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 futureme.org – 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 http://www.elt-resourceful.com 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.

Think smart! Developing thinking skills for IELTS students – Sue O’Connell (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 Sue O’Connell’s talk.

Sue studied university students (I think – I was a couple of minutes late and missed this!) The main reason IELTS students failed was not speaking or writing skills, but thinking skills.
Sue will look at how to inteoduce critical thinking to students, particularly in terms of generating lots of ideas.
Why should we, as language teachers, concern ourselves with thinking skills? If we’re in eduaction, we have no choice. We’re in the business of brain development (John Medina)
Finding ideas is a huge problem. When you Goolge “i need an idea” you get 2 billion hits. Here a some problems collected from IELTS students online.

People have the wrong idea about IELTS. they think it requires a high level of reasoning and ideas, but Sue feels most students have these ideas, but the problem is that they can’t access and apply these ideas. They tend not to engage deeply enough in the topic, or they engage in the wrong type of thinking. There is a lot of research into thinking at the moment. One of the main areas is divergent thinking, Sir Ken Robinson describes it as the ability to see many different ways of interpreting questions, Students often think there is only right way to answer a question. Divergent thinking is also the ability to think of lots of possible answers, try new approaches to old problems, and think laterally. Sue thinks these ideas are all highly relevant to our students.
An experiment was done testing learners for genius level based on divergent thinking. For 5-6 year olds, the percentage was 98%. For 10 year olds, 32% and for 15 year olds, 10%. The good news is we’re all born with the capacity for divergent thinking, but somewhere along the lines we lose it and become convergent thinkers.
We need to help our atudents think more fluently and more flexibly. It’s unrealistic to throw students in at the deep end, so it’s better to nudge them out of old habits, moving them gradually towards what they might need at university,
Safe ground to start with is making lists, for example, what are the advantages and disadvantages of X? Adding selecting and categorising makes it an even better thinking task. For example, make a list of sports and hobbies, each one beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. Then look at your list and divide them into any five A/B categories you want to, for example something you do alone/with other people. If you let students work for five minutes or so on this, for the first third of the time, the ideas are fairly routine, the next third are more unusual, and the final third are more original and complex. Therefore, you must encourage students to defer editing (ideas first, then monitor) and don’t stop the idea generation process. There are two stages: possibility (all possible) and practical (what is actually relevant). It’s useful to have a quota and a time limit.
You need to see something from at least three different perspectives to have any kind of depth. Groupwork can give you that. “Good ideas come from crowds, they come from networks” Steven Johnson, the author of ‘Where good ideas come from’
“We don’t pay attention to boring things”: Brain Rule #4 by John Medina. This matters a lot in learning. He always asks a new class how quickly they switch off in a lecture. They normally say 10-15 minutes, so we need to reset the clock with a novel stimulus. The more attention you pay to a stimulus, the more likely it is to remember things.
For this activity, you need a scrap of paper and divide it in half vertically, and you’ll write down seven words. At the top of the left column, you write ‘nice’ and ‘not nice’ at the top of the other. These are the ones Sue dictated (and my choices): lecture (nice), shy (nice), competition (nice), shopping (not nice), grammar (nice), drama (not nice). You have to dictate them quite quickly so people don’t have time to think a lot! Then compare them to a partner and say why. You can also try easy/not easy, relevant/not relevant.
Brain rule #10: we learn and remember better through pictures, not words or “Vision trumps all other senses”. Visual processing takes up about 50% of our brains. We pay more attention to shapes and colours. Venn diagrams are great for categorising. For example, this one for noun formation:

20130411-151936.jpg diviing nouns by -ity or -tion. It can be done physically too:

20130411-152048.jpg You can also use this for formal/informal/neutral.
You can make a three-circle Venn with creatures e.g. horses/humans/frogs – what characteristics are common to each/unique?
Brain rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power. John Medina: “To improve your thinking skills, move.” Your brain is likely to be more active walking to work than it is when you get there! People who exercise outperform the couch potatoes (oh no!)
It’s really helpful to encourage students to make thinking visible. For example, mind maps activate the whole brain. They are a proven way to transform information from short-term to long-term memory. There are lots of other ways from Enchanted Learning.
Remind students it’s OK to mistakes: encourage students to choose their favourite mistakes. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Sir Ken Robinson. “When you do something, you might fail, but that’s not because you’re a failure, it’s because you haven’t learnt enough to succeed yet.” Jordan Belfort
In summary, we need to:
– encourage divergent thinking
– help learners to see issues from different perspectives
– use colours and graphics
– exploit the element of surprise
– give permission to make mistakes
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” Albert Einstein
http://www.brainrules.net for John Medina

Technology for teaching pronunciation – Robin Walker (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 Robin Walker’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Robin starts off by saying he’s not a Luddite or a technophobe, but he has a certain defree of scepticism. He loves pronunciation though!

