-level books:

The Bridge to IELTS course focuses on grammar and skills, particularly writing, not exam practice. Towards test preparation though, with a heavy focus on study skills. Wanted strong focus on study skills so students could take ownership of the learning process. Bridge to IELTS includes ‘Living IELTS’ – strategies for sounding natural and using the language naturally in the real world.

One of the course features is timed reading and writing to try and improve lower-level students’ confidence. Writing is a great obstacle for a lot of students, and for University of Glasgow it’s the first score they look at. In the Bridge to IELTS writing bank, they help students understand input data, model answers, provide structured support and there is a reference bank of common phrases.

Bridge to IELTS tries to switch between units about academic/university life and general English. It helps with study skills, for example teaching students how to use colours and tables to learn vocabulary. To build confidence, they provide test tips, breaking down the exam, showing them how to practise outside class and do well in exam. Living IELTS gives students language they can use in the test but also outside class. Harrison says we should teach students towards their goal as soon as they are ready,so a pre-preparation course is necessary.

Going multimodal: a different take on academic writing – Ania Rolinska (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Ania Rolinska’s talk, taken from my tweets.

As part of Ania’s Masters, she had to submit two online assignments, so decided to try to replicate this with students.
Gaining knowledge through visuals has gained a lot of power. Yet When we think about academia, we normally think about e.g. isolated writing in the library rather than video projects (except for art/film students!)
There is a fear that the internet is making us stupid (Nicholas Carr -2008), but Socrates said the same about writing 2500 years ago! The internet as a medium of learning puts us in a new relation to writing (Ulmer, 2003). Kress/van Leeuwen 2001 say that we can write with image, audio, video, layout – no modality is superior (nor text!). Ulmer suggests we should teach students how to be literate in many different modes, not just writing. e.g. lateral thinking.
In a multi-modal assignment, all modes have equal weight. They add new layers of information, separate/link domains. They can also juxtapose things to critique or explain. Writing and reading digital assignments is a process of designing – it has a different kind of complexity to an essay.
This is an example of a multi-modal assignment Ania did for her Masters. Layout equalises content.

The power relationship between reader/writer is different. It’s more equal as reader decides what to look at in what order. The assignment can be accessed through different sites e.g. start with prezi, move to youtube or vice-versa.
The genre question: not focussing so much on structure (intro, main body, conc), but on what assignment does.
Multimodal assignments are good because it looks at what it means to be literate (processes not skills), intellectual tension (what does it mean to produce academic work). Multi-modal assignments are engaging and enjoyable – you own the learning (more if there are no guides/restrictions). Ania felt she became more self-directed and autonomous as a result of the project. However, these can be problems:

The argument can lose it’s strength when it’s multimodal, meaning conclusions are not strong enough. We need to think about the target student: do you need to be an accomplished academic writer before you can work multimodally?
Assessment criteria included core criteria (eg knowledge of acadmaic referencing) plus student’s own criteria (Ania’s included layout, use of video and more).
Assessment of multimodal assignments includes a degree of subjectivity.

No flippin’ idea – Valentina Dodge (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Valentina Dodge’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Flipped learning is from lecturing with the ‘sage on the stage’ – the lecturer puts the video online, class used for enquiry. A lot of the enquiry-oriented models from the flipped classroom were already present in EFL. What is blended learning? The learning cycle includes reflecting, sharing prior knowledge, reading, watching, listening, creating, consolidating, reviewing, questioning, interacting, solving, discussing, commenting. @vale360 prefers the idea of a flow to a flip, including the cloud (web), like the 5E model (explore, explain, elaborate etc). The blending learning continuum has fully online at one end and face to face at the other.

@vale360 created an email course using student examples, mostly online but face-to-face was possible.
Some people want face-to-face because they already have too much screen time.
A workshop model of blended learning is tipped towards online – face-to-face preceded or followed by online. More flipped.
Extra e-study model: coursebooks plus online components – some say this is blended learning. Adds personal study to what is done in class.

Project work = 50/50 face-to-face/online – classwork is totally integrated with online – if you don’t do online, class is difficult. For example, the students wanted to research how journalists track social media. A SS set up a facebook group. All joined! After doing their projects, students reflect on their performance. For example, students were videoed reflecting, and the video was posted on private class wiki. The perfect approach to the flipped classroom Ccording to @vale360 is this project work approach. English360 has resources and content that can help with the blended course. But @vale360 reminds us there is no one best practice and no ‘one size fits all’

There shouldn’t be any assumptions about what students can and can’t do. You need guides to the tech/support. There is also no single role for the teacher in blended learning – it’s a learning process. Go local: localize the content of your courses. Failed courses @vale360 has seen have been irrelevant.

Combining teaching, learning and research: an exploratory practice approach – Ana Ines Salvi, Yasmin Dar, Judith Hanks (IATEFL 2013)

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Ana Ines Salvi, Yasmin Dur and Judith Hanks’ talk, taken from my tweets.



They’re going to talk about exploratory practice, teaching and learning, focussing on an EAP context, especially pre-sessionals.
There are seven principles for inclusive practitioner research, after Allwright:
1. focus on quality of life as the main issue.
2. Work to understand it before thinking about solving problems
3. Involve everyone as practitioners developing their own understanding (include learners). By involving everyone in the research it breaks down barriers.
4. Work to bring people together in a common experience
5. Work cooperatively for mutual development.
6. Make it a continuous enterprise.
7. Minimise the burden by integrating (this) work into normal pedagogic practice

Ana worked on 5-week pre-sessional and wanted to combine research and learner autonomy and find SS perceptions. She encouraged collaboration and interaction in the classroom to make decisions/choose topics/tasks for autonomy. The students kept logbooks/diaries to track their learning and sent her an email summarising their learning at the end of each week. One group came up with their own survey to do research based on four questions, then did research. They interviewed classmates, presented their findings to classmates and disseminated the findings to other teachers. Ana’s students did the research and made the posters in four hours over two days.

Yasmin did research for her MA with adult ESOL learners looking into their motivation. Yasmin’s students told each other whether they did their homework, and she eavesdropped with permission. She learnt to appreciate that they were not the same as her in terms of motivation and styles, so she changed her expectations. The main question she investigated was “Why are the learners not taking responsibility for their learning outside class?” Yasmin then repeated her research with EAP students and found they were very similar to her ESOL learners! She then introduced research to her class, asked students what their puzzles were, and they did the research.

Judith asked her students what puzzled them about their language learning experience. They made the posters on the wall. The exciting thing about Judith’s project was learners making the journey of self-discovery themselves, rather the T supplying answer. When doing the poster presentation, students were surprised that the other learners in the group were interested. (The posters in the research talk I’m at are in a lot of depth – it’s amazing what came out of the student’s research.) The research students did was a great way for them to examine their own learning.

Teachers sharing questions they have with the students can be really successful too. People in the room shared their experiences.

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