These are expert performers at something they have automaticized (sp?) and this is similar to pron. We can learn from professional sport and skills acquisition there, and take this into pron teaching.
We need to think about suitability, choice and sequence when it comes to technology for pronuncation. The app needs to address the problems the learners have (suitability), give them choice, and give them sequence. It needs to give them an explicit intrroduction to what is going to happen, because they are not in the classroom. The app has to contain repetition to make the skill completely automatic. It has to have place (students can choose where to study) and pace (how fast). The app has to offer feedback and correction – without corrective feedback, their neuronal pattern will be reinforced. Progress needs to be shown – if students can’t see this they can get very depressed.

Previous pron technologies include CALL (eg software), but some limitations – doesn’t recognise accent variation. Robin gives the example of Geordie ‘cook’. A tape recorder was used to make sure that pronunciation was part of the mark in Robin’s testing in Spain. Students recorded and rerecorded pronunciation using tape recorders – they were very motivated. Problem with tape recorders was resources – only 2 for 30+ students!

For listening, accent variation is the reality. If we don’t help students get used to this, they will have trouble. You can use the Speech Accent Archive to get students interested in different accents, but it’s based on an unnatural paragraph. www.elllo.org is the English Language Listening Library Online – they can select by accent. Students are interested in the content on elllo, and have to adjust listening to understand accents. They enjoy it!
Judy Gilbert wrote Clear Speech for American English. There is a CUP app to accompany it, although limited choice. Clear Speech has a clear sense of progression, feedback – ticks lots of Walker’s boxes.
Cool speech, hot listening app is highly praised by Walker. It has the tapescript and analyses and breaks it down.

The BBC learning English website has pronunciation too. But BBC pron has no feedback, and there’s no indication of how to get it right. It can reinforce problems.
The University of Iowa website lets you look at US English, Spanish or German. It shows animation of mouth, which is very effective.
Macmillan Sounds app based on Underhill’s chart lets you hear phoneme, but no corrective feedback. Great apart from that.

Technology for recording – you can use audacity (but it’s complex for some), Walker recommends WavePad. The wave forms in the reocrdings really help them to see tonic stress in sentences (Eng v Span):

Recorder pro is an app where students can send it to you.
http://www.fotobabble.com is fun and interesting – you can tell students how intelligible their English is in general. Listen once only.
Use Dragon Dictate – it changes speech to text on the iPhone. But can have trouble with accents.
You can get Dragon Dictate software too, and train it to understand your accent.
Voice recognition and corrective feedback are the two areas where the technology is still lacking.

To finish, Robin showed us one of my all-time favourite Youatube videos: “Scottish Voice Operated Lift” – watch it!

Puppet-masters and puzzle-solvers: a match made in heaven? – Danny Norrington-Davies (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 Danny Norrington-Davies’ talk, taken from my tweets.

DND says his talk came about from observing, because it’s great for stealing ideas, and seeing people make progress. He finds he spends a lot of time in lessons watching the learners and seeing how their learning progresses. SS are the puzzle solvers, T are the puppet masters (in a non-pejorative way), but often miss the puzzles.
He asks: “After output stages, what do feedback sessions usually consist of?” Audience suggestions: asking students how they think it went, plus-minus-plus technique, focussing on mistakes/outcome. DND suggest these puzzles: SS can’t find a word, can’t understand other SS, can’t choose right form, communication breaks down and also that learners speak to themselves! We focus on outcomes, but they focus on puzzles.

Puzzle number 1
The case of the Brazilian astronaut: choose a role model from your culture who speaks good English: if they can do it, you can too. Here is a task. What is the puzzle? do the students solve it?

What do you think? Our opinion: the SS can understand and T doesn’t need to intervene.

The puzzle is a ‘code-switch’ triggered by the absence of a lexical item. They account for 1/3 of switches, and Ls are aware of them. At the end of the task, DND asked students to brainstorm equivalents to the Portuguese words they needed and they were discussed, but he wasn’t happy with this solution.
Students made posters with a picture of themselves and thought bubbles showing their process/issues. Here are some examples:

The poster shows students that they are not the only ones with the same problems.

Puzzle number 2

Students didn’t understand each other.
This is an opportunity for noticing:

Whenever SS can’t understand each other, they have a question mark on a card they can hold up to elicit teacher intervention.
Students also do some repetition to self (covert repetition) – DND added more of this.

Puzzle number 3
Kenta and Sorour don’t know when to quit.

From puzzle 3, Kenta said before ‘if I don’t understand I give up’, but actually he didn’t when trying to understand. So it can be better to ask students ‘what went wrong?’ sometimes, rather than ‘can you correct this?’

DND called his question mark cards ‘intervention cards’ – SS become more aware of calling over the T. Intervention cards meant feedback could include openly discussing events/puzzles, why they used cards, why they didn’t! When they didn’t use their card it was because they solved the puzzle themselves or worked the way around the problem without T. After using intervention cards Danny redid the posters from the start of the course. SS realised their mistakes didn’t matter, when they needed to do more, and ‘I can learn more with my friends but I can call you when I need you’.

By focussing on outcomes in feedback, we can often miss the event of puzzle solving. Ss are happy to talk about these. By focussing on gaps, learners were made aware of the gaps in their own language, and of the impact of that gap. DND’s students were also more willing to discuss strategies. They were quite effective at choosing intervention. Students were more able to see a different actual-self (the student they think they are v. ideal self, they want to be). Using learner extracts and transcripts increases the chances of them noticing and remembering highlighted feedback (Lynch 2007). You can get learner transcripts by asking students if you can record them.

Students can use the card if they don’t understand the teacher too. They had one card per group.

Mark Hancock on the same presentation

Does the word “synonym” have a synonym? – Leo Selivan (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 Leo Selivan’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Leo starts with a brief history of English, with the Norman Invasion in 1066, which brought French and Latin affixes like ‘-ible’ ‘-dict- and more. Here are some examples. This kind of word makes up about 60% of English.


This is the pie that makes up English. It’s essentially a hybrid romance language:

He showed us this video:
When the Normans arrived, most basic words were already Anglo-Saxon. That’s why we ended up with lots of pairs. Here are examples of German/Latinate pairs which are synonyms, or have more specific meanings:

By number of words, English is by far the largest language in the world. That’s words, not meanings, excluding technically specific language, new words and variations on the same word.
There are challenges for learners, as they have to choose between different words for the same translation:

There are lexical voids in English too (missing words), like we only have one word for ‘no’. But most of the time English is much more lexically dense, for example three English words for the Spanish ‘humido’.
What’s the difference between these pairs of words?

Most synonyms are restricted, not true e.g. start/begin – they are based on collocation, register, colligation, semantic prosody.
Leo will focus on multi-part verbs as they are challenging but also creative:

Multi-part verbs do not have formal equivalents. Rather, they tend to collocate with different words. For example, here is the spread of ‘investigate’ and ‘look into’ by register.

Semantic prosody is the semantic environment a word tends to occur in. ’cause’ often negative, but ‘bring about’ is neutral.
Colligation is the grammatical environment of a word. For example, ‘take in’ is often passive.
Practical ideas: collocation forks:

Teach higher-level students affixes, especially if they are Romance speakers.
Look words up twice: once in bilingual dictionary, once in monolingual dictionary for depth of meaning.
Ask students to present the difference between a pair of words.
Try ‘Just the word’ – it’s a great site for collocations and word frequency.
Treat teaching lexis by offering synonyms with caution – we need learners to know how different words are.

Neil McMahon includes some comments on Leo’s talk in his post about day 2 of the conference.
Jonathan Sayer’s take on Leo’s talk.

Pushing past the ‘intermediate plateau’ – Katy Davies (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 Katy Davies’s talk, taken from my tweets.

KatySDavies found a lot of elementar/pre-int students in Dubai, but very few at int or beyond. Even those who do reach intermediate reach a plateau. They get frustrated that progress is not linear any more. Another question is how to improve after you’ve got the basics. Is it a question of piling on more grammar/vocab? Students complain that they’ve already studied things, so you try to give them sth more challenging, but also more obscure.

Katy interviewed her colleagues about how they felt reaching intermediate level in other languages.
These are the three themes that came out of her interviews :

We focus on input, but maybe we should be focussing on understanding too. Students need quality listening practice. We focus on input, but maybe we should be focussing on understanding too. Students need quality listening practice. For example, play a recording, stop it randomly, and they predict what’s next. Students are shocked they know! We can show them listening is active, or highlight features of connected speech. Highlight what makes understanding difficult. Connected speech is often in ‘pronunciation’ boxes, but they’re as much/more about listening. If students don’t know these features exist, they can’t focus on them. Raise awareness in short examples, then longer. If students don’t know these features exist, they can’t focus on them. Raise awareness in short examples, then longer.

Raise student’s awareness of how much English relies on pre-fabricated chunks. Whole conversations can be made of them! When highlighting the idea of chunks to int + students, teach them how restricted/free they are e.g. the grammar. Once students know they exist, they can try highlighting them in transcripts/written texts. Students surprisingly good at it! Don’t forget to work with reformulation and drilling, perhaps through jazz chants. Not just for beginners. Once int+ students notice these chunks exist, they can build patterns to try and replace lower-level vocabulary lists. They feel like there’s more structure and less chaos. At higher levels, we’re trying to encourage students to work at discourse level and not word level. Chunks help.

Speaking in conversations is difficult for int+ too – overlapping speakers, responding to other person, backchanneling. @sandymillin: We need to teach them circumlocution – working around words they don’t know. And teach them natives need it too! @sandymillin: Students can see pauses and fillers as mistakes, rather than natural. #iatefl @KatySDavies Ask students to use transcripts and identifying what the speaker is trying to do. “They want to take a turn”. How about asking to record real conversations? It’s great for learners, and they don’t hear it often enough. (Suggestion from Sian Morgan: use recordings of non-native speakers as models for where intermediate could aim to be.)Talk to students about how conversation management differs in their culture. By breaking down the language like this, intermediate students can progress because it’s more manageable.

In conclusion, if you want to help students past the intermediate plateau, try these:

Time spent in the classroom should be about using the language, but also about helping students to understand why it’s difficult. We might need to negotiate with the learners, as they may want to only focus on productive skills. There are two people in a conversation!

Here’s Jonathan Sayers’ much easier to read take on Katy’s talk!

The Eureka moment – Naomi Epstein (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 Naomi Epstein’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Naomi shares a birthday with Helen Keller, which inspired her to study sign language.

The first law of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. Students don’t do that “English and me are not good together”. Success breeds success, but what about those who are left behind. Teachers think it’s a lot of extra work.

1. The friendly eraser
a.k.a Friendly eraser (or Disappearing dialogues @thornburyscott/Reverse Reading @harrisonmike/Live reading passage @englishraven)
One day, there was a downpour. One student came in. @naomishema wrote “What happened to Sara this morning?” Students responded. This was the story they came up with. Naomi erased times. Students had to ask Sara to fill gaps and rewrite. Then more words. She called on students, not Sara, the key student. Finally, Sara worked at board with whole class to rewrite text. Sara was the teacher, with questions from @naomishema to help them put the text together if necessary. Giving homework online meant that Sara could get some extra differentiated homework – a wordcloud based on the story. A word of warning: don’t overuse the friendly eraser! Use it when it’s appropriate, but not all the time! And another: don’t count on your students to play along when you plan around them! Look for opportunities instead.

2. Charts
Charts are very powerful. Like this:

If we know the word she teaches us, we colour in the box on the chart for today.
The next lesson, she does the same thing, students colour in a box in the next column. They can see improvement.
This is my learning, and it felt good:

She doesn’t check how they fill in chart. Students are motivated and excited, and want to study. A course, not a test.
[note…favourite activity of the conference so far!]


Naomi gives the links from her talk

Bridging the gap – Ceri Jones (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 Ceri Jones’s talk, taken from my tweets.

The talk is about the gap that coursebook writers try to bridge and the tension between the two sides. The syllabus is one thing writers need to consider, especially if it’s connected to an exam. Spanish uni SS need B1 English. The other side is learning, which is individual and dynamic, compared to the convergent, static syllabus. So the question is, can coursebooks bridge the gap between the syllabus and learning?
The coursebook can be seen as a ball and chain or a lifesaver. But hopefully we’ve moved on from this dichotomy, towards more of a middle ground. How can the coursebook include our student’s lives? Why not use the coursebook as a starting point? It can make the route to syllabus easier.
Imagine your friend asks you to housesit one of these (from a high impact image). Decide which one, then describe to a partner.

Some great language coming out of the activity in our groups.
You’re housesitting, You’ve just arrived from the airport. Open the door. What do you see? Can I come and visit your house? Can you show me around? Great for rooms/prepositions/more…

Look at this mosaic. Can you think of a verb + noun collocation for each image?

These images are great for core vocabulary, which students have to learn. They can build on this later. The photos in the mosaic are all in unusual places. We teach the core, expand to personal lexicon, make the familiar unfamiliar.

The news is everywhere. Not just in a newspaper, but on the side of buildings! Makes it more current.


Traditional shopping vocab is types of shop. Learners often don’t do this. Malls are now places of entertainment not shopping.


This image is from Big Picture Elementary. SS describe a stay in a hotel, then write a TripAdvisor review.

Student text is then compared with the one in the coursebook. The student’s text comes first.

In a unit on humour, this meme-type image can help introduce ‘would’.

Students listen to two people talking about humour. The book shows examples of use of ‘would’. Non-traditional. ‘would’ is demonstrated as not just being second conditional, but covering a range of uses.


Here is Ceri’s summary of the five strategies coursebook writers can use to bridge the gap.

The Big Picture series is written in a way to try to train teachers how to use images effectively.

and some links to help you find out more:


Other ideas:
Set the students image homework – they have to take a photo between one class and the next.

Here is Ceri’s post with the slides.
Neil McMahon includes some comments on Ceri’s talk in his post about day 2 of the conference.

From preparation to preparedness – Adrian Underhill and Alan Maley (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 Adrian Underhill and Alan Maley’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Alan Maley and Adrian Underhill (henceforth AM and AU) wake us up with hand mirror work/ say something strange/random and respond.
They want to discuss the ‘dark matter’ of the lesson, the improvisation that happens in between the planned bits. This is the spontaneous interaction which is not represented in the lesson plan or course book. It is not articulated or developed. There is a potential excitement when you don’t know what is going to happen. Needs to be done and discussed. The question is, how do we make space for this? How do we get better at discussing the undiscussable?
Adriund talks about John Fanselow’s book Breaking Rules. What rules do we follow in our planning? Break them! See what happens when you break the rules. If you never do anything different, you never know if it will be better or not. You get into routines and there is no possibility for unexpected events. How can we bring back the spontaneity?
What would it be like if you arrived early enough to welcome your SS, instead of unpacking your bag? Some learning experiments you can try:

Things you can train teachers to do to help them prepare to improvise:
Personal preparation for spontaneity. My favourite: work with what is happening, not what you wish is happening:


Adrian Underhill and Alan Maley have written an article in ETp (2012) called ‘Expect the unexpected’ with a follow up in current ETp (2013).

Christina Rebuffet-Broadus’s post about the same presentation
Neil McMahon includes some comments on Adrian and Alan’s talk in his post about day 2 of the conference.
Sophia Khan describes an improvised lesson and what she learnt.

Peer mentoring as a bridge to successful self-access learning – Carol Everhard (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 Carol Everhard’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Carol describes bridges as affordances: they are a way to link two things, for example between students and their learrning. She describes mentors as the bridges in her project.
Self-access and self-instruction are two different things. Self-instruction can be a walled garden – pleasant but confined.
Should the people working in a SAC be called counsellor or advisors? The term can create distance.
Mentoring is a learning relationship between two people: it needs trust, commitment, emotional engagement. The pair develop a high level of trust and mutual regard and the mentor helps the mentee realise his or her potential. Both the mentor and mentee can benefit from the mentoring relationship to a great extent
Everhard created projects students could do which contributed 40% to their final grade. Mentors helped them. One of the projects was materials creation. Later students were offered the chance to be resource centre organisers too. Mentees appreciated working with mentors who had already been through the same thing.

International House Newcastle Personal Study Programme (IATEFL 2013 presentation)

My presentation for IATEFL Liverpool 2013 is an introduction to the Personal Study Programme (PSP) which we run at IH Newcastle. It was part of the Learner Autonomy SIG day.

If you couldn’t be there, or you want to relive it, here is a recorded version:

You can also read about PSP on the IH Newcastle website.

Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

Note: thank you to Amy Brown for helping me to put the presentation together.

A few bloggers have very kindly responded to my presentation. I will post the links here if you are interested. Please let me know if I have missed any:

Technology in ELT: to be used cautiously, critically and selectively – Penny Ur (IATEFL 2013)

Penny Ur is not a technophobe: she loves her Kindle and uses moodle a lot with her students. But…

There’s a tendancy to see technology as intrinsically good rather than as a means to an end. Does it improve language learning? Or motivation? Does it do this enough to justify it’s use?

There is a general assumption that investment in technology is desirable and to this end there is a massive investment in technology by governments and private companies. Modern is good. Change is good. Technology is good. Stakeholders have an interest in technology being in schools: for governments, shiny new computers win votes; commecial interests are important too. The use of digital tools then becomes an end in itself. People are presented with solutions, but not problems. Ur says that we should be starting from the problem and finding solutions, not vice versa.

A lot of studies have been published looking into technology in education. Most have been driven by policy decisions rather than educational questions. There is some evidence that the use of technology may contribute to increased motivation, but the studies have been short. Noone knows how it affects motivation in the long-term. If you know you’re being studied, you may want to fulfil the expectations of the researcher. The novelty effect can also make a difference. So is the incase in motivation really the technology or is it the novelty/research factor? Writing and pronunciation may be improved through technological means, but no research has shown technology affects other areas.

However, this does not mean that technology is useless. We therefore need to be cautious, selective and selective. So what DOES it contribute? Word processing, editing tools, internet, digital dictionaries, self-acces, written interaction, audiovisual material, distance learning, interactive whiteboards. These tools are generally easier and faster than non-technological tools. They can contribute positively to our teaching. For example, teacher-student communication is improved. Being able to look up words quickly means dictionaries are more likely to be used. Video and audio presentation is easier, and thefore more common.

What can technology NOT do? It cannot teach (as opposed to instruct). It cannot faciliate the creation of knowledge, because this generally depends on face-to-face interaction. Technology cannot plan lessons and tasks. It cannot provide supportive and appropriate corrective feedback. It cannot respond to open-ended tasks. It cannot select and evaluate information.

Technology also carries dangers. It may decrease the amount of direct teacher-student interaction. It may waste time in terms of preparation and student investment in activity other than learning (like formatting a document or searching). It can also create an overly teacher-centred classroom. It can also lead to a focus on lower-order thinking, like a ‘one-right-answer’ methodology. Attention might be diverted to irrelevant but more interesting activites, like other apps if using ipads.

– Find at least two meanings for the word ‘bright’ from your online dictionary, then share with your class.
– Show a YouTube clip with no sound and tell the story yourself.

We need to ask:
– Does it produce good learning?
– Is it motivating?
– Is the improvement in learning and/or motivation worth the investment of time and money?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then we should use the technology. If not, then we shouldn’t.

Remember: Technology is a MEANS not an END. The question is not ‘How should I use technolog?’, it is ‘How can I help my learners learn best?’


Neil McMahon includes some comments on Penny’s talk in his post about day 1 of the conference.

Implementing handheld learning – Victoria Boobyer (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 Victoria Boobyer’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Which device are you going to use? Smartphones or tablets? Which OS will you use? Bring-your-own or provided?
With the OS, you have to make sure that the app you’re teaching is compatible with both.
Victoria’s school chose iPads. The first question they then addressed was security. How can you avoid stealing and keep them safe?
Stealing physical iPads is the first issue- put a lock on the door of the room with the ipads in! Download ‘find my ipad’ to keep track of them. Another security idea: get the back of the Ipad etched with the name of the school.
Set restrictions on the device so students can’t get to certain things, like iTunes, to avoid accidental spending.
Get a sturdy case to keep the ipads safe. The ones @elt_pics have cost £11. Ask over 18s to sign a contract of use – it makes them realise it’s not a toy.
Maintenance: you need to routinely clean up the system: delete photos, documents, links. It takes about an hour for @elt_pics to do maintenance for 16 iPads each week. Consider how/when/where it’s charged and updated. Think about which new apps you want to download and how much they will cost. Think about who’s going to do all of this.
To charge all of the ipads, get a multi-socket adapter and use the normal chargers. Teachers can take the top one and the uncharged one is put at the bottom of the pile.
Once you’ve set it all up, ongoing teacher training is necessary. Teachers can be scared to use them. Check the level of IT literacy of the staff. Make sure everyone feels comfortable with the tech. Peer training best. Talk to the dealer you buy the tech from. They may be happy to provide training too. Initial training: give teachers a checklist and encourage them to play. Then meet once a week for 20 minutes.
Having ipads in the school has kept teachers on their toes, added to student engagement, and is good publicity.
Get regular feedback from students and teachers on how the tech is working: surveymonkey and facebook are great. Keep everyone in the loop.
The ISI inspection last month was impressed by “effective use” of ipads by students at Anglo-European school.
She showed us an imovie project students made using iPads – recording a poem and adding pictures – excellent!
Another example of student work: a comic made with the PhotoComic app. Photos from reader, students predict story.


Neil McMahon includes some comments on Victoria’s talk in his post about day 1 of the conference.

Beyond Language: Challenging the ‘Limitations’ of the Classroom – Jenifer Martin/Christine Palmer/Rosie Quin (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 Jenifer Martin, Christine Palmer and Rosie Quin’s talk. They are curriculum leaders in ESOL at City of Glasgow college. There was no wifi access, so this is what I wrote during the talk.

Glasgow is home to largest asylum and refugee community in Scotland. There are over 1000 students at the college. They are trying to encourage learners to become more engaged in their own learning.

ESOL language cafe
Set up to help students – they didn’t see anyone at the weekend, and felt very isolated. This was designed to help them. The idea came from the students themselves.
They gave different students jobs to get them involved. Students asked for funding, looked for a location and got support from the college.
They have monthly Saturday afternoon sessions in a local museum. They can practise English in a real situation. They can bring family, and they can do what they want to there. They take ownership.
Strong support networks are being formed through the cafe. Students become more involved in the local community because they have to work with the museum. For the students organising it, it’s valuable work experience. For example, they organise events. They try to integrate other sections of the college too, like inviting the hairdressers to demonstrate henna.
Students are responsible for marketing, budgeting, planning, all of which are transferrable skills.
A walking club, yoga classes, a gardening club and a film club have all grown out of the language cafe.
Students gain communication skills, organisational skills and social skills in an English-language environment. The college is teaching holistically, which has led to awards too. The whole student is being taught, not just language.

Reading the world waves
This involves upper intermediate and advanced learners working with another class.
Students performed their own writing, done with a professional writing class, in public places around the city. It’s great for their confidence.
They had creative writing workshops where students produced short poems or short stories, with help from students from the creative writing classes. Volunteers then attended a performance workshop to help them with pausing and intonation, for example.
The performance took place a few days later. Students really enjoyed it, and the applause at the end really boosted their confidence.

Glasgow to NYC
Jenifer visited a community college in NYC, and subsequently set up a blog exchange. Students exchanged ideas about their experiences in the two cities: how they fitted in, what the cities are like and more. It started in class, and students have continued it outside. The blog was ‘closed’ so only students could see it.

Student mentoring
Higher-level students assist in lower-level classes. The higher-level students wanted to gain volunteering experience. A lot of them had been teachers in their own countries.
It offers a positive language-learning role model, especially for students who have never been in education before.
It built on support higher-level students were already giving. The mentoring scheme was a way of formalising this.
Members of staff recommend potential volunteers. These are interviewed by a mentor coordinator, who then matches them to an appropriate class.
When a mentor is assigned, they observe the class before they start helping, This gives students the chance to get used to the idea of a mentor.
The college runs workshops for the mentor, including some basics of classroom management, like giving instructions and correction techniques.
Before the class, the mentor meets the teacher to discuss what the aims are, and what the mentor’s role will be in that session. For example, the mentor might work with a small group of students or be more like a classroom assistant. After the lesson, there is a discussion with the teacher about what happened, and the mentor can learn more about the methodology. Mentors are encouraged to keep a diary to reflect on their experiences in the classroom. Diaries also feed back into workshops.
One of their mentors has just been accepted to train as a PE teacher in the UK. It’s great for lower-level students too, as they have an extra point of reference in the college.

Overall, these ideas help students to break out of the classroom, and not be restricted just to the lessons.


Task-based trips – David Foster and Ann-Marie Richards (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 David Foster (@df0z) and Ann-Marie Richard’s talk. They teach for British Study Centres in London. With no internet access, this was written during the talk.

The subtitle is ‘Promoting interest in the local area and the community’.

How much English do your students use outside the classroom? Most people in the talk said not enough, and nobody said ‘enough’. The aim is to get students engaged and using as much English as possible.
Although students come from around the world, they are all united in being excited about being in a native-speaker emvironment and want to make the most of it. However, it can be difficult for them to access these resources.

What’s in it for the students?
It empowers them to interact with native speakers. It exposes them to a range of language and a range of accents. It helps their listening skills and develops their fluency. This makes it easier to listen to them, so expert speakers may be more likely to engage with the students. This creates a positive spiral – students become more fluent, so people speak to them, so students become more fluent.
Some students come to the UK, but miss out on the opportunities they have here, so as teachers we have to act as a bridge to help students interact in the community.

Surveys: interviewing members of the public.
You need to prepare the students before you send them out, for example by testing the survey in class, then around school, before taking it outside the school. Send them out without the teacher to give them possession of the language. To summarise it, you can ask students to make posters. Encourage students to feedback what they thought about the process. Ann-Marie’s students said it opened their minds and helped them to be less shy. Although students were reluctant at the start of the process, they enjoyed it in the end.
– make it a week-long project
– mix L1s
– give them props: clipboards etc
– big it up! Help students to see why it might be useful.
– keep it simple: tick box/tally style
– recording: students can ask to record the people they’re interviewing (ask permission!)
– encourage them to smile and to mention that they’re from an ‘international language school’ – it can help to break the ice
– explain to them that people might be rude
Ann-Marie said business people are interested in getting involved. For example, the fish and chip shop owner near their school gave the students lots of free fish and chips when they interviewed them!

An interview project
David ran this project with an FCE class at upper intermediate level. The challenge with this type of class is to motivate the learners. Students had to organise an interview with a professional. David knew these people and asked them to help. Students were nervous and excited about the interviews.
Preparation is key to getting anything like this to work.
Students researched the careers, came up with questions and predicted possible answers. One of the students said that it was his first time speaking to a British person. He was nervous and worried, but it was OK in the end, so was motivated. They might not learn language specifically, but they will always learn something: another student learnt that university degrees don’t always lead to a career in the same context.

Outside the UK
Teachers often know people from an expat community, or fluent non-natives who can be interviewed. Take advantage of them.

Because students had taken part in trips through school, they were more willing to get a different perspective on their environment and became less worried about speaking to natives.

Ultimately, what we are doing with task-based trips is entering into a dialogue with students about the value of interacting with native speakers.

Maintaining class dynamics with a rolling intake – Anne Crappsley (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 Anne Crappsley’s (AC) talk, taken from my tweets.

AC teaches at private language school in Edinburgh with 5-12 students in their classes
GTKU activity: find three things you have in common with the person next to you, excluding that fact you’re learning English!

AC talks about Class Dynamics by Jill Hadfield – problem is, JH focuses on classes that stay together, not rolling intake.
AC decided that she would think back to classes with great dynamics and try to learn from them. Sounds like a great lecture: lecturer played video clip every 20 minutes to get attention back.
She decided to start thinking about lessons as a series of short objectives, breaking the lesson down. It’s not fixed – you can expand/contract things. Here’s an example of how you could break down the lesson.

To bring students back to the room, try adding short activities into the class. Play Just a Minute. Ask students to remember 10 words they’ve learnt recently, and 6 favourite topics. Must use 4 words minimum.
Benefits of Just a Minute activity:

Questions for focus group to find out how they got on with the activities:

[note to self: these might be very interesting to ask our classes at IH Newcastle]
When asked if they were more motivated to come to class when they knew new students were joining, about half said ‘yes’. That means that a rolling intake can be very positive for students – a change of atmosphere.
Play ‘Distraction’: face another student, put something on hand (eg coin), talk about it. Then maintain eye contact and try to steal partner’s coin. Can only close hand when protecting coin! Benefits are:

Students highlighted that it’s difficult to translate and think about vocabulary and the coin. Challenging, but possible.
Ultimately, the most important thing is being flexible and adapting to your students’ needs.

How to demand high – Jim Scrivener (IATEFL 2013)

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

Here’s the Demand High blog in case you don’t know it http://demandhighelt.wordpress.com/

What do your students complain about in your lessons?
For example: it’s easy/slow/boring/difficult, we waste time talking, the teacher never corrects me/always says ‘good’

What is Demand High?
Am I engaging the full human learning potential of the students in my class? Have we lost our edge in favour of fun?
Aremy learners capable of more? Am I underchallenging them? Would my students learn more if I demanded more of them?
How can we move away from just ‘covering’? @jimscriv says it’s OK to teach! Explicit teaching is not bad.
We need to focus on where the learning is. What will move learners forward? Classroom management techniques beyond pair and groupwork are necessary.
Demand high wants to help us teach at everyone’s pace, not just the fastest high.

How can we put it into practice?
Looking at how we can implement Demand High in the feedback/checking stage.
This is the sample task from @jimscriv’s Visual Grammar:

How can you extend simple feedback to that one exercise to an hour? Our suggestions: remember the answers/questions, put into longer context, mini roleplay
Jim Scrivener’s suggestions:


Practice, memory, mistakes and being playful:


How about: What sort of face would you make when you say that? By doing that, students change their voices too. Replay the sentence in your head. See the person saying it in your ‘mind’s ear’. Change it to someone else you know. Adds processing time. Once you’ve processed it mentally, move it down to your mouth and say the intonation but not the words. Teacher imitates intonation pattern, students say whether that’s correct or not. Then add words gradually. By having part words/part mumble, it helps students become more aware of unstressed words.
The things @jimscriv has demonstrated are variations on drilling. Practise is what makes students remember, not presentation. Practise through repetition and processing are what make students remember and internalise language.

Here is Dave Dodgson’s response to the same talk.
Here is the summary by Chia Suan Chong.
Neil McMahon includes some comments on Jim’s talk in his post about day 1 of the conference.
Barry Jameson’s take on the talk.

How to be a freelancer – Mike Hogan (IATEFL 2013)

The first in a planned series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!

These are the main points from Mike Hogan’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Think about the lifestyle you have and the one you want to have and how much that will cost you. Then budget.
Work on a 9 or 10 month income – how much can you realistically expect to make (accounting for holidays/sick pay)
Manage things on a monthly basis rather than over a year to avoid feeling swamped by a box of receipts!
To help maximise your income, think about maximising downtime when you’re not teaching. e.g. teaching online/writing
Make sure you’re taking advantage of busy times in your country by filling your timetable e.g. outside school holidays
Think about how your year looks, as a company would, rather than on a month-by-month basis
Ask yourself: What am I trying to sell? What makes me different from everyone else? Where can people learn about me?
Show a portfolio to demonstrate that you are developing. Training doesn’t stop with your initial qualificiation
Look the part. Dress the same way that your client dresses: if they’re wearing a suit, you should be too.
Walk the talk: for example, if you’re teaching presentation skills, make sure you’ve practised presenting. To practise presenting, start with small groups at your school. To practise negotiating: try it in real life. Practise asking for discounts.
Investigate the market: check what others are charging. Is it the same product but cheaper? Added value but more?
Give your client consultation to manage their expectations. Remember for them, training/teaching can be a commodity
If they can’t negotiate on price, clients may try to reduce contact hours instead.Supplement face-to-face with online
Be realisitic: it’s better to build a network of freelancers in your area to refer clients to if you can’t help.
The European Profiling Grid (EPG) will be similar to the CEF to show qualification levels of teachers. Watch this space.
Quality control: Remember the relationship between quality & reputation. Are you willing to risk your personal reputation?

If you want to keep work, remember:
How do you check your quality?
What do people think when they hear your name?
What do you want them to think?
Are your courses being extended?
Are you chasing work?
Are you being referred?

Value the benefits of high-profile learners. A high-level 121 can get you a lot more work.
When people switch companies, will they take you with them? What about when university students graduate? This can build your base.
Don’t forget the admin. Try setting aside a day a month to manage this. Makes your life easier.
Conferences and taxis to companies can be tax-deductible, among other things